Everything There Is to Know About the Edge-Lit LED TV

What is an Edge-Lit LED TV?

When comparing different models of televisions, you might see the term "edge-lit LED." All LED TVs are a type of LCD TV; the "LED" refers only to the kind of lighting source used to illuminate the LCD pixels in the television. There is more than one way to light the pixels. The two primary technologies are edge-lit and full-array.

This information applies to televisions from a variety of manufacturers including, but not limited to, those made by LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and Vizio.

Edge-Lit LED

In an edge-lit television, the LEDs that illuminate the LCD pixels are located only along the edges of the set. These LEDs face inward toward the screen to illuminate it.

These models are thin and light at the mild expense of some picture quality—specifically in the area of black levels. Black areas of the picture, such as a dark night scene, are not truly black but more like a very dark gray since the lighting is coming from the edge and illuminating the dark areas a bit more.

In some poorer-quality edge-lit LEDs, uniform picture quality can be a problem. Because the LEDs are along the edges of the panel, quality declines as you approach the middle of the screen because a uniform amount of illumination is not reaching the pixels further from the edges. Again, this is more noticeable during scenes of darkness; the black along the sides of the screen is more gray than black (and corners can appear to have a flashlight-like quality of illumination emanating from the edges).

Full-Array LED

Full-array LED televisions use a full panel of LEDs to illuminate the pixels. Most of these sets also have local dimming, which means the LEDs can be dimmed in different regions of the panel while other areas are not. It helps improve black levels, which appear closer to black than dark gray. 

Full-array televisions are generally thicker and heavier than edge-lit models.

Edge-Lit Versus Full-Array LED

In general, full-array LED is a superior technology when it comes to picture quality, but edge-lit sets have one significant advantage: depth. Edge-lit LED TVs can be much thinner than those lit with either a full LED panel or traditional fluorescent (non-LED) backlight. For that reason, most of the super-thin sets you see in stores will be edge-lit.

Which technology is right for you depends on what you want.

If you're looking for the best possible picture quality, you are most likely to find it in a full-array LED display with local dimming. If you are primarily concerned about the appearance of the television and want an extremely thin screen, edge-lit is the style that will fit your needs.