Anyone seriously looking to buy one of the best 4K TVs and do their research on the latest TV developments they will know QD-OLED. The new display technology combines the best performance characteristics of quantum dot LED (QLED) TVs – mainly high brightness and color saturation – with the rich blacks and pixel-level precision of traditional OLED.
QD-OLED TVs, currently sold by Samsung and Sony in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes (although 77 inch models are coming and should arrive in 2023), ranked among the top models in our 2022 TV review, with sets from both brands earning a rare 5-star rating.
Having experience with Samsung and Sony models in person, I can vouch for the excellence of their image quality. But at $2,799 / £2,999 / AU$4,499 for the 65-inch Samsung S95B and $3,999 / £3,499 / AU$5,995 for the same-sized Sony A95K (list prices, though you’ll find them for less), make the new QD – Do the OLED models offer enough of an upgrade over standard OLED TVs to justify the higher costs?
That’s the question we need to answer, first by listing the advantages of QD-OLED versus standard OLED, then by analyzing what critics have to say about Samsung and Sony’s flagship QD-OLED TVs.
It’s worth noting here that Samsung refers to its QD-OLED TVs simply as “OLED TVs.” The reason why is not clear, but however when you see a reference to “Samsung OLED TV,” it is actually a QD-OLED model as opposed to the regular OLED sets sold by LG, Panasonic, Philips, Vizio, and Sony itself, which call the TVs which use the new technology “QD-OLED.” Did you get that? Get it? All right.
How do regular OLED and QD-OLED TVs work?
Standard OLED TVs use an OLED panel to create a white light source that passes through color filters to create red, green, and blue images. Because the emission of light is reduced by the color filter system, a white pixel is added to the panel to increase the level of brightness – a necessity for watching programs with HDR and watching in bright rooms.
With QD-OLED, a blue OLED light source is used, and instead of reducing the color brightness, the quantum dot layer that emits light – the same technology used in QLED TVs – produces the red and green components of the image.
What is the difference in image quality?
Because QD-OLED technology uses a quantum dot layer instead of color filters, QD-OLED TVs achieve higher brightness than conventional OLED models can deliver. And since no white-pixel white is used in the display, colors appear richer and more saturated. The color advantage of QD-OLED is more apparent when viewing the TV in a less expensive environment. Comparing both QD-OLED and regular OLED TVs from that position – which I did – the colors on regular OLED look pale in comparison.
Alternatively, since both QD-OLED and standard OLED essentially use the same self-emission display technology, one with the ability to switch individual pixels on and off, black depth and detail are very similar between the two.
Both QD-OLED and standard OLED models are positioned between the good OLED TVs, but our reviewers reserved special praise for QD-OLEDs. For one example, John Archer had this to say about the Sony A95K: “HDR’s bold highlights enjoy more subtle color and tonal shading than usual with OLED screens, as the QD-OLED panel’s support for high internal brightness helps deliver better HDR. map of tone and a slight cut of light.”
And when John reviewed the Samsung S95B, he had this to say: “While it’s a plus feature that the brightest part of the image first catches your eye, over time and with a wide range of content it becomes clear that peak brightness is lacking. The truth is much higher (we measured about 1,025 nits at the peak of 10% of the HDR window) than the brightness achieved by the best conventional OLED televisions.
Is QD-OLED worth it?
Putting our comments into context (and adding my own hands-on experience to the mix), it’s clear that brightness is ultimately not QD-OLED’s biggest selling point. Yes, that little bit brighter from Samsung – which represents a 10% increase over LG’s 2022 G2, a standard OLED model that uses the company’s OLED evo panel – can produce a visual benefit, but it’s not a game-changer.
The color saturation advantage brought by QD-OLED – which is most visible in the farthest seats – is remarkable. But people often don’t watch television from remote locations. Also, even mid-range OLED TVs are the same Sony A80K the model can reach 100 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 color space used to capture Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and digital cinema releases, so the color “richness” is not limited to standard OLED TVs.
All that being said, as the comments from the Sony TV review quoted above, there is an undeniably “beautiful” boldness to HDR images viewed on a QD-OLED TV screen, and “subtle color and tonal color” that make these sets stand out. If you desire the highest level of picture quality, you will greatly appreciate what this new TV technology has to offer. And you’ll be able to get one at an affordable price right this year Black Friday TV deals kick in.