With recent technological advancements in the world of TVs, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of terminology. Panel sizes, types, brightness, contrast ratio, color range, HDR - it gets very confusing, very quickly. And if you’re looking at TCL’s lineup, you probably have one important question – QLED vs UHD, which one is best for you?
The thing is, there is no clear answer because both terms are very different and are used to describe different things. But since you have both as an option, and you’ve probably viewed the rise of QLED recently as a sign, let’s take a look at what QLED and UHD are, and how the two technologies matter to you as a consumer.
The Meaning of QLED
QLED is a type of panel technology. Most regular and entry-level models opt for regular light-emitting diode (LED) panels, while QLED takes things a step further by implementing quantum dots, hence the Q. Rather than the limited combination of white LEDs and color filters that are used in conventional panels, QLED panels have a completely different way of emitting colors.
The way it works is, quantum dots can be anywhere from 2nm to 10nm in diameter, and their size dictates the colors they emit. For example, the smallest ones will focus on blue tones, while the larger ones focus more on red, etc. The main thing, and the biggest benefit for consumers, is that quantum dots can produce incredibly saturated and very precisely defined colors when compared to the white LEDs that are the go-to with regular panels. You don’t have to deal with colors that sometimes seem “watered down” when looking at the picture.
With QLED panels, there are two technological ways of illuminating the quantum dots – photo-luminescent, and electroluminescent. The important thing to note is that most current commercially available QLED panels opt for photo-luminescent illumination, which requires an external light to stimulate them.
On the other hand, electroluminescent panels apply electricity to each quantum dot individually, which results in each pixel creating its own light. When you pair this with the perfect blacks and overall great colors, it’s an excellent proposition for the future, but at this point, the technology is at least a few years out from being commercially ready.
One potential downside of modern QLED panels is the backlight bleeding, which is a rather common occurrence and is noticeable on a dark image. However, an easy solution is to opt for a mini-LED panel, which deals with this very well and prevents it from happening.
And then comes the brighter image, where QLED panels absolutely excel. They use a separate backlight rather than relying on each pixel to create its own light as OLED panels do, which is why they can be incredibly bright. This goes a long way towards getting a good HDR experience, which dictates high brightness levels as one of the main requirements.
Furthermore, even though it used to be a downside at one point, the color space has vastly improved for QLED panels. The only potential downside is the fact that the color saturation does suffer a bit when you get into extreme brightness levels, but we’re really talking about the extreme.
Overall, QLED panels are today’s go-to option for anyone who is willing to spend a bit more on a high-quality panel that gets you excellent color performance and is still at reasonable prices when compared to premium panels – they’re the perfect technological middle ground.
The Meaning of UHD
While QLED was a panel technology, the second part of the QLED vs UHD dilemma - UHD, is the panel’s resolution. UHD indicates that the panel comes at 3840 x 2160 pixels. It’s the next step up from full HD panels (1920 x 1080) and quadruples the overall number of pixels.
While a few years ago we would have suggested that you go for a full HD TV if you’re working with a limited budget, nowadays UHD is the way to go. You can get excellent value-oriented UHD TVs, such as the Series P from TCL, which check all the boxes and still sells at a reasonable price.
To add to this, quite a lot of the content on popular streaming services and apps like YouTube is available in UHD, so you can make the most of your TV.
Something to note while we’re on the topic of resolutions is that you will also come across UHD being marketed as 4K. 4K is a professional cinema standard, and its dimensions are 4096 x 2160, so slightly different from UHD. However, considering that the name “4K” comes from the fact that the horizontal resolution is very close to four thousand pixels, the argument could be made that you can use it for UHD.
UHD vs QLED in Practice
Now that you know what both terms indicate, here’s another thing that might make it even easier to make a decision: all QLED panels are at least UHD, but not all UHD panels are QLED. That means that if you do get a QLED panel, it’s either UHD or even better, 8K. On the flip side, some budget-oriented UHD panels make use of conventional LED panels, and some premium models go for OLED, so there’s a bit of variety. But the main thing to keep in mind when it comes to the difference between QLED and UHD is that you can have both in a single feature set! Is it worth it though?
The first thing to consider is the resolution. We already mentioned that you can get a lot of content in UHD nowadays and that you get four times the pixel density of full HD. This alone should make it worth getting, but there’s one more important thing. In a year or two, UHD will very likely be the default for any TVs that are 40” and up, with only the smallest TVs opting to stay with full HD, such as 32” models. With panels that are this small, the difference won’t be noticeable unless your eyes are glued to the screen, so full HD does make sense. However, for anything 40” and above, you’ll be able to notice the difference in sharpness, and you’ll definitely want to go for 4K.
The second thing is to think about whether or not you should be spending a bit more on a QLED panel. We certainly think so, but what are the advantages for you as a consumer, when compared to a conventional LCD LED panel – is there a noticeable difference?
Well, the main thing you will notice is the improved colors. We already discussed this, but the wide color gamut you’re getting from QLED panels, combined with the brighter image, results in much richer colors overall. Yes, there are some high-end LED TVs that do have rich colors, but they’re not on the level of a good QLED panel.
The other big thing is the HDR experience. HDR is popular nowadays, and many consumers take it into consideration when choosing their TV. The high dynamic range will get you better highlights and shadows, resulting in an overall much better picture, especially in scenarios where you have extremely dark or bright parts.
Last but not least, there’s a key aspect of QLED panels that makes them the perfect middle ground, and that’s the pricing. While OLED panels are still very expensive, QLED panels get you a lot of the features without the insane price tags. To make things even better, they’re not that much more expensive than LCD LED panels, so the value proposition is even better.
QLED vs 4K
We’re wrapping things up with a few options that should help you solve the QLED vs UHD dilemma. TCL’s lineup includes options for everyone’s preferences, so let’s check out some popular models and find out which one is right for you in terms of panels and feature set.
In the UHD camp, we’re kicking things off with the value-oriented Series P P4. This 60” TV comes with HDR Premium, Google Android TV, and is Freeview Plus Certified. You also get 178-degree viewing angles. Spend a bit more, however, and you’re looking at the P8S, which comes in 55” and 65”, and comes with all the nice things that the P4 has, but adds Alexa support, integrated AI for content upscaling and voice control, as well as Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.
But if you keep on going, you get into QLED territory. The Series X X4 is the perfect example of quantum dot technology at a reasonable price, and you also get Android TV with apps like YouTube and Netflix, and multiple local dimming zones for an even better experience overall.
And last but not least, we have the flagship X10 QLED TV. It comes at 65” and 75” panel sizes, with integrated AI, mini LED technology, Android TV, and both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. It’s pricey, but it’s also the perfect modern QLED TV with no compromises and has you covered on the QLED vs UHD question.