OLED vs. QLED: Which HDTV Should Rule Your Living Room?


OLED vs. QLED: Which HDTV Should Rule Your Living Room?

Both TVs have their fans and detractors. Here's how they compare.

In today’s high-end HDTV market, there are two basic technologies: OLED and QLED.

It is indeed a difficult choice if you have to pick between these two heavyweights of the TV universe but settling on one is definitely easier if pricing isn’t a concern.

In short, if you have all the money in the world, the choice would be simple—go with an OLED TV. But if you’re more of a budget-conscious consumer, QLEDs might be the best route.

With OLED TVs, you really do get what you pay for. Sure, these panels will cost a fortune in some instances, but you’ll be on the receiving end of inimitable image quality, not to mention nearly perfect black levels, precise colors, wide-viewing angles, and outstanding uniformity.

QLEDs also offer top-notch picture quality—just not at the levels boasted by OLED panels. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that these sets are priced hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars cheaper.

OLEDs boast impeccable design as well, as they can be thinner than their QLED or LCD rivals, which is accomplished by the technology behind OLED TVs.

OLED TVs utilize self-emissive pixels, jettisoning the need for backlighting and allowing for a much thinner design. When electricity passes through these pixels, which number in the millions in these TVs, they light up in different colors. The other advantage is that there are no longer dark pixels being lit from behind. When OLED pixels can remain completely dark, the black color on your screen is 100% true.

These sets also use additional white light to manufacture even more varied colors, which make for images that are more diverse, richer, and more accurate. Moreover, OLED TVs are more environmentally friendly because they use less energy than their counterparts that depend on energy-guzzling backlighting.

The Achilles’ heel of OLED TVs is that they are susceptible to image retention or burn-in, although this has become less common with further advances in OLED technology. Also, be aware that there have been instances of digital artifacts and slight banding, but these are minor issues that do not take away from the superb overall picture quality.

As for QLEDs, they are essentially 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 improving QLED TVs, Samsung has created a new refined aluminum compound that can make the quantum dots more efficient, and the natural ability to produce more accurate colors. This technology replaces the red, green and blue color filters that many older TVs used. Moreover, keep in mind that QLED panels can get noticeably brighter than OLEDs.

So, still having a difficult time deciding? If you’re willing to part with upwards of three grand on a set, go with an OLED as it will surely give you viewing pleasure for years to come. But if you’re a bit restrained by your budget and more of a TV than a movie watcher, you really can’t go wrong with a QLED.

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.

Image: Reuters