OLED TVs are fundamentally different to LED televisions. They use a unique screen technology that means they do not need a backlight, enabling slimmer designs and superior picture quality.

But what is OLED TV? Our guide will tell you everything you need to know so you can learn what OLED TV is all about.

Benefits of OLED TV

OLED TV screen technology has many benefits over traditional LED televisions. These include… 

  • Deep black colours: Pixels are controlled individually, enabling the TV to create deep shades of black.
  • Excellent contrast: With no backlight, you can have perfect black pixels side by side with white to create infinite contrast. 
  • Reduced blur: Fast-paced action like live sport stays smooth thanks to the fast response time and high refresh rate of OLED TVs.
  • Wide viewing angle: Excellent picture from seats around the room. OLED TVs give the best picture at wide angles, says RTINGS
  • Thin and lightweight: Thinner (some models less than 4.5mm) and lighter than TVs that use a backlight. Perfect for wall-mounting. 

What’s the difference between OLED and LED?

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. This means it creates its own light source. This is different to regular LED TVs, which use a backlight to create a picture by illuminating pixels in front.

With OLED, there’s no backlight. Each individual pixel can light itself. The main benefit is improved contrast – the difference between the brightest and darkest your TV can go. OLED achieves these stunning blacks by switching off pixels completely in dark areas of the screen. Individual pixels display the correct amount of light – without a backlight to bleed through. It makes colours feel more real.

How does OLED technology work?

The picture is created on an OLED TV when an electric current is passed through the pixels that make up the screen. 

  • Creating colour: When light is passed through the pixels, colour is created. This makes up the colourful areas of your TV picture.
  • Perfect black: Parts of the screen that need to stay dark are not exposed to the electric current – enabling them to remain deep black.

If you were to look at a cross-section of an LED TV and an OLED TV side by side, you would see…

  • LED panel: Comprised of nine layers, including a chunky backlight unit
  • OLED panel: Comprised of just four primary layers, with no backlight

The OLED screen includes a layer that glows when an electric current is passed through it. Therefore, creating its own light source. As we’ve already explained, this means there’s no need for a backlight to create the TV picture – enabling the TV to be just millimetres thick. Learn more about the engineering of OLED in this guide.

Is OLED better than 4K?

OLED and 4K are not competing features – they are two different technologies that work together. 4K is a screen resolution, whereas OLED is a type of TV screen. You can therefore have an LED TV that is 4K, or an OLED 4K TV. In the same way, LED and OLED TVs can both be HD resolution – though this is becoming much less common. 

But how do they work together? 4K increases the number of pixels on your screen, while OLED vastly improves the colour and contrast of those pixels.

4K technology packs more onto your screen, boasting a resolution of 3840 pixels x 2160 – that’s 4 times the pixels of full HD, 1080p. When OLED and 4K combine, you can experience a brilliant picture. 

Why choose an OLED TV?

OLED offers a serious upgrade in picture quality, clarity and colour. Each frame of film gets the instant blockbuster treatment. Refined colours and tones heighten the raw, real atmosphere of the big match. Gaming becomes an even more immersive experience as the virtual world gets an injection of realism. 

Black colours deeper than space

The ability to produce deep black colours is one of the most important elements in evaluating a TV’s picture quality. OLED TVs create the deepest black colours of all thanks to pixels that can individually switch off. 

So you can have perfect black next to brilliant white with no light bleed from a backlight. Why is this important? Think about your favourite movies and games: the depths of space and night skies; shadowy cities and alleyways - all rendered in total darkness. In contrast, bright city lights and pristine pitch side markings brilliantly rendered. 

Movies and sport with no blur 

When watching live sport or action movies, your TV can sometimes struggle to keep the pace. Motion blur can be a real problem – particularly for gamers.

Not so with OLED TVs. 

The high refresh rate and low input lag of OLED TV means instantaneous updates on-screen, reducing the effects of motion blur and sharpening the action. Enjoy car chases and ice hockey matches in perfect motion. 

Wide viewing angle for the big match

The backlight in other types of TV may not be effective outside a narrow field of vision. So when you’re watching the match with friends, not everyone can see the game. OLED’s self-emitting pixels increase the field of vision to 84 degrees and keep the same intensity, ensuring everyone has a front-row seat – even if it’s on the edge of an armchair.

Design that’s millimetres slim

TVs have been getting thinner since the days of the first flatscreen models. But OLED takes things a step further. With no backlight, OLED TVs are dramatically slimmer than other models – some are as slim as a pencil and even as 4 stacked credit cards. 

OLED TVs sit almost flush against your wall when mounted. They look almost as though they’re part of the wall – that’s some serious minimalist chic. 

OLED - what the experts say

Approved by Hollywood effects gurus like Rob Legato, OLED recreates your favourite movies, so you’ll feel like you’re right there in the scene – chasing the bad guys down a dark alley or floating through deep space.

The TV experts love it too. 

  • “OLED truly is the next big thing in home entertainment” - TechRadar
  • “OLED is the superior TV technology today” – Digital Trends
  • “The best picture quality around” – What Hi-Fi?

Tim Miller, director of Deadpool, says “It's the Perfect Black. And the infinite contrast you get just makes everything pop off the screen. It's incredible.”

Harmonic is the official partner for the NASA TV UHD stream. They see OLED as “taking consumers much closer to the real experience of being in space”. 

Now you understand what OLED TV is all about, you can make an informed choice as to whether it is right for you. 

Shop the LG range of OLED TVs today.