OLED vs LCD vs LED – Basic differences explained

Dell UltraSharp OLED Monitor

TVs and monitors have a number of specifications, including resolution, size, refresh rate, and panel type.

While resolution is the defining feature of display quality, the type of panel used is equally important.

When shopping for a TV or monitor, the panel types you will see are typically LED, OLED, or LCD.

These panels each have their own advantages and disadvantages, as detailed below.


Liquid-crystal displays (LCD) are the most common panel type on the market.

LCD panels consist of a backlight, polarizing filters, and a liquid crystal array sandwiched between two glass substrates.

The backlight is constantly turned on when an LCD is powered, which is why even black colours give off light on LCD panels.

There are three main types of LCD panels found in consumer displays, and buyers should take note of the features of each type.

  • IPS (In-Plane Switching) – IPS LCD displays offer increased contrast ratios and colour depth, and are often more expensive than other panel types.
  • VA (Vertical Alignment) – VA LCD panels have a decent contrast ratio and viewing angle, better than twisted-nematic displays.
  • TN (Twisted Nematic) – TN LCD panels are often the cheapest, and offer decent refresh rates and response times – while sacrificing image quality.


Many TVs and monitors are labelled as “LED” displays, but exhibit similar performance to LCD panels.

This is because LED TVs and monitors still use LCD display panels and the “LED” label refers to the type of backlight used to illuminate the LCD panel.

LED-backlit LCD TVs and monitors offer improved illumination and power efficiency over older backlighting solutions.

As LED TVs use LCD panels, buyers should check for the type of LCD panel to determine if the display is right for them.

Samsung’s QLED TVs use liquid crystals to display an image, but exhibit a smaller form factor thanks to improved LED technology.


OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a newer type of display panel and is quickly becoming more common in high-end products.

OLED displays do not require a backlight and pixels are illuminated individually by a chemical reaction.

This allows for drastically improved contrast ratios and power efficiency, as pixels displaying pure blacks will simply turn off.

OLED displays can also boast high refresh rates and extremely low response times.

They are also flexible and can be used to create TVs with slim form factors, but are expensive to manufacture and implement.

Many high-end smartphones and TVs are shipping with OLED display panels due to their wide viewing angles and superior image quality.

This article first appeared on MyBroadband and is republished with permission.

Now read: Bang & Olufsen reveals BeoVision Eclipse luxury OLED TV

Forum discussion

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  • AbnormalN8

    Hi Jamie,

    This is the third time I have seen this same article (save for some small changes) written/cross-published by yourself.

    Each of the iterations has been incorrect in some of its facts.

    OLED technology was researched in the 1950’s with the first practical use device built in 1987, not sure how this is a ‘newer type’?

    This was only a few years after the TN-LCD panel was patented in 1970.

    IPS-LCD only came about in 1990.

    So, IPS panels are actually the ‘newer’ technology, OLED technology actually pre-dates all others, even though TN-LCD panels beat OLED to the market by a few years.

    Perhaps 4th time will be the charm for you ;)?

  • David

    So OLED is newer on the market then (but not technology wise). I guess that somehow makes a huge difference to the consumer. Thanks for pointing it out.

    You clearly do know your stuff (no questioning that), however by personally naming the author and using sarcastic/snide comments, instead of sounding smart you have managed to make yourself sound like a douche.

  • AbnormalN8

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the response, but no, OLED is not newer on the market. As I stated above, IPS-LCD is actually the ‘newest’ technology to the market, launching in 1990, 3 years after OLED.

    So, to market, it would be TN-LCD –> OLED –> IPS-LCD

    Not sure how personally directing a comment to the journalist who wrote the article is a problem at all. Are journalists not responsible for articles they write?

    As also stated, this would be the 3rd time I have called Jamie out on the inaccuracies of his article and each time it was re-written, it was done so with the same inaccuracies in place.

    It is not difficult to fact-check anything and some would say that it is in fact a journalists ‘duty’ to do so before committing an article for publishing.

    Sarcasm by this point is pretty much the only thing I had left to illustrate my disappointment in a technology article spreading factually incorrect information.

    I apologise if you feel I sound (read) like a douche, I am just spent on trying to assist Jamie.

OLED vs LCD vs LED – Basic differences explained

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