Your Guide to TV Display Types: OLED vs. QLED vs. LCD

If you’re thinking about buying a new TV, there are plenty of factors to consider and decisions to make. One of the most important is which of the many TV display types you want. There are numerous competing technologies powering the displays of today’s TVs, each with its own set of pros and cons.
Upsie is here to help you through the decision-making process with a quick guide on the top TV display types on the market today: OLED, QLED, and LCD.
And no matter which TV display type you settle on, when you go to buy that new TV, don’t forget an extended TV warranty from Upsie to go along with it.

OLED: What It Is

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, the technical name for the technology powering this display type. This technology is an entirely new approach to display technology that adds some truly impressive innovations.
CNet put it nicely in its explainer: “Each pixel in an OLED display is made of a material that glows when you jab it with electricity. Kind of like the heating elements in a toaster, but with less heat and better resolution.”
The “organic” part is significant: each pixel on an OLED screen is electroluminescent, and each one contains some form of organic compound that contributes to the color generation.

What Makes OLED Special

The thing that sets OLED apart is just how brightly (and not brightly) each pixel can shine. Because each pixel is lit independently and starts from being completely off or dark, OLED screens have the best contrast of any commercially available TV. Blacks are true black, with no light whatsoever. Bright colors are themselves vivid, and they stand up already even more when paired with those true blacks.
In other words, even an average-quality OLED display is going to look better than a higher-end LCD, based on contrast ratio and vividness alone. So, if pure picture quality is your most important factor, you should go with OLED for your next TV.

Drawbacks to OLED

OLED displays are one of the best TV display types, but there are a few drawbacks. First, they aren’t always the brightest TV displays on the market. If you need extreme brightness, such as for an outdoor patio, this isn’t the display type for you.
OLED displays are also prone to screen burn-in in a way that other modern display types aren’t. As long as you aren’t leaving the display on a static image for a long time or watching extremely similar content all day, this probably won’t be an issue for you. Still, you should know that it is a possibility. (And you should get an extended warranty from Upsie that covers screen burn-in.)

QLED: What It Is

If OLED is so awesome, then QLED must be pretty great, too, right? Or maybe even better?
Well, that’s what Samsung wants you to think, but no. QLED is something totally different. And according to CNet’s repeated side-by-side tests, QLED never outperforms OLED.
QLED is mostly just Samsung’s marketing spin on their variation of regular old LED-backlit LCD display tech. Because they rely on a backlight, QLED displays don’t get those true blacks like OLED models do. So instead, the company adds what they call a quantum dot matrix layer to the LCD, improving picture quality significantly over basic LCD. Still, it doesn’t compete well with OLED, even if the latest models have come closer.

What Makes QLED Special

Samsung quantum dot layer does improve picture quality over standard LCDs. Also, the brand has invested in all sorts of improvements like local dimming zones, so you can be sure that a QLED set is, in fact, a higher-end TV.

Drawbacks to QLED

QLED displays tend to cost more thanks to the branding, but the actual benefit of the quantum dot layer is hard to measure. For many consumers, it’s hard to justify paying premium prices for an inferior picture that’s only a little better than the basic cheap LCD tech, too.

LCD: What It Is

Liquid crystal displays have been the backbone of the TV industry since the mid-2000s when HDTVs first went mainstream. LCDs displays rely on a powerful backlight, and then the liquid crystals filter, color, and block out some of that light to form a cohesive picture.
If you’ve ever owned a cheap HDTV, it was almost certainly an LCD.

Pros of LCD

LCDs can be quite bright, and they produce an adequate picture. They are very reliable and, most importantly, inexpensive. Consumers who want a decent experience and one to the most inches for their money should choose LCD.

Drawbacks to LCD

Inexpensive LCDs lack the features and display qualities of higher-end sets, and all LCDs have some degree of bloom or fade to their blacks.

Upgrading Your TV? Upgrade to Upsie, too

When it comes time to upgrade your TV, no matter which display type you choose, Upsie will protect your TV with a quality extended TV warranty. Upsie covers all the common defects and failures — including screen burn-in — with no deductible. In addition, you’ll get peace of mind and quick in-home service by certified technicians if you need to make a claim.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.