Let’s set something straight. There is no such thing as a LED television. Despite advertisers fantasies LED does not actually qualify for an independent category in terms of television technology.
These so called LED televisions are LCD TVs that use LEDs but that’s about it. So, what’s the fuzz then? What does this “use of LED” mean?
To understand the breakthrough one needs to know the major design flaw of any LCD screen. LCD televisions do require a light source. It may not sound like much but it actually is their biggest handicap when competing with a Plasma television. We will come to this.
With the new technology rather than using traditional fluorescent CFL lighting, LEDs are being introduced as light source. These LEDs have a number of advantages which we will discuss.
For a start; LEDs use less energy. That’s a good thing and very important but certainly not particularly exciting. They are also very reliable and long-lasting which again does not sound like a major breakthrough. There is a reason though why we should be excited about the new technology.
Actually there are two good reasons for LED because there are two different approaches to this technology. Depending on which one is used the result differs. So lets take a look at them.
Note! There are two different ways to use LEDs in an LCD television.
Edge-LED replaces the conventional fluorescent CFL lighting with LEDs that are mounted at the edge of the screen. They broadcast light from the side to the centre of the screen. The biggest advantage of this technology is that it allows manufacturers to build ultra slim television sets. It is possible to build televisions that are only two to three centimeters deep. That is astonishing and most elegant. It doesn’t really improve the viewing experience but certainly looks awesome.
Slightly more interesting seems the alternative though. It is called Direct-LED and it addresses the biggest pain point of LCD technology: the colour black (I know it technically isn’t a colour but the total lack of it.)
Direct-LED uses thousand of small light-emitting diodes that are placed all over the screen (respectively behind it). Instead of lighting up the entire background of the screen the TV electronic only triggers the LEDs that are required to light up bright parts of the picture.
The results are staggering. The contrast is much higher and black parts actually appear black. The dark parts of the picture being grey rather than black as with the fluorescent CFL lighting that lit up the entire background of the screen was pretty much the only real disadvantage in comparison to Plasmas so it really is a big deal.
Looking at the pros and cons of Plasma and LCD this therefore catapults LCD televisions ahead. LED technology could well mean the end of Plasma screens.