Mini-LED TVs are the latest trend in the television industry, offering superior brightness, contrast, and color performance compared to traditional LED-backlit LCD TVs. Mini-LEDs are tiny light-emitting diodes that can be packed more densely behind the screen, creating more precise and localized dimming zones. This reduces light leakage and improves black levels, resulting in a more dynamic and realistic picture quality.
Many of the major TV brands, including Hisense, LG, Samsung, Sony and TCL, are bringing out Mini-LED TVs in 2023. Confusingly, most have different names for their Mini-LED ranges. For example, Samsung calls them Neo QLEDs, LG calls them QNEDs, and TCL calls them OD Zero. However, they all share the same basic technology of using mini-LEDs as backlight sources.
Samsung has often held its place as the top brand for Mini-LED TVs, which it calls Neo QLEDs, for a few years. Often featuring among the best TVs, Samsung aims to put itself as the premier provider of Mini-LED technology with TVs like the QN90C. But, in recent years, Samsung has seen challenges from more budget brands like Hisense and TCL looking to de-throne the Mini-LED giants.
Samsung often finds itself at the top of the global TV market, sitting at number one at the end of 2022 with 19.6% of the market share. But Hisense and TCL are gaining (as we’ll discuss below). Hisense’s new range of Mini-LED TVs, launched in mid-2023, have specs that more than match up to Samsung’s range of Mini-LEDs and TCL has launched its flagship QM8 screen, which is available up to a mind blowing 98-inch size, making it a daytime movie or sports lover’s dream.
So, this begs the question: are budget brands like Hisense and TCL now the new top dog when it comes to that all important brightness from a Mini-LED? Well, we think so and here are five reasons why.
1. Cheaper than the rest
When it comes to technology, people are always looking for the best bang for their buck and TVs are no exception. Nowadays, people can get the same features on a budget TV that they can on a bigger brand TV, so it then comes down to cost.
One example of this is the Hisense U8K, their flagship Mini-LED of 2023, which has prices starting from $1,399/£1,699 for the 65-inch model. Samsung’s closest equivalent the QN90C is priced $2,199/£2,199 for the 65-inch. For our US readers, there’s also the TCL QM8, which is roughly priced around $1,699 and these prices are constantly dropping.
It all sounds well and good having a great TV at a lower price, but they’ve got to have the features and specs to compete and thankfully, both Hisense and TCL’s TVs do. We said in our Hisense U8K review that it was ‘An excellent value for a bright TV with a mini-LED backlight’ and the TCL QM8 also excels for daytime viewing, meaning you can get all the features you’re looking for for less.
2. Popularity gaining
As we mentioned above, Samsung sat at the top of the global TV market at the end of 2022. However, Hisense claimed that during December 2022, they passed Samsung to become the No 1 TV brand in the world for that period and had 12% of the global market share for the entire year of 2022, making them No 2 overall.
Interestingly, TCL made a very similar claim, saying they surpassed LG to become No 2 in the TV market in terms of sales (as reported by BusinessKorea). Whoever you believe, one thing is undeniable – both these budget TV brands are catching up on their larger competitors.
This can only be related to the fact that people are looking for the best deal and these are the brands providing it when it comes to Mini-LED TVs.
3. Brightness boosting
One of the main advantages of Mini-LED TVs is their ability to produce very high brightness levels, which is essential for HDR (high dynamic range) content. HDR enhances the contrast and color range of images by using metadata to tell the TV how bright or dark each scene should be.
However, not all HDR TVs are created equal. Some can reach higher peak brightness than others, which means they can display more details in bright highlights and dark shadows. This also makes them more suitable for viewing in bright environments where ambient light can wash out the picture.
According to TechRadar’s measurements , both Hisense U8K and TCL QM8 can achieve over 2000 nits of peak brightness in HDR mode , which is impressive for any TV, let alone a budget one. Samsung’s QN90C, on the other hand, can only reach around 1500 nits, which is still very good, but not as impressive as the cheaper rivals.
4. Color enhancing
Another benefit of Mini-LED TVs is their ability to produce more accurate and vivid colors, thanks to their wide color gamut and quantum dot technology. Quantum dots are tiny particles that emit light of a specific wavelength when stimulated by an external source, such as mini-LEDs. By using different sizes and shapes of quantum dots, TV makers can create a wider range of colors that match the standards used by content creators.
Both Hisense and TCL use quantum dot technology in their Mini-LED TVs, which means they can cover over 90% of the DCI-P3 color space , which is the standard used by most HDR movies and shows. Samsung also uses quantum dots in its Neo QLED TVs, but they have a slightly lower color coverage of around 88%.
Color accuracy is also important, as it ensures that the colors you see on the screen are faithful to the original source. Both Hisense and TCL have excellent color accuracy in their Mini-LED TVs, with average Delta E values of less than 3 , which means that any color errors are imperceptible to the human eye. Samsung’s Neo QLED TVs also have good color accuracy, but they tend to oversaturate some colors, especially reds and greens.
5. Contrast improving
Contrast is the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of an image, and it is one of the most important factors for picture quality. A high contrast ratio means that the TV can display deep blacks and bright whites, creating a more realistic and immersive image.
Mini-LED TVs have an advantage over regular LED TVs when it comes to contrast, as they can control the backlight more precisely and reduce blooming. Blooming is a phenomenon where bright objects on a dark background cause unwanted light spillage around them, reducing the contrast and clarity of the image.
Both Hisense and TCL use thousands of mini-LEDs and hundreds of dimming zones in their Mini-LED TVs, which means they can dim or turn off parts of the backlight independently, depending on the content. This results in very high contrast ratios of over 10,000:1 , which is comparable to OLED TVs, which are known for their perfect blacks.
Samsung’s Neo QLED TVs also use mini-LEDs and dimming zones, but they have a lower contrast ratio of around 5,000:1 , which is still very good, but not as impressive as the cheaper competitors.