How Are LCD and LED Monitors Different?

The modern display market is full of complicated terms like 3D, quantum dot, plasma, LED (light-emitting diode), OLED (organic light-emitting diode), LCD (liquid crystal display), and ELD (electroluminescent display). So, a person in a situation where they have to choose a type of display may find it tough to decide. 
 
 
Since LED and LCD are among the common types available and used today, we are going to share how the two are different. Knowing the subtle yet significant differences between the two will help you make an informed decision.
 
Are LED and LCD Different?
 
Yes. Just like all sunflowers are flowers but not all flowers are sunflowers, all LED monitors are LCD but not vice versa. Both the display types help create an image but the difference lies in the backlights. 
 
Though the acronyms may sound confusing, the difference will be clear once we discuss each in detail. 
 
How Are LCD and LED Different? 
 
LCD monitors have a layer of liquid crystal solution held between two pieces of polarized glasses. It is an active part of the monitor. When the electric current is passed and the light behind the liquid is on, the crystals align, allowing the light to pass or be blocked, thereby creating the image.  
 
Most LCD monitors have LED lights. Previously, all LCDs had CCFLs, or Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps but like in most domains, these lights were soon replaced with LEDs as they are brighter, last longer, and leave better quality images. Moreover, LEDs are environmentally friendly. 
 
No wonder, industrial and commercial LED lighting is growing year on year. The overall LED market revenue for 2021 is projected to reach $16.53 billion due to its commercial applications. 
 

So, LEDs can be used to light LCD. When we talk about LCD, we are referring to the monitors backlit by the fluorescent lamps. On the other hand, LED monitors are LCD monitors that are lit by LEDs. 

Thus, as mentioned earlier, all LED monitors use liquid crystals but not all liquid crystal monitors use LED. So, the difference between LCDs and LEDs can be summarised in this table. 
 
 
 
Now, let’s understand their pros and cons. 
 
Pros and Cons of LCD
 
The LCD monitors are an affordable display option because they’ve been in production for a long time, long enough for the component cost to drop notably. When we talk about its lifespan, LCD is quite comparable to LED backlight. 
 
However, the fluorescent backlit LCD monitor comes with negative traits. CCFL-lit LCD is an abandoned form of display that holds a series of cold cathode lamps sitting behind the LCD. These fluorescent lights are evenly placed behind the LCD screen to deliver consistent lighting. All regions of the picture will have similar brightness levels.
 
The light emitted through the display contains mercury. This causes pollution when the monitor needs to be discarded. Finally, fluorescent monitors are heavy and bulky, and hotter than LEDs. 
 
Pros and Cons of LED 
 
LED monitors are considered to be cooler (high-performance and literally ‘cool’) in comparison to LCD. The monitor is also more energy-efficient, cheaper, and slimmer in the long term. 
 
The high upfront cost of LEDs seems like a drawback but as shared earlier, it’s cheaper in the long term. LED monitors are at a risk for image retention (the dreaded ‘screen burn’). 
 
Yet, at present, LEDs are ruling the display manufacturing domain and being increasingly adopted as a backlighting solution for LCD monitors. 
Most touchscreens today are lit by LED lights. Its high performance and quick response time make LED lights the backlight of choice in the gaming industry. LED screens come in varying backlight configurations that create better pictures. Moreover, since LEDs are devoid of mercury and cooler, they do not have any harmful effects on the environment. 
 
LED backlighting involves two methods, namely full-array backlighting and edge lighting.

  • Full-Array Backlighting 

In full-array backlighting, the LED lights are placed evenly across the monitor just like in the case of an LCD setup. But the LEDs are arranged in zones that can be dimmed (referred to as local dimming).
 
The local dimming feature can dramatically improve display quality. So, the images have a high contrast ratio - bright pixels and very dark pixels simultaneously.
 
When there’s an area that needs to be darker, the LED lights in that region can be dimmed to create a black feel. This is commonly used in the case of a night sky or a starry night. The standard LCD monitors cannot achieve this as the entire picture is lit evenly.
 
Local dimming allows the monitor to create precise illumination, resulting in better picture quality when compared to fluorescent-lit LCD monitors.

  • Edge Lighting 

A few LED monitors have edge lighting in which the LEDs are placed along the edge of the screen, not behind it. 
The LEDs can be placed along - 

  • The bottom of the screen
  • The top and bottom of the screen
  • The left and ride sides of the screen
  • All four sides of the screen

In edge lighting no local dimming capabilities are available. Hence, these displays cannot create as high-quality pictures as a full-array LED. However, edge lighting allows screen manufacturers to create extremely thin displays that aren’t as costly to produce. So, edge lighting is good for manufacturers who are on a tight budget.
 
Summing Up
 
Not all LED displays are LCD, but all LCDs are LED. Both these terms are often used interchangeably; however, we must remember that through LED screens are LCD screens, LEDs have extra functionality that makes them function differently. 
 
An LCD monitor has fluorescent backlights and the LED one uses light-emitting diodes which offer a superior picture quality. 
 
We are sure that the information shared in this post has helped you better understand the difference between LED and LCD monitors. 
 
Author Bio 

Karen Lopez is a freelance content writer at marketing digest. With her keen interest in home decor and remodeling, she loves contributing insightful articles about the latest renovation trends in residential and commercial spaces. In her free time, she enjoys listening to Jazz music and watching Netflix.

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