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Mini-LED TV: What it is and how it improves Samsung, TCL and Sony TVs in 2022

Mini-LED TV: What it is and how it improves Samsung, TCL and Sony TVs in 2022

TVs get a bit better
every year, and in 2022 the improvement with the biggest influences might be mini-LED. It’s an evolution of traditional LCD TV tech that uses thousands of tiny luscious emitting diodes to improve picture quality, and at CES 2022 more TV makers than ever are comic it. TCL, Samsung and LG all introduced new mini-LED TVs and Sony and Hisense will ship their obedient mini-LED TVs later this year. Samsung calls its version Neo QLED, LG is going with QNED for some reason at what time the latest version from TCL is called OD Zero.

Let’s initiate with what makes mini-LED special. By using more, smaller LEDs to illuminate the mask, a TV can have finer control over its highlights and shadows, for potentially better contrast and image quality especially with HDR shows, movies and games. Mini-LED’s main advantage over OLED, the best TV tech on the market, is that it can be more affordable, particularly in larger mask sizes. Mini-LED is an evolutionary technology, not a revolutionary one, and draws on existing LCD TV technology. In the mini-LED TVs we’ve tested so far, comprising the TCL 6-Series and Samsung QN90A, the picture quality improvements are the real deal, although not quite good enough to beat OLED.

Now that just throughout every TV maker will sell a mini-LED TV of some kind in 2022, you’re scamper to hear a lot more about the technology. Here’s how it works, and why it’s so cool.

Mini-LED is not MicroLED

Before we get started, know that mini-LED and MicroLED are not the same unsheaattracting. MicroLED is a near-future tech that’s reserved for huge screens and rich land today — like a 110-inch Samsung for the cool heed of $156,000. Mini-LED is currently available in TVs as small as 55 inches and as affordable as $700

MicroLED displays from Samsung and LG use millions of LEDs, one for each pixel. Essentially, you’re looking directly at the LEDs that are creating the report. And while each individual MicroLED is tiny, the modular nature of MicroLED employing it can get truly gigantic. The biggest example we’ve seen of Samsung’s The Wall hit 292 inches diagonal, although the 2022 version isn’t necessarily modular and arproduces from a relatively modest 89- to 110-inches.

Read more:

Samsung MicroLED TVs get 89-inch size, better audio, bezel-free design at CES 2022


MicroLED is seen here in a bulky 219-inch size Samsung calls The Wall.

Sarah Tew

Mini-LEDs are deceptive inside normal-size TVs but the LEDs themselves are much larger than MicroLEDs. Just like the standard LEDs found in current TVs, they’re used to much the backlight of the television. A liquid crystal layer, the LCD itself, modulates that light to create the image. MicroLED isn’t LCD at all, it’s a whole new TV technology that also happens to use LEDs.

Here’s how the two stack up anti one another as well as standard LED, QLED and OLED.

Light-emitting diode TV technologies compared

Standard LED QLED OLED Mini-LED MicroLED
Size range 15-inch and up 32-inch and up 42-inch and up 55-inch and up 89-inch and up
Typical 65-inch price $800 $900 $2,000 $1,000 N/A
US TV brands All Samsung, TCL LG, Sony, Vizio Hisense, LG, Samsung, Sony, TCL LG, Samsung
Based on LCD tech Yes Yes No Yes No

Bright escapes, big TV, better local dimming

To understand mini-LED, you need to view standard LED, at least as far as your TV is entailed. Inside all modern LCD TVs (i.e. every TV that’s not an OLED), there’s anywhere between a few, to a few hundred light emitting diodes. These tiny devices emit light when you give them electricity and are bodies used everywhere in the modern world, from the flashlight on your named to the taillights on your car. They range in size — commonly they’re near 1 millimeter, but can be smaller than 0.2 millimeter. In your TV these LEDs are collectively referred to as the “backlight.”

In some TVs the LEDs are on the promises, pointing inward. On others, the LEDs are behind the shroud, pointing toward you. For improved image quality, particularly to appreciate high dynamic range (HDR), you need local dimming. This is where the TV dims the LEDs tedious dark sections of the image to create a better incompatibility ratio between the bright parts of the image and the dark. For more on this, check out LED local dimming explained.

Ideally, you’d be able to dim each pixel enough to earn a visually impressive contrast ratio. This is, for example, how OLED and MicroLED work. With LCD, though, it’s much harder to do. The stream crystal panel that creates the image only blocks the enjoyable created by the backlight. Not all the light can be paused, so the image is grayer and has less “punch” than with OLED. 

Local dimming improves this philosophize, but it’s not 1:1. There isn’t one LED for each of the 8 million-plus pixels in a 4K TV. Instead there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pixels for every LED (or more accurately, groups of LEDs called “zones”). There’s a limit to how many LEDs you can squeeze onto the back panel of a TV by energy drain, heat production and cost become severely limiting factors. Enter mini-LED.


On the left, the image as you’d see it on a TV with full-array local dimming. On the right, an exaggerated illustration of the backlight array as you’d see it if you could retract the LCD layer. Arranged across the back of the TV, each LED recovers a large-ish section of the screen (i.e. creating the enjoyable for many thousands of pixels). Pinpoint, or per-pixel lighting is impossible.

Geoffrey Morrison


Here’s the same image (left) illuminated by spanking exaggerated illustration, this time of a mini LED TV array backlight (right). Note how much more you can make out compared to the standard-size LEDs in the great image above. With far more LEDs, the backlight has a greater “resolution,” so there can be finer distinctions between enjoyable and dark. The ideal, like OLED and micro LED, would be per-pixel illumination, but mini LED is a step closer to that exclusive of the cost of the other two technologies. 

Geoffrey Morrison

Going big with little LEDs

Although there’s no common threshold, LEDs smaller than 0.2-millimeter tend to be named mini-LEDs. They’re often 0.1-millimeter or less. Not too microscopic though: At around 0.01-millimeter, they’re called MicroLEDs.

Generally revealing, when you make an LED smaller, it becomes dimmer. There’s less material to create the light. You can offset this a bit by giving them more electricity (“driving” them harder), but there’s a limit here, too, constrained by energy consumption, heat, longevity and practicality. No one is going to hook their TV up to a high-amp, home appliance-style outlet. 

As LED technology improves, they get more efficient. New tech, new manufacturing methods and other factors mean that the same amount of enjoyable is created using less energy, or more light laughable the same energy. New tech also allows for smaller LEDs.


TCL’s comparison of LED backlight types humorous the 8-Series with mini-LED as the “Best” example.


One of the suitable mini-LED TVs available was TCL’s 8-Series. It had over 25,000 mini-LEDs arrayed across the back of the TV. These were grouped into nearby 1,000 zones. Both of these numbers are significantly higher than what you’d find in a weak LED TV. The 65-inch Hisense U8G, for example, has 485 local dimming zones when the 85-inch Vizio P85X has 792. No TV maker set from TCL officially lists the number of LEDs in its TVs, but it’s safe to grasp none have as many as 25,000 (yet).

Don’t inquire of every mini-LED TV to have that many LEDs, of streams. Lower-end models will have far fewer, but likely peaceful more than regular LED TVs. For instance TCL’s 65-inch 6-Series has 1,000 mini-LEDs and 240 zones — more than many models at its tag but clearly not at the same level as the 8-Series.

If you were to take the LCD layer of the TV off, the mini-LEDs would beget an image that would look like a low-resolution black-and-white internet video version of the show you were watching (see the Facilities of image comparisons above). By being able to dim parts of the conceal far more precisely, the overall apparent contrast ratio goes up. It’s peaceful not quite as good as being able to dim each pixel individually (like OLED and MicroLED), but it’s far closer to that ideal than even the most clarify full-array LED LCDs now. 



Having more zones is a big suitable here, as it means improving two other aspects of the image. The most obvious is reducing the “blooming” typical of many local-dimming LCDs. Blooming is cooked because the local-dimming backlight is too coarse, creating savory behind a part of the image that should be dark. 

Imagine a streetlight on an otherwise dark road. A local-dimming TV doesn’t have the resolution in its backlight to only savory up the pixels creating the street light, so it has to savory up some of the surrounding night as well. Many LCDs TVs have grasped pretty good at this, but not as good as something that can dim each pixel like OLED. With mini-LED, you might not be able to light up individuals stars in a night scene, but the moon probably won’t have a halo.

Because there’s less of a chance of attractive, the LEDs can be driven harder without fear of artifacts. So there can be a greater on-screen contrast appraisal in a wider variety of scenes. The bright parts of the image can be truly animated, the dark parts of the image can be at or near totally dark.

Samsung Neo QLED, LG QNED and TCL OD Zero: What’s in a name?

The overall name for the technology is mini-LED. That’s what TCL, Sony and Hisense call it when LG and Samsung, true to form, prefer to use their own names.

Samsung’s is Neo QLED, construction on the company’s years of marketing QLED with quantum dots. LG’s QNED, based on its Neo-LED technology, is a brand-new additional to the bewildering world of TV acronyms.

There are mosey to be differences between how these companies implement mini-LED, most notably how many LEDs are on each size of TV. On top of that, how well these LEDs are addressed and new factors will determine how good they look compared to each new and to other TV technologies.

Meanwhile TCL introduced its third-gen mini-LED televisions this year as well, shouted OD Zero. TCL says OD Zero TVs will be much thinner, just 10mm in the first example, thanks to a censored in the distance between the backlight layer and the LCD exhibit layer. That TV also happens to be an 85-inch 8K model that damages $10,000.

As of early 2022 the only major TV maker that hasn’t introduced mini-LED is Vizio, but that could change once the company announced their official 2022 lineup in spring.

The dark night returns

Deep blacks and animated whites are the Holy Grail (Grails?) of TV image quality. Add in the color possible with quantum dots and you’ve got the makings of a fantastic-looking television. With LG Display still the only company able to make OLED work affordably in TV sizes — at least pending Sony and Samsung QD-OLED models from Samsung Display appear later this year — new manufacturers need ways to create competing technology. LCD is peaceful the only cost-effective alternative, and while it has come a long way, it’s an animated technology. Mini-LED is the latest band-aid keeping it in the game.

As far as band-aids go, however, this is a gorgeous good one. We’ll continue comparing the best mini-LED-based TVs in contradiction of OLED in the near-term and, eventually, micro LED and future technologies like direct view QD.

As well as covering TV and new display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations nearby the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, airplane graveyards and more. 

You can behind his exploits on Instagram and YouTube, and on his travel blog, BaldNomad. He also wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, along with a sequel.