QLED vs. OLED: Weighing Different TV Options

By: Marie Look  | 
If you're due for a new TV and overwhelmed by the QLED and OLED market, let us explain what you need to know (like burn-in and brightness) and skip details you probably don't need (like the nitty-gritty of the LCD panel and LED backlight). Chikena / Shutterstock

If you're shopping for a new TV, you may have to weigh the pros and cons of a QLED vs. OLED TV display. These two types of technology are similarly named but fundamentally very different.

QLED is short for quantum dot light emitting diode, while OLED stands for organic light emitting diode. These technologies impact a television's picture in different ways, with each one offering distinct advantages and trade-offs.


But both are at the forefront of display technology, making the choice between the two of them a matter of personal preference. To get a better grasp on what sets a QLED TV apart from an OLED TV, it's helpful to review how the two technologies work.

QLED TVs and Quantum Dot Technology

QLED TVs utilize something fancy called quantum dot technology. Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals that can serve as backlighting in a display.

QLED TVs place a quantum dot layer over traditional liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. This layer boosts the color accuracy and brightness of the QLED TV display by converting the light from the LEDs into highly saturated primary colors.


While QLED TVs may not be able to match the pure blacks of an OLED TV, they can achieve what engineers call "peak brightness." This makes them better suited to well-lit environments.

Advantages of QLED Technology

  • No burn-in: Unlike with OLED TVs, the picture quality of QLED TVs doesn't suffer from burn-in issues, making them better for prolonged usage, such as long gaming sessions or displays of static content like news tickers.
  • Superior brightness: QLED TVs typically offer higher peak brightness levels than OLED TVs, making them more ideal for bright rooms or spaces with lots of natural light.
  • Vibrant color: Quantum dot technology enables QLED TVs to maintain their color accuracy and the vibrancy of primary colors even at higher brightness levels, whereas an OLED panel can't achieve a brighter picture without sacrificing some degree of its picture quality.


OLED TVs and Self-Illumination

For each one of their pixels, OLED TVs feature an individual semiconductor device called an organic light-emitting diode, or LED. When electrical current runs through each light-emitting diode, it illuminates, essentially serving as its own light source.

With the pixels in an OLED TV having these dedicated LEDs capable of emitting their own light, there's no need to pair a separate backlight with the OLED panels. This gives an OLED TV the ability to produce images with stunning contrast ratios, true blacks and deep, rich colors.


Advantages of OLED Technology

  • Excellent picture quality: OLED panels deliver exceptional picture quality with deep blacks, vibrant colors and superior contrast.
  • Slim profile: The LEDs in OLED TVs require very little room and act as their own light source, so OLED displays can be incredibly thin, saving space in a home entertainment console.
  • Superior viewing angles: OLED TVs offer wide viewing angles, ensuring a consistently high image quality regardless of where you're sitting in the room.


OLED vs. QLED: Picture Quality

When it comes to overall picture quality, both OLED and QLED excel in different areas. OLED TVs are unparalleled in their ability to produce deep blacks and infinite contrast ratios, making them especially effective in dark room settings.

Consider choosing an OLED TV screen if you have a dark home theater setup or a TV room that receives little light.


Meanwhile, QLED TVs can produce incredible brightness and vibrant colors that seem to pop right off the screen. Consider choosing a QLED TV screen over OLED televisions if you have a sunny TV room or will be watching TV in an otherwise very bright area.

Considerations Beyond Picture Quality

While picture quality is no doubt a crucial factor in choosing a TV, there are plenty of other aspects you should take into consideration when trying to decide between OLED and QLED televisions:

  • Durability: OLED panels are susceptible to image retention and burn-in — especially when you're viewing static content — whereas QLEDs are less prone to these issues.
  • Future developments: Both OLED and QLED technologies continue to evolve, with advancements such as mini LED and QD-OLED technologies promising even better performance in the future.
  • Gaming performance: Gamers may prefer QLED TVs for their higher refresh rates and lower input lag, although OLED TVs can produce cinema-quality images.
  • Price: OLED TVs tend to be more expensive than QLEDs, primarily due to the manufacturing costs associated with OLED technology and the production of OLED panels, which involves sourcing organic materials and utilizing organic manufacturing processes.

We created this article in conjunction with AI technology, then made sure it was fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.