Advice Guide

What is OLED TV?

by Andrew Laughlin Back to advice guides

OLED is the new TV screen technology in town - but is it worth upgrading? 

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Pros

Ultra-slim TVs that promise sensational picture quality.

Cons

Expensive compared to LED-backlit LCD televisions.

OLED TVs offer the remarkable depth of colour - particularly the black areas on screen - that plasma TVs provide, while being even slimmer than LED TVs.

All of the leading TV manufacturers are currently developing OLED sets, so we expect prices to drop as OLED TVs reach the mass market.

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How does OLED TV work?

With OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology, the TV’s pixels light themselves rather than being powered by a backlight. This means that OLED TVs can be ultra-thin, as well as flexible, allowing the TVs currently on sale to have curved screens. 

New OLED TVs are on the way this year that have 4K picture quality, four times the detail of Full HD TVs. However, you can expect them to be even more expensive that OLED HD TVs. 

OLED TV: What you need to know

  • Picture: Because each organic cell sitting behind the TV’s panel creates its own light source, light doesn’t spread into unwanted areas, meaning blacks are blacker and colours more detailed.
  • Motion: Our initial impression is that motion displays well on OLED TVs, with less blurring, which is great news for sports fans. We’ll know for sure once we’ve tested an OLED TV in our lab.
  • Energy use: It is thought that OLED TVs use less power than other types of television, but again, we'll reserve judgement until we've run tests.
  • Screen: OLED TVs often have curved screens because the panels are flexible. You could initially only buy 55-inch OLED TVs, but other sizes are on the way.
  • Multi-view: Samsung's KE55S9C OLED TV allows two images to be broadcast simultaneously. This means you and a friend can watch something different at the same time.

Are OLED TVs the future?

OLED is a completely new TV screen technology, and it's still very new to the market. We’re likely to see several innovations with OLED over the coming years, and prices should come down to more affordable levels. LG, for example, says that it expects OLED TVs will cost around the same as LED TVs by 2016.

We’re also awaiting the 4K-compatible OLED TV launch, raising the bar with four times the pixels of Full HD. However, you might need a lottery win to afford one.