Many people search online for “local dimming vs full array”, looking to know their differences. Still, it turns out that they are two different things. You will learn in this article about local dimming and how it differs from the technology used in LED TVs called Full Array.
What is local dimming?
Have you ever noticed that some TVs are better at showing darker colours? This is because local dimming allows the TV only to show select portions of its screen in brighter colours while dimming other parts to show darker ones. For example, in a scene with someone wearing black and white stripes on their shirt, half the television might be completely bright while displaying lighter tones (like grey). In contrast, another part will show primarily dark or black parts of an image instead. That’s why it’s called “local” since depending on what colour they’re trying to depict, most regions may not need full illumination like before when using this technology.
Local dimming technology can drastically improve the contrast ratio and highlights of an image. It’s also vital to get HDR content with intense light areas.
You need to know that there are three different local dimming technologies used in LED TVs. Each one has its benefits, but also drawbacks. One of them is called full array, and it’s the most advanced version out there for this type of technology.
The other two are called edge-lit and direct-lit respectively.
But since we’re to talk about the full array local dimming, let’s start with that one:
Full-Array Local Dimming
Full array dimming is a term that refers to an entire group of tiny lights all pointing out through the screen towards your eyes.
Because there are so many small light LED zones, it isn’t easy to know just how many you’re dealing with on an individual basis or by TV model. TV manufacturers rarely disclose the zone count for TVs they sell.
Each zone is assigned to a particular section of the screen. Smaller objects are unaffected by local dimming and appear faded as a result. The halo/bloom effect can also be seen if one zone is lit, but an adjacent zone isn’t. This phenomenon, known as “blooming,” occurs when part of the screen becomes brighter than its neighbouring zone. For this reason, having a higher count of the mentioned small light zones will result in a more accurate and smooth image.
The benefits of full-array local dimming:
- Produces the best images with the most detail
- Controls light levels for each individual LED zone, improving contrast and colour accuracy
- Usually results in a wider viewing angle compared to edge-lit TVs.
- It makes HDR content more realistic.
Full array local dimming also comes with some drawbacks:
- If a zone fails, the entire screen will go black until it’s fixed (usually during warranty)
- LED zones cannot be individually controlled for complete flexibility in display calibration and HDR content.
- It’s more expensive than edge-lit local dimming.
What is Full Array Dimming Pro?
Full-Array Dimming Pro is a step above standard full-array backlighting. It uses thousands of LEDs per panel instead of a limited number (think 100), allowing for more even and dynamic picture quality than its predecessor. Full-Array Dimming Pro are usually top of range LED TVs such as LG´s Nanocell range.
What is Edge Lit Local Dimming?
This is the most frequently found on TVs and is more widespread.
It’s an LED TV technology where LEDs are not placed behind the screen but at its sides. With edge-lit local dimming, some parts of your picture will be brighter than others, depending on how many lights are in each zone.
Edge-lit local dimming is also referred to as edge-lit backlight
Good to know: The most common version of this technology uses an LED strip at the top and bottom or right and left sides of your screen, pointing towards you. This creates more even lighting across your picture.
The benefits of edge-lit local dimming
- Less expensive solution compared with full-array local dimming, which means that TVs using it can be sold for less money.
- Allows manufacturers to build slimmer TVs since LEDs aren’t behind the display panel itself – some models have very thin profiles!
- Due to fewer LEDs, edge-lit TVs are more efficient and do not require as much power.
- Good viewing angles compared with full-array local dimming TVs, which produce better images at wider angles.
Edge-lit technology also comes with some drawbacks:
- Blooming occurs when the LEDs are lit on one side but not another, resulting in some parts of your picture being brighter than others
- Less precise control over light levels for each individual LED zone means that contrast and colour accuracy can be compromised more easily.
- Lack of local dimming can make it more difficult to see fine details in dark scenes.
Which is better? Full-Array or Edge-Lit?
In a colour quality face-off, a full array LED display will always come out on top. However, full array displays are expensive, which may make them out of reach for some people. However, if you’re picky about the image quality in your gaming setup or work in a profession that requires accurate colour reproduction, a complete array LED is worthwhile. A normal edge-lit LED display should be sufficient for those who don’t want to fuss with placement.
What about Direct-lit?
Direct-Lit TVs, like Full-Array Televisions, employ many rows of LEDs placed behind the entire surface of the screen. However, rather than utilizing local dimming, as Full Array Televisions do, Direct-Lit televisions lack this. As a result, images produced on Direct-Lit TVs are of lower quality and have less depth and grey tones—rather than deep, genuine blacks—because of this. On the other hand, Edge-Lit TVs don’t produce blacks to the same extent as Full Array TVs do. Still, they use local dimming technology to create rich, nuanced pictures that go well beyond what Direct-Lit televisions can achieve.
What about OLED?
OLED screens do not use a backlight, but ‘self-emitting pixels that light up separately or go completely dark. It also makes the image look more natural. As a result, black pictures are genuinely black and don’t affect the bright areas. An auto-emitting screen produces the highest contrast between light and dark images possible.
In a nutshell, a full array is the best but most expensive technology. At the same time, the edge-lit local dimming is less accurate and efficient but also cheaper. Therefore if you want to save money, go for an edge-lit TV. Still, if colour accuracy is essential, then full array backlighting provides better results.