Backlighting. That’s not a term referring to shining a flashlight on your friend the instant they turn around. Instead, it’s the key concept behind understanding the differences between LED and LCD televisions. If you’re stressing over which type of TV to buy, pull up a chair, crack a root beer, and get comfy – and we’ll figure out which television’s best for you in no time flat.
LED is an acronym for “light emitting diode”. So what’s a diode? Picture a river, blocked by a dam. The river represents electricity. The dam represents the diode. When a light emitting diode allows a charge (called photons) pass through it, that charge gets transformed into a colour (called colour). Different charges make different colours.
So what’s all this have to do with backlighting? We’ll get to that in a second. In the meantime, finish that root beer. Here, put it in a glass. You’ll enjoy it more.
LCD is an acronym, too. It stands for “liquid crystal display”. Yes, liquid crystals are crystals made of liquid, and yes, they are as cool as they sound. LCD uses a membrane containing a bunch of this magic fluid stuff. By zapping instructions to these crystals, they are able to make shapes, colours, and colourful shapes. The only things these liquid crystals can’t do is emit light. They’re as dull as a museum dedicated to dandruff.
So what does all this have to do with backlighting? Finally, I’m ready to explain. The quality of an LCD TV is hugely dependent on the quality of its backlight. LCD relies on florescent lamps to illuminate its image. The light shines through the liquid crystal membrane, and suddenly you can see Buffy, or the other Buffy, or whatever vampire hunter you prefer. What happens if your LCD doesn’t have a backlight? Buy a 1st generation Gameboy at a yard sale. It has an LCD screen that has no backlight. It also has hard-to-see graphics that require you hold the screen mere inches away from an external light source. On a side note, Exian manufactures this cool case that makes your iPhone look like a Gameboy. You should probably buy it.
Now, here’s where it gets a bit confusing. LED makes use of LCD technology -- but it uses light emitting diodes to illuminate its image, instead of a florescent lamp. So that’s all this debate boils down to -- illumination AKA backlighting (not to be mistaken for Backdraft, which is Kurt Russell vs. fire).
One of these two technologies is superior, and I’m about to tell you which one. Spoiler alert.
LED. Why? LED does a great job of creating intensive, deep black. LCD can create areas of blackness on the screen as well, but its not as rich and full as its LED counterpart. That goes for colours, too. Oh, and LED also uses less power. Plus, it’s name is so similar to Led Zeppelin that it wins by association. Pink Floyd is cool, too. I like bands.
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