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Best OLED TV: 5 great OLED TVs

Trusted Reviews list of the best OLED TV you can buy in 2021 with efforts from the likes of LG, Panasonic, Philips and Sony

Introduction

If you’re someone who appreciates film and wants to have a truly cinematic experience at home, there’s only one type of TV that can solve that conundrum – an OLED.

OLED TVs are used in creation of the very films you see on the silver screen, with many of the blockbusters that have hit cinemas in recent years colour graded on Panasonic and LG TVs. If you buy an OLED TV, you’re getting an experience close to how the filmmaker wanted.

Despite brands using the same panel technology, they all put their own spin on it from picture to sound, design, and features, to appeal to prospective buyers. We test each TV that feature on this list for the levels of brightness they can achieve with HDR content, colour, motion processing, sound and smart features so that they live up to the manufacturer’s performance claims.

If you’ve landed on this page, it’s likely because you’ve heard OLED TVs are some of the best around. There’s been a drive to make OLED more affordable and introduce a range of sizes that was not possible a few years ago. You can get an OLED TV as small as 42-inches or as big as 97-inches, ensuring there’s now a size for everyone depending on their needs.

And while OLED TVs are great for films, they are also great for gaming with higher refresh rates that LCD is often capable of that leads to more responsive experiences. There are disadvantages to OLED, such as image retention and lack of comparative brightness but if that doesn’t dissuade you and you have your heart set on an OLED, then this list will assist in helping you find the one you need.

And if you think an OLED isn’t what you need, we have other choices to peruse in our Best TV list that features LCD LEDs and Mini LED sets. Or there’s our best 8K TV page if you want to future-proof your set for the years to come, our best 4K TV if you’re interested in the best HDR models at any price and our best Cheap TVs if your TV ambitions are more modest.

How we test

Learn more about how we test televisions

Every TV we review is put through the same set of tests to gauge its picture performance, usability, and smart features.

Tests are carried out over several days and are done by eye but supported with technical measurements. Testing by eye involves an expert watching a wide range of material to understand and determine a TV’s performance in fields such as brightness, contrast, motion processing, colour handling and screen uniformity.

We’ll consider the design of the TV in terms of build quality, study the spec sheets and see if the TV’s connections are up to spec, as well as playing video and audio content to ensure that the set handles playback as it claims. We also take note whether a product’s compatible formats and features are in line with industry trends or not to gauge whether it’s relevant for you.

Comparison to other related and similarly priced products is also important, to see if it’s missing any vital features and whether it impresses as a whole. After all this, we’ll come to a judgement on how the TV performs as a whole.

If you want to learn more, please visit our detailed page about how we test televisions.

Philips 65OLED+936

Best overall OLED TV
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Pros

  • Superb image quality
  • Multi-HDR support (Dolby Vision, HDR10+ Adaptive)
  • Two 4K 120fps HDMI inputs

Cons

  • Input lag isn’t class-leading
  • Expensive

OLEDs typically can’t go as bright as LCD TVs, but they can still go bright enough for HDR when they need to. If you’re after one of the brightest OLEDs on the market, then the Philips OLED+936 must be a consideration.

We measured a max brightness of 950 nits, matching Panasonic’s JZ2000 as one of the brightest OLED TVs we’ve tested. This high level of brightness matched with OLED’s excellent black performance and Philips’ bold approach to image quality ensures the OLED+936 dazzles with rich and dynamic contrast levels.

HDR support is more comprehensive than the similarly priced Sony A90J, with HDR10+ supported ensuring you get optimised HDR performance from any possible source. We found the audio performance from the Bowers & Wilkins sound system to be less immersive than the Panasonic’s built-in system but to our ears it sounded better overall.

Gaming is an area Philips has made strides in recently, and while it lags behind the LG G1 for breadth of features, it’s not too far behind with its VRR support and input lag that we measured at 14.6ms, ensuring speedy performance with games such as first-person shooters.

What sets Philips’ TVs apart from any other is its Ambilight feature, available in its four-sided form that replicates the colours shown on screen and beams them onto the surface behind it. As this is Philips’ patented technology, no other brand can use it, so if you want a light show to go with your gaming and films, Philips OLED is the best TV for that experience.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Philips 65OLED+936

Panasonic TX-55JZ2000

Best 4K HDR OLED
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Pros

  • Delicious, dynamic imagery
  • Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+ Adaptive support
  • 360-degree Soundscape Pro audio system
  • 4K/120fps HDMI inputs

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Sound system may be unnecessary for AV fans

While the Philips OLED+936 takes our spot as the best overall OLED, Panasonic’s flagship is not far behind and in some areas, we think it’s better than the Philips.

Where Philips goes for a bold and saturated image, Panasonic takes a lighter and more nuanced touch. There’s a reason why Panasonic OLEDs are used in the grading of Hollywood films, with the colour performance of the JZ2000 tuned by actual Hollywood colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld. This is why during our tests it offered the most accurate reproduction of movies we’ve seen this year.

It’s also the addition of Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive that give the Panasonic the edge over the Philips, using the TV’s light sensor to adjust the image depending on ambient lighting conditions. We measured brightness at 950 nits, and despite the LG G1 boasting its high brightness Evo OLED panel, the Panasonic delivers better specular highlights for a more intense and brighter HDR performance.

Upscaling is terrific, as is the TV’s motion processing, though we found the Sony A90J a better fit for sports and movies for those who want to leave processing on, though the JZ2000 is not far off. With its Filmmaker Mode it offers excellent colour and picture accuracy for film nerds, a feature the Sony does not boast.

We observed its audio performance to be second to the Philips OLED+936’s Bowers & Wilkins sound system, with convincing Dolby Atmos height effects placed above the TV and the new side-firing drivers extending the width of the presentation. The Panasonic is expensive, especially for this 55-inch entry, but its picture quality is still class-leading.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Panasonic JZ2000

Sony XR-55A90J

Best OLED for movies and sport
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Pros

  • Superb picture quality
  • Great new OS and remote control
  • Some HDMI 2.1 compatibility

Cons

  • Some HDMI 2.1 omissions
  • Quite pricey

While there are OLEDs on this list, such as the Philips OLED+936, that feature more comprehensive HDR support, based on our experience and testing there’s no better OLED for watching movies than the A90J.

Again, there’s OLED’s typically lustrous black levels, but when combined with whites that are brighter than the OLED norm, and a palette that’s wide-ranging in the colours it can display the Sony A90J produces a fabulous image. And it can hit around an impressive 900 nits of brightness, which is without the Evo OLED panel that ships with LG’s G1.

We found it to be brilliant at upscaling non-4K images, more nuanced and retrieving more detail than the LG C1, while its ability with motion of any type bests the Panasonic JZ2000, especially with sports, resistant to any stutter or artefacts that could cause a distracting performance and keep the viewer focus on the action in front of them.

Gaming-wise the A90J wouldn’t be our first recommendation, as while it has been updated to support ALLM and VRR technologies, input lag without VRR isn’t as quick as the C1 and it doesn’t support Dolby Vision Gaming, a feature the LG, Panasonic and Philips models on this list do. Dolby Vision Gaming is a gaming specific standard of HDR supported by the latest generation Xbox Series consoles that makes compatible titles look more vibrant, detailed and generally more immersive.

The ‘Acoustic Surface Audio+’ is enjoyable, better than flatscreens are often capable of producing, though not quite up to the standard of the pictures the Sony can whip up. Consider a soundbar such as Sony’s HT-A7000 to deliver the high-end audio performance this TV deserves. Acoustic Surface Audio+ is a custom technology that lets the screen itself generate sound using two actuators that make the panel subtly vibrate.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full Review: Sony A90J

LG OLED65C1

Best mid-range OLED
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Pros

  • Super gaming performance
  • Excellent contrast and sumptuous HDR
  • Wide-ranging connectivity and smarts

Cons

  • Weak sound
  • Not the strongest motion stability
  • Potential for image retention/burn-in

The TVs above in this list cost a fair amount, so if your budget can’t go that far then the LG C1 fits in as a more affordable model.

And as an all-round TV we found the C1 to be one of the most attractive propositions on the market. Input lag was tested at 12.5ms, better than the premium Panasonic JZ2000, and it also beats its gaming performance thanks to its complete set of VRR technologies (standard, Nvidia, AMD). During testing this meant we were able to reduce latency to virtually zero when we connected a gaming source that supports VRR, like the PS5.

HDR picture quality is also very impressive with terrific blacks and rich whites across a range of HDR sources. We assessed detail levels to be superb, bringing out plenty of nuance and subtlety in the content we watched. The C1’s motion skills aren’t as good as the Sony A90J, making it less adept at movies and sports if you watch with motion processing on.

The sound is lacklustre, especially its Atmos performance which we found to be rather restricted in terms of size and scale. It is an improvement over the G1 model, which we observed to be more sibilant in tone, with its AI Sound mode in play, although if you do want an expansive sound performance with Atmos, we’d suggest giving Panasonic’s similarly priced JZ1000 a look.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: LG C1

Sony KE-48A9

Best small OLED
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Pros

  • Flat-out beautiful picture quality across all sources
  • Impressively polished but minimalistic design
  • Good built-in sound system

Cons

  • No support for 4K at 120Hz, VRR or ALLM next-gen gaming features
  • Not as bright as some rivals

We haven’t tested many small-sized OLEDs since they became a fixture in the market, but out of the ones we have tested, the A9 takes the top spot – just about.

If you’re interested in gaming, this Sony OLED won’t be for you. LG’s smaller C1 (or upcoming C2 models) or Philips’ 48OLED806 are better choices as the A9 OLED lacks VRR, 4K/120Hz support, and ALLM technologies, though Sony will be launching its own gaming-focussed A90K to replace the A9 in the coming months if that’s of interest.

What this OLED’s focus is on, is picture quality and in that department, it delivers in spades. At the time of review, black levels were an improvement on the instability that LG’s OLEDs suffered from. Our reviewer felt colour performance was exceptionally refined, with HDR performance given a lovely intensity and immersiveness. Peak HDR brightness was measured at 665 nits, compared to the LG CX’s near 800 nit output, so this isn’t a particularly bright OLED and is more suited to use in darker rooms. It’s still a beautiful performance, nonetheless.

Sound quality is also very good for a flatscreen TV, much like Sony’s bigger A90J. It pushes sound out into the room, tracking sound across the screen and delivering clean and clear dialogue. Bass performance is lightweight, though, and Atmos sound isn’t as expansive in scope but again, we’re talking about a 48-inch TV. It’s very respectable by flatscreen standards.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Sony KE-48A9 Review

FAQs

What is an OLED TV?

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Each pixel is self-emissive, which means it can produce its own light. This produces high levels of contrast as a pixel that’s ‘on’ can sit next to a pixel that’s ‘off’. This also helps to deliver the deepest black levels in the TV world, wide viewing angles and excellent, vivid contrast levels.

Is OLED TV worth it?

Absolutely. If you can afford it of course. There’s no type of TV that offers quite the same contrast, black levels and viewing angles. For brightness it is bested, but you’ll still need to pay as much to get that level of HDR brightness. And while burn-in/image retention is an issue, it’s not something you’d encounter with the precautions manufacturers have taken.

Are OLED TVs good for gaming?

OLEDs are one of the best displays for gaming with LG’s OLEDs supporting every form of Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) for smoother gameplay and faster response times, High Frame Rate (4K/120Hz) and low latency gaming, with input times less than 10ms. Panasonic will be jumping into the gaming fray with their 2021 OLED TV range, too.

Comparison Specifications

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