What is QLED? A guide to Samsung's quantum dot TV technology
Here’s everything you need to about Samsung’s innovative screen tech, and whether you should buy a QLED TV.
If you plan to spend above a certain amount on a new TV, the same acronyms will start to crop up again and again – and one of them is QLED. This is a picture quality that has come out of the R&D labs of Samsung. It’s been positioned as a direct rival to OLED – interestingly, Samsung has made the decision to not create any OLED lines.
But what does QLED actually do – and does it compare to OLED? Read on for our full guide to Samsung QLED televisions, followed by our selection of some of the most notable QLED TVs on the market. If you’ve just decided to buy a new television, then we recommend you read our comprehensive guide on the best TV to buy.
And if you’re keen to pick up one of these much sought-after televisions, don’t miss our pick of the best QLED TV deals this month.
What is QLED and what does it stand for?
QLED standards for Quantum Dot LED TV. You might be wondering what ‘quantum dots’ are, besides something out of Marvel’s Ant-Man films. We’ll get on to what QLED tech actually does in just a bit.
Is QLED worth it?
Absolutely, if you’re looking for a middle-ground between standard 4K and OLED. While you’ll have to spend over £1,000 on an OLED television, you’ll find smaller QLED sets for as little as £600. We would only deter you from a QLED television if you’re spending on a sub-£500 budget – at that price point, seek out a standard 4K television instead.
What about Samsung's QLED 8K TVs?
Samsung’s 8K televisions look like absolutely stunning devices, and in terms of image resolution, they represent the absolute cutting-edge of screen technology. 8K screens measure a colossal 7,680 by 4,320 pixels: that’s over 33 million pixels at your disposal, in comparison to the 8 million of 4K.
You might already be wondering if there’s any point in 8K since so little content is available in this format yet. Actually, the manufacturers are a step ahead: Samsung’s 8K QLED televisions feature a processor that upscales 4K content so it looks 8K in resolution.
But with top-end technology comes top-end prices – and if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that 8K TVs don’t come cheap. The Samsung 55-inch QEQ700TATXXU 8K QLED TV is one of the most affordable, once costing £1,799 from Currys. One size up, and the Samsung QE65Q800T (2020) QLED HDR 2000 8K Ultra HD Smart TV is an astonishing £2,998. For now, they're simply too pricy for most buyers – 8K televisions are a few years away from being the standard.
QLED vs OLED: what's the difference?
OLED TVs represent an evolutionary step forward in television tech. The majority of televisions available today have LED backlights that shine through an LCD screen to provide the TV with its image. Not so with OLED TVs: each of the pixels you see on their screens is lit by itself, which delivers a picture quality unsurpassed by anything else on the market. For more on these top-end televisions, check out our what is an OLED TV explainer.
QLED televisions, by contrast, still feature the traditional LED backlight and LCD screen, but between them is a layer of ‘quantum dot’ particles that work their own particular kind of magic to the picture quality.
In terms of sheer picture quality, QLEDs are still playing second fiddle to OLED sets. But they were never intended to be an outright rival – simply a less pricey alternative. Interestingly, other brands, such as Hisense, are starting to incorporate QLED tech into its sets. It’s a testament to the increasing popularity of QLED televisions.
The closest rival tech to QLED is LG’s NanoCell line – and while a little more expensive overall, is worth taking into consideration alongside any QLED sets you might be thinking of buying. Read our in-depth what is a NanoCell TV explainer for more info. And if you're unsure about which of the two brands to pick, then make sure you read our LG or Samsung TV explainer.
Samsung QLED TVs on the market
Here’s a cross-section of the QLED TVs that are available to buy right now. The smallest QLED sets are 43-inches in screen size, with prices starting at around £600. The majority of QLED TVs cost between £750 and £1500. The larger sets can cost as much as £3000 – but as you can see from our pick below, size doesn't neatly correlate with price.
Instead, QLED prices jump with TVs that come with a number of built-in voice assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung's virtual assistant Bixby. This essentially means your TV can double up as a smart home device – it's not just about channel-hopping without the touch of a button; you can also sync your television with other smart devices around your home.
As you can see, QLEDs are still noticeably more costly than the average television – but with that comes some frankly stunning picture quality. Interestingly, we're hearing reports that Samsung is developing a 'Mini QLED' line of televisions, as well as its own version of OLED screen tech. So our guess is that QLED prices are going to fall soon – to stay up-to-date, bookmark our pick of the best QLED TV deals.