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Buying a TV can be frustrating if you’re not quite sure what you are looking at. Modern televisions have a baffling array of acronyms, formats and tech jargon all designed to promote and explain their features. but if you don’t know what to look out for researching your TV can be minefield.

In this guide we’re going to take a look at the difference in TV types – we’ll focus on PLASMA, LCD, LED & OLED and give you a brief explanation of how they work.

So let’s start with the basics and a TV format not mentioned above- The CRT.



Cathode Ray Tube is the old style ‘chunky TV’ (and monitor).  The reason it’s so bulky is because the box has to house a screen and a projector gun. An image is created by firing electrons through this ‘gun’ onto a screen, exciting the particles on it. These TV formats have been on the fall since the early 2000’s with the introduction of far smaller LCD screens.

LCDLcd 5

LCD’s are thin displays, normally used in laptop computers and TV screens. The term ‘LCD’ Stands for ‘Liquid Crystal Display’.

A liquid crystal display is a special flat panel that can block light, or allow it to pass. The panel is made up of segments with each block filled with liquid crystals. The colour and transparency of these blocks can be changed by increasing or reducing the electrical current.

LCD crystals do not produce their own light, so an external light source like a florescent bulb is needed to create an image.


LEDled 2

Contrary to popular belief, LED TV’s are not a completely new format of TV- Instead they are simply an updated version of the previous LCD generation. LED use the same technology as an LCD TV, but instead of being illuminated by a florescent bulb from behind, they are lit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes). These are far more efficient and smaller in size, meaning the TV can be narrower.

LED can be broken up into two further major categories Direct (Back-lit) LED and Edge-lit LED:

Direct LED

 These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs directly behind the screen. This enables focused lighting areas – meaning specific cells of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively.

Edge-lit LED 

As the name suggests have lights set around the television frame. Edge-lit models reflect light into the centre of the monitor, and are the thinnest, lightest models available. Since they have fewer lights in the centre of the screen.

LED is the most popular format of TV on the market now due to its cost, size and versatility, although it is not the highest quality image available.

PLASMAplasma 1

Plasma screens are made of 2 sheets of glass with a mixtures of gases stored between the layers. These gases are injected and sealed in plasma form during the manufacturing process, hence why we have the name ‘Plasma TV’.

When charged with electricity, the gases react and cause illumination in the pixels across the screen.

Plasma, is arguably superior to LCD & LED in terms of contrast and colour accuracy. However the format, due to costs, is restricted to larger screens sizes, usually 40-inch +.  In these larger screen sizes, buying the Plasma option tends to work out cheaper. It is also used in the super-sized 80-inch+ screens as the plasma screens are easier, and more cost effective, to produce over a larger size.

OLEDoled tv

OLED is massive leap forward in screen technology. Unlike its name suggests, OLED is nothing like LED.

OLED stands for ‘Organic Light Emitting Diode’ and uses ‘organic’ materials like carbon to create light when supplied directly by an electric current. Unlike LED/LCD screens, an OLED TV doesn’t require a backlight to illuminate the set area. Without this restriction of an external light source, OLED screens can be super thin and crucially, flexible.

As the individual areas can be lit up directly and not via an external backlight, the colours and contrasts are much better on OLED TV’s.

On the whole, OLED is thinner, more flexible, faster at processing images, creates deeper colours and more crisp in contrast. It is, however, still very expensive and will not be seen on consumer TV’s at an ‘affordable price’ for at least another year.

We may begin to see the technology more on phones, smartwatches and wearable tech, where the screens are a smaller size and are therefore more cost efficient.

The next step is to work out what size TV is most suitable for you. Check out our TV size guide for the perfect fit for your home.  ebuyer-logo


  1. In LED TV, the adjustment of illumination by area is called “local dimming” – some makers may refer to it by other names.
    Not all direct lit have it, as, for instance , an interim group merely replaced the CCFL backlight with an LED one.

    Equally, a very limited degree of control can be achieved in edge-lit, but the zones are large – and while the principle has been illustrated, it is unclear if any edge-lit models use dimming, other than overall backlight adjustment relative to ambient lighting

  2. OLED TVs deteriorate over a period of use. The colors begin to fade as the elements are organic and are prone to decay. There’s no point in explaining TVs in the hope of helping someone decide which one without letting them know their disadvantages. Although LCDs may be slightly inferior in picture quality, they are the most reliable and have better longevity. Plasma so far are the least reliable and some people have had gas leaks in the first 6 months. Considering the way technology is going its best to keep the TV you have if its relatively modern and is still working. If you have a modern TV and it doesn’t have some features like similar priced models, aka, movie support then check online to see if there is a hack as some manufacturers deliberately block this facility as opposed to just not including it in the design. LG are famous for this.

  3. Are there any 50″ Plasma (or LCD I guess) TVs on the market with built in surround sound?
    I have tried a couple of different sound bars added to our now rather old 50″ Plasma Samsung telly (which at 6yrs old is still going great) but I hate the hassle of an additional remote control, plus I miss the ‘behind’ speakers we had with or original 28″ CRT TV, bless it.
    If and when we get a new TV it will be 1080p rather than our current 720 model, hopefully with much better sound quality too..
    Be grateful for any simple advice please guys?

  4. @David, you will struggle to get any modern TV, plasma or otherwise with a decent set of speakers. As TVs get thinner their speakers shrink also as well as any room to provide bass. The best thing to do is get yourself a decent cinema system but preferable not to get one that comes with a Blu Ray player as you will have to power on the player every time you wanted to watch a movie from another source. Try to get one that has HDMI audio return which means that no matter what you are watching on any input the audio will loop back through the cinema system. I personally use a toslink cable that goes from my TV to my cinema system input. This means that you only need one cable to provide sound to the system as everything attached to the TV is looped through its optical out.

  5. One more thing, if your TV and sound system are the same make then chances are you will only need one remote. Mines are different makes but because of simplink both of them communicate with each other so I only use the TV remote.

  6. Hello Danny, its good that you have mentioned these new generation TV’s in you post. I am not a technical person but read your post to get some knowledge about it. I liked the LED TV as compared to LCD and other as you have mentioned above.

    I also want the answer of David’s query, i.e. “the benefits between OLED and IPS?”

  7. So this is a two year old article judging by the comments…. Perhaps showing the “written on” date at the top woudl be helpful for us to judge the advice being given…

  8. In my humble opinion there is really no comparison where the tube type tv will win. LCD screens have improved so much that the old tv’s are doomed to extinction, or should almost all be gone by now.
    Features alone on the new tv’s are enough to replace tube tv’s along with the advantage of an lcd tv to hang on a wall or be moved around easily at anything like a 32″ size.
    LCD is the way the screen is constructed and has nothing to do with the way it is backlit.
    Plasma still beats the LCD but I think are being discontinued now or before now as i write this in Feb 2017.

  9. We have a Panasonic wide screen tv with surround sound (5 speakers) that has a brilliant picture and sound. It has never given us any trouble (no repairs) and is approx. 19/20 years old. I wonder how many of the tvs today will last anywhere near that.

  10. The picture on my LG 55″ LED just failed, still have sound. TV is not yet 4 years old. I’m hauling out my old big box Sony that is almost 20 years old. I’m glad I didn’t get rid of it when I bought the LG LED flat screen. They just don’t make ’em like they used to. I’ll try to replace the LEDs on my LG. Wish me luck!

  11. Hmm life is all talking about new changes, in my on catastrophic humble opinion, the OLED which stand for “organic light emitting Diode, is the best because it use material like carbon to create light when supplied directly by electric current

  12. I guess the other one factor on comparing tubes to flats would be the amount of energy consumption wouldnt it?

  13. I got an OLED and it was soo good for playing games like call of duty it is the best. recommend for a good gaming TV or watching movies.


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