Backlighting: What is it and why does it matter?

When shopping around for TV’s, the term “backlighting” comes up quite often. What does this mean?

Most TVs produced and sold today are LCDs or Liquid Crystal Displays. This technology has been around for a while now; chances are, most if not all of your TVs are LCD. LCDs have two main layers: the screen and the backlights. The screen arranges whatever image is needed and the backlights light it up so you can see it. Early versions of LCD screens used florescent bulbs as backlights. Nowadays, all TVs uses LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes.

There are two main forms of backlighting: edge lighting and full-array lighting. Edge lighting is just what it sounds like, where the backlights are placed around the edge of the image with nothing in the middle. This is cheaper to produce and can often make the TV thinner. However, full-array backlighting is a clear step-up. Full-array backlighting is where LEDs are evenly placed across the whole screen rather than just around the edge. This produces much better overall brightness and allows the TV to dim parts of the image as needed, resulting in better black levels and reduced “bloom” (an effect where the light bleeds over into parts of the image that are supposed to be dark).

The newest backlighting system is full-array backlighting using MiniLEDs. This is very similar to traditional full-array backlighting but it uses much denser arrays of small LEDs called MiniLEDs. These smaller LEDs can be stacked much closer together, producing a significantly brighter picture. Additionally, since the lights are more densely packed in, the local dimming effect is more pronounced, further reducing bloom and producing better black levels.

The exception is LG’s OLED screen. It simply doesn’t have backlights, since the screen creates its own light. For a deeper dive on what makes OLED different from traditional screens, check out our FAQ titled “OLED vs QLED: What’s the difference?”

Both LG and Samsung offer LCD TVs with all of these backlighting systems. The differences are best seen in person, on our showroom floor.

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