While shopping around for a new television, you’ve probably gotten a little confused and irritated with all the acronyms thrown around. HD, Ultra HD, 4K, LCD, LED, OLED, HDR. The whole experience can leave your brain feeling like a big bowl of alphabet soup. Fear not, for we are here to help. We’ll give you a rundown on what all these acronyms actually mean, and a few pros and cons for each.
HD, Ultra HD, and 4K
As the name would suggest, Ultra HD is a step up from regular HD (which stands for High Definition in both cases). The 4K name goes hand in hand with Ultra HD, they pretty much mean the same thing. A 4K set offers four-times the resolution than regular HD televisions, so the picture is more detailed and smoother. Anything that says “HD” on it isn’t really telling you anything other than it’s up to standards, but a 4K label means it’s the most current technology.
LCD and LED
Liquid crystal display, named that because of the not quite a solid, not quite a liquid medium used in the display, work by blocking light instead of emitting it. The liquid crystal solution is pressed between two sheet of polarizing material. An electric current is passed through the liquid crystal solution, causing the crystals to align so light cannot pass through. The current is coming from an LED (light emitting diode) backlight. While LED used to mean something, mainly that the television uses LEDs for the backlight instead of fluorescent tubes, today LCD and LED are used interchangeably.
To put it simply, each pixel in an Organic Light Emitting Diode television provides its own illumination. Like we said above, LCD televisions use only a single LED backlight for every pixel in the entire screen. OLED’s shine when compared to LCD’s because of their superior black level, contrast ratio, and viewing angle, but don’t hold up to the refresh rate and motion blur or overall brightness of LCD’s. Despite its failings OLED is still considered to have superior picture quality to LCD’s. The downside is that OLED is still a fairly new technology, so it come at a premium.
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