If you are currently shopping for a new TV and your priorities include unbeatable picture quality and a sleek frame – an OLED is the one for you.
There’s so much choice when it comes to televisions these days and a lot of acronyms that quickly become overwhelming as you compare the top brands – but it’s the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) models that have everything you could want.
These TVs offer so much more than just a high-quality image, although there are now a variety of both 4K and 8K resolution panels available. They are also great if you want a slimline design, ultra-fast response times, eye comfort and more.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about OLED technology – how it works and why you should consider having it in your next TV. For a full run-down about why it’s special, don’t miss this OLED TV buying guide.
What is an OLED TV and why do you need one?
Not everyone wants to get caught up in the complexities of how OLED TV technology works – and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, it’s your home viewing experience that matters most.
Here’s what you need to know: unlike other TVs, OLEDs do not need a backlit panel to work. Instead, every screen pixel is “self-lighting.” Why is that important? It means each minuscule pixel that makes up the image on your TV can be controlled separately. Crucially, they can be perfectly turned off.
As a result, OLED TVs produce “perfect blacks”. For you, that means the picture quality has more depth and a much better contrast ratio than other TV types. The dark colours are darker while the brights appear brighter. The impact is astounding, especially as all OLED TVs also boast impressive colour accuracy with minimal distortion.
Perfect blacks massively improve any movies or TV shows that take place at night or scenes that take place in the dark – enhancing not only the stars in the sky but also clearly showing actors in a murky shot – where other TVs will struggle.
For daytime shots, the colours are significantly more vibrant. The sky is brighter, and shadows are more defined – great for documentaries or the colourful Marvel films. Due to their tech, OLED TVs lack the “halo effect” that can often be spotted on LED TVs when unwanted light bleeds over into darker areas of the screen.
So we know OLEDs are great for image quality, but what about the other factors that make a TV great? Good news: they have those covered, too.
The lack of backlighting means the screen is much slimmer than LED models, and that’s perfect if you want to mount the new TV onto a wall. There are benefits for larger families, too, as OLEDs can be watched at wide viewing angles without any loss of quality.
Long term, OLEDs are better for your eyes than LEDs. OLEDs are flicker-free – so they lack any sign of subtle screen ripples commonly found in other displays. These flickers are often invisible to the naked eye but can severely impact your eye health. OLED TVs are more comfortable on the gaze as they emit up to 50% less blue light compared to other types of TVs. Just check the box stickers for “Eye Safe” certifications.
And it doesn’t stop there. The lack of a backlight means OLED TV sets are more energy efficient – as less energy is used by instead focusing on powering individual pixels. For gamers, OLEDs also boast some super-fast response times, meaning the image will remain super sharp despite frantic movement taking place on-screen.
How do OLED TVs work?
Let’s get a little more technical about why OLEDs are special and why you will now find the tech in everything from the iPhone 12 to the new Nintendo Switch.
TVs fall into one of two categories, backlit (LED) or self-emissive (OLED). Many of the more affordable TV models will likely be LCD (liquid crystal display).
The liquid crystals work by blocking light or letting it pass through – helping to create a picture when the TV is turned on. But they don’t actually produce any light, so that’s why another layer – an LED backlight – is needed. The terms LCD and LED TVs are often used interchangeably, but, for the most part, all the LED TVs have an LCD panel.
Due to the backlight, most LED panels suffer from a halo effect and lack perfect blacks. OLED is different. There’s no backlight. Instead, it uses an “organic” carbon-based material panel that creates light when zapped with an electrical current.
OLED TVs won’t boost a TV’s top pixel count, but they will make those pixels much more versatile. And that ends up being an important distinction while shopping: OLED TVs tend to come with 4K high-resolution displays, but not all 4K TVs are OLED.
How much is an OLED TV?
While the display technology isn’t new, it’s still a sought-after premium feature. As a result, 4K OLED models such as the 48-inch Sony Bravia KE48A9BU are still more expensive than their LCD/LED rivals – typically costing £1,000 and upwards – but they are more than worth it for the unrivalled quality and viewing experience.
8K models – such as the 88-inch LG Z19LA – are significantly more expensive, costing closer to £30,000. As the tech evolves, it’s highly likely these prices will come down.
What are some great OLED TVs?
There’s a variety of brands to choose from when browsing for OLED TVs, including LG, Sony and Philips. There’s a great selection at Currys covering all prices and sizes, so here’s our pick of some of the best models available to buy today.
Price: £899.00 | Buy now from Currys
LG is one of the leading manufacturers of OLED TVs in 2021 – and it’s for a good reason: pure quality. Priced at just under £1,000, the A1 series TV is a 4K model with a 48-inch display and all the benefits that OLED brings, primarily the stunningly vivid colours and incredible picture detail. It runs on the user-friendly webOS smart platform and can be controlled via both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice commands.
Price: £1,499.00 | Buy now from Currys
Sony’s Bravia series is seriously impressive, and this 55-inch set is another fantastic option when shopping for a new OLED TV. It’s a 4K model that boasts the company’s XR processor, which minimises motion blur and enhances colours, whether it’s a football match or action movie. This model has all the bells and whistles you would expect from a high-end TV – including a 120Hz refresh rate it can be mounted to your wall.
- Buy Sony Bravia 65-inch A84JU for £2,199 at Currys
- Buy Sony Bravia 77-inch A84JU for £3,599 at Currys
Price: £1,600.00 | Buy now from Currys
This large 65-inch 4K TV from Philips not only provides the major benefits of the OLED panel – vibrant colours and perfect deep blacks – but it also has a really neat trick: an immersive feature called “Ambilight” that projects LED coloured light from sides of the frame that is able to correspond with what’s happening on-screen. For example, if the movie playing is showing a bright sunny day, the lights will turn to a bright yellow. If you are watching a documentary that shows the ocean, the lighting will turn blue.
Price: £3,499.00 | Buy now from Currys
If you want to go bigger, check out this vast 4K OLED TV from LG that comes in at a whopping 77-inches. The TV comes with a Gen4 processor that upscales low-resolution content and has a 1ms response time so you can enjoy games without screen tearing or stuttering – it’s pretty much the perfect all-rounder. Mixed with the self-lighting pixels that make OLED special, you will be left wondering how you ever watched TV any other way.
- Buy LG 48-inch C14LB (4K, OLED) for £1,099 at Currys
- Buy LG 55-inch C14LB (4K, OLED) for £1,299 at Currys
- Buy LG 65-inch C14LB (4K, OLED) for £1,899 at Currys
Shop the full OLED TV range at Currys.