QLED TV: Technology Explained
So, what is QLED? If you’re looking for a new television, you may have come across the odd QLED TV from TV maker Samsung – but it can actually be difficult to choose what makes it different from other panel technologies.
Essentially, QLED TV is a proprietary panel technology developed by Samsung for its top tier TVs. Using a metal quantum dot filter, QLED panels enhance color and contrast, enhancing the capabilities of HDR and 4K images compared to other non-quantum dot LCD-LEDs.
A little more than that (QLED models are now included in Samsung’s Bixby Virtual Assistant and a nifty ambient mode that helps them blend into your room better) but what you’ve just read makes a QLED QLED.
This is not quite a revolution in TV displays, but it provides a higher visual standard beyond the scope of regular LCD TVs.
Samsung’s 2019 TV range has more QLED TVs than ever before, even as competition from rival panel technologies – OLED, for one – remains tight.
Here we will cover everything you need to know about QLED, how it compares to a basic LCD-LED TV, and whether it is worth investing in a QLED TV.
What is QLED?
It’s a little secret, to put it lightly. Literally QLED means – or shall we mean – quantum dot light-emitting diodes (not to be confused with QLED, OLED TVs), but this Samsung-baked concept is basically an enhancement to the same quantum dot technology. The latest set is what the company has been working on for the last few years.
Technically speaking, Samsung’s QLED TV is not QLED at all, at least the way we understand the term. A ‘proper’ quantum light-emitting diode element emits its own light – the clue is in the name – while Samsung’s latest TVs use a separate LCD backlight (and an edge-lit backlight on it), any other LED. – Like LCD TV. So where the QLED moniker comes from, we are not sure.
How does a QLED TV work?
It is complicated, but hangs with us in it. So, to start, all QLED TVs have a quantum dot filter. This year, there is a new refined aluminum compound that helps make dots more efficient (and therefore brighter) and more effective through passing light, creating wider and more accurate colors.
So what is a quantum dot filter? It is a film of small crystal semi-conductor particles that can be precisely controlled for their color output, replacing the red, green, and blue filters used by older TVs.
Samsung says that its QLED TVs use the new filters to display 100% coverage of the DCI / P3 color space (read: much darker black levels and sparkling HDR), and whatever the brightness, that display. Keep it
They are actually so bright, that Samsung’s QLED TVs can manage anywhere between 1500 NIT to 2000 NIT brightness. Considering 1000 NITs to produce HDR, it is reasonably bright, although exactly how anyone can make a dazzle of 2000 nits, we’re not sure. Sunglasses, anyone?
While advances in brightness are tricky, Samsung claims that the new QLED TVs feature a redesigned pixel panel structure to allow better off-axis viewing. For the living room environment, this can be a big selling point of QLED.
QLED vs LED
Beyond the ‘paradigm shift’ of Samsung’s marketing, it is really important to understand that QLED is not really anything new. In fact, it is actually nothing more than the latest – possibly among the last technically possible – linkage to existing LED-LCD technology that has dominated BigScreen TVs for the past decade.
QLED’s innovations – darker blacks, better colors, and wider viewing angles – tackle the three traditional problems of LED and LCD technology, but they are the same problems that are addressed by TV manufacturers from year to year. Only upcoming reviews will reveal whether QLED is, in fact, a significant step up from traditional LED-LCD screens – but chances are good that we’ll see some real improvements in these areas with Samsung’s new sets.
QLED vs OLED
Perhaps a more important comparison is QLED versus OLED. The latter uses pixels that emit their own light, but OLED displays are manufactured only by Samsung’s arch-rival LG, and are now also used by Sony, Philips and Panasonic.
There is no doubt that QLED is, for now, an advantage in terms of brightness (so in theory HDR can handle content better – although it can easily be overcooked easily), but if you Looking for a ‘paradigm shift’ in picture quality and next-gen display technology, OLED is still at the forefront. The latter uses individually lit pixels to achieve better contrast ratios and richer blacks that LED-LCDs will never be able to hit, quantum dot filters or not. You can also watch the best of the bunch in our best OLED TV roundup.
What happened to SUHD?
QLED and SUHD are essentially the same thing; The new messaging is more about marketing than technology, although the jump from 1000 nits on major QHDED TVs to 1,500 to 2,000 on top-end SUHD TVs is probably more revolutionary than before. Simply put, for a purchase the public is still holding on to what is happening with the UHD, the SUHD has just proved to be misleading, so Samsung has dropped it. (It probably didn’t even help that the ‘S’ in SUHD didn’t really mean anything … although we’re not convinced that QLED is very clear.)
Should I buy a QLED TV?
Samsung’s QLED TVs are claimed to be the brightest colored, most accurate color images that work with all types of content in all types of lighting conditions.
To an extent, those claims are true. Samsung has done some incredible high-end TVs such as the 2019 Samsung Q90 QLED in recent years to improve QLED panels. And Samsung is savvy about using QLED as a by-word for premium hardware as well as great picture quality.
All of this seems like a good package for the living room, but should you buy a QLED TV, eventually the price will decrease. You are still paying thousands for a good QLED television, and the longevity of the QLED lies in how much technology Samsung can bring to a more mid-size budget. For now though, QLED offers a bright picture of what’s to come.