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What is OLED TV?

By Andrew Laughlin

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) is the latest TV screen technology in town. We've tested a leading OLED set, but as it costs more than £2,000, is OLED really worth your money?

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OLED TVs: What's the big fuss?

OLED TVs can give you dazzling, bright picture quality, 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, and prices will drop as OLED TVs reach the mass market, but you can currently expect to pay upwards of £2,000 for a good OLED television - and considerably more if you want the latest 4K ultra HD resolution.

How does OLED TV work?

With OLED technology, because each organic cell sitting behind the TV’s panel creates its own light source, light doesn’t spread into unwanted areas, helping to create a more vibrant picture. This also means OLED TVs don't need a backlight, so they can be even slimmer than LED TVs.

We've now tested the LG 55EC930W, a Full HD OLED TV. Log in or sign up to Which? for a £1 trial to see our full review, but here are our key impressions of OLED:

Deep blacks - OLED has black colours that are seriously black. Our technical tests have revealed that the black tones on this LG are in fact not emitting any light at all. This gives the picture a much deeper contrast and sense of depth, backed up by natural and vibrant colours.
Smooth motion - motion displays well on OLED TVs, with hardly any blurring even on fast-moving action, such as a scene in James Bond film Casino Royale we use for testing. This LG OLED wasn't streets ahead of the best performing LED sets we've tested, but certainly impressive.
Super-thin screen - OLED screens can be even thinner than most smartphones. The super-slim aesthetic on this LG is a little spoiled by the rather bulky section where all the HDMI ports and connections go, but it's hidden away around the back. LG's OLED is also curved and that can give a slightly more immersive, cinematic feel when watching it straight on (although we've found curved screens do have some drawbacks).
Viewing angle - the viewing angle on OLED sets is outstanding. Even when viewed from an acute angle, the picture on this LG TV remains rock solid, with accurate colours and good contrast. You can watch this TV from anywhere and still be impressed, meaning it's great for a living room with multiple sofas and seats.
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. Check our review for full details on power consumption of this OLED TV.

OLED TV: Should you buy one?

To find out if the LG 55EC930V is good enough to be a Best Buy TV, log in or sign up to Which? to see our full review. On initial impressions, however, this LG TV gives you picture quality on the level of the best plasma TVs, but with similar benefits to LED-backlit LCD TVs. However, OLED is still very new to the market and prices currently are high.

Despite its high price, the LG 55EC930V is just an HD set, rather than having the latest 4K resolution. You can buy OLED 4K TVs, but they're even more expensive and beyond the reach of most people. 

Although there's not much 4K content to watch currently, it's worth considering a top quality 4K LED TV, too, if you want a premium set right now.

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