MiniLED vs OLED – Competing Technologies in TV Panels
Mini-LED and OLED (Organic LED) are two different technologies competing for prominence with modern TV displays. The "LED" part of both terms refers to "Light Emitting Diode", a form of electronic component that produces light.
Each technology has its own pros and cons, which we'll explore further later in the article.
A little history
OLED technology was first developed in the research laboratories of the Eastman Kodak company, all the way back in the 1970s. The first commercially viable OLED material was demonstrated by Kodak in 1987.
The first OLED TV was launched in 2007, with a screen-size of only 11 inches. Since then the technology has developed with over 13,000 patents, into its more mature form that we see today in some manufacturer's products.
MiniLED (also sometimes known as "mLED") is a more recent development, with TCL releasing the first such television in 2019. Despite the name, MiniLED TVs are based upon very mature LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology, but using an LED backlight. The small size of the backlight LEDs is what gains the definition "mini". The LCD display technology has been around since the 1960s and has improved extraordinarily since that time.
How does OLED work?
OLED technology is based upon the ability for specific organic compounds to emit light when an electric current is applied to them. These organic semi-conductor compounds emit light via the process of electroluminescence.
Because each pixel can be turned on or off individually, these panels can exhibit very high contrast, but this comes at a cost. There can be higher levels of heat generation which consequently limits brightness levels. The manufacturing costs are also quite high.
It is possible to do some amazing things with OLED technology, such as create screens that can be rolled up. When it comes to large-scale TVs, however, this does not necessarily provide any real benefits.
How does Mini-LED work?
TCL uses a full-array style of MiniLED technology. With full-array, there are a considerably greater volume of smaller diodes used to create the backpanel illumination. As they are evenly distributed (in the array), they produce much more uniform lighting. The greater volume of LEDs also allow these panels to output higher brightness levels, with relatively low production of heat.
Additionally, the LEDs are grouped into blocks known as local dimming zones. These zones can be individually controlled, either turned off or on, or dimmed. The more local dimming zones there are, the greater control over total contrast and picture quality on-screen.
The light produced by the backlight panel then passes through the LCD layer, which for TCL is called the Quantum Dot layer. The Quantum Dot layer applies the colour. The brightness and contrast control from the backpanel combined with the colour applied from the LCD layer provides an incredible range of colours.
Which one is better?
OLED has long been held to have the best contrast, as it is possible to individually turn each pixel on or off. Having said that, Mini-LED has made massive strides in every new product generation. With ever-increasing numbers of LEDs and local dimming zones, they are very close to matching the contrast of OLED screens.
Another area that OLED screens lead the way is with physical flexibility. As the organic diodes can be printed on almost any substrate, it is possible to create screens that can be flexed or even rolled. This is excellent for products such as foldable phones or specialised flexible tablets, but are considerably more expensive to produce.
Mini-LED screens win the day with the ability to output much greater overall brightness. This provides improved contrast over traditional LCD screens, and a much greater range of colours than would be otherwise available. They are also much more durable, promising a longer lifetime of usage. With lower manufacturing costs, Mini-LED also wins out with affordability. Lastly, Mini-LED screens exhibit lower latency which is a great plus for gamers and no risk of burn-in.
TCL's MiniLED lineup
TCL starts their MiniLED lineup with the C83 Series televisions. These are a 4K resolution screen with a wide range of visual, audio, and software features. The C93 Series offers similar visual and software features with extended audio capabilities.
The flagship model in TCL's lineup is the 8K resolution X925 and X925 Pro Series televisions. The same MiniLED and Quantum Dot brightness, contrast, and colour with an incredible 33 million pixels.
To see the amazing quality of TCL's televisions, visit the showroom of your nearest in-store retailer.