The Difference Between LCD vs LED TV

Are you shopping for a new television? To get the best value for your money, learn the difference between LCD vs LED TV before you choose!
Back to Blog
Written by Staff Writer • Posted on Dec 10, 2014

Most Americans own a TV -- in fact, 98% of us do. With technology advancing at a rapid rate, it's no surprise that the price of TV is falling, allowing more people to upgrade to newer models. This is even truer during the holiday season. If you're shopping for a new TV, you quickly realize there are lots of options, types and sizes.

Most people know that a high definition TV looks better than a standard definition TV. There a lot of terms tossed around when you start looking at HD TVs. Right now there are lots different types of brands, sizes, features, and screen types available. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and individual people have their preferences. The most popular screens right now are LCD and LED screens. The key difference between these technologies lies in how the display is lit. If you're looking for the right TV, that one little letter can make a big difference. So what's the difference between LCD vs LED TV?

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. An LCD screen has two layers of polarized glass with a crystal solution between them. When electric current passes through the crystals, they align, allowing light either to be blocked or to pass through. This is what creates the image on the screen.

In fact, both LCD and LED use this technology. LCD uses cold cathode fluorescent lamps to provide backlighting and illuminate the picture. In LCD, backlighting is on constantly. These screens create a dark tone by blocking the black light passing through the panel. This is one of the problems with this technology. It's hard to get really dark images by blocking a lamp that's constantly on and having no way to vary the backlight intensity in different parts of the screen. Over time, the fluorescent lamps change color, degrading the television's color accuracy. Because of these lamps, LCD televisions are electricity hogs. One of the great benefits of the LCD is its quality of picture from all viewing angles.

LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes. Instead of florescent lamps, LED uses diodes to illuminate the screen. There are two types of LED screens. Direct LED displays are backlit by banks of LED lights behind the panel; these banks can be controlled to lower the amount of backlighting in dark areas of the screen and raise it in bright areas. This makes for higher contrast and better blacks. The direct LED has the best picture of the two.

Edge-lit LED displays have the backlights mounted on the edges of the panel. Edge-lit LEDs will have brighter whites than most fluorescent backlit LCDs, but does not have the control over the backlighting like the direct LED. However, edge-lit LEDs don't have the best images when viewed at an angle.

The LED lights typically have a longer life cycle then the florescent lamps and don't suffer from color distortion over time. Also, because LED lights are much smaller, LED TVs are much thinner; some are less than an inch thick. LED TVs also consume less power than their LCD counterparts. Being so thin and light, you have lots of options in your home -- you can easily mount them on the wall if you like. All this adds up, though, and you will pay more for a LED TV.

So what does this all mean to you, the shopper? Generally, the LED will cost more but, over time, will be a better investment. If you decide to purchase an LED HDTV, be sure to know if it's configured to be direct-lit or edge-lit, because a direct-lit, full array model is the better buy, as it has the best overall picture quality. Of course, if you're just looking for a decent television at a good price, an LCD might do just as well for you. If you can, I suggest you visit a showroom armed with these pros and cons and see them side by side to decide what's best for you.

Did you find this post helpful? Bask's blog is regularly updated with education and entertainment for the every-day tech user. Subscribe to our email newsletter today, and call us any time at 1 (866) 515-4865 to learn more about how we can support your digital life!