- Most televisions on the market use essentially the same technology in a QLED display which is a type of LED (light-emitting diode) TV.
- OLED televisions use a unique technology with nearly microscopic pixels that produce their own light source. All other types of televisions use a backlight panel behind the screen to provide a light source.
- OLED panels are very thin, enabling some of them to be bendable or hung on a wall like one would a poster
- Samsung, the company that created the brand name QLED, has rebranded them as Neo-QLED to indicate a major upgrade of the technology for 2021.
- Although OLED is the more advanced solution with a higher image quality, QLED displays may be better value for money.
QLED and OLED are both used to create displays in things such as TV screens and computer monitors. QLED (Quantum-Dot Light Emitting Diode) displays use a filter between the backlight and the screen to increase the color definition of the pixels. However, OLED’s (Organic Light Emitting Diode) are displays in which each pixel emits its own light, with no need for a backlight.
These differences create very different displays with different image and color qualities. In this article we’ll fully explain all of the features of both OLED and QLED displays, explain all of the differences between them, and highlight which is better.
QLED vs. OLED: Side-By-Side Comparison
|Primarily produced by
|Samsung, TCL, Hisense, Sharp
|All OLED panels are manufactured by LG, although other companies produce TVs that use the panels, including Sony, Panasonic, and Hisense
|Consumer television release date
|Samsung branded the first QLED products in 2017
|The first mass-produced OLED TVs entered the market in 2013
|Professor Alexei Ekimov created the first quantum dots that influenced the development and branding of QLED TVs decades later
|Ching Wan Tang and Steven Van Slyke
|QLED TVs range from 32-inch to 82-inch
|OLED TVs range from 48-inch to 88-inch
|Most displays are 4K, and 8K TVs are not hard to find
|Almost all are 4K, and 8K TVs are very rare
The proprietary QLED technology created by Samsung stands for “quantum dot light-emitting diode.” The term “quantum” in this context is meant to denote a very small particle. This can be somewhat misleading because QLED does not have pixels that are individually lit or darkened as one would have on an OLED, but the QLED branding is meant to imply that the picture quality can produce color and contrast compared to an OLED television.
The technical feature that enhances a QLED set over a normal LED product is a layer behind the screen that enhances the image. The metallic “quantum dot filter” enhances the contrast and color of the image. Samsung changed the branding of QLED to “Neo QLED” this year to imply that the technology has been significantly improved by a much more elaborate array of backlights that provide more even lighting and viewing angles. New QLED sets are also slated to provide HDMI 2.1 and 120Hz refresh rates on all TVs. Some of the latest QLED TVs come in 8K resolution, but most are still 4K sets.
OLED televisions are the only mainstream products that don’t use standard LED (light-emitting diode) technology to produce images on the screen. Instead, these displays contain organic LEDs. The main difference is that the individual pixels emit their own light, and the sets don’t require a backlight to light the pixels. This provides a big advantage for contrast and color sharpness because the screens can have totally black pixels right next to very bright pixels. The individually lit pixels also produce the same light, color and contrast no matter what angle one is viewing the image from, providing a viewing angle of 180 degrees.
Because there is no backlight in an OLED panel, it is typically much thinner than other types of televisions. This enables some models to be bendable or to be affixed to a wall like a poster. Without the need for a backlight, these TVs are also more energy-efficient. The one drawback of OLED is that it has not gained as much widespread adoption by consumers, and this has consequently limited the number of manufacturers who sell them, and there are not as many size options available.
QLED vs. OLED: Key Differences Explained
Although these two acronyms look almost exactly alike, the difference between QLED and OLED is an important question for people who are looking for a new television or computer monitor. QLED is a relatively new branding term created by Samsung that gives the impression that it is similar to OLED, although this is not quite true. The following guide will shed light on how these two technologies differ and help you decide which is right for your viewing tastes.
One of the most important factors for a lifelike picture is contrast. To render a realistic image, you need to be able to display all colors and all light levels from total dark to extremely bright. Since OLED TVs don’t need a backlight to light the individual pixels, dark pixels can be completely black. This lends a striking depth to images, especially when viewed in a dimly lit room.
However, when you’re viewing in a bright room, the magic of OLED is not as striking. In this case, the backlit technology of a QLED screen can create an overall better viewing experience. When it comes to High Dynamic Range color (HDR), OLED tends to perform better because it displays many more shades of dark directly adjacent to bright pixels for a superior sense of definition and color sharpness.
Since QLED is essentially the same as LED, it has the same problem of a lack of uniformity of darkness or brightness across the panel. This is especially obvious when viewing an image that is intended to be all black or dark grey. On a QLED screen, the lighted areas of the display shine through at different spots, especially when you’re watching a dark scene in a dark room. OLED screens don’t have this problem because they don’t have backlights. When the screen is displaying a solid black image, an OLED TV looks as if it has been turned off.
Viewing angle is another important factor in picture quality that people tend not to consider until they’re viewing a TV model for the first time. On an OLED screen, there is no degradation of contrast or color definition when viewing on an angle. On a QLED screen, the backlight is shining directly forward, so the image is always better viewed straight on, and the image is not as good when you’re positioned at an angle to the screen.
Gaming on OLED vs QLED
For image quality in gaming, the same factors that are relevant for television viewing also apply to graphics quality in gaming scenarios. OLED is capable of impressive contrast, especially when the game is rendering dark environments. People who prefer to play in sunlit rooms might prefer a QLED screen for the increased overall brightness. OLED’s superior viewing angle is less of an issue for gaming because players tend to sit directly in front of the monitor.
In gaming, the pixel response time, which is the speed that a pixel can change color, becomes more important. A player is very attentive and involved with what’s happening on the screen, and the control input needs to match what the player sees. QLED pixel response times are impressively quick at two to eight milliseconds, but OLED technology tends to be even faster, as quick as 0.1 milliseconds.
When it comes to input lag, which is the time that it takes for a monitor to react to the control input from the user, OLED doesn’t have a technical advantage over QLED, and the same is true for refresh rates. As for screen resolution, neither technology has an edge. 4K is usually the standard when gaming on televisions, while 1440p and 1080p are more common and practical for gaming on computer monitors.
QLED vs. OLED: Which is Better?
OLED is technically a more advanced solution that creates infinite contrast and individually lit pixels, but all consumers may not feel that the higher price tag is justified. QLED could be more appealing to people who like to watch TV in sunlit rooms, and it’s also available in a wider variety of sizes at more affordable prices. For budget and midrange shoppers, QLED is probably a better value, but, if you want the best realism and image quality, you would probably prefer the quality of an OLED display.
Here are some other great articles about visual performance.
- UHD vs. HDR: What’s the Difference? These two can get confused. Read this to find out more.
- HDR vs. 4K: Full Comparison. We’ve got the best break down on these options.
- 4K UHD vs Blu-ray: How Do They Compare? Which is going to be the best option for you?
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Lutsenko_Oleksandr.