what is backlight LED display

Backlight LED Displays: Types, Uses & How To Choose

Modern screen technology relies on backlight LED displays, which improve the brightness and clarity of images on a wide range of devices. That’s why it’s important to know what backlighting is, whether you’re buying a new TV, laptop, or smartphone. This guide breaks down the main ideas and benefits of backlight LED screens.

Types of Backlight LED Displays

Depending on the purpose and price, each type of LED backlighting has its own benefits. For example, edge-lit LEDs allow for slim designs, while full array LED sets offer better picture quality and the ability to dim locally.

Comparison of Backlight LED Displays (Source: Hisense)

Edge-Lit LED

In this type of backlight, LEDs are placed around the screen’s edges. Light from these LEDs shines across the display screen, and light guides or diffuser panels spread the light out evenly. Edge-lit LED backlighting makes screens smaller and lighter, which is why it’s often used in thin TVs and computers. But because of the way light diffuses, it might make the lighting a little uneven across the screen.


  • Slim Design: Edge-lit LEDs make it possible for screens to be very thin and light, which makes them perfect for sleek and modern designs.
  • Energy Efficient: Edge-lit LED backlights use less power than other types, which helps reduce electricity cost and contribute to sustainable practices.
  • Cost Effective: Edge-lit LED are usually less expensive to make, which means that they are more popular for consumers.


  • Uniformity Issues: Light may not be spread out evenly, which could cause light differences across the screen.
  • Limited Local Dimming: Designs that are lit from the edges may not give you full control over local dimming zones, which can change the brightness and black levels.
  • Potential Glare: Because the LEDs are closer to the screen edges on edge-lit displays, they may be more likely to get glare and shadows.

Our Expert Opinion

Edge-lit LED backlighting works best in situations where a thin and light design is very important, like in current ultra-thin TVs and stylish computers. Because makers only need to use a small amount of room behind the screen, they can make devices that are sleek and look good in modern settings.

Edge-lit LED technology lets companies make screens that are very thin. This makes them perfect for putting on the wall or fitting into places where room is limited. Making these shows is often cheap, and they use little energy, so they’re a popular choice for people who want stylish options that won’t break the bank.

However, you may want to use direct-lit backlighting for situations where even brightness and better control over local fading are needed. It makes the lighting more even across the screen and works better on bigger screens without making the screen too thick.

Direct-Lit LED

LEDs are put right behind the LCD panel in direct-lit LED lights. When compared to edge-lit versions, this setting makes the screen brighter all over. Direct-lit backlighting works better on bigger screens where keeping the brightness and color accuracy stable is important. It also gives you more control over local lowering zones, which raises the brightness and makes the picture quality better overall.



  • Thicker Design: Because direct-lit LED backlights need more room behind the screen, displays with these types of backlights are thicker than displays with edge-lit backlights.
  • Higher Power Consumption: Because there are more LEDs in this type, it uses more power than edge-lit LEDs.
  • Potential Heat Generation: Placing LEDs close together can cause heat to build up in one area, so it’s important to have good cooling systems in place.

Our Expert Opinion

Direct-lit LED backlighting works best when the brightness needs to be consistent and there needs to be more control over local dimmer zones. It’s often used in professional monitors, digital signs, and bigger TVs where picture clarity and uniformity are very important.

With direct-lit LED backlights, the brightness is more even across the whole screen than with edge-lit designs. This means they can be used with bigger screens where keeping the picture quality stable is important. Direct-lit LEDs are better for places like home theaters, boardrooms, and shop displays because you can control local dimmer zones to improve contrast.

Alternatively, full-array LED backlighting gives you the most power over local fading and better picture quality, especially in HDR material. It also improves contrast and color accuracy. It’s perfect for high-end home entertainment systems and business uses that need the best visual performance.

Full Array LED

With full array LED backlighting, LEDs are spread out evenly behind the whole LCD screen. This set-up lets you precisely control the amount of light in different parts of the screen. This is called “local dimming.” Local dimming raises contrast by changing the brightness of certain parts of the screen on the fly. This makes the blacks darker and the highlights brighter. High-end TVs and computers usually have full array LED backlighting, which provides better picture quality and color clarity.


  • Precise Local Dimming: Gives you more control over local dimming zones, which makes blacks darker and highlights stronger.
  • Excellent Contrast Ratio: This gives you better contrast and dynamic range, which makes the picture quality better overall.
  • High Color Accuracy: Provides more accurate and vivid colors, making it ideal for demanding uses like HDR (High Dynamic Range) material.


  • Costly: Full array LED backlighting is usually more expensive to set up and make, which means that full array LEDs will have a higher price tag.
  • Thicker Profile: More room is needed behind the LCD panel, so the screen form has to be bigger than with edge-lit or direct-lit choices.
  • Complex Design: Applying full array LED lights needs more complex engineering and could make production harder.

Our Expert Opinion

Full array LED spotlighting works best in high-end home theater systems that need great contrast, deep blacks, and bright colors for a truly engaging watching experience. It also works great with industrial TVs that need to be very accurate with colors and have a wide dynamic range.

Full array LED backlighting spreads LEDs out evenly across the whole screen, which lets you fine-tune the lighting in specific areas. This makes the contrast ratios better and the blacks darker, which improves the viewing experience, especially in dark rooms or when watching HDR material. The technology is great for both pros and picky customers because it can duplicate a wide range of colors.

Edge-lit LED lights is a more affordable choice with a thinner shape that can be used when cost and aesthetics are important. It gives up some control over local fading and consistency, but it’s still good for general viewing in well-lit places where full array backlighting might not be fully utilized.

How To Choose the Best Backlighting System

All backlighting systems discussed above comes with its pros and cons. There’s no perfect product in this world. It will all boil down to your preferences, budget, and intended use. Let’s go over some points you’d like to consider in choosing a backlighting system.

Assess Your Viewing Environment

Before you choose the backlighting system, think about where you usually watch movies or TV shows. If you usually watch TV or use your computer screen in a well-lit room, like a living room, edge-lit LED lights might be a good choice. It has the right amount of light and uses little power, so it’s a good choice for everyday watching. Edge-lit screens are also cheaper up front, which makes them appealing to people who are watching their budget. Edge-lit LEDs are great for modern and sleek places with limited room because they are thin. Edge-lit LED displays can fit flush with the wall or in a small spot, for example, if you want to hang your TV on the wall or put it somewhere small.

Consider Screen Size and Usage

Your choice will depend a lot on the size of your screen and how you use it. For smaller to medium-sized screens, edge-lit LED backlighting has a thin appearance and is cost-effective, so it can be used in places where saving room is important. This is helpful for places like bathrooms, kitchens, and home offices where the TV or monitor needs to fit in a small space without sacrificing style.

But for screens 50 inches or larger, it’s best to use direct lighting or full array LED backlighting. These technologies make sure that the brightness is the same everywhere and give you more control over local fading zones, which is important for keeping the picture quality stable. Direct-lit LEDs are a good compromise between price and performance. They make the light more even and work better in darker environments. For instance, a 65-inch direct-lit LED TV in a home theater setting will make the whole screen bright, which makes watching movies and TV shows more enjoyable.

Evaluate Your Viewing Priorities

Knowing what you want to see will help you make an even better choice. If you watch a lot of movies or play video games and care about picture quality, full array LED lights might be a good investment. This technology gives you the most power over local lighting, which means you can get better contrast, deeper blacks, and brighter colors. Full array LED backlighting works great with HDR and HD material because it gives you a more realistic watching experience with accurate colors and details. A full array LED TV will bring out the depth and beauty of the blacks in a movie with dark scenes, like a sci-fi thriller. This will make the scenes more powerful.

However, if you mostly use your screen for leisure activities like news, sports, or daytime TV shows, edge-lit or direct-lit LED lights might be enough and less expensive. Direct-lit LEDs are more expensive than edge-lit options, but they work better in darker areas and are more regular, so they are a good choice for a variety of watching situations. For example, a direct-lit LED TV in the living room that is used for many things, like family movie nights, games, and just watching TV for fun, can provide balanced performance without the higher cost of a full array system.

Consider Long-Term Costs and Benefits

Last but not least, think about how much each type of lights will cost you up front and over time. Edge-lit LEDs usually cost the least up front and use less power, which can save you money in the long run. Because of this, they are a good choice for people who want to keep their costs down. You can use edge-lit LEDs to save money without losing quality when setting up a rental property or a business that needs more than one display.

Even though they’re expensive, direct-lit LEDs work better and are a good middle-ground choice. They offer a more constant watching experience and do a better job with dark scenes, which may be worth the higher price for people who care about quality but are also unwilling to shell out a huge amount of money. For example, a direct-lit LED TV in a meeting room can make sure that slideshows and video calls have clear, uniform images. This makes it a good purchase for business use.

Full array LEDs are costly and use a lot of energy, but they give you the best picture quality and are the best way to make sure your display setup will work in the future. This is especially important for people who are interested in technology or who plan to keep their screen for the long-term. Full array LEDs are a good choice for a high-end home theater system or business show because they have advanced features and work better than other LEDs. This can improve the watching experience for years to come. For instance, a full array LED TV in a room just for movies can give you a movie theater experience with beautiful images and lively contrast, which makes the higher price tag worth it.


Picking the backlighting for your screen depends on a lot of factors, including where you will be watching it, the size of the screen, how you usually use it, and your budget. Edge-lit LED backlighting is great for places that are well lit and for smaller screens because it has a thin frame, uses less energy, and costs less. Direct-lit LED backlighting is a good compromise between price and performance. It offers better brightness equality and local fading control. Full array LED backlighting has the best picture quality, with better brightness and color precision.

You can make an informed choice that improves your watching experience by carefully considering these factors and being aware of your own wants and goals.

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