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OLED vs LED LCD TV: What’s the difference?

Which is better, OLED or LED TVs? Here we compare LED LCD televisions and OLED TVs, to see what the difference is and what the benefits of both systems are.

This is the year when OLED TVs and LED LCD televisions go head-to-head like never before. While OLED has been considered better in many ways ever since OLED tellies first hit UK stores, the tech has been too expensive for most people to consider. But now that gap is closing.

However, while OLED is becoming more affordable, LED LCD technology is improving too - so this battle is far from over. Now that 4K resolution and HDR display technology are factors too, which display type should you choose?

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the differences between LED and OLED TV, so you can get the best television for you.

Read next: Best affordable 4K TVs right now

OLED vs LED LCD TV: OLED means more accurate contrast

The difference between OLED and LED LCD is actually quite straightforward. The main variance is the way pixels are illuminated.

OLED is able to illuminate and colour each pixel individually, meaning you get super accurate imagery without the problem of light bleed. LED LCD uses lights in sections to illuminate the display, meaning sometimes problems with halo effects can be seen, while darker and lighter areas may bleed together.

To clarify, LED uses the same LCD panel as older TVs but simply uses new LED lighting to illuminate with more power efficiency. Of course the tech has also come on in other ways. For example, rather than simply lighting from the sides, some newer LED TVs use clusters of light directly behind the panel - this means less moving of light as it goes directly to the right area, so the image is more clear.

OLED is still the leader in this are,a which means it can produce true blacks, which LED struggles to achieve. Even with the LED clustering mentioned above, it is more for large areas like black bars at the top and bottom of a movie. LED TVs still struggle when it comes to specific areas, like a white object on a black background.

OLED vs LED LCD TV: LED is brighter

When it comes to peak brightness, or nits, LED TVs generally win out. That means they can be better for watching in daylight situations and even result in less apparent reflective glare.

Some say the peak brightness can leave the image a little washed out compared with the contrast and colour variance of an OLED. Since OLED achieves a far wider range of blacks, it reproduces variation across dark scenes where an LED may just leave one black area. That variation is often key, with OLED able to offer 20 stops of brightness compared to LED’s 14 stops.

So if you want bright for daylight viewing, LED, which can hit 1,000 nits, is the way forward. But if you want truer reproduction of dark regions then OLED, which tops out at about 600 nits, is the winner.

OLED vs LED LCD TV: Colours are greater on OLED

When it comes to colours, an OLED panel has the capacity to produce far more than LCD can. This means bright and punchy images, which are especially beneficial when viewing HDR content.

The LG OLED range, for example, now offers Dolby Vision HDR which means over one billion colours - far more than the usual 16 million. That’s a whopping 99 percent of the DCI-P3 colour space.

That said, OLED can sometimes appear a little too punchy for some people. Of course, vibrancy can be dialed down in the settings if needed.

OLED vs LED LCD TV: OLED gives you a better viewing angle

If you’re going to have your TV plonked in a corner or have lots of people watching at once, you’ll need good viewing angles. This is another area where OLED wins out.

While some LED LCD screens offer up to about 100-degrees of viewing angle, some OLED TVs can manage a hefty 160-degrees. The result should be the ability to watch from wherever is comfortable in the room, with clear image reproduction.

OLED vs LED LCD TV: OLED is better for sports, gaming and action

When it comes to refresh rates, anyone who is a fan of sports, gaming or action movies is going to want a TV that can keep up. That’s where OLED wins yet again.

An OLED TV is about 1,000 times 'faster' than LED LCD, with a refresh rate of 0.001ms. That means you won’t need to worry about blurring, ghosting or any other type of image reproduction that makes you feel anything less than really being there.

This all does vary across screens, of course, as processing is an issue too. But most OLEDs are high-end pricey units anyway so you shouldn’t need to worry. It’s only when you pay less for an LED TV that this becomes more of an issue.

OLED vs LED LCD TV: What about price?

While OLED is still generally more expensive than LED, the price has dropped dramatically recently.

LG has invested huge sums in its production of OLED that has allowed the price to drop and increase competition with the like of Philips getting involved alongside Panasonic too.

LED LCD is still cheaper and means you can get a larger screen for less money. However if you want everything an OLED offers, the price jump isn’t as big as it once was.

These days a quality LG OLED is as affordable as £1,500. LED can be bought for a lot less but for a top-end TV that challenges OLED you’ll still need to shell out a good £1,000. That said, there are plenty of affordable options that offer 4K and HDR for as low as around the £500 mark.

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