LED or OLED? We look at the pros and cons of both TV display types.
You’ve made the big decision to buy a new TV for your family and now comes the tough part: deciding which model to get. One of the most important considerations when narrowing down your choices is the type of display it has. You’ve probably heard of LED and OLED before, but there’s a lot more that separates these technologies than just one letter.
To help get you up to speed on the differences between these screen options, we’ve identified the main features, and pros and cons of each. This article will arm you with answers when deciding whether LED or OLED is the right fit for your family. Let’s get started!
LED and OLED Features Comparison:
- What is LED?
- What is OLED?
- Size and Price
- Black Level
- Response Time / Input Lag
- Viewing Angle
- Power Consumption
What is LED?
LED means Light Emitting Diode, and it is the most common type of screen used in TVs today. They use LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) panels with an LED backlight in order to illuminate the screen. The benefits of LED TVs include a greater range of sizes, better energy efficiency, brighter luminance, and lower cost versus OLEDs.
What is OLED?
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. These TVs use a carbon-based organic substance that glows when activated by an electric current. The benefit is that OLEDs don’t require a backlight, each pixel is self-illuminating. This results in noticeably deeper black levels, better contrast, and an overall superior picture quality compared to LED TVs.
Size and Price
Screen size and price are two of the most important considerations when searching for a new television.
Looking at screen size, LED TVs come in an impressive range, generally from 29″ and smaller all the way up to 70″ and larger. On the other hand, OLED TVs typically offer a smaller range of size options, with the most common sizes being 55″, 65″, and 77″. So, if you’re leaning towards a 50” TV or below, your best option is an LED display.
As far as price goes, LEDs have a big advantage. Since they are available in a wide variety of sizes, the price point tends to start at just a few hundred dollars. Also, LED TVs are available in 1080p Full HD as well as 4K Ultra HD, which also means they can have a low-starting price range for that 1080p bracket. OLEDs are only available in 4K UHD and use more expensive imaging technology, so the price range is often substantially higher.
Most LED TVs display black levels that look more charcoal gray in colour than true black. This is due to the limitations of the local dimming backlighting that powers these displays. Since OLEDs don’t rely on backlighting, they can produce much deeper blacks compared to LEDs. OLED TVs are best viewed in dim rooms, which allow you to truly appreciate the stunning black levels and colour contrast.
A TV’s contrast is the ratio between the luminance of the brightest white and darkest black it can produce. It’s better to have a larger contrast ratio as this means the overall range from bright white to deep black is greater.
LED sets give you great all-around contrast, however, OLEDs can produce near-pure black levels resulting in a noticeably wider contrast. Most TV manufacturers include contrast ratio in their lineup’s tech specs, so be sure to compare when deciding the right TV for you.
LEDs have always been known to outperform OLEDs in one key area: brightness. LED TVs boast greater peak brightness, which offers a vivid visual boost to action scenes, outdoor sports, and video games.
TV brightness is measured in “nits”, which measures the amount of light spread over a square metre. LEDs can range from 1,000- 2,000 nits, and in contrast, OLEDs peak brightness is around 800 nits. Without getting too caught up in the technical weeds, LED TVs offer substantially bright whites then their OLED counterparts.
If having a wide colour range is important to you, there’s not much to worry about. LED and OLED TVs have near-perfect colour accuracy in most models. Most newer 4K LED TVs use wide colour gamut (WCG) technology to product an even greater range of colours. This colour gamut is close to what we see in movie theatres.
We also must mention an important technology used by many manufacturers: High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR is used in LEDs and OLEDs for even greater variations in colour and brightness levels. If you’re looking for the best picture quality possible, an LED or OLED screen with HDR is your best option.
Response Time / Input Lag
Response time is an important part of a great viewing experience. It’s often overlooked, so we’ll explain how LEDs and OLEDs compare when it comes to this feature.
Simply put, response time refers to the amount of time it takes a pixel to shift from one colour to another. Response time is measured in milliseconds (ms). The faster the shift between active and inactive pixels, the less screen lag and motion blur the viewer will see.
Generally, LED TVs have slower response time because they illuminate clusters of pixels as opposed to individual pixels. The faster OLED screens can turn individual pixels on and off at a faster rate.
However, LEDs have the advantage of reduced input lag. This is the time it takes for a picture to be generated by a source (e.g. your Blu-ray player) and then appearing on screen. Input lag is measured in milliseconds, and some LED TVs offer 20ms input lag or less. In comparison, 20ms is about the lowest you’ll see in OLED displays, with many models being much higher. Input lag is especially important for video games, as you want your controller inputs to be reflected onscreen immediately without lag.
Viewing angle is an important consideration when buying a new TV. With LEDs, direct viewing offers a colourful and bright picture experience. However, you may notice slight contrast, brightness, and colour distortion as you move to the sides. As such, LEDs are usually best viewed from the front.
On the flip side, OLEDs eliminate the issue of viewing angle problems due to their self-lighting pixels. When viewed at an angle, the picture and colour quality is generally just as good as when viewing the screen head-on. This makes OLEDs a great option for families that watch TV together in large rooms, where some view the TV at a sharp angle.
LED TVs have been around for many years and have proven to be reliable and durable. With an average lifespan around 100,000 hours, LEDs have been known to be long-lasting and trustworthy.
OLEDs haven’t been around for as long, but most manufacturers peg them at close to the 100,000-hour threshold as well. The one thing OLEDs are more susceptible to is screen burn-in if image is left on the screen for too long. If you opt to go the OLED, it’s recommended you don’t leave static images on the screen for any extended period of time.
When it comes to power consumption, LEDs generally have the advantage. These sets draw less power to display images, resulting in a more energy-efficient TV that saves you on energy costs. In order to make an OLED more energy-efficient you need to reduce the bright levels, but this reduces the contrast ratio as well and isn’t ideal. If energy costs are factor for you, go with an LED TV.
There are benefits and drawbacks to any electronic device, and that holds true for LED and OLED televisions. LEDs are the clear winner when it comes to screen size choice, screen brightness, cost, and energy consumption. OLEDs are more expensive, but provide superior black levels, contrast ratio, and viewing angle. Consider each feature and how important it is to you.
Choosing the right TV display technology is an important decision for you and your family. We hope this article has equipped you with the knowledge you need to make an informed choice. Be sure to browse Walmart Canada’s vast selection of TVs to find the perfect set at any budget.