OLED vs LCD vs Plasma – What’s The Difference?


OLED and plasma displays output their own light, which allows them to produce true black colors, whereas LCDs rely on their backlight that makes the black colors look grayish in comparison.

No new plasma TVs are being made nowadays, while the old CCFL LCD TVs have now been replaced with LED-backlit LCDs.

Modern display terminology can undoubtedly be confusing due to the various types of technologies used, as well as their quick advancement over the years. In this article, we’ll clarify these differences.


plasma tv vs oled

As previously mentioned, plasma TVs are no longer being produced. Plasmas were quite popular due to their incredible picture quality with true blacks, as well as a rapid response time speed. However, they also suffered from having a too reflective screen, which washed out the colors in very bright rooms.

Although LCD TVs couldn’t produce deep black colors like plasma TVs, they slowly replaced them as they were a lot cheaper to make and had a much thinner design.

OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode)

plasma vs oled

Similarly to plasmas, OLED TVs are capable of producing true blacks for life-like picture quality. Besides, they have impeccable viewing angles, meaning that the picture doesn’t change in color and contrast when the TV is watched from skewed angles.

Although early OLED displays had issues with high input lag, awful image burn-in, and high price tags, newer models have managed to solve these problems.

Modern OLED TVs have certain software such as screen savers and pixel refreshers to deal with image retention and burn-in while a dedicated Game Mode provides responsive gameplay with minimal input lag.

More importantly, the prices have drastically dropped; and although they are still relatively expensive, they are worth the price.

As far as OLED monitors are concerned, at the time of this writing, there are only a few available, and they are intended mainly for professional use; they are also very high-priced.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

difference between led and plasma

There are two types of LCDs. The older models were backlit by cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL), but nowadays, all modern LCDs have a LED backlight, which requires less power and also allows for the display to be even thinner.

LED TVs either have an IPS or a VA panel, while LED monitors can also have a TN panel in addition to IPS and VA.

The type of panel determines the picture quality, among other things. IPS displays have the most accurate colors and the widest viewing angles, while VA panels offer the highest contrast ratio for deeper blacks. Lastly, TN panels have the quickest response time speed, which is why they are mostly used for gaming monitors.

Learn more about different panel technologies. Additionally, see how LED TVs compare to OLED TVs.

Quantum Dots

QLED TVs, popularized by Samsung, are based on the quantum dot technology, which further enhances the image quality of the display. Though the term ‘QLED’ may sound misleading, these TVs aren’t OLED, but rather regular LED TVs with quantum dots.

While QLED displays can be brighter than the OLED, many prefer the infinite contrast of the latter, and since both types of these high-end TVs cost roughly the same, OLED is usually more favorable at this time.

Local Dimming

crt vs oled

Some LED TVs feature local dimming as the means to compensate for the limited contrast and grayish blacks. This feature basically dims the part of the screen, which is supposed to be darker. 

In some high-end LCD TVs, this can do wonders for the image quality, but if the local dimming is poorly implemented, it can also cause undesired defects such as halo and bloom.

For the best results, you should look for a TV with full-array local dimming (FALD) instead of edge-lit local dimming.

what is the difference between plasma and led

4K Ultra HD & HDR

Finally, modern OLED and LED-backlit LCD TVs offer a higher screen resolution; 4K or Ultra HD makes the picture incredibly crisp and sharp in comparison to the standard 1080p HDTVs.

Furthermore, high-end TVs will also feature HDR (High Dynamic Range), which further extends the color, contrast, and brightness for the compatible content.

oled refresh rate vs plasma


In the end, your choices will boil down to OLED and LED LCD TVs since plasmas and CCFL LCD TVs are obsolete nowadays. If you can afford a high-end TV, then we recommend going the OLED route.

As far as monitors are concerned, almost every monitor on the market is LED-backlit, so you should look out for other specs such as refresh rate, panel type, response time, and so on.

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Rob Shafer
Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.