NanoCell vs OLED vs QLED

So you have probably noticed there are lots of different TV panel types out there. The most popular are NanoCell, OLED, and QLED. Which one is the best? Are there any important things you need to know about these display types? I’ll briefly explain how each display type works and then move on to our recommendation.

What is NanoCell?

NanoCell is a type of display panel technology designed by LG and used in most of their modern TVs. The exact way it works is rather complicated but the simple version is it enhances red and green colours to create more vibrant images. You can think of it as a colour filter.

NanoCell TVs do have a backlight. Combine that with the local dimming, and the visuals can be pretty good. Most NanoCell TVs also have very thin bezels so you get more viewing area. Essentially, it’s a technology designed to enhance the colours of individual pixels. What’s interesting is NanoCell is LG’s version of Samsung’s QLED, which we’ll get into a little later on.

Nanocell Pros:

  • Very Bright Display and Vivid Colors
  • Mid-Range Budget
  • Less Reflective (Matte Appearance)

NanoCell Downsides:

  • NanoCell TVS are LCDs and Have a Backlight
  • The Local Dimming Can be Bothersome (Too Bright or Too Dim)
  • Visuals “Wash Out” at Angles

Is NanoCell Better Than OLED?

No. When it comes to image quality, OLED is much better than NanoCell because the blacks are extremely dark and the colors are much more vivid with no washed-out angles. However, NanoCell is cheaper and you can buy a bigger screen.

What is OLED?

OLED panels are used in premium TVs and displays. What makes OLED interesting is OLED does not use a backlight. Instead, individual pixels are lit up or not, depending on the on-screen image. In other words, each pixel makes its own light.

Here’s one way to better understand how OLED works; when there’s a dark image on the screen, the dark pixels are actually not emitting any light at all, they’re turned off. It’s like if you would turn your TV completely off except for one particular area.

The end result is an incredible amount of detail and extremely dark blacks, images tend to have a level of depth to them that doesn’t seem possible. The visuals on an OLED panel feel almost life-like, especially at 4K or higher resolutions. OLED also has other benefits such as a wider display angle, thinner panels, and several others.

OLED Pros:

  • Each Pixel is a Light Source, Extremely Dark Blacks
  • Very Vivid Colors & Image Quality
  • OLED is 4K Only
  • Great for Dark Rooms or Dimly Lit Areas
  • Perfect Visuals at Every Viewing Angle

OLED Cons:

  • Risk of Image “Burn-in”
  • Expensive
  • More Reflective

What About Burn-in?

Burn-in is a common problem for displays, but more so for ones that use OLED technology. What happens is if an image is on screen for too long the image will burn into the screen and remain there, like a ghost, even when the scene changes.

Burn-in usually occurs when a single icon or logo is on screen for a very long period of time. Some examples of these icons are TV channel logos and whatnot. It’s important to keep in mind that burn-in usually only happens after thousands of hours of screen time.

Unfortunately, burn-in is permanent and can only be fixed by replacing the entire TV, which can be done if your TV is still under warranty. In some cases, the TV manufacturer might replace the panel free of charge, depending on the type of burn-in damage.

What is QLED?

While QLED sounds quite similar to OLED, they’re actually very different technologies. In fact, QLED is a marketing term cooked up by Samsung for panels that use a variety of technologies based on LEDs and LCDs. The “Q” stands for “Quantum Dots” and all LCD TVs that use the Quantum Dot technology are branded as QLEDS.

Once again, the technology is rather complicated, but the basic idea is that QLED TVs are brighter and have vivid colours. These panels are based on LCD technology and use a backlight, although some can have local dimming like NanoCell displays.

QLED TVs are often showcased in stores because they’re very bright and the images stand out, even in brightly lit showrooms. QLED is essentially the same as NanoCell, so the pros and cons are the same too.

Crystal UHD vs QLED:

What you need to understand about Crystal UHD and QLED is Crystal UHD is a term to describe the capabilities of the TV, that it’s Ultra-High Definition. QLED is the type of technology the panel uses.

Comparing these two is difficult because they’re entirely different; one (UHD) is a feature, while the other (QLED) is the panel technology. Crystal UHD displays use typical LCD panels but at higher resolutions. QLED also uses LCD but with enhanced colour features.

QLED panels are quite bright and vivid. They’re also newer and more expensive. Crystal UHD is cheaper and the colours are good too. I would say QLED is usually a little brighter and more detailed. However, neither of them compares to OLED panels which are miles better.

NanoCell vs OLED vs QLED: The Winner

When it comes down to it, out of NanoCell, Crystal UHD, OLED, QLED, and other panel types, the one that delivers the best visuals is OLED hands-down. If you want the best colours, deeper blacks, and overall visual quality, OLED is the best option.

The downside to OLED is it doesn’t perform very well in bright rooms and it can be rather reflective, especially during dark movie scenes. But if you use it at night or in a dark room, you’ll notice the quality has a depth to it that no other panel type can replicate, even with tricks like local dimming and whatnot. To top it off, you also get pretty much perfect viewing angles and no washed-out areas.

My recommendation? If your budget allows, go with an OLED TV, you won’t regret it. The problem is they’re still rather pricey, but I feel the investment is well worth it. When comparing OLED TVs to other panel types, it’s always clear which one is OLED because it has much more detailed colours, no washed-out images, better viewing angles, and extremely deep black.

Image credit: “Innovative TV: NanoCell Television with” (CC BY 2.0) by verchmarco

About Tim Gagnon

Timothy Gagnon is a tech blogger and writer. When he's not dissembling computers, he's researching the latest tech gadgets and trends.

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