Tuesday, October 4

Why 2021 was the year QLED finally beat OLED

When it comes to rating the best TVs, Tom’s Guide takes a two-pronged approach. We reached a verdict after first analyzing lab test results and then reporting anecdotal viewing experience. In both evaluations, QLED outperformed OLED this year.

That’s not to say that all QLEDs performed better than all OLEDs in 2021, of course. In fact, in almost all situations, we recommend one of the best OLED TVs over one of the best QLED TVs. But there is one compelling exception, a specific QLED set that swept every other TV we reviewed: the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV.

Samsung introduced Neo QLED as a game-changing TV panel technology. However, most of the top TV brands are guilty of marking and renaming the so-called “exclusive” components used in their products, so we had no high expectations of Neo QLED’s claims. The same can be said for the LG G1 OLED TV with OLED evo, another new technology that ensures the elevated viewing experience of all the best LG TVs.

TV Samsung QN90A Neo QLED frent a TV OLED LG G1

Our Tom’s Guide TV lab tests tell a compelling story for the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV. LCD / LED TVs have always surpassed OLEDs in brightness, but the QN90A outperforms anything we’ve ever seen. It reached a maximum brightness of 1813.83 nits. The LG G1 OLED TV reached a maximum brightness of just 412.05 nits. The difference was obvious, especially as we watched Sunday football cheering on our fantasy players. Our eyes went to the Samsung television in every great work.

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Then we come to color reproduction, which we measured using an X-Rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer and SpectraCal CalMAN Ultimate calibration software. The Samsung QN90A Neo QLED was able to reproduce 99.51% of the Rec 709 color space, which is pretty much perfect for an LCD TV. Meanwhile, the LG G1 provided one of the widest color gamuts we’ve ever seen, producing 133.92 percent of the Rec 709 color space, beating the basic color standard by a significant margin. But the 2020 LG GX OLED non-evo TV was 134.42 percent slightly better.

Lastly, we measure the accuracy of the TV with a Delta-E rating. A lower score is ideal (0 is perfect) and the Samsung QN90A scored 2.6. LG’s OLED panels still have a clear advantage in precision, with the LG G1 gaining a 1.6. This just means that the LG G1’s image is a bit more faithful to a filmmaker’s finished product.

QLED frente a OLED

Despite the similarities in name, QLED and OLED TVs are not the same. In fact, they are two competing technologies for TV screens. QLED is basically a raised version of LCD that has since been adopted by manufacturers like Samsung, TCL, Vizio, and more. It adds a quantum filter, which improves contrast and color beyond what we expected from the LCD screen before.

In OLED panels, or organic light-emitting diodes, individual pixels produce light. This allows certain areas of the screen to turn off completely, creating so-called true blacks. Many smartphones, monitors, and even the Apple Watch employ OLED displays, but their distinctive features are much more apparent on a 65-inch television screen. When you watch a show or movie, you will see incredible contrast in dark scenes.

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So no, QLED still can’t beat OLED when it comes to ink blacks, but it has its benefits, and even more so with the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV as its champion. It’s the brightest TV we’ve ever seen, bringing obvious improvements over previous best Samsung TVs in both anecdotal display and lab tests. Neo QLED was better than normal Samsung QLED, while OLED evo was not much better than normal LG OLED. And that’s precisely how QLED won this year.


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