LCD vs. OLED: TV display technologies compared


LCD and OLED TVs in Finest Purchase

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

There are many new and complicated phrases going through TV customers right this moment, however when it comes all the way down to the display screen know-how itself, there are solely two: Practically each TV bought right this moment is both LCD or OLED. 

LCD TVs, additionally referred to as “LED TVs,” have been prevalent available on the market because the early 2000s. The perfect ones function applied sciences like quantum dots or local dimming to create a vibrant, 4K HDR picture. Since they have been round for thus lengthy, LCD-based TV are sometimes marketed with fancier-sounding names like QLED or mini-LED, however the core know-how is LCD — which stands for Liquid Crystal Show.

The opposite TV tech, Natural Gentle Emitting Diode (or OLED), is a bit newer to the mainstream market. OLED TVs have been accessible for round a decade and just about all go by the OLED identify. 


LG, Sony and Vizio all promote OLED TVs.


The most important between the 2 is in how they work. With OLED, every pixel offers its personal illumination so there is not any separate backlight. With an LCD TV, the entire pixels are illuminated by an LED backlight. That distinction results in every kind of image high quality results, a few of which favor LCD, however most of which profit OLED.

Learn extra: QLED vs. OLED: What’s the difference between these types of TV?

LCDs are made by numerous corporations throughout Asia. All present OLED TVs are constructed by LG Show, although corporations like Sony and Vizio purchase OLED panels from LG after which use their very own electronics and aesthetic design. 

OLED is persistently, yr over yr and check after check, the picture quality king, however LCD TVs often value much less and may nonetheless present glorious image high quality. Quite a lot of new applied sciences, which we’ll focus on, assist hold LCD from getting too far behind its newer tech competitors.


Brett Pearce/CNET

So which one is best? Learn on for his or her strengths and weaknesses. Usually we’ll be evaluating OLED to the very best (learn: most costly) LCD has to supply, primarily as a result of there is not any such factor as an inexpensive OLED TV (but).

If you happen to’re curious how LCDs work, try LED LCD backlights explained and LED local dimming explained. If you happen to’re inquisitive about OLED, try What is OLED?

Gentle output (brightness)

Winner: LCD
Loser: OLED

Take this class with a grain of salt. Each TV sorts are very shiny and may look good in even a sunny room, not to mention extra reasonable indoor lighting conditions or the darkish rooms that make TV photographs look their greatest. When it comes all the way down to it, no fashionable TV may ever be thought of “dim.”

LCD will get the nod right here particularly as a result of the entire display screen might be brighter, which is a perform of its backlight. OLED cannot do a full display screen with as a lot brightness. Full-screen brightness is not crucial in the true world nevertheless, so this class is a comparatively hole victory for LCD.

With Excessive Dynamic Vary (HDR) content material, an area dimming LCD may also produce brighter highlights than OLED — see the HDR part under for extra.


Raúl Vázquez / EyeEm / GettyImages

Black stage

Winner: OLED
Loser: LCD

On the different aspect of sunshine output is black stage, or how darkish the TV can get. OLED wins right here due to its skill to show off particular person pixels utterly. It may well produce actually good black.

The higher LCDs have native dimming, the place components of the display screen can dim independently of others. This is not fairly pretty much as good as per-pixel management as a result of the black areas nonetheless aren’t completely black, however it’s higher than nothing. The perfect LCDs have full-array native dimming, which offers even finer management over the distinction of what is onscreen — however even they’ll endure from “blooming,” the place a shiny space spoils the black of an adjoining darkish space.

Take a look at this LED LCD backlights explainer and LED local dimming explained for more information.

Distinction ratio

Winner: OLED
Loser: LCD

This is the place it comes collectively. Distinction ratio is the distinction between the brightest and the darkest a TV might be. OLED is the winner right here as a result of it could actually get extraordinarily shiny, plus it could actually produce absolute black with no blooming. It has the very best distinction ratio of any fashionable show.

Distinction ratio is a very powerful facet of image high quality. A excessive contrast-ratio show will look extra real looking than one with a decrease distinction ratio.

For more information, try the basics of contrast ratio and why it’s important to understand contrast ratio.


ShaoChen Yang/Getty Pictures


Winner: Tie

This one’s simple. Each OLED and LCD are broadly accessible in UltraHD, aka 4K, type, and there are 8K variations of each if you happen to’re significantly well-heeled.

There are additionally small, cheap 1080p and even 720p decision LCDs. There are not any 1080p or decrease decision OLEDs at present available on the market.

Refresh fee and movement blur

Winner: Tie

Refresh fee is necessary in decreasing motion blur, or the blurring of something on display screen that strikes (together with the entire picture if the digicam pans). Sadly, the present model of OLED has movement blur, similar to LCD. OLEDs, and mid- and high-end LCDs, have a 120Hz refresh fee. Cheaper LCDs are 60Hz. Consider, most corporations use numbers which might be greater than their “true” refresh fee. 

OLEDs and plenty of LCD use black-frame insertion, which is a method to enhance movement decision with out resorting to the (often) dreaded Soap Opera Effect.


Do not stand this shut when testing a TV.

Peter Cade/Getty Pictures

Viewing angle

Winner: OLED
Loser: LCD

One of many most important downsides of LCD TVs is a change in image high quality if you happen to sit away from lifeless middle (as in, off to the perimeters). How a lot this issues to you actually will depend on your seating association, but in addition on how a lot you like your family members.

A number of LCDs use in-plane switching (IPS) panels, which have higher off-axis image high quality than other forms of LCDs, however do not look pretty much as good as different LCDs straight on (primarily resulting from a decrease distinction ratio). 

OLED does not have the off-axis challenge LCDs have; its picture seems to be mainly the identical, even from excessive angles. So if in case you have a large seating space, OLED is the higher choice.

Excessive Dynamic Vary (HDR)

Winner: OLED (with caveats)

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is one newest TV applied sciences that may considerably enhance image high quality. It has brighter highlights and usually a wider color gamut.

Practically all present TVs are HDR suitable, however that is not your complete story. Simply because a TV claims HDR compatibility does not imply it could actually precisely show HDR content material. All OLED TVs have the dynamic vary to benefit from HDR, however lower-priced LCDs, particularly these with out local-dimming backlights, don’t. So if you wish to see HDR content material all of it its dynamic, vibrant magnificence, go for OLED or an LCD with native dimming. 

In our checks evaluating the very best new OLED and LCD TVs with HDR video games and films, OLED often seems to be higher. Its superior distinction and lack of blooming win the day regardless of LCD’s brightness benefit. In different phrases LCD TVs can get brighter, particularly in full-screen shiny scenes and HDR highlights, however none of them can management that illumination as exactly as an OLED TV.

It is also value studying in regards to the variations between HDR for photography and HDR for TVs.


The smallest triangle (circles at corners) is what your present HDTV can do. The subsequent largest (squares) is P3 shade. The biggest (triangle edges) is Rec 2020.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET (triangles); Sakurambo (base chart)

Expanded Shade Gamut

Winner: Tie

Wide Color Gamut, or WCG, is expounded to HDR, although you may technically have one with out the opposite. It is an enlargement of the colours potential on “commonplace” TVs. Suppose richer, deeper and extra vibrant colours.

Sure LCDs and most new OLED fashions are able to WCG. In LCDs it is largely due to Quantum Dots.

Learn extra about how TVs make color, how they will make color and the way Wide Color Gamut works.


Winner: OLED
Loser: LCD

Uniformity refers back to the consistency of brightness throughout the display screen. Many LCDs are fairly horrible with this, “leaking” mild from their edges. This may be distracting, particularly throughout darker films.

Vitality consumption

Winner: LCD
Runner-up: OLED

OLED’s vitality consumption is straight associated to display screen brightness. The brighter the display screen, the extra energy it attracts. It even varies with content material. A darkish film would require much less energy than a hockey recreation or ski competitors.

The vitality consumption of LCD varies relying on the backlight setting. The decrease the backlight, the decrease the ability consumption. A fundamental LED LCD with its backlight set low will draw much less energy than OLED.

Total, although, all new TVs are pretty vitality environment friendly, and even the least vitality environment friendly fashionable TV would solely value you just a few {dollars} extra per yr to make use of. That stated, bigger, brighter TVs will use much more vitality than smaller, dimmer ones.


shaunl/Getty Pictures


Winner: Tie (type of)

LG has stated their OLED TVs have a lifespan of 100,000 hours to half brightness, a determine that is just like LED LCDs. Typically talking, all fashionable TVs are fairly dependable. 

Does that imply your new LCD or OLED will final for a number of a long time like your guardian’s final CRT (just like the one pictured). In all probability not, however then, why would you need it to? A 42-inch flat panel value $14,000 within the late 90’s, and now a 65-inch TV with greater than 16x the decision and 1,000,000 occasions higher distinction ratio prices $1,400. Which is to say, by the point you will need/want to switch it, there can be one thing even higher than what’s accessible now, for much less cash. 

Since they’re fairly dependable on the entire, you will not have to switch them anytime quickly.


Winner: LCD
Loser: OLED

All TVs can “burn in” or develop what’s referred to as “picture persistence,” the place the ghost of a picture stays onscreen. It is actually laborious to do that with most LCDs. It is simpler with OLED, so LCD wins this class. 

Even with OLED TVs, nevertheless, most people don’t have to worry about burn-in.


If you’d like a REALLY huge TV, neither OLED nor LCD will do.


Display measurement

Winner: LCD
Loser: OLED

OLED TVs can be found in sizes from 48 to 88 inches, however LCD TVs are available in smaller and bigger sizes than that — with many extra decisions in between — so LCD wins. On the excessive finish of the dimensions scale, nevertheless, the most important “TVs” do not use both know-how. 

The simplest, and least expensive, approach to get a very huge picture in your house is with a projector. For round $1,000 you may get an excellent 100-inch-plus image

If you’d like one thing even brighter, and do not thoughts spending a literal fortune to get it, Samsung, Sony, and LG all promote direct-view LED shows. Usually these are microLED


Winner: LCD
Loser: OLED

You may get 4K decision, 50-inch LCDs for round $400 — or half that on sale. It is going to be a very long time earlier than OLEDs are that worth, however they’ve come down significantly. 

It is also value noting that the top-of-the-line LCDs are sometimes comparable in worth to OLED, and in some instances much more costly.

So in case your purpose is to get the most cost effective TV potential, that is LCD. If you’d like one thing with nice image high quality, the costs are pretty comparable.

And the picture-quality winner is…OLED

LCD dominates the market as a result of it is low cost to fabricate and delivers adequate image high quality for almost everyone. However based on evaluations at CNET and elsewhere, OLED wins for total image high quality, largely as a result of unimaginable distinction ratio. The worth distinction is not as extreme because it was, and within the mid- to high-end of the market, there are many choices.

LCDs proceed to enhance, although, and plenty of fashions provide glorious image high quality for a lot much less cash than OLED, particularly in bigger sizes.

Which is to say, there are a lot of great TVs out there.

In addition to masking TV and different show tech, Geoff does picture excursions of cool museums and locations around the world, together with nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and extra. 

You possibly can observe his exploits on Instagram and YouTube about his 10,000 mile road trip. He additionally has written a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, together with a sequel. | LCD vs. OLED: TV show applied sciences in contrast


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