When it comes to TVs, OLEDs are the G.O.A.T. The big difference between an OLED TV and a regular LED TV is how the pixels are illuminated. LED TVs have backlighting to illuminate the pixels in the display, and the backlighting is usually done in zones. Because whole zones are illuminated, it becomes harder to create contrast between light and dark areas on your TV. Light will leak and illuminate pixels that should be dimmed, which makes it virtually impossible to achieve true black.
On the other hand, the best OLED TVs have self-illuminating pixels. This means individual pixels are illuminated and dimmed, creating more contrast and truer blacks, which results in more eye-popping visuals. Without the need for a backlight, the display design also becomes slimmer — we’re talking the width of a pen.
Simply put, OLEDs look better — whether your TV is on or off — compared to all other display technology. However, if you want to buy a top-rated OLED TV, your options are limited. Right now, LG, Sony and Vizio are the only major manufacturers in the U.S. market. On top of that, the price tag for a true OLED display is no joke. The absolute lowest you can pay (sales notwithstanding) is $1,300, while deluxe 88-inch products cost almost $30,000.
If you have the coin, keep reading. If not, you can always look for the best TV deals. The best OLED TVs include models released in 2019, and at this point, it is possible to find some OLEDs at a discount. Below, you’ll find our ranking of the best OLED TVs for sale in 2021.
Everything You Need to Know About OLED TVs
There are few things more complicated than trying to figure out the difference between TV display technologies. And OLED is one of the most complicated technologies when it comes to understanding the benefits. Here is a quick primer on how the best OLED TVs work.
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. Where as typical LEDs are not made of organic material (aka non-carbon based), OLEDs are made from substances which glow when electricity is passed through them. These OLEDs have most notably found their way into various displays, such as phones, tablets, laptops and TVs.
With most non-OLED displays available today, there are two main components responsible for generating the picture you stare at: the LCD panel and the LED backlights.
The LCD panel (short for liquid crystal display panel) is what contains your standard RGB pixels that will form a picture when light is passed through them in a specific manner. The LED backlighting is what illuminates this picture and makes it visible to you. Some TVs will have a ring of LEDs around the edge of the TV that light up the picture, while higher-end TVs will have a full grid array that can make specific “zones” of your TV glow while leaving others dark.
The best OLED TVs takes this latter idea further as there is no difference between the LED and the pixel. They are one and the same. This means that you can illuminate each individual pixel and have an insane amount of control over which parts of the screen are full of brilliant color, and which parts are full of stark black nothingness.
As a TV technology, the best OLED TVs set themselves apart because of their ability to deliver contrast ratios with infinite blacks. It’s able to do that because of its ability to illuminate each individual pixel, which means that the black pixels in a given scene are not lit up at all, but rather turned off. This can not only make your picture look more striking, but also can offer up a greater level of detail than your standard LED TV.
OLED TVs can be lighter, thinner and more flexible than your typical LED TV, and they can also consume less power (since the black areas of the screen simply have their pixels turned off). Furthermore, OLEDs have great viewing angles, which is key if you’re watching something with more than a couple of people.
The best OLED TVs are expensive for two reasons: First, they currently offer the best picture quality you can find in a TV right now. Secondly, the technology has only existed in TVs for less than 15 years and uses components which aren’t easily sourced.
While the cost has progressively come down over the years, 2021 might be the year when you see prices really start to drop on OLEDs. While LG has dabbled with a budget-oriented OLED TV in the form of the BX OLED TV, companies like Vizio have introduced new models which have driven the price for an OLED down below $1500. While it’s unlikely OLEDs will fall to the same low prices as LED TVs anytime soon, it’s clear they’re becoming more accessible than ever.
Well, it depends. If you are someone who watches visually-stimulating movies and TV shows,, buying one of the best OLED TVs could be the best decision you ever made.
If you are a serious gamer, the colors and contrast that you can get from an OLED will only make games such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey pop that much harder as you play them.
If you are someone who watches a lot of sports, many of the best OLED TVs come with a true 120Hz refresh rate, which makes fast-paced action look way, way better on an OLED.
That said, if you spend most of your time watching the news or reality TV, the extra cost of an OLED may not provide the same sort of benefit. Likewise, if you tend to do most of your TV watching in a bright room, you might be better served by an LED TV since it gets brighter and is less prone to having the picture wash out.
We named the LG CX Series OLED the best TV of 2020, and it's the best TV of 2021 so far, too. This TV boasts a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, NVIDIA G-Sync support, Dolby Vision IQ, Filmmaker Mode, and support for Google Assistant, Alexa, Chromecast and AirPlay 2. The incredible picture quality is truly insane, and this TV is available in a variety of sizes to suit a variety of budgets.
1. LG CX OLED TV
BEST OLED TV OVERALL
Whether you’re, gaming with your PS5 or Xbox Series X, watching the most visually stimulating movies or just binging Netflix, this is the best all-around OLED you can buy thanks to its infinite contrast ratio and eye-popping colors. This TV packs all of the most advanced features you could ask for, including a 120Hz refresh rate, NVIDIA G-Sync support, Dolby Vision IQ, Filmmaker Mode, and support for Google Assistant, Alexa, Chromecast and AirPlay 2.
What does this all mean? You’ll be able to blow through fast-paced games and action-packed sporting events without a modicum of blur. You’ll have a picture that dynamically adjusts its settings on a scene-by-scene basis with movies, ensuring you always have optimal quality. You can integrate your TV into your smart home setup, allowing it to function as a control hub. And if there’s a service that isn’t available on LG’s WebOS smart TV platform, you can likely stream it from your phone to your TV. Everyone has different needs when it comes to TVs, but considering this is available in 48, 55, 65 and 77-inch sizes, this TV should be on everyone’s shortlist.
Of course, because this is the best TV of 2021 (and 2020, for that matter), popular sizes can he harder to find. Still, between Amazon and Walmart we’ve found some great deals on the LG CX Series, which you can find below.
2. Sony A8H OLED TV
One of the first companies to ever make an OLED TV, Sony has not lost its touch with its A8H TV, and as lab tests from sites like RTINGS point out, they’re so neck and neck with the LG CX when it comes to performance that you can’t go wrong with either one. The big difference is that while the LG is slightly better for gaming, thanks to lower input lag and variable refresh rate, the A8H actually has slightly better picture quality when it comes to movie watching and is often a little cheaper. We give the edge to the CX due to its versatility and the fact that you can buy a 77-inch model, but depending on what your priorities are, the A8H could be the better pick for you.
3. Vizio OLED-H1
BEST BUDGET OLED TV
If you’re looking to save a little bit of cash, but still receive top-shelf performance, the Vizio H1 OLED TV is a worthy contender when it comes to affordable OLED TVs. It may not have the same low input lag as the CX, or high-end features such as Filmmaker Mode, Dolby IQ or a smart TV interface that’s as easy to use, but the average consumer would be hard-pressed to notice the difference between the two TVs. Considering this Vizio OLED-H1 is a few hundred dollars cheaper than what you’ll typically find the LG CX selling for (when it’s not on sale), those extra features might not be worth the added cost for some.
4. LG BX OLED TV
Like the Sony A8H, there’s not much separating the LG BX from the LG CX, as they have nearly identical specs and features. That said, the BX gets a little less bright, which can have an effect if you are watching TV in a bright room, and it also has an older image processor which means that you’re not geting the absolute peak in image quality. Still, these are very minor differences, and if you’re looking to save a little bit of money on an excellent OLED TV, you really can’t go wrong with the LG BX.
5. LG WX Wallpaper OLED TV
The full package in LG’s OLED line, the W9 is equal parts amazing picture, sound and design. The display is literally as thin as a hardback book cover. There’s no panel connected to the back — simply a flat piece of glass. LG is able to accomplish this by moving the WX’s brains down into the included Dolby Atmos soundbar, which means that you’re also getting significantly better audio. And when it comes to image quality, you’re getting the same thing performance as you’d get from the LG CX and BX models. What we don’t love as much, however, is the price. But for those who deeply care about interior aesthetics and plan to wall-mount their TV, this is the best-looking solution.
6. Sony A9G Sony MASTER Series BRAVIA OLED TV
Sony may have been the first TV manufacturer to roll out OLED TVs, but over the years LG and Vizio have introduced models of their own. The Sony A9G Bravia OLED TV was first introduced in 2019, so it’s a couple of years old at this point. The LG CX Series is the better TV overall, and Vizio now has more affordable options if you’re trying to save some money.
So what’s the difference between the Sony A8H and A9G OLED TVs? To be honest, there isn’t much of a difference between these two models, which have very similar performance in terms of connectivity, picture quality and sound. However, the Sony A8H featured above offers superior brightness, and at a lower cost. For this reason, the 2019 A8H is somewhat obsolete at this point. However, while both models are available in 55 and 65-inch models, only the 2019 A9G comes in a 77-inch size. If you’re looking for the best 77-inch OLED TVs in particular, then this is a great option.
7. LG Z9 OLED
At nearly $30,000, the LG Z9 is downright decadent, but it does offer some things that no other TV on this list can boast. For starters, it comes in an 88-inch size, which if a 77-inch TV is too small for you for some reason, you now have options. Secondly, it offers 8K resolution which would be great if there was actually any 8K content to watch with it. But we do really love its design, which has an integrated stand that gives this monolith of a TV some airiness. It could also function as a console for your receiver and gaming consoles too, if you were motivated to use it as such. But still, given the price and the fact that this is the 2019 model, this really for those who absolutely need massive TV with a striking design.
If you’re looking for one of the greatest TVs known to man, then act fast. There are only a handful of these $30,000 OLED TVs left for sale right now.