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If you’re looking for a new TV, you’ve most likely come into contact with a QLED option. And while the features it offers can instantly enhance your viewing experience, it’s important take a minute to get to know what QLED is all about before you go all-in on a new set.
What is QLED Technology?
LED, or light-emitting diodes, have been the standard system of lighting in most of the LED and LCD TVs for a while now. So where does the Q come in?
Quantum dot display, or QLED, is a display device that uses quantum dot filters between the LED backlight and LCD layer, as well as semiconductor nano-crystals, which can produce pure monochromatic red, green, and blue light. Basically, a QLED TV matches the format of a cinema screen, delivering a beautifully vivid palette of full color. The big LED lights in back illuminate the pixels in front, and since the light passes through the pixels, this is known as a Transmissive TV.
The 4K HD resolution is just the beginning of what a QLED has to offer. Contrasting is hyper-localized to each area, balancing darks and lights for a result that dazzles in depth perception and realistic viewing. Generally, a QLED TV will have better color display capability than a regular LCD, boosting brights and blacks while still relying on an LED backlight, bringing out over a billion hues and shades of colors with deep darks and scintillating lights.
Each backlit LED lights up a big quadrant of pixels, which can come in especially handy if you’ve got your set in a room with any natural light coming in. QLED specializes in adjusting to the perfect brightness, even when you’re watching in full daylight.
How is QLED Different From OLED?
OLED is a bit different, and is built primarily by LG using organic materials (Sony and Panasonic also manufacture OLED TVs using LG’s panels). While QLED’s pixels are lit from the back or sides, OLED pixels are each individually lit, meaning that they light up only when the picture calls for it, and are otherwise off – or “absolute black.”
Since an OLED set is incredibly thin, its light source is closer to the screen, meaning you can view it from almost any angle and not lose the picture quality. Instead of just a few LEDs lighting up the QLED, the OLED has millions of tiny light points. QLED can be up to twice the brightness of an OLED, however, as the light source is a bit farther away.
A big downside to OLED though is that, much like your first PC in the late Eighties, they’re prone to “burn-in,” where an image can be permanently melded into the screen forever (or at least for an extended period of time). This is only in extreme cases though, such as pausing on a static image or watching a channel with the same logo in the same place for multiple hours a day. It’s also the reason Samsung stopped making OLED TVs years ago, and switched to using OLED in their phones instead (since our phones’ screens are constantly going on and off, and are replaced more often than TVs).
Both types of TVs are 4K, but the tech that’s lighting up the picture is what the big difference is.
If you’re looking for the best QLED TV though, there are only two main options in the marketplace right now. We’ve highlighted both and reviewed their top features below.
1. TCL 55″ 6-Series 4K UHD HDR QLED Roku Smart TV
There’s a lot to love about this sleek and sharp QLED TV by TCL, which delivers stunning, life-life pictures thanks to its Quantum Dot (QLED) color technology. What that means for the viewer: better brightness, wider color volume, and crisper contrast. The resulting lights and deeper blacks (and saturated reds and greens and blues) almost resemble an OLED TV, with full edge-to-edge viewing and no banding or dark corners.
TCL’s AiPQ Engine is fast and responsive, and the company says it focused on three core picture quality algorithms: “Smart HDR for vibrant color, Smart 4K Upscaling for clarity and Smart Contrast for dramatic depth.” The AiPQ Engine uses AI to make each frame pop with realism, so that it renders more accurately to the human eye. The addition of Dolby Vision adds a cinema-like experience with many of the same technologies used to show blockbuster films in theaters.
The included Roku remote is refreshingly simple, and operates on signal instead of IR, meaning that you can aim it from pretty much anywhere, no matter what’s in your way – even from another room. It’s also voice-activated (and compatible with Alexa and Google AI), and can search the entire Roku database with a simple spoken command.
Gamers will like the THX-certified game mode. With a low-latency input lag and full support of HDR, games look amazingly realistic and immersive.
At almost 50 pounds, the unit’s got some heft to it with a wide footprint, and is probably better situated on a steady stand than hanging on the wall.
2. Samsung Flat 65″ QLED 4K Q60 Series
Samsung’s approach to the QLED TV is simple: The brighter a picture is, the more true to life it is. From the start of designing this set, Samsung understood that we’re not always watching our movies in perfect cinematic conditions (I.e. in a completely dark room). Even with curtains closed, some daylight still gets through, and that shouldn’t mess up your movie experience.
This set keeps that in mind. The 100% color volume lets you play with the intensity of over a billion colors, making the picture’s palette really pop in any lighting.
The Bixby voice command software is quick and helpful, while the smart-settings allow for the option of connecting to other devices in your home.
It also goes way beyond movie-viewing as well thanks to its Real Game Enhancer feature. Sports and video games are infused with realism that makes images incredibly crisp and realistic, without that annoying blurring or lag.