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LED TVs explained

In the market for a new TV but confused by the differences between LCD and LED TVs? Here's the skinny.

LED TVs deliver:

  • A slim, stylish profile
  • A bright picture that excels under all lighting conditions
  • Energy efficiency and mercury-free production

The basics of LED TVs

Before getting into the advantages of LED TVs, there are a few basic facts to cover: 

  • LED TVs are a type of popular LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs that use "light-emitting diodes" (hence, LEDs) to light the screen
  • Standard (non-LED) LCD TVs are lit by fluorescent lamps, an older technology which is bulkier, less energy-efficient and usually produces an inferior picture

The two types of LED TVs

There are two types of LED TVs:

  1. Edge-lit LED TVs
    Edge-lit LED TVs can be much thinner than standard LCD TVs — some are less than 1.5 inches deep. This gives them a nice slim, stylish profile and a much lighter weight, making them easier to mount on a wall or move around (for easier cleaning or repositioning). They're also considerably more energy-efficient, so they help save on electric bills. Edge-lit LED TVs can also offer many of the picture-quality advantages of backlit LED TVs, including deeper blacks and a brighter, better picture. They are called "edge-lit" because LEDs are placed only around the edge of the LCD panel that creates the display, so one disadvantage is that they can appear brighter on the edges than in the center.
  2. Backlit LED TVs
    Backlit LED TVs have two main advantages over standard LCD TVs when it comes to picture quality: they can produce deeper blacks and are especially good at creating more vivid, accurate colors. An array of LEDs placed throughout the back of the display panel enables deeper blacks by allowing for more precise, localized control over the dimness and brightness of specific areas of the screen. This is what's generally referred to as "local dimming." And because LEDs are brighter, they can simultaneously produce brighter, more vivid colors. These two capabilities combine to give these TVs a higher "contrast ratio" — essentially, the spread between the darkest darks and the brightest brights. And while backlit LED TVs aren't quite as energy-efficient or slim as their edge-lit counterparts, they beat out standard LCD TVs on both scores.

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