QLED, 8K, HDR, Micro-LED – what do the TV abbreviations mean?

TV manufacturers promise top picture quality with ominous abbreviations. Is this true at all or is it just marketing gobbledygook? atechbook explains which technology is behind which abbreviation and whether it is really worth it.

Alongside smartphones and digital cameras, televisions are one of the most dynamic branches of technology. New technologies are launched on the market every year to keep offering customers new incentives to buy. In the process, manufacturers love to make an impression with cool, advertising-friendly abbreviations. But what sounds cool doesn’t necessarily make sense. In the worst case, conventional technology is sold under a new, good-sounding term. atechbook clarifies which logos and designations you should pay attention to when buying TV, and which TV abbreviations you can safely ignore.

QLED – stands for extremely bright pictures

Samsung, as the TV market leader, is particularly inventive when it comes to marketing TVs and brags about the latest QLED technology. But this time, the South Korean manufacturer has also allied with Chinese companies Hisense and TCL to establish QLED. And this is a renaming from SUHD to QLED, because the new QLED TVs also work with the so-called Quantum Dot technology (nano-crystals provide high brightness and color diversity), which Samsung has already installed in its SUHD TVs for two years.

The latest QLED displays provide an enormously high brightness of up to 4000 nits. Thus, they clearly outperform the OLED TVs of the competition. Those who especially watch TV in a bright environment will particularly benefit from the strong luminosity.

Triluminos – Sony’s high color diversity

Sony has also come up with a striking name for its particularly colorful TVs. The TV abbreviation here is Triluminos. Similar to Samsung, Sony uses quantum dot technology to produce particularly pure and many colors. The pictures clearly benefit from the extended color space.

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OLED – outstanding picture quality

OLED displays consist of organic light-emitting diodes. This means that each pixel lights up on its own, a backlight like in LCD TVs (whether SUHD, QLED or Super UHD) is not needed. This ensures unrivaled contrasts: A single pixel can be completely dark while an adjacent one is lit. Thus, the definition in dark scenes is particularly good and deepest blacks are possible next to brighter picture content. In addition, manufacturers can build incredibly thin displays, since backlighting no longer has to be built into the casing.

However, this technology is expensive! The lifespan is also shorter than that of LCD TVs. OLED displays also do not shine as brightly as Samsung’s QLED or LG’s Super UHD models. If you often use your TV in a bright environment, you should rather go for one of the new LCD TVs.

Mini-LED and Micro-LED – the future of TV?

Screens with LED backlighting have a decisive advantage over OLED panels. They can be significantly brighter thanks to separate lighting. Technologies such as local dimming already make it possible to turn off parts of the screen completely. As a result, these areas are completely black, similar to OLED panels.

Mini-LED

LCD TVs with mini LEDs for illumination have very many small LED diodes that can be switched off and on individually. This results in a significantly better contrast between strongly illuminated pixels and unlit pixels. The advantage: TVs with mini-LEDs hardly cost less than devices with conventional LED lighting. Nevertheless, they come close to the excellent contrast and black levels of an OLED TV.

Micro-LED

Micro-LEDs go one step further. The tiny diodes measure just 50 micrometers in diameter – about one hundredth of a normal LED. In TV sets with ordinary diagonals and resolutions, this size is roughly equivalent to one pixel. This means that each pixel has its own backlight. LCDs with micro-LED lighting therefore offer the advantages of an OLED panel: deep black and high contrast. In addition, however, their design means they can be even more luminous. TVs with micro-LED lighting can reach up to 5000 nits – no OLED TV can keep up with that. Moreover, thanks to LED technology, you don’t have to worry about OLED burn-in. However, the whole thing has its price. Currently, TVs with micro-LEDs cost tens of thousands of euros. So it will be a while before the technology is affordable for consumers.

Full HD – for smaller TVs

Actually, Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) is no longer up to date – at least that’s what TV manufacturers tell us. The fact is: The TV programming of private broadcasters in Germany is almost exclusively broadcast in Full-HD. The public broadcasters even still rely on the outdated 720p standard, i.e. only HD with a resolution of 1280 × 720 pixels. Netflix, Amazon and YouTube also offer most of their content in Full HD and not in the higher-resolution UHD format.

Moreover, this resolution is perfectly sufficient for smaller TVs if they are not sitting exactly one meter away. As a rough rule, below 50-inch diagonal, you can still buy a Full HD TV – and get a real bargain! From 50 inches and the closer you sit to the TV, however, we recommend a TV with UHD, or 4K resolution. Because even if only Full HD formats are watched, the 4K TVs scale them up to four times the resolution, which makes the picture look sharper.

4K UHD – for larger TVs

The TV abbreviation 4K UHD (Ultra High Definition) is standard for current TV models. It describes the resolution of the screens. This is 3840 x 2160 pixels and is exactly four times the resolution of Full HD TVs (1920 x 1080 pixels). This makes picture content look really sharp, especially on large TVs of 50 inches or more, even from a short distance. For TVs with less than 50 inches, 4K resolution is not worth it in most cases.

Even content that actually has a lower resolution looks better on a UHD TV. Through a so-called “upscaling”, the TV optimizes the picture content once again to the higher quality by upscaling the pictures. However, you only get the really best pictures with content that really runs in 4K UHD. This is available on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, for example.

8K – you can save yourself

The 8K resolution is sold to us by TV manufacturers as the next big leap in TV picture quality. This is four times the UHD resolution, i.e. 7680 x 4320 pixels. Sounds spectacular, but at the moment it usually only brings one thing: an empty bank account. That’s because 8K televisions are still very expensive at the moment.

The biggest problem: 8K content is extremely rare. Apart from a few videos on YouTube, the selection is still very limited. Otherwise, the new console generation – PS5 and Xbox Series X – support 8K resolution. Some smartphones like the Galaxy S21 can also record videos in 8K. Nevertheless, content in lower resolution also benefits because it is upscaled to the 8K format. However, this only makes sense for really large screen diagonals from about 75 inches.

HDR and HDR10 – confusing

The abbreviation HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”. HDR videos have a greater brightness range and can display higher-contrast images as well as deeper black levels. Any TV with the HDR abbreviation automatically has HDR10 – where the 10 stands for the number of bits.

A conventional TV with 8 bits can display 256 hue variations of the individual colors red, yellow and blue (RGB). With 10 bits, this equals 1024 gradations. That doesn’t sound all that dramatic at first. In the end, however, an 8-bit panel can only display 16.7 million color tones, while a 10-bit panel can display 16.7 billion (!).

The problem is that many manufacturers give their TVs an HDR logo, even though they cannot really reproduce HDR, but can only process this content to be able to display it at all. Usually, these devices can be identified by the addition “HDR Ready”. It is best to ask the seller whether it is a “real” HDR display.

Dolby Vision and HDR10+ – future-proof

Dolby Vision is a proprietary HDR format. Like HDR10, Dolby Vision ensures higher contrasts and a larger color gamut. However, on an even higher level. Here, even 12-bit data is processed. In plain language, this means that panels with Dolby Vision can even display 68.7 billion colors. Another difference to HDR10: The Dolby Vision metadata stored in the movie files is not static, but dynamic. This means that producers can set optimal values for each scene and frame, whereas HDR10 makes a compromise setting for the entire movie. The problem with Dolby Vision: If companies want to use it, they have to pay license fees to Dolby. That makes the TVs more expensive in the end.

An alternative to Dolby Vision is the license-free HDR10+, which also works dynamically. Except for dynamic metadata, however, the difference to normal HDR10 is marginal. HDR10+ still offers 10-bit color depth and the same maximum brightness.

Ultra HD Premium – guaranteed good

Anyone who sees this logo on a TV can be sure that the latest screen technologies are installed for excellent reproduction.
Photo: UHD Alliance Photo: UHD Alliance

Because the many TV abbreviations have become so confusing, the “Ultra HD Premium” logo was created. This guarantees a UHD standard with HDR10 playback. Thus, you buy a TV on a very high level with excellent picture quality. Only Dolby Vision and the new HDR10+ standard can surpass that.

SUHD – outdated term

When the trend towards very bright and high-contrast displays emerged, Samsung invented the term “SUHD” to differentiate its top models from the standard UHD TVs. These displays are not only particularly bright, but also offer a high color diversity. The limitation compared to higher-priced devices is not the resolution, which remains at 4K UHD. The difference is that SUHD devices are always LCD panels and not the more expensive OLED variants. However, this is actually a marketing invention – which Samsung has now already replaced with QLED.

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Super UHD – LG marketing invention

This is a marketing term from the TV manufacturer LG. TVs that meet HDR10 and Dolby Vision specifications, are particularly slim, and are supposed to have good sound are marketed under the name “Super UHD”. However, this is not an independently certified, manufacturer-independent designation. Here, only LG decides what is sold as “Super UHD”.

Flat and Curved – purely a matter of taste

To give customers a new incentive to buy, displays have simply been curved inwards. So all curved TVs are sold under the TV abbreviation “Curved”. This not only looks spectacular, but in conjunction with a large diameter is also supposed to draw the viewer more into the action.

What sounds good, however, also has disadvantages. Especially when sitting sideways, this effect turns into a negative. And it also looks strange hanging on the wall. So maybe it’s better to go for a flat TV.

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HDMI-ARC and HDMI-CEC – sensible connections

There is also confusion when it comes to connection standards. Here, two formats are particularly interesting for users: the TV abbreviation HDMI-ARC means that a TV can not only receive audio signals, for example from a Blu-ray player, but can also output an audio signal. This is particularly important nowadays, as many customers add a soundbar to their TV and then only need a single HDMI cable.

HDMI CEC is again important if you want to control multiple devices with just one remote control. These must then be connected to the TV via HDMI cable, such as a soundbar, Blu-ray player or surround system. However, TV manufacturers are inventive here as well and have their own names for the HDMI CEC standard. Samsung calls it Anynet+, Sony Bravia Sync and Philips EasyLink.

Conclusion about the TV abbreviations

If you want to buy a TV, it should have a UHD resolution – provided the screen diagonal is at least 50 inches. In the future, there will be more and more UHD channels and content. If you want outstandingly good pictures, you should carefully weigh the surcharge for Dolby Vision and HDR10 technology once for yourself.

If you see the TV abbreviation “Ultra HD Premium”, you can also go for it, because here you are guaranteed a high picture standard that supports HDR10+ – but not necessarily Dolby Vision.

SUHD, QLED, Super UHD and Triluminos are marketing terms of the TV manufacturers. They mark the respective top models with the latest technology, but thus elude reliable certification, as is the case with the Ultra Premium logo or Dolby Vision, for example.

When it comes to connection standards, they should check whether the desired TV supports HDMI-ARC and HDMI-CEC.

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