The best OLED TVs are a cinephile's dream. By presenting shows and movies with perfect contrast, well-saturated colors, excellent off-axis viewing and pristine black levels, they are currently one of the best display types in the world.
Price has previously been the main drawback of buying one, but you can now buy one of the best OLED TVs for less than $1,000, particularly if you don't mind an older model. And with 2022's sets available widely in stores now, the class of 2021 should see some price cuts very soon.
Why are they so highly sought after? Well, OLED panels offer superior contrast and sharpness over their LCD competition, thanks to their use of pixel-level lighting in place of traditional backlighting. That allows them to deliver inky black levels, punchy highlights and incredible color saturation, beating even Samsung's premium QLED technology in many regards. If OLED can beat QD-OLED, however, is another story...
So how do you choose the best OLED TV to buy? There are lots of things to consider, from price to smart features, not to mention picture and sound quality of course. Our stringent testing process evaluates each set for color gamut reproduction, color accuracy, and maximum brightness, and we also spend hours watching and using these TVs to give you our expert opinion on which OLED TV you should buy from the likes of LG, Sony and Vizio.
Not sure where to start? Read on for our top picks and some buying advice below that.
Best OLED TV value in 2022
Best overall OLED TV: LG G2 OLED
Using the best OLED evo panel on the market right now, the LG G2 OLED brings an extra 30% higher brightness than its predecessor, making it one of the brightest on the market. Add in some new gaming features and AI-boosted sound quality, and you've got the recipe for one of the world's top OLED TVs.
Best budget OLED TV: LG C1 OLED
It's not the newest model in LG's stable of OLED TVs, but just a year old the LG C1 OLED remains one of the best OLED TVs money can buy, especially at its current price. The LG C1 OLED uses last year's OLED panels and misses out on 7.1.2 audio upscaling, but it comes with a robust smart TV platform, low latency for gamers and beautiful contrast. It's an amazing TV, and now it can be yours for under $1,000.
Best value OLED TV: Vizio OLED TV
The days of all OLED TVs being unaffordable are over — and the Vizio's OLED TV is proof of that. The 55-inch model is now regularly available for less than $1,000, and sometimes a lot less. There's really never been a better time to go OLED. In our testing, we were impressed by its premium picture quality and excellent, bass-heavy sound, while its Vizio SmartCast platform offers a good selection of apps plus support for Google Cast and AirPlay 2.
What are the best OLED TVs?
As the only manufacturer of OLED panels, LG offers the widest selection of OLED TVs, with everything from budget-priced entry-level models to high-end premium sets. As a result, there are multiple LG OLED TVs on this list, with the best-in-class LG C1 OLED, the entry-level LG CX OLED, and the premium LG G1 OLED TV, all offering great performance and features that earn them a spot among the best TVs while we wait for 2022's models to enter our testing rooms.
But LG is not the only manufacturer selling OLED TVs, and competing models from Sony and Vizio also earn a spot on the list. The Sony Bravia A80J OLED was one of the best TVs of 2021, with next-gen smart functions and some of the best performance we've ever seen and seriously impressive audio. Meanwhile, the Vizio OLED TV is one of the most affordable to ever be sold, and delivers immense value for the money.
The best OLED TVs you can buy
The 2022 version of LG's premium G-series OLED TVs is here — and it's brilliant. The LG G2 OLED improves upon last year's G1 in almost every regard to up the game when it comes to the screen tech. Brightness has been a long-time OLED shortcoming, but in our testing we found that the LG G2 reached 590.54 nits — way above the G1's 412.05, albeit not quite on a par with the Sony A80J's 713.65 result. And brightness is just one aspect of its performance that impressed us, with color accuracy, color gamut and lag times all faring well in our testing. And of course you get the deep blacks we've come to expect from OLED.
This being one of LG's 'Gallery' series TVs, its design is also something to behold, with a minimalistic silver frame that gives it a near-bezel-less appearance. It's also well equipped with ports, sounds better than almost any OLED we've ever heard and offers a full-featured smart TV platform that should satisfy most households, without quite being the best. The LG C2, which we're currently testing, may end being a better purchase for most people, but until then this is the best OLED TV you can buy.
Read our full LG G2 OLED TV review
The LG C1 OLED is a fantastic value among premium TVs, offering an amazing OLED display, a full complement of HDMI 2.1 ports, and the best gaming performance and features you can get. Our testing found the display offers rich picture quality with impeccable contrast and sharpness, superb HDR support and gaming performance that beats everything else we've seen. Combine all of that with a stunning design and better-than-average sound, and you've got one of the best TVs you can buy.
LG's webOS faces stiffer competition on app selection and features, but smart options, like your choice of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants, AI-driven sports alerts, and gaming features like the game optimizer menu and support for Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Cloud keep it in the mix for the best smart TVs. All in all, it delivers incredible quality and solid value for the admittedly premium price, making it one of the best TVs we saw in 2021.
The good news is that LG has now announced its successor, the LG C2 OLED. That was one of several new LG 2022 TV models announced this year, and we know it will come in a 42-inch version — making it the smallest OLED TV ever. There'll also be 83-, 77-, 65-, 55- and 48-inch configurations, and we'll be reviewing it very soon.
Read our full LG C1 OLED TV review.
If you want impeccable quality and next-gen capabilities, we love the Sony Bravia XR A80J. This 4K OLED is absolutely packed with futuristic technologies: HDR, a 120 Hz refresh rate, ATSC 3.0 tuner, Google TV streaming and Sony's own Bravia Core service, Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology… the list goes on. Sure, not everyone will need everything here, but it's nice to have the option.
Just as importantly, it also excels at the basics — our testing found that contrast is superb, colors are rich and varied, viewing angles are impressive and it handles upscaling well. Sound is also excellent and Google TV is a big upgrade on the older Android TV. Against that, the XR A80J requires a little more tweaking in order to look its best; it's fine out of the box, but to really reach its full potential, you'll want to play around with various modes.
Even better, with the launch of the A80K alongside the rest of Sony's 2022 TVs, we should see some great discounts on this excellent all-rounder.
Read our full Sony Bravia XR A80J review.
Vizio's first foray into OLED TVs is a big step for the budget TV maker, but a giant leap for affordable OLED TVs. The 55-inch model launched with a price of $1,299, but it's regularly available below the $1,000 mark, while delivering all of the quality you expect from OLED. Our testing found that the Vizio OLED delivers premium picture quality for hundreds of dollars less than the competition, and pairs it with great sound that has better-than-average bass.
Vizio SmartCast has also shaped up to become a solid smart TV platform, with an expanded app selection and built-in support for Google Cast and AirPlay 2. It's one of the best 4K TV values of 2021, and the easy pick for affordable OLED TVs.
Read our full Vizio OLED TV review.
The LG G1 OLED TV boasts a premium 20mm-thin design that is made to be wall mounted. It's the best 4K OLED TV made by LG from a performance perspective, but given the price difference between it and the C1, we don't feel it offers quite enough to be a better choice for most people.
That said, the LG G1 OLED is still an impressive OLED set, and LG has even knocked the price down a bit, while updating almost everything about the TV. It has a more comfortable remote control, enhanced gaming features, and the latest version of webOS, all while delivering the same excellent picture quality and impeccable sound that we've come to expect from LG's best OLED TVs in testing. It's a reminder of just how far modern TV technology has come — and we're excited for the new G2, which we're testing right now.
Read our full LG G1 OLED TV review.
How much do OLED TVs cost?
The cheapest 4K OLED TVs on the market are the LG C1 OLED and the Vizio OLED TV. Both sell at around $1,299 for the 55-inch model as standard, but both can regularly be found for less than $1,000.
The majority of OLED TVs in the 55- and 65-inch range sell for between $1,500 and $2,000, but premium models will often cost more, and larger screen sizes can routinely sell for $3,000 or more.
What is OLED?
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, a display technology that uses organic compounds to create clusters of red, green, blue, and white points of light to make up the individual pixels of the TV. On a 4K TV with 3840 x 2160 resolution, that means a single OLED panel will have 8.29 million pixels. And unlike standard LCD TVs, each one of those pixels produces its own light, and can be individually turned on or off, brightened or dimmed.
That pixel-level control of brightness lets OLED offer the best contrast of any display technology, with neighboring pixels delivering everything from intense brightness to true black, and every color imaginable.
As a result, OLED TVs consistently outperform the majority of LED-lit LCD TVs, whether they use standard LCD panels or boost the picture quality with enhancements like quantum dots (also known as QLED) or discrete dimming zones.
That said, some LED technologies are starting to catch up, like the excellent Samsung Q90A for example. But as far as picture quality is concerned, OLED remains the TV tech you can rely on.
Are OLED TVs worth buying?
If you want a truly excellent TV, OLED is absolutely worth considering. It offers better picture quality than standard LCD TVs can match, and with prices coming down every year, they're no longer prohibitively expensive either. In testing and reviews, OLED TVs have consistently offered some of the best picture quality available.
There are areas of performance where LCDs offer better performance. Brightness on OLED TVs is no match for the greater intensity you can produce with an LED backlight, and LCD sets don't have the same risk of burn-in or color drift that OLEDs have to contend with long-term. But in virtually every other area, from viewing angles to color accuracy, OLED sets match or beat LCD-based competitors hands down.
But there is some question of whether that improved quality is worth the added expense. When there are 4K models selling for under $500, why spend $1,000 or more on an OLED set? There is definitely a case to be made for spending less for quality that is comparable, if not exactly the same.
But if you want the best color, contrast and overall quality you can get from a TV today, OLED is the way to go.
How to choose the best OLED TVs for you
The above selection of OLED TVs offer an embarrassment of riches for TV shoppers to choose from, with everything from basic functionality to advanced smart features and premium designs.
The biggest factor in most shopper's decision making will be price. And when it comes to OLED TVs, there are three clear price bands to choose from.
Firstly, there's the more affordable models that come in for less than $1,500 (and even less than $1,000), such as the Vizio OLED TV, as well as the smallest screen size of the 48-inch LG C1 OLED (and watch out for the new 42-inch version of the LG C2, coming later in 2022).
More mainstream OLED TVs fall between $1,500 and $2,000, which will let you get a solid 55- or 65-inch model. More premium models will cost more than $2,000 and larger screen sizes will range even higher.
But other differences include physical designs, from the slim pedestal base looks of the Vizio OLED TV or the LG C1, to the ultra-slim wall-hanging design of the LG G1 OLED.
Smart features are also a differentiator. LG sets offer a pretty consistent experience across all of its models thanks to the webOS platform, but Sony's Android TV and Vizio SmartCast sets have strengths and weaknesses of their own.
Sony's OLED sets use Android TV, which offers both a rich selection of apps and services along with Google-powered capabilities like Google Assistant voice control and built-in Chromecast functionality. The Vizio OLED TV, on the other hand, also has a Chromecast built-in, but offers a more limited selection of apps and more basic functionality.
Interested in a specific TV brand, price range or screen size? Check out our picks for the best TVs in each.
How we test OLED TVs
Every OLED TV we review goes through a thorough testing and evaluation process, starting with rigorous lab testing and finishing with eyes-on evaluation by our reviewers. There's a lot more to it than just putting on a couple of 4K Blu-ray movies or hooking up a game console.
In our TV test space, we submit every TV to a number of lab tests, using industry-standard equipment, such as a calibrated spectrophotometer, calibration software and a dedicated test pattern generator. We measure for several indicators of picture quality, but these are the main metrics used in all of our reviews:
Color gamut, which measures how much color a given TV can produce. Expressed as a percentage rating, most OLED TVs meet or exceed 100% of the Rec709 color space.
Color accuracy, which measures the average deviation from perfect accuracy, expressed as a number (Delta-E), with higher numbers indicating less accurate color.
Contrast, measuring the difference between the darkest darks and brightest brights that a TV can produce, which is expressed as a ratio.
Brightness, measuring the peak luminance of a panel or display. This measure is reported in nits, an industry term for candela per square meter (cd/m2).
Lag time is the interval between a signal, such as button press on a game console, and the subsequent change registering on-screen. Measured with a Leo Bodnar Video Signal Input Lag Tester, this is measured in milliseconds, and provides a good indicator of how well-suited a TV is to modern gaming.
We pair this lab testing with hands-on time, viewing video samples and movies to see how these numbers translate into real-world performance. With that information, we can tell you which TVs look best, sound best and offer the best viewing experience.
Finally, we also evaluate the smart TV software and menus, getting a feel for the navigation and functions of each TV. We look at everything from the remote control design to the voice interaction to let us meaningfully talk about the smart features and overall ease-of-use for a smart TV.