TYPES OF TV SCREEN
Screen technology is developing all the time, and what kind of set you buy can have a significant impact on the picture quality. Here, we explain the different types of TV screen that are currently available.
LCD TVs used to be the most popular type of flat screen before the development of LED models. They use large fluorescent lamps behind the screen, which shine through a matrix of coloured Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) cells.
This style is generally the cheapest, but is in decline due to the advanced technology and larger screen sizes of the LED versions.
Although people usually talk about LED and LCD as being two different things, they both use the same type of display. The difference lies in the way they are lit. The term LCD is used to refer to screens lit by Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFL), whereas Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are used to light LED TVs.
LCD TVs used to be the most popular type of flat screen before the development of LED models.
EDGE-LIT VS BACK-LIT
There are two types of lighting with LED TVs: edge-lit or back-lit.
Most models nowadays are edge-lit, with LEDs just around the edges of the screen – meaning these models can be super slim.
Back-lit models have LEDs spread across the entire back of the screen. They aren’t as thin, but the light consistency is slightly better.
LED TVs are slimmer, brighter and more efficient than older LCD models.
LED TVs are the most popular style on the market, using thousands of tiny LEDs behind the screen to light it up. Technically, they are a type of LCD TV, but the method of illuminating the display means the picture quality is much higher.
These screens produce a brighter image than LCD and plasma versions. Models with local dimming technology only light up the screen areas that are needed. This way, black areas appear darker, and colours seem brighter.
LED screens are also slimmer – this is because the lights they use are smaller than in LCD models. Bigger screen sizes are more readily available too. Energy efficiency ratings for these models are very high as LEDs produce a lot of light with very little power.
Like a lot of flat screen TVs, the speakers in LED models tend not to be very powerful – there isn’t much room for them. Some users may prefer to buy a separate sound system or soundbar. Due to their popularity and newer technology, LED models can be a little more expensive than other types, although they are cheaper than OLED models.
OLED is one of the newest, high-tech types of screen available. There aren’t as many models on the market yet, but if you want the best, OLED is for you.
Standing for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, OLED uses smart pixels that create light themselves. As a result, light doesn’t spread to unwanted areas on the screen. OLED gives the darkest blacks of any screen type, creating a greater sense of depth, while colours are more vibrant and natural.
Not needing a backlight makes the screen super thin – even more so than a regular LED TV. Sometimes these screens are the same width as a smartphone. Super thin screens look incredibly stylish and mean your TV won’t stick out into the room.
These models often have a curved screen which adds to the viewing experience. Viewing angles on OLED TVs are also really impressive, so you get accurate colours and good contrast levels wherever you’re sitting. If you have a large living room with a lot of sofas or armchairs, this is especially useful.
Motion shots display incredibly well on OLED TVs, with hardly any blurring – great news if you love watching football matches or fast-paced action films.
The only downside with this type of TV is that, because the technology is relatively new, they are more expensive than others.
Motion shots display incredibly well on OLED TVs, with hardly any blurring.
QLED is an updated illumination technology from Samsung, that was created to rival OLED. Fundamentally, a QLED TV is the same as a LED TV, but with an advanced and highly durable quantum dot layer, which enhances picture quality. Without going into the (rather complicated) science, this results in QLED TVs delivering the highest brightness levels and greatest range of colours currently on the market.
Unlike OLED TVs, QLED is not ‘self-emissive’ – pixels are not individually illuminated. While you won’t have the same contrast for blacks on screen because of this, QLED produces bolder and more precise colours. Depending on what you’re looking for in a state-of-the-art TV, it’s definitely worth keeping them in mind.
QLED Samsung TVs deliver the highest brightness levels and greatest range of colours.
You won’t be alone if this is the first you’ve heard about MicroLED. This technology is incredibly new, and not currently widely commercially available. However, we can expect it to be a game-changer in the next few years, particularly in the high-end TV market.
Like OLED, MicroLED is also an emissive display. Unlike OLED, it doesn’t rely on organic compounds to produce light. There are a range of benefits that come with MicroLED. You’ll see everything you could expect from an OLED screen – true and deep blacks, excellent colour, and perfect off-angle viewing. On top of this, though, a MicroLED screen should also be brighter, slimmer, and more energy efficient than OLED TVs.
Though MicroLED sounds amazing, we’ll have to wait and see if it can compete or topple OLED as the king of premium TV tech. Samsung has previously said it is aiming to have MicroLED displays ready for sale in 2019.
Plasma screens utilise different technology altogether to the previous models. Inside a plasma screen, hundreds of tiny gas cells are sandwiched between sheets of glass. Each cell acts as a mini fluorescent tube, emitting ultraviolet light which shows as a red, blue or green subpixel on the screen. Three subpixels make up a pixel, and these pixels combine to form the image.
These screens have a high contrast ratio, so can create much deeper black areas and more natural colours on screen than traditional LCD screens. However, some modern LED-lit screens now deliver similar levels of contrast.
Plasma TVs also provide bright colours and are good at handling fast-moving images without blur.
On the other hand, plasma screens aren’t very energy efficient and require quite a lot of electricity to run. They are also prone to image burn-in if left on the same channel or a menu for a long time, and tend to be dimmer than LED models.
Production of plasma screen TVs by major brands stopped in 2015 due to the popularity of LED TVs. You might still be able to find models on sale in clearance or through secondary markets.