What’s QD-OLED? The latest (and best) TV tech fully explained

Fans of TV gear like to debate the merits of flat-panel technologies. Previously, this meant comparing Quantum Dot LED (or QLED TV because it’s mostly known) and Organic LED, otherwise often known as OLED TV. But 2022 was the 12 months a recent display technology called Quantum Dot OLED or QD-OLED, made its official debut, and it has already began to reshape the TV landscape due to recent models from Sony and Samsung, and computer monitors from Dell’s Alienware brand.

But what exactly is QD-OLED, how is it different from each QLED and OLED, and why do experts think it represents the most effective picture quality you’ll be able to get? Let’s take a deep dive into the main points of QD-OLED and discover.

What’s QD-OLED?

Simply put, QD-OLED is a hybrid display technology that takes the already very impressive qualities of OLED TV and improves its brightness and color through using quantum dots.

Vials of quantum dots. PlasmaChem

The result’s a TV that exhibits the stunning levels of contrast and ideal blacks of OLED while delivering brightness levels that exceed anything we’ve seen from OLED up to now.

This “better of each worlds,” profit was largely theoretical until we got a probability to see it for ourselves at CES 2022. Those impressions survived even once we brought the primary two QD-OLED TVs in for testing. First with the Sony A95K, and nevertheless with the Samsung S95B. Each TVs earned a rare 10/10 rating from our reviewer.

Picture improvements aside, it’s also possible that over time, QD-OLED TVs may prove inexpensive to purchase than similarly sized OLED TVs. We’ll discuss this in additional detail later. Since QD-OLED TVs are essentially an evolution of OLED, it’s expected that among the clever things we’ve seen LG do with its OLED panels, like transparent displays and rollable displays, will soon be possible with QD-OLED, too.

How does QD-OLED work?

To know the inner workings of QD-OLED, we want to quickly explain the differences between QLED and OLED.


A diagram of an LCD-based display.A diagram of an LCD display that uses an LED backlight (with or and not using a quantum dot layer). Samsung Display

QLED TV uses 4 essential elements to supply its pictures: An LED backlight, a layer of quantum dots, an LCD matrix, and a color filter.

The LED backlight produces the entire brightness you see — and modern LED backlights can produce lots of brightness, excess of OLED light sources. But achieving that brightness while maintaining a full-spectrum white, is difficult.

The answer: Start with a very brilliant blue LED light source, then use red and green quantum dots to balance the blue right into a full spectrum of white. Because quantum dots may be tuned to emit specific colours and, amazingly, can do that at a virtually 100% efficiency level, QLED TVs get a much-needed improvement to their color accuracy without sacrificing any brightness or needing to make use of more energy.

From there, the purified white light passes through the LCD matrix (which is answerable for the photographs you see, and the way brilliant or dark areas of the screen are) and, finally, through the colour filter, which converts the white light into the fitting amounts of red, green, and blue in order that we see true color images.

Samsung QN90A TV.Samsung QN90A 4K QLED TV. Dan Baker/Digital Trends

It’s a superb system that produces brilliant and really colourful images. It’s also quite reasonably priced to supply because, apart from the quantum dots, the entire components have been around for a long time, and at the moment are “low cost” to make.

Nevertheless it has drawbacks, too. Regardless of how hard the LCD matrix tries, it will probably’t block 100% of the sunshine from coming through in dark scenes, so that you never get that perfect, inky black that you simply see on an OLED TV. The LCD matrix also creates problems for off-angle viewing since it tends to “tunnel” light straight outward from the screen.

QLED also has to make use of more energy to create the brightness you see because the mix of the LCD matrix and the colour filter diminishes the sunshine the LED backlight generates. This makes QLED TVs less energy efficient than OLED TVs.

Finally, and this will only matter to decor-oriented TV buyers, all of those elements add as much as a thicker overall TV panel.


OLED TV uses an OLED light source and a color filter to supply its image.

That sounds remarkably easy in comparison with QLED TV, and it’s. Due to the emissive nature of the fundamental element of OLED TV — the OLED pixel — this one ingredient can handle brightness and image creation, essentially fulfilling the roles of each the LED backlight and the LCD matrix in QLED TV.

Without an LCD matrix, viewing angles with OLED TV are as near-perfect as we’ve ever seen. You’ll be able to sit wherever you want and still see the identical levels of brightness, contrast, and color.

And as we’ve already hinted at, because OLED pixels may be shut off completely when a picture calls for perfect blackness, that’s exactly what you get: No light being emitted in any respect.

But OLED TV isn’t perfect either. You’ll be able to only derive a lot brightness from an OLED pixel. It’s excellent in low-light conditions, however it simply can’t compete with QLED’s dedicated LED backlight in brighter environments. In case you’ve ever checked out a QLED and OLED TV side by side in a brightly lit Costco warehouse and located the QLED TV more appealing, it’s probably as a result of its superior brightness.

LG G2 4K OLED TV.LG G2 4K OLED TV. Riley Young/Digital Trends

OLED TV brightness is lower than QLED for 2 essential reasons. First, and most significantly, each OLED pixel creates its own light. However the more power you drive through an OLED pixel, the more you shorten its lifespan. So OLED TVs could probably get brighter than they do today, but few buyers can be OK with a TV that only lasted half as long. The LEDs utilized in a QLED TV’s backlight are far less liable to this type of aging and may proceed to supply numerous light for a very long time.

Second, irrespective of how much light an OLED pixel can create, a few of that light might be absorbed by the colour filter.

OLED panels are also liable to something often known as burn-in. In case you display the identical type of content on an OLED TV for tons of consecutive hours — say a lower info banner on a news channel, or a control panel in a video game — it will probably cause those pixels to age at a faster rate than the pixels which are consistently displaying different images.

The residual “shadow” of that static content known as burn-in, and once it happens, it’s often everlasting.

Finally, since the large-format OLED panel market is effectively a monopoly, with only one company — LG Display — manufacturing and selling them to corporations like LG, Sony, Philips, and Vizio, it’s going to remain costlier than QLED for a while to come back.

QD-OLED: Busting the brightness barrier

So the query that faces the TV world is, how are you going to hold on to all of OLED’s many advantages and improve on its weaknesses?

The answer is QD-OLED, also referred to by some corporations as “QD Display.”

Quantum Dot OLED significantly increases the general brightness of OLED — and even improves its already superb color — by optimizing how much light a single OLED pixel can emit and eliminating the colour filter.

Here’s how it really works.

Why start with white?

In the meanwhile, OLED TVs create their light and color start line with white light. They do that by combining blue and yellow OLED material to create a mix that comes very near pure white. Why do that as a substitute of using red, green, and blue OLED material? The reply has to do with the complexities of producing OLED panels on the 50-inch to 88-inch sizes of today’s TVs while keeping costs as little as possible.

To offer you a way of just how expensive a real RGB OLED panel is, Sony makes a 4K, 55-inch monitor for the published and film industries that uses this technology. It costs nearly $28,000.

But whenever you start with white light, you would like a method to separate the person red, green, and blue portions of the spectrum. A color filter does this admirably, but color filters, as we mentioned above, reduce brightness.

A diagram of a WOLED display.Diagram of a typical OLED panel. Samsung Display

LG’s technique for regaining among the brightness lost to the colour filter involves using a white subpixel that bypasses the colour filter.

Once you’re watching standard dynamic range (SDR) content, using that white subpixel is moderate. OLED TVs can easily get brilliant enough to satisfy the total specification for SDR without relying heavily on the brightness of the white subpixel.

“Displays of all sorts that use this architecture are capable of achieve color accuracy at relatively lower luminance,” said Jeff Yurek, director of promoting and investor relations at Nanosys, an organization that develops quantum dot technology. But HDR material is a bit trickier.

When viewing HDR content, the panels turbocharge these white subpixels to deliver HDR’s higher brightness. But there’s a limit to how hard you’ll be able to drive those white subpixels. Push them too far and never only do you reduce the panel’s life, but that extra brightness may also wash out the colour of the opposite subpixels, something that is very noticeable when displaying small features like text, which might often look less crisp.

Back to blue

To cope with the technical hurdles of OLED brightness, QD-OLED TVs take a page out of QLED TV’s handbook. Using the identical principle that lets a QLED TV turn a blue backlight right into a pure white light using red and green quantum dots, a QD-OLED panel uses just blue OLED material as the premise of every pixel.

That blue OLED pixel is then divided into three subpixels: A blue subpixel, which is the unique blue OLED material, left unchanged; a red subpixel that layers red-tuned quantum dots over blue OLED; and a green subpixel that layers green-tuned quantum dots over blue OLED.

A diagram of a QD (QD-OLED) display.Diagram of a hybrid quantum dot-OLED (QD-OLED) panel. Samsung Display

Since quantum dots are so energy-efficient, virtually no brightness is lost in those two color transformations. The result’s a real RGB OLED display without the fee and complexity of a discrete RGB OLED start line, the brightness tax of a color filter, or the necessity for a color-sapping white subpixel.

“What’s so exciting about QD-OLED displays,” Yurek said, “is that they don’t require a white subpixel to succeed in peak luminance. QD-OLED will give you the option to specific the total color volume from near black all the way in which as much as full-peak luminance without compromise.”

Starting small

If there’s one drawback to QD-OLED in its current state of development, it’s that it doesn’t are available a wide selection of screen sizes. As of December 2022, the largest QD-OLED TV you’ll be able to buy is a 65-inch 4K TV. There are not any 8K QD-OLED TVs (yet).

That may change as more people buy the first-generation products and work on the manufacturing side continues to enhance, but for now, QLED and OLED have a significant advantage when it comes to size and backbone: each now exist in screen sizes of as much as 98 inches, in as much as 8K resolution.

QD-OLED: more cost-effective?

It could take several years, however it’s possible that QD-OLED TVs will find yourself costing lower than OLED TVs to make. Eliminating the colour filter is an important method to reduce materials and manufacturing complexity, which should mean a smaller outlay of money.

And since QD-OLED will theoretically be brighter than OLED without using more electricity, it could be possible to create QD-OLEDs which have the identical brightness as OLEDs while using less energy. Lower energy use brings down the fee of most of the components that must be engineered to handle higher energy loads.

This all assumes that the investments needed to make QD-OLED manufacturing a reality might be paid off quickly, but that’s removed from certain at this point.

Having your (OLED) cake and eating it, too

Blue OLED material — the sunshine source of QD-OLED displays — is a notoriously tricky substance to work with.

Very similar to other OLED materials, there’s a three-way trade-off between lifespan, brightness, and efficiency. Generally speaking, any time you prioritize one among these attributes, the opposite two suffer. Drive an OLED pixel hard enough to supply the brightness you would like and also you not only diminish its life expectancy but in addition its efficiency.

But QD-OLED displays may prove to be the exception to this rule. Through the use of three layers of blue OLED material per pixel, each layer can share the brightness burden.

“The quantity of power needed from the blue OLED pixel within the QD-OLED to supply a given amount of front-of-screen brightness might be less,” said Jason Hartlove, CEO and president of Nanosys.

Who makes QD-OLED TVs?

2022 Samsung OLED TV S95B seen wall-mounted in front of windows.

Alpacas stand in a field in the show Our Planet on the Sony A95K TV.

  • 1.
    Samsung’s QD-OLED TV.
  • 2.
    Sony’s QD-OLED A95K.

In the meanwhile, Samsung Display — a division inside Samsung that develops display technologies but doesn’t sell final products like TVs or monitors — is the one company manufacturing QD-OLED panels. It sells these panels to corporations like Sony, Dell’s Alienware division, and Samsung Electronics (the Samsung division that makes and sells TVs). We expect other corporations will join the ranks of Samsung Display’s QD-OLED customers now that the primary highly positive reviews are in.

We’re confident that there’ll eventually be many corporations selling QD-OLED TVs, but for now, it looks like Sony and Samsung are alone on this recent field.

When will QD-OLED TVs be that can be purchased?

You’ll be able to buy QD-OLED TVs straight away, from Samsung and Sony, but chances are you’ll not understand it due to the way in which each company names its products.

Sony’s QD-OLED known as the Sony Bravia XR A95K 4K HDR OLED TV — no mention of “QD” or quantum dots. Samsung, bizarrely, does the identical thing with its QD-OLED TV, often known as the Samsung OLED 4K Smart TV S95B.

Each model currently is available in each 55- and 65-inch screen sizes.

How much do they cost?

Samsung’s QD-OLED TVs cost considerably lower than Sony’s, though as Senior Editor, Caleb Denison, points out, most individuals wouldn’t give you the option to understand the subtle improvements that Sony offers. This makes Sony’s price premium difficult to rationalize.

The Samsung OLED 4K Smart TV S95B starts at $2,100 for the 55-inch model, while the 65-inch version costs $2,800. Nevertheless, we’ve seen discounts of as much as $800 on these prices in 2022, so there are definitely deals available.

For its part, Sony sells the 55-inch Bravia XR A95K 4K HDR OLED TV for $2,800 and the 65-inch for $3,500. Not only are these regular prices much higher than Samsung’s, however the discounts we’ve seen are also less exciting — only about $200.

Is QD-OLED the last word in TV technology?


Nothing halts the progress of technology, and the businesses that manufacture quantum dots have their sights set firmly on the eventual domination of the TV landscape.

QDEL appears like the holy grail of TV tech, doesn’t it?

Remember once we said that quantum dots use light energy at almost 100% efficiency to supply their very own light? Well, it seems that quantum dots aren’t picky about their food plan. They can be energized using electricity for what’s often known as quantum dot electroluminescence, or QDEL. In our opinion, it’s QDEL panels that ought to be known as “QD Displays,” not QD-OLED panels, but this isn’t the primary time the industry has chosen a confusing tech name, and it actually won’t be the last.

Eventually, this implies we’ll give you the option to ditch OLED and LED light sources and create ridiculously thin, flexible, colourful, brilliant, and energy-efficient displays that never diminish in brightness or color accuracy over time.

QDEL appears like the holy grail of TV tech, doesn’t it? But we’re not quite there yet. In the meanwhile, blue quantum dots possess the mandatory attributes to act as electroluminescent subpixels; nonetheless, red and green quantum dots still need work.

MicroLED TVs are also becoming potent, if pricey, alternatives for the house display market. Their modular design signifies that their key strength is with the ability to scale from as small as 76 inches to well over 16 feet, but they’re also incredibly brilliant while possessing black levels and color accuracy to match QD-OLED TVs. But for now, they continue to be bulkier, are costlier, and pack lower resolutions per inch than every other display technology.

Samsung currently makes a 110-inch, 4K microLED TV, however it doesn’t sell the product on to buyers or through retail stores like Best Buy. As an alternative, you may have to contact a Samsung-licensed AV installer. And if you may have to ask how much it costs, well … you recognize how that one goes.

Still, identical to QD-OLED, OLED, and plasma, it’s expected that microLED will soon develop into more cost-effective, more adaptable, and available in sizes that the common buyer might want. Keep your eyes peeled and focused on all of the news coming out of CES 2023 for a peek at what’s to come back.

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