OLED televisions are now a crucial part of the TV landscape. Leading the way for high-end televisions, and offering a level of contrast and color accuracy beyond most of their LCD counterparts, OLED is proving to be the defining TV technology of recent years, and is only going to expand.
Though OLED panels tend to be limited in brightness, advances in manufacturing have made them a better and brighter proposition than ever – and therefore even more adept at handling the ultra-bright high dynamic range (HDR) picture format that’s become the latest must-have television technology.
Even more importantly, OLED TVs finally started to hit price points that you didn’t have to be an oil tycoon to afford.
They still cost substantially more than the majority of LCD TVs. And while remaining peerless for contrast/black level performance, even the new improved OLEDs can’t get close to the HDR friendly levels of brightness some LCD TVs can muster.
These key differences between OLED and LCD TVs have led to a real polarisation in the TV marketplace. In recognition of this, we’ve split our guide to the best TVs you can currently buy across separate LCD and OLED sections. The OLED section is below; the LCD one can be found at the following link.
For more, watch our TV buying guide video above.
In each section we’ve tried to pick a range of TVs that cover an array of different price points and features. And with each selected model we’ve explained why we picked it - and any flaws it may have.
Need a screen with an inscrutable contrast ratio? Here’s our pick of the best OLED TVs you can buy right now.
1. LG OLED C8 series
LG sets a new standard
55-inch: LG OLED55C8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C8 | 77-inch: LG OLED77C8
Off the back of the OLEDC7, which topped this list last year, the OLEDC8 continues LG's winning streak as the best performing OLED television for the price.
LG has been leading the charge with its OLED TVs – no surprise, given it's technically LG-made panels being used in rival sets by Sony, Panasonic, and the like. But where the OLEDC8 and cheaper OLEDB8 sibling triumph, is in offering a premium OLED picture at a lower price point than much of the OLED sets out there, widening the user base beyond a few high-earners.
Like the rest of LG's OLED TVs, the C8 delivers a punchy, vibrant picture despite a limited peak brightness of only 820 nits. There's no HDR10+ support, sadly – but with regular HDR10 or the more premium Dolby Vision, you're getting rich colors alongside the deep, inky blacks that OLED is famed for. LG has also cracked down on motion handling issues for a cleaner, smoother picture than last year's model.
This year's model also features a wider, sloped TV stand that's both pleasing to the eye and acts to funnel sound from the set's downward-firing speakers towards the viewer.
Pictures can exhibit a little colour noise when running at the most satisfying brightness levels, and there seems to be some inconsistency between sets when it comes to how much they occasionally reveal ‘bands’ of different black level during dark scenes. For the vast majority of the time, though, you’ll find yourself wondering how a 'low-end' OLED TV in town could possibly look so good.
Read the full review: LG OLED C8
2. Sony Bravia AF9 OLED
Beautifully controlled pictures in a ground-breaking, minimalist design
55-inch: Sony KD-55AF9 | 65-inch: Sony KD-65AF9
The AF9 is unquestionably Sony’s best OLED offering to date, and arguably a strong contender for best high-end screen of the year. With an all-glass front, no bezel, and a 3.2 surround sound system built into the screen itself, the AF9 is a looker that delivers astonishing visual and audio performance.
The X1 Ultimate processor offers a host of improvements on Sony's previous OLED sets, giving greater definition to individual objects onscreen and boosting color contrast in what was already a startling clear and refined picture. You're paying a price premium for the privilege, but you can be sure you're getting a brilliant OLED display for the money.
Sony’s processing prowess also does a better job than any other brand of ‘upconverting’ standard dynamic range content to HDR, meaning you get more consistent use out of your TV’s maximum capabilities.
The Android TV smart platform has its share of problems (read: bugs), but the new Android Oreo interface introduced here solves a lot of them, and makes navigating Sony's apps and services far simpler, with menu bars for recently watched and favorited channels.
An added bonus of buying into Sony's Master Series TV range is the inclusion of a Netflix Calibrated Mode, for calibrating those pretty pixels to best suit TV and films on the Netflix streaming service. Necessary? Probably not. A nice touch? Definitely.
Read the full review: Sony AF9 OLED
3. LG OLEDE8 series
LG's best OLED ever?
55-inch: LG OLED55E8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E8 | 77-inch: LG OLED77E8
We were almost surprised to see LG improve on last year's OLEDE7, but it looks like they've done it. The OLEDE8 sees LG double down on software improvements, reducing picture noise and using a new Alpha 9 processor that really knows how to handle HDR images.
The design of the model is still gorgeous, mapping a pixel display onto an astonishingly thin glass pane, even if it's ditched some of the E7's fancier protrusions. LG also saw fit to drop the integrated soundbar, opting instead for a thinner speaker band between the panel and the glass bottom.
The speakers inevitably feel lacking compared to last year's model, and it feels like a step backwards in the sound department – but you're still getting a dynamic audio performance with some limited Dolby Atmos capability.
It's maybe harder to justify the E8 over the C8, given the similar picture processing, same brilliant webOS smart TV platform, and less of an discrepancy in sound quality. But if you want the full OLED package with the looks to match, and a bit of boost to audio, the E8 is going to be your television of choice.
Read the full review: LG OLED E8
4. Bang & Olufsen Eclipse
True luxury design and separates-grade sound quality make this a truly unique OLED all-rounder
55-inch: B&O Eclipse 55 | 65-inch: B&O Eclipse 65
As usual with Bang & Olufsen, the Eclipse isn’t exactly your typical OLED screen. In fact, its screen is really just one ‘small’ component of its overall design rather than being pretty much the whole deal. This is because the screen slots into the top of a huge built in speaker bar that extends out beyond the edges of the screen above it, while the speaker bar in turn sits on top of a gorgeous sliver of glass below it. And all of that sits on a range of different stand options, including my personal favourite – a motorised rotating floor mount that can both move the whole screen forward and backwards, or rotate it left and right. The entire towering construction is beautifully built, too.
The TV certainly isn’t a case of all style and no substance, though. That LG-based screen delivers all of its customary contrast and colour thrills, while that vast soundbar has so much raw power and such huge dynamics that it humbles many external high end speaker systems.
With multi-room speaker support and surround sound decoding built in too, the only issues with the Eclipse are that its complicated to use, and that you probably won’t be able to afford one…
Read the full review: Bang & Olufsen BeoVision Eclipse
5. Philips OLED 803 (not available in the US)
Double the processing power, and some gorgeous Ambilight colors
55-inch: Philips 55OLED803 | 65-inch: Philips 65OLED803
Philips OLED 803 is a beautiful OLED television, if you can get past some minor issues.
The main draw here is Philips second-generation P5 processor, which manages to double the processing power of the chip seen in the 803's predecessors. The results are stunning, with a Perfect Natural Reality function that algorithmically tweaks contrast, brightness, and definition to optimize your picture on the fly.
The effect of Philips' P5 engine may sometimes be subtle with real-world content, but it gives this set an edge when it comes to playing in SDR 4K or HD. You're also getting Philip's unique Ambilight technology, which throws onscreen colors onto the wall behind your television, giving a sense of real atmosphere.
The 803 is technically second-in-line to Philips' OLED, after the OLED 903+, but the only real difference is the latter's integrated Bowers & Wilkins soundbar – an improvement on sound, sure, but you'll save a neat £500 by going after the 803 and sticking with your current sound system instead.
There's some input lag, so this isn't as well-suited a TV to gaming as some of the others on this list – and the Android TV interface isn't the most seamless. Not to mention the exclusion of the Freeview Play catch-up service, which is increasingly expected as standard for UK viewers.
But the 803 is no doubt the most tempting OLED Philips has produced, and the competitive price compared to the 903+ just nabs it a place on this list.
Read our full review: Philips OLED 803
- For a full rundown of the best sets out there, whether LCD or OLED, check our our full best TVs of 2019 guide