What is QNED, and how does it compare to LG’s Nanocell technology?
Last year we brought you an explanation of all the new buzzwords LG was using to describe its panels. This year, there’s a new buzzword: QNED.
Luke Hopewell is a gadget veteran of over 10 years. He’s reviewed over 100 TVs in his time, and been to the magic factory where they’re all made. He’s lost more remotes than he’s found, and if you ask him nicely, he’ll tell you how tech companies get tech writers to review TVs.
LG will offer you three tiers of TVs in its 2021 line-up. It ranks them as Good, Better and Best.
Good is the Nanocell offering; Better is the QNED offering, while Best is obviously OLED.
Here’s how Nanocell and QNED stack up as technologies.
What is Nanocell in 2021?
Nanocell is LG’s name for its standard range of LED TVs. It fits in at the bottom of the “Good/Better/Best” totem pole.
We saw the term Nanocell introduced last year as part of the refreshed 2020 lineup.
As far as the panels are concerned, the new Nanocell models for 2021 are largely the same as last year’s.
It’s a step-up from your standard LED TV, in that a Nanocell panel inserts a green filter layer for better and brighter colour reproduction.
This enhanced red and green projection tech makes your TV more vivid compared to a regular LED TV. And according to LG, it makes the Nanocell better for those looking to view the picture at an angle, too.
Some models in the range also feature Full Array Dimming (FAD) and Full Array Dimming Pro (on the pricier models) for better black performance. This is something that’s important to watch out for on all LED TVs, no matter the buzzword.
You see, because Nanocell TVs still rely on projecting a bunch of white lights through a screen to produce an image, it still can’t match the true black performance of OLED.
When you shine a light through a “black” image, it will always look grey. LED (and Nanocell by extension) can never produce “true black”. OLED can, because when OLED produces black, its pixels are turned off in those areas. Can’t get blacker than off!
With FAD on Nanocell, however, the TV produces a bright and vibrant image and slightly above average black performance compared to a standard LED TV.
What is QNED?
QNED is a significant step up from Nanocell in a few ways.
QNED means quantum nano-emitting diode. It takes standard LED tech (light-emitting diode) and makes it way smaller.
It’s still based on the same technology as Nanocell TVs with a backlight shining through the image. But the way the lights and pixels behave give it a significant advantage.
Whereas standard Nanocell/LED TVs have hundreds of little backlights behind the screen, QNED has thousands.
On top of that, QNED TVs also have significantly more dimming zones. A dimming zone is basically the TV’s computer darkening parts of the screen in dimly-lit scenes.
When the TV has greater control over its dimming zones (by creating more of them), you get deeper blacks and less of the “halo” effect where light bleeds into the darker parts of a scene.
Stronger dimming performance creates better black experience and generates the illusion that the pixels are “off” in the same way that OLED panels behave.
Add that with the way Nanocell TVs display greens and reds as described above, and the image quality is a step up in vibrancy and certainly a step up in brightness.
QNED is the OLED you buy when you don’t want to pay OLED prices. At least that’s how LG is positioning it.
Nanocell vs QNED MiniLED: which is better?
On a brief viewing of Nanocell (above left) and QNED (above right) side-by-side at a launch event in Sydney, I found that QNED significantly outperforms its little brother.
Given the price differential, you would want to hope it did, anyway.
The picture on a QNED panel looks whiter and brighter, with richer blacks thanks to better local dimming.
Compared to the same image on a Nanocell panel playing simultaneously side-by-side, the colours look slightly more yellow and the “halo” effect where light bleeds into the dark is far more pronounced.
However, neither panel can perform in the same way as OLED does when it comes to reproducing colours and especially blacks.
Even down to the small things like how you view the TV, Nanocell and QNED can’t hold a candle to OLED. Because the LEDs that light the panels face directly forward,
OLED TVs also have around 10x the contrast control of QNED, so it’s hardly even a competition when you view QNED and OLED side by side.
But ultimately, you’re meant to compare the QNED TVs to the Nanocell TVs, rather than QNED vs OLED.
To find out how much you’ll pay for each of these TVs, check out our article with the full price lists of both Nanocell and QNED TVs.