Why I Chose the QLED Over an OLED TV and How I Resolved the Digital Audio Issues
This isn’t just a simple QLED vs OLED TV system review, it’s a much broader subject because:-
- This is the first ‘Smart’ TV we’ve had. So there is our experience of how it automatically linked all our home entertainment devices together seamlessly, and synchronised the whole system to work together; including the remotes.
- It’s the first TV (although not first home entertainment device) we’ve had with Internet access. So it’s changed our viewing habits because accessing them through the TV rather than through the other devices is a lot easier and quicker.
- As well as its own remote, the TV also came with a smart universal remote, which has dramatically enhanced the ease of use of the whole system.
- Linking our new TV to our home theatre system for better quality sound, when we already have two devices linked to the sound system, proved a little challenging.
On the last point, the home theatre system only has two optical audio inputs, which wasn’t an issue previously; because our last TV didn’t have Internet access and the Freeview channels are included in the cable TV box anyway. So previously we didn’t connect our TV to the audio system for best quality sound, because we got that through the cable TV box and the Blu-ray player which also has Internet access.
However, because our new TV is a smart TV with Internet access and comes with universal remote that links everything together for easy access; it’s now a lot easier and quicker to access streaming video from the TV than the cable TV box or Blu-ray player.
Therefore I had a great desire to hook up our new TV, as a third device, on our home theatre cinema system, for full Dolby Digital 7:1 surround sound; rather than just using the TV’s speakers.
So this article covers not just my personal reasons for why we choose a QLED, rather than an OLED TV, but also our use of it, and its universal remote, in relation to the other home entertainment devices; and how I resolved the optical digital audio issue to get all our devices linked to our sound system.
What Is QLED TV and How Does It Differ From OLED TV
In simple terms, without getting too technical:-
- A QLED TV is essentially an LED TV that uses quantum dots for its display; nanocrystal semiconductors that produces pure red, green and blue light.
- An OLED TV is essentially an LED TV that uses an organic (carbon based) light-emitting diode which (unlike LED screens) works without the need of a backlight.
- An LED screen uses light-emitting diodes e.g. a semiconductor light source that emits light when a current flows through it.
The video below summarises these points quite succinctly.
LED vs QLED vs OLED
Why We Needed to Buy a New TV
It wasn’t through choice, because we loved our old plasma TV, it was because the TV was coming to the end of its life e.g. the plasma was rapidly breaking down so that we ended up with large cloudy patches spreading across the screen.
Why We Opted for a QLED TV
Having grew up during the height of the analogue era, the hi-fi and coloured CRT TVs at their best, and since the advent of digital seen the quality of audio and video display deteriorate e.g. MP3 music files and LED screens; I’ve become a bit of a purist.
People might think of digital as being superior to analogue, but analogue is a smooth line e.g. a sound wave (and potentially high quality); whereas digital is the sound or image being represented by millions of dots (pixels); the more pixels per inch the higher the quality.
I remember the days of LPs (Long Playing Records), and CDs (which although digital) is a good representation of LPs e.g. WAV (Wave) files; although when I listen to the two media formats I can tell the difference, and (apart from the odd crackle) I prefer the pure sound of the LP. However, the MP3 files are not music files, they are highly compressed data files with the high and low frequencies cut; thus a tenth of the file size of a wav file, but a distinctive loss in quality.
Likewise, although the old analogue CRT TVs were bulky (because of the tube) and limited in size to 32 inch, in my view the digital LED screens are not a patch on the CRT screens; they lack the brightness, contrast, true blacks, and fast moving objects are blurred on an LED screen, in contrast to being smooth on a CRT screen.
When we had to replace our old 32 inch CRT TV we opted for a 50 inch Plasma TV. Not quite as good as our old CRT TV in many ways, but it wasn’t too bad, and most certainly it was a lot better than the LEDs.
However, when we recently needed to replace our old Plasma screen we couldn’t buy another one because they are no longer manufactured; and we certainly didn’t want to make a retrograde step by buying a LED TV.
Therefore, the only option for us was between QLED or OLED. QLED is being pioneered by Samsung, while LG is the foremost manufacturer developing the OLED technology. Only as recently as just a couple of years ago the OLED was the leading technology in high quality TV, but Samsung are making some advancements in their QLED technology; so that currently there is little difference between the two, and the final choice has to be a personal preference.
The Deciding Factors
At this precise moment there isn’t a great deal of difference between QLED and OLED, but I have faith that Samsung will be on the verge of some major breakthroughs in their QLED technology within the next few years.
However, for now the defining factors that led us to opt for a QLED included:-
- A more natural colour.
- Almost eliminated the problem of fast motion blur on digital screens.
- The ‘One Connect’ box; that avoids having to plug everything into the back of the TV.
- Superb stand design with their new models.
- Great vertical clearance under the TV; which makes ideal storage space for various devices, and Blu-ray box sets that you're currently watching.
Having spent a lot of time researching for a replacement TV I found this video below summarises the comparison between QLED and OLED extremely well.
Samsung Q90 4K QLED TV vs LG C9 OLED TV
Summary of Pros & Cons
I’ll not give a full review because the above video does a far better job than I ever could. However, having recently bought one our overall view is that it’s an excellent TV that does far more than we need; some of the main pros and cons are:-
In addition to the deciding factors mentioned above, that swayed us into choosing a QLED over an OLED, other positive aspect of the TV includes:
- Smart TV
- Internet TV
- Easy set-up and use
- Integrates itself with the other home entertainment devices
- Comes with its own universal remote that gives basic control of all the devices
For the UK market only, it also comes with Freeview built-in, which is standard on all TV’s sold in Britain.
From my perspective there are only a couple of minor cons:
- No analogue connections to the TV, and
- As with all TVs, the sound quality from the TV’s speakers (although respectable) isn’t brilliant.
With respect to the former it means you can’t connect the TV to older equipment that doesn’t have IDMI outlets, such as the Wii, without buying adaptors; and neither can you use analogue audio cables to connect the TV to a sound system.
I appreciate this section below is specific to the UK, and the availability of services will differ in the USA and other counties; but the way in which our new TV, along with its universal remote, presents the different viewing options, has had a profound effect on the way we now use our TV and associated devices in relation to those services.
In the UK the available viewing options on or through a modern TV are:-
- Freeview: Terrestrial TV receiver built into all TVs sold in the UK; a free service offering 85 TV channels (including 15 in HD).
- Cable TV: Virgin Media; subscription TV service offering up to 301 TV channels (many in HD and some in 4K), including Sky Movies and most of the Sky channels, plus all the Freeview channels.
- Satellite TV: Sky TV; subscription TV service that’s almost identical to Cable TV in the channels available.
- Internet TV: Paid subscriptions streaming video service on demand e.g. Netflix.
- BBC iPlayer: catch up on demand service; Free Internet based services available to UK residence e.g. option to re-watch BBC TV programmes recently aired on TV.
- Other Internet based catch up on demand services (similar to iPlayer) provided by other TV channels e.g. ITV, C4 & C5.
- Home streaming e.g. view media content (music, videos and pictures) from your PC on your TV via your home network (Intranet).
- DVD & Blu-ray players
- Set top boxes internal hard drives e.g. the cable and satellite boxes. We have the Virgin Media TiVo cable TV set top box, with a 1 terabyte hard drive, which has been enhanced by TiVo for Virgin Media to include six in-built receivers, so we can record six programmes simultaneously, while watching a seventh that was previously recorded to its hard drive.
Although our old Plasma TV had Freeview (as standard) it didn’t connect to the Internet and it was only connected to our surround sound system via analogue cables, so although it used the surround sound speakers the quality was never as good as true digital Dolby that we could get from using our cable TV box or Blu-ray player. Therefore as all the TV channels that are available on Freeview are also included with cable TV we never used the TV as the viewing source.
However, both our cable TV box and Blu-ray player connects to the Internet so we used those to view streaming video as appreciate e.g. YouTube, iPlayer etc., plus our Blu-ray player connects to our PC allowing us to watch media content from the PC whenever we wanted.
Universal Remote That Came With the QLED
When I first switched on our new QLED TV it automatically searched for and set up all our other devices, synchronising them with itself and the universal remote that came with the TV; and put pictograms of each device in the TV’s menu bar at the bottom of the screen, along with pictograms for all the other Internet based services listed above.
Therefore, when we turn the TV on in the morning it also automatically turns on the surround sound system and the Virgin Media cable TV box at the same time.
Likewise, when we use the universal remote to turn the TV off, the TV automatically turns the sound system off.
Also, the TV has set itself up in such a way that regardless to which device we’re using, the volume control on all our existing remotes work; so it helps in making the use of all our remotes more seamless.
Then if we want to watch from a different device e.g. the Blu-ray player, or use an Internet based service such as YouTube, iPlayer or Netflix etc., it doesn’t matter which device or service we’re using, all we need do is just press the OK key on the universal remote to bring up the TV’s menu bar and select the device or service we want; which is a lot easier and quicker than navigating through all the menus on the cable box to get to the YouTube or iPlayer app etc.
Therefore, using the TV, and its universal remote, to navigate the different media devices and services, is easy; except initially watching YouTube or some other Internet base service from the TV (rather than from the cable TV box) was less desirable because our sound system only has two optical audio links, and I was using those for our cable box and Blu-ray player. Therefore, when using the TV itself we were restricted to using just the TV speakers.
The Audio System and its Remotes
The only down side, or so we thought at the time, with our new TV is that we couldn’t link it to our sound system for full 7:1 Digital Dolby because I’d already had our cable TV box and Blu-ray player plugged into it via the two optical audio links; albeit the TV is connected to the sound system via an HIDM cable.
Therefore, determined not to be deterred, because I was keen to be able to start using the TV for all the services it offered (with ease of use) I bought an optical audio switch with remote control; one input and four outputs.
When it came to wiring up the optical audio switch, that’s when I quickly realised that if I had plugged the optical audio from the sound system straight into the TV, rather than into our Virgin Media cable TV box that the TV was smart enough to re-route the digital audio from the cable TV box via the HDMI link from the cable TV box to the TV through the optical audio link from the TV to the sound box, as and when required. It doesn’t do the same for the Blu-ray player, but even so, if I’d known that the TV was going to do that I needn’t have bought the optical audio switch; not that it cost much anyway, less than $20 including spare optical audio cables.
Nevertheless, I’ve kept the optical audio switch wired up because it’s such a neat solution; and it gives me spare capacity (future proofing). I’ve also taken the optical audio link from the Blu-ray player out of the second in-put in the back of the sound system and plugged that into the switch instead; so that I only need to use the one remote to control audio routing.
The wiring configuration of the optical audio switch I’ve gone for is:-
- Channel 1 = TV
- Channel 2 = Cable TV box
- Channel 3 = Blu-ray player
- Channel 4 = spare
In practice, because when we’re using the cable TV box the TV automatically reroutes the audio signal via HDMI from the cable TV box through its on optical audio link to the sound system, when channel 1 is selected on the optical audio switch we get full digital Dolby through the 7:1 speakers regardless to whether we’re watching from the TV or from the Cable TV box. Whereas if we select channel 2 we only get audio form the cable TV box; and likewise, we only get audio from the Blu-ray player if we select channel 3.
Therefore, we always keep it switched to channel 1, unless we want to watch a DVD or Blu-ray, in which case we’ll switch the optical audio switch to channel 3.
Consequently, because we can select which device to switch the audio to via the remote for the optical audio switch, and the TV automatically switches on the sound system when turn the TV on; we have little use for the remote that came with the sound system; but we keep it handy in our remote control holder for the occasional use.
HDMI Adaptor for the Wii
As the QLED TV doesn’t have any of the old analogue sockets you can’t plug old equipment, like the Wii straight into the TV.
However, I resolved this issue by buying an adaptor for the Wii that allows you to connect the Wii to the TV via an HDMI cable. The adaptor isn’t expensive, and is well worth the investment. Albeit, to fit the adaptor I had to remove the dust cover from the Wii's fan, but there wasn't any dust on it anyway, so this isn't going to be an issue.
As with all modern equipment, when you start plugging it all together you quickly end up with a spaghetti junction. The QLED helps with this to some extent with its ‘One Connect’ box that (if you don’t wall mount the TV) fits comfortably underneath the TV; and then all the TV cables plug into the box rather than plugging them into the TV itself.
However as we sit our TV on a sideboard, and angle it to give the best viewing angle for everyone in the room, all the cables, plugs and sockets are all conveniently hidden behind the TV.
The Importance of High Quality Audio
How important is the sound quality to you?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Arthur Russ