In the race to produce better quality TVs, it was only a matter of time before manufacturers turned to LEDs. After all, TVs require a light source, and LED bulbs are cheap to run, last for years and have the added bonus of being environmentally friendly.

LCD flat-panel TVs generally use fluorescent lighting. The bulbs lie behind the screen and act as backlights. In effect, they project images from the screen into a room. But in the early 2000s, TV engineers began asking why LEDs couldn’t do the same job.

This question led to the introduction of two types of LED/LCD TV. The first has backlighting known as “full-array”. Such a TV has LEDs positioned behind the whole of the screen in a similar way to fluorescent backlighting.

Apart from the benefits of LED bulbs already mentioned, a full-array screen can use local dimming technology. With local dimming, a TV provides much sharper images. It does this by adjusting the brightness of each of the LEDs according to the nature of the picture on screen. Dark scenes, for instance, are clearer, with deeper blacks than on traditional LCD TVs.

The other type of LED/LCD TV has edge lighting. As the name suggests, these TVs are not backlit. The light for the screen comes from LEDs positioned around the four edges of the TV. The light spreads out across the screen to illuminate the images.

Edge lighting cannot use local dimming. This puts the TVs at a slight disadvantage compared to full array equivalents. But edge lighting TVs have a significant benefit. They are among the thinnest TVs available because the LEDs are along the sides.

LEDs have given LCD TVs the same high quality images as those of plasma screens. LED/LCD TVs also use around 40% less electricity than standard LCDs. So next time you’re shopping for a new TV, make sure you look at LED/LCD models.

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