Never before have consumers had access to so many different TV technologies, and never before have so many of those technologies been capable of producing such high-quality images and offering such a wide variety of other advantages.
Even though now is the best time to shop for a new TV because of all the sales, making a decision can be difficult. The top TVs boast a bewildering array of capabilities, like 120 FPS, HDR, and HDMI 2.1, making it challenging to pick the best option.
However, due to the abundance of choices, perusing the fine print on a television set’s packaging may feel quite confusing. Quantum dots, OLED, micro-LED — the list goes on — and though these terms appear to be interchangeable, they are not.
Now that QLED TVs are on the market, buyers are curious about how they compare to OLED sets. These technologies are based on completely distinct concepts. Quantum dots, which are utilized in QLED TVs, are inorganic, durable, stable, and produce excellent brightness and color saturation.
On the other hand, OLED TVs are different, and interestingly, they are prone to picture retention mainly because they employ a controversial organic material. Burn-in is inevitable in OLED TVs because of how their organic, self-illuminating screens work. What we call “burn-in” is a fault in the panel that causes an image to remain on the screen indefinitely.
The optimal choice will rely on your specific requirements. For instance, OLED is the way to go if picture quality is your top priority, but QLED is the better option if you are on a tighter budget. Typically, QLED and OLED TVs are Ultra High Definition (UHD) models, so you definitely have some options to consider. But, still, understanding all the fundamental differences between QLED and OLED can also help you make a better decision. So, let’s get started.
QLED vs. OLED vs. UHD: A Side-by-Side Comparison
|Brightness||Separate backlights||Dedicated LED Light||N/A|
|Black Levels||Light bleeding||Perfect darks||N/A|
|Screen Size||Higher range||Lower range||N/A|
|Screen Burn-In?||No issue||Possibility of burn-in||N/A|
|Refresh Rate||2 to 8ms||0.1ms||N/A|
QLED vs. OLED vs. UHD: What’s the Difference?
Let’s first get UHD out of the picture because, unlike QLED and OLED, UHD is not a display type.
Ultra-High Definition (UHD) is a significant improvement from HD (High Definition). UHD televisions have a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, which is why you might hear people refer to them as 4K.
And it is quite natural because UHD makes even the finest of details, like individual hairs, incredibly clear and noticeable. You will also notice that most contemporary UHD devices have an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is different from the standard 4:3 used by HD and HDR.
Now, moving on to compare QLED and OLED, the two display types we’re talking about today. First, let’s break down what they are.
To understand QLED, you have to learn more about a Quantum dot.
On the nanometer scale, quantum dots are incredibly small semiconductor materials. These dots emit light of varying colors, with reddish hues coming from larger particles and bluer hues from smaller ones. Since the particle sizes change at quantum-level velocities, the emitted light is both accurate and efficient. What it means is that the substantial improvement in picture quality is a direct result of the increased efficiency in light.
OLED is an abbreviation for “organic light-emitting diode,” a type of LED in which organic molecules generate light. Display panels made with these organic LEDs are among the best in the world.
To create an OLED screen, a number of thin organic sheets are sandwiched between two conductors. These thin films produce an intense glow in response to an electrical current. There are many benefits to this straightforward design compared to existing screen technology.
Now, let’s talk more directly about their differences below.
In terms of durability, they both perform quite well, but QLED displays last longer than OLED displays. There is less wear and tear on the materials, and they can withstand water better.
It is worth mentioning that colored pigments used in OLED panels degrade at varying rates. For example, blue materials are more likely to degrade at a far faster rate than others, which will lead to inequalities.
QLED displays not only save more energy than regular LCD/LED panels, but they look better.
They can boost light output by as much as 30% while decreasing energy consumption by as much as 20% compared to regular bulbs. This feature allows them to provide a brighter and sharper image while consuming less power.
But, OLED is not bad at all, especially compared to an LED TV, and that is mainly because OLED TVs do not have a backlight. When displaying black, the display saves even more power by turning off some pixels. Inevitably, there will be differences in power usage; the brighter the screen, the more juice it will use.
QLED displays may achieve much deeper blacks than traditional LCDs by individually adjusting the output of each diode.
However, you will see OLED offers an even better contrast ratio. Due to their emissive nature, OLED TVs can switch off all the pixels that are not being used. This results in practically unlimited contrast, which is one of the most significant aspects of image quality.
The greatest QLED televisions with the most efficient full-array local dimming still allow some light through. This leads to washed-out black levels, which is why they just cannot compete with OLED in terms of contrast.
When opposed to OLEDs, LCDs often have superior brightness, making them preferable for use in bright environments or when viewing content outdoors.
In comparison to OLEDs, QLEDs have a significant advantage due to their improved capabilities and increased brightness. In fact, QLED TVs can easily get brighter than the brightest OLED model out there, which usually produces no more than 600-800 nits. That is why it is an excellent choice for those interested in watching HDR content in bright rooms.
Here, the choice of model matters as well. Choosing the correct QLED, like a Samsung QN90B, will allow you to enjoy far better brightness than on an LG C2 or Sony A95K QD OLED. This is the case because of the organic nature of the material used to create the color in OLEDs.
In OLEDs, the individual pixels might degrade over time and more quickly when subjected to higher-than-normal power levels. It implies that, on paper, an OLED TV’s pixels are capable of producing very high levels of light. But, manufacturers do not take advantage of this potential because doing so would reduce the TV’s lifespan.
Both OLEDs and QLEDs are quite stylish these days, but it is possible to find super thin OLEDs these days.
It is true that due to quantum dot technology, it is possible to produce ultra-thin and lightweight panels, without compromising on display size. QLED TVs are now available in a wider variety of sizes, allowing you to more easily find one that fits your needs.
However, if you talk about ultra-thin models, OLEDs with UHD resolution are the best. It becomes possible because OLEDs do not come with a backlight. They are typically between 2.5 and 3 mm thick and work well in both large and small homes.
One typical drawback of QLED screens is that their response time is slower than OLEDs. This may not be a viable option for hardcore gamers since competitive gaming and other high-frame-rate pursuits demand a better response time.
The speed at which a game’s pixels respond is crucial, especially in highly competitive games. Pixel response time is the delay between when a user sends an instruction into a controller and when the corresponding image appears on the screen.
While both QLEDs and OLEDs are capable of displaying the same number of frames (120Hz), QLED panels are still not as quick as OLEDs. Typically, OLEDs have a response time of 0.2ms or less since each pixel is independently regulated. But QLEDs rarely move faster than 1 or 2 ms. At the highest levels of gaming, even a fraction of a second can make a tremendous difference. And that is why OLEDs are always preferred by gamers.
The optimal viewing experience from any LCD requires being in front of the panel. It is important to keep in mind that when you move about, the picture quality will fluctuate. And unfortunately, it is pretty much the same with QLEDs, which means OLEDs outshine QLEDs in this regard.
LCD-based screens consistently exhibit uneven brightness, and it is also possible to notice backlight structure sometimes. Even the best LCDs suffer diminished color accuracy, brightness, and contrast when seen from off-center positions. OLED TVs have uniform screens that maintain their color and clarity even when seen from the most extreme viewing angles.
The thing is that burn-in affects all OLED screens and can be more severe on OLEDs than on LCDs and QLEDs.
Burn-in occurs when the presence of a static element, such as a news ticker, station logo, or scoreboard on a television permanently alters an image’s background.
That is a problem, for instance, if you spend too much time each day watching news channels like ESPN, Fox News, or MSNBC and not enough time exposing yourself to other forms of media. However, if you switch up the content being shown, burn-in is unlikely to ever occur.
Due to the technological improvements, most people will not have to worry about burn-in, though. That said, burn-in is irreversible and would only occur if, for example, you never changed channels and spent eight hours a day watching the same content. You should be alright as long as you watch a wide variety of shows (i.e., multiple channels) on your TV.
5 Must-Know Facts About QLED vs. OLED vs. UHD
- Samsung has been relying on quantum dots to enhance LCDs since 2015, but the company introduced the first QLED TV model in 2017.
- QLED technology offers better color saturation because it uses an LED backlight projected onto a quantum dot layer.
- QLED TVs are known for their affordability and are new budget smart TVs for people who cannot afford high-end TVs.
- OLED TVs offer an unmatched contrast ratio because it lacks a dedicated backlight and illuminates each pixel separately.
- OLEDs are more suitable for your eyesight because of their wider color range, better color contrast, and more natural lighting.
The Future of QLED, OLED, and UHD
There are 8mp in 4K video, but interestingly, displays can now reach a whopping 32 megapixels in resolution, thanks to the advent of 8K.
Display resolution of 6K vertically and 8K horizontally means we will have a screen resolution technically brilliant for anyone with 20/20 eyesight. It is a diminishing return from there on out since we just cannot see any more detail. But, even though 8K display is not yet widely available, most OLEDs and QLEDs are now available in UHD resolution.
However, any recommendations for a new TV you might receive today should be taken with a grain of salt, as the market will likely undergo significant change soon. In an effort to combine the benefits of QLED and OLED technologies, it has been proposed to create QLED sets that do away with the LCD backlight. This would be bad news for OLED panel producers like LG Display.
True QLED sets would be able to emit their own light; these sets are not commercially available but are expected to hit the market soon. With many of the same advantages as OLED and few possible downsides, it is projected to present the strongest challenge to OLED yet when it is available.
QLED vs. OLED vs. UHD: Which One Should You Buy?
OLED and QLED televisions each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so there is no clear winner. While OLED TVs are known for their exceptional contrast, QLED TVs excel at peak brightness. Most up-to-date QLED and OLED displays offer Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution.
QLED enables higher brightness in addition to increased longevity because it is resistant to burn-ins. It could be the best option if you value minimal cost and long service life. And, if you are after better image quality, look no further than OLEDs, but be prepared to come with a reasonable budget.
Similarly, if you are looking for the best display for an immersive gaming experience, you will certainly have to look for a better response time. Although it is not often clearly stated on TV product listings, we advise looking for a set with low input latency. OLEDs are much better in this regard.
In addition, when it comes to achieving natural contrast, OLED sets will be your best bet. And they will help make cinematic games appear absolutely stunning. Moreover, Nvidia G-Sync, included in LG OLED TVs, improves the visual smoothness of video games. But whatever you choose, ensure it comes with HDMI 2.1 connections, so it can display both 4K (at 60Hz) and 8K (at 60Hz) footage from gaming consoles.
In short, keep your unique needs in mind and then consider the differences between QLEDs and OLEDs to make a choice. Of course, your budget plays a role here, but sometimes, it makes more sense to stretch your budget a little and go with a future-proof display panel. Right now, OLEDs seem to be a better choice for most users, provided they can cough up that much money.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Grzegorz Czapski/Shutterstock.com.