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Is the cheapest OLED TV we’ve ever tested any good?

The Toshiba 55X9863DB is available for less than £1,000, but an OLED panel doesn't necessarily guarantee quality

Is the cheapest OLED TV we’ve ever tested any good?

Manufacturers large and small are turning to OLED panels for their high-end TVs. But while the likes of LG and Sony charge more than £2,000 for their OLEDs, Toshiba’s is less than £1,000.

The 55-inch 55X9863DB is competing against some of the most stunningly designed and feature-rich TVs on the market: the LG 55OLEDC8PLA, Sony KD55AF8BU and Panasonic TZ-55FZ952B.

All these rival TVs cost almost twice as much as Toshiba’s OLED, but does that also mean they’re twice as good? There’s a reason why four brands dominate the TV market (the fourth being Samsung which as yet doesn’t dabble with OLEDs). It often comes down to quality, though that doesn’t mean sets from cheaper brands can’t do well.

There’s an unmistakable allure to OLED TVs, with their wafer-thin screens, narrow bezels and new technology, and many see them as a safe bet. If OLED is a guarantee of quality then the Toshiba and its sub-£1,000 pricetag should be the model to go for, but do our tests back this up?

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Toshiba 55X9863DB OLED reviewed

Visually, the 55X9863 has all the hallmarks of a top-tier TV. The small, understated base ensures all your attention is on the screen and the thin bezel makes the panel seem more like a borderless portal.

The Toshiba ticks the right boxes when it comes to technology, too. The capabilities of HDR go hand-in-hand with the contrast-boosting properties of OLED displays. The millions of tiny bulbs that make up these panels are self-emitting, which means the TV should have incredible control over what areas of the screen are lit.

It’s for this reason that OLEDs are known to have the best contrast. Add HDR to that mix, a technology that adjusts contrast to make blacks appear deeper and whites more dazzling, and it’s a match made in heaven.

There are several HDR formats. Some, such as HDR10 and HLG, are found on almost all 4K TVs, but the 55X9863 supports Dolby Vision, too. This newer format can adjust contrast dynamically based on the demands of the scene. HDR10 – the current industry standard – can’t and sometimes that can lead to video looking too dim or too bright, obscuring detail in the process.

This extra layer of adjustment can make a huge difference. HDR10 has a contrast level and it’s stuck there, whereas Dolby Vision is reactive. Think of it as being in a bright, sunlit room; when the sun goes down you turn the light on. This is what Dolby Vision does – it adjusts. With HDR10, you’d be stuck in the dark.

HDR only really applies to 4K content and with so much of what we watch still in standard and high definition, it’s essential that a 4K TV does a good job displaying it. The best TVs do, but can this bargain OLED join the upper echelon of 2018 TVs and equal or better sets twice its price? Read our Toshiba 55X9863DB review to find out.

More Toshibas on test

The 55X9863DB may technically be a bargain, but it still costs just shy of £1,000. Toshiba’s LCD TVs are extremely cheap.

The 43, 50 and 55-inch TVs in the 6863DB range are some of the cheapest 4K TVs we’ve tested all year, particularly the 50-inch model, which is just £349 and less than the 43-inch model. This deal probably won’t last long, but even at its regular price of £449 it’s a bargain.

But a bad TV is a bad TV whether it costs £300 or £3,000, so what did we think of the 6863DB TVs?

First off, they come with Dolby Vision HDR, just like the flagship OLED. It’s very rare to see this advanced format on otherwise low-end TVs and it’s a very positive sign.

They have a similar design to the OLED, too. The bezel is noticeably thicker, but the sleek base is just as inconspicuous. You’ll find the same interface on these TVs as well. Some manufacturers put more basic smart platforms and menus into their cheaper TVs; no matter what Toshiba you bought you’d be getting the same experience.

A low-cost TV isn’t necessarily something to be wary of, but when prices get close to store brand TVs, such as JVC, Bush and Technika, it’s a potential red flag. Read our Toshiba 43U6863DB, 50U6863DB and 55U6863DB reviews to see if their quality belies their low price.

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