Which Is The Better TV: OLED vs QLED?

Deciding which is the better option in your TV purchase? Read our article to help you decide

A house doesn't feel complete without a TV, does it? Even if all you need is a screen and internet to get the entertainment that you need, having a great TV system to watch comfortably on a big screen still feels like a necessity and Malaysians sure think so as well. Back in 2013, 449 out of 1000 people possessed a television in Malaysia. Last year in 2018 that number rose to 572 out of 1000 people. Which means more than half of Malaysians own a TV now!

 

These days, TVs do more than just be a bigger screen in the house; they come with internet connections, apps and features that make watching your favourite shows or videos a lot easier. So now on top of considering the size you want, it's also important to consider what features you'd want for your TV. 

On top of whether the TV comes pre-installed with your favourite apps and internet connection, you also need to look into the screen. Today, there are a lot of options to look into; LED, LCD, Plasma and now there's also OLED and QLED. For this article, we'll look into the latter two and see which is the better option.

What exactly is OLED/QLED?

To start off, it's important to know that LCD is the dominant technology in flat-panel TVs and has been for a long time. It's definitely cheaper than OLED, especially in larger sizes, and numerous panel makers worldwide can manufacture it.  

Here's a really quick way of knowing the difference:

OLED

  • OLED stands for organic light emitting diode

  • OLED has a fundamentally different technology from LCD, the most common type of TV today

  • OLED is "emissive" where the pixels emit their own light 

OLED is different from LCD TV because it doesn't use an LED backlight to produce light. Instead, light is produced by millions of individual OLED sub-pixels. The pixels themselves, which are tiny dots that compose the image, emit light. This is why it's called an emissive display technology, the difference being that this leads to all kinds of picture quality effects, some of which favor LCD (and QLED), but most of which benefit OLED. 

The most popular OLED TVs come from LG, though there are other brands such as Sony, Panasonic, Bang & Olufsen, Skyworth, ChangHong and more who also sell OLED TVs.

QLED

  • QLED stands for quantum dot LED TV

  • QLED is a variation of LED LCD, adding a quantum dot film to the LCD "sandwich" of the TV

  • QLED, like LCD, is “transmissive” and relies on an LED backlight 

Quantum dots are microscopic molecules that, when hit by light, emit their own differently coloured light. In QLED TVs, the dots are contained in a film and the light that hits them is provided by an LED backlight. That light then travels through a few other layers inside the TV, including a liquid crystal (LCD) layer (thus the sandwich term), to create the picture. The light from the LED source is transmitted through the layers to the screen's surface, which is also why it's called transmissive. 

There are other TV makers that use quantum dots in LCD TVs, but don't call them QLED TVs. Samsung is the only one to do so.

The arguments FOR and AGAINST OLED

The biggest reason to consider the OLED is that it gives better contrast and black level. After all, one of the most important image quality factors in a TV is their black level; the blacker the screen, the better contrast. The OLED's emissive nature means it can turn unused pixels off completely for a blacker, more infinite contrast. 

But there are some problems; OLED pixels have a shorter lifespan than others, which cause the infamous permanent image retention, or "burn-in". This mainly happens if a specific image appears on the screen for too long, causing a sort of shadow of the image to appear even though the scene has changed. On the plus side, this is a rare case, unless you're the type to stick to one channel with the logo stuck on one corner for long hours in a day. If not, this should be fine. 

Another problem is that it tends to be more expensive compared to other alternatives. It's also not customisable, as the smallest OLED TV available is at 55 inches currently, though LG will be launching a 48 inch version next year. OLEDs also currently struggle to reach the same peak brightness levels of the best TVs that have a dedicated backlight.

The arguments FOR and AGAINST QLED

While OLED is able to make screens much darker for better contrast, QLED display screens are a lot brighter. This makes it ideal for brighter rooms and content that are HDR. They also come in various sizes, big to small, and is also a lot affordable in comparison to OLEDs. 

To compare, Samsung's QLED TVs come in 43-inch, 49-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, 82-inch, 85-inch and even 98-inch sizes. This is an advantage as large televisions fastest-growing segment of the market, which makes Samsung the better option in this aspect. Currently Samsung’s biggest TV that’s launched in Malaysia is the 98” Q900 8K Smart QLED TV. 

It also has the better outlook in being able to evolve further and better, as Samsung has revealed a version of QLED that does use emissive technology, much like OLED and plasma. Known as direct-view quantum dot, it dispenses with the liquid crystal layers and uses quantum dots themselves as the light source.  

As mentioned earlier though, even the best QLED with the most effective full-array local dimming will let some light through. This leads to more washed-out, grayer black levels and blooming around bright sections, making it a lower contrast display in comparison to the OLED.

So which is the better TV?

It all depends on the features you’re looking for, of course. For higher quality in terms of display screen and colour, OLED is definitely the winner in this aspect so if this is of high importance to you, then this is the TV you’re looking for. However the limitations range from limited screen sizes and burn-in risks.  

On the other hand, the QLED TV has various sizes and is a lot more affordable in comparison to the OLED TV. Also, there’s almost no chance of there being burn-ins so it’s a great value to consider this one. If you’re looking for good quality display at a size that you want, then best to get a QLED TV.