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TV screen technology explained

What is OLED TV?

By Martin Pratt

Article 4 of 9

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 are becoming far more affordable. LG is the most prolific in this area, the South Korean brand releases around five ranges each year. Sony and Panasonic don't release quite as many, but as the displays get cheaper we expect to see more and more.

Smaller brands are also getting in on the action: Philips and Hisense both make OLED TVs. 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. 

With OLEDs typically commanding a high price and some not warranting it, we've picked out five that excelled in our tests.

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Top five OLED TVs

83%
Reviewed

This is the best OLED we've ever tested, the best LG TV we've ever tested and better than anything we've seen for half a decade.

78%
Reviewed

It's a stunning TV whether it's turned on or off. It's slightly inferior sound quality makes another of this brand's OLEDs the better choice, but it's still astounding.

76%
Reviewed

It's not the best of the best, but don't let that put you off. This TV is more than deserving of a spot in your living room.

73%
Reviewed

It's one of best TVs of 2019 and definitely worth considering if you're after a high spec TV that looks superb.

72%
Reviewed

We're delighted to say that this brand has crafted a fantastic TV capable of stunning images, particularly at 4K resolutions.

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. Some LG's high-end OLEDs, such as the OLED W are 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.
Browse our TV reviews to find out which models deserve a place in your home.

Should I buy an OLED TV?

Unlike 4K and HDR, which should now be seen as a requirement for your next major TV purchase, OLED is more of a luxury option. You’ll pay a premium for this screen technology, and you’re certainly not guaranteed a Best Buy. But there's healthy competition in this market, with Panasonic, Sony and Philips launching similarly priced OLED sets as LG. 

This OLED arms race will certainly see quality rise and prices drop throughout the year, but if you're willing to shop carefully, there are affordable and good quality screens around.

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