There are a lot of display technologies out there today: DLED, QLED, OLED, so let’s be honest, if you’re not a geek, you’re just confused enough to know what’s going on.
Mini LED is a type of screen that is commonly used in TVs.
Now almost all major brands, such as Samsung and LG, develop and offer TVs with Mini LED displays.
Although such TVs were first introduced in 2019 (or 2020, depending on what we count as a starting point), attention towards them has, let’s be honest, remained quite low. However, CES 2022 is bringing attention to such TVs on the new highs.
For example, Samsung already announced new Mini LED TVs as a part of the Neo QLED lineup. To be fair, I see nothing wow-cutting in what’s announced but Shape Adaptive Light Control looks like an interesting feature, that will help to control blooming. Also, Samsung has announced an update to a 14-bit backlight that will empower the number of color shades.
So, let’s take a closer look at such technology and consider whether it is worth your attention (as well as the place on the market at all).
What is Mini LED TVs in simple words
Mini LED TVs use LED technology, Direct LED, and the LEDs have a smaller size (as the Mini LED name implies). Direct LED means that the LEDs are placed on the back of the screen to provide an even backlighting. Some manufacturers, such as LG, have their own names for Direct LED technology. For example, LG calls it FALD (Full-Array Local Dimming).
However, there’s one thing you should understand – Direct LED is now used in almost all screens, as it provides better picture quality, compared to Edge LED (when LEDs are placed only on the sides of the screen).
In simple terms, Mini LED is a more efficient way of backlighting the diodes. LEDs are smaller, but there are more of them, so they don’t illuminate areas of the screen that should be dark. As a result, it helps to create a richer image with better color reproduction quality.
It’s quite simple, the smaller the LEDs, the smaller area they will illuminate, as a result of color rendering will be more accurate and provide better image contrast.
Of course, if we talk in terms of rules, then officially such diodes can not be classified as “mini”, but when it comes to marketing, the words are used quite freely.
How Mini LEDs work on practice
Now, to better understand what I’m talking about, let’s look at an example. According to the information that the display manufacturers provide, there will be between 8,000 and 200,000 LEDs per display.
The number of LEDs will depend on the size of the TV screen, small screens such as a 40 inch TV will have 8,000 mini LEDs.
A large screen 80-inch mini-diode will use more, such as 20,000. The larger the screen area, the greater the luminous flux, so the number of LEDs increases.
To understand, a TV with a 4K screen has 8,294,400 pixels divided into 20,000 mini LEDs. This means that one mini-LED illuminates 414 pixels, which is a 20 × 20 pixel square.
The more zones, the better, because then the picture will have more contrast because each zone will be able to display a different contrasting color. And if you control the level of each pixel, that’s a pretty big breakthrough in image quality. But even if those zones just get bigger, it also improves picture quality.
Why Mini LED TVs may worth your attention
Now for the reasons why this technology can be a success.
As you probably know, LCD pixels need a backlight, which goes through them and creates an image. However, because of the backlight, the display just can’t turn off any LCD pixels. And it affects the viewing experience because, in scenes where there should be rich black, it will be gray. The whole point is that black is the absence of light.
However, because the backlight has to shine through the LCD pixels in order to display other colors, it also illuminates those pixels that are supposed to be completely black.
As a result, instead of rich black, you see something gray, and elements can have a “glowing halo.” All of this ruins the viewing experience, especially if you paid a lot of money for a new TV but didn’t get a great picture.
Initially, this problem was solved with OLED, in such displays, there is simply no backlight, the pixels illuminate themselves (which means that some of them can be completely turned off). And it is OLED TVs that offer the best picture quality.
However, Mini LED TVs could be a new competitor for OLED TVs.
Yes, OLED TVs offer excellent picture contrast. However, such TVs have other problems, such as the burn-in problem. Although it isn’t as common as it may seem, it is still something that worries those who buy TVs.
With the right application, Mini LED can be a real competitor to OLED TVs, while avoiding the drawbacks.
However, it all depends on how manufacturers will use this technology. Now we see that manufacturers are going the way of combining Mini-LED with other technologies (as LG does).
Some use Mini LED to improve mid-tier models by offering relatively small dimming zones. In high-end models, manufacturers try to maximize the number of dimming zones, but this can cause thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dimming zones to be controlled.
Does it worth buying Mini LED TV?
There is one simple thing you need to understand – Mini LED is not a technology that “mechanically” improves the quality of the picture. I mean, even if your TV display uses this technology, it does not mean that you will experience improvement of picture quality by default.
A lot depends on hardware and software factors such as the panel driver and video processing engine that is installed on your TV.
If they do not work correctly, then the Mini LED can cause even more problems than benefits (due to the fact that the number of backlight areas is much greater than the LED TV).
So “on paper” this technology is very promising, but I would be dishonest if I gave my verdict on all TVs because, as I said, a lot depends on additional factors. So I suggest you wait for the Mini LED TV and watch (or read) the reviews before making your decision.