ULED vs OLED: What You Need to Know

Which TV type is right for you?

ULED and OLED TVs both produce an ultra-high-definition picture, but they go about that task differently. Either will give you a sharp, clear picture, but the technologies involved represent different manufacturing types and methods to get to that final result.

We've examined these two similar initialisms to help you make sense of them; here's what you need to know about ULED and OLED TVs.



Overall Findings

  • Stands for "ultra light-emitting diode."

  • Uses a combination of hardware and software to produce an image.

  • Refers to the complete system of lighting, color, saturation, and other picture qualities.

  • Currently available in 4K resolutions.

  • Only manufacturer is Hisense.

  • Cheapest options start around $400-$500.

  • Stands for "organic light-emitting diode."

  • Uses an organic film that emits light when electricity passes through it.

  • Refers only to the light source; color generation comes from different systems.

  • Currently available in 4K and 8K resolutions.

  • Available from a variety of manufacturers.

  • Cheapest options start around $1,000.

At its most basic, "OLED" refers to the mechanism through which a display produces light (but not necessarily color). Meanwhile, "ULED" describes an entire system with hardware and optimizing software working together to create the entire image. In fact, it would be possible to make a ULED TV that contains an OLED, although none are currently available.

Price-wise, you'll probably be more likely to go with a ULED set because they cost less by far. But they're also potentially harder to find since only one manufacturer makes them: Hisense. OLEDs are available from various companies, which means you can probably stick with your preferred brand if you have one.

Technology: ULED Handles the Whole Picture

  • A system of hardware and software that creates what you see.

  • Only refers to where the lighting comes from.

Putting ULED and OLED TVs against each other isn't a one-to-one comparison because of the technologies those terms describe. ULED is Hisense's proprietary design that uses software to optimize brightness, color, motion, and various other elements.

"OLED" means that the TV uses an organic, electroluminescent film to create the light that pushes the image through the screen. That's not to say that you can't compare the two on this merit, however. Because they use this thin layer instead of the traditional LED backlight that ULED sets have, OLED TVs can be lighter and thinner. You won't have trouble hanging either on a wall if that's what you want to do, but OLEDs can make for a smaller set.

Resolution: You Can Get ULED in Any Resolution, as Long as It's 4K

  • 4K displays only.

  • 4K and 8K are available.

The 4K resolution is nothing to scoff at. You won't find many people who will look at a screen displaying 2,160 rows of pixels and say, "Is that all the pixels?"

But if you have to have the newest and most dot-dense screens in your house, you won't be able to get that from ULED, which currently only comes in 4K varieties. However, you can find the newer 8K resolution, which has twice as many pixel rows, in OLED TVs. And of course, you'll pay extra for that.

Price: On a Budget? Go With ULED

  • Most affordable options: $400-$500.

  • You might find one under $1,000 during a sale.

A ULED set will be cheaper than an OLED by far, even if they have the same size screen and resolution. ULEDs run from the mid-hundreds to over $1,000, while OLEDs start at $1,000-plus.

The biggest 8K OLED sets can cost tens of thousands of dollars due to both the higher pixel count and the expensive tech lighting the screen.

Availability: ULEDs Have Limits in Size and Make

  • Available in a few sizes from a single company.

  • Available in more sizes from different makers.

Because Hisense is the only company making ULED TVs, you'll notice some limits in available screen sizes. Hisense sells sets with screens between 50 and 75 inches, which should meet most people's needs.

But if you want a smaller (or even larger) TV or have a favorite brand, ULED might not be the way to go. Companies including LG, Sony, and Vizio are putting out OLED sets, which means they'll probably be easier to find and available in more stores.

Final Verdict

Since ULED TVs are a type of set that Hisense makes, and OLEDs are a specific kind of backlight, you won't necessarily be choosing one over the other, even though they have no overlap. ULED TVs are typically more affordable, while OLEDs are available in more options, including size, resolution, and manufacturer.

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