By Don Lindich
Week 14, 2023
Q. What is the difference between OLED, QLED and ULED TVs?
-G.R., San Jose, CA
A. OLED is Organic Light-Emitting Diode. All the pixels in an OLED display create their own light and color. OLED is the true successor to plasma by virtue of these self-illuminated pixels, and this technology has the best overall image quality among flat-panel television types. This comes at a higher purchase cost and a risk of burn-in. I hate to keep bringing up the issue of burn-in, but the risk is there and it must be stated. OLED TVs in sizes above 70 inches tend to be very expensive. OLED televisions are primarily marketed by LG, Samsung and Sony.
ULED and QLED are variations of LCD-LED technology. Though they are called LED TVs, the image is created by an LCD panel that is illuminated by an LED light source. Conventional LCD TVs are illuminated by a fluorescent light source.
QLED is an LCD panel with quantum dots (tiny color dots in the pixels) that improve color, brightness, contrast and overall picture quality. The panel is illuminated with an LED light source, either edge-lit or backlit. The combination of “Q” for quantum and LED created the term QLED. We are at the point where you can get a really big QLED set for not a lot of money, and times have never been better to buy a big television. Samsung and TCL are the primary marketers of QLED TVs.
ULED is a Hisense term for their top televisions. These televisions combine quantum dot panels, LED illumination and Hisense’s best image processing to earn this monicker. I have reviewed the processing technology that Hisense touts for these TVs and it is comparable to what other manufacturers are offering, so I consider ULED to be a marketing name that Hisense uses to differentiate their best QLED TVs from other manufacturers.
Now that I have bored many of you with this technical gobbledygook, what does it mean to you, dear reader? If you want the absolute best image quality, money is no object and you are not concerned about burn-in, look for a top-of-the-line OLED model if it comes in the size you want. That said, QLED is getting remarkably close to OLED without the burn-in risk, and it can cost much less. I think QLED offers the best combination of performance and features overall, and I recently put my money where my mouth is. I have many TVs but have held off upgrading my home theater’s 70-inch Sony Qualia 006 for many years. It still has a great picture for Blu-ray movies, but I knew the time had come and have been shopping for a while now. I finally pulled the trigger on an 85-inch Samsung QN90B to serve as my new review reference, purchased directly from samsung.com for $2,699 with free delivery. This was $2,300 off the regular price of $4,999 and an incredible bargain. Like I said, it is a great time to buy a big TV!
CES 2023 Product Highlight: When I was at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year I saw a product demo of an interesting suite of products that are sure to be appreciated by new parents. Included are the Nursery Pal Dual Vision, which has a dual vision camera that shows a close-up view as well as view of the room, both presented on a dedicated 5-inch display. Also of interest are the Smart Soothers that help babies sleep, movement monitors and a non-wearable sleep monitoring system. It’s an impressive array of technology that will I imagine will help parents sleep better, too!