Are OLED TVs really better than LCD/LED TVs?

OLED displays are considered the ultimate when it comes to picture quality in TVs because they can achieve absolute black levels. However, new LED TVs are clearly superior in one important aspect.

There are currently two dominant display technologies in the television industry: the tried-and-true LED (light-emitting diode) and OLED (organic light-emitting diode). Movie fans in particular have created a real hype around OLED technology. In contrast to LED technology, OLED TVs illuminate each individual pixel by itself and can be dimmed individually or completely as needed. This leads to optimal picture contrasts, i.e. an excellent display of bright and dark picture areas next to each other.

This is exactly where the usual LED displays are weak, because the liquid crystals need a backlight. In most LED TVs, this is located at the edge of the picture (edge LED) and distributes the light over the entire panel. This allows for very thin housings, but unfortunately the display of picture contrasts and especially dark scenes is not ideal.

Not all LEDs are the same

In the best and most expensive LCD TVs, such as the Panasonic TX-65DXW 904 , the lighting is located directly behind the display (Direct-LED). This allows the picture to be divided into individual light areas – for example, the Panasonic DXW 904 has 512 so-called clusters. Compared to the edge-LED solution, higher contrasts and black levels can be achieved. The disadvantages: thicker and heavier casing, fan needed to cool the illumination, higher energy consumption, more expensive than Edge-LED.

Nevertheless, manufacturers like Samsung and Sony prove that you can get a lot out of the edge technology with several tricks for better light distribution. Above all, the top LED models among the TVs have a decisive advantage: they shine much brighter than the best OLED TVs. One of the top models from LG, the OLED65E7V comes up to 800 nits (luminance), which is a good value. However, the best LED TVs from Sony, Panasonic and Samsung now easily crack the 1000 nits barrier. The new Samsung Q9F currently reaches the maximum with 2000 nits.

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Do we even need such a bright display?

For one thing, televisions will need this extreme brightness in the future to optimally display movies in the new HDR and Dolby Vision format, for example. On the other hand, bright screens look much better in a bright environment. So, if you have a sunny living room, windows in the back or leave the lights on when watching TV anyway, and rarely watch movies in total darkness, you might be better served with an LED TV of the latest generation. In such cases, picture brightness is more important than a perfect black.

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In addition, LED TVs are still significantly cheaper than OLED TVs and have a longer lifespan. OLED sets currently reach about 20,000 hours, while LCD sets manage 100,000 hours. Because Samsung could neither get a grip on the low lifespan nor the poor manufacturing yield, the manufacturer bet everything on its own quantum dot technology (QLED) for a long time. Only recently did it announce its first OLED TVs. Thus, the market leader in Germany is moving up to brands like Metz , LG , Loewe , Panasonic , Philips and Sony.