LED vs. LCD TV’s

This article was written by Drew Prindle and originally appeared on the Digital Trends blog. See the original post here.

LED and LCD – what’s the difference? It’s a question we hear a lot from budding home theater shoppers. Blame the acronyms. While yesterday’s consumers had to make a simple choice between CRT and rear-projection television sets, today’s consumers are confronted with plasma, LCD, DLP, OLED, and laser televisions. And now, the age-old term LED has been stirred into the mix. Let’s take a look at what those three magic letters mean, how they apply to televisions, and why you might want to consider buying one.

An LED TV is an LCD TV

Despite having a different acronym, an LED TV is just a different type of LCD TV. The proper name would actually be “LED-backlit LCD TV,” but that’s too much of a mouthful for everyday conversation, so people generally just refer to them as LED TV’s, which can cause confusion.

Both types of TV make use of a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel to control where light is displayed on your screen. These panels are typically composed of two sheets of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them, so when an electric current passes through the liquid, it causes the crystals to align so that light can (or can’t) pass through. Think of each crystal as a shutter, either allowing light to pass through or blocking it out.

Now, since both LED and LCD TV’s use LCD technology, you’re probably wondering what the difference is. The answer? Backlighting. Ordinary LCD TV’s use cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL’s) to provide backlighting, whereas LED TV’s use an array of smaller, more efficient light emitting diodes (LED’s) to illuminate the screen, which gives them a few advantages.

Backlighting comparison

The benefits of LED backlighting

LED TV’s carry a number of advantages over regular LCD TV’s with CCFL backlighting. First of all, LED’s are considerably smaller than CCFL tubes, which means LED TV’s can be made much thinner. These days, most TV’s that measure under an inch thick are made with LED because they add very little depth to the display profile.

LED’s also consume less power than their CCFL counterparts, but the most important difference between the two is a feature called local dimming – a selective lighting technique that allows for deeper blacks and better overall picture.

The problem with CCFL backlighting is that fluorescent tubes must light the entire screen evenly, so designers have no way to vary the backlighting intensity in different parts of the screen. Even if you want to show a single white pixel on an all-black screen, the light in the back needs to be blazing away at full brightness. LED TV’s offer a solution to this with local dimming. The idea behind this technique is to control the output of the LEDs so that, rather than be on at full brightness all the time, they can be dimmed or turned off entirely.

This makes for much better black levels and contrast. Think of a space scene. You’ve got this big pool of black, interrupted by little dots of brightness (stars) and maybe one bright object (perhaps a planet or spaceship) in the middle. This is an extremely difficult image to pull off well because LCD panels aren’t that great at blocking out all of the light coming from the backlights. That’s where local dimming can come in handy. With this feature, the TV can shut off all the lights it doesn’t need and just use the right ones to make the stars and spaceship nice and bright.

earth from space

However, it should be noted that not all LED TV’s come equipped with local dimming. Broadly speaking, LED TV’s come in two varieties: edge-lit and full-array, and only full-array TV’s can pull off local dimming well enough to compete with plasma TVs on a respectable level. Recently, some manufacturers have developed edge-lit televisions with local dimming functionality (Samsung UND8000 seriesLG LW5600 series), but due to the way they’re built, they generally can’t ”turn off” different parts of the screen intelligently the same way a full-array set can. When buying an LED TV, make sure you know whether it’s edge-lit or full-array before you pull out your wallet.

Efficient, bright, and stylish – but economical?

What does all this mean for the befuddled TV buyer? Well, if you can afford one, an LED-backlit HDTV is the way to go. These badboys are thin, easy to mount, energy efficient, and can produce a great picture – but all these benefits come at a premium. If you’re on a budget but you still want a great picture, look for a good plasma screen. They’re power hungry and usually a bit on the bulky side, but offer a cinematic experience similar to what you’ll get on an LED TV, and for not nearly as much money. CCFL backlit LCD TV’s are going the way of the Dodo, but might be the only option if you’re working with a limited budget.

Header LED image via Shutterstock

This article was written by Drew Prindle and originally appeared on the Digital Trends blog. See the original post here.

Projector SuperStore is your source for commercial-grade LCD and Plasma displays. Contact one of our Sales Team members today for more information, and to find the perfect display for your application!

Optoma ML1000 – Powerful, Portable, Unsurpassed LED Performance

The Optoma ML1000 was designed for mobile professionals seeking a bright, light, compact sized, full featured ultraportable LED projector that is powerful enough to use in the most demanding environments. Its industry leading LED light source delivers an astounding 1000 lumens of brightness combined with a 15,000:1 contrast ratio to produce the richest, most vibrant colors in this product category.

The Optoma ML1000 includes wireless presentation capability for maximum convenience and ease of use. It features an SD card port that allows you to deliver PowerPoint presentations, view PDF documents, display pictures, movies and more, all without the need of a computer or external peripheral device. An innovative touchpad design allows users to easily control the projector with simple gestures for maximum ease of use.

You can learn more about the Optoma ML1000 LED projector in this video-

Projector SuperStore is an authorized dealer and service center for Optoma products. You can view the ML1000 and Optoma’s other products here.

About Optoma Technology, Inc. – Optoma Technology, Inc. is an award-winning developer of projection and digital display products for business, education and home. The company manufactures multimedia projectors for mobile users, fixed installations, classrooms and home theaters, as well as HD displays. Optoma products combine superior image processing technologies with exceptional engineering and innovation to deliver images that are bright, crystal clear and finely tuned for tone and color. Optoma products are sold through the company’s global network of Pro AV dealers, major consumer electronics retailers and Internet resellers. For more information, visit www.optomausa.com.


A Very Pleasant Surprise from Optoma



See the ZW210ST on the Projector SuperStore website here!

All of us in the commercial AV industry get bombarded with the “latest and greatest” technologies from every nook and cranny of the industry. This ranges in scale and scope from a firmware update, all the way to ground breaking new products. For some of us, this means we can get desensitized to the constant onslaught, and as such we might miss some really cool “stuff” along the way. As a technologist, teacher, consultant, and writer it is up to me to know, and I must confess I almost missed a real jewel along the way.

The story goes something like this. My partner Jonathan and I just moved into a new Brawn Consulting office and for the first time we decided to do it right. We have a video conferencing system, an actual video wall at the rear of office and (nearly) every electronic gadget we might need to better serve our clients. Our desks are separated by a large conference table between us and so we had a brain storm. What if we put a small projector on that conference table in between our desks and then customize the screen size to best fit our training program creation activities. We needed something that was capable of high performance but at the same time literally becoming invisible when not in use.

Having grown up in the projection side of the display industry, the obvious conclusion was to go with one of the new compact projectors that have cropped up over the last couple of years. We know there are a plethora of manufacturers who have neat little projectors, but we have long appreciated the products coming out of Optoma from a quality and design perspective, so we gave them a call. We explained what we needed and they said and I quote, “You saw our newZW210ST Hybrid projector at InfoComm… Right?” I did my best to avoid further embarrassment and said something to the effect of “Oh sure, that was a great little projector, tell me more”. The point here is that when you do not have a clue, but in fact you should, then ask a leading question, shut up, and listen in order to learn. To be frank, the answers to this innocuous question paved the path to my learning about a fabulous tool that otherwise I might have missed out on.

Some of you will notice I used the word tool and not projector and I did that on purpose. Now, I know this is a compact projector, but it is so much more than the sum of its parts and specs. You simply cannot get the full picture (pun intended) from a spec sheet. The doubters out there, and you know who you are, will want proof of the tool claim so here goes.

To state the obvious, the projector is a single lens and single chip DLP unit, weighing in at a reasonable 9.4 pounds. Nothing out of the ordinary at this point, but remember that the DLP chips do not burn-in no matter how long the duty cycle, and they do not require the expensive filter changes that other technologies require. Also, the chip has a resolution of 1280 x 800 which for me is a sweet spot, where it is high resolution enough for day to day use, works well with the majority of laptops out there, and in the process keeps the price down to a reasonable level.

In terms of light output, the projector produces 2,000 lumens. My favorite feature/benefit revolves around the light engine that produces this performance. Why do I think 2000 lumens are impressive, since we all know there are brighter projectors out there? It is not the light output, but how the light is generated inside the projector that truly provides the benefit. There are few other projectors on the market that will do what this projector actually does at 2000 lumens and especially with the performance on screen that is attained. Optoma has chosen to eliminate the conventional projection lamp system inside this series of projector, and replaced it with an LED/laser hybrid illumination system. This advance provides excellent contrast and superb color saturation, while it also truly eliminates the need to replace those expensive lamps we all love to hate. By being LED and laser, it also provides instant on and off capability. I must add that it’s pretty nice not having to wait for the projector to warm up before we get to work. Those are not the only impressive benefits from this new light engine. In our office, this projector sits on a table between our two desks, and it is on most of the day. It is stone cold quiet and has no discernible heat radiating from any of the vents around the projector. I mean literally cool and quiet. We even do teleconferences and video conferences with the microphones right by the projector!

For those of you who want to know exactly how the new light engine works, Optoma uses a hybrid light engine design on both of their Z-series projectors, which as we noted earlier, uses both LED and laser light sources to produce the illumination. The projector uses red and blue LEDs, to create those colors, and then a blue laser focused onto a green phosphor wheel to generate the green color light extremely efficiently. The light engine is rated for 20,000 hours of use, without needing replacement!

Still not enough? Another of my favorite features/benefits is the lensing. We get a 60” diagonal image at less than 3 feet from the screen and no distortion of any kind. This compact little projector also features network control and network video through included software and onboard LAN interface. To add to all the connectivity that is provided, Optoma includes an SD card slot and well as USB so you can present documents and images at will without the need of a computer. Of course my newest “tool” also has audio built-in with two 5 watt speakers that actually sound pretty good. By the way, Optoma has not ignored the environment, this new little gem of a projector uses up to 40% less energy than a comparable lamp based system.

Wrap all of these benefits around a 3 year rapid response warranty and you have a real tool. A tool is something that does a specific job with defined results and is available at a moment’s notice. We now have the ability to do our jobs more effectively and do them without having to accept limitations or intrusions on the work process. My advice is to think about real world solutions and just see how useful this new tool can be.

See the ZW210ST on the Projector SuperStore website here!