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The basics of OLED

oled tvThe Organic Light Emitting Diode technology has recently found its way into our TV sets, tablets and smartphones. Its main advantages are the very dark blacks and the increased energy efficiency, which will please two categories of people: folks who want to get more juice out of their phone batteries and environmental-friendly users, who are always happy to help minimize carbon footprint.

Traditional LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays) require a backlight, a source of light that is usually made out of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). This have given the marketing departments the opportunity to advertise their companies’ “LED TVs”, but the reality is that only the light source is LED-based, and this doesn’t provide significant image quality improvements. Here's an article that provides more information about LCDs.

The quality of LCDs has improved over the years, but these displays have got a serious problem: they can’t achieve true blacks. The sources of light that are placed behind the LCD panel bleed light towards the neighboring pixels, ruining the viewing experience.

This is exactly the reason why the OLED technology was invented; with Organic Light Emitting Diodes, each pixel is, in fact, a tiny light source. The LCD panel is gone, and each dot on your TV screen is an LED that can be turned on and off, generating a bright light or extinguishing it completely, and thus getting that perfect black you’ve always wanted.

In fact, each pixel of your OLED screen consists of four differently colored LEDs: red, green, blue and white. Pretty much any color can be created by mixing the R, G, and B LEDs, while the white Light Emitting Diode makes the colors look brighter and helps prolong the lifespan of the display.

OLED displays don’t require a separate backlight source. This means that they can be thinner, so the TVs that incorporate them will look much better when they are hung on a wall. To give you an idea, LG manufactures television sets that incorporate displays which have a depth of less than 0.2 inches.

However, the biggest advantage of the OLED technology is picture quality. Since the pixels can be turned on and off individually, each and every one of them can be super bright or completely dark without affecting its digital neighbors. Just go to an electronic store and check out the TVs that are turned on; if you see one that’s got an OLED screen, you’ll instantly want to purchase it.

As an added bonus, OLED TVs have wider viewing angles, which can easily exceed 80 degrees off-center; this means that the TV will display a great picture for everyone, even if you’ve got a larger family or want to watch your favorite show together with your numerous friends.

I can’t end this article without highlighting some of the negative aspects of the OLED technology, though. First of all, OLED-based displays are expensive. I’d like to tell you that prices will significantly decrease in the near future, but my guess is that this won’t happen too soon. LG’s first OLED TV had a 55” screen and sold for about $15,000 only a few years ago. So, people like you and me won’t be able to buy an 85” OLED-based TV set anytime soon.

Then, image quality tends to degrade over time. LEDs burn out; due to the used technology, blue pixels are affected more than the rest of the colors. Samsung’s rival technology - QLED - combines Quantum-dot Light Emitting Diodes with a standard backlight source to create striking pictures that don’t have OLED’s disadvantages, even though - truth be told - LG’s OLED blacks look better that the ones that are produced by QLEDs.

As a conclusion, if you want to get the best TV of the moment, you should consider purchasing an OLED. However, if you are worried that image quality will degrade within the next few years, you should get one of Samsung’s QLED-based television sets instead.