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Best TV Display Types (2021)

Find out which types of TVs have the best displays. Learn about whether OLED, QLED, or LED TVs best suit your needs.

QLED TV Andres Jasso / Unsplash

Last Updated: November 24, 2021

Written by Brandon Jones

There are a variety of TVs types available, each offering different trade-offs. Some TVs may be less expensive while not looking very good, while others look amazing but cost a lot more.

In this article, I explain the pros and cons of the major types of TVs, so that you can choose the best TV for your needs. I also break down the various factors to consider when choosing your new TV.

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

TV Display Types Compared

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TV Display Types
LEDQLEDOLEDMini-LEDMicroLED
Viewing Angle Good Good Excellent Very Good Very Good
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 $ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$

Location of TV

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The location of your TV can help you determine which black levels, brightness, and viewing angles will meet your needs.

Black Levels & Contrast

Poor black levels result in a lack of true black in outer space scenes, dark indoor shots, and end credits. Instead, the blacks appear as more of a gray color.

The dark colors provided by good black levels won't be as visible if you watch your TV in daylight or bright rooms. Good black levels are much more noticeable in low-lit rooms, like a dark family room, bedroom, or theater.

Good black levels help tell whether a TV can handle the contrast between the bright and dark parts of a scene. Poor contrast can result in that faded look between those two extremes (bright and dark in the same scene).

OLED displays have perfect black levels. The extreme blacks are the benefit of OLED displays not having an LCD backlight like QLED and LED TVs. QLED and LED TVs have more of a gray black instead of pitch black.

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

OLED Contrast Comparison OLED Contrast Comparison Brandon Jones / TechReviewer

Brightness

If you are going to be watching TV in daylight or a bright room, choose a TV that can handle higher brightness levels. The brightness of the TV matters most when viewing it in bright lighting conditions since it'll have to compete with other lighting in the room. For example, in a well-lit living room or office, you'd want to use a TV with good brightness levels.

QLED and MicroLED TVs have the best brightness levels. Most QLED TVs produce 1,000 to 2,000 nits of brightness and are capable of reaching 4,000 nits. To compare, most other TVs usually don't reach 1,000 nits of brightness.

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

Light Bleed

The downside of some TVs having high peak brightness is that it can sometimes lead to light bleed. Light bleed, or backlight bleed, is more noticeable during nighttime viewing or rooms with low light. So if you're planning to put your TV in a dark room, you'll want to get a TV that doesn't have as much light bleed.

You can learn more about backlight bleed in LED TVs.

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

Viewing Angles

Are you planning to view your new TV with your family or others in a family room or theater room? If so, you'll likely want to buy a TV with good viewing angles. Wider viewing angles allow you to see the TV at optimal levels (brightness, colors, contrast) even when looking at the TV indirectly. If you are viewing your TV directly straight-on, then better viewing angles won't matter.

OLED TVs have the best viewing angles and have an average viewing angle of around 70 degrees from the center, with the center meaning that you're directly in front of the screen. You will not notice any difference in colors or brightness at most viewing angles with an OLED TV.

LCDs like QLED 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 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, which doesn't use a backlight.

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

Resolution

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The higher the resolution, the more crisp the picture will be, as long as the content you're displaying is in that resolution. Sometimes 4K TVs have an upscaling feature, though, which can enhance lower resolution content.

4K resolution is the most popular currently. While 8K is the best, most content doesn't support that high of a resolution, so it's not really needed at this time since 4K is more than enough already.

Most TVs have 4K resolution besides a select few models.

You can learn more about TV resolution.

TV Resolutions
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

TV Resolution Comparison TV Resolution Comparison Brandon Jones / TechReviewer

Motion Handling

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Response time and refresh rate determine how a TV can handle motion — the lower the response time and the higher the refresh rate, the better. If you're watching movies and TV shows, you probably won't need the best of the best. However, you will need better motion handling if you're playing games on the latest consoles or watching sports often.

Response Time

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.

OLED TVs have a response time of around 0.2 ms for 80% of color transition and 2-3 ms for the remaining color. It's best to have 6 ms or less response time for displays, and OLED TVs exceed that, making them one of the best types of displays regarding response time.

To compare, Samsung QLED TVs have a response time of around 3-6 ms for 80% of color transition and 9-17 ms for the remaining color.

Refresh Rate

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.

The refresh rate of QLED and OLED displays are usually 120 Hz but can reach higher in newer models, which is fast enough for most cases, including video games and sports.

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

Color Accuracy

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Excellent color accuracy will determine whether or not you'll get the best and naturally vivid images on your screen. Color accuracy is one of the most important aspects to look for in a TV.

OLED and QLED displays are known for great color accuracy and vibrance even at wider viewing angles.

OLED TVs have an average of 80-85% color volume and 95-99% color gamut.

Samsung QLED TVs have an average of 73-90% color volume and 84-94% color gamut.

Standard LED TVs have a widely varying color volume and color gamut but are moderately lower on average compared to QLED and OLED displays.

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.

TVs are sometimes advertised to be 100% color volume despite the fact they don't reach those levels. Despite this, you won't notice a difference in OLED TVs or higher-end QLED TVs since both can have excellent color accuracy if tuned correctly and is of higher quality.

Color Accuracy
LED Good
QLED Excellent
OLED Very Good
Mini-LED Excellent
MicroLED Excellent

HDR

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High-dynamic-range (HDR) is an increasingly popular feature. It can enhance your picture further by expanding the contrast ratio and colors to create a more realistic, natural image. To enjoy this feature, however, the content you watch needs to be HDR specifically.

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

OLED displays have high color volume/gamut and near-perfect contrast ratio, both of which are recommended for HDR. Despite HDR usually requiring higher brightness levels, OLEDs can produce amazing HDR scenes because of their extreme contrast ratio. Due to the lower brightness levels, it'd be best to view HDR content with lower ambient light during the evening.

Samsung QLED displays have high color volume, good contrast ratio, and 1,000+ nits of brightness, all of which are recommended for HDR also. OLED TVs are still better despite this due to their true black levels.

Standard LED TVs are typically not recommended for viewing HDR content but can still do so, just not as well as the other types of TVs.

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

Lifespan

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Most newer TV types can last up to ten years or more with heavy use. Better brands and models usually have a longer lifespan due to the components being made from better materials. Just because a TV is less expensive and has the same stats doesn't mean it's equivalent to higher-end models. You usually pay for better quality.

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 display panel does, but for most people, their TVs will last up to the expected life expectancy.

Samsung QLED TVs are expected to last an average of 8 to 10 years with heavy use of between 70,000 and 100,000 hours of use. Most people don't use their TV all day, every day, so you can expect it to last even longer. Samsung's QLED TVs will likely last up to 10 years or more for most people.

To compare, OLED TVs typically last up to around 6 to 8 years of heavy use but have the chance of experiencing less peak brightness and faded colors over time. With QLED, you probably won't be having these issues. Despite this, most people can likely use their TV for upwards of 10 years still.

Standard LED TVs last an average of 5 to 7 years.

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

My OLED TV Recommendations

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LG C1 OLED (Best)

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

  • Fast refresh rates reduce motion blur and make animations smoother.

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

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

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

  • 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

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

LG GX OLED

  • The LG GX OLED is capable of sitting flush against the wall.

  • This TV has some of the best built-in speakers compared to other OLED TVs.

  • A negative to this TV is that it has a more noticeable Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL), meaning sometimes it changes the screen brightness based on brighter content.

  • This TV includes many features of the LG C1 OLED TV (shown above); wide viewing angles, extreme contrast ratio, and all of the elements needed for gaming and sports.

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

    LG GX OLED

My Samsung QLED TV Recommendations

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Samsung QN90A QLED (Best)

  • This is an exceptional TV for any use, whether 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. 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 55 inch

Samsung QN85A QLED

  • This is an excellent Neo QLED TV variant for 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 to the QN90A.

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

    Samsung QN85A

Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED

  • Great for watching sports or TV shows together with family and friends due to the wide viewing angles while keeping accurate colors.

  • It's also quick enough for gaming and great for using as a PC monitor.

  • A negative to this TV is that it has lower contrast compared to the QN90A and lower local dimming compared to both TVs mentioned above.

  • This TV also has high brightness for HDR along with wide viewing angles.

  • Check the latest price of the Samsung Q80A QLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Samsung Q80A QLED

Types of TVs

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If you want a further breakdown of each type of TV, below I list the price differences, what each type of TV is best for, and a short description of each one.

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.

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

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.

Learn More About OLED TVs

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Want to learn more about OLED TVs? Check out the articles in my OLED TV series:

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

Learn More About TVs

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Want to learn more about TVs? Check out the articles in my TV series: