Embrace infinite blacks
OLED really came of age over the past 12 months.
For starters, more brands started selling OLED TVs. Second, by adding more brightness to their already peerless contrast qualities, OLED TVs became much better at handling the ultra-bright high dynamic range (HDR) picture format that’s become the latest must-have television technology.
Even more importantly, OLED TVs finally started to hit price points that you didn’t have to be an oil tycoon to afford.
That said, they still cost substantially more than the majority of LCD TVs. And while remaining peerless for contrast/black level performance, even the new improved OLEDs can’t get close to the HDR friendly levels of brightness some LCD TVs can muster.
These key differences between OLED and LCD TVs have led to a real polarisation in the TV marketplace. In recognition of this, we’ve split our guide to the best TVs you can currently buy across separate LCD and OLED sections. The OLED section is below; the LCD one can be found at the following link.
- Best LED TVs: Our pick of the best LCD LED televisions you can buy today
In each section we’ve tried to pick a range of TVs that cover an array of different price points and features. And with each selected model we’ve explained why we picked it — and any flaws it may have.
Need a screen with an inscrutable contrast ratio? Here’s our pick of the best OLED TVs you can buy right now.
1. LG OLED C7 series
The punchiest OLED pictures yet, combined with a brilliantly easy to use smart system
55-inch: LG OLED55C7 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C7
Great HDR and SDR picture qualityIncredible, super-thin designGood value for OLEDNot as bright as some LCD TVs
The OLEDC7 series tops this list for two key reasons. First, it opened up the OLED market to a whole new audience by becoming — alongside its similar OLEDB7 siblings — the cheapest OLED TVs to date.
Second, as with all of LG’s current OLED TVs, it delivers slightly punchier, brighter pictures than other OLED brands. This means that it ‘sells’ the charms of high dynamic range images (with their hugely expanded brightness ranges and, usually, accompanying wider colour spectrums) more effectively. All of LG’s OLED TVs support the premium Dolby Vision HDR format.
The real treat about the OLEDC7s’ pictures, though, is the way their class-leading brightness can share the screen space immaculately with the sort of inky black colours OLED technology is famed for.
Pictures can exhibit a little colour noise when running at the most satisfying brightness levels, and there seems to be some inconsistency between sets when it comes to how much they occasionally reveal ‘bands’ of different black level during dark scenes. For the vast majority of the time, though, you’ll find yourself wondering how the cheapest OLED TV in town could possibly look so good.
Read the full review: LG OLED C7
2. Sony A1E series
Beautifully controlled pictures in a ground-breaking, minimalist design
55-inch: Sony KD-55A1 | 65-inch: Sony KD-65A1 | 77-inch: Sony KD-77A1
Beautifully precise picturesStunning ‘picture only’ designAndroid TV is buggyRelatively expensive
Sony’s debut big-screen OLED TVs answer the prayers of many AV fans by allying the film-friendly joys of OLED screen technology with Sony’s peerless video processing know-how.
Sony’s X1 Extreme chipset delivers levels of noise-free purity and colour refinement not found elsewhere in the OLED world, while extra calibration work on Sony’s OLED production line means they suffer less than many rivals with light level banding in dark scenes.
Sony’s processing prowess also does a better job than any other brand of ‘upconverting’ standard dynamic range content to HDR, meaning you get more consistent use out of your TV’s maximum capabilities.
A firmware update (already out in the US, coming soon to Europe) enables the A1s to play Dolby Vision HDR, too.
The A1 series additionally stands apart from its peers with its unique ‘picture only’ design, which finds a nearly frame-free screen resting on a photo frame-style angled support leg. There aren’t even any visible speakers, since remarkably the A1 uses its own screen to produce its (very good) sound!
All this innovation does make the A1 series more expensive than LG’s OLED rivals. Also, there’s not quite as much raw punch to its HDR pictures as you get with LG’s sets. For many enthusiasts, though, the stunning precision of its pictures will be hard to resist.
Read the full review: Sony A1E OLED
3. LG OLEDE7 series
LG’s customary OLED picture prowess married to a stunning pixels-on-glass design and powerful built-in soundbar
55-inch: LG OLED55E7 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E7
Stunning designDynamic, vibrant picturesNot exactly true Dolby AtmosLow-level banding in dark scenes
The first thing to say about the OLEDE7 series is that it delivers essentially the same (outstanding) picture quality as LG’s OLEDC7s. It’s also got the same excellent webOS smart TV interface.
Where the OLEDE7s justifies their extra cost over the OLEDC7s is with their truly spectacular design and improved sound quality.
On the design front, the OLED pixels are mounted directly onto a glass sheet, creating a stunning, ultra-slim look.
Sound, meanwhile, is handled by an integrated soundbar that hangs off the screen’s bottom edge. This has far more power, bass and dynamism than the OLEDC7s can muster. In fact, it’s one of the best sounding TVs around right now.
Despite this, the E7s don’t really live up to their claims of delivering Dolby Atmos sound (aside from giving an unusual sense of height to the soundstage). You also have to be very careful how you set its pictures up; colours can occasionally look a little noisy; and dark scenes occasionally exhibit some black level banding. None of which prevents the OLEDE7 series from being stunning additions to any home entertainment set up.
Read the full review: LG OLED E7
4. Bang & Olufsen Eclipse
True luxury design and separates-grade sound quality make this a truly unique OLED all-rounder
55-inch: B&O Eclipse 55 | 65-inch: B&O Eclipse 65
Peerless build and sound qualityOutstanding OLED picture qualityTakes over the living roomSlightly confusing operating system
As usual with Bang & Olufsen, the Eclipse isn’t exactly your typical OLED screen. In fact, its screen is really just one ‘small’ component of its overall design rather than being pretty much the whole deal. This is because the screen slots into the top of a huge built in speaker bar that extends out beyond the edges of the screen above it, while the speaker bar in turn sits on top of a gorgeous sliver of glass below it. And all of that sits on a range of different stand options, including my personal favourite, a motorised rotating floor mount that can both move the whole screen forward and backwards, or rotate it left and right. The entire towering construction is beautifully built, too.
The TV certainly isn’t a case of all style and no substance, though. That LG-based screen delivers all of its customary contrast and colour thrills, while that vast soundbar has so much raw power and such huge dynamics that it humbles many external high end speaker systems.
With multi-room speaker support and surround sound decoding built in too, the only issues with the Eclipse are that its complicated to use, and that you probably won’t be able to afford one…
5. Philips 55POS9002 (not available in the US)
Powerful processing and Philips’ gorgeous Ambilight technology deliver a unique and surprisingly affordable OLED experience
55-inch: Philips 55POS9002
Excellent HDR and SDR performanceGood value for what it offersNot the easiest TV to useSound is only average
The Philips 55POS9002 (created by Philips’ European operation) proves spectacularly that its OLED panel really is just the start of an OLED TV’s story.
For starters, the 55POS9002 adorns its OLED panel in Philips’ extraordinary Ambilight technology, which in this instance uses LEDs to cast coloured light out from three of the screen’s edges. This light can be set to track (with startling accuracy) the colour content of the images being watched, and genuinely makes the viewing experience more immersive. As well as looking drop dead gorgeous.
The other ‘killer app’ of the 55POS9002 is its P5 picture processing engine. This is powerful enough to deploy dozens of stages of image processing in real time, with a focus on improving every element of TV picture quality.
The result is a blisteringly sharp, detailed, colour-rich picture with both native 4K and HD sources when using Philips’ default picture settings. There’s no loss of sharpness when there’s lots of motion to contend with, either.
The 55POS9002’s pictures can occasionally look a little processed when using Philips’ preferred presets, while they can look a touch flat if you use the more ‘accurate’ Movie preset. It’s also a pity that the set’s smart features are delivered by the cumbersome, uncustomisable Android TV platform, and that the set’s sound quality is only average.
Overall, though, the 55POS9002 remains a compelling and innovative addition to the OLED TV world that can also, handily, be yours for much less money than you might expect.
- For a full rundown of the best TVs available, check out our guide