What Are LED TVs?

Get answers for all of your LED TV questions.

LED TV Wang John / Unsplash

Last Updated: September 10, 2021

Written by Brandon Jones

What Are LED TVs?

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An LED TV is an LCD TV that uses an LED backlight.

The backlight of an LED display either consists of a full-array backlight or edge lighting.

Light-Emitting Diode (LED): Tiny lights that make up an LED TV's backlight.

Full-Array Backlight: Evenly placed array of lights with local dimming. These have improved picture and contrast quality.

Edge Lighting: Lights coming from one or more edges of the screen. These don't have dimming zones, which results in lower picture and contrast quality.

LED displays use an LED backlight to emit light, similar to current QLED TVs (TR).

QLED TVs are considered LED TVs but LED TVs aren't always QLED.

LED displays have more control over the backlights compared to a traditional LCD display, which used a Cold-Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL) backlight.

Since QLED TVs are considered a different type of display, we will focus on non-QLED TVs throughout this article.

OLED vs. LED/LCD Displays OLED vs. LED/LCD Displays Brandon Jones / TechReviewer

TV Resolutions

TV Resolution Branding
Resolution
8K UHD (Ultra HD) 7680 x 4320
4K UHD (Ultra HD) 3840 x 2160
1440p / QHD (Quad HD) 2560 x 1440
1080p / FHD (Full HD) 1920 x 1080
720p / HD (High Definition) 1280 x 720

Types of TVs

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QLED (TR)

Price: $$

For Those Who Want: The best colors and don't want to worry about screen burn-in.

Description: QLEDs (quantum dot light-emitting diode) use LEDs that light up LCD panels. Between the two layers is a quantum dot layer that filters the light to produce more saturated and pure colors. TVs made with quantum dots are termed QLED by Samsung, TLC, Vizio, and Hisense.

OLED (TR)

Price: $$$

For Those Who Want: Watching in large groups, benefiting from the wide viewing angle. Not made for those who'll watch static scenes like a PC monitor due to screen burn-in.

Description: OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs have pixels that can individually adjust the brightness, allowing for darker black levels. OLED TVs have excellent picture quality and wide viewing angles.

LED (TR)

Price: $

For Those Who Want: The best value with the best range in sizes.

Description: LED (light-emitting diode) is a widely used technology for lighting up an LCD panel. Most LED TVs have a reasonable contrast ratio, high brightness, and narrow viewing angles.

Neo QLED

Price: $$$$

For Those Who Want: The great colors of QLED but with better contrast, larger screen size, and higher resolution options (8K).

Description: A mix of QLED and Mini LED, allowing a better contrast ratio. These TVs use the Mini LED backlight array to more precisely show bright scenes with dark objects without washing out the darker parts (halo effect).

MicroLED

Price: $$$$$

For Those Who Want: The benefits of OLED without the chance of screen burn-in.

Description: Similar to OLED, with self-emitting light, but doesn't suffer from burn-in. The smallest version of LED lights.

NanoCell

Price: $$

For Those Who Want: A less costly alternative to QLED and OLED and better than LED/LCD.

Description: Increased image quality compared to LED. Lower contrast than QLED or OLED. Wide viewing angles.

Mini LED

Price: $$$$

For Those Who Want: Good contrast ratio.

Description: Mini LED refers to the backlight array that more precisely shows bright scenes with dark objects without washing out the darker parts (blooming/halo effect). Mini LED displays use around 30,000 mini LEDs for lighting the screen and have around 2,500 dimming zones.

QNED

Price: $$$$

For Those Who Want: A compromise between QLED and OLED.

Description: QNED (Quantum NanoCell Emitting Diodes) is a combination of NanoCell LCD and Mini LED. This limits blooming and improves contrast ratio and peak brightness. Not as dark blacks as OLED, but better than QLED.

LED Displays Compared to QLED, OLED, Mini-LED, and MicroLED

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LED Comparison
LEDQLEDOLEDMini-LEDMicroLED
Viewing Angle Good Good Excellent Excellent Excellent
Black Levels Okay Okay Excellent Very Good Excellent
Color Accuracy Good Excellent Very Good Excellent Excellent
Burn-in No No Yes No No
Brightness Good Excellent Good Very Good Excellent
Lifespan Good Excellent Very Good Excellent Excellent
Native Contrast Okay Very Good Excellent Very Good Excellent
Motion Good Good Excellent Very Good Excellent
Light Bleed Yes Yes No Some No
Price $ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$

What Are the Pros and Cons of LED?

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For this pros/cons list, we are comparing LED to all other currently available display types, along with the main features that stand out for LED displays.

Pros of LED Cons of LED
Great color accuracy (TR) Reduced viewing angles (TR)
Good peak brightness (TR) Shorter lifespan (TR)
Good response time (TR) Some light bleed (TR)
Good contrast ratio (TR) No true blacks (TR)

To know more about each Pro and Con of LED displays, click the items above.

For a complete list of every question answered in this article, scroll to the top of this page.

Our TV Recommendations

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We don't currently recommend any LED TVs because of the superior technology of QLED (TR) and OLED (TR) TVs outperforming LED TVs. Check out our current recommendation for OLED and QLED TVs below.

LG C1 OLED

  • This is an exceptional TV for any use, whether it's for movies, games, sports, or as a PC monitor.

  • This TV has wide viewing angles, perfect for many people watching TV together (same with most OLED TVs).

  • A negative to this TV is that it might not be bright enough for bright/sunny rooms. This is common among most OLED TVs.

  • It has an extreme contrast ratio capable of producing pitch-black scenes without suffering from blooming.

  • This has the fastest response time for smooth fast-moving content, great for games or sports.

  • The LG C1 OLED also supports very low input lag and variable refresh rate, both of which are also needed for gaming.

  • It's superb for HDR content due to its extreme contrast ratio and wide color gamut.

  • Check the latest price of the LG C1 OLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    LG C1 OLED LG C1 OLED Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Sony A80J OLED

  • This TV has superb picture quality with an extreme contrast ratio, perfect for your home theater room.

  • The Sony A80J OLED has excellent color out of the box, so there's no need for color calibration.

  • A negative to this TV is that it might not be bright enough for bright/sunny rooms. This is common among most OLED TVs.

  • This TV has Google TV built-in, allowing you to watch from most of your streaming services quickly and smoothly.

  • The Sony A80J OLED has very low input lag and quick response time, both of which are excellent for sports and gaming.

  • Check the latest price of the Sony A80J OLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Sony A80J OLED Sony A80J OLED Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Samsung QN90A QLED

  • This is an exceptional TV for any use, whether it's for movies, games, sports, or as a PC monitor.

  • It's the "Neo" QLED variant, which has an excellent contrast ratio and deep blacks.

  • This will also work great in a bright room.

  • A negative to this TV is that it has some slight blooming around bright objects. Here's more info about QLED blacklight bleed (TR). Despite that, this is one of the best QLED TVs you can buy.

  • The Samsung QN90A QLED also supports low input lag, variable refresh rate, and fast response time, all of which are needed for gaming.

  • Check the latest price of the Samsung QN90A QLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Samsung QN90A QLED Samsung QN90A QLED Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Samsung QN85A QLED

  • This is another excellent Neo QLED TV variant for any use in bright rooms while having fantastic response time, low input lag, and vivid natural colors.

  • The Samsung QN85A QLED has wide viewing angles and high brightness to overcome screen glare.

  • It's superb for HDR content due to its high brightness and wide color gamut.

  • A negative to this TV is that it has lower contrast compared than the QN90A.

  • Check the latest price of the Samsung QN85A QLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Samsung QN85A Samsung QN85A Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

How Bright Are LED Displays?

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Most LED TVs produce 300 to 600 nits of brightness. To compare, QLED TVs (TR) produce 1,000 to 2,000+ nits, and OLED TVs (TR) produce 700 to 1,000 on average.

If you don't know what a Nit is, it's a measurement of the amount of light a TV produces within an area. The higher the Nit, the brighter your TV will be able to emit.

Brightness Levels
LED Good
QLED Excellent
OLED Good
Mini-LED Very Good
MicroLED Excellent

Are LED Displays Good in Bright Rooms?

LED displays aren't usually best in bright rooms and excel in darker environments due to their lower brightness emitted.

It's best to have around 1,500 nits of brightness for displays in direct sunlight indoors, and LED can reach around 600 nits on average.

LED vs. QLED Brightness and Color Volume Comparison LED vs. QLED Brightness and Color Volume Comparison Brandon Jones / TechReviewer

Do LED Displays Have a Backlight?

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LED displays use an LED backlight to emit light, similar to current QLED TVs (TR).

LED display backlights either consists of a full-array backlight or edge lighting.

Full-Array Backlight: Evenly placed array of lights with local dimming. These have improved picture and contrast quality.

Edge Lighting: Lights coming from one or more edges of the screen. These don't have dimming zones, which results in lower picture and contrast quality.

LED displays have more control over the backlighting compared to traditional LCD display, which used a Cold-Cathode Fluorescent Lamp (CCFL) backlight. LED backlights are superior to CCFLs.

Do LED Displays Get Backlight Bleed?

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LED displays suffer from backlight bleeding caused by the LED backlight emitting the light.

Backlight bleeding in LEDs has decreased with technology improving over time, but it's still noticeable in darker scenes. Blacklight bleeding results in blacks turning into more of a darker gray instead.

Blacklight bleed is also known as blooming or halo effect. The white text needs bright light to be visible, while the dark scenes don't need any light. The bright light spills over in the dark areas, which is why you'll get the haloing effect and ghosting with motion.

Backlight bleeding is more noticeable with white text on top of black scenes or similar.

Light Bleed
LED Yes
QLED Yes
OLED No
Mini-LED Some
MicroLED No

Learn more in Do LED TVs Have Backlight Bleed? (TR)

Do LED Displays Have a High Refresh Rate?

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The refresh rate of most LED displays is usually 60 hz, but can reach up to around 120 hz in newer models. TVs can sometimes be marketed as having 120 hz, but is only a boosted version of that, with a native refresh rate of 60 hz.

A refresh rate of 60 hz can be considered low if you want a TV for viewing a lot of action content, like sports or gaming. If you want a higher refresh rate, consider getting a QLED TV (TR) or OLED TV (TR), both of which have 120+ hz refresh rates.

Refresh rate is the number of times the display can redraw the screen. Refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz), which is defined as one cycle per second. For example, 60 Hz would refresh the screen 60 times a second. A reasonable refresh rate is anywhere from 144 Hz to 240 Hz and above.

Do LED Displays Have a Low Response Time?

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Most LED TVs have a response time of around 5-8 ms for 80% of color transition and 12-19 ms for the remaining color. It's best to have 6 ms or less response time for displays.

Response time is the time it takes a display to change from one color to another. The timing of this is usually determined by going back and forth between white and black. The timing is measured in milliseconds, with lower being better.

The higher response time a display has, the more blurring you'll notice in fast-motion video like sports and video games.

Motion Handling
LED Good
QLED Good
OLED Excellent
Mini-LED Very Good
MicroLED Excellent

Are LED Displays Good for Video Games?

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LED displays have a decent response time and refresh rate for video games, but not the best you can buy. Some people won't notice the difference, but you will be able to spot blurring or ghosting in rapid-action scenes like in FPS games.

Displays with low response time and high refresh rate (120+ Hz) are recommended to have the best experience. LEDs have a higher response time and lower refresh rate, making them not as good for gaming.

If you want higher refresh rates and lower response times, consider getting a QLED TV (TR) or OLED TV (TR), both of which have 120+ hz refresh rates and lower response times.

Most TVs will have a "Game Mode" option or equivalent, making your display use its highest response time, input latency, and refresh rate.

Do LED Displays Get Screen Burn-In?

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LED displays are resistant to screen burn-in. You can use your LED display worry-free from that risk.

Burn-in Risk
Burn-in
LED No
QLED No
OLED Yes
Mini-LED No
MicroLED No

Example of Screen Burn-in Example of Screen Burn-in Brandon Jones / TechReviewer

Do LED Displays Have Good Viewing Angles?

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LED displays are known to have narrow viewing angles when compared to other displays like OLED TVs (TR). Viewing angles of LED displays can vary, based on the model.

LED TVs have an average viewing angle of around 20-40 degrees from the center, with the center meaning that you're directly in front of the screen. You'll notice more washed-out blacks and colors along with brightness loss starting at lesser angles (10-20 degrees) then increase as you get farther away from the center.

The narrow viewing angle is due to the use of a backlight projecting through the LCD. Like viewing a bedroom light from outside of a house, the light is most visible from certain angles.

If you want more flexibility in your viewing position, you'll probably want to go for something like an OLED TV (TR), which doesn't use a backlight.

Viewing Angle
LED Good
QLED Good
OLED Excellent
Mini-LED Excellent
MicroLED Excellent

Do LED Displays Have True Black?

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LED displays do not have true black levels. Scenes of space, dark indoor shots, or credits will appear more dark gray than pitch black.

The lack of true blacks is due to the use of LED backlighting in the display.

Black Levels
LED Okay
QLED Okay
OLED Excellent
Mini-LED Very Good
MicroLED Excellent

LED vs. OLED Contrast Comparison LED vs. OLED Contrast Comparison Brandon Jones / TechReviewer

Do LED Displays Have Good Color Accuracy?

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LED displays have a 40-60% color volume and 55-65% color gamut, which is low compared to QLED TVs (TR) or OLED TVs (TR)

  • Color Volume: How many colors a TV can display at different luminosity (brightness) levels.
  • Color Gamut: How many colors the display is capable of showing.
Color Accuracy
LED Good
QLED Excellent
OLED Very Good
Mini-LED Excellent
MicroLED Excellent

Color Spectrum of LED (conventional) vs. QLED Color Spectrum of LED (conventional) vs. QLED Kevin Jones / TechReviewer

Do LED Displays Have HDR?

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LED displays support HDR (high dynamic range) but aren't recommended for the best experience. LED displays do not have the best color volume, good contrast ratio, or brightness for HDR. For the best experience, we recommend getting a QLED TV (TR) or OLED TV (TR).

Having HDR will result in a picture with brighter brights, darker darks, more accurate/natural colors, and a sharper image.

Native Contrast
LED Okay
QLED Very Good
OLED Excellent
Mini-LED Very Good
MicroLED Excellent

How Long Do LED TVs Last?

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LED TVs are expected to last, at peak quality, an average of 5 to 7 years with heavy use or between 40,000 and 70,000 hours of use. Most people don't use their TV all day, every day, so you can expect it to last even longer.

LED TVs will likely last up to 7 years or more for most people.

The main risk of a TV's lifespan, in general, is the other components within the display. Capacitors, power supply boards, or other parts have the chance of failure before the LED panel does, but for most people, their TVs will last up to the expected life expectancy.

To compare, QLED TVs (TR) typically last up to around 8 to 10 years of heavy use.

Average Lifespan
Lifespan
LED Good
QLED Excellent
OLED Very Good
Mini-LED Excellent
MicroLED Excellent