LCD vs. LED TV: What’s The Difference Between The Two?

LCD televisions were popular alternatives to plasma screens, but new LED technology has driven the price of both options down considerably. Their energy efficiency and sharp video playback make both televisions smart buys. However, depending on your budget, energy concerns, and watching habits, both types have their different strengths.

How Picture is Made

Technically, LCD and LED televisions are almost identical products. LED televisions also use a liquid crystal display (LCD) to produce a picture. Liquid crystal displays use thin, polarized glass to block or enhance incoming light to create a picture visible from the front.

The primary difference between LCD and LED televisions is how they produce light behind the screen. Similar to the original television technology, LCD televisions use a highly-efficient fluorescent tube behind the display to produce light that illuminates the changing pixels on the screen. In contrast, LED televisions don’t have a fluorescent tube, but instead have many small light emitting diode (LED) bulbs that allow for more control over where light is broadcast in the display. Because of their smaller size, LEDs can be placed both behind the screen and around the edges of the display for a brighter and crisper image.

Picture Quality

The sharpness of a television picture is directly related to its refresh rate. Refresh rate refers to the number of times a picture is changed every second. Instead of displaying fluid motion, televisions display “frames” every second that give the illusion of a moving picture. LED TVs have higher refresh rates than traditional LCD televisions, giving the illusion that the same inputted image is being outputted at a higher quality on an LED television than on an LCD.

LED Light Control

LED televisions allow for better dimming and brightness control than fluorescently lid LCD screens. Because of how LEDs are constructed, they allow for faster darkness and lightness control that creates truer blacks and brighter whites. LEDs can be dimmed individually, allowing for parts of the screen to have little to no light being transmitted through it at all, whereas LCD televisions must darken parts of the screen by blocking light within the display rather than dimming the single bulb behind the picture.

Viewing Angles

Finally, LCD televisions offer better viewing angles than LED TVs. Because LED screens have moved screen lights to the side of the screen in an effort to reduce bulkiness, they have much smaller viewing angles than LCDs. LED televisions struggle to reduce glare because of their brightness, making LCDs a smarter option for living rooms with wide couches or bright windows.

Energy Efficiency

LED televisions are far more energy efficient than backlight LCDs. This is because they’re able to anticipate darkness and light by turning some bulbs off completely for different scenes, thus reducing energy expenditure. Additionally, LEDs are inherently a more efficient light source than heated fluorescent tubes and are slowly being introduced into other screen technologies to reduce costs.