Okay, you’ve decided you want to buy an OLED TV. And now’s the time to pick one out. Fortunately, most OLED TVs sold in the United States use LG panels, regardless of which brand you buy from. This makes it a bit easier as regardless of which OLED TV you buy, all of them will have excellent picture quality.
Before Buying an OLED Television
Let’s address the biggest concern most people have with OLED TVs: burn-in. Yes, it could happen, but if you take care of your TV, you’ll likely never have a problem.
So, what is burn-in? It’s when an image gets stuck on the screen even after what’s displayed has changed. This often happens when you watch traditional TV and are always on a specific channel, for example. The channel’s logo, typically in the bottom right corner, could potentially burn-in to the screen.
That’s different from image retention, which is essentially temporary burn-in and can also happen on OLED TVs. For example, you might see the image very faintly retain even when switching up your content but quickly goes away (usually in a matter of seconds). A good example of this is if you’re on Netflix looking for a TV show or movie. The sidebar might briefly appear after you’ve selected a movie but goes away within seconds. But don’t let that scare you. Most people will never experience burn-in or image retention on their OLED TV.
What to Look for in an OLED TV
Fortunately, most TVs sold in the United States source their panels from LG, making your decision pretty straightforward. No matter which brand you go for, you’ll get a 4K HDR panel that supports the latest HDR and Dolby Vision standards. Unless, of course, you’re eager to set money on fire and buy a $30,000 8K OLED TV. But we’d advise against that as there’s virtually no 8K content available and pricing will likely drop dramatically in the coming years.
Still, there are a few things to consider when looking at an OLED TV:
- Refresh Rate: The refresh rate (measured in “Hertz” or “Hz”) represents the maximum frame rate the TV can display. Most TV shows and movies are filmed in 24fps (frames per second), and a lot of online content is edited in either 30 or 60fps. Granted, almost all modern TVs (including OLED) can display up to 60fps. Where things get interesting is for gamers, especially if you own or are looking to pick up the Xbox Series X or a PS5. These consoles can display up to 120fps depending on the game, so you’ll want to find a TV that fits the bill.
- Smart TV Operating System: Outside of price, the operating system (OS) your TV runs plays a major role in your buying decision. You’ll want to look into what features they have to offer and how you navigate your TV. For example, LG’s webOS doesn’t take over the entire screen and is navigated with gestures. On the other hand, Android TV is more like a traditional OS, similar to using an external streaming box such as a Roku or Fire Stick. Different TV brands use different OSes in many cases, so it’s something to pay close attention to.
Best Overall: LG CX OLED
Our top pick was a pretty easy one: the LG CX. The company leads the industry when it comes to OLED TVs. LG was one of the first to the scene and has practically taken over the U.S. market. The CX features the latest HDR and Dolby Vision standards, and 120Hz with variable refresh rate (VRR), making it perfect for both movie watchers and gamers. Fortunately, LG didn’t cut corners here. The TV has four HDMI 2.1 ports. and each one supports all the aforementioned features.
The CX runs on webOS, which has become one of my favorite TV operating systems. It supports most media apps and you can beam content from your Android or iPhone via Chromecast or AirPlay. The CX is available in four screen sizes: 48-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, and 77-inch.
Runner Up: LG BX
There’s a very small difference when comparing the BX versus the CX. The main difference is that the BX doesn’t get as bright as the CX, which means you’ll see slightly worse HDR performance. Though, unless you’re comparing the two side by side, you probably won’t notice a difference.
Another potential dealbreaker is that the BX the HDMI ports. Yes, it still has four HDMI ports, but only two of them are HDMI 2.1. That means that only two of the ports support 4K at 120 frames per second and variable refresh rate. The other two ports will only do 4K at 60fps. It likely won’t be a huge problem for most people as higher frame rates realistically only matter to gamers, and most won’t have more than two gaming consoles hooked up to the TV.
The BX is also pretty limited when it comes to screen sizes. You only have two options here: 55-inch and 65-inch. If you’re on a budget and don’t want a 48-inch or 77-inch TV, save the money and go for the BX.
Otherwise, the BX is a fantastic alternative to the CX. If you want the CX but it’s slightly out of your budget, the BX will not disappoint. Outside of the slight variation in brightness and the split in HDMI ports, the two TVs are virtually the same. It’s a 4K 120fps panel with support for HDR, Dolby Vision, and variable refresh rate. You’re covered software-wise as well. The BX runs the same webOS operating system, with the same software features and apps.
Best for Movies & TV: Sony A8H
If you’re more of a traditional TV watcher or plan on hooking up a cable box to watch most of your content, the A8H is your best bet. Unsurprisingly, it uses an LG OLED panel, but what makes it special is its processing. The A8H provides better picture quality for upscaled content with lower overall latency versus any of the LG OLED TVs.
Another differentiating factor is the OS. The A8H opts for Android TV instead of webOS. Both operating systems are great, and it really does boil down to personal preference as both have a wide range of apps for you to download.
In terms of ports, you’re looking at four HDMI 2.0b ports, which support 4K at 60fps or 1080p at 120fps. This is the TV’s biggest drawback and is the main reason why it doesn’t support variable refresh rate. This makes it worse for gaming versus either the CX or BX. The TV can only hit 120fps when it’s running at 1080p. What this means for PS5 or Xbox Series X gamers is that you’ll have to choose higher resolution or better frame rates.
And just like the BX, the A8H only comes in two screen sizes: 55-inch and 65-inch.
Best Value: 2020 Vizio OLED
If your budget is tight, Vizio’s 2020 OLED TV may be right for you. As with all the other TVs on this list, it supports the latest HDR and Dolby Vision standards at 4K resolution and 120 frames per second. The panel is also capable of variable refresh rate, making it a great option for gamers.
In terms of ports, the Vizio has three HDMI ports. Although all three ports are 4K, Dolby Vision, and HDR-capable, only two of them will support 4K at 120fps and variable refresh rate. Not the end of the world, as most gamers won’t have more than two consoles hooked up to one TV.
And if you’re in the market for a soundbar, this TV might be your best bet especially if you’re looking at Vizio’s Elevate soundbar. The TV’s stand is designed to house the soundbar perfectly, making for a super clean and minimalist setup.
In terms of OS, you’re looking at Vizio’s SmartCast system. In my personal opinion, it’s one of the least intuitive options out there with a clunky UI and sluggish navigation. The OS is filled with ads with no way to opt-out, making using it that much more annoying. Despite this, it’s not all too bad as it has support for most of the major apps like YouTube, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and Apple TV+. Plus, you can always bypass it entirely with a Chromecast or Fire Stick.
Best Large TV: LG CX (77-inch)
Our pick for the best large TV is the same as our best overall pick but … larger. It’s the same 4K panel with four HDMI 2.1 ports that support Dolby Vision, HDR, and 120Hz with VRR. The same webOS operating system with the ability to beam content from your phone via Apple AirPlay or Chromecast, and the same apps you can download.
If you’re looking for a large OLED TV (or a small one), LG is your only option for now. All other brands are limited to 55- or 65-inch screens. Hopefully, more manufacturers come on board and offer more selections when it comes to large OLED TVs.