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TV screen technology explained

What is OLED TV?

By Ben Stockton

Article 4 of 5

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens are said to be the best of the best. We've tested leading OLED sets but, with prices high, is OLED really worth your money?

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OLED TVs can give you dazzling, bright pictures with smooth motion, deep blacks and vibrant colours, while also being slimmer than even LED-backlit LCD TVs.

Many of the leading TV brands are developing OLED sets, including LG, Panasonic and Sony, and prices will drop as OLED TVs reach the mass market. Newly launched OLED TVs cost upwards of £2,000 but, over the course of the year, they can drop to around £1,500.

Samsung seems steadfast in its belief that its quantum dot technology will give the best possible picture quality, as it’s now the only major TV manufacturer without an OLED TV. 

See our What is QLED TV? guide to find out how these two technologies compare.

What’s so special about OLED TV?

OLED TVs have individual organic cells behind the screen, which produce their own light source - unlike standard LED-backlit TVs. This has a number of advantages for picture quality and design:

  • Deep blacks: OLED sets are able to turn individual LEDs off when displaying black, rather than simply directing light away from that part of the screen, as LCD displays do, which means they can achieve very deep blacks.
  • Smooth motion: Motion looks good on OLED TVs, with hardly any blurring, even on fast-moving action.
  • Super-thin screen: With no need for a backlight, OLED screens can be even thinner than most smartphones. In 2017, LG unveiled the OLED W – a huge 65-inch set that is half the thickness of an iPhone 7.
  • Viewing angle: The viewing angle on OLED sets is outstanding. Even when you’re watching from a wide angle, the picture tends to remain rock solid, with accurate colours and good contrast.
  • Energy use: Even though OLED TVs were initially thought to use less power than similar-sized LED-backlit LCD sets, our data suggests they use about the same.

Are OLED TVs the best?

We’ve been testing OLED TVs since 2015 and continue to test more and more. Only logged-in Which? members can see the results of our testing. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 trial to Which?.

OLED TVs on test

LG OLED55B7V

LG OLED55B7V
Today's best price £1,879.00
Which? score %
Reviewed Jun 2017
Picture quality:
Member exclusive
Sound quality:
Member exclusive
Ease of use:
Member exclusive
Screen size:
55
Resolution type:
4K Ultra-HD
HDR:
Yes

New-for-2017, the OLED55B7V arrives after many attempts by LG to achieve the best possible picture quality. But did this model impress our lab experts?

LG OLED55C7V

LG OLED55C7V
Today's best price £1,979.00
Which? score %
Reviewed Jun 2017
Picture quality:
Member exclusive
Sound quality:
Member exclusive
Ease of use:
Member exclusive
Screen size:
55
Resolution type:
4K Ultra-HD
HDR:
Yes

You'll pay a pretty penny for the OLED55C7V, but LG promise the best of the best when it comes to TV picture quality. It will need to impress our lab experts in all facets - including sound, ease of use and power consumption - to earn a Best Buy.

Sony KD55A1BU

Sony KD55A1BU
Today's best price £2,999.00
Which? score %
Reviewed Jun 2017
Picture quality:
Member exclusive
Sound quality:
Member exclusive
Ease of use:
Member exclusive
Screen size:
55
Resolution type:
4K Ultra-HD
HDR:
Yes

Sony's OLED TV is a remarkable-looking thing. The KD55A1BU's unique styling and innovative sound system makes it stand out from the crowd. But is it standout for performance, too?

Philips 55POS901F

Philips 55POS901F
Today's best price £2,499.00
Which? score %
Reviewed Apr 2017
Picture quality:
Member exclusive
Sound quality:
Member exclusive
Ease of use:
Member exclusive
Screen size:
55
Resolution type:
4K Ultra-HD
HDR:
Yes

Can the Philips 55POS901F rival LG, the King of OLED? It promises to deliver the same deep blacks and eye-catching colours that this new age TV screen technology offers. We put the Philips 55POS901F in front of our TV experts to find out if it's time to crown a new king.

Not found the product for you? Browse all of our TV reviews

Should I buy an OLED TV?

You’ll pay a premium for this screen technology, and you’re certainly not guaranteed a Best Buy – be sure to check our reviews before you buy. But as Panasonic, Sony and Philips launched similarly priced OLED sets as LG in 2017, this OLED arms race could see quality rise and prices drop over the coming years.

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