If you're like most of us, you've definitely asked the question: what is the difference between an LED versus an LCD TV? Yesterday's consumers had to make a simple choice between CRT and rear-projection TVs, today's consumers have to choose among plasma, LCD, DLP, OLED, and laser television.
And now, of course the age-old term, LED has been introduced into the picture (literally). In this article we shall take a look at what those three letters really mean, how they apply to television, and why you might want to consider buying one.
It's interesting to note that an LED TV is just a different types of LCD TV. The proper name would actually be "LED-backlit LCD TV", but that's too complicated to say every time, so most people simply refer to them as LED TVs, which is where the confusion begins.
Both types of TVs make use of a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panel to control where light is displayed on your screen. These panels are composed of two sheets of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them. This ensures that when an electric current passes through the liquid, it causes the crystals to align, so that light can (or can't) pass through. You can think of each crystal as a shutter, either allowing light to pass through or blocking it out.
Since both LED and LCD TVs use LCD technology, you may be wondering what the difference is. It's Backlighting! Ordinary LCD TVs use cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) to provide backlighting, whereas LED TVs use an array of smaller, more efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the screen. This gives them a few advantages.
LED TVs have a number of advantages over LCD TVs. First of all, LED TVs are consideraly smaller than CCFL types, which means LED TVs can be made much thinner. These days, most TVs that measure under an inch thick are LED, because they add very little depth to the display profile.
LEDs also consume less power than their CCFL counterparts. However, the most important difference between the two is a feature called local dimming. This is a selective lighting technique that allows for deeper blacks and a better overall picture.
The problem with CCFL backlighting is that fluorescent tubes must light the entire screen evenly so that designers have no way to vary the backlighting intensity in different parts of the screen. LED TVs offer a solution to this with local dimming. This technique controls the output of the LEDs so that rather than be on at full brightness all the time, they can be dimmed or turned off entirely.
However, not all LED TVs are equipped with local dimming. LED TVs come in two varieties: edge-lit and full-array. Only the latter can pull off local dimming well enough to compete with plasma TVs. However, recently, some manufacturers have developed edge-lit TVs with local dimming functionality.
So, what does all of this mean? Well, if you can afford one, an LED-backlit HDTV is the way to go. They are thin, easy to mount, energy efficient and can produce a great picture.
So, now you know everything about an LCD versus an LED TV. Do your homework and choose the one that suits your taste and your budget. Here's to great viewing all the time...