LED vs LCD TV: What’s the difference?

LED vs LCD TV: What’s the difference?

LED TV sets. Picture credit: commons.wikimedia.org/ Maurizio Pesce

Walk into an electronics store to buy a television set and there is a very good chance that you will be told about the latest LED TV and how good it is.

There might also be older Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) TV sets for sale and at much lower prices, but the salesperson is likely to tell you that the LED (Light Emitting Diode) TV is better. Buyers should be careful and not fall for this trick.

The so-called LED TV has an LCD screen just like the older sets.

It is important to understand the technology of these TVs. The TV has a front LCD panel on which the picture is viewed. Behind the LCD panel are Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFLs) that light up the pixels in the LCD panel. Once the pixels are lit up from behind the screen, the viewer sees the picture.

An LED TV uses the same principle to light up the LCD panel. The only difference is that instead of CCFLs, LEDs are used to light up the LCD panel. While these TVs should be called LED-backlit, they are commonly referred to as LED TVs. This looks like a clear marketing gimmick to try and get people to ‘upgrade’ to the more modern LED TV. This is used so much that it appears as though LCD and LED TV technologies are totally different. Any family that is reasonably well off financially will naturally want to buy the more advanced LED TV.

Even in LED-backlit TVs, there are a few types: edge backlit, full array backlit and dynamic backlit.

Edge backlit TVs have LED strips on the edges of the screen, while full array backlighting has LEDs all over the back of the screen. Without doubt, the full array backlighting is better because there is a more uniform spread of light. For instance, if closely monitored, the centre of the screen may not be as bright as the edge in case of edge backlighting.

Dynamic backlighting is the best because LEDs at certain areas of the screen can be turned off while keeping the rest on. This gives the best colour contrast and darker black portions.

Are LED-backlit TVs good? Yes.

With LEDs being more energy efficient, there could be considerable power saving with these sets and they also last longer than CCFL backlighting. The picture also generally tends to be brighter on LED-backlit sets.

Are all LED-backlit TVs better than CCFL-backlit TVs? Not necessarily.

It would not be correct to say that all LED-backlit TVs are better than CCFL-backlit ones. A top-of-the-line CCFL-backlit TV will obviously be better than a cheaper LED-backlit TV.

LED-backlit TV sets have slimmer frames and lesser depth as compared to CCFL-backlit ones. This means that the space occupied will be less.

Many a time, manufacturers try to push sales with jargon that's easily digested by unsuspecting buyers. A bit of research before buying such consumer goods will help people make the right choice.