The 5 Best OLED 4K HDR TVs on Sale in 2019
Stephan Jukic – October 8, 2019
OLED 4K HDR TVs are exceptionally awesome. In several years of reviewing the best and most powerful 4K UHD TVs of all prices from every major brand, we’ve almost consistently ranked the OLED releases among our top 5 for any given year and they’ve only improved since the introduction of HDR TV display technology in the last 3 years.
Don’t get us wrong, there are many truly awesome LCD 4K HDR TVs on the market too and in certain ways, LCD TVs can be better than their OLED cousins, but as far as all the metrics of overall display performance and motion handling go, OLED models consistently kick ass. And before we get down to our ranking of the top 4 OLED TVs in existence, let’s explain why.
OLED vs. LCD/LED 4K HDR TVs
So, before we get down to our list of best to less awesome (but still great) OLEDs, we need to explain the main difference between OLED TV technology and LCD/LED TVs:
Your average LCD/LED 4K TV -with or without HDR- comes with a liquid crystal (the LCD part) display covered in individual pixels that can block or allow light through from an underlying LED backlight with assorted other electronic components built into it (the LED part). The best 4K LCD TVs will have hundreds of backlights spread across the entire back of the LCD screen and can turn off light from segments of these LEDs in what are called local dimming zones. The more dimming zones, the better the display works for high contrast, uniform black levels and quality local dimming around bright content (for the sake of minimal ugly halo effects during dark scenes). Cheaper LCD TVs usually only come with LED backlights along the interior edges of their displays and offer really weak local dimming or none at all. The light blocking filters inside an LCD TVs pixels do the dimming work instead in LCD/LED TVs without local dimming.
OLED TVs work with a completely different and much more precise technology: OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode and that’s exactly what each pixel inside an OLED TV contains, a tiny light diode that can be lit up or completely turned off individually. Again, this is located right inside each individual pixel on an OLED 4K TV screen, meaning that there are 8.29 million diodes in the display.
Because of this, local dimming in an OLED TV is precise right down to the level of individual pixels, making it totally free of halo effects and far superior to what any LCD can deliver. Furthermore, because the individual pixel light sources themselves can be completely shut off, OLED TVs can produce perfect, total black levels and infinite contrast for content. These are huge benefits of OLED 4K TVs, especially for HDR content, which partly depends on strong contrast and deep blacks.
Another major benefit of OLED displays is that their pixels can respond to changes in color and lighting much quicker (up to 10x or more) than LCD TV pixels. This means that motion blur for fast-paced content can be reduced to almost nothing and for movies, sports or high-resolution games, this is a great point in favor of OLED. Motion interpolation is about the same in high quality LCD TVs as it is in today’s premium OLED TVs but because of the motion blur control that OLED does so much better, these televisions are generally better motion control performers.
In all other regards; in terms of HDR color performance, upscaling, audio and connectivity, OLED TVs and their premium LCD/LED counterparts are pretty evenly matched depending on how their manufacturers decided to build them.
On the negative side of things, OLED TVs can’t get nearly as bright as the best LCD TVs simply because OLED technology hasn’t been developed to create the same maximum possible luminance as a strong backlight LED can deliver. This is a major weakness of OLED but it’s the only real weakness of the technology and OLED has improved by leaps and bounds on brightness too, to the point that today’s best OLED 4K HDR TVs can beat or at least match the maximum display brightness of all but the priciest and best LCD 4K HDR TVs.
So now you see why OLED rocks so much? It comes with only one moderate known defect and beats or evenly matches LCD on every other metric of 4K TV performance.
The 5 Best OLED TVs of 2019
Now that you know what OLED TV technology is and how it compares to LCD TV design, let’s get down to our rankings and why we ranked each OLED in its order.
The OLED 4K TV releases of the last couple years have been the best we’ve ever seen. They’re brighter than ever, more vibrant at color delivery than ever and better at motion handling than we’ve ever seen them in previous years. However, the following five editions stand out for their exceptional specific specs and value for their prices. All are LG or Sony models, because on the North American market, only these two brands really sell OLED TVs through major retailers.
(In a side note, Sony’s OLED TV panels are actually also made by LG but work with Sony picture processing technology, so even though the basic panels might be the same either way, each brand adds in its own performance trimmings)
1. LG C9 OLED 2019 Edition HDR 4K TV
Without a doubt our single favorite OLED TV of the year is the C9. It delivers pretty much everything and at a price that isn’t completely wallet crushing. What makes the C9 especially awesome is its combination of extremely high display luminosity (the highest we’ve seen of all the 2019 OLED TV releases we’ve reviewed), stunningly good color delivery, incredibly responsive gaming connectivity and the inclusion of the latest in connectivity technology with HDMI 2.1 ports across the board. The C9 OLED is very nearly a perfect console gamers 4K HDR TV and it’s also awesome for handling your favorite action movies, sportscasts or just about any ordinary content you throw at it too. We can’t recommend this model enough even if it’s not the cheapest 4K OLED TV you can get. The C9 is available in three sizes too, with a nice and compact 55 inch version that really isn’t too pricey, a robust 65 inch edition that’s more or less reasonably priced and a monster 77 inch edition that will truly take your4K HDR movies and gaming to a whole new level of immersion.
2. LG B9 OLED 2019 Edition HDR 4K TV
The LG B9 is pretty much identical to the LG C9 in nearly every way except that it doesn’t quite deliver the same color vibrancy, (but the difference is tiny enough to barely be noticeable), doesn’t get quite as bright for HDR content and doesn’t come in a giant 77 inch edition. In terms of all other major specs though, this particular OLED TV is just as good, with identically great motion handling, superb gaming chops, cutting-edge HDMI 2.1 connectivity and typically perfect OLED black levels and contrast. What makes the B9 particularly excellent though is that its price is at least a couple hundred dollars lower than that of the C9 for the 55 inch version and several hundred dollars cheaper for the 65 inch version. So in other words, unless you want a 77 inch OLED or need the absolute maximum that you can get on brightness, the B9 is the best 2019 OLED 4K HDR TV deal there is right now.
3. Sony A9F Early 2019 Edition OLED 4K HDR TV
Sony’s single best OLED TV since the company started releasing OLEDs is the A9F in our opinion. This beast really kicks ass across the board and is the best that Sony has to offer even if we compare it to the company’s 2019 OLED 4K HDR releases. That’s how good the A9F is. For one thing, the A9F is the single best OLED TV we know of for movie watching, thanks to its fantastically good color gamut, extremely high peak brightness and excellent motion handling. Secondly, it comes with Sony’s wonderful Android TV smart platform, with comes crammed with entertainment apps and access to the Google Play store, which gives you the ability to download additional apps that few other smart TV platform can deliver. The A9F is also a really good gaming 4K TV, with very decent input lag when hooked up to consoles and good connectivity options for use as a PC monitor. It may be older than Sony’s newest OLED editions but it’s still better than them and not too badly priced by Sony standards.
4. LG B8 2018 Edition OLED 4K HDR TV
The LG B8 OLED is hands down the single cheapest high quality ultra HD TV of its kind with HDR that we know of. It can output peak luminosity just as powerfully as our number 1 the C9 and it manages to deliver some truly spectacular color delivery for both HDR and SDR content despite being a 2018 4K TV model. The B8 is also one superb 4K or HDR gaming TV in terms of input lag if connected to any of the major game consoles. On the negative side, the B8 doesn’t come with HDMI 2.1, it has no HDMI Forum VRR (variable refresh rate) support for gaming smoothness and its processor is the 2018 Alpha 7 engine, which is just a bit less responsive than the 2019 OLED TV processor. In so many other things though, the B8 absolutely holds its own nicely and at the lowest possible price for an OLED 4K HDR TV this good. The 55 inch edition retails for just a bit over $1000 as of this posting.
5. Sony A8G OLED 4K HDR TV
Sony’s A8G is the brand’s second-tier 2019 OLED, with a price that’s much cheaper than that of the top-tier 2019 A9G OLED. Despite this, the A8G is just as strong a performer as the A9G and gives stiff competition to LG’s C9 and B9 models on most specs. What made us rank it in last place is that it doesn’t get quite as bright as the C9 despite its equal price tag and that it lacks the HDMI 2.1 connectivity of its LG counterparts. The Sony A8G also doesn’t deliver quite the razor responsive gaming input connectivity that LG’s two OLEDs above can offer. Additionally, it just doesn’t have the same high brightness and color delivery specs as the Sony A9F. Despite these very minor weaknesses, this OLED is a fantastic deal if you like Sony technology and smart TV functionality. And it renders contrast, black level and local dimming just as wonderfully as its LG rivals.
The Sony A9G is just a bit brighter but pretty much the same in all other metrics of performance while costing a lot more than the A8G (or the C9 or B8) so that’s why among Sony OLED TVs, we give the A8G second place instead of the A9G.
Story by 4k.com