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TV screen technology explained

What is QLED TV?

By Ben Stockton

Article 5 of 8

Samsung has launched new quantum-dot TVs for 2017, now known as ‘QLED’. But what is this technology and how does it compare to 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 2016 TVs, they now 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.

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 2016 TVs and, beyond a rebranding, there were 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.

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 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 OLEDs are said to be 25% brighter than 2016’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 Buy TV reviews to see which is currently coming out on top.

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