Ranked: Your Guide To The Best And Worst OLED 4K HDR TVs Out There
Stephan Jukic – February 10, 2018
OLED 4K TVs are consistently ranked as some of the best televisions in existence today. This is a point of view that we ourselves have taken after comparing overall performance in numerous 4K TVs for several years and it’s a point of view shared by many other professional and consumer TV reviewers. There’s simply no denying their excellent quality almost across the board and the fact that they outperform LCD 4K TVs in most ways (at least for now).
Do OLED 4K televisions have their issues? Sure they do. No piece of technology is completely perfect, but in terms of specific raw performance metrics for handling motion, displaying content and satisfying consumers, just about nothing beats OLED flat out. Moreover, with the fairly recent establishment of high dynamic range in TV displays, OLED displays have been the ones to offer the single best rendering of HDR that we’ve ever seen.
They may not do this in the form of extreme peak brightness like that offered by some LCD TVs but their capacity to render perfect, total black levels makes them unbeatable at insanely good contrast. This contrast in turn creates an impression of much more vibrant colors and a perception of brighter highlights in viewers eyes. More interestingly still, the newest OLED 4K HDR TVs from LG now deliver peak luminosity that’s equal to that offered by most of today’s premium LCD TVs and even superior to the brightness levels that all mid-range 4K LCD HDR televisions can produce. So as you can see, OLED is king so far and it just keeps getting better.
All of that said, Among the different LG and Sony OLED TVs on the market today (we’re focusing here on the U.S market where virtually all sets are made by LG or Sony but using LG display panels) not everything is equal. Some models offer better value than others and for this reason, it’s worth seeing which you should get, especially if you want to save some money. Even if your budget is a “sky’s the limit” sort of affair, the following rankings are seriously worth reading because in them we explain a little known but crucial secret about the OLED television models you can find on sale today that’s worth paying attention to, especially if you don’t want to spend money you don’t need to for things you might not want.
First A little secret about Today’s OLED HDR 4K Televisions
Here’s the deal about all the OLED models offered by LG and Sony right now on the TV market (we’re including the 2018 models in this but we’re guessing that the same thing is going to apply to them too): Quite simply, for all the OLED’s produced in 2017 and for early 2018, picture performance is virtually identical across the board. LG’s flagship W7 OLED is insanely expensive while the brand’s B7 OLED costs almost as little as some mid-range LCD 4K HDR televisions but believe it or not, in terms of pure picture performance metrics like color delivery, contrast, motion handling and nearly anything else, they perform virtually 100% identically. In fact, the B7 is, oddly enough capable of slightly better peak brightness than the W7 or the also insanely pricey G7 model right below it.
If we also factor in Sony’s A1E OLED 4K HDR TV, the same identical performance applies as well. Sony uses LG technology in its own OLED TV so we’d hardly expect it to be dramatically different but the internal picture processing engine and other aspects of the TV are all purely Sony components, so you’d expect at least some display performance difference. In comparative reviews between the A1E and similar LG models, we barely noticed any however.
Now of course, there are 77 inch W7 and G7 models while the B7 and C7 only go up to 65 inches and yes, the W7 is designed spectacularly in terms of sheer physical beauty and uniqueness. Furthermore, higher end LG OLED models come with additional speaker power and slightly more robust audio support. But if all you really care about is screen quality for your movies or TV shows, either one will perform the same. Furthermore, for the audio power aspect, you can always get yourself an external sound system anyhow, and it will pretty much equalize all of these TVs on audio performance.
This extremely high level of sameness among all of the LG OLED TVs is first of all rather unique among 4K TVs, because it’s something you don’t see in LCD 4K televisions. The differences in picture quality between one of Samsung or Sony’s mid-range LCD televisions and their premium LCD models are massive and visibly noticeable. They don’t only appear under precision calibrated testing. With the LG OLED’s the naked eye almost can’t tell between the screen performance of a $10,000 OLED 2017 model and a $2,000 OLED 2017 model. These differences are also extremely important when it comes to ranking these TVs for their value to you as a consumer. This little secret about the OLEDs plays a key role in the sequence of the rankings below and it’s worth bearing in mind if you decide to get any 2017 OLED 4K HDR TV.
We should also note here that the exact same thing applies to the 2016 OLED 4K HDR TVs from LG. They’re notably weaker performers than the 2017 OLED editions (mainly in how bright they get and how high their HDR DCI-P3 color gamut coverage is) but among themselves, all of the 2016 TVs follow the same tendency we just described.
With the above in mind, here are our rankings of the best OLED 4K HDR TVs available right now. These don’t factor in LG or Sony’s 2018 models since none of them are available quite yet.
The OLED 4K TV Rankings, from best to worst
Taking the top spot as the single best OLED TV deal of 2017 and into the beginnings of 2018, we have the C7. This is LG’s best overall value per dollar and one fantastic performer. It’s limitations are that it doesn’t support as powerful an audio capability as its pricier cousins and that it doesn’t come with a truly unique physical design like the G7, W7 and E7 OLEDs above it but this last is purely an aesthetic factor. The C7 is still beautiful and most importantly, its display delivers as fine a picture as that of the LG flagship W7 or Sony’s also expensive A1E OLED TV and gets just as bright as either of these models. The C7 also handles motion almost perfectly while being a fantastic HDR TV.
We should note that this model maxes out at 65 inches, so if you want a larger 77 inch OLED TV then yes, you’ll have to spend some more money on something like the G7 if you still want to capture some savings on a 77 inch model.
LG’s E7 is by far the best deal among the company’s (or Sony’s) ultra-premium OLED models. While all OLED TVs could technically be considered premium 4K Televisions, the C7 and B7 are considered “budget” editions due to their ordinary 4K TV build. Not so for the E7. This is a picture-on-glass model with superb audio specs and one very striking physical appearance. More importantly, it’s the most affordable of the picture-on-glass OLED editions. This model performs the same as the C7 on all picture performance and motion handling specs but offers better audio specs. Prices for 55 and 65 inch E7 televisions have gone down a lot in recent months, so this is one of your best times so far to get one at a discount.
LG’s B7 is by far and away the company’s cheapest 2017 OLED television. This makes it all the more valuable since it delivers as good a picture as the C7 and the LG E7, and also comes in the same possible dimensions, 55 and 65 inches. The two things this particular model lacks are dolby Atmos audio support (though it does support Dolby Atmos passthrough), which the C7 does have and a particularly powerful native speaker. The Dolby issue is a slight problem but since the TV supports passthrough of the advanced audio format, buying an external speaker system with Dolby Atmos capability fixes both the problem of this TVs native sound and its absence of Dolby.
In terms of display specs, the B7 is virtually indistinguishable from the C7. And most interestingly of all, in testing of this model, we noted that it actually delivers the highest peak display brightness of all LG OLED TVs to-date. This technically makes it the best HDR performer of the bunch. LG’s G7 and W7 flagship TVs do support slightly better wide color gamut coverage but the difference is almost unnoticeable to the naked eye.
Sony’s A1E is a beautiful and powerful piece of home theater technology, with a 65 inch and a 77 inch model it’s expensive but does deliver a unique design and some of the most uniquely powerful audio performance we’ve ever seen. This TV’s speakers are inside the screen itself, creating a precision of sound delivery that’s wonderful. On the other hand, the A1E performs no better than the C7 or B7 TVs on any important metric of picture performance and costs a solid 25% more than the C7 does. We recommend its 77 inch version as the most affordable 2017 77 inch OLED TV you can find (affordable in a very loose sense of the word) but if you just want OLED, HDR and 4K resolution, and are fine with a 65 inch display, we’d definitely suggest one of LG’s two “budget” OLEDs over this model.
LG’s W7 is the company’s single most expensive OLED television, by far. However, in exchange for this it delivers a physical design that’s unlike those of any other TV in existence on the consumer market at the time of this posting. The W7 consists of a single flexible and extremely thin sheet of display glass with an OLED panel built into it and a single cord running from this down to a combination soundbar/TV processing engine/connectivity device. In other words, it can only be mounted to flat vertical surfaces with the external bar being sustained beneath it. Some consumers might not like this but the W7 is without a doubt absolutely striking. That soundbar also happens to offer the best audio quality we’ve seen so far in any OLED TV.
On the other hand, the W7 is ridiculously expensive and unless you need to have a 77 inch OLED or absolutely want a TV that looks nothing like any other, we simply don’t recommend it. The price you pay for this model is absurd and in no way compensates for its physical attributes. In terms of important stuff like picture performance in every regard, the W7 does no better than the B7, which costs several times less than this flagship OLED TV.
6. LG G7 OLED 4K HDR TV (Click here to read our in-depth review)
The LG G7 is the successor to what was the 2016 flagship OLED TV from LG, the G6. It looks almost identical to it and comes with a picture-on-glass design that very similar to that of the E7 but with a thinner display panel and a wide base. Basically, the TV looks more elegant than its cheaper picture-on-glass E7 cousin. That said, the G7 is priced too highly and offers no special benefit or unique features in exchange for its cost. In our books, it’s the least recommendable premium OLED TV of 2017 or 2018 and if you want to spend this much, just go for the W7 and really impress your friends when they come over.