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Looking for a new TV but confused by the different types of picture tech? Our guide to OLED vs LED can help…


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Whether you’re football-obsessed or love the movies, understanding the different types of TV screen will help you make the right choice.

You have two choices: LED or OLED.

Most new TVs you look at will have an LED LCD screen. This includes new 4K and cutting-edge 4K HDR TVs (and also older HD TVs). You can buy an LED 4K TV from around £400.

OLED is found on far fewer TVs and works differently. It’s known for creating deep, inky blacks and excellent colours, but these sets are considerably more expensive.

So what’s the difference? We explain…


HD TVs have been replaced by 4K TVs. But that’s an issue of screen resolution. The picture itself is created in a similar way.

The screen is made up of LCD, or liquid crystal display. Small LED lights illuminate pixels to create your TV’s picture. They’re either backlit or edge-lit.

How does it work?

Backlit: LED lights behind the screen that make a canvas for the LCD to create the picture

Edge-lit: LED lights sit around the edges of the screen – normally slimmer than a backlit

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.

Who makes LED TVs?

The majority of manufacturers. They’re by far the most common type of TV around.

Most new LED TVs have 4K resolution, which is 4 times more detailed than Full HD for a sharper image and a more vibrant range of colours.

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


OLED TVs create their picture without the need of a backlight. This makes them thinner and lighter – with superior black levels (the most important element of an excellent picture).

Most OLED TVs also boast 4K resolution for 4x the sharpness and HDR for rich colour and contrast.

Confused? Don’t be. When we talk about 4K that is screen resolution. When we talk about OLED and LED that is screen type – so you can have 4K with either LED or OLED

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 much richer.

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 without any blur – the fast TV refresh rate keeps the picture sharp

So what’s the catch? Because OLEDs are more costly to make, they’re more expensive to buy than LED TVs.

Who makes OLED TVs?

LG is the main brand making OLED TVs and has been since 2013. Sony and Panasonic now also make OLEDs, though LG is most well-known for this type of tele.

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 with technologies like QLED from Samsung (despite the name this is still an LED TV but with incredible picture quality).

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

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