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TV screen technology explained

What is QLED TV? Best QLED TVs to buy

By Martin Pratt

Article 5 of 9

Samsung doesn't make OLED TVs, it makes QLED sets instead. But what is this technology and how does it compare with high-end models 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 its own QLED technology is just as capable when it comes to 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.

Is Samsung right to stick with QLED? We explain how the technology works, look at the best models and see how they compare with OLEDs.

In this guide:

Ready to shop? Take a look at all our QLED TV reviews.

What is a QLED TV? 

  • The Q in QLED stands for quantum dot. These miniscule dots form a layer in front of the backlight and create the colours you see on screen.
  • Most TVs are LCD and use liquid crystals (the LC in LCD). Quantum dots take the place of these crystals.
  • Samsung pioneered the technology and debuted it in 2016. Now you can find quantum dot displays in all its high-end sets.
  • You can spot a Samsung QLED set by its model name; it will always start with a 'Q'.
  • A few other small brands make QLEDs, too, but Samsung is the only one of the big four manufacturers (LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony) to make them.
  • Quantum dot are said to produce more vibrant colours and brighter images.

QLED vs OLED 

Samsung stands alone in supporting its QLED technology: LG, Panasonic and Sony all choose OLED displays for their high-end sets.

You can look at our guide on OLED TVs to learn more about them, but the key distinction is that OLED displays don't use backlights; every bulb in the display is self-emitting. This improves contrast control and motion fluidity, but Samsung believes QLEDs displays are brighter and show more vivid colours.

  • Price - whether you're buying an OLED or a QLED, you're going to need to fork out a fair bit of money. Go for the top-end of either and you can expect to pay around £3,000, but where the cheapest OLED will tend to be around £1,500, some QLEDs start at around £800.
  • Size - you won't find an OLED with screen smaller than 55 inches, but QLEDs can be much smaller. Most of the ranges have a 49-inch model and there's even one 43-incher.
  • Spec - the technology in the TVs differ slightly from brand to brand and each will have its own unique selling point, but some things are consistent. They will always be 4K, support HDR and be smart. No matter if you choose OLED or QLED you will typically get the very best TV technology available from that brand.

Should I buy a QLED TV? 

There are no guarantees in the TV world. Price, brand, screen type: none of these necessarily make a Best Buy TV. Some of the best TVs we've ever tested have been QLEDs, but we've also found ones that didn't make the grade.

You shouldn't necessarily rule out LCD displays either. They are generally cheaper, but some are just as good or better than many QLED sets.

If you want the best of the best then you must consider OLEDs as well as QLEDs. To dismiss any one screen type would be limiting yourself unnecessarily.

Take a look at our top TVs for 2020 to see how many QLEDs made the grade or check the table below for our favourite QLEDs.

The best QLED TVs

79%
£1,799.00
Reviewed

This 65-inch QLED is Samsung's best TV and an absolute marvel that can hold its own against the best OLEDs out there.

78%
£1,399.00
Reviewed

The sound is some of the best we’ve heard and the level of the detail at all resolutions is stunning. It’s not a cheap 65-inch QLED, but it’s worth every penny.

76%
£899.00
Reviewed

There’s very little that this masterful 55-inch TV does wrong. It scored the full five stars for sound, HD and 4K picture quality. It’s also packed with nifty features to make it easier to use and to get to the content you want to watch more quickly.

74%
£1,249.00
Reviewed

This 55-inch QLED is fantastic, particularly when it comes to sound and the 4K HDR picture quality.

68%
£499.00
Reviewed

There are cheaper and slightly better 43-inch sets available, but not with so many features. We're still pleased to see a high-end 43-inch set, though. We hope it's not the last.

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