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TV screen technology explained

What is QLED TV?

By Martin Pratt

Article 5 of 9

Samsung is launching new quantum-dot TVs for 2018, known as ‘QLED’. But what is this technology and how does it compare to the OLED TVs released by 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 new OLED sets from Sony and Panasonic add weight to this claim.

Instead, Samsung has stood by its quantum-dot technology. Although we saw this technology in high-end TVs back in 2016, they now come under the 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.

Ready to shop? In-depth reviews of the latest QLEDs can be found in our TV reviews.

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 2017 and 2018 TVs.

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. 

You can read more about the technology and new features Samsung has introduced to make its TV less conspicuous in our Samsung 2018 TV guide.

Should I buy a QLED TV?

We're now in our second year with the QLED name which is still 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 since, paying particularly close attention to colour accuracy.

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

It's clear that the battle at the top-end of the TV market will be fought between OLED and QLED, with manufacturers each trying to outdo the other by fine-tuning of what are two extremely impressive technologies. Will one emerge as an overall winner? It's too soon to tell - but with prices already dropping on this premium display technology, value could be a deciding factor.

Take a look through our Best TV reviews to see which is currently coming out on top.