LED vs LCD and what's OLED?

This ist the Way

If I ask you at this point whether you have seen the Disney series 'The Mandalorian' you are probably wondering what this has to do with a blog article about LED and LCD screens.

'A lot', is my answer to this, because a gigantic LED screen was used in the production of the series.

So far it has been common practice to use so-called green screens or blue screens for film productions whenever something needs to be replaced at this point in post-production that is not possible as a practical effect directly in the set. For example, the depths of space, or the flora of a fictional planet. Often this meant that the actors had to do gymnastics in front of a foam stage colored green from top to bottom.

Due to the rapid development of ever better LED technologies, however, a piece of the final 'movie magic' can now be brought back in front of the camera. Instead of using green screens or blue screens, at least the background of a scene is displayed during the shoot as it would later be shown in the film/series. Not only is this a relief for the director and actors, who can think themselves into the scene much better, but post-production is also happy, as working with the LED background has many advantages (e.g. light and retouching details).

In case you are interested in this particular topic, here is the link for a deep dive about the use of LED screens during the production of 'The Mandalorian':

LED vs. LCD

But apart from Hollywood magic and cute Baby Yodas, it is worth taking a look at the topic of LEDs. Although this technology benefits from great new developments in the B2B sector, it's not always profitable to rely exclusively on LEDs. The innovations in LCD screens are also remarkable, not least when you think of ever higher resolutions (Full-HD, 4K, 8K, ...).

We have therefore - taken into account to the latest developments - summarized for you the respective advantages and disadvantages of LED and LCD with regard to their use in retail:

LED advantages

  • Very high brightness
  • Intense colours
  • Content is perfectly visible even at a viewing angle of <10 °
  • Suitable for use in direct sunlight
  • If individual pixels are broken, the entire screen does not have to be replaced
  • Thanks to the modular design, flexible, individual shapes are possible
  • Subsequent change of the pixel pitch possible (depending on the manufacturer)

LED disadvantages

  • Lower resolution; Pixels are visible at a very close viewing distance
  • Higher acquisition costs
  • Installation often only possible by a specialist company (depending on the model).
  • Often long delivery times
  • With bright images, high brightness and 24/7 operation, the power consumption is higher

LCD advantages

  • Easy installation
  • Better resolution: Full HD (1920x1080) or higher (4K, 8K,...)
  • Light weight
  • Fast availability on the market, wide range of products
  • Cheaper than LED

LCD disadvantages

  • Poor visibility when viewed from a low angle or in high sunlight
  • Heat sensitive; Use in direct sunlight is unfavorable.

The decision as to which technology should be used at which point depends on several factors.
Before picking one screen or the another, ask yourself the following questions:

Where should the screen beset up/hung?
What brightness will the screen be exposed to? LEDs are better suited for use in a shop window that is exposed to high levels of light from the sun.

Another aspect is the angle from which the viewer can see the screen. If, for example, it is attached very high up on a house facade, an LED screen is recommended, as this allows a wider viewing angle.

Last but not least, we have repeatedly made the experience that LED screens in shop windows that remain in operation at night can cause annoyance among residents.

Should it be flexible in use (e.g. sometimes in the shop window, sometimes in the interior?)
It's not just about the weight, the type of suspension/anchoring, but also about whether the screen might end up in the shop window. Here, too, an LED screen, e.g. with a lower pixel pitch, is recommended.

What distance will the screen be viewed from?
If the viewer can get very close to the screen, an LCD screen is better. From a UHD resolution, this beats an LED screen (you don't see the "pixels" so clearly when you stand in front of it).

Is it accessible, can you possibly touch it?
LED screens have the disadvantage that you have to protect their sensitive pixels. A glass or plexiglass cover is usually sufficient for this. However, if the device is to be touch-enabled, it must have an LCD screen.

What budget do I have?
LCD screens are always the cheaper option, but have some drawbacks (see above).

If the goal is, for example, a large digital signage wall in the sales room, this can also be implemented using several connected LCD screens.

“Real” LED screens are used in professional retail - in contrast to the colloquial “LED televisions” that are found in private use.
Of course, there are also great differences in quality with screens, depending on the manufacturer. We therefore recommend that you do your research before purchasing. The following guide should help you with this:

  • Observe and question service life: under which conditions is the maximum service life of the device specified and does this reflect the planned use? (e.g. continuous operation vs. 8-hour operation; at full brightness vs. half brightness, etc.)
  • What does maximum brightness mean? (is this measured e.g. on a white screen, which does not correspond to the reality of digital signage content)
  • How easy to maintain is the screen and how is it installed? In the event of a repair, can a service technician get to the inside of the device?
  • Which connections are included as standard and are they compatible with the hardware that I need?
  • Is the device certified for the planned use? (e.g. particularly fire-resistant)

OK, but how exactly do LED and LCD work?

The display for both professional LED and LCD screens is based on the RGB color spectrum. This means that the 'pixels' of both types of screen can basically only display the colors red, green and blue. The actual colors of the image that is to be displayed at the moment are created through the mixing ratio of the brightnesses of the three basic colors.

How the LED and LCD 'Pixel' are stimulated to shine is based on very different methods, which are only briefly outlined below:

LCD stands for liquid crystal display ‘. LCDs consist of liquid crystals that can change their transparency independently of one another. The alignment of the crystals is controlled individually for each crystal by means of electrical voltage. This changes the permeability for polarized light.

LED bedeutet ‚light-emitting diode‘ (Lumineszenz-Diode). Bei dieser Technologie wird Strom von einer Richtung durch eine Diode geleitet. Eingeschlossen in den Dioden sind verschiedene Gase, die bei Stimulierung durch Strom die oben erwähnten Farben Rot, Grün oder Blau erzeugen können.

The “LED televisions” used in the private sector are essentially LCD televisions that are only equipped with additional LED backlighting. The LED diodes are often located behind the liquid crystal layer and thus support the discrepancy between light and dark areas, which leads to a more brilliant picture.

The Pixel Pitch

In connection with “real” LED screens, so-called pixel pitches are usually mentioned. In principle, this is comparable to the known screen resolution of an LCD device (Full HD means e.g. 1920 × 1080 - so this device can display a maximum of 1920 individual pixels horizontally and 1080 vertically). However, since LED screens are made up of individual diodes, this is referred to as a pixel pitch. This indicates how 'long' the distance is from the center of one diode to the center of the adjacent diode. A pixel pitch of 0.9 means that there is 0.9mm between the centers of the diodes.

What is OLED?

OLED is one of the buzzwords that has haunted the (specialist) media in recent years.

OLED means 'organic light emitting diode'. A layer of organic material reacts to electrical stimulation and emits light accordingly. OLEDs consist of several extremely thin layers, one of which has to be transparent. They are most closely comparable to LEDs, but their luminescent materials consist of anorganic material.

OLEDs shine even brighter than LEDs, display colors in a larger spectrum and are also - like LED screens - still clearly visible from a small viewing angle.

The way in which they'are manufactured also makes OLEDs cheaper than LEDs. The application of the organic layer is less complex and can already be done, for example, using an inkjet or offset printer. They also do not need a clean room environment, which is also reflected in the price.

Furthermore, OLED screens are suitable for unusual installations such as 'transparent' or curved screens.

OLED advantages

  • Cheaper than LEDs
  • Bright, brilliant colors
  • Low viewing angle
  • Thin, therefore light
  • For transparent screens
  • Flexible with no high pixel pitch

OLED disadvantages

  • Short service life when constantly on
  • Require reliable cooling,or the service life can suffer further
  • Are sensitive to certain environmental conditions (humidity, penetration of oxygen)
  • More expensive than LCDs

Image gallery

LED installations

LCD installations

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