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Shopping for an OLED TV? They Are More Affordable Than You Might Think

OLED TVs have gotten a lot more affordable in recent years. In fact, depending on the model, they're not actually that much more traditional LED TVs.

oled tvs

If you're looking for the most beautiful TV you can afford, buy an OLED TV. Compared to traditional LED TVs (which are most TVs), OLED TVs are able to produce darker blacks, superior contrast and more lifelike colors — they just generally deliver a way better picture.

For years, the main strike against OLED TVs was that they were way too expensive, but that's not really the case anymore. In 2023, for example, you can buy a 65-inch OLED TV for under $2,000. Yes, they can still be expensive — especially when you can get a similarly sized 4K LED TV for well under a grand — but they're not unreasonable.

The next thing to know is that there are quite a few companies that sell OLED TVs, but most of them get the OLED panels for their TVs from one company: LG. That’s right, LG makes the OLED displays for Sony and Vizio, as well as LG-branded OLED TVs. So if you buy an OLED TV from Sony, for example, you're still getting an LG OLED panel, but you're paying for Sony's design, picture processing and audio technologies, as well as its smart operating system.

The one outlier is Samsung, who started selling its own OLED TVs — called QD-OLED TVs — in 2022. These are unique because in addition to being OLED panels, Samsung also integrated them with its quantum dot technology, which makes the color even more vibrant and saturated. As of 2023, Sony has also announced its first OLED TVs that are integrated with Samsung's quantum dot technology.

What to Look for

Resolution: Don't worry too much about the resolution of an OLED TV — they all can deliver at least a 4K picture. Some can deliver a 6K or 8K picture, but you shouldn't be swayed by this because there's very little 6K or 8K content for any TV to take advantage of.

Size options: This is pretty self-explanatory, but not all OLED TVs are available in a wide array of sizes. In fact, it's still pretty rare for OLED TVs to come in sizes that are smaller than 55 inches or larger than 77 inches. The other obvious thing is that the size of the OLED TV is going to have a big impact on price. Large OLED TVs are very expensive.

HDMI 2.1: You want an OLED TV with a least one — but preferably several — HDMI 2.1 ports because they support higher resolutions and higher refresh rates. This is particularly important for gamers who have next-gen consoles, like the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, as the TV will be able to match the high resolution and low lag of today's best fast-paced action and FPS games.

HDR support: HDR, or high dynamic range, is a display technology that essentially helps get more out of your TV’s pixels; it helps create deeper blacks and more vivid colors, giving the TV a better contrast ratio and producing a more realistic picture. The catch is that there are several different HDR technologies — including Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG — and both your TV and the content (shows, movies, video games) you're playing need to support it in order to reap its benefits. Generally, the more kinds of HDR the OLED TV supports, the better.

What year was the TV made? TV technology moves fast. Like, really fast. So much so that we really don't recommend buying a TV — OLED or not — that's more than two years old. The flip side of this argument is that you can often get a really good deal on a year-old OLED TV. Typically, manufacturers announce new models at the start of the year and by the end of the year all those TVs are pretty much always on sale. So for the best OLED TV and the best deal, we recommend buying at the end of the year (October to December) or at the beginning (January to March).

Why Are OLED TVs Better?

OLED (or "Organic Light Emitting Diode") is a newer display technology that boasts numerous advantages over more traditional LED displays — most importantly, it delivers a better picture. The main reason for this is that an OLED display is able to control each individual pixel. It can turn these pixels on or off, as well as control its color. On the flip side, LED displays can only control groups of pixels (often referred to as dimming zones). This helps OLED TVs produce a more color-accurate picture as well as produce way better contrast.

There are a couple of other advantages that OLED TVs have over their LED rivals. Since they don't have an extra panel for backlighting like LED TVs, which tends to cause lag and motion blur, OLED TVs don’t have as big of an issue with lag. This also results in faster refresh rates and wider viewing angles. The other kicker is that because there's no extra panel, OLED TVs are generally thinner and lighter than LED TVs (although this can vary depending on the built-in speaker system).

Do OLED TVs Have Any Competition?

OLED TVs have been around for more than a decade and they've come a long way — they've gotten a lot better and significantly more affordable. That said, there are also new technologies that are giving it more competition. Some of the below technologies are able to deliver even better pictures than OLED, but they're unreasonable for most people to buy because they aren't widely available, too big or outrageously expensive.

Mini LED TVs: These are a new type of LED TVs (not OLED) that are built with Mini LED backlight technology. The extra backlight layer is made up of thousands of miniature LED lights (hence the name "Mini LED"), which gives the display better control of its dimming zones. The result is a brighter and more colorful picture with better contrast. The overall picture isn't as good as OLED, but it's more affordable and better than traditional LED TVs.

MicroLED TVs: This is one of the most buzzed-about new display technologies (and likely the furthest away from being widely available). Developed by Samsung, MicroLED displays don't have a backlight and the brightness of each individual pixel can be controlled (similar to OLED). The difference is MicroLED TVs can actually get brighter and produce more saturated color (thanks to being made of flexible non-organic material) than OLEDs.

QD-OLED TVs: As previously mentioned, Samsung has its own OLED technology that is integrated with the company's quantum dot technology. Essentially, they promise to combine the best of both OLED (great contrast, detail and viewing angles) and QLED (color and brightness) display technologies.

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New and Upcoming: The 2023 Models
20th Century Studios

Most major manufacturers have announced their 2023 lineup of OLED TVs. However, most aren't available yet since it's still really early in 2023 — you can expect them to be released by the spring and summer. We've rounded up the best new OLED TVs that will be available later in 2023.

LG C3 OLED (2023)
Samsung S95C OLED TV (2023)
LG G3 OLED (2023)
The OLED TVs To Buy Now: The 2022 Models
20th Century Studios

Even though a lot of manufacturers have announced their 2023 models of OLED TVs, most won't be available until the spring or summer. This means that the best OLED TVs that you can actually buy right now are all 2022 models. The good news is that because the 2023 models are on the horizon, pretty much every 2022 model is deeply discounted. So you can score one heck of a deal.

LG C2 OLED (2022)
Samsung S95B OLED TV (2022)
Sony A95K OLED (2022)
LG B2 OLED (2022)
LG A2 OLED (2022)
LG G2 OLED (2022)
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