TV tech is a fast moving industry. Not long ago, we were talking about LCD vs plasma TVs. You had the brighter brights of the LCD versus the perfect blacks of the plasmas. Both have their pros and cons. The conversation is a different these days. Now, we have OLED vs LCD vs FALD vs TVs. Let’s look at what each one does and which one is the best.
Okay so there are a lot of words in this article. Making you dive to the bottom sucks. Thus, we have summarized all of the information below to help give you a quick idea of what these display types can do. For more information on them, just keep scrolling down to read the rest of the article!
LCD/LED – Edge Lit – VA and IPS
- Generally cheaper than FALD or OLED.
- Still supports the latest tech like 4K, Dolby Vision, HDR10, etc.
- Most common type of display.
- LCD TVs aren’t the thinnest TVs, but they are still quite thin.
- IPS displays tend to have better viewing angles.
- LCD TVs generally have bad viewing angles.
- Comparatively speaking, LCD TVs have the worst black levels, black uniformity, and contrast out of the three screen types in this article.
- LCD TVs tend to get hotter toward the side of the TV that houses the edge lighting (usually the bottom).
- LCD generally have worse motion blur than OLED or FALD.
- IPS displays usually have worse black uniformity and contrast, even when compared to LCD VA panels.
FALD (Full Array Local Dimming)(LED backlit)
- Deeper blacks and better black uniformity than LCD thanks to local dimming, but not as good as OLED.
- Better handling of motion blur than LCD, but not as good as OLED.
- Still supports the latest tech like HDR10, Dolby Vision, and 4K.
- Back-lighting helps improve temperature control compared to edge lit LCD TVs.
- All of the advantages of LCD TVs since FALD displays are just LCDs with full array back lights instead of edge lights.
- Not very common in the consumer TV market.
- FALD displays generally have more blooming (where bright objects have halos on screen and aren’t supposed to).
- They also have the same poor viewing angles as LCD TVs.
- FALD TVs tend to be more expensive than LCD.
- The best contrast, deepest blacks, and best black uniformity.
- No blooming, ever.
- OLED TVs are generally thinner than LCD or FALD TVs.
- OLED TVs are generally cooler in temperature than LCD or FALD TVs.
- They support the latest tech, including HDR, Dolby Vision, and 4K.
- OLED TVs have exceptional viewing angles.
- TVs with OLED usually deal with things like motion blur extremely well.
- They are ridiculously expensive.
- Only a few manufacturers make OLED TVs. They are not very common.
- OLED is potentially more likely to have burn-in issues than LCD or FALD displays.
- OLED displays can crush dark shadow detail if not properly calibrated.
So now that we have the basics down, let’s talk about it further!
LCD/LED – edge lit method
LCD is the most popular type of TV or computer monitor display. It works by mounting lights on the edge of the TV (usually the bottom border of the TV). That light is shot up through the television to provide its light. There are various filters and other tech that block out or filter the light. The remaining light shows the image on the screen. It’s the technology that killed the CRT TV. It has also vastly improved over the decades. Despite better technology existing, many manufacturers and people still prefer LCD.
The biggest reasons to buy an LCD product is cost. The cheapest 4K TVs, 1080p computer monitors, etc are all LCD. Samsung’s latest QLED TVs are still basically LCD TVs with some fun new tricks. There are a variety of LCD technologies. The most popular are IPS and VA panels.
The biggest reasons to buy an LCD product is cost.
They all have basically the same features. You can find LCD tech with 4K, HDR, with modern designs and thin construction. IPS panels generally have better viewing angles while VA panels have better contrast ratios and better black uniformity than IPS. Thankfully, both can do amazing jobs at displaying color. They also get more than bright enough and they’re relatively inexpensive to run.
If you’re walking into a Best Buy tomorrow with less than $1000 looking for a computer monitor or TV, there’s an excellent chance you’re going home with LCD technology. The good news is that most LCD TVs, computer monitors, etc pretty much all act the same way unless the manufacturer screws it up. Its rock bottom costs with its stable performance makes it a great choice for budget buyers.
It’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows, though. LCD tech in general has limitations. Those limitations are a little more flexible on other display types. LCD does the worst at black uniformity, motion blur, and heat distribution compared to OLED or FALD displays. However, on a good LCD panel, it’s not overly noticeable unless you’re really checking for it. You’ll know it if you get a bad LCD TV, though, because it will be really bad.
Technically, FALD is just a type of LCD TV. It stands for Full Array Local Dimming. Instead of having an edge light across the bottom, FALD displays have lighting zones all around the screen of the TV. These lighting zones provide the light that then goes through the filters and produces the picture on the TV or monitor. The zones can also be dimmed independently of one another. That helps produce deeper blacks than a standard LCD panel.
The biggest win for FALD displays is performance vs cost. It can’t get the same level of blacks as OLED. However, with lighting zones that independently dim (as opposed to an edge lit LCD that can’t do that), FALD displays can get a hell of a lot closer than LCDs can. This results in superior black uniformity, black levels, and better looking HDR content. It also distributes heat better than edge lit LCDs since the lights are all over the back of the screen instead of bundled in one spot (the edge). It’s as close as you’ll get to OLED without actually buying an OLED.
The biggest win for FALD displays is performance vs cost.
FALD does have its downsides though. Outside of its lighting, it is still an LCD panel. It suffers from a lot of the same potential issues. Your viewing angles are going to be just as bad as LCD. They do have better contrast, black levels, and black uniformity. However, the lighting zones can produce blooming where bright images look like they have little lighting halos. This is especially noticeable with aggressive local dimming on complicated images where there are really bright stuff next to really dark stuff.
Additionally, FALD displays are generally more expensive than LCD tech. They are also much harder to find. There are only a few commercially available TVs that use FALD displays. The Vizio M-series TVs and Sony’s X900E are the most popular and widely available.
Finally, FALD doesn’t have standardization. Some TVs, like the Vizio M-series have 60-72 lighting zones while others like the Sony X900E reportedly only have around 40, despite being almost twice as expensive as the Vizio M-Series. It’s not a huge deal, but it is something to keep in mind. Otherwise, a good FALD panel will beat the pants off of most LCD panels in the same price range.
OLED is the latest TV technology. It works by individually lighting each pixel on the screen as needed. It cheats the system a little bit. The display won’t light up the pixel if it’s supposed to be black. Thus, OLEDs get an “infinite” contrast ratio because TVs can’t make it blacker than “completely off”. There are no back lights or anything like that. Of the three display types, OLED is the simplest.
What does this mean for picture quality? A lot. Black uniformity is literally perfect. OLED panels showing a black image don’t even look like they’re on. Additionally, individually lit pixels generally means better handling of motion blur, HDR, and contrast. No blooming occurs like on FALD displays. OLED TVs also have much better viewing angles than LCD. Watching stuff like old 4:3 TV shows will turn those extra pixels off, giving you a more immersive experience.
OLEDs are typically the thinnest, and arguably the most attractive. Most expensive too..
The simplicity shows up in other ways, too. OLED TVs are generally the thinnest type of TV you can buy. That makes them ideal for wall mounting. There are no back lights and that means OLED don’t get as warm as LCD (most of the time). Since OLED is the highest end, virtually all of them are 4K with support for most types of HDR. You won’t be checking Google to see if an OLED TV supports HDR10 and has a wide color gamut. The answer is yes.
OLED TVs do have their quirks, though. They are wicked expensive. Far more so than LCD or FALD. The lowest end 2017 OLED is the LG B7 and it goes for between $1599 (on Massdrop when it’s available) up to $1999.99 when it’s not on sale anywhere. It only goes up from there. They are also fairly uncommon. Only a few manufacturers even make OLED. From there, fewer still are available depending on where you live. Buying an OLED TV is a for real investment.
There are potential issues with the picture quality as well. OLED TVs have a habit of something called “crushing blacks”. This is where the TV takes dark, dark stuff and just makes it black. Thus, super dark scenes with very fine, dark detail may lose that detail. Look at the image above. On the right, a properly calibrated screen will show the detail in the rocks toward the bottom. On the left half, you can see that detail is “crushed” by black. Improperly calibrated OLED displays will do that. It can be a real pain to calibrate them, too.
Okay, so what type of screen should you buy? A lot of sites will waffle this part and tell you that you should get the one that works best for you. However, there is a very clear winner here and it’s OLED. OLED tech is the best tech for displays right now. It has some pros and cons like everything else, but when you watch a space scene in a movie and space is jet black, you’ll get it. There is no shame in having other tech, though. They all still display colors and they all have the capacity for HDR and wide color gamuts. It’s just that OLED is the best.
That said, there are some scenarios where not buying an OLED is a good move. After all, you can’t magically make $2000 appear out of nowhere, so budget options are still greatly appreciated. Also, OLED is the best, but paying for it brings in the idea of diminishing returns. OLED is the best, but whether it’s $500-$1000 better than the LCD and FALD is definitely subject to debate.
Money aside, here are a few extra scenarios to keep in mind:
- Those with bright living rooms should probably go with an LCD or FALD panel. They tend to battle reflection a little better.
- Those with offset living room spaces should go OLED because of its amazing viewing angles. Barring that, IPS LCD would be the second best bet for viewing angles.
- People who game competitively should go with LCD or OLED. Most of them have sub 30ms input lag on game mode and many can get it under 20ms. For some reason, FALD TVs are usually in the 30-40ms range. It won’t matter for casual gamers, we’re only talking competitive here.
- People who watch a ton of movies with HDR content will be best served with FALD and OLED. The deeper blacks definitely help more.
- Anyone who just uses a TV for normal stuff like watching TV, the occasional movie, or playing the original game will be well served by any of the three panel types. FALD is better than LCD and OLED is better than both of them. However, it’s worth noting that upscaling old 480p cable TV looks a little rough on all of them. Generally speaking, any of these technologies can have excellent picture quality for most stuff. We’re just doing high-level comparing here.
And that’s it for our OLED vs LCD vs FALD vs TVs comparison. We hope we helped you make a decision or helped you learn a thing or two. Thanks for reading!