TV Comparison: OLED vs. LED vs. LCD vs. Plasma

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Use our TV buying guide to decide which TV is best for you

Before shopping for a new TV, you’ll want to have a good understanding of the different types of technology available. For example, what is the difference between LCD and LED? How does a plasma TV compare to LED or LCD? And how does OLED fit into the mix? Read on to determine what type of TV to buy!


tv comparison

OLED

OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TV technology eliminates the need for lamps to produce light. Instead, it uses organic pixels that are lit by electricity. It’s lighter, thinner and more energy efficient than any other TV on the market. OLED TVs offer better and more consistent color regardless of where you are in the room. To learn more about OLED TVs, read our related article: What is OLED TV?

LED

An LED TV is actually a type of LCD television. The major difference to keep in mind when comparing an LCD vs. LED TV is that the backlight lamps used in LCD screens are replaced by LED lights to illuminate the screen. As a result, LED TVs are much slimmer than LCD TVs, and many consider the picture quality superior.

LCD

In today’s television market, LCD (liquid crystal display) is the most widely manufactured and purchased TV display. The technology uses tiny colored liquid crystal cells that shine light from behind the screen. Varying amounts of color comes through the screen to build the picture.

Plasma

The technology used in plasma TV uses gas cells between two sheets of glass. The cells emit ultraviolet light which makes the screen display red, green and blue. The spots combine to form a picture on the screen.

In general, plasma TVs aren’t as bright as OLED, LED or LCD TVs, though they are hardly considered dim in comparison to older cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs. A plasma TV may be ideal in a darker room, where a too-bright TV could cause eye strain. However, in a brightly lit room, LCD or LED TVs would typically offer a better viewing experience.

So, which TV is best?

The simple answer is that it depends. You’ll find superior TVs that use any of the above technologies, though LED seems to be on the rise. LED is slimmer and more energy-efficient than LCD, but black values and contrast are sometimes not as sharp on the display, making some consumers turn toward plasma. OLED is a step above LED, but consumers will need to weigh their budgets when deciding between the two.

Plasma TVs usually are better at distinguishing motion blur than LCD and LED TVs, making plasma typically the better screen for sports and other fast-moving images. However, as LED and LCD technology improves refresh rates, these televisions are beginning to surpass plasma. Additionally, the viewing angle is better for plasma TVs; LCD TVs can lose picture quality when viewed off-axis.

A buyer should also consider anti-reflective and anti-glare material used on the screen when deciding what TV to buy. A plasma screen with anti-reflective coating may offer a better viewing experience than an LCD or LED TV without such coating.

Further, consumers have additional options with 4K ultra, smart and 3D TVs. While a TV will only have one of the display options – OLED, LED, LCD or plasma – it can also incorporate these other convenient technologies. Before buying a new TV, consider your budget and the location of where your TV will go. In addition, it’s helpful to determine what size TV you need. Finally, you’ll want to pay attention to different brands and customer reviews. We feature customer reviews on all of our products to help make your buying decision a little easier.

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