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7 Compelling Reasons to Avoid Buying an LED TV in 2023

If you‘re in the market for a new TV, the sheer number of options and acronyms can be overwhelming – LED, OLED, QLED, 4K, 8K, the list goes on. While LED TVs were once the cream of the crop, advancements in display technology have left them in the dust. As a TV expert and digital tech enthusiast, I‘m here to give it to you straight – here are the top reasons you should steer clear of LED TVs in favor of newer, better alternatives.

LED TV 101: How They Work

First, let‘s break down what exactly an LED TV is. LED stands for "light emitting diode." LED TVs are actually a type of LCD (liquid crystal display) TV. The main difference is the backlighting. While older LCDs used cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), LEDs use tiny light emitting diodes to illuminate the screen from behind.

When an electrical current passes through the liquid crystal layer, it causes the crystals to align, allowing varying levels of light to pass through. This light then shines through red, green and blue sub-pixels to produce the colors you see on screen. LED TVs can either have full-array backlighting, with LEDs spanning the entire back panel, or edge lighting with LEDs only along the edges.

The Picture Quality Problem

While LED TVs look decent at first glance, their picture quality pales in comparison to newer TV technologies like OLED (organic light emitting diode) and QLED (quantum dot LED). The core issue lies in LED TVs‘ lackluster contrast ratio and black levels.

You know that feeling when you‘re watching a dimly lit scene in a movie and instead of deep, inky blacks, you see more of a washed out gray? That‘s due to an LED TV‘s imperfect backlighting. Some light still seeps through, even when a pixel should be totally black. This results in mediocre shadow detail and flat, lifeless dark scenes. Top-tier OLED TVs, by comparison, have self-illuminating pixels that can switch off completely, achieving perfect black levels and stunning contrast.

Another common complaint with LED TVs is backlight bleeding, where light leaks through the edges of the screen, causing uneven brightness. You may notice blotchy clouds or bright spots, especially in the corners. The culprit? Those pesky edge-lit LEDs. Full-array LED TVs with local dimming can mitigate this to an extent, but not completely.

What‘s more, LED TVs lack many of the cutting-edge picture enhancements found in premium OLED and QLED models. This includes features like AI-driven processors that optimize the image in real-time, wider color gamuts for superior color accuracy and vibrancy, and advanced HDR formats like Dolby Vision.

All said, LED TVs simply can‘t match the pristine picture quality of an OLED. In side-by-side comparisons, content on an OLED looks noticeably more three-dimensional, vivid and lifelike. Once you see the difference, it‘s hard to go back.


Aside from picture drawbacks, LED TVs fall short in the energy efficiency department. While they did consume less power than the CCFLs in older LCDs, they‘ve been soundly beaten by OLED in recent years.

On average, a 55-inch OLED TV uses around 145 watts, while a comparable LED TV uses about 200 watts. That 55 watt difference can add up over time, especially if you frequently watch TV for several hours. Simply put, OLED is the most energy efficient TV technology currently available.

LED‘s power-hungry nature is largely due to their always-on backlighting. Even in a mostly black scene, the LEDs stay lit, needlessly drawing extra power. Poor local dimming can exacerbate this. Since each pixel in an OLED generates its own light and can switch off completely, they sip electricity in comparison.

If you‘re looking to lower your electric bill and reduce your carbon footprint, an LED TV is not your best bet. Go with an OLED or a certified energy efficient LCD model instead.

Clunky Designs

From an aesthetic standpoint, LED TVs tend to be on the chunky side, with thicker panels and bezels. The edge-lit models are a bit trimmer, but still not as razor-thin as an OLED, which can measure as little as 0.1 inches deep. For that sleek, modern look, it‘s hard to beat an OLED TV‘s understated elegance.

Many LED TVs also have a rat‘s nest of cables jutting out the back, cluttering your carefully curated living room decor. Higher-end OLED and QLED models are designed with cable management in mind, providing built-in tracks and covers to keep your set-up neat and tidy.

Poor Viewing Angles

One of the most glaring issues with LED TVs is their narrow viewing angles. If you‘ve ever tried watching one from an off-center seat, you know the picture can look washed out, with dull colors and diminished contrast. To get the full visual impact, you need to sit directly in front of an LED TV, limiting your maneuverability.

The ideal viewing angle range is 45 degrees on either side (before the picture significantly degrades). Beyond that, the display takes on a brown or yellow tint and you start losing out on color and detail. This poses a huge problem for group viewings – inevitably someone will get stuck with an inferior vantage point.

Fortunately, OLED and some QLED TVs use a special pixel structure that maintains color and contrast even at extreme angles. You can watch from nearly 90 degrees to the side and still see a gorgeous picture. This generous viewing radius lends greater flexibility in TV placement and seating arrangements.

Challenges for Gaming

If you‘re big into gaming, an LED TV can hamper your experience due to slower response times, input lag, and refresh rates compared to the competition. These shortcomings are especially apparent in fast-paced, graphics-intensive games.

Response time measures how quickly a pixel can go from one color to another and is critical in minimizing motion blur. While the fastest LED TVs clock response times around 15ms, a good OLED can cut that down to 5ms or less. Those extra milliseconds can mean the difference between spotting an enemy in time and being unceremoniously sniped.

Input lag, or the time it takes for a TV to display an image after receiving an input, is another key factor. High input lag results in a perceptible delay between pressing a button and seeing the action happen on screen. The lowest input lag on an LED TV is around 10-15ms, but OLED and QLEDs can get it down to a blistering 5-7ms for virtually no lag.

As for refresh rate, most LED TVs top out at 120Hz. That‘s fine for casual gaming, but discerning players will want the 120Hz/4K bliss only offered by OLED and high-end QLEDs. The smoother motion handling and snappier response makes for a much more immersive experience, especially in fast-twitch shooters and racing games.

Better Alternatives

Now that we‘ve established LED TVs‘ myriad flaws, what should you get instead? Two words: OLED or QLED.

With their self-emissive pixels, perfect blacks, wide viewing angles, and ultra-fast response times, OLED TVs are widely considered the pinnacle of picture quality. Leading models like LG‘s Gallery Series and Sony‘s Master Series deliver breathtaking clarity and depth that LED simply can‘t touch. Prices have also come down considerably, with 55" OLEDs now starting under $1,000.

If you‘re wary of OLED‘s limited brightness or risk of burn-in, a QLED is an excellent LED TV alternative. A mashup of quantum dot and LED tech, QLED TVs use an advanced filter to enhance color and contrast. They‘re also much brighter than OLED and immune to burn-in. Samsung‘s QLED line is a solid choice with models to fit various budgets.

For a truly larger-than-life experience, consider a short-throw projector. While not technically TVs, the latest models can cast a crisp 100"+ image from just inches away. You‘ll get that immersive movie theater feel without the bulk of a traditional projector. They‘re surprisingly affordable too – often cheaper than a comparable sized LED TV.

Conclusion: The Future is OLED (and QLED)

Once considered cutting edge, LED TVs have been outclassed and outsold by OLED and QLED in recent years. It‘s really no contest – OLED and QLED best LED in nearly every metric that matters, from picture quality to design to gaming performance. Industry insiders predict many manufacturers will phase out LED TVs entirely within the next 5-10 years.

Rather than settling for a subpar LED TV, I strongly recommend investing in a modern OLED or QLED that will last you for years to come. Trust me, your eyes will thank you. While they do cost more upfront, the unparalleled viewing experience makes it well worth the premium.