Confused about LED vs. LCD vs. TFT? Here's everything you need to know. Creating or upgrading a device display or screen can involve a lot of different things, but it often comes down to one major question - what kind of display should you get?

So, there are 3 common displays LED, LCD and TFT available in the market. All terms refer to the flat-panel display, or screen, of a computer monitor or television set. In this article, we are going to differentiate between them. It will help you to choose a better one.


LCD stands for liquid crystal display. Works by adjusting the amount of light blocked. Usually has a backlight but might not (clocks, calculators, Nintendo Gameboy). The green-black ones can be very cheap and are a mature technology. Response time can be slow. An LCD display uses the light balancing qualities of crystals. Today LCDs are used in a great number of products and applications. Your TV, computer screen, calculator, cell phone and the dreaded alarm clock are all made of an LCD flat panel. Color LCDs produce the color based on two techniques: Passive matrix and active matrix. Passive matrix is the cheapest technology of the two. The other technology is called an active matrix or TFT. Active matrix displays produce really sharp and clear images.


This is a type of LCD with a thin film transistor attached to each pixel. All computer LCD screens are TFT since the early 2000s; older ones had slower response times and poorer color. Cost is now very good; power consumption is fairly good but dominated by the backlight. Has to be manufactured out of glass. The TFT layer is embedded in the screen itself, it reduces crosstalk between pixels. Crosstalk happens when a signal sends to a pixel also affects the pixel next to it. This makes the TFT technology the technology offering the best resolution and image quality. It also makes it a bit more expensive. Today TFTs have become the standard when producing LCD screens.


LED stands for a light emitting diode. As the name suggests, emits light rather than blocking it like LCD. Used for red/green/blue/white indicator lights everywhere. Some manufacturers advertise "LED" displays that are TFT screens with a white LED backlight, which is just confusing. Ones that are real LED screens are usually OLED.

Let’s see differences between LCD, TFT and LED -

  • LED backlights have less flicker and are more efficient than the other two.

  • Some devices actually have backlights made from Red, Green and Blue LEDs, normally referred to as RGB LED, which tend to have better color reproduction than any other display.

  • LED screens are more expensive than TFT and LCD.

  • LED displays can do some clever tricks like local dimming to help improve black levels.

  • LED screen is just like saying that it is a plastic screen. You still have the WHOLE screen illuminated all the time and LED is "good" only for being more eco-friendly and probably more bright at max setting if you ever need this.

  • The power consumption of LED is much less than TFT and LCD. LED backlighting is one of the most energy efficient.

  • Performance wise LEDs are far better than TFT and LCD displays.

  • LEDs provide high contrast than LCDs/TFTs.

  • In a LED display, you will see perfect black and perfect white which is not able to see in TFT or LCD.

  • LED has a better viewing angle.

  • A LED display has clarity and sharpness.

  • An LCD panel is, in fact, 2 layers of glass with some volume of Liquid Crystal in between. These two form the panel itself. The 2 layers are usually called Color Filter Glass (above) and TFT glass (below).

  • LCD controls pixels.

  • LCDs can’t completely prevent light from passing through, though, even during dark scenes, so dimming the light source itself aids in creating deeper blacks and more impressive contrast in the picture.

  • A TFT display is one kind of LCD also.

  • TFT is a technology applied to an LCD panel. It is made to improve performance and virtually all panels today have it.

  • TFT displays are made using large sheets of transistors, each one of which is controlled independently.

  • A standard TFT has a whole "lamp" behind it, illuminating the whole screen all the time. This way, you cannot have a true black, as it is still illuminated and stay grayish.

  • A TFT is an active-matrix, in contrast to passive-matrix or simple, direct-driven with a few segments.

  • TFTs are a type of active matrix display that controls individual pixel updates several times per second on the screen to update the image relative to the content source.

  • TFT displays are built from a thin layer of transistors located on the back of the screen that handles screen animation.

  • TFT display receives information contents row-by-row so many times per second that it looks like the entire screen is updating content in real-time.

  • A more advanced type of TFT technology called In-Plane-Switching improves the screen viewing angles.

  • A TFT display is sharper and brighter than a common LCD display.

  • TFT refreshes more quickly than a regular LCD display and shows motion more smoothly.

  • TFT displays use more electricity than regular LCD screens, so they not only cost more in the first place, but they are also more expensive to operate.

  • TFT technology handles how the pixels are displayed on the screen whereas LED refers to how the screen lights up.

  • TFT screens have cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlighting, LED ones have LED backlighting.

  • LCDs use fluorescent lights while LEDs use those light emitting diodes. The fluorescent lights in an LCD are always behind the screen. On an LED, the light emitting diodes can be placed either behind the screen or around its edges.

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