OLED or QLED: Which Screen Technology is Best for 4K Smart TVs?

In the days of the tube, buying a TV was simple: you chose the size of the screen, the brand that you liked best (or the best price) and took it home. But as devices became more sophisticated, the choices were increasing: HD or Full HD? Smart or not? With or without 3D? Plasma or LCD?

Today we live another transition, for Ultra HD TVs with 4K or 8K resolution screens. And a new battle between technologies is unfolding in stores: OLED vs QLED displays. A technology adopted by many manufacturers, but has the stigma of burn-in, or smudges in the image. The other has less availability, but offers lower price and promises greater durability. What is the best choice? what we will explain in this article.

How OLED Technology Works

OLED technology was created by Kodak engineers in 1987. Its name, Organic Light Emitting Diode comes from its construction: a thin film of organic compounds placed between two conductors and emits light upon receiving an electric current. The color of light varies with the composition of the film, and as each dot on the screen emits its own light, a backlight system with fluorescent lamps or white LEDs is not required to illuminate the screen.

OLED technology has some advantages: the first is that as each dot emits a primary color they are much more vivid and accurate, in contrast to LCD screens where white light from the backlight is filtered to generate colors.

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In addition, as it does not emit light, a completely black spot is off, which improves contrast and reduces power consumption. And by eliminating the backlight OLED TVs can be much thinner, and with modern flexible OLED panels it is possible to create curved screens.

The problem that the organic components used in OLED panels can degrade over time, losing their brightness or showing smudges on the screen, is the famous burn-in (which we'll talk about later) that gave fame to the first generations of OLED. technology.

How QLED Technology Works

QLED is one of many trade names for a technology with an even cooler name: Quantum Dots or Quntic Points. They work on microscopic crystals (sized in nanometers, one billionth of a meter) that have a special property: they can absorb light at a certain wavelength (such as blue or ultraviolet) and emit light at another frequency, Visible to our eyes as a specific color.

The color of a dot based on the size of the crystals can range from red (smallest) to violet (largest) and all colors in between. The advantage is that as crystals are stable over time, their color and brightness never change, in contrast to OLED technology. And because they emit pure colors, they are as bright and vivid as on an OLED screen.

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Samsung QLED TV / AndroidPIT

But as I said, the dots on a QLED screen do not emit their own light and have to be illuminated by a backlight, which makes the construction of the screen very similar to an LCD screen. Because of this, the image does not have the perfect black and infinite contrast of OLED screens, and the viewing angles are a bit narrower.

In addition, QLED displays have a higher response time than OLED displays, which may make them less suitable for fast response games. But as an advantage the manufacturing cost of the panels is lower, which can represent a good saving for the consumer.

As I mentioned, QLED is a trade name used by Samsung and allied companies like HiSense and TCL. Sony already calls the same technology Trilumines, and LG has a similar technology called NanoCell.

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LG NanoCell TV / AndroidPIT

What Burn-In?

The time has come to explain what the burn-in guy is. This effect is caused by the uneven degradation of some points on the screen, caused by still images with vibrant colors or high brightness displayed over long periods of time. The result is a shadow or smudge in the image, visible in places where there are constant elements such as the station mark in the corner of the screen, the scoreboard in a soccer match, or the status panels in a shooting game.

This effect was already happening on Plasma TVs, and it can also happen on OLED screens. If you have an older smartphone with OLED display, for example, you may have noticed shadows where there are still images like the navigation buttons or the status bar at the top of the screen. This burn-in.

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Burn-in on the OLED screen of a smartphone. Note the shadows behind and to the left of the icons. / AndroidPIT

Manufacturers are aware of this and include in their devices technologies to mitigate the problem such as the Pixel Shifter, which constantly subtly shifts the image so nothing stays still on the screen, or algorithms that detect parts of the image that can cause problems. and limit its brightness, reducing the chance of degradation.

In addition, the very composition of OLED panels is changing, and with each generation the compounds are more stable and durable. In January of this year RTings on YouTube ran a test with 9 heavily-used TVs (20 hours a day, 5 periods of 4 hours each) for a year. And the results were promising.

Although screens subjected to extreme use (maximum brightness all the time and images with many static elements, such as a news channel) exhibited burn-in, the general conclusion is that the typical user, who watches content for 5 to 6 hours a day, probably have no problems.

QLED screens, in turn, are much less sensitive to the problem. Samsung, for example, offers a 10-year burn-in warranty on its models.

What about, do I choose OLED or QLED?

The answer depends. In practice, you are unlikely to have to worry about burn-in anytime soon, especially on newer models. The most important factor is the price: Remember I said QLED screens have a lower production cost than OLEDs? So, this is reflected in a lower price of the handsets.

The most noticeable difference on smaller 55-inch screens. Doing a quick search on a price comparator, we found a 55 LG NanoCell 4K TV for about $ 3,300. Samsung has a similar QLED model for $ 4,200. Already the cheapest OLED model from LG, comes out for $ 5,700. That is, those who opt for QLED can save up to $ 2,400.

OLED or QLED, once you have such a TV, you never want to go back

The difference remains in the larger sizes. We found a 65 LG NanoCell 4K TV for $ 6,900. Samsung has a similar QLED model for $ 7,400, while the cheaper 65 OLED 4K, also a LG model, comes out for $ 11,000.

But keep in mind that only Samsung, Sony and LG sell QLED / Triluminos / NanoCell TVs in Brazil. Meanwhile LG, Sony and Panasonic have their own OLED models. That is, you are more likely to bump into a bargain on an OLED, like a stock burn that drops the price.

One thing for sure: OLED or QLED, once you have such a TV, you never want to go back.

And you are thinking of buying a 4K TV? What technology is most interesting to you?

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