Fancy a new TV but confused by all the acronyms? Let’s break them down…

LCD/LED
The most affordable display type on the market, with a screen size to fit every room. LCD/LED TVs have an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) panel that is direct-lit or edge-lit by Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Overall, LED screens offer better peak brightness and are ideal for brightly lit environments.

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Quantum dot (QLED)
Similar to LED technology albeit incorporating a filter of Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diodes – microscopic molecules capable of emitting light in various colours – between the LED back- or edge-lighting and the LCD panel. Quantum Dot TVs, like Samsung’s proprietary QLED, deliver extremely accurate colours with better saturation. Moreover, the image remains clear and vibrant in brightly lit rooms or outdoors.

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OLED
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode – individual pixels that emit their own light. The ‘Organic’ bit is a carbon-based film through which a current is passed to create light. With this enhanced pixel accuracy, OLED TVs deliver higher contrast levels, perfect blacks and colour definition, as well as a wide viewing angle. They are ideal for dark home theatre rooms. The display panels are thinner than LCD/LED, and sizes start at a generous 48 inches. The Rolls Royce of TVs with a premium price tag, and worth every penny.

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Get appy
Your new 4K Smart TV will have many of the most popular streaming apps pre-installed (depending on the manufacturer and model), but don’t panic if your favourite one isn’t there. Simply select the Apps icon on the TV’s Home screen menu to find the app you want to install (Note: some TV manufacturers require you to open an account with them in order to download additional apps). For example, if you have an Android TV, select the onscreen Apps icon, then select the Google Play Store and search for the app(s) required – if the app isn’t free, the price will be displayed before you are prompted to install it.

New this season: Mini-LED
This year sees a major leap forward in TV technology, with the next level in LCD/LED displays set to challenge the flagship OLED in image quality and affordability.

As screens get progressively bigger, the backlighting has gotten smaller. Mini-LED is a more advanced form of backlighting in LCD panels, offering greater resolution control (particularly with HDR content) to deliver the enhanced colour reproduction and deep blacks boasted by OLED technology, albeit with the greater peak brightness of LCD/LED.

Mini-LEDs, as the name suggests, are a lot smaller than those found in standard LCD panels, measuring 0.008 of an inch across – that’s approximately one fifth the size of a regular LED light. Consequently, there are a lot more of them to do the job – think tens of thousands rather than thousands. Mini-LEDs, when densely packed, illuminate smaller areas of the screen where required, resulting in more backlighting control over the brightening and dimming of image zones – crucial to creating the perfect contrast ratio of highlights and shadows, and eliminating the ‘blooming’ or haloing effect on bright objects in dark scenes.

Several major manufacturers are already onboard with mini-LED tech. Samsung’s Neo QLED range integrates mini-LED with its Quantum Matrix technology, while LG’s QNED series combines its existing Quantum NanoCell Colour with mini-LED backlighting.

Perhaps the best news surrounding the uptake of mini-LED is that these TVs are less expensive to manufacture than their OLED rivals, meaning higher quality at a lower price.

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STACK‘s 2021 TV Buying Guide