Differences between LED TVs and LCD TVs
What is the Difference Between LED and LCD?
If you’ve had a stroll through any electronics retail store lately looking to purchase a new TV, you would undoubtedly have
encountered a type of Flat Panel TV called an “LED TV”. Just as most consumers were getting their heads around the whole
“Plasma vs LCD” debate – all the major manufacturers of Flat Panel TV have gone and added “LED LCD’s” to their range.
LED LCD? Aren’t they two different things?
While some electronic devices such as mobile phones are made up of many thousands of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)
that are used to directly produce an image on the screen, the majority, if not all, of the “LED” TVs that you will come across
in the stores are actually still LCD screens! They do not use LED screens at all. Let’s try to explain things a little more clearly.
The Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic and other LED TV’s which have flooded the market now, actually use a series of Light
Emitting Diodes (LED’s) to light up an LCD panel. That means that the panel which produces the picture you see is still
an LCD screen – but the light behind the screen is made up of a series of LED’s. This is referred to as LED Backlighting.
So what benefit does LED backlighting have over the backlight in a normal LCD?
If you’ve owned a digital watch, then you know you have to press a button to be able to read it in the dark. That’s because
an LCD panel emits no light of its own. That same technology is applied in the Flat Panel TV’s we see today, with the one
notable exception that they produce color images. So an LCD screen needs a source of light behind the panel to light it up.
A traditional Flat Screen LCD TV consists of a number of light tubes laid behind the screen, and is referred to as CCFL.
An LED LCD TV consists of many tiny LED bulbs behind the panel, arranged on the edges of the screen. This is referred
to as Edge LED lighting. While there are a small number of Flat Panel TV models which use a full array of LED lights behind
the entire panel – chances are if you are looking at an “LED TV” in a store today you will be looking at the Edge-Lit variety.
Edge Lit LED LCD TV’s have three major advantages over their traditional LCD counterparts.
The first, and most instantly noticeable feature to many, is how incredibly thinner they are. Because the LED lights are not
behind the screen, but rather to the edge, the TV isn’t as deep. This advantage alone makes LED edge-lit TV’s a more
desirable option for a great deal of consumers, but there are two other differences which LED back-lit technology holds.
The second point of difference is that because there isn’t a whole array of constantly lit tubes behind the panel, like there
is in a traditional LCD TV, the power usage can drop substantially. Simply put – the less light used the less power used. So
as a result LED LCD’s are generally more efficient to run. And there’s a third advantage LED backlighting has over CCFL.
The third point of difference is the “Contrast Ratio” – or the black level reproduction. The better the contrast, the more detail
you will see in darker scenes. The deeper the blacks, the better all of the remaining colors seem. So because traditional
LCD TV’s have a backlight which is constantly lit behind the panel when you are watching TV – some light will always filter
through. That usually translates to LCD screens not performing as well as their LED backlit counterparts in darker scenes.
So is it worth buying an edge-lit LED TV over an LCD TV?
When you consider the three benefits of LED over LCD, you need to decide if they will be of benefit TO YOU.
For instance if you are purchasing a TV to sit in a cabinet, where you will only see the TV from the front, then there is no benefit
to how thin the TV is going to be. If you only switch the TV on in the evening for an hour or so, and the TV doesn’t operate for hours
and hours on end each day, then the difference in the energy rating is probably not going to be very noticeable to you. So in this
case you will need to look at an LED and an LCD when they are playing a darker scene, and see for yourself if the contrast ratio
difference is worth paying the extra money for. You may still find that an LCD provides you with a more than acceptable picture.
However if you are intending to wall mount the TV, then the appeal of having the TV sit much closer to the wall could be worth the
difference in the cost alone. Brackets are available now which protrude less than 2cm from the wall, so when you wall mount LED
TV’s the result is more aesthetically pleasing. Secondly, if your flat panel TV is subject to heavy usage, then it would certainly be
worthwhile weighing up the difference in running costs between an LCD and LED of the same size. All Flat panel TV’s are required
to display their energy rating labels now, so you can easily compare two or more TV’s to see if the difference to you is worthwhile.
So in summary…
If you are looking at purchasing a Flat TV for wall mounting, and you want the TV to sit as close to the wall as possible, then
an edge-lit LED flat panel TV is the right choice for you. If your TV is subject to heavy usage, or you have young children who sit
in front of the TV all day resulting in large electricity bills, then the improved running costs an LED flat panel provides also makes
it a good choice. If you weigh up the difference in the contrast between an edge-lit LED and traditional LCD, and you feel that
difference in YOUR EYES is worth the difference in the price, then purchasing an LED over an LCD is also a good option for you.
If you are in the category where you are still after fairly low energy usage, but are not intending to wall mount the TV, and
do not see a great deal of difference in the picture quality between an LED and LCD, then LCD is still a great choice for you.
Lastly, if you aren’t concerned with the aesthetic appeal a thinner TV provides, whether it will be wall-mounted or not, and do not
see running costs as a concern, but are primarily concerned with having the best overall picture quality, then many people in the
know will still steer you towards a very good quality plasma screen. But that’s a whole other argument!