While OLED TVs and 4K TVs are getting a lot of attention for their top-of-the-line picture quality and immersive features, there is still much to admire from LED TVs. If your budget is limited, LED TVs nevertheless afford you smart capabilities—including content streaming from your favorite platforms and web surfing—proving you don’t have to spend a pretty penny to enjoy innovation.
Read our answers to the most frequently asked questions about LED TVs as we tackle the differences between LED vs LCD TVs, smart TV features, and more.
Q1. What is an LED TV?
LED is simply a type of display, with the acronym standing for “light-emitting diode.” An LED TV uses a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel—or “backlight”—to control where light is distributed to display the image on the screen.
LED TVs have been around since 2007, and LED backlighting remains a widely available and popular TV tech.
Q2. How does an LED TV work?
The way an LED TV works is, again, via a backlight, which is partially composed of two layers of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them.
When an electric current passes through the liquid solution, it causes the crystals to align so that light is transmitted. Ultimately, this is how the image you see is composed on the screen. This technology can be likened to a window shutter, which allows light to pass through or be blocked out.
There are three main configurations of LED backlights:
- Full-Array – LEDs are distributed evenly behind the entire screen to produce a more uniform backlight and more effective local dimming (i.e., dimming and turning off entire LED zones). This method is typically found on higher-end models, but as of 2020, some mid-range models offer it, too.
- Edge-Lit – LEDs are placed at the edges of the screen, and depending on the display, they can be arranged all around the screen, on the left and right sides only, or at the top and bottom only. As such, this configuration allows the screen to be very thin, but it can cause some spots on the screen to be brighter than others for a less uniform picture.
- Direct-Lit – LEDs are positioned directly behind the screen like in full-array configurations; however, there are fewer LEDs in direct-lit configurations, and they can’t be controlled separately to generate optimal brightness. Direct-lit LED TVs aren’t as thin as other LED TVs and are typically a lower- to mid-end purchase.
Q3. Which is better, an LED or LCD TV?
When it comes to deciphering the differences between an LED vs LCD TV, it’s important to note that these TVs are not in mutually exclusive categories—at least, not discreetly.
In fact, an LED TV is just a specific type of LCD TV, but you can say that an LED TV is more advanced, with an additional layer that further enhances the picture quality. All LED TVs have an LCD panel, and technically, LED TVs can be called “LED-lit LCD TVs,” but they are not commonly referred to as such.
Even though LED TVs are a subset of LCD TVs, the distinction between both is still noted in electronics catalogs today. To that end, their differences lie in the type of lighting used, with LED TV using diodes and LCD TVs relying on fluorescent lights.
As a result of their different lighting technologies, most LED TVs (i.e., full-array and edge-lit models) flaunt a thinner screen and sharper picture compared to LCD TVs without diodes.
Q4. Can you lay an LED TV flat?
Transporting a flat-screen TV to a new location is difficult in terms of handling its size and safeguarding its delicate construction. That said, it’s important to avoid laying down any TV for longer than a couple of minutes at a time to prevent damage—which is why they are normally packaged upright on the sales floor and for delivery.
When an LED TV is laid flat on its back for more than an instant, the position offers little to no support to the middle part of the display, causing the weight of the TV to be distributed in an unbalanced way. As you can imagine, this can pose a problem when it is mounted on a TV stand or directly on the wall. In fact, the larger the LED TV, the lesser support there is in the middle when it is laid flat, so be sure to position it upright when you’re transporting the TV from place to place.
Q5. How to clean an LED TV?
You can clean an LED TV with just a microfiber cloth. Although it sounds simple, using a soft, dry cloth prevents scratching on the screen. Use of window cleaners should be avoided, as harsh chemical ingredients may damage LCD panels.
In all cases, product experts recommend turning off your LED TV (or even unplugging it) prior to wiping the screen with the soft cloth, as a dark screen will make it easier to notice any smudges or dirt. Not only that but turning the TV off will also give the set a chance to cool down.