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Are OLED TVs Worth It? I Made the Plunge for You

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Back on Amazon Prime Day, I made the gutsy, impetuous decision to purchase a TV. But not just any television, a 55-inch LG OLED TV. After spending a sleepless night weighing the pros and cons of the purchase and making sure that my budget could stomach it, I took the plunge. And I have to tell you, outside of moving into my new duplex apartment and hiring my summer intern, this is one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. 

The Score

Just to recap, I went into Prime Day hoping, wishing, praying, chanting to find the perfect TV for my new living room. Not only would it be used to watch my various cartoons, anime and documentaries, it also had to look good when my boyfriend watched sports. And it absolutely had to look spectacular when gaming.

My ideal set would be 55-inches with 4K OLED with HDR10 with some sweet Dolby Vision and Audio and at least a 120-Hertz refresh rate. Oh, and I didn’t want to pay more than $1,500. When I told my coworkers my wishlist they laughed, but I remained undaunted. My stubbornness paid off as I found the LG OLED55E8PUA on Newegg for $1,299 -- a 57% off deal. (As of this writing, the above TV is even a bit cheaper at $1,279.)

LG E8 55" OLED 4K HDR Dolby Atmos Smart TV with AI ThinQ OLED55E8PUAView Deal

The Arrival

I purchased my TV on Tuesday, July 16th. I didn’t actually receive my beloved set until six days later on July 22nd. It seems that since the television was sold through a third-party vendor, my wait was a bit longer. And while the anticipation was definitely building, I appreciated receiving a text stating the delivery day and time.

And while I wanted to stay home and wait for the newest member of my gadget family to arrive, I was a professional and went to work. The day seemed to creep by, but it finally ended and I got home to find my TV semi-unboxed? My boyfriend quickly assuaged my wrath, informing me the delivery guys had to plug it in to make sure it worked. My abated anger quickly turned to glee as it was now time to assemble and hook up my new TV, which took about 20 mins from start to finish. When it’s in its stand, it looks like I feel -- floating on Cloud 9.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With mostly everything hooked up including the Altice One cable box and Playstation 4 Pro, the long-awaited moment came. I turned on the TV and there was...no signal. Frantic, I checked the connection and that wasn’t the problem. The true culprit was Optimum, whose service had been out for an hour at that point and didn’t return until 2 a.m. Even worse, the Wi-Fi was out, which meant I couldn’t use my PlayStation because it needed an update. It’s put me closer to cutting the cord, but that’s a story for another article. 

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When service was finally restored, I played Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Even though I had been playing it for the past two weeks, I felt like this was my first time really seeing the game. I could see the ethereal green energy writhing through the matted fur of a Demon Lord. In the background, another demon’s brick-red form was contorted in pain trapped within a sapphire blue prison of ice. And this is before I even started tweaking settings.

Streaming (and the boyfriend reaction)

I am a tech junkie. My boyfriend is not. I’m also a collector, which means that I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, and whozits and whatzits galore. And yes, I’ve got a thingamabob or two lying around. So when I announced my intention to get yet another television (we already have two), he was none too pleased. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

And when it arrived and took up most of the space of our TV stand, he was even less enthused. That all changed the minute he watched his beloved NY Mets. I’m not really a baseball fan, but it was pretty impressive to see individual blades of grass when the outfielder went diving for the ball.

But I knew I had him when we settled in to finish the last season of Jessica Jones. Even though the Netflix Marvel shows are shot a little darker than average Netflix show, that hideous orange couch in Jessica’s office became the center point of the scene. And it was cool watching the sweat magnify Trish’s pores as she trained to become a superhero. It’s a small detail, but once you see it, it just drives home how great the TV really is. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Coco looked resplendent as she laid the verbal smackdown to a sycophant in Dear White People. The 4K HDR was in full effect as her ebony skin seemed to glow against her chic neon green blazer. Details were so clear that we could see the honey-brown highlighted strands in her stylish bob wig. The newest convert to the OLED way of life is actually excited to swap out our remaining TVs for the shiny new hotness. 

Gaming

Playing games on my PS4 Pro and Xbox One X has been an eye-opening experience on my LG. I started out on my PS4 Pro, after making the necessary video adjustments in Settings (enabling HDR and Dolby Tech) I started playing Mortal Kombat 11. A small HDR logo in the top right of the screen brought a smile to my face as I decided to take on the Towers of Time as Jacqui Briggs. And I have to say, punching someone’s head into their chest cavity and then punching a hole through their chest and tossing a grenade in there has never looked so gory and yet so pretty. Slow-motion shots of major hits were a ballet of blood, angst and distorted limbs –– a deadly beautiful spectacle.

And Far Cry New Dawn was a post-apocalyptic wonderland awash in verdant greens, bonnie blues and powerful pinks. The landscape was so pretty, in fact, I spent an hour hunting, fishing and just straight up exploring. I almost forgot that I was supposed to liberating the county from a pair of megalomaniacal twins. 

MORE: Best 4K Gaming TVs Available Now

I kept the gore factor going on the One X with Gears of War 4. Pushing my way through a Swarm enclave was a googy, sticky encounter. The drones grayish-pink skin had a sickening sheen to it that glistened in the moonlight. During an execution kill, I sawed through a Swarm soldiers back with the chainsaw end of my Retro Lancer, sending an eruption of bright red blood gushing like a viscera-laden Old Faithful. 

Although games like Bloodstained and Child of Light aren’t HDR enhanced, they looked almost as pretty as their enhanced counterparts. Thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate, beautiful colors and 4K upscaling, most games look great on the LG.

Futzing with settings

Calibrating this TV by far has been the best, but most painstaking part of owning this TV. I mean, with a television this nice, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of those deep blacks and vivid color. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

So far, I’ve been switching between 7 of the 10 presets (Vivid, Standard, APS, Cinema, Sports, Game and HDR Effect) and right now I’m using Vivid with energy saving mode disabled when I’m watching live TV or streaming Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube so I can get all that lovely luminance. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

However, I’m excited about trying out the last three settings (technicolor Expert, isf Expert (Bright Room) and is Expert (Dark Room). Or at least I’m excited to have a professional check it out. ISF calibration is a standard set by the Imaging Science Foundation that is designed to tune your TVs visuals to the standards set by the television and film industry for a more realistic picture. ISF calibration techs essentially come to your house with their precision instruments and tweak the gamma, white balance and other minutiae that a lay person like me normally wouldn’t futz around with. 

The service can cost hundreds of dollars, but I’m really considering it to get the best performance out of my TV. 

Bottom Line

I bought a 4K OLED TV. and yes, I still think you should, too. If you think the difference between 1080p and 4K is impressive, wait until you get your hands on something with HDR10, high refresh rates, Dolby Vision and beautiful OLED. And you don’t necessarily have to wait for Black Friday/Cyber Monday to take the plunge as great deals pop up all the time.