It seems as though HDTVs are getting bigger and bigger by the year. And with greater accessibility to that type of technology, wide or wraparound seating arrangements have become the norm in many households, especially those with larger families.
Although unintended, being relegated to the periphery can make one have to endure extreme viewing angles—which can often mean an unpleasant movie-night experience.
And know that despite all of the rave reviews regarding Samsung’s QLED HDTVs, they probably aren’t the smartest choice if you have those types of seating options in the living room.
Compared to archrival LG’s OLED TV offerings, QLEDs just can’t match up well when it comes to wide-angle viewing. The shortcomings can be blamed on the panel technology itself. As with all LCD-based displays, different areas of the screen can often appear brighter than others, and the backlighting can at times bleed through. When viewed at a side, the LCD layer has a certain thickness that can block some of the light coming through, and this is naturally more pronounced at an angle.
QLED TVs can also lose contrast and look discolored or tainted if you happen to be stuck on the outside seating areas. However, if you are directly in front of the screen, the issues aren’t as apparent.
Keep in mind that despite the fancy name, QLEDs are basically LCD TVs with quantum dots, which are microscopic particles that when hit by light, emit a certain different colored light. The source of this light is the LED backlight, and that light must pass through more layers, such as the LCD layer, to produce the images on the screen.
In contrast, you can guarantee that OLED TVs will provide an excellent viewing experience even from the most extreme angles. That’s because OLED panels have no need for backlighting and boast self-emissive pixels, which provide almost perfectly uniform screens—even when viewing from the side.
When these OLED pixels, which can number in the millions on these HDTVs, can remain completely dark, the blacks on your screen are 100-percent true—an aspect that is considered a major strength of OLED displays. QLED HDTVs, though, even with the most effective full-array local-dimming technology, still let some of the light through, leading to more washed-out black levels.
To its credit, the Korean tech giant is constantly on the lookout to improve wide-angle viewing on its otherwise highly regarded QLED TV offerings. There certainly have been efforts to boost that particular feature in the more recent models, but for QLED panels to reach the much-vaunted levels of OLEDs, that would likely mean significant tweaks to the entire display technology behind the TVs.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.