What is QLED? Samsung's new TV tech jargon busted

Is it just a cheeky name, or could QLED really be better than OLED?

OK. Here’s how TVs were in 2016: LG’s OLEDs were the best you could buy at any price, Samsung’s Quantum Dot sets were the best you could buy without remortgaging your house.

For 2017, it’s all change. Panasonic and Sony have joined LG on the OLED bandwagon, leaving Samsung as the only one of the big four TV companies to have not yet embraced what many people believe to be the ultimate in telly tech.

Instead, it's making a huge song and dance about its own panel technology, which it's cheekily (and that's putting it mildly) calling "QLED".

So how does QLED work and does it even stand a chance against OLED? We’ve seen Samsung’s new TVs in the flesh and have at least some of the answers.

What is QLED?

Essentially, it's the new name for Samsung's Quantum Dot range of TVs - a contraction of "Quantum Dot LED", with "Quantum Dot" being Samsung's picture technology and "LED" being the backlight.

Samsung is the only maker of QLED sets because they use its Quantum Dot innovations, although both Sony and LG have dabbled in Quantum Dot tech in the past as well.

What is a Quantum Dot?

A QLED or Quantum Dot TV is an LED-backlit LCD TV with special colour enhancing particles. These particles are tiny, between 2 and 10 nanometers in diameter, and are ridiculously efficient at producing saturated blues and reds.

Samsung says that with Quantum Dot technology it can produce brighter sets with greater colour accuracy, and that’s becoming a really important factor in TV Land thanks to the rise of HDR (High Dynamic Range), which relies heavily on increased contrast, brightness and colour vibrancy to deliver its eye-popping pictures.

How is QLED different from OLED?

Even though the names are strikingly similar (and Samsung would probably be quite happy for you to confuse the two), QLED and OLED TVs are very different.

The core difference is that while QLED TVs require a backlight, OLED TVs don't because each OLED pixel emits its own light, which has a huge impact on contrast - one teeny weeny pixel can be pure black, while the one next to it can be bright white or colour, and no LED backlit TV can yet match that. Because OLEDs consist of just one panel, it means the TVs can be super-thin as well. Check out LG's freshly announced "Wallpaper TV" for evidence.

The complexity of OLED panels makes them way more expensive to make and buy, though, and while prices have come down a bit over the last couple of years, there's still not an OLED TV out there that anyone could really call "affordable".