LED vs LCD Monitors – What’s the Difference?

There are a few different types of monitors on the market, however the most popular by far are LED and LCD monitors. But what is the difference between these two types of displays? There are some subtle but quite significant differences between products, which could influence your buying decision. However, in short: LCD is a type of LED display. Not all LED displays are LCD, but all LCD are LED. 

A little confusing? Don’t worry, we’ll explain it all in this article. Let’s compare LED and LCD monitors to one another.

LED vs LCD Monitors

LED stands for light-emitting diode and LCD for liquid crystal display. The actual name for LCD should be ‘LED-lit LCD display’, but it is normally shortened to just LCD. These names reference the way that they work, however all LED screens are LCD screens; LED screens just have an extra functionality that makes them work differently. 

LED screens are named so because of the light-emitting diode lights that are installed in the screen themselves. These screens can be volatile or static; some of them will only respond to touch and others will display a picture even when they are turned off. 

How are LCD monitors different?

The main difference is that LCD screens feature a layer of liquid crystal. This is put in between two plates, and images are made by light passing through parts of liquid crystal. These parts of liquid crystal either enhance or block an area, which in turn creates the image. Most LCD displays have LED lights that further bring out the image. These are colloquially known as LED screens. 

Older LCD screens used CCFLs, or Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps, to light the screen. These use electron discharge and fluorescence to illuminate a screen behind them. However, LEDs have taken over from CCFLs because they are brighter, last longer, leave higher quality images and are more environmentally friendly. 

This means that LCD screens lit with CCFLs (known also as LCD screens or monitors) are fading from importance in the market, and LED screens are becoming more and more popular.   

LCD screens are still used in watches, calculators and some notebook computers – however, use of LCD-only (CCFL backlit) screens is phasing out. LED (LCD with LED backlit) screens have been used for most flat panel screens since 2010; so your monitor is most likely an LED screen – or if you are thinking of upgrading, you should maybe switch to LED!

LED screens have developed further and OLED and QLED screens are now on the market. OLED technology uses an organic compound that can create impressively high-contrast images. Products are more expensive but also much more environmentally friendly. QLED screens were created and are patented by Samsung; they create a light with a shorter wavelength which gives more crisp images. 

So is LED better than LCD?

There are different types of monitor which are better for different things. But if we’re talking in terms of monitors, then yes, and LED monitor is definitely going to be better. An LED monitor will typically give you;

  • Better Colour – An LED monitor will give you better colour and contrast on the screen, which in turn give you a sharper image.
  • Longer life – LCD monitors last on average 30-50,000 hours. LED monitors however last anywhere between 50,000-100,000 hours.
  • Cheaper to run – LED are the better choice if you’re trying to keep costs down, as they are more energy efficient of the two. However, they are more expensive, so you will have to lay out more initially.
  • Slimmer design – We can make LED monitors in a thinner, slimmer design than an LCD monitor.
  • Better resolution and response time – If you’re often going to be playing games of watching videos, you’ll want to get an LED monitor as they will give you a more responsive display.

Conclusion

While there are lots of words flying around about monitors, most of the ones that you will use in an office are LED monitors, which feature LCD technology but with a light-emitting diode. These are much more current than the old fashioned monitors that used CCFLs, and are the best way to get work done in 2020. If you’re looking for a cheap monitor, then check my list of monitors under £150.

Other technologies are used in very specific situations, but not commonly in offices; although as we look into the future, more and more offices are adopting more developed LED technology, such as OLEDs or Samsung’s QLEDs, or alternative technology that has been developed by other companies. 

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