There's no denying that OLED TVs are some of the best-looking TVs around. OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a panel technology that makes for stunning contrast, incredible color, and ultra-slim profiles—it's the reason OLED TVs have topped our Best-of-Year lists for the last four or five years.
If you're looking for the best of the best in the world of OLED, we recommend the LG C1(available at Amazon for $1,796.99). Not only does the C1 top our list of OLED TVs, it's also our current pick for the best TV you can buy, thanks to its unbelievable picture quality, razor-thin design, and future-facing features. Since almost every OLED TV looks amazing, what really ends up guiding the buying decision can be features and price.
If you're hoping to grab an OLED that's more budget-friendly, the Vizio OLED(available at Amazon) is our best value pick. All of the OLEDs here are glorious in their own right, however, and have been vetted with our strenuous cycle of lab tests.
Editor's Note: October 18th, 2021
The LG BX OLED TV has been discontinued. The BX is a fantastic TV, so we highly recommend picking one up while supplies last.
These are the best OLED TVs we tested, ranked in order:
The LG C1 (available in 48-, 55-, 65-, and 77-inch models) is a stunning OLED TV with an array of future-facing features that will help maintain its value for several years to come. It’s easy to see why it’s our pick for the best TV you can buy right now.
OLED TVs are known for their incredible contrast, and the LG C1 is no exception. It pairs a perfect black level with stellar highlights, offering a sustained peak brightness of around 700 to 800 nits in HDR, making it one of the brightest OLED TVs we’ve ever seen. When it comes to color, the C1 is a top-level performer, too; it features 100% SDR color saturation (Rec.709) and 97% HDR color saturation (DCI-P3). That means no matter what you’re watching, you can expect rich, true-to-life color. From cable TV to Blu-rays, the C1 makes TVs and movies look their best.
The LG C1 is equipped with four HDMI 2.1 inputs that all support 4K resolution at 120fps, which makes it a great choice for gamers who own (or plan on owning) an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. In fact, the LG C1 is stuffed with gaming-centric features, like Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and FreeSync/G-Sync support, and a suite of picture enhancements that can be found in the TV’s Game Optimizer menu.
The C1 also comes with the sixth iteration of LG’s webOS smart platform pre-installed, and while it’s not our favorite smart software going right now, most folks will find it suitable to their needs; it’s zippy, easy to navigate, and offers a broad selection of apps via LG’s Content Store.
Although the LG G1 and the Sony A90J are better-performing TVs by the thinnest of margins, we believe that, for most folks, the slight difference in picture quality isn’t worth the added cost.
Between its incredible performance, its wide array of features, and its elegant design, the LG C1 is the best TV you can buy right now. True A/V enthusiasts might be tempted by the LG G1 and the Sony A90J’s slightly superior picture quality, but if you want the best ride for your money, the C1 offers a nearly identical experience for a considerably friendlier price.
Vizio’s first OLED TV successfully blends the high-end picture quality we’ve come to expect from OLED TVs with the value-forward philosophies that helped give way to Vizio’s recent rise in popularity. It’s one of the most affordable ways to secure an OLED TV.
Available in 55- and 65-inch models, the Vizio OLED is packed with features fit for next-generation gaming, including HDMI 2.1 support (with eARC passthrough), VRR, and ALLM. Like all of the OLED TVs we’ve tested in recent years, the Vizio OLED also features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz. This refresh rate, combined with the TV’s HDMI 2.1 support, means that the Vizio OLED will be capable of 4K gaming at 120 FPS.
And then, of course, there’s the Vizio OLED’s picture, which is unsurprisingly stunning. Due to the self-emissive nature of each pixel in an organic LED display, the Vizio OLED is capable of perfect black levels and rich, accurate colors. Although it doesn’t get nearly as bright as high-end quantum dot TVs, it’s about as bright as its direct competitor, the LG BX.
If you’re hoping to make your next TV an OLED, the Vizio OLED is the most affordable way to do so while still getting the latest, state-of-the-art TV tech. Simply put, when you factor in its performance chops and its next-gen gaming features, the Vizio OLED is one of the most value-packed TVs on the market.
Reviewed has been testing TVs since some of its current employees were in middle school. While many proud TV testers have come and gone through Reviewed's labs, the current Home Theater team consists of Michael Desjardin and Lee Neikirk. Michael is a senior staff writer and a six-year veteran of the Reviewed tech team. A film enthusiast and TV expert, he takes picture quality seriously but also understands that not every TV is a good fit for everyone.
As Reviewed's Home Theater Editor, Lee doesn't do as much testing these days. However, he designed the company's current TV testing methodology after receiving calibration certification from the Imaging Science Foundation.
It'd be an understatement to say that we're serious about TV testing. The lab in our Cambridge location is outfitted with much of the same equipment you'd find at a factory that manufactures and calibrates television.
On the hardware side, we've got things like a Konica Minolta CS-200 tristimulus color meter, an LS-100 luminance meter, a Leo Bodnar input lag tester, a Quantum Data 780A signal generator, and more Blu-rays than we can keep track of. For software, we use CalMan Ultimate, the industry-standard in taking display measurements and calibrating screens to specifications.
Our testing process is equally complicated and has been honed over many years to gather data that is marginal enough to satisfy curious video engineers, but also relevant to the average person's viewing experience. We measure things like peak brightness, black level, hue and saturation for primary and secondary digital colors, the accuracy of the TV's electro-optical transfer function—you get the idea, it's complicated.
Weighting for our performance tests is based on how the human eye prioritizes vision, which means we put "brightness" data (monochromatic eye based on light sensitivity) higher than colorimetry, which is also scaled by the eye's sensitivity, and so on.
Outside of the strictly technical tests, we also spend a lot of time just watching and using each TV, getting a feel for the at-home experience of doing things like dialing up streaming video service, connecting a Blu-ray player and watching movies, using the smart features, and checking out the TV's ports, remote, and on-set buttons—anything and everything that might be relevant.
What You Should Know About TVs
While everyone has different eyes, generally, our vision all functions the same way: we prioritize dynamic information and bright, compelling colors over subtler hues and resolution (sharpness). Generally, a TV can be considered a good TV when we forget that we're watching a TV. We don't see pixels creating mixes of red, green, and blue to simulate colors; we see the real world, lit and colored as it is, in fluid motion.
In simpler terms, this means a TV that can get very bright and dark without obscuring details; produces accurate colors (compared to various color standards designated by the International Telecommunication Union); possesses proper bit-mapping and the right codecs and decoders for video processing; and can properly play the various types of content thrown at it without judder, blurring, and so on.
Note that specs alone (pixel count, measured brightness) aren't automatic indicators of quality, much like intense speed is not automatically an indicator of a good car.
What Is An OLED TV?
OLED (short for Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a newer panel technology that differs from traditional LED/LCD TVs in a single important way. While most traditional LCD/LED panels rely on a backlight to illuminate the picture, each pixel in an OLED panel turns on and off independently of the others— and instead of using a backlight, the pixels emit their own light. This allows for deeper, richer black levels—essentially "true" black levels because the pixels aren't dark, they're turned off entirely. The end result is superb overall contrast and rich, accurate color reproduction.
In addition, most OLED TV panels are far thinner than their LED/LCD equivalents because they don't use a backlight, and they also tend to deliver the widest, most accommodating viewing angles on the market today.
What Is OLED Burn-In And Do I Need To Worry About It?
Sometimes used interchangeably, "burn-in" and "image retention" are essentially two sides of the same coin. Image retention refers to any image that "sticks" on a screen, even when the content changes. It usually appears as a faint ghost, and with most TVs this fades after a moment or two. Burn-in, on the other hand, is a form of image retention that lasts much longer, and it's usually visible even when playing other content. Both terms have haunted conversations about OLED TVs since the display technology was first introduced, but the
What causes burn-in?
Burn-in is an after image or discoloration typically caused by leaving a static image on a screen for a long period of time. When it comes to most contemporary TVs, image retention and burn-in are only risks during extreme circumstances. For instance, in our lab tests indicated that long-term OLED burn-in was only a risk if a static image was displayed on for well over 20 hours, and most minor image retention issues seemed to go away with time.
Should I be worried about burn-in if I'm planning on buying an OLED TV?
For most people, the answer is no. We've spent hundreds of hours working with OLED televisions, and burn-in doesn't appear to be a major concern if you're a typical user. Image retention may be an issue when you first begin using your OLED TV, but it gets better with time. It's only visible under extreme circumstances, and it doesn't appear to be permanent. Even right out of the box, long-term damage is not likely if you're using your OLED TV like a normal TV. To get permanent damage, you'd need to keep an image on the screen for well over 24 hours straight. This might be a concern for airports or sports bars, but otherwise there's nothing to worry about. Most OLEDs have a "shut off timer" to protect them, and most source devices use screen-savers or dimming functions to reduce the damage.
How do I fix minor image retention?
If you leave any kind of bright, static image on your OLED screen for an extended period of time, you might see some temporary image retention. If that happens, here are some basic steps you can take:
Turn the TV off for 5-10 minutes and then back on
Resume typical use, but watch content that doesn't have static elements
Be sure to turn the TV off for a bit every couple of hours, especially when it's brand new
What TV Terms Do I Need To Know?
When it comes to knowing what you're paying for, almost no category is rifer with subterfuge and tomfoolery than TVs. While knowing the specs of the TV you're shopping for is only half the battle, it's the bigger half. Here are the key bits of jargon you'll want to know while browsing:
LED/LCD: This refers to Light Emitting Diode and Liquid Crystal Display. LEDs are the backlights used in LCD TVs, also sometimes called a LED TV for this reason. The LED backlight shines through a layer of a semi-solid substance called "liquid crystal," so named for its ability to morph in reaction to tiny electrical volts and allow light to pass through.
4K/UHD: Usually 4K refers to resolution—specifically, 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. This is the current standard/mainstream resolution for most TVs. UHD means Ultra High Definition, and actually refers to a suite of picture improvements like 4K resolution and Wide Color Gamut, which can display many more shades than HD TVs.
High Dynamic Range: Like "UHD," High Dynamic Range (or HDR) refers to both a type of TV and a type of content that expands on the typical range of brightness (luminance) and color that a TV will produce. HDR TVs are newer and usually a bit more expensive, but can have many times the brightness and 30% more color production than non-HDR TVs. Current top HDR formats include HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.
60 Hz/120 Hz: These numbers refer to what is called a "refresh rate," with Hz (hertz) representing "times per second." So if a TV's refresh rate is 60 Hz, this means it re-scans and updates for picture information 60 times per second; with 120 Hz, it's 120 times per second. Currently, TVs only come in 60 or 120 Hz. A higher refresh rate is always better, but not always necessary.
Smart TV: The term "smart TV" has evolved a lot over the years, but all it really means is that the TV connects to the internet. Most smart TVs these days are just a way to watch streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video on your TV. Some smart TVs have browsers, calendars, or even Roku or Android functions. All smart TVs have ethernet or WiFi built-in.
Quantum Dots: Quantum dots are used in LED/LCD TVs only. These are microscopic nanocrystals that produce intensely colored light when illuminated. Quantum dots can be used to vastly improve the red and green saturation of a TV, and are one way that LED/LCD TVs can match the color spectrum of OLED.
Local Dimming: OLED panels look great because each pixel can operate independently. LED/LCD TVs can imitate this functioning via a process called local dimming, where localized clusters of LEDs dim or boost depending on whether the screen needs to be darker or brighter, sometimes vastly improving their performance and worth.
What Is a TV Series?
You may notice the TVs listed in this roundup don't follow the traditional naming convention you might see in a store or online. That's because rather than nominating a single size of TV (such as the LG OLED65C8PUA, aka the 65-inch LG C8 series OLED), we nominate the entire range of sizes within a "series."
Typically these TVs are identical in performance but differ in price and size. We do this in order to offer you more flexibility in your decision, but also because it's the most accurate representation available.
Other OLED TVs We Tested
If quality is what you’re after and you don’t mind splashing out on a high-end TV, the Sony A90J is not only one of the best OLED TVs we’ve ever tested, but one of the best TVs we’ve ever tested, period.
The A90J blends the picture-perfect black levels of an OLED with some of the brightest highlights we’ve ever seen for this impressive display technology. In HDR, the A90J regularly climbs as high as 700 to 800 nits, with specular highlights getting much brighter than that in short bursts. The added brightness also elevates the TV’s colors, which are equal parts voluminous and accurate. In fact, the A90J’s HDR color palette covers about 98% of the expanded DCI-P3 color space when the TV is in its “Custom” picture mode.
The Sony A90J is also packed to the gills with features and enhancements, including the Google TV smart platform, eARC compatibility, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support, a native refresh rate of 120 Hz, and Center Speaker mode, which allows users to use the A90J’s internal speakers as the center channel of a surround sound setup.
Crucially, two of the A90J’s HDMI 2.1-specified ports offer Variable Refresh Rate, Auto Low Latency Mode, and support 4K content at 120 FPS. If you own (or plan on owning) a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, these features are essential if you’re hoping to get the most out of the newest generation of gaming consoles.
If there’s one major criticism you can level at this remarkable TV, it’s that its cost is much higher than most TVs. Even among other high-end TVs in its own category, the Sony A90J sticks out as one of the priciest. Still, if you have the means and you’re searching for a TV with incredible out-of-the-box performance, the A90J is one of the best you’ll find on shelves today.
Incredible contrast and color
HDMI 2.1-specified features
Zippy, flexible smart platform
Brighter than last year, but still dim compared to LCD/LED TVs
The LG G1 (available in 55, 65, and 77 inches) is the crown jewel of LG’s consumer-facing OLED TV lineup for 2021, offering slightly better performance than the LG C1, though at a significantly higher price point. It’s not an ideal fit for most people—even many folks shopping in a higher price bracket—but it’s an incredible TV stuffed with an incredible amount of features.
Being an OLED TV, the LG G1 sports perfect black levels and an incredible level of picture detail. It’s one of the few LG OLED TVs that uses the company’s “OLED “evo” panel technology, which allows the G1 to get slightly brighter than the LG C1. The OLED evo panel is also marginally better at saturating HDR color than the C1. That said, only the keenest of eyes will recognize the difference in picture quality between the G1 and the C1.
In terms of features, the G1 offers everything but the kitchen sink. With a 120Hz refresh rate, HDMI 2.1, G-Sync/FreeSync, Auto Low Latency Mode, and various game optimization settings, the G1 is one of the best TVs available for gamers. It also comes with the sixth iteration of LG’s webOS smart platform, which we find fast and flexible enough for most users.
The “G” in G1 stands for “Gallery,” and LG’s Gallery OLED series carries that name because it’s designed to hang on a wall like a piece of art. If you don’t want to wall-mount your next TV, you’ll need to shell out extra for the G1’s stand, which is sold separately.
There’s no denying that the LG G1 is one of the best TVs we’ve ever seen, and one that performs marginally better than the LG C1. The added cost, however, is anything but marginal—especially once you factor in the G1’s separately sold stand. For this reason, the G1 isn’t at the top of our ranking. If you decide to go all-in on the G1, however, you’ll be investing in one of the best TVs money can buy—and it’ll stay that way for years to come.
Editor's note: As of May, 2021, the most reliable place to find the LG G1 in stock is via LG's online store. According to LG, new inventory is being added regularly.
The LG BX (available in 55- and 65-inch variants) is one of the most affordable OLED TV series released recently, which makes it a great pickup for folks who don’t mind paying a premium for stunning, top-of-the-line TV technology, but nevertheless don’t want to spend the extra dough to land a better-performing TV, like the LG CX.
The BX is a 4K TV with HDR support including Dolby Vision. Since it’s an OLED TV, you can expect perfect black levels and dazzling, voluminous color. Like the CX OLED, the BX also comes with LG's webOS smart platform pre-installed. The software is user-friendly, responsive, and should satisfy AV enthusiasts and novices alike.
For some folks—gamers in particular—the main draw of the BX will be its special features; the TV is equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports, supports FreeSync/G-Sync, and features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz. Simply put, the BX is one of the most affordable ways to secure a TV that will get the most out of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, even if its price tag doesn’t seem very affordable at first glance.
Because OLED TVs don’t get as bright as quantum dot LED TVs—and because the LG BX isn’t as bright as higher-end OLED TVs like the LG CX—folks with relatively bright living rooms might want to give brighter TVs a closer look. The LG BX isn’t exactly a dim TV, but it’s not as bright as you might expect given its price tag.
Here’s the bottom line: The LG BX isn’t a budget-friendly TV, but it is one of the most affordable ways to secure incredible OLED performance and future-proof features (though the Vizio OLED is significantly less expensive).
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.