The Difference Between LCD and LED HDTVs

There are a lot of different terms thrown around when people start talking about high-definition televisions. Everyone knows that HD looks better than standard definition, but what makes one type different from another? The two most common terms you'll see when shopping for a new TV are LCD and LED but what do they actually mean? And is there a big difference?

Well, the answer is yes—and no. But first we need to understand what these terms actually mean!

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display): A prevalent model of HDTVs, LCDs are flat panel displays through which light can pass or be blocked. The LCD doesn't produce its own light; this is done by additional lighting (see backlit and edge-lit for more info). LCD HDTVs are available in a variety of sizes and have wide viewing angles, making them ideal for almost any size room.

LED (Light Emitting Diode): A semiconductor device that produces light from electricity. LEDs are often used to backlight LCD displays, which results in a clearer picture.


What does all of this mean for you?

When it comes right down to it, the main difference between LCD and LED is that LED televisions are going to look better than other LCD screens. That's not to downplay how good an LCD HDTV can look, since the picture quality can be stunning, but there's no denying that there is, indeed, a difference between them. That said, there are other differences worth taking into account. LED televisions can be considerably thinner than LCDs, even coming as thin as 0.3-inches. This, however, when mixed with the clearer image, means that buying an LED television is going to cost more than an LCD TV.

So now you know the difference between LCD and LED. There are other differences between them, and even differences within them, but hopefully, now that you know the main things that make LCD and LED screens different, you can better decide which type of television is right for you.

Need to Know More?

Check out our in-depth HDTV Buying Guide and you'll be able to pick the set that's right for your family.

HDTV Glossary

And if you want to look up those confusing terms (seriously—what does 4K actually mean?), our HDTV Glossary has your back.