ULED vs. OLED: Everything You Need to Know to Choose the Best TV Technology
With so many confusing acronyms and advanced technologies, choosing a new television can be overwhelming. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll demystify the differences between two of the most popular options – ULED vs. OLED screens. You‘ll learn how they work, how they compare, and which one is the best choice for your viewing needs. Let‘s dive in!
First, what do these terms even mean? ULED stands for "Ultra Light Emitting Diode". It‘s a marketing term used by Hisense to describe their enhanced LED-LCD televisions. OLED, which stands for "Organic Light Emitting Diode", is a completely different display technology used in high-end TVs from LG, Sony, and others.
So how exactly do they differ? Here‘s a quick rundown of the key differences:
Light Source: ULED TVs use an LED backlight with local dimming zones. OLED TVs have individual self-emitting pixels.
Resolution: Both support up to 4K, but OLED also offers 8K models.
Brightness: ULED TVs are much brighter, up to 1800 nits. OLED maxes out around 800 nits.
Contrast Ratio: OLED‘s per-pixel lighting gives it an effectively infinite contrast, vs. ULED‘s 5,000:1 ratio.
Viewing Angles: OLED has near 180-degree viewing, vs. ULED‘s 60-degrees before color shift.
As you can see, both have strengths and weaknesses that cater to different needs. Let‘s break things down even further.
Diving Deep into ULED and OLED Display Technology
ULED TVs utilize LED backlights with advanced local dimming capabilities. Full array local dimming divides the screen into zones – the more zones, the more precise the dimming can be. By selectively dimming areas of the screen, the TV can produce deep blacks right next to bright highlights.
But at its core, ULED is still an LED/LCD television. Light passes through a layer of liquid crystals to produce the image you see. When those crystals are aligned, light passes through easily to make a pixel appear brighter. When unaligned, less light gets through, making the pixel darker.
OLED screens work very differently. Each pixel contains special organic compounds that emit their own light when an electric current is applied. This gives OLED televisions two key advantages:
- Perfect black levels – When a pixel is off, it emits zero light.
- Higher contrast – Bright whites and perfect blacks combine for essentially infinite contrast.
Also, with no separate backlight, OLED TVs are thinner and lighter than ULED models. And their per-pixel lighting control allows for wider viewing angles.
According to Display Supply Chain Consultants, OLED panel shipments are projected to grow from 6.6 million units in 2020 to 10 million units by 2025. ULED shipments are expected to decline slightly as OLED and other technologies gain more market share.
Comparing Image Quality: ULED vs. OLED
Let‘s break down how these technologies translate to picture quality:
Black levels: Hands down, OLED wins here. Its ability to turn pixels completely off produces the deepest, inkiest blacks possible. ULED TVs look muted gray by comparison.
Contrast: With those perfect blacks, OLED also delivers seemingly infinite contrast. Bright objects against dark backgrounds look stunning. ULED lags far behind.
Brightness: ULED regains some ground with its powerful backlights producing images far brighter than OLED can currently achieve.
Viewing angles: OLED again dominates with its near 180-degree viewing capability. ULED colors start shifting past 60 degrees or so.
Motion handling: With advanced refresh rates up to 120Hz, ULED TVs offer outstanding motion resolution with little noticeable blur.
Input lag: For gaming, both ULED and OLED now feature sub-10ms input lag for responsive gameplay. OLED‘s faster pixel response gives it a slight edge.
As David Katzmaier, veteran display expert at CNET, puts it "OLED is the undisputed champion of picture quality." But he also notes ULED TVs have gotten excellent, closing the quality gap particularly in brighter rooms.
Screen Sizes and Pricing: ULED vs. OLED
An important consideration is cost and available sizes. Here‘s how the two technologies compare:
- ULED TV sizes: Range from 50" to 75"+ models, in 4K or 8K resolution. Generally cost $500 to $1,500.
- OLED sizes: Currently max out at 83", with most models in the 55" to 65" range. 4K starts around $1,000, 8K over $2,000.
As you can see, ULED provides more size flexibility at more budget-friendly prices. OLED pricing remains very high, especially for larger screen sizes. Although prices have been steadily coming down.
According to Statista, in Q3 2022, the average selling price worldwide for OLED TVs was $2,312 vs. just $851 for LED-LCD TVs. However, OLED prices dropped 15% from Q3 2021, indicating the technology is becoming more affordable.
ULED vs. OLED: Which Should You Choose?
So which is better for you? Here are a few guidelines:
- If you want the absolute best picture quality at any cost, choose OLED. The contrast and black levels are unbeatable.
- If you want a very large display 75"+ or affordable big screen, go with ULED.
- For brightly lit rooms, ULED‘s added brightness gives it the edge.
- For gaming, both are solid choices with excellent response times.
In my personal opinion, if you can afford it, OLED is the way to go. The picture quality is just so much more stunning and immersive. Big movie and TV buffs will find the blacks and contrast mesmerizing. Casual viewers on a budget are still well served by a nice ULED TV.
Over time, I expect OLED prices to become more reasonable. And with their advantages in contrast and viewing angles, OLED appears poised to take over as the premium television display technology.
But for now, both ULED and OLED have their merits. Carefully weigh your priorities – usage, room lighting, viewing angles, and budget – to pick the perfect TV technology for your needs!
I hope this comprehensive guide has helped demystify these cutting-edge televisions. Let me know if you have any other questions!