TV Backlight vs Brightness

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Updated January 22, 2023

The best TVs come with unique features and settings, many of which can be changed to suit your needs. In this article, we’ll be looking into a TV’s backlight vs brightness settings and how you can set them to meet your preferences adequately. And for further information on TV image quality, check out our resource regarding TV full HD vs HD. And if you are interested in the latest and greatest in TV technologies, you can read about Nano Cell TVs vs OLEDs.


  • Backlight settings have to do with the intensity of a TV’s LED backlight.
  • Brightness settings are meant to adjust the actual colors, specifically the black levels.
  • Picture settings are adjusted to match your TV viewing environment. They are helpful for those with rooms with lots of uncontrolled light.

Differences Between TV Backlight vs Brightness

If you’ve ever clicked through your TV settings, you may have seen options for both the backlight and brightness level. However, understanding the differences between these two can be unclear, but knowing how to adjust them can make for a better experience.

Insider Tip

Remember that brightness settings control the color temperatures of the darkest areas on the screen. Contrast controls bright scenes and the areas with bright and white light.

The backlight settings change the LED backlight’s output power without losing picture quality. On the other hand, the brightness settings control the color and black levels. Changing these two can be essential to get the absolute best image quality. These are adjusted by going into the TV’s picture settings and raising and lowering them to what looks best. Additionally, your TV’s panel type can impact the brightness and black levels. Read more about how the differences between VA panels vs IPS TV can affect your viewing experience.

Finding the Right Black Levels

Although the name may suggest something different, the brightness setting controls the darkest areas on the screen. It has nothing to do with the separate backlight or the TV’s white level. An excellent way to find the right black level is by pausing your TV at a dark scene. Then lower the brightness, and raise the light control until the color temperatures are detailed and visible but not washed out.

Adjusting for Ambient Light

The backlight level controls the intensity of the light source. This setting becomes very important when there is much ambient light in the room, such as during the day. Set it high with brighter lighting conditions to get a clearer image, and set it lower at night. This setting will give you a better black level.

Remember that adjusting the intensity of the entire screen will raise the level of brightness and use more electricity. Also, another area of importance to consider when considering your TV setting comes with using TV articulating vs a tilting wall mount. If you are going to mount the TV, be sure you check out our TV screen size comparison and choose the right size for your room. Then, once you know the right size screen you need, you can check out these top-rated LED TVs.


Make sure to lower your TV’s backlight setting when viewing in dark locations. Watching a bright TV in a dark environment can cause eyestrain if viewed too closely and for too long.


Should you use automatic brightness?

It’s good to turn off this function when initially adjusting your settings to your preferences. Then turn it back on to see if there is any noticeable difference. But usually, this function helps save power and adjust to ambient light levels.

What kind of technology offers a superior display: OLED or LCD?

When it comes to overall picture quality — especially black levels — an OLED TV (which stands for “organic light-emitting diode”) is superior. The image is better because, instead of using a backlight, each individual pixel is lit. However, LCD displays are brighter and don’t suffer from burn-in.

Which is better for gaming, LCD or LED?

An LED backlight is superior for gaming because of its vivid color and faster response times.

STAT: LED LCD backlit TVs typically use 20-30% less power than other types. (source)

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