Understanding the difference between microLED and mini-LED TVs

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What's the difference between MicroLED and mini-LED?
Image: Samsung

Today’s TV market isn’t short on acronyms. From OLED to QLED and many, many more, consumers are often left wondering what exactly their TV is capable of. With so many types of screens available, it’s harder than ever to sort out the differences.

Nonetheless, a new pair of acronyms are on the horizon and the technologies they stand for are ready to revolutionize the TV world once again. MicroLED and mini-LED are two terms that will be thrown around in discussions with the newest TVs out there.

Despite the similar-sounding names, they are two very different types of displays. Consumers should be familiar with both before deciding to make their next TV purchase.

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What is MicroLED?

The best way to think of microLED displays is to compare them to OLED displays. Current smartphones, laptops, and TVs boast OLED screens. This means that each pixel lights up separately, eliminating the need for a backlight. As a result, OLED displays are able to achieve a perfect level of blackness that creates rich contrast and sharpness.

MicroLED is a newer display technology that works very similarly. However, it has a distinct advantage over OLED—it can achieve a much more impressive level of brightness. While OLED panels can currently reach about 1,000 nits, microLED screens hit up to 5,000 nits. The combination of inky blackness and ultra-bright colors gives microLED displays a stunning appearance.

Moreover, the newer type of screen has the benefit of being highly scalable. There isn’t technically a limit on how many microLED panels can be connected to each other. This will make it possible for manufacturers to create displays measured in feet with resolutions up to 16K.

Right now there are several companies working on microLED displays. However, only Samsung and Sony are selling them already. It’s worth noting, though, that this technology won’t make an appearance in mainstream TVs anytime soon.

What is Mini-LED?

Believe it or not, mini-LED displays also have a relative that many people are familiar with—QLED. Essentially, this technology uses an LED backlight that passes through an LCD matrix and various color filters to create an on-screen image.

A typical LED TV uses several dozen, possibly even a few hundred, LED backlights. New TVs made with mini-LED technology contain thousands of these thanks to LEDs that are significantly smaller. As a result, the display is able to produce images with better contrast, brightness, and black levels. In theory, if the LED backlights are small enough, a mini-LED TV could rival the picture quality of a microLED display.

Only TCL is currently making a mini-LED TV that’s available for consumers to purchase.

What Type of TV Should You Choose?

Trying to decide which type of TV to buy can be a daunting task. As quality continues to improve across the board, consumers might even have a hard time telling the various technologies apart.

However, when it comes down to microLED and mini-LED the choice is an easy one—at least for now. MicroLED TVs produce a higher quality picture without a doubt. However, they aren’t available for the majority of consumers and won’t be for some time. On the other hand, mini-LED televisions are available now, don’t break the bank, and produce images that are some of the best on the market.

Until microLED technology makes its way into living room TVs that don’t cost upwards of $100,000, mini-LED is the way to go if you want the newest and best display on the market.

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