Since the much-loved Plasma format of TVs went out of production, there has been some confusion about which format is better for home viewing – there is the LCD and there’s the LED. But before we start comparing the two kinds to decide which one’s better, let’s start by explaining what these terms even mean.
Both are hi-def TVs, which means that their quality of transmission will be a great deal better than standard transmission TVs. But is there a difference really?
LCD TV, or TVs with Liquid Crystal Display TVs work on the principle of blocking or permitting light rather than emitting it. This means that an LCD TV does not make its own light, and the additional lighting is done by backlighting or edge-lighting. What this translates to is a flat panel TV that has a wide viewing angle and depending on the size, will be fit for most rooms.
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On the other hand, a LED TV, or a TV that’s got a Light Emitting Diode actually makes light from electricity, thereby producing stunning picture quality. Combine this with the thinness of the average LED TV and what you have is a TV that’s a little more expensive than a standard LCD TV.
With the basic difference clear, let’s now get to the real problem – which one do you buy? We have broken down the decision to multiple determinants to help you decide.
Given that LED TVs make their own light from electricity, these are very bright, and while this is okay in a nicely lit up room, in a dark room the extra brightness can cause eye fatigue. In comparison, an LCD TV isn’t really dim, but yes, it is dimmer than a LED. To counter the effect of such brightness, LED TVs come with an anti-glare and anti-reflective coating.
So, LED: 1, LCD: 0
We have explained what a Contrast Ratio is, but here’s a quick refresher: Contrast Ratio is the difference in luminescence between the brightest and the darkest parts of the screen. A higher contrast ratio means a better picture that looks more realistic and has more depth.
Essentially, contrast ratio is achieved by zonal dimming of the darker parts of the image. This is best achieved in a LED TV. Because it emits its own light, in the case of a full-array (or full-spectrum) backlighting, the TV is able to dim the LEDs in the darker part of the image, while keeping the bright parts as they are. Of course, this is also possible on edge-lit TVs, but the effect is most certainly better on full-spectrum backlights.
Like we said, LCD TVs do not emit any light but work on the principle of blocking light. Depending on ambient lights, the blacks may not appear as dim as they should be, or in a dark room, the colours may not pop the way they are expected to. This means that picture quality will not have the desired depth or realism.
This means, LED: 2, LCD: 0
Essentially, a LED TV is an LCD TV that has a LED backlight instead of a compact fluorescent, so if you get down to the base, there isn’t much difference in the resolution of either type. The image may look marginally better on a LED because of better contrast capabilities, but there is no real difference in the resolution of the image you see on LCD or LED.
LED: 2, LCD: 0
Note: Plasma TVs were known to have excellent resolution, so if you are moving from a Plasma to a LED/LCD, don’t expect the same high quality of resolution.
When a moving object shifts on the screen, there is a certain amount of motion blur, that depends to a large extent on the shooting medium, but also on the TV at the display end. Refresh rates were improved to combat motion blur, but more or less all LED/LCD TVs will have motion blur. To be fair though, most people do not notice this blur. In any case, to compensate for the motion blur, these TVs process the image to create a very, very smooth image, which in TV parlance is known as the Soap Opera Effect. All LCD/LED TVs suffer from a certain amount of this, because, put simply, the processor is unable to deal with moving images without blurring them. Plasma TVs used to tackle motion blur with greater finesse, but no matter how good the processor on your TV is, if it’s a LED/LCD, there is little it can do about it.
LED: 2, LCD: 0
To combat the problem of motion blur, modern TVs need to have a high refresh rate – which is essentially the rate at which the next image comes on so it all seems like a smooth transition in motion. There isn’t much difference in how fast an LCD TV refreshes its picture when you compare it with a LED TV. You will not likely notice the refresh rate or even the motion blur, unless you are playing a very high-resolution game on the TV, but largely, both LCD and LED TVs will fare the same way in terms of refresh rates.
LED: 2, LCD: 0
Viewing angle is the maximum angle from which you can view the display within acceptable performance limits. That is to say that you should be able to sit farther away from the TV’s center while still being able to view the screen without any loss in quality. This depends a great deal on the quality of glass and its thickness. With recent advancements in LED TVs, they have gone progressively thinner, and this means a thinner glass panel. Also consider the anti-glare coating on the glass panel, and what you have on LEDs is a narrower viewing cone or angle. While the erstwhile Plasmas were far better in this parameter, LCD TVs come a close second.
LED: 2, LCD: 1
LCD and LED TVs are quite effective in keeping power consumption low. This is relative to the earlier Plasmas which consumed a fair amount of electricity at their best settings. However, while LED TVs consume even lesser power than LCDs, do keep in mind that they essentially cost more given the other tech involved, so the saving you make in your electricity bill will take forever to recover the buying cost. An LCD TV might just be the better option if budget is a major concern.
LED 2, LCD: 2
So there, they rank evenly but these are based on separate parameters. Of course, OLED TVs could make both these pale in comparison, and if your requirements be for a Smart TV, it is a different ball game altogether. But the question is, what do you buy?
The answer is simple. If picture quality is important to you, and your budget permits it, go with a LED TV. But if you are not interested in the technicalities of viewing TV and/or cannot extend the budget a wee bit more, then go for an LCD. And come to think of it, you aren’t really making a huge compromise – the differences do not count for much but your new TV will still be far better than your old CRT or Plasma.