The differences between Plasma, LED and OLED TVs

Rachel Greene-Taylor
Written by: Rachel Greene-Taylor
Posted on: 27 October 2015

If it’s time to revamp your living room with a new TV, and you don’t know the difference between plasma, LED and OLED — then you’re not alone.

But it doesn’t have to give you a headache. Read this article for the pros and cons for each display.


Plasma TV is a television display technology where every pixel on the screen is illuminated by a tiny bit of plasma (charged gas). The plasma is encased between two thin sheets of glass.


  • The intensity of black in the display compensates for ambient light and sharpens the picture, giving excellent quality
  • With a high refresh rate, the picture is smoother and gets rid of motion blur
  • Burn-in is possible but the newer models on the market make this unlikely


  • Plasmas consume significantly more power than a similar-sized LCD TV
  • Slightly heavier than LCD
  • Not as sleek and stylish as LCD
  • Sometimes the glass screen can reflect light if it’s not treated

Verdict: Plasmas are the cheapest model and offer excellent picture quality. However, they are heavy which could increase shipping costs and they can no longer compete in the ‘super large’ category.


Although LED TVs might seem like the new kids on the block, in fact they’re just LCD TVs backlit with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), compared to standard LCD TVs that use cold-cathode fluorescent lights (or CCFLs).

LED TVs have actually been on the shelves since 2007, and they are now the most common type of display.


  • LED TVs use less power and produce less heat than plasma or other LCD TVs
  • Brighter, sharper display and better contrast ratio than other LCD TVs
  • Thinner format and lighter
  • More energy-efficient


  • They tend to be more expensive than plasma or other LCD TVs
  • Picture can sometimes look a bit flat

Verdict: LED TVs consume less power than plasma, and you can buy larger and more stylish models. However, their viewing angles are not as good as plasma sets, and there is very little difference in the picture contrast.


OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs are different from LED TVs. To put it simply, LED LCD displays use a backlight to illuminate their pixels, whereas OLED pixels produce their own light organically.

LG are currently the only company that produce OLED TVs, check out this video to hear what they have to say:


  • OLED displays don’t require backlighting, so they are thinner and weigh less than other display technologies
  • Only use 2-10 volts to operate
  • Faster response time
  • They also have a wide viewing angle – up to 160 degrees
  • The best picture contrast


  • OLED TVs aren’t cheap. In fact, they’re very expensive. However, the prices are expected to drop once the technology’s been around for a bit longer

Verdict: Many have been pinning OLED TVs as the display of the future, and with their picture quality and contrast, wide viewing angles and fast response time, it’s easy to see why. The downside? Models begin at around £3,500 - which is pretty pricey.

What’s the future for television?

Apparently 60-inch ‘roll-up’ televisions will be hitting the shelves in 2017. Yes, that’s right, ‘roll-up’ televisions.

LG has already revealed an 18-inch screen that can be rolled into a tight tube just 3cm in diameter. The idea is to build a portable device that’s easy to stash away when it’s not in use. The company says the flexibility is down to a "high molecular substance-based polyimide film" on the rear of the screen, rather than the usual firm plastic.

See through TV

See through TV

Roll that TV

Roll that TV

We hope this has cleared things up. Now pop to the shops, pick your TV, then sit back and enjoy your favourite shows.

If you want to ‘geek-out’ on how the displays work, check out this very technical infographic.

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