What is QLED TV?
QLED is not a new technology. These TV use LCD panels with a separate LED backlight unit. The LEDs in backlight are coated with Quantum-dot nanocrystals that produce light of very specific color when given energy.
- Wide Color Gamut as they can produce more colors with the addition of quantum dots
- Very high brightness levels (their brightness can reach 2000 nits which is double that of 800-1000 nits for OLED).
- Best HDR performance due to above things
- At wide angles, colors and brightness starts to fade
- Poor black levels and haloing issues due to separate LED light source and high brightness requirements of HDR
Manufacturers are improving the contrast performance of QLED TVs by using VA panels which have better black levels. They are also using full-array backlight and increasing the number of dimmable zones for effective local dimming.
What is OLED TV?
OLED is a new technology that is fundamentally different from vastly produced LCD-based TVs today. The OLED panels are composed of Organic LEDs that glow when electric charge is passed through them. They are self-emissive and individual pixel dims and lights itself up.
- Deeper Blacks (as pixels can be completely turned off) and hence superior Contrast Ratio
- Wide Viewing Angles
- Due to millions of self-emitting pixels, the image can be rendered with greater precision as compared to LCD panels
- Pixel burn-in and Image Retention
- Limited peak brightness and decrease in pixel brightness with time
The main issue with OLED TVs is pixel burn-in and following software features are included to reduce its effects:
- Pixel Refresher
- Screen Shift – slightly move the screen at regular intervals
- Logo Luminance – detect static logo on screen and lower its brightness
OLED vs. QLED? Which TV is best?
No technology is perfect for all the use cases. Every technology has drawbacks and strengths. But overall nothing can beat pixel-to-pixel accuracy of OLED.
That said, generally OLED TVs are perfect choice for movie fans while QLED TVs are good for gaming as there is no image retention.
Also OLEDs are unbeatable in dark rooms. Light pollution is not good for OLEDs as it lowers the contrast performance by fading the blacks. On the other hand, QLEDs strength lies in brightness and they are a better option if you have lots of ambient light in the room.
Sony vs LG vs Panasonic OLED TV?
Currently LG has monopoly in OLED panel production as they have patented the technology required to manufacture large screen size OLED panels. So all TV brands use LG panels in their OLED TVs. But even if different brands use the same OLED panel, the final picture does not always look the same because panel technology is not everything. Chips and image processors used in the TV play a crucial role in what image is fed to the panel.
Even with the same panel, different brands master different areas of picture quality:
- Panasonic goes all-in for color accuracy as they have long standing relationship with Hollywood filmmakers.
- LG puts a lot of punch in their TVs picture and hence it looks very vibrant and attractive.
- Sony TVs lie somewhere in the middle. They are very good at motion handling and smoothness.
Why Samsung is not using the OLED technology?
Samsung uses high quality OLED screens in their mobiles and even supply them to Apple for use in iPhones. But they are not easy to manufacture for large screen TVs.
Samsung released one RGB-OLED television in 2013, and they used separate red, blue and green OLED to create the sub-pixels. But it had issues of color shifting over time as different colors age differently. Also it was costly to produce and had poor viewing angles. So Samsung abandoned it.
LG on the other hand, approached the problem differently and developed WRGB-OLED TVs. Here each sub-pixel is white and color filters are used on top of it to create red, green and blue light. This proved to be a viable and good solution that LG currently uses in their OLED panels.
In premium TV segment, while Samsung made a huge bet on Quantum-dot technology, LG fought the war with their OLED lineup and they got hugely successful. They captured the top position within few years and outranked Samsung who can neither manufacture OLED panels, nor source it from LG.
Why QLED TV price is not cheap (even though they are LCD TVs)?
Although Quantum-dot TVs are based on LCD technology which costs very less to mass manufacture, QLED TV price is nothing less than OLED TVs.
This is partly because they need full-array LED backlight to combat the inherent issue of poor black levels which is expensive to master. And its partly a case of clever marketing where Samsung is pricing their QLED TVs high to give an illusion that they are equally premium as their OLED counterpart.
Samsung completely abandoned OLED production citing issues related to pixel burn-in. They put large marketing budgets behind the QLED TV instead. In hindsight, this step was a stepping-stone towards their ultimate goal of MicroLED TVs which is a superior and completely new technology.
MicroLEDs are self-emissive tiny Quantum-dot LEDs that are individually made for each subpixel color of red, green and blue and then assembled onto the final display with the help of robots.
- Perfect blacks
- Wide Color Gamut
- Outstanding viewing angles
- Brighter picture as compared to any other technology because of LEDs as backlight source
- Very power efficient
- Cheaper to produce than OLED
- No pixel burn-in
MicroLED panels are manufactured one sub-pixel at a time which is very difficult to achieve even with the best robot technology. Also all the LEDs present need to be individually calibrated to deliver same brightness and colors. So they are far away from being a viable mass market product and until then OLED has clear advantage.