We're at the tail end of 2020, a year no one will be sad to see the back of, but we're still testing exciting TVs. One of the latest OLEDs we've reviewed is just one percentage point away from being the best of 2020.
And second best isn't bad, particularly when you consider the staggering quality of TVs we've tested this year. There's certainly no shame in being second to our overall top-scorer, which is a scintillating TV to watch.
The four TVs in contention for silver are:
We've highlighted the key features of these four OLEDS in the table below. Read on to find out more about each and see if you can guess which one impressed us the most; you'll need to click through to our full reviews to find out if you're right.
|LG OLED65BX6LB||Panasonic TX-65HZ1500B||Philips 65OLED805/12||Sony KD48A9BU|
|Screen size||65 inch||65 inch||65 inch||48 inch|
|HDR formats||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision||HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision||HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision|
|Processor||Alpha 7 3rd Gen||HCX Pro Intelligent Processor||P5 AI Perfect Picture Engine||X1 Ultimate Processor|
|Smart system||webOS||My Home Screen||Android TV||Android TV|
When you think of OLEDs, one brand springs to mind. LG is responsible for bringing OLED technology to the TV market and, as you can see by the number of rival brands now favouring these screens for their high-end TVs, it's been successful.
The original is still the best in some cases. In previous years LG's OLEDs have been untouchable, with some of the best picture quality we've ever seen. But every year the competition gets more fierce and LG needs to be top of its game to retain the OLED crown.
The BX range is LG's cheapest, which is evidenced by the fact this 65-inch goliath is only £100 more than the 48-inch Sony at time of writing. This may seem crazy, given that 17 inches of screen separate the two, although it's not the fairest comparison. Far fewer 48-inch OLEDs are made, which means the production process is less efficient than for 55 and 65-inch TVs. This drives up the price. We expect 48-inch sets to become cheaper in the years to come.
The key difference between the BX range and the ranges above is the processor, which plays a vital role vital role in the quality of the TV. It's responsible for sharpness, colour and contrast, particularly where lower resolutions are concerned.
The BX range gets the Alpha 7 rather than the Alpha 9, which means, in theory, that the picture should be worse than LG's higher-end CX and GX ranges.
In summary, the LG OLED65BX6LB is cheaper than its rivals and is less high end. Does it have a hope of being our number two? LG will need to call on every ounce of its OLED expertise to make it happen.
Panasonic has one of the smallest line-ups of any of the leading brands, but with three OLED ranges it's putting a fair few eggs in the OLED basket.
The TX-65HZ1500B is the middle child of the Panasonic OLED family, but an impressive spec sheet means it's deserving of attention.
Panasonic's big claim is that the picture on its OLEDs was fine-tuned by Hollywood experts, which means editors, cinematographers and the like had a hand in making the perfect picture to display their Hollywood handiwork. Colours should look lifelike and vivid, contrast should be rich and deep, and detail should be bountiful.
It's packed with HDR formats; it supports pretty much all of them, other than Technicolor which has been all but abandoned by manufacturers. That means it should get the best out of any HDR content. Netflix 4K programming favours Dolby Vision, for example, while other platforms prefer HDR10+. Whatever the weather, the 1500B should be ready.
It's by far the priciest OLED of the bunch, so it really needs to set itself apart from the competition. We already know it's not the number one TV of 2020, but can all that expert tuning propel it to number two?
LG, Panasonic and Sony are well known for their TVs, but look around your house for Philips electronics and you're more likely to find an iron or an electric toothbrush. That means Philips has a point to prove, but it also means our expectations are lower. We want to be pleasantly surprised.
Competition drives innovation and improvement, so the more manufacturers getting in on the OLED game the better.
As with the Panasonic, Philips' OLED is packed with four HDR formats, so should be ready to show any HDR content at its contrast-boosting best.
Philips is also well known for its smart bulbs, and it's packed some into the back of the TV to beam colours that complement the picture on to the wall behind it. It's a nice a touch that could be enchanting or irritating depending on the person, but you can always turn it off.
The most dazzling light show won't help the 805/12 if it doesn't make the most of the OLED technology. We expect a precise picture with deep, accurate blacks and rich, bright colours that don't bleed into darker parts of the screen.
Finally, we have the baby of the bunch. 48-inch OLEDs are new in 2020; first we had the LG OLED48CX6LA and this Sony soon followed. It's a welcome size for anyone who doesn't have the room to accommodate a 55-inch set.
They're expensive at the moment, though - there are several 55-inch OLEDs that cost less than this one, so the A9 must be excellent to justify the extra few hundred quid it's going to cost you.
Sony isn't taking any chances, and the A9 is brimming with the finest tech available. The X1 Ultimate Processor was designed to push detail up to 8K levels, so you'd assume it would excel on a 4K TV. And we'd expect to see even standard-definition content, which has a fraction of the pixels of 4K, look razer-sharp.
As much as OLED technology is focused on picture, Sony has taken a novel approach to sound with the A9. The screen vibrates to create the audio, which means it can better mirror where the sound is coming from. If someone speaks on screen, the sound should come from their mouth; if a gun is fired, the sound should come from the muzzle.
We've loved this approach on bigger Sony OLEDs, but is it necessary on a 48-inch one?