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TV screen technology explained

What is QLED TV?

By Ben Stockton

Article 5 of 5

Samsung has launched new quantum-dot TVs for 2017, now known as ‘QLED’. But what is this technology and how does it compare with its rivals?

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Samsung is now the only major TV manufacturer without an OLED set, remaining resolute in its belief that you don’t need OLED to get the best-quality picture. 

But LG has long hailed it as the future of TV, and the new OLED sets from Sony and Panasonic in 2017 add weight to this claim.

Instead, Samsung has stood by its quantum-dot technology. Although we saw this technology in high-end 2016 TVs, in 2017 they come under the new moniker ‘QLED’, a confusingly similar term to OLED, but using distinctly different technology.

So, jargon aside, here we take a closer look at what these terms actually mean, and see how they compare.

What’s so special about QLED TV?

The Q in QLED stands for quantum dot – a screen technology that Samsung has been developing in recent years. You’ll find quantum-dot technology in Samsung’s premium 2016 TVs and, beyond a rebranding, there are only minor changes for 2017.

Unlike OLED TVs, Samsung’s QLED sets require a backlight. This light hits a layer of quantum dots, producing the colours you see on screen. While the backlight means light can spill into darker areas of the picture, resulting in washed-out blacks, quantum-dot TVs can be brighter than their OLED rivals, with vibrant, punchy colours.

Samsung says QLED means more than just picture quality, though. It markets these TVs not only for their premium picture quality, but design, too. The barely-there bezels and metal finishes make for stunning-looking sets.

Are QLED TVs the best?

We've only tested three QLED TVs so far. Find out how they performed in the Which? test lab in the table below. Only logged-in Which? members can see the results of our testing. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 trial to Which?.

QLED TVs on test

Samsung QE65Q7F

Samsung QE65Q7F
Today's best price £2,619.37
Which? score %
Reviewed May 2017
Picture quality:
Member exclusive
Sound quality:
Member exclusive
Ease of use:
Member exclusive
Screen size:
65
Resolution type:
4K Ultra-HD
HDR:
Yes

The dazzling QE65Q7F promises stunning picture quality on a vast 65-inch screen. It will set you back a pretty penny, but does its performance justify the price tag?

Samsung QE55Q7F

Samsung QE55Q7F
Today's best price £1,984.20
Which? score %
Reviewed May 2017
Picture quality:
Member exclusive
Sound quality:
Member exclusive
Ease of use:
Member exclusive
Screen size:
55
Resolution type:
4K Ultra-HD
HDR:
Yes

Pitting itself against some of the most expensive TVs on the market, the 55-inch QE55Q7F boasts both style and substance. But did it impress our lab experts?

Samsung QE49Q7F

Samsung QE49Q7F
Today's best price £1,498.99
Which? score %
Reviewed Jun 2017
Picture quality:
Member exclusive
Sound quality:
Member exclusive
Ease of use:
Member exclusive
Screen size:
49
Resolution type:
4K Ultra-HD
HDR:
Yes

The QE49Q7F is touted to have bolder, brighter colours than previous Samsung sets. But does this 49-inch QLED TV deliver the goods?

Not found the product for you? Browse all of our TV reviews

Should I buy a QLED TV?

QLED is a simple rebranding of the technology you’ll find in Samsung’s 2016 high-end TVs. Although the brand claims to have improved picture quality for 2017, paying particularly close attention to colour accuracy, we’ll have to wait to see how these sets fare in the lab.

Samsung’s new backlighting system throws light in more directions, meaning 2017’s QLED TVs should have wider viewing angles with greater colour consistency when watching off-centre. Although LG’s OLEDs are said to be 25% brighter than 2016’s models, Samsung has also upped the brightness in its QLED TVs.

Once we have full test results from the Which? lab, we’ll update this page with the latest findings.

In the meantime, find out what QLED's up against by reading our Best Buy TV reviews.

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