- OLED TVs offer key benefits over LCDs, making them ideal for buyers who want high-end image quality.
- The LG CX presents the best balance between picture and price of any OLED we’ve tested.
- For more TV recommendations, check out our roundup of the best TV deals.
OLED TVs have become popular among home theater enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. Thanks to some key perks, OLED displays offer several benefits over traditional LCD TVs (including those branded as LED and QLED). Though they tend to be pricier, there’s no substitute for an OLED if you want the best home theater experience for movies, streaming, and gaming.
OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode.” Instead of using a traditional LED backlight like those found on an LCD TV, OLED screens are self-illuminating. This means that each pixel on an OLED can emit its own light or turn off completely, enabling an infinite contrast ratio.
As a result, OLED TVs are capable of true black levels – something even the best LCDs have a hard time producing. Viewing angles are also much better than typical LCD displays, making OLEDs a great fit for rooms where people need to sit off to the side of their TV. On the downside, OLEDs can’t get as bright as flagship LCD TVs, which makes OLED displays less ideal for living rooms that let in a lot of sunlight.
LG, Sony, and Vizio all sell OLED TVs in the US. While image quality does vary a bit between the displays, the TVs’ physical design, connectivity, and software are actually the most telling differences. With that in mind, we’ve tested and researched several OLED displays in order to select the best models for a variety of needs and budgets.
Here are the best OLED TVs you can buy:
- Best OLED TV overall: LG CX
- Best OLED TV for picture quality: Sony A8H
- Best premium design OLED TV: LG GX
- Best budget OLED TV: Vizio H1
The LG CX OLED presents the best balance between picture performance, smart connectivity, design, and value of any OLED TV you can buy.
Pros: Solid brightness for an OLED, HDMI 2.1 with next-gen gaming features, voice remote, lots of screen sizes
Cons: Processing and image accuracy aren’t as good as Sony OLEDs, HBO Max app missing
When it comes to balancing image quality and smart features, the CX remains the best OLED TV you can buy. Though LG recently released a 2021 successor to the CX, called the C1, we think the CX presents a better value since it costs less and offers very similar performance.
Like all OLED TVs, the CX provides pixel-level contrast with deep black levels and precise highlights. Peak brightness is also high for an OLED panel, edging out similarly priced models from Sony and Vizio with a max of around 700 to 800 nits.
Thanks to the α9 Gen 3 Intelligent Processor, the CX is capable of advanced upscaling. This feature can make lower-quality video content, like Full HD (1080p), look cleaner and sharper. That said, Sony’s OLED offerings are still known for slightly better processing.
The panel offers very low input lag and includes compatibility with Variable Refresh Rate, Nvidia G-Sync, and 120Hz high frame rate. These features help make the CX one of the best gaming displays you can buy, and we think the 48-inch model is a great alternative to a traditional monitor.
The CX is powered by LG’s webOS and ThinQ platforms, enabling extensive streaming app support and voice control. The magic remote also features a unique pointer function which allows you to navigate through menus with a virtual cursor.
The best OLED TV for picture quality
Sony’s A8H is a premium TV champ when it comes to image accuracy, but it lacks HDMI 2.1 for future-proof connectivity.
Pros: Advanced processing powered by Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor, superior image accuracy, Android TV with Google Assistant, acoustic surface audio technology
Cons: Can’t get as bright as LG’s CX, no HDMI 2.1 ports
The A8H has an edge on other OLED models thanks to Sony’s advanced X1 Ultimate Processor. Don’t get me wrong, LG’s processors are no slouch, but Sony’s solution offers a slightly better image. The A8H delivers the same inky black level performance that LG’s OLED TVs provide, and it takes things one step further with improved color accuracy. That said, the A8H can’t get quite as bright as the CX.
Based on side-by-side demos of Sony and LG OLEDs I’ve attended over the last few years, Sony’s models consistently come the closest to matching the look of professional broadcast monitors. This means that, when calibrated, the A8H allows movies to appear closer to how directors intend for them to look.
Unlike traditional TVs, the A8H also features a unique audio system with acoustic surface technology. Instead of typical speakers, this process creates sound from the screen itself.
The A8H runs the Android TV platform for simple and responsive access to apps. AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and integrated Google Assistant voice control are all featured as well. Unlike LG’s OLED models, Amazon Alexa isn’t built-in, but you can still pair the TV with a separate Alexa device if you’d like to use Amazon’s assistant.
On the downside, the A8H lacks HDMI 2.1 so it doesn’t offer next-gen gaming capabilities. Sony’s new 2021 A80J OLED does offer HDMI 2.1, however, so it’s a better choice for buyers willing to a pay a couple hundred bucks more for that feature.
The best premium design OLED TV
With a display so thin it can hang flush on your wall like a piece of art, the LG GX is one of the prettiest OLED TVs to look at — whether it’s turned on or off.
Pros: Same great image performance as the LG CX, thin design lets you mount it flush to a wall
Cons: Expensive compared to OLED models with standard designs
Beyond impressive picture performance, the GX boasts an exceptionally thin profile, enabling the display to be mounted like a piece of art hanging flush on your wall. At just 0.79 inches deep, the 65-inch GX Gallery TV isn’t quite as razor-thin as LG’s more expensive WX OLED, but it still offers an incredibly narrow design.
And unlike the WX model, LG has been able to keep all of the TV’s components within the panel. This means that GX TVs don’t need to use an external box or soundbar unit as a connection hub. Instead, you can simply hook up all your devices directly to the display.
When it comes to actual image quality, the GX OLED TV offers very similar performance to the rest of the displays on our list. Since those TVs are among the best you can buy, that’s not a bad thing at all.
At the end of the day, you’re paying extra purely for style perks with this model, but if you plan to mount your TV on a wall, the GX can double as a genuine design piece for your living room.
That said, LG has a new 2021 version of the GX available, called the G1. The updated model has a new “OLED evo” panel which promises improved brightness. It’s more expensive than the 2020 model, however, so we still recommend the GX for most buyers.
The best budget OLED TV
Vizio’s 65-inch 4K OLED TV offers all the OLED picture quality benefits that home theater fans love for less than the competition.
Pros: Unbeatable image performance for the price, only OLED model in the US with HDR10+, HDMI 2.1 ports
Cons: Glitches, HDMI signal problems, on-screen app selection is limited, no voice remote
In the US, OLED TV models have primarily been limited to high-end offerings from LG and Sony. Though these TVs have been undeniably gorgeous, they’ve also been expensive. Thanks to Vizio’s OLED, however, that high cost barrier is starting to disappear.
Just like Sony and LG’s OLEDs, Vizio’s model offers pixel-level contrast with true black levels. The display can’t get quite as bright as LG’s OLEDs, but it can get close with a max of around 700 nits.
Vizio’s OLED has comprehensive HDR support and it’s the only model on our list with HDR10+ playback. It also supports HDMI 2.1, which is something Sony’s 2020 models lack. On the downside, the TV is missing a voice remote. You can still pair it with a separate Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device, however.
Though image quality is nearly identical to more expensive OLEDs, the Vizio does lose some points when it comes to general stability. I encountered glitches and compatibility issues when reviewing the TV. Thankfully, most of these problems have been fixed through firmware updates, but it’s a shame the display’s software isn’t more reliable.
Still, there’s no denying the incredible value this OLED offers. When it’s on sale it delivers unbeatable picture quality for the price. In fact, if it wasn’t for those glitches, Vizio’s OLED might even edge out the CX for the top spot on this list. As it stands, it’s not quite there, but it’s a fantastic option for budget-conscious buyers.
Should you worry about burn-in on an OLED TV?
Like plasma TVs of yesteryear, OLED panels are susceptible to a problem known as burn-in. This means that if a static image is left on the screen for hours on end — the CNN or ESPN logo in the corner, for example — a faint, ghostly image can be left permanently stuck on the TV.
Though OLED owners should be aware of this risk, OLED TVs feature special measures to help prevent burn-in, including pixel-refreshers and pixel-shift modes. Websites like Rtings have conducted long-term tests with OLEDs, and while their results do prove that burn-in is possible, their tests show that buyers with regular viewing habits really shouldn’t worry about it.
You’re more likely to notice temporary image retention, which is when a ghost image faintly lingers on the screen and then fades away over time. Though true burn-in is really only a risk in extreme situations, it is worth pointing out that LCD TV owners don’t have to worry about burn-in at all.
If you really only plan on watching content with the same static logos all day long, you’re better off with an LCD (also branded as LED or QLED). Buyers with regular viewing habits, however, shouldn’t be put off from buying an OLED TV because of burn-in.
What we look forward to testing
Since our last round of testing, several new OLED TVs have been released. LG and Sony, in particular, have new flagship models that promise improved brightness over previous OLED displays.
Here’s a rundown of 2021 OLED models we look forward to testing over the coming months for consideration on this guide.
LG G1 OLED 4K TV: The G1 is the successor to last year’s GX OLED. It features a similar ultra-thin design and improves upon the GX with a brand-new “OLED evo” panel. The updated screen promises improved brightness which could justify its higher price. We got a first look at the G1 back in January and were impressed with what we saw.
Sony A80J OLED 4K TV: This display is designed to replace the A8H OLED and it carries over a lot of what we loved about that 2020 model while adding a few key improvements. Most notably, the A80J includes HDMI 2.1 ports for next-gen gaming features, along with upgraded processing and the new Google TV OS for streaming apps.
Sony A90J OLED 4K TV: Like the LG G1, Sony’s new flagship A90J promises higher brightness than any OLED the company has released before. It also boasts HDMI 2.1, Google TV, and new cognitive image processing. Though it’s the most expensive OLED released in 2021, the A90J’s impressive specifications could make it the new high-end TV to beat.
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