By The TV Answer Man team
We are sometimes asked why an OLED TV costs more than your typical LED TV. For example, a 55-inch OLED TV can cost more than $1,000 while a similar LED 55-inch brand-name model can be found for around $500-600. Why is the OLED more expensive and what exactly is the difference between the two? Do you really get more for your money when you buy the OLED TV? Let’s examine the new display technologies and try to explain the difference in how they are made and how they perform.
The Technology Explained
The LED TV stands for Light Emitting Diode Television. It utilizes a backlighting system comprising a panel of LEDs behind the screen to illuminate the pixels and create images. These LEDs are grouped into two main types: edge-lit and direct-lit. In edge-lit LED TVs, LEDs are placed around the edges of the screen, while direct-lit LED TVs have an array of LEDs spread across the entire screen. The backlighting illuminates the liquid crystal pixels to display images. On the other hand, OLED TV stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode Television. OLED TVs do not require a separate backlighting system. Instead, they use individual organic compounds that emit light when an electric current is applied. Each pixel in an OLED TV is self-emissive, which means it can produce its light and can turn on and off independently, resulting in perfect blacks and exceptional contrast.
LED TVs have come a long way in terms of picture quality, and many models offer vibrant colors and excellent brightness levels. However, they often struggle to achieve true blacks, as the backlighting causes some light leakage, leading to reduced contrast ratios. In contrast, OLED TVs excel at producing deep, true blacks. Since each pixel can turn off entirely, OLED screens offer infinite contrast ratios, creating stunningly realistic images and enhancing overall viewing experiences. The ability to produce pure blacks not only enhances contrast but also reduces eye strain during dark scenes.
Another significant difference lies in the viewing angles. LED TVs, especially those with VA (Vertical Alignment) panels, tend to experience color shifts and loss of contrast when viewed from off-center angles. This can be problematic for large family gatherings or when multiple people are watching from different positions. In contrast, OLED TVs provide nearly perfect viewing angles. Thanks to the self-emissive nature of OLED pixels, there is minimal color distortion when viewed from any angle, making them ideal for group watching and large living rooms.
LED TVs are generally more energy-efficient than OLED TVs. Since OLED pixels emit light directly, the power consumption is directly related to the content being displayed. When showing bright images, OLED TVs consume more power compared to darker scenes. On the other hand, LED TVs with LED backlighting consume a relatively constant amount of power regardless of the content, as the LEDs are always on to some extent. This makes LED TVs more energy-efficient, especially in well-lit rooms where the brightness is set high.
As with most new technologies, OLED TVs initially entered the market at a premium price point. Over time, advancements in manufacturing processes have reduced production costs, but OLED TVs still tend to be more expensive than LED TVs of similar screen sizes and specifications. LED TVs, being more established and widely available, come in a broader range of price points, making them more accessible for budget-conscious consumers.
Both LED and OLED TVs have their strengths and weaknesses, catering to different consumer preferences and budgets. LED TVs are cost-effective and offer excellent picture quality, making them a suitable choice for most consumers. On the other hand, OLED TVs provide unparalleled picture quality with perfect blacks and wide viewing angles, making them the ultimate choice for cinephiles and those seeking a premium viewing experience.
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