The Alphabet Soup of Video Monitors

OLED, QLED, Mini-LED, Micro-LED

I haven’t written much about all the new video monitors that were on display at CES® 2023. This is mostly because they were all so incredibly good (thinner, brighter, bigger, cheaper) and more amazing than ever. That said, advances in manufacturing over the past few years have closed both the price and feature gap between the most popular technologies. So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a quick primer on current video monitor jargon along with some guidance to help you pick the best set for your needs.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between LED, QLED, OLED, Micro-LED, and Mini-LED, and I’ll offer specific recommendations for sports fans, movie fans, gamers, news junkies, and bargain hunters with a specific focus on 65-inch 4K (Ultra High Definition) models.

Sports fans

For sports fans, the most important factor is likely to be image quality and motion handling. Micro-LED and Mini-LED sets both offer improved motion handling, which can be beneficial for fast-paced sports. Additionally, Mini-LED sets offer improved contrast and color accuracy, which can make a big difference when it comes to catching all the action on the field. 65-inch 4K Mini-LED televisions can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000

Movie fans

Movie fans will likely appreciate the deep blacks and infinite contrast offered by OLED sets. These sets also offer excellent color accuracy and motion handling, which can help bring your favorite movies to life. However, it’s worth noting that OLED sets are more susceptible to burn-in, so it’s important to be mindful of that if you plan to use the TV primarily for movies. 65-inch 4K OLED televisions can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000

Gamers

Gamers will appreciate the low input lag and high refresh rates offered by QLED sets. These sets also offer excellent color accuracy and motion handling, which can help bring your games to life. Additionally, QLED sets offer improved contrast and brightness, which can be beneficial for games with fast-paced action. However, it’s worth noting that QLED sets are more expensive than other options. 65-inch 4K QLED televisions can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000

News Junkies (and Bargain Hunters)

News junkies and bargain hunters may enjoy LED sets that offer 4K UHD quality, but are not as “specification heavy” as their more expensive counterparts. 65-inch 4K LED television can be found as low as $400 from big box retailers. You get what you pay for. But, if you watch a lot of talking head news programming, these sets will do just fine.

The Bottom Line

Each technology has its own pros and cons, and the best choice will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Micro-LED and Mini-LED are newer technologies that offer improved brightness and color accuracy, but may be expensive. LED and QLED televisions offer good color accuracy and energy efficiency, but may not have perfect black levels or infinite contrast. OLED televisions offer the best black levels and infinite contrast, but may be expensive and have burn-in issues. It’s also worth noting that prices of these technology televisions tend to fluctuate as new models and advances are introduced. It’s important to consider your specific viewing preferences when making a decision.

No Need For 8K

8K resolution is four times higher than 4K, which means that it offers 16 times more pixels than 1080p. However, to fully appreciate the benefits of 8K resolution, the screen size needs to be quite large. With a screen size of 95 inches or larger, the additional resolution of 8K can make a noticeable difference in image quality. However, for screen sizes smaller than 95 inches, there are no benefits of 8K — and, for the foreseeable future, there is almost no content that will take advantage of the added pixels.

The Types of Dots (Pixels)

LED: Light-Emitting Diode (LED) televisions use a backlight to illuminate the liquid crystal display (LCD) panel. This results in a bright, energy-efficient image with good color accuracy. However, the backlight can sometimes cause issues with contrast and black levels.

QLED: Quantum Dot Light-Emitting Diode (QLED) televisions use a special type of LED backlight that is coated with quantum dots. These dots are able to produce a wider range of colors, resulting in a more vivid and accurate image. QLED televisions are also highly energy efficient and have a long lifespan.

OLED: Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) televisions use a different type of technology altogether. Instead of using a backlight, each pixel in an OLED display emits its own light. This results in perfect black levels, infinite contrast, and excellent color accuracy. OLED televisions are also highly energy efficient and have a long lifespan.

Micro-LED: Micro-LED televisions use tiny LED chips, each measuring just a few micrometers in size, to create an image. These chips are placed very close together, which allows for higher resolution and brighter images. Micro-LED televisions are also highly energy efficient and have a long lifespan.

Mini-LED: Mini-LED televisions use larger LED chips that measure around 0.2mm in size. These chips are placed behind the LCD panel of the television, which allows for a more precise control of the backlighting. This results in improved contrast, brightness, and color accuracy.

The Number of Dots (Resolution)

2K: 2K resolution, also known as 1080p, has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

4K: 4K resolution, also known as Ultra High Definition (UHD), has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.

8K: 8K resolution has a resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels and it is four times higher than 4K.

The Quality of the Dots (Color Space & Dynamic Range)

WCG: Wide Color Gamut (WCG) is a technology that allows for a wider range of colors to be displayed on a screen. This results in more accurate and vibrant colors.

HDR: High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a technology that allows for a wider range of brightness levels to be displayed on a screen. This results in more accurate and detailed images with brighter highlights and deeper blacks.

Which Is Right For You?

Remember, size matters. That’s the first decision. After that, consider your use case, then the price. I have gone out of my way not to mention manufacturers because if you are buying a name brand, you are going to be fine. It’s also important to understand that how you get your video (Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, AppleTV, etc.) is a great equalizer. You shouldn’t pay for “smart” features that you don’t need – especially if you are using a “smart” device to deliver your video.

Other than that, happy shopping. Without exception, all of the big brand monitors I saw at CES this year were outstanding.

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