What is the Mini LED? TV display technology explained

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Mini LED is a relatively new technological term for television and it describes the technology inside most best TVs of 2021. But what is the Mini LED? And, most importantly, do you need to trade in your current setup for a mini LED TV?

You will find Mini LED technology in televisions. In fact, most of the major TV brands including TCL, Philips, LG and Samsung all of them already have mini LED screens on the market or they are
by building them with this new backlight technology inside as you read this.

Some brands have even combined the Mini LED with other types of technology to create the latest and greatest TVs. For example, LG’s Mini LED TV line of “QNED” displays are now available worldwide. These combine LG’s NanoCell LCD and Mini LED backlighting for the first time. It is certainly an exciting time for Mini LED technology.

While you will find the Mini LED to be found in many newer TVs, you will also come across this technology in other devices that have a display. For example, Apple uses Mini LED technology in its new ipad pro. Rumors suggest it could also be used in the upcoming Nintendo Switch 2. So we might expect to see it in even more devices beyond TVs in the future.

Now that you know where you’ll find Mini LED, it’s time to understand how it works and what it means for your viewing experience. In the guide below, we’ll cover the technical details, as well as the big question: do you really need a mini LED TV? Read on to find out if this new TV technology is right for you.

As you might expect, Mini LED shrinks the LED modules that backlight LCD screens. LCD pixels cannot light up on their own – although OLED can – so they need a source of light behind them that can pass the light through. This is what creates the necessary brightness and color. Because of this extra layer of backlighting, the pixels in an LCD screen can never be completely turned off.

What impact does this have on your viewing experience? It is better to compare it to an LCD screen. Blacks on an LCD display not only lack the ink quality of their OLED counterparts, but if the backlighting of an LCD TV is improperly implemented and controlled, there can be noticeable irregularities in the way the screen is used. The screen describes what should be uniform areas of black.

A good example is if you imagine the end credits of most movies. There is a black screen with white text scrolling up. When watching on an LCD TV, it is normal to see a halo of light around words or to let its backlight “bleed” from the corners of the screen. The result is that everything that should be black is now more of a cloudy gray.

We know no one has ever bought a TV for the way it handles the end credits of a movie. But that kind of messy picture quality is what has increasingly made LCD technology look second-class compared to its brilliant OLED competitor.

However, there may still be a way for LCD technology to reassert itself among the best televisions – and that’s thanks to Mini LED.

Mini LEDs FAQ

  • What is the Mini LED? A more efficient and effective way to backlight an LCD screen.
  • What are the advantages ? Higher backlight accuracy and higher peak brightness.
  • Will I be able to see the difference? We think so. Enhanced contrasts and brighter images tend to stand out.
  • Are Mini LED TVs Expensive? That it all depends. TCL has been using MIni LED for some time and sets very aggressive prices for its TVs. LG and Philips also intend to sell their Mini LED TVs at a lower price than their equivalent OLED displays.

Technical drawing of the mini LED TV panel

(Image credit: Samsung)

What is the Mini LED?

Simply put, Mini LED is a more efficient and effective way to backlight an LCD screen.

Officially, a diode no larger than 0.2mm can be classified as “mini” – but it is the consumer electronics industry that we are dealing with here, and you can expect the word “mini” is used fairly freely. The rule of thumb, however, is that smaller LEDs allow more LEDs.

Installing more and smaller LED diodes behind the LCD pixels means images can be brighter. This means that the backlight control can be more focused and precise. This should allow for better control, which should mean less backlighting and stronger contrasts.

Why is the Mini LED important?

If deployed effectively, the Mini LED backlight should allow LCD panels to come much closer to OLED performance levels than before. These theoretical advantages are quite convincing.

And, of course, that’s without the problems perceived by OLED: LED / LCD technology has never been the subject of scare stories of screen burn-in, nor is it falling prey to the downturn. eventual but inevitable performance which is the price of the “organic” element of OLED.

Of course, the success of Mini LED will depend on how the technology is implemented. There are many variations in the performance of LED-backlit LCD screens of the same price and similar specification – just take a look at our many TV reviews to see it. And if some TVs lack control when it comes to controlling a few dozen areas of backlight dimming, can we really expect them to be better when controlling what could be thousands?

Apple is chasing the Mini LED for its 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with a brightness of 600 nits, will only raise awareness and hype for the tech.

Screenshot of Philips TV 2021

(Image credit: Philips)

Who will sell me a Mini LED TV?

Intrepid Chinese maker TCL quickly rushed to incorporate the technology into its displays, and others are now following suit. LG, Philips and Samsung have all announced Mini LED ranges for 2021.

LG’s Mini LED line – called “QNED” – immediately became its premium LCD offering, combining the Mini LED with quantum dot technology. It’s positioned above the NanoCell LCD screens that were previously the company’s most ambitious LCD TVs.

The QNED99 is the hero of the range. This is an 8K, 120Hz TV with full local dimming (to better show exactly what Mini LED is capable of). It is available in 65 inch, 75 inch and 86 inch variants. The QNED95 swaps the 120Hz panel from the QNED99 for just 60Hz, but retains 8K resolution and all other tech highlights – the 86-inch size aside.

There are a few QNED 4K ranges that are organized in the same way. The QNED90 has a 120Hz panel in front of its Mini LED Full Array local dimming arrangement, while the QNED85 makes do with a 60Hz panel instead.

While some TVs lack control when it comes to controlling a few dozen areas of backlight dimming, can we really expect them to be better when controlling what could be thousands?

At Samsung, “Neo QLED” is how the company describes its Mini LED TVs for this year. With a “micro-layer” to guide light from mini LEDs (perhaps up to 5,000 individual diodes for a single display) through quantum dots, Samsung has developed its most powerful dimming and power distribution algorithms. accurate to date.

All of this bodes well for the high-end QN900A’s chances. This is an 8K 120Hz display, available in 65 inch, 75 inch, or 85 inch sizes. The QN800A retains the 8K resolution and select screen size options – it just doesn’t quite have the whistles and bells sound system of the QN900A.

The 4K flag for Samsung is flown by the QN95A and QN90A: they are both 120Hz panels, and both available in screen sizes of 50in, 55in, 65in, 75in, and 85in. The QN95A also features Samsung’s One Connect box, which eliminates all the connectivity requirements of the display itself. There’s also the QN85A, which retains the 120Hz panel of its siblings but doesn’t have as many dimming zones or speakers.

Philips, of course, has its unique selling point to bring to the Mini LED party: Ambilight. The 9639 and 9506 are both available in either 65-inch or 75-inch sizes, and both feature four-sided Ambilight backlighting as well as a mini LED backlight. As with LG, Philips Mini LED TVs fit into the TV series just below the more expensive OLED ranges.

TCL fans can opt for the 6 Series QLED with Mini LED in the US – or the upcoming C825 QLED in the UK, which is expected to launch at £ 1,099 for its smaller 55-inch size. The brand also recently unveiled the X925 and X925 Pro, this is the next list of mini LED TVs coming in 2022.

A Mini-LED TV with a bright blue screen in a gray room

(Image credit: Samsung)

Should I buy a mini LED TV?

Ultimately, there are a few factors that will determine the success (or not) of individual Mini LED TVs. The panel driver and video processing engine that are installed on the TV, for example, will have a huge say in how the display works – and if they are indifferent components, the sheer complexity of the Mini LED arrangement could potentially create more, rather than less, backlight and contrast issues.

We shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out, however. The announcements at the start of the year are all made, the specifics of the model lines and prices are starting to drop, and by the middle of the year (at the latest) we will have had our hands (and our eyes) on enough Mini LED TVs to know if the technology is a) efficient and b) worth your money.


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