Oled vs LCD screens: The differences

Walk into a TV showroom these days and it is likely that you will be greeted by different types of TV technologies, including LED (light- emitting diode), quantum dot, SUHD (S Ultra High Definition), Colour Prime screens and Oled.

Except for Oled, all of the other technologies are based on liquid crystal display (LCD) technology, which has been around for more than 30 years. LCD screens use liquid crystals to display images and require a backlight to illuminate each of the pixels on the screen.

LED screens work on the same premise, but their lighting scheme uses smaller light-emitting diodes, which make for thinner and more energy-efficient TVs. Quantum dot and SUHD are both advanced variants of the LED technology.

Oled, or organic light-emitting diode, screens do not use backlight. Instead, they use an organic compound that can emit light when an electrical current runs through it.

Here are the key differences between the Oled- and LCD-based TV technologies:

BLACKS

The use of a backlight to illuminate the screen means the light has to be blocked out when displaying black tones. This explains why a black screen on an LED screen looks uneven, since backlight bleeding invariably occurs.

With each display element being lit individually, Oled screens do not suffer from the backlight bleeding problem. This means it can display deeper blacks.

The lack of a backlight also means that Oled TVs are thinner and lighter than LED ones. In low-light conditions, or when the TV is displaying black tones, an Oled screen can achieve a higher contrast ratio compared with LED TVs.

BRIGHTNESS AND CONTRAST RATIO

Because of its use of backlight, LED screens can be brighter than Oled TVs. But a brighter screen does not mean better display quality. The ability of Oled displays to darken individual pixels helps them to achieve better contrast and more vibrant images.

RESOLUTION AND SCREEN SIZE

Both Oled and LED TVs are capable of 4K display resolutions. In terms of screen size, LED screens have crossed the 100-inch mark. Oled screens are just hitting 65 inches, still big enough for most homes.

UNIFORMITY

This refers to the consistency in brightness across the display.

With LED screens, light can leak across screen pixels and cause a ghost-like halo artifact. This is not a problem with Oled screens.

PRICE

Oled TVs are expensive, but the price gaps narrow when you compare them with the latest generation of LED TVs such as quantum dot and SUHD TVs.

With quantum dot TVs, a self-illuminating layer of nano crystals is placed over the LED panels to better control the colour display quality.

SUHD TVs are Samsung's version of the quantum dot technology. Both types of TV are more expensive than regular LED TVs.

For instance, Samsung's SUHD 55-inch TV retails at $5,499.

In comparison, LG's new 55-inch Oled TV, reviewed in this issue of ST Digital, costs $6,999.

Sherwin Loh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2015, with the headline 'Oled vs LCD screens: The differences'. Print Edition | Subscribe