QLED and OLED are two acronyms that sound and look almost the same… but are they really that similar, or do they actually present completely different technologies? The simplest answer would be that other than the name, there are no similarities.
QLED acronym probably came as a result of marketing battle between Samsung and LG. Since the LG’s OLED screens have started to rule the charts of the best TV sets on the market, the only thing Samsung had left, was to use all the means possible, to try to keep their number one position among the TV manufacturers. So, they used a similar name and created an OLED vs QLED rivalry.
The closest hint how much these two technologies are truly different can give you their full names and not acronyms. QLED stands for “quantum dot LED”, while OLED is shorter from “organic light emitting diode”. In other words, they are pretty unrelated.
What is QLED?
QLED or quantum dot LED is nothing but an improved LED technology, at least for now. Although there is a lot of space for improvements, today’s QLED still presents a traditional LED screen to which another layer (quantum dot film) was added, resulting in the following layer structure:
- Color Filter Array
- LCD Panel
- Quantum Dot Film
- Polarizer and Light Recycling
- Light Guide Plate
This layer composition is also present within the older Samsung SUHD TV’s, but according to Samsung, QLED provides improved color and more brightness compared to SUHD.
What is specific about the quantum dot film is that it is composed out of quantum dots, tiny particles that, when illuminated, produce their own distinctive light. In the case of Samsung, a LED backlight is used as a source of illumination, while the quantum dot produced light needs to go through a couple of other layers, including LCD, before it shows on the screen as a picture.
In other words, QLEDs that are now sold offer only a “transmissive” quantum dot technology that is just not that good as an “emissive” one. They offer improved picture quality and brightness compared to the regular LED, but still nothing revolutionary.
Luckily, this should change soon, since Samsung is actively working on making the quantum dots that will emit their own light, which will eventually eliminate the need for LED backlight. This will also help make screens even thinner, while the possibilities for picture quality improvements are immeasurable.
Now, back to reality. QLEDs that are now available offer some great things, such as brilliant whites and extreme brightness of over 2000 nits; they come in a variety of screen sizes, up to above 100”, but also have a couple of downsides, such as not that great black color, slower refresh rate and the fact that the brightness is sometimes just too bright… but more about that later in the QLED vs OLED section.
In other words, the potential is huge and only time will tell us if it will be achieved. The first forecasts suggest that it will; however, today’s specs are still very far from the planned goals. Therefore, we shouldn’t jump the gun, but wait to see if the future is really going to be that bright for QLED as it is promised.
What is OLED?
Image Credit: LG
OLED or “organic light emitting diode” is, first of all, an “emissive” technology. This means that the pieces or particles the screen is made of emit their own light, or to be precise, every pixel creates its own light separately from all the other pixels.
With this technology, the need for LED backlight is completely gone, making it possible for screens to be thinner and lighter. Also, the black created this way is much more realistic. Since there is no other source of light other than the one created by the pixels, they create lifelike black by simply turning themselves off.
Other benefits of OLED are amazing contrast, blur-free picture, quick refresh rates (0.001ms) and brightness ideal for movies. OLED is simply a brand new technology that offers a never-before-seen experience.
Yes, it does have some cons, such as high price, the fact that it comes only in up to 88” in size and so-called muted brightness of around 1,000nits, but that is all irrelevant when looking at the bigger picture and how much improvement over the traditional LED technology OLED has brought.
OLED vs. QLED: Which Technology is better?
After presenting each of the two technologies, it is the time to compare them and see which of the two in this OLED vs. QLED “contest” is actually better. Both of them have brought something new to the industry and will bring even more in the future.
Therefore, it is only fair to say that these types of comparison are likely to happen for some time in the future and that the Samsung QLED vs. LG OLED rivalry will grow even more and bring a lot of cool improvements that will surely make everyone happy – first of all, customers.
Black levels are one of the most important aspects of picture quality. Deeper blacks mean that the image will have more contrast and generally better colors, which eventually results in a more realistic screen picture.
In the case of QLED, these levels are significantly better than with conventional LED, mostly due to the advanced dimming technology. This technology dims the backlight LED’s that shouldn’t fully shine, resulting in much more realistic black.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent the so-called “light bleed” effect. Light bleed is a slight haze that sometimes appears around the shining objects, as a consequence of a backlight spilling on the parts of a picture that should be black.
On the other side, OLED screens have none of these problems. Due to a lack of backlight and the fact that the pixels produce their own light, there are no shadows, halos or anything similar. Black levels are stunning and the picture is as sharp as possible. OLED vs. QLED: 1-0.
Since QLED needs a backlight that is essential for quantum dots to create their own light, which after that goes through a couple of other layers, it is completely logical that the dead center is the best viewing angle for this technology. The more you move to the sides, the more picture quality starts to deteriorate, considering both color and contrast.
Although Samsung has done a lot to minimize this effect with anti-reflective coating and similar solutions that have made some drastic improvements, the decay of image quality when the user watches the screen from a certain angle and not the center, still remains.
OLED, on the other hand, allows users to view the screen from up to 84 degrees, without any loss of picture quality. This positions it much above QLED in this field, at least for now, since the QLED has drastic improvements and the best ones haven’t yet come.
In the size area, QLED has a slight advantage since it comes in sizes of above 100”, while OLED is, for now, limited to only 88”. That is mostly due to the technology itself that obviously has much less limitation in the case of QLED.
QLED is a clear winner in this department. This is thanks to the quantum dots’ “color volume”, that allows for devices to offer a highly bright picture without losing color saturation. This is very beneficial, especially in case of HDR content.
OLED on the other hand, due to the excellent black levels, requires significantly less brightness to achieve a perfect contrast. Therefore, their brightness levels cannot really be compared with QLED’s, which automatically puts them into a subordinate position.
However, in dark rooms, QLED and OLED offer a pretty similar HDR experience to users. The real difference is shown only in places with a lot of ambient light, where QLED brightness “boosts” the HDR content, proving its upper hand position in this field.
Response time is the time needed for a diode to change from an on to off state and vice versa. Quicker response times mean that there is a smaller chance for motion blur, artefacts or any similar type of picture deformation.
In the case of OLED technology, where the picture is composed out of pixels that create and emit their own light, these response times are extremely fast. Since there are no backlight LEDs, no cluster pixels, etc. (which is the case with QLED) that slow down the process, the resulting response times (0.001ms) are the best of all the technologies. OLED simply doesn’t have a match in this area.
Color system (Color model)
Image Credit: Samsung
OLED had an edge in this category, but with the improvement of the quantum dot technology, QLED’s color accuracy, color brightness, and color volume have drastically advanced, which lead to a pretty even contest in this category.
These tendencies are suggesting that things can easily slip into QLED’s corner with some forthcoming enhancements, but until then, things are quite equal considering the color model in this OLED vs. QLED clash.
When talking about the input lag that is one of the crucial aspects of a screen for any gamer, there is a no clear winner in the QLED vs. OLED clash. Devices, especially TVs, offer so many different input lags that it is very hard to declare which of the two technologies has better values.
The only thing that is certain is that Samsung and LG had some major breakthroughs in this department, making both OLED and QLED more than acceptable options for serious gaming.
OLED screens don’t need a backlight. Therefore, they are not only much thinner, but offer simpler construction and require less power. With the arrival of emissive quantum dots, this situation should change, or at least decrease the gap, but for now, OLED is the clear winner in this field.
When talking about the longevity, it is hard to offer precise enough information about which of the two in this Samsung QLED vs LG OLED rivalry is actually better. The LED technology has been present for quite some time and the results considering lifespan are more than decent. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that QLED will offer anything different.
On the other hand, OLED has only been present since 2013, which doesn’t give material for quality analysis. Until then we can only rely on Lee Byung-Chul’s (Vice president for LG Electronics) claims that the lifespan of their OLED TV’s is now up to 100,000 hours, which is equal to 30 years of watching the TV for 10 hours a day. Is this true or not? Only the time will tell…
What does the Future bring?
First of all, both LG and Samsung will certainly invest in improvements in their technologies’ weak spots. OLEDs will certainly become more affordable, while their brightness will surely get some serious boost into the back, in order to fully compete with QLED considering HDR content.
On the other side, Samsung will surely try to close the gap with numerous improvements. They’ll definitely bring in some original solutions similar to the ones of covering the nanocrystals with a metal alloy and light rearrangement that has already been used and offered drastic enhancements in the contrast and viewing angle area.
However, the real boost into Samsung’s back is expected to come in a couple of years with the appearance of the emissive quantum dots. That should seriously complicate the current positions on the market, making the QLED vs. OLED battle even tougher, while sending the backlight LED into history.
When looking at the overall picture, OLED is a higher-quality technology at this moment. It provides a great image, lower power usage, good viewing angles, etc. – everything that an innovative, revolutionary technology should be. QLED, on the other side, enhanced the LED technology to its best, giving it another, prolonged life. It is offering very competitive characteristics and in some way buying time for Samsung to fully develop emissive quantum dot technology. Only then shall we see which of these technologies is the future, and which one of them in this QLED vs. OLED clash will be forgotten with the time.