What is the best OLED TV in 2021?
What does OLED stand for? The acronym refers Organic Light-Emitting Diode, but it also stands for the best contrast and black levels currently available in the TV market.
OLED has attracted a number of heavyweight hitters, from LG, Panasonic, Philips to Sony, with each brand using it as a visual showcase for their technologies. 2020 brought a new size to the market with the first 48-inch OLED TVs hitting the market.
Detractors of the technology have pointed towards burn-in (retention of images over long periods of time) and lack of brightness compared to conventional LCD TVs as issues. But manufacturers have ensured that this has become less of a worry with each passing generation and they are getting brighter each year to produce the punchy, bright images needed for HDR.
With OLED’s self-illuminating pixel display, what you get from that other sets can’t quite match are its perfect black levels, luxurious contrast and wide viewing angles that make them a super option for a wide range of content. If you’re after a new TV, we’ve laid out the best OLED TVs on the market.
1. Panasonic TX-55HZ2000
A supreme OLED TV
- Universal HDR support with Dolby Vision IQ
- Filmmaker Mode with Intelligent Sensing
- Effective Dolby Atmos sound system
- Freeview Play
- No HDMI support for 4K/120fps
- No Disney+ app
- Over specified for AV enthusiasts?
The HZ2000 won our best TV award for 2020 and deservedly so. It’s performance was excellent, both in picture and sound.
Much of its excellence is down to the Professional Edition Master OLED panel that allows the set reach higher brightness for a punchier HDR image. And those images are artfully painted by the TV’s HCX Pro Intelligent processor, which produces a superb HDR performance, terrific black levels, stunning near dark detail and impressively balanced colours. Upscaling is impressive with sub-4K content and the set’s motion skills make it adept with handling fast-moving sports. It’s a cracking all-round TV.
It doesn’t disappoint on the audio side either, creating a sense of width and height that’s convincingly immersive. Gaming is fine, but without the various HDMI 2.1 features, the HZ2000 isn’t primed to take advantage of what the latest gaming consoles can do.
2. LG OLED55CX
Rich OLED contrast
- Excellent picture quality
- Great design
- Plenty of smarts, features and customisation
- Excellent upscaling
- Still no UK catch-up apps
- Just a small leap over the C9
The LG CX offered fantastic picture quality for a considerable price drop over the 2019 C9. Performance isn’t leaps and bounds over the C9, but at it’s current price it is exceptional value.
Performance isn’t as bright as other OLEDs, but the CX still manages to put on very effective showcase with its natural and vibrant colours. Black levels are gorgeously deep, and near-black details offer excellent insight into the darker parts of the image. With regards to those who watch plenty of SD and HD content, CX also proves to be a very strong performer. The only major blot is the lack of Freeview Play/UK catch-up apps.
3. Philips 65OLED+935
Exceptional OLED picture and sound
- Exceptional picture quality
- Class-leading sound quality
- HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support
- No 4K/120Hz, variable refresh rate or auto low latency mode features
- If you have an external audio system already, you’re paying for a soundbar you don’t need
- Some occasional very mild black crush
Lets make it clear right from the off. If you’re a gamer then the Philips OLED+935 range is not for you. Still with us? Good.
If you’re a fan a superb picture and sound quality then sign right up. The OLED+935 is a combination of luxurious design, exceptional image quality and class-leading sound for a TV. HDR virtually glows off this with the set’s brightness, while also maintaining the deep black levels OLED is known. Clarity and detail – especially in near dark or brighter parts of an image for the latter, is excellent. With its new AI technology, the set’s upscaling has improved this set’s ability to handle sub-4K content.
Sound-wise you get a thumping integrated (and actual) Dolby Atmos system that’s as good as a separate soundbar. And that soundbar isn’t just great with movies, it can stereo music wit aplomb, the influence of Bowers & Wilkins’s design making its mark. And the price isn’t too bad for what you’re getting…
4. Philips OLED805
Stunning black levels
- Multi-HDR support with HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG
- Freeview Play
- Play-Fi compatibility
- No support for 4K/120fps
- No Dolby Vision IQ
Philips’ latest OLED is another wonderful showcase for the technology. Native 4K picture quality look virtually three-dimensional and HDR is bright, with the OLED805 reaching around 900 nits of peak brightness for a punchy, impactful performance.
Black levels are fantastic and near-black performance is gorgeously fine. Factor in the Ambilight performance, which has been tweaked for this year with a few new additions, and this is an OLED TV that offers something a little different from the norm. If you’re a gamer, perhaps give this OLED set a miss as this Philips is not up to date with HDMI 2.1, nor is the gaming performance particularly great.
5. Panasonic TX-65HZ1000
A super 65-inch OLED
- Fantastic picture quality
- Multi-HDR support
- Good sound quality
- Simple interface
- Good build quality
- Not tuned for gamers
The HZ1000 is Panasonic’s third-tier OLED for 2020, but its still an incredibly strong performer. It doesn’t have the upward-firing Atmos speakers of the HZ1500 and HZ2000, and doesn’t go as bright in terms of HDR, but the HZ1000 makes a highly compelling argument for a big-screen telly to watch your favourite films and TV shows on.
Picture quality is fabulous with superb black levels, very good upscaling and dazzling colours. Sound quality for a flatscreen is good, though to make the most out of it, you’ll want to consider a soundbar. For gamers this TV makes few concessions. It’s also pricier than its rivals and there’s still no support for the Apple TV app or Disney+. Still, for a big screen experience this OLED is fabulous.
6. Sony KD-65AG9
A fantastic flagship OLED
- Bright, effective HDR
- Best-in-class HD SDR upscaling
- Excellent audio
- No HDR10+ support
- No Freeview Play
The AG9’s picture quality is impressive, offering superb upscaling of HDR SDR images. Motion processing is excellent too, with Sony’s interpretation arguably the best of any brand.
There’s no Freeview Play on this set and the TV’s version of Android TV is better than previous versions, but still lags behind its counterparts. This 2019 OLED does boast Sony’s innovative Surface Audio+, which vibrates the screen to produce sound. It’s properly impressive.
7. LG OLED48CX
The first small screen OLED
- Beautiful picture quality
- Strong sound quality
- Class-leading gaming features
- Costs more than 55-inch version
- Care needs to be taken to avoid screen burn
- Missing most of the UK catch up apps
The LG CX was the first 48-inch OLED, bringing the display technology down to a size that can more easily fit in living rooms. Despite its smaller size, the performance is just as good as the ‘full-size’ model.
It combines fantastic picture quality and good sound with the most comprehensive gaming-friendly connectivity, making it an excellent choice for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. There’s no compromise in terms of features, though it is still missing most of the UK catch-up apps. The 48-inch model costs more than the 55-inch version, which arguably is better value.
8. LG OLED55BX
LG’s cheapest OLED TV
- Superior gaming connectivity
- Brilliant value
- No Freeview Play
- Presets favour dark-room viewing
The LG BX is the cheapest OLED that LG offers in its range and it brings the display technology down to even more affordable levels with its pricing.
It’s only a £200 cheaper than the 55-inch CX, which makes the CX even better value in our eyes. But for £1100 you get a well-equipped OLED with plenty of premium features in Dolby Vision IQ and it’s perfectly set-up to take advantage of the potential that the PS5 and Xbox Series X offer with its HDMI 2.1 features. Don’t forget about webOS and its litany of apps with support for Disney+ and Apple TV alongside the standard SVOD options.
What about the picture quality? As enjoyable as ever with an OLED TV with a good HDR performance when it comes highlights, excellent near-black detail and of course a sharp, colourful image that raises the level of whatever it is you’re watching. Sonically it sounds fairly good, producing a similar performance to that of the CX.
9. LG OLED65GX
One for the wall
- Fabulous image quality
- Impeccable design and finish
- Dolby Vision HDR
- No Freeview Play
- No HDR10+
- More dynamic OLED HDR performers can be had for less
LG’s OLEDs appear all over this list, so it’s with a raised eyebrow that one of its latest features towards the bottom of this lis.
And that’s because picture quality is not as good. In fact, the GX offers fabulous 4K images with LG making strides with its AI enhanced technology. For a flatscreen it doesn’t half sound bad either, and there have been some useful tweaks to the webOS platform.
The reason why the LG GX Gallery series is mainly to do with the price premium over LG’s own CX as well as other similar models. That it doesn’t ship with a stand (the GX is primarily for wall-hanging), and that it doesn’t feature Freeview Play mean it doesn’t offer the best value where OLED TVs are concerned.
How we test the best OLED TVs
Every TV that passes through our doors gets put through a series of tests and naked eye checks to gauge its overall picture quality and optimal settings. Key things we look out for are screen uniformity, black level, maximum brightness and colour vibrancy/accuracy. We also check input lag to make sure gamers won’t lose their edge when playing online.
A variety of test footage is used to cover every type of scene, so we can assess a 4K TV’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as how it performs against the competition.
Sound quality isn’t forgotten, either – we give the built-in speakers a thorough listen to determine whether you’ll need to invest in a soundbar or speaker system to beef things up.
If you’re interested in checking out TVs at different price models, models and brands. Look through our main best ofs below models for everything from cheap and best value 4K HDR TVs, to the latest from LG, Samsung and Panasonic.