New TV Technology to confuse you – clear explanation here

TV technology
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New TV technology is coming. You will see terms like OLED, QD OLED, QLED, QNED, Neo QLED, NanoCell, Mini-Led, Micro-LED, Dual Cell, Tri-Luminous, Quantum Dot, FALD, and much more.

On the whole, they are nothing more than marketing terms. Why? Because new TV Technology is purely a variation on two panel types – self-emissive OLED and LED-backlit LCD.

This article is a new TV technology update to our Techies Guide to TVs 2020.

We won’t repeat that – this is a brief overview in order of picture quality and price.

OLED

OLED is Organic Light-Emitting Diode. What it means is that each of the 4K pixels (3840 x 2160=8,294,400) is an individually controllable white backlight (WOLED). It can be on (100%) to off (0%) or anywhere in between giving perfect black and white. It shines through an RGBW colour filter layer to provide almost perfect colours and HDR or Dolby Vision.

LG is the OLED king, supplying many other makers with its Gen 8.5 (or later) panels. New Chinese made panels are currently more like Gen 4 to 6 and are visually inferior although we expect fast catch-up.

New TV Technology OLED
OLED is self-emmissive – every pixel is a light

Pro: Best black and white with infinite contrast. Best colour and HDR. Higher refresh rates.


Con: OLED is not as bright as LED/LCD and needs better room ambient light control.

QD-QLED

Samsung is experimenting with QD-OLED using blue (BOLED) backlight that shines through its RGB Quantum Dot (QD) colour filter layer. It has the potential to produce even more punchy colours. But it is unproven, and OLED-Info reports that it suffers low brightness issues. Samsung must solve that before it has any market impact on OLED.

TCL follows Samsung’s path with H-QLED (Hybrid) using a blue OLED pixel and red and green QD. This is a more cost-effective system that can use ink-jet printing technology to construct the panel. As yet not released or proven.

New TV Technology QD OLED
QD uses a Blue OLED to shine through RGB QD.

But the real nirvana is when someone can invent self-emissive quantum dots (QDEL) – that is a long way off.

Quantum Dot (Samsung QLED, Hisense ULED, LG NanoCell, and Sony Tri-luminous)

Uses nanoparticles called quantum dots in the colour filter layer to boost colour, not brightness. Invented by Sony in 2013 to reduce LG’s OLED dominance.

QLED should use full-array local dimming, but we have seen lower cost edge-lit and direct-lit models. In fact, in the US, the Federal Trade Commission has mandated that it must reveal its backlight type if it is called Quantum Dot.


New TV Technology QLED
Very simplified – Blue LED can be any backlight type below

All these are LED/LCD TV backlight types

  • Edge-lit: Blue LEDs backlight the TV along one or more edges – there are no local dimming zones. Panel cost is about US$250-270.
  • Direct-lit: Still edge-lit but uses fibreoptics to channel blue light to a small number of local dimming zones (<30). Panel cost is about US$340
  • FALD (FULL ARRAY LOCAL DIMMING) uses a greater number of LEDs and zones as a backlight (>100). Panel cost is about US$500 (depends on the number of zones)
  • Dual Cell LED/LCD Edge-lit 1-2 million micro-zones. Panel cost is about US$650-800
  • Mini/Micro LED/LCD backlight – like FALD, could be thousands to millions of pixels and zones and not yet mainstream. Panel cost is about US$500-1000

The backlight shines through the LCD gates (tiny switchable on or off gates) then through an RGB colour filter layer.

Mini and Micro-LED

As you will see from above, these are just backlight types. They offer the promise of higher brightness that will help TVs compete with OLED for the highest picture quality. They are for QD or traditional LCD panels.

But the major drawback is power use. The more LEDs more power consumed and heat generated.


Mini-LED is larger and can have hundreds to thousands of backlight LEDs. These are the logical successor to FALD. But it is not an OLED killer in any way.

Micro-LED is the smallest measured in nanometres – about four times larger than an OLED pixel. It has RGB lighting. So, there can be many thousands in a panel. But these are currently enormously expensive to make with huge panel failure rates.

LG Q NED and Samsung Neo QLED (and Hisense and TCL)

Don’t be fooled – these technologies are very close and have no relationship to OLED.

Basically, it is a mini-LED backlight with Quantum Dot colour filter before an LCD panel.

LG states 30,000 mini-LEDs (8K) and 2500 dimming zones on an IPS LCD panel.

Samsung does not state specs, but we understand the mini-LEDs are 1/40th the height of FALD LEDs on a VA LCD panel.

Will OLED be outclassed?

Just as Samsung et al. are investing in backlighting technologies for LCD, LG et al., are investing in OLED technologies.

There is rollable OLED, Transparent OLED, Foldable OLED, Phosphorescent OLED, Plastic OLED, inkjet-printed OLED and even magnetic OLED.

OLED technology is mature, has better production yields and is far ahead of the LCD for picture quality. You can’t push LCD technology too much further. It may take a completely different, as yet uncommercialised technology to take all types out!


So while you may be perplexed at the new 2021 TV technology – its all very simple, really. OLED or LCD.