Samsung 77-inch OLED TV S95D (2024)

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

OLED and QLED offer noticeably different display types. QLED (Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode) TVs present brighter images than standard LCD TVs. This is because QLED TVs build on LED technology by integrating proprietary software with LED backlighting.

Also: OLED vs LED: What’s the difference?

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) TVs, on the other hand, do not use backlighting systems. Instead, self-illuminating individual pixels create a virtually blur-free picture, no matter your viewing angle. Each pixel has its own LED bulb that can dim for enhanced contrast or shut off completely to create a true black. 

Following are some thoughts to consider before buying an OLED TV over a QLED TV — and vice versa! 

You should buy an OLED TV if…

Samsung S95D OLED TV at CES

Samsung S95D OLED TV at CES

Kerry Wan/ZDNET

1. You want a wide viewing experience

No matter where you’re sitting in relation to an OLED TV screen, you’ll most likely be able to see what’s happening. An OLED TV, like the Samsung S95D (our 55-inch pick of the best OLED TVs), has wide viewing angles and enhanced contrast of colors. 

Also: Neo QLED vs OLED: Which technology is right for you?

The Samsung S95D OLED, for example, has about 8.3 million self-illuminating pixels that can dim or switch off completely, creating deep colors and cinematic contrast. The latest OLED models also feature AI-powered processors that set the stage for enhanced audio-visual performance, pixel by pixel, beat by beat. 

2. You’re a gamer at heart

Forget the expensive monitor — the LG C4 65-inch OLED TV and other OLED TVs like it are multifunctional and can help with your gaming needs too. The LG C4, in particular, has a game optimizer mode with Nvidia G-Sync, which has a high refresh rate, FreeSync Premium, for tear- and stutter-free gaming, and a Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), a refresh rate that automatically delivers video frames as quickly as possible. Loaded with ports, it has four HDMI 2.1 ports that support Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium VRR, three USB ports, and an Ethernet port, so you can connect it to whatever you need.

3. You want the most contrast

OLED TVs are at their best in darker rooms to show off their rich contrast capabilities. If you’re looking for a TV for a home theater or for primarily nighttime viewing, OLED is the way to go. You’ll be able to better see content with darker backgrounds and have better picture quality overall. 

Also: The best OLED TVs (and why they’re so expensive)

The only problem to consider with OLED picture quality is image retention or burn-in. That’s when the TV has an afterimage on it that lingers or is permanent because its pixels are in constant use. To enjoy the OLED contrast and picture quality without burn-in, turn off your TV periodically. Remember that manufacturers have incorporated preventative measures into recent OLED TVs like the LG evo C4 and that leading companies are committed to reliability. Make sure to choose a recent OLED TV if you decide to purchase one. 

You should buy a QLED TV if…

Samsung Neo QLED 8K TV at CES

Samsung 85-inch Class QN800 Neo QLED 8K TV

Kerry Wan/ZDNET

1. You intend to place the TV in a bright setting

OLED TVs look good in dark rooms or home theaters, so the contrast pops, while QLED TVs look especially good in sunlit rooms or near windows. A QLED TV like the $500 TCL Q7 Q-Class QLED TV has high brightness levels so you can view your show of choice no matter what time of day it is. 

Also: The best Samsung TVs

2. You want a cheaper TV

TVs aren’t as important to some people as they are to others. You could be in the market for a less expensive TV due to budgetary constraints or because you won’t use it constantly — in that case, a QLED TV will work better for your needs than an OLED TV. OLED models can come with a hefty price tag, like the LG M4 Wireless (our best big-screen OLED TV pick), which goes for $4,500 By contrast, the comparably sized 65-inch Samsung QN90C Smart Tizen QLED TV is $1,800.

3. You want a TV that blends seamlessly into your home

If the look of a typical TV doesn’t fit well with your decor, consider this: a QLED TV that blends well with the rest of your room and looks like a picture frame. When you turn it off, it displays pictures of your family or friends or works of art on rotation. Samsung’s popular The Frame QLED TV does just that and for some of us, that’s enough reason to get a QLED TV over an OLED TV.

Alternatives to consider

Open to other QLED or OLED prospects? Consider these ZDNET-recommended TVs:

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