Looking for a new TV but confused by the different types of picture tech? We tell it straight with our guide to OLED vs LED...

When you’re choosing a new TV one of the most important things to think about is screen technology.

Most TVs nowadays have LED screens – this includes HD TVs and newer 4K UHD models. However in the past couple of years we’ve also seen TVs with premium OLED screens.

So what’s the difference? We explain…

Watching TV


Most LED TVs aren’t really LED. Instead the screen is made up of LCD, or liquid crystal, pixels. These pixels are illuminated by tiny LED lights to create your TV’s picture. They’re either backlit or edge-lit.

How does it work?

  • Backlit TVs have LED lights behind the screen that switch on or off to make specific areas of the screen darker, and keep light zones bright
  • Edge-lit TVs work in a similar way, but have LED lights that sit around the edges of the screen With the brighter displays on the new HDR-ready TVs, edge-lit TVs can now achieve exceptional levels of brightness.

Backlit or edge-lit LED TV - what's the difference?


Benefits of watching on LED

You’ll have more choice when buying an LED TV, with loads of models to suit your budget – and many are much cheaper than OLED.

Because the backlight can make the whole screen brighter, you’ll get a clear picture no matter how light or dark the room is – even if sunlight is streaming in.

Tip: To get the best view, you’ll want to face the centre of the TV.


Who makes LED TVs?

In short, the majority of manufacturers. They’re by far the most common type of TV around.

A lot of newer LED TVs now boast 4K UHD – with it you get a much sharper image and a more vibrant range of colours.

And with new technologies like HDR (high dynamic range) becoming available on more premium 4K sets, you’ll get far deeper blacks and brighter whites, not to mention a much wider range of colours.

What is HDR TV?



The main difference with OLED is the TVs don’t have a backlight – meaning they can be a lot thinner and lighter than LED sets.

The first OLED models came out in 2013 and since then the displays have got brighter and the screens bigger – giving you an even more impressive picture.

How does it work?

OLED TVs are made up of individual pixels that can turn themselves on and off without the need for any LED backlight. So each pixel can be switched off to an absolute black. This gives you deep blacks in one area and bright whites in another – making the picture look a lot richer.

Find out more with our guide - What is OLED TV?


Benefits of watching on OLED

An OLED screen will give you exceptionally good picture quality, with it you can:

  • Enjoy a picture that’s free of dark patches thanks to greater colour uniformity
  • Have lots of people round the TV all at once – you’ll get a near-perfect viewing angle wherever you’re sitting
  • Watch sport and fast-paced action movies without any blur – the fast TV refresh rate keeps the picture sharp

So what’s the catch? Because OLEDs are more expensive to make, they’re still pretty pricey to buy.


Who makes OLED TVs?

LG is the main brand making OLED TVs. It uses Perfect Black technology and Self Lighting Pixels to give you an incredibly detailed and realistic picture.

At CES we saw LG’s new 4K OLED range – a set of super-thin TVs measuring just 2.57mm thick.



LED or OLED – which is right for you?

If you’re looking to invest in a TV that’ll give you stunning picture quality then OLED may well be the way to go. That being said, many premium 4K HDR TVs are now giving OLED a run for its money.

If you just want to buy a mid-range 4K TV without spending too much though, LED is probably your best option.

Now you've got all the info - choose your perfect LED or OLED TV