To edge lit LED or back lit LED, that is the question. Confused? We don’t blame you: LED lit LCD displays are the latest trend in HDTV technology, but they bring you better image quality in a couple of different ways, either with LED lights illuminating the screen from the sides or the back. Each has pros and cons, so to help you make sense of it all, we’re here to help you with our handy guide.
How LED lit TVs work
LED powered TVs still use the LCD displays you’re probably used to by now: the difference, and advantage, is in how they’re illuminated. Instead of older fluorescent lights used to make your TV screen glow the right colours, LED lights are used: their brightness varies with the picture, giving you great colour and contrast between blacks and whites, and they can save power too. But there are two types of LED lighting commonly used in tellies, and they have different strengths.
Back lit LED
Back lit LED TVs do exactly what they say on the tin, and use LEDs behind the LCD screen to light it up. This technology has got increasingly clever in the last few years, and now these types of LED TVs provide some of the best picture quality that money can buy. Their real strength is through a feature called local dimming: instead of acting in unison, the LEDs behind the screen can vary in power individually, which means you can get really deep blacks and bright whites on display at the same time. It results in what’s called high “Dynamic contrast ratio”, and it certainly beats only being able to see one or the other at one time.
Edge lit LED
Not all LED lit LCD TVs hoard their LEDs behind the screen: some new models house the LEDs on the sides of the screen. Their light is then diffused into the screen, still resulting in great colour. The real killer feature of this technology is that it means TVs can be slimmed down to absurd levels, which makes for beautiful looking screens that sit comfortably on your living room wall. Take the edge lit LED Toshiba WL and SL series TVs: they measure just a couple of centimetres deep.
Which is better?
This isn’t broadband versus dial up: there’s no clear cut victor here, and both types of LED TV tech have some major selling points. On the one hand, design obsessives itching to put their TV on the wall will appreciate edge lit screens. Those who simply want to get the best out of a Blu-ray and don’t care about how the TV looks may prefer the backlit approach. Sure, these screens are thicker, but if you’re about function over form, you may not mind how close to the wall those HDMI ports on the back are.