Introduction – Edge lit vs backlit LED TV

Among mainstream LED TVs, there are two main variants available. These are the edge lit LED TVs and the back lit LED TVs. (The other type of LED TV available but not yet mainstream is the OLED TV).

Let’s see what are the main differences between these two type of TVs


A bit of background first, all LED TVs use a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel. LED light then illuminate the LCD panel. The LCD display panel filters the light produced. It also produces different colors which show up as the image on your television. Today, the most common light source for LCDs are using LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). In recent times, LEDs have become very energy efficient and effective. They have thus muscled out the CFL (Cathode Fluorescent Light) almost completely.

On the TV, LED placement behind the liquid crystal display leads to the two different types. These are the Edge lit LED TV and the Backlit LED TV.

Edge Lit LED TVs

In edge lit TVs, the LED mounting is on the sides of the TV and the light on the TV arrives from the left and right hand side. Since the LED mounting is sideways, this allows the TVs to be very thin. Customers prefer having a slimmer TV. Hence edge lit TVs are more popular among customers as compared to backlit TVs.

Now you might be wondering how light reaches your eyes if the LEDS are placed in such a way that the light is traveling horizontally. Well, edge lit LED TVs have something called a reflective light plate. This device reflects the incoming light perpendicular to its original direction. The light then passes through the liquid crystal display and then reaches you.

Backlit LED TVs

In contrast to edge lit LED TVs, backlit TVs have their illuminating LEDs placed behind the liquid crystal display of the TV. These LEDs cover the entire dislpay screen with illumination. The uniformity of the light is ensured by having a diffuser. The diffuser spreads the incoming light from the LEDs onto the display screen uniformly.

Edge Lit vs Backlit LED TV – which should you choose?

The differences between the LED placement leads to a few differences in performance, design as well as price.

Edge lit vs Backlit LED TV - comparison

  1. As a consumer, the first thing you will notice is that edge lit LED TVs are much slimmer in profile when compared to backlit LED TVs. This is purely a function of the physical configuration of th LEDs. So in case you are looking for a sleek and slim LED TV to hang up on your wall, a backlit TV will not be the right option.
  2. Backlit LED TVs should in principle provide a better viewing experience than edge lit LED TVs. While watching TV, in case there is a black region in the image, the backlit LED TV displays it much better. This is because the LEDs which provide light for the dark area of the screen can be selectively turned off. This feature is local dimming and leads to a much better contrast between light and dark. Today, edge lit TVs are available with the local dimming feature. So you might want to compare before making a choice.
  3. Edge lit LED TVs are cheaper than backlit LED TVs. This is due to the cost of materials as well as the complexity required in assembling.
  4. Edge Lit vs Backlit LED TV – conclusion

    If you are a stickler for image quality and contrast and don’t mind spending, then go for a backlit LED TV. Do compare against an edge lit TV with local dimming. Also ensure that your backlit LED TV model also has local dimming available as a feature.

Edge Lit vs Backlit LED TV – Wikipedia Reference

Wikipedia Link