LED TVs and LED Backlighting: What does it all mean?

If you are in the market for a new TV, you must’ve have heard of the new big thing – the LED TV. It promises brighter and sharper images, and longer life when compared to an LCD TV, all in a slightly more expensive package. Most people assume that LEDs (and their siblings the OLEDs) have a completely different screen technology, when compared to LCD TVs. But, that’s not true.

An LED TV is almost the same as an LCD TV – the only major difference is that the former uses a diode for backlighting while the latter uses fluorescent lamps. Otherwise, both televisions use an LCD display panel.

We suggest you to read our latest LED TV reviews if you like this article about LED Backlighting:

What is the benefit of using LED backlighting?

LED backlights have a number of advantages over the older fluorescent lamps. For one, they are considerably smaller which allows manufacturers to make TVs really slim. They also consume less power saves energy. Moreover, LEDs have a longer shelf-life than fluorescent lamps which means that LED-backlit LCDs last longer than traditional fluorescent-backlit models.

Do all LED backlights work the same way?

Different LED-backlit TVs use different techniques which affect their performance. Generally, these televisions can be classified into two depending on the arrangement of the diodes: full-array and edge lit. Full-array TVs are able to produce much clearer visuals than their edge-lit counterparts because they come with more diodes. Moreover, these models are able to execute local dimming better.

Local dimming? What is that?

It is a lighting technique which involves controlling LEDs in a specific portion of the screen – considerably improving picture quality – a feature that traditional LCD TVs cannot emulate. LEDs are more flexible than fluorescent lamps and can vary the amount of light they produce. Moreover, there are more diodes behind the display panel which means that there is more control over the brightness of individual pixels.
Imagine a completely dark room with a small bulb hanging from the ceiling – there is a big area of darkness and a single bright object. A scene like this is hard to reproduce in an LCD TV because florescent backlights tend to bleed into the display. An LED, on the other hand, can be dimmed or completely turned off to get better black levels which would make the image much clearer.

Even though manufacturers like Samsung and LG do have edge-lit TVs with local dimming, they don’t work as well as full-array models. Before buying an LED backlit TV, remember to check the lighting array it uses.

Are LED-backlit TVs worth paying extra for?

If they fall within your budget, an LED (better yet, an OLED) backlit TV is a much better choice than an LCD. They are stylish, bright, vivid, and incredibly power efficient. LCDs, on the other hand, are slowly getting phased out because the technology is starting to get more and more outdated.