QLED vs HDR: What’s the Difference?

Navigating the TV landscape is challenging because there are so many terms and technologies you need to know about.

Two technologies that are often confused with one another are QLED and HDR. Which one is more important? What are the differences?

In this article, I’ll clear up some of the confusion about QLED and HDR, and you’ll have a better understanding of how they both work.


QLED is a display that uses a layer of quantum dot light-emitting diodes in front of the LEDs to improve colour accuracy, contrast, and brightness.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, which means the TV is compatible with HDR media. HDR is media meta-data that, when played on an HDR-compatible display, dynamically improves the range of brightness, colours, and contrast.

In other words, QLED and HDR are completely different technologies, one is hardware, and the other is a media-based visual improvement. It’s not fair to compare one to another.

Here’s the thing:

Almost all QLED TVs have some version of HDR built-in. Every 4K TV has HDR too. In fact, almost every TV released in the last five years supports HDR.

The problem is your TV won’t be able to use HDR unless you’re watching HDR-ready media. It needs a source. Most media streaming platforms like Netflix support HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Just remember that watching a regular non-HDR movie on an HDR-ready TV won’t automatically play those movies in HDR.

The quality of HDR will vary depending on a number of factors, it’s not always the same across the board.

There are also several different types of HDR. The most common is HDR 10+.

QLED TV Features:

QLED TVs are a good balance between quality and budget. The most notable feature of QLED TVs is the brightness.

Most QLED TVs will be on display in bright showrooms because of their extreme brightness. As you might have guessed, QLEDs are a good choice for watching TV during the day.

The reason QLED TVs are so bright is that they use LED backlights. The only difference between QLED and LED TVs is QLED has a thin layer of quantum dot light-emitting diodes in front of the LEDs.

As mentioned earlier, the extra layer filters colours, making the colours appear more accurate and vivid. Combine that with the bright LED and you have a solid, well-rounded TV for most purposes.

But here’s the catch:

QLED TVs are bright and have good colours, but they’re also prone to light-bleed, and the black levels are more grey-ish than pitch-black.

What is Neo QLED?

Neo QLED is Samsung’s new display technology that improves on QLED by using mini-LEDs for backlight. The mini-LEDs allow Neo QLED TVs to be much thinner and offer a broader range of dimming zones.

In addition, Neo QLED TVs deliver a broader range of colours, most models support 12-bit colours. The new Neo QLEDs use a new processor called a Neo Quantum Processor. Another interesting feature of Neo QLEDS is a new type of HDR: Quantum HDR.

The main difference between regular HDR and Quantum HDR is Quantum HDR supports much higher peak brightness levels and even more accurate colours.

Currently, Neo QLED TVs have either Quantum HDR 4000 or Quantum HDR 2000.

Neo QLED also improved on the speakers, adding a series of built-in speakers to the rear panel.

Samsung’s 2022 line-up include several 8K Neo QLED TVs that are quite similar to OLED TVs.

What About OLED TVs?

If you want a TV that delivers perfect blacks, an OLED TV is what you want. OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. While they sound similar, QLED and OLED are not the same. OLED is a completely different technology.

What makes OLED special is that it does not use any backlights, every pixel produces its own light. Since OLEDs don’t use a backlight, the TVs can be extremely thin.

While QLED TVs are much brighter than OLEDs, OLEDs deliver much better colour accuracy with pure-blacks. OLED TVs also are compatible with a variety of HDR media. However, OLED TVs are more expensive than QLEDs.

You can read more about QLED vs OLED over here.

Non-Samsung QLED TVs:

Samsung is best known for its QLED TV lineup, but are there any other companies that offer QLED TVs?

There are several companies that create QLED TVs, although they’re not as heavily marketed as Samsung’s.

For example, Vizio, LG, TCL, and LG, have released some versions of a QLED TV.

One notable budget-friendly QLED TV is the Hisense 43A7GQTUK.

The Bottom Line:

To summarize, it’s not fair to compare QLED to HDR because they are completely different. In fact, almost all QLED TVs support some version of HDR.

As long as the QLED TV you are interested in supports HDR 10+ or Dolby Vision, that should be more than enough. Once you start watching movies in HDR, there’s no going back.

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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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