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Buy an LCD LED TV or OLED TV? – These are the main differences

In this article we list the most important differences when buying a TV choosing between LCD LED TV or OLED TV.
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Buy an LCD LED TV or OLED TV? - These are the main differences

This year we see the range of OLED TVs increasing steadily. In addition to LG, the Korean manufacturer that has already marketed several OLED TVs, and Philips will this year include Panasonic and Sony with OLED models. The offer is therefore increasing, but which TV should you go for now? An LCD LED TV or an OLED TV? We list the most important differences between when buying LCD LED TV or OLED TV.


You will wonder why we use the term ‘LCD LED TV’. Simply put, an LED TV doesn’t actually exist, but manufacturers do use this term. An LED TV is actually an LCD TV, but with an LED backlight. Instead of CCFL lighting, LEDs are placed behind the panel in these models to illuminate the whole. At present, almost every LCD TV is equipped with LED backlighting, so the term ‘LED TV’ is often used.

Buy an LCD LED TV or OLED TV? - These are the main differences

LED lighting can be placed around the edges behind the display (Edge Lit LED lighting) or in an array directly behind the panel (Full Array LED lighting). The latter technique is often used in the high-end models, as it provides deeper black levels and higher contrast in most cases. In addition, an LCD TV can contain an IPS panel or a VA panel. An ips panel provides relatively low contrast but wide viewing angles, while a va panel provides good contrast with relatively small viewing angles.

What is an OLED TV?

We will spare you the exact technological explanation of an OLED display, but OLED consists of a number of small diodes (lights). A diode is a very small source of light with an organic component that itself emits light. This technique does not use backlighting because the image points (pixels) themselves emit light when an electrical charge passes through them. Thanks to a thin color filter (RGBW) and adjusting the intensity of a diode, the colors can be displayed. As indicated above, LCD LED TVs use backlighting and can therefore not be produced as thin as OLED TVs. Simply put, the pixels of OLED TVs themselves give light. Read more about what an OLED TV is exactly .

The difference between an LCD LED TV or OLED TV

There are many differences between the OLED technology and the LCD LED technology, and also between the LCD LED TV and the OLED TV that you see in the shops. We focus on the main differences below.

LCD LED TV or OLED TV – Image quality

We see the difference in image quality mainly in the area of ​​black values ​​and brightness. OLED TVs have pixels that can be switched on and off individually, making black really pitch black. An LCD LED TV has a backlight that is always on (partly in the case of local dimming), so that black is often against gray.

Local dimming means that multiple zones (groups of LEDs) can be controlled / operated independently of each other. One zone can be off while the other gives bright light. The more zones, the higher the contrast and the deeper the black.

In addition, an OLED TV has an infinite contrast since each pixel is controlled separately. An LCD LED TV is limited by the backlight that is on continuously and this affects the contrast. The more zones with LEDs can be controlled (local dimming), the higher the contrast will be. Part of the screen can be bright white in multiple zones, while another part is deep black. However, LCD LED TVs always have more or less ‘blooming’ due to the technology used, whereby a light haze can be seen around light objects on a dark background. This technique can also reduce the level of detail in dark parts of the screen. It is always a compromise because not every pixel can be controlled individually.

Buy an LCD LED TV or OLED TV? - These are the main differences

However, LCD LED TVs currently also have an advantage over OLED TVs. Premium models with HDR support can provide a higher brightness, more than 1000 nits in fact. However, the higher that (peak) brightness, the more difficult it is to preserve deep black, so that black can appear as gray again. With an OLED TV, the more pixels that have to burn completely, the more difficult it is to display bright white. With a completely white screen, the brightness is therefore lower than with 10 percent white. An OLED TV has a peak brightness of approximately 700 nits. However, the advantage that the pixel can still be deep black in addition to the white pixel (which is not possible with LCD LED) also remains here.

The uniformity of the screen is also an important part, something that we see especially with completely black or uniformly colored images. An LCD LED TV with edge lit LED lighting can suffer from backlight bleeding (light flows in from the edges) or clouding (light spots on the screen). Blooming (light haze around light objects) is still a problem with Full Array LCD LED TVs. First generation OLED TVs also had their issues, including visible vertical lines or flare. With the current generation of OLED TVs, this has been reduced to almost 0.

There is no difference between OLED and LCD LED when it comes to resolutions. Both techniques can display resolutions from Full HD to 4K Ultra HD and in the future we will also see 8K Ultra HD resolutions with both techniques.

High dynamic range

High dynamic range , in which deep black is combined with bright white, is completely hot. In terms of brightness, LCD LED still has an advantage, and that is often what manufacturers show during demonstrations. LCD LED TVs can impressively display a full sun, but on the other hand, this is often at the expense of deep black. The more zones with LEDs, the less trouble you have, but the problem always remains to a greater or lesser extent. An OLED TV cannot be as bright as an LCD LED TV and is therefore less impressive (for some). However, an OLED TV can perfectly combine the bright parts with deep black, which compensates for the less bright display.

Motion blur

A common problem (with almost every TV) is the stuttering or blurry display of fast-moving images or objects in the picture. LED LED TVs have various techniques to make these movements run as smoothly as possible (including scanning backlight), but stuttering or smeared images remain a problem that many encounter. That is why manufacturers are introducing various motion settings with which everything is displayed very smoothly but with which you get a kind of soap opera effect at the same time. A movie can seem so unnatural. You often have to play with the settings for the best compromise. On paper, OLED TVs should not suffer from motion problems, but our own experience shows that this is not entirely the case. Motion blur is less present than on an LCD LED TV, but still present.

Energy consumption

In general, the energy consumption of an OLED TV is slightly lower than that of an LCD LED TV. This is partly because OLED TVs have pixels that can be switched on and off individually, which is a lot more efficient. In dark scenes less energy is used because the pixels are really off. An LCD LED TV has an LED backlight that is always on, unless local dimming is used, so that groups of LEDs can be switched off. LCD LED TVs generally also have a higher brightness (which is an advantage), but this obviously costs more energy. However, the difference in energy consumption will not save you tens of euros per year.

Viewing angles

The viewing angles of an LCD LED TV depend on whether you are dealing with a VA panel or an IPS panel. An IPS panel generally has better viewing angles than a va panel, but has to make do with less contrast. An OLED TV does not suffer from less viewing angles because the light is spread the same in every direction. So you can comfortably watch an OLED TV from every angle.

Design and format

LCD LED TVs have been on the market for years and the production technology is mature. You can get LCD LED TVs in almost any size, from 24-inch to 150-inch. OLED TVs are available in smaller and smaller sizes, from 55-inch to 77-inch. This is because an OLED TV is much more expensive to produce, so that a very small TV or a very large TV would quickly price itself out of the market. It is also important to report that LG is currently the only manufacturer that has mastered the mass production of OLED (for TVs). The Korean manufacturer is currently focusing on sizes from 65-inch to 77-inch, but other sizes may be added in the future.

In terms of appearance, we see another important difference. OLED TVs are generally a lot thinner than LCD LED TVs. This is due to the technology used, which means that a ‘thick’ backlight is no longer necessary. The thinnest OLED TV is a few millimeters thick and the end is not yet in sight. An LCD LED TV with edge lit LED lighting is generally thinner than an LCD LED TV with Full Array LED lighting, with the reason that the LEDs are located directly behind the panel in the latter models. This ensures better quality, but makes the TV a lot thicker. An LCD LED TV with Full Array LED also weighs a bit more than a model with edge lit LED. An OLED TV can be a few kilos lighter than an LCD LED TV with edge lit LED.

Lifespan and burn-in

A frequently heard criticism about OLED is that the lifespan is not long and that there is a risk of burn-in. However, the lifespan does not appear to differ much from that of an LCD LED TV. For the 2016 models, LG promises a lifespan of 100,000 hours and by then you are really ready for a new TV. An LCD LED TV should also be able to last around 80,000 to 100,000 hours. Still, OLED TVs can have to deal with the problem that the intensity of OLED pixels decreases over time. LG, however, indicates that various algorithms continue to compensate for this so that you as a viewer do not notice anything. However, it remains to be seen how an OLED TV performs after 5 or 10 years. After all, we are not that far yet.

The same actually applies to burn-in. According to LG, the risk is very small (especially due to security built into the TV), but we will only really know in a few years whether OLED TVs will suffer from this. We have not yet experienced it ourselves. An LCD LED TV can theoretically burn in, but then you have to make it very tight. We therefore assume that that will not happen either.


The price is a very important part for many consumers and in this area LCD LED still wins, although the gap is getting smaller every year. OLED TVs are still relatively expensive to produce, they offer a basic premium quality and there is only one major manufacturer for OLED panels; LG Display. At the moment you can find the cheapest OLED TV for around 1,400 euros, although that is a relatively old model with Full HD resolution and a 55-inch format. The latest 2017 models are likely to start at $ 2,500 for the cheapest 55-inch models. You can buy LCD LED TVs for a few hundred euros and the 55-inch top models are between 2,000 and 3,000 euros in 2017. If we go larger in size, OLED TVs will rise faster in price than LCD LED TVs. Samsung is the exception to the rule in 2017. QLED TVs are right in terms of price compared to OLED TVs from LG, among others.

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