If you’ve read about the state of the home entertainment market in the last few years, you’ll know about the biggest battle since HD-DVD faced off against Blu-Ray. On one side, you’ve got OLED. On the other, you’ve got QLED. In between? A whole lot of confused customers.
If you’re looking to invest your hard-earned dollars into a new TV, it’s crucial that you take the time to learn the differences and work out which next-generation display technology is going to offer up the experience you want.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is OLED?
Short for ‘organic light-emitting diode’, OLED is a new display technology that lights up when a current is passed through it. However, unlike traditional TV technologies, this process can be controlled on a pixel-by-pixel level. Theoretically, this means OLED TVs are capable of offering up better response times, more vibrant colors and a more cinematic home entertainment experience. They’re able to be built thinner, lighter and are more energy-efficient as a result of their organic luminescence.
What’s The Downside?
While OLED TVs definitely offer some real benefits, they’re also likely going to prove a little too dear for a big part of the mass market. After all, the biggest downside with OLED at this stage is the high price. Part of this is due to the “new-ness” of the technology (resulting in higher production costs) and part of it is definitely due to the early framing of OLED TVs at the premium end of the home display market by category frontrunner LG. Smaller OLED TVs tend to be priced between $3500 and $5000 while the larger models can go all the way up to $12,000 and beyond.
Who makes OLED TVs?
LG invested in OLED as a technology several years before everyone else and, as a result, they ended up hitting the market before their biggest competitors. For the first few years, if you wanted to buy an OLED TV, LG was pretty much your only choice. Over the last year or so, however, the market has opened up in a big way. There are now OLED TVs being produced by Philips, Sony and Panasonic.
Should You Buy One?
Back when LG was the only player in the market, OLED was an ultra-premium product and somewhat tricky to recommend based on the sometimes-astronomically high prices. Nowadays, it’s a little more affordable due to the arrival of new players in the market. Still, that price definitely has room to go lower.
If you’re ready to retire your old TV and happy to opt for a smaller size, it feels like OLED is worth a serious look. The difference between the older displays of yesteryear and OLED really is that stark. In contrast, if you’re looking to fill your living room with the biggest OLED you can find, it’s likely worth waiting for the price to drop a little more.
What is QLED?
Less of a revolution and more of an evolution on traditional TV technologies, QLED TVs are basically high-end LED LCD displays with a new secret ingredient in the mix: quantum dots. Quantum Dots are small nanoparticles that work to convert light from Blue LEDs into brightly saturated primary colors.
Essentially, they allow manufacturers to crank the brightness up to a thousand nits and beyond – resulting in a more richly-detailed image. This in turn allows for users to get the most of HDR content, seen by many as the next big leap for quality after 4K.
Who makes QLED TVs?
LG, Sony and Samsung have all tried their hand at QLED TVs in recent years. However, only the latter has remained doing so in recent years with other companies shifting gears to OLED. Despite this, Samsung’s QLED offering is nothing if not exhaustive. They’ve got the Q7, Q8 and Q9 series on offer and have gone out of the way in recent years to sweeten the deal with features like their “invisible cable” and no-gap wall mount.
Should You Buy One?
While you’ll likely save money on QLED versus OLED, how much you’ll be saving very much depends on the size you go with. A smaller QLED can cost between $3000 and $4000. Meanwhile, Samsung’s larger and more premium models tend towards double that. Basically, if you want to kit out your living room with the biggest and the best, it’s much more affordable to get there with QLED than it is OLED. That said, should the price of the latter continue to fall, there’s a good chance you might end up upgrading to OLED before too long anyway.