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OLED vs. LED TVs: Which One Should You Choose?

In this guide, we go in-depth on the differences between LED and OLED TVs. We're looking at the primary technologies (and how they differ) and measuring some pros and cons associated with each.

What Is an LED TV?

Forget about plasma and LCD TVs. These days, it's all about the OLED TV and LED TV. If you're TV shopping, you already know that these are the two main technologies dominating the tube market at the moment, but—if you're like many consumers—you may be confused about the difference between the two. Here, we look deep into the ever-simmering OLED vs. LED TV debate to see which one emerges as the clear winner (hint: it's OLED).
OLED TV in Living Room
Once at the forefront of the market, LED technology is slowly fading to the background as OLEDs outperform them in terms of picture quality, yet LED TVs remain the best bang for your buck in the TV aisle.
An LED TV uses liquid crystal display (LCD) technology to create a picture (LEDs are actually a specific type of LCD TV). The screen is a thin, translucent panel made up of pixels that are filled with liquid crystal. When electricity passes through, it causes the crystals to move so that light can or cannot pass through. LED TVs are backlit by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) rather than the old-fashioned cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL), creating more vibrant pictures with deeper blacks and more saturated colors.

Pros of LED TVs

  • More Affordable—Since they've been around for longer, you can get high-quality LED TVs in just about any price range, and prices are only slated to lower as OLEDs advance.
  • More Options—Another benefit of having been on the market for quite some time is that there are many more options—sizes, brands, colors, etc.—in the LED format. Right now, only a few limited brands offer OLEDs, while virtually all the big ones make LEDs.
  • Brighter—At the moment, LED technology still has the capacity to produce brighter pictures than OLEDs, which is why it's still preferred in smartphones.

Cons of LED TVs

  • Lesser Picture Quality—There's really no comparison between the two technologies in terms of picture quality. LEDs still have good picture quality, but it's not as good as OLED in terms of contrast ratio, uniformity and viewing angle.
  • Aging Technology—While LEDs will most definitely still be a popular option well into the next decade, we expect to see OLEDs emerge as the standard.

What Is an OLED TV?

If money is no object and size isn't a huge consideration, you're the ideal candidate for an OLED TV. They're well-known for producing the best picture quality of any TV technology, yet they come with a few limitations (for now).
OLED TVs are very similar to LED TVs except they use organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology to create the picture. The pixels themselves are able to create light, color and opacity, which allows manufacturers to do away with backlights. As a result, OLED screens can be super-thin and flexible, with some manufacturers even creating rollable and bendable displays! These screens can be controlled at the pixel level—even allowing individual pixels to be totally turned off—which creates even deeper blacks and more vivid, precise pictures.

Pros of OLED TVs

  • Better Picture Quality—OLEDs beat out LEDs in terms of picture quality in a variety of categories. Since the pixels are able to turn off completely, OLEDs produce superior black levels and contrast, which results in a more vivid and lifelike picture.
  • Future-Proof—No piece of technology is actually future-proof, of course, but if being on the cutting-edge is important to you, then you should go with an OLED.
  • Slimmer—OLEDs come in super-slim, super-sleek designs that make them perfect for mounting on the wall. They're lighter and more flexible, which means they lend themselves well to custom applications and more contemporary mounting and displays.
  • Faster—With a refresh rate as low as 0.001ms—which, for reference, is roughly 1,000 times faster than your typical LED—there's no comparison in terms of speed. That makes OLED TVs the better choice for gaming.

Cons of OLED TVs

  • Limited Sizes—Currently, OLED TVs only come in a few sizes, usually either 55 or 65 inches. However, with the technology taking off so rapidly, we expect to see the size offerings grow in the coming years.
  • More Expensive—The most prohibitive factor of OLEDs is no-doubt their cost. The lowest-priced OLEDs still ring up for over $1,200, but we expect to see this drop soon, too.
  • Not as Bright—Lastly, LED TVs still outperform OLEDs in terms of brightness, but this doesn't really affect picture quality in practice. Both kinds of TVs will produce a great picture quality, even in sun-drenched rooms.

Which One Should You Buy?

Choosing between an LED and OLED TV comes down to a few important factors, such as your budget, your goals and what you watch or play on your TV. We hope this guide helped you discover the right option for you, but you can always reach out to the team at Abt if you'd like more personalized advice.

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