QLED: what is it and how does it work?

“QLED” is a marketing label that refers to a specific type of ultra-high definition TV display manufactured by Samsung and a couple of other companies (TCL and Hisense). The "Q" in the name refers to the quantum dot technology that displays use to create colors alongside LCDs.

The more general term for QLEDs is “quantum dot displays”, which have two types: photoemissive (or photoluminescent) and electroemissive (or electroluminescent). Consumer-grade QLED TVs are all photoemissive displays that exist in direct competition with OLED sets, which produce the same resolutions but function differently. Here's what you need to know about QLED screens.

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What are quantum dots?

The main difference between QLED displays and their competitors is the use of the first "quantum dots". Quantum dots are conductive and microscopic crystals. When light passes through a quantum dot (for example, the LED backlight of a TV), they emit different wavelengths of light depending on their size.

QLED displays use a quantum dot “film” near the back of the television to create a wider range of more saturated colors than other displays. These displays can also produce brighter images without losing saturation.

Resolutions of QLED TVs

Most QLED screens are ultra-high definition, which means they are available in 4K and 8K resolutions. You can still find cheaper sets that use the older HD standard of 1080p, but those are rarer. If you're planning on taking the plunge with a QLED screen, you might as well get the higher resolution.

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Pros and Cons of QLED TVs

Along with richer colors, QLED TVs generally cost less than OLED screens of the same size. They also work best in bright rooms.

Two downsides of QLEDs are that they can't display deep blacks, and bright colors require you to sit close enough to the screen.

The darker areas of the screen may not be as impressive because, despite the cool quantum dots, they both still use an LED backlight and LCD circuitry. These LCD circuits are always active so that they can produce a wide range of colors, but cause darker areas to be less dark.

Those bright colors require you to have an unobtrusive view of the screen. In fact, if you sit even a few tens of degrees from the center, you will likely notice a difference in the image. For comparison, some OLED displays can maintain ideal image quality up to nearly 50 degrees from the center.

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Photoemissive vs electroemissive displays

All the QLED TVs you will see in a store currently are of the "photoemissive" type, which means that quantum dots release energy (in this case, in the form of colors) after being exposed to light. In electro-emissive displays, the dots emit light in the presence of electricity.

Electro-emissive displays offer greater control over the image as they allow individual control of each pixel. Although "true" quantum dot displays are not currently available at the consumer level, the screens using them would be thinner and more versatile than current photoluminescent options.

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