Modern television and home entertainment systems come with a mind-boggling list of acronyms, formats and tech jargon that can be quite frustrating to understand when you are shopping for that new addition to your living room.
We are here to help as we take a look at the different types of TV’s and explain what is PLASMA, LCD, LED and OLED, but let’s start with the very basic of formats, the CRT.
Remember the old-style ‘chunky’ TV? The reason why it was so bulky and heavy was because of the Cathode Ray Tube it housed – it basically had to provide room for a screen and a projector gun. An image was created by firing electrons through the ‘gun’ onto a screen.
The acronym stands for ‘Liquid Crystal Display’ and are thin screens usually used in laptops and TV screens. How it works is that the display is a flat panel made up of segments or blocks filled with liquid crystals that can either pass light through or block it. It still requires an external light sources, such as a fluorescent bulb to create the image. By increasing or reducing the electrical current, the transparency and colour of these blocks change.
Meaning, ‘Light Emitting Diodes’, this format is simply an updated version of the LCD generation screens, but instead of utilising one fluorescent bulb to create the image and array of these light emitting diodes are used. Because these diodes are small and much more efficient, it means the structure of the TV can be so much thinner.
You also get two different types of LED’s. Let’s clarify:
The display are backlit by a number of LEDs directly behind the screen creating a better contrast between brightness and darkness
As the name suggests, these screen have lights around the frame reflecting light into the centre of the monitor and because it requires fewer lights, this type of screen is one of the thinnest and lightest available.
LED TV’s are also some of the most popular in the market due to its cost, size and versatility.
But, if you are looking to a truly high-quality image, you want to look at PLASMA screens.
Plasma screens are made of 2 sheets of glass with a mixtures of gases stored between the layers. These gases are injected and sealed in plasma form during the manufacturing process, hence why we have the name ‘Plasma TV’.
A mixture of gases (mainly neon and xenon) are injected and sealed in a plasma form between two sheets of glass and when charged with electricity, these gases react with each other, causing illumination of the pixels across the screen. Because plasma displays can completely turn off individual pixels it can create much better black levels, hence better contrast. Plasma displays are also better at controlling the level of brightness and saturation of light creating more realistically textured images.
Plasma is arguably superior to LCD & LED in terms of contrast and colour accuracy. However the format, due to costs, is restricted to larger screens sizes, usually 40-inches and bigger
OLED stands for ‘Organic Light Emitting Diode’ and is a quantum leap in screen technology. OLED d uses ‘organic’ materials like carbon to create light when supplied directly by an electric current. Unlike LED/LCD screens, an OLED TV doesn’t require a backlight to illuminate the set area. Without this restriction of an external light source, OLED screens can be super thin and crucially, flexible.
As the individual areas can be lit up directly and not via an external backlight, the colours and contrasts are much better on OLED TV’s.
On the whole, OLED is thinner, more flexible, faster at processing images, creates deeper colours and more crisp in contrast. It is, however, still very expensive and will not be seen on consumer TV’s at an ‘affordable price’ for at least another year.
We may begin to see the technology more on phones, smartwatches and wearable tech, where the screens are a smaller size and are therefore more cost-efficient.
Ready to buy that television you have always wanted?