The best OLED TV that is reasonably affordable is the LG OLED C8 . It combines excellent image characteristics with thoughtful operation at a fair price. Even the competitors are catching up, but LG still dominates the field.
OLED TVs are still the non plus ultra for TV fans. This is due to the excellent image properties thanks to perfect black levels: The self-luminous OLED pixels do not require a separate backlight like traditional LCD TVs. The result is crisp black and high contrast, which combined with ultra-high-resolution 4K content and HDR video for a terrific home theater experience.
In terms of price, however, OLEDs still belong to the luxury class, but at least the entry is now already below the 2,000 euro mark in it – at least for the “small” models with 55-inch screen diagonal. In return, even the supposedly weaker OLED TVs almost always offer a great picture with strong pictures. By the way, the manufacturers of OLED televisions still buy the panels from LG. Nevertheless, there are differences, as a glance at our alternatives shows.
Short overview: Our recommendations
OUR FAVOURITE: LG OLED55C8
Our top recommendation comes once more from the OLED experts from LG: The LG OLED C8 compared to the 2017er version C7 again the already great picture. In addition, it offers a timeless design, a sophisticated operation and sensible smart features, such as a sophisticated voice control.
Runner Up: Sony AF9
The Sony AF9 is the first representative of the new Master Series and a real board: A great picture is flanked by the AcousticSurface sound technology. The new image processor does a fantastic job, the design is classy. In addition to the currently still high price displeases Android TV as a user interface.
WITH AMBILIGHT: Philips 55POS9002
The Philips 55POS9002 is a real price tip. In addition to the unrivaled price, he stands out in particular by Philips Ambilight system, which impressively sets the OLED images by lighting effects on the back wall. However, one has to cut corners here with the HDR support and the somewhat complicated operating concept.
OLED – what is it?
OLED has been the hottest new imaging technology for several years. The abbreviation stands for organic light-emitting diode . The special about the picture technique: An OLED screen consists of picture elements, which illuminate themselves and need no additional light source, as is the case with LCD screens.
The advantage: Black is really black with OLED and that leads to very high contrast values. A disadvantage of OLED was until now that the panels did not shine as bright as comparable LCD displays. But the manufacturers have caught up here, now there are hardly any differences.
Flat-panel televisions with OLED display are thus currently the premier class in the TV sector. Film fans expect optimal contrasts and an absolutely perfect black representation, in addition, the TV luxury class offers almost all the latest features such as modern HDR standards.
OLED TVs are of the premier class
After LG had the OLED field for a long time alone, the competition has now greatly reduced. Although the other manufacturers also buy their panels from LG, there are still some qualitative differences. However, our recommendation goes to the OLED specialists from LG this year as well.
HDR: The state of affairs
The biggest bone of contention with the TV purchase 2018 still hears the abbreviation »HDR«. This stands for “High Dynamic Range” and ensures that compatible image material offers stronger contrasts and finer brightness gradations. Many people find switching from non-HDR content to HDR footage more advanced than FullHD to 4K.
Unfortunately, not less than four different HDR formats compete for the favor of customers, TV manufacturers and film studios. While the older HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) standards are standard in virtually all current TV sets. It gets complicated with the more elaborate HDR standards, namely Dolby Vision and the still quite fresh HDR10 +. Both HDR versions make it possible to give each scene in a movie its own HDR settings. The variability makes for an even better movie experience.
The problem: Not only the TV manufacturers, but also the film and series producers rely on different HDR formats. Dolby Vision is currently prominently used in addition to a number of UHD Blu-rays, especially in the streaming service Netflix, on TV side support LG and Sony, among others, the standard. HDR10 + is being pushed by Samsung, Panasonic, 20th Century Fox and Amazon.
Interestingly, the implementation of HDR10 + unlike Dolby Vision does not require high royalties. Dolby Vision is currently ahead of the game in terms of popularity, as the standard simply lasts longer. Which HDR format will finally prevail is currently still completely open.
Not unimportant for the TV purchase: The World Cup in Russia will not be broadcast in HDR in Germany. Neither ARD and ZDF nor the pay-TV Sky set the sports highlight on High Dynamic Range. Whether and when HDR will play a role in future sports broadcasts in this country is not yet known.
Our favorite: LG C8
As in the previous year comes our OLED TV recommendation 2018 from LG. The LG C8 convinces with an outstanding package of great picture, thoughtful operation and elegant look.
The C8 is after the B8 the second cheapest model in the 2018 OLED lineup of LG. It uses the same image processor as the more expensive models, while the B8 uses a slightly weaker version.
We have compared the LG TV in the version OLED 55C8 with 55 inches (139.7 centimeters) screen diagonal. LG offers the C8 as OLED55C8 with 55 inches (139.7 centimeters) screen size, also under the name OLED 65C8 with 65- (165.1 centimeters) and as OLED77C8 with 77-inch screen (195.58 centimeters) on. Apart from the sizes, the two model variants differ only in price.
Design and connections
Like its predecessor, the LG OLED C8 also impresses with its elegant exterior. With its thin housing, its aluminum look and the extremely thin frame around the picture, the OLED TV fits into any living room.
The biggest innovation is the forward curved aluminum stand. It almost reaches over the entire case width, ensures a stable stand and is quite an eye-catcher. The flip side is that the LG OLED C8 might not be that good on narrow TV racks – it’s best to measure precisely before that.
The connections have not changed in comparison to the direct predecessors. Four HDMI ports provide plenty of room for external players and game consoles. Unfortunately, they are not yet working towards the future-proof HDMI 2.1 standard, but are based on HDMI 2.0. The support of the OLED C8 for HFR content (high frame rate with up to 120 frames per second) thereby remains limited to streaming content.
Also included: Two USB inputs, which can be used to connect hard disks for recording TV broadcasts, an optical audio output, a CI + slot for pay-TV content and a headphone jack. Wirelessly connects the LG OLED C8 via Bluetooth 4.2 or fast AC-WLAN with the outside world.
Impressive picture quality
Last year, LG convinced us with the best image characteristics in terms of OLED TVs. The 8-series puts it on top again: Although the basic OLED panel has changed only insignificantly compared to the 7 series, the brightness is still at a very good level with up to more than 700 candelas. The biggest difference compared to its predecessors shows the LG OLED C8 with fast movements.
The new Alpha 9 image processor provides visibly less artifacts, which especially benefit fast action scenes or sports broadcasts. To be fair, the differences between the OLED C8 and the C7 are only noticeable in a direct comparison. LG generally works at a very high level here.
This also applies to the upscaling of FullHD and SD content to the 4K resolution: As expected, top is also the color representation of OLED TVs. If you want to tease out even more, you can calibrate the panel with CalMAN AutoCal and achieve an almost perfect color space coverage . However, this requires a colorimeter like the CalMAN SpectraCal C6.
In our opinion, this is really not necessary: Colors already shine brilliantly on the LG OLED C8 without overshoot. That’s even more true for HDR content. Above all, the support of Dolby Vision HDR is a plus of LG TVs. HDR10 + is missing in the feature list.
Of the various presets we liked the selection »ISF Expert: Dark Room« the best. With a little fine tuning, we can achieve virtually all image content for a nearly perfect presentation.
Proven webOS, great voice control
LG once again relies on the tried-and-tested smart TV system webOS, which is pre-installed in the new version 4.0. Connoisseurs of the previous year’s models do not have to get used to too much. The navigation through function menus, station lists and smart TV apps is as intuitive and fast as usual. The menus are tidy, the app selection in the LG store is extensive. Above all, the selection of video services leaves virtually nothing to be desired, the offers of Netflix and Amazon are directly accessible via appropriate buttons on the remote control.
The voice control works amazingly well
Many TV models offer the possibility to control various functions by voice command. LG’s 2018 series voice control, dubbed »ThinQ«, finally offers the long-awaited added value. For example, by pressing the remote control’s microphone button, we can search for “Sean Connery movies” in the installed media libraries or view the available parts of the Asterix movie series. Even features like “Turn off the TV after this broadcast” can be implemented. While some of it already works in its predecessors, the swift implementation of the inputs and the high recognition rate in the OLED C8 ensures that we use the speech features more frequently.
Nice: The ThinQ speech recognition is a useful addition, but absolutely no obligation. If you do not feel like talking to your TV, you will find a veritable alternative in the classic control via remote control.
At the time of writing, the announced integration of the smart assistants Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in Germany was not yet available. Meanwhile, but at least the Google Assistant via firmware update on the LG C8 arrived.
Of course, the LG OLED C8 is not perfect. The biggest criticism is the rather thin sound. It is easily enough for news, documentaries or “shallow” series and films, but he does not live up to more elaborate productions. No wonder that LG in the next higher model – the LG E8 – mitliefert a sound bar. Buyers of the C8 should definitely consider investing in a sound system.
Whether the lack of HDR10 + LG OLED C8 is a problem, can not be estimated yet. At least theoretically, LG could deliver the support via update – if this happens, is currently not in sight.
Otherwise, the LG TV has the same weaknesses, as all OLED TVs. Despite the good panel, he still does not reach the brightness spheres of the top alternatives in the LCD segment. Added to this is at least the theoretical danger of burning images. Like all OLED producers, LG tries to counteract the problem with a number of techniques, such as an automatic screen saver after a few seconds in the still image. However, OLED technology is not to be absolved of this potential problem, at least in the medium term.
LG C8 Reviews
We are not alone with our general enthusiasm for the LG C8 . The current OLED series of Koreans almost consistently scores excellent review ratings.
In the test of Computer Bild (04/2018), the LG C8 scored well with the overall grade of 1.8. In addition to the outstanding picture quality, tester Christoph de Leuw especially praises the sophisticated operating concept including voice control:
LG has now taken a big step forward with the new version 4.0 of its WebOS operating system. The proprietary voice control called ThinQ worked very well in the test: Press the microphone button, say “ZDF neo”, the desired program is already running. Anyone who says “Football!” Will receive suggestions for the next matching events in the program preview as well as suitable apps like DAZN.
Slight criticism, however, there is for the more average sound:
The default Dolby Atmos mode lacks the promised surround sound, but sounds clear and balanced. With the Atmos switched off, the LG sounds too stuffy.
The TV portal rtings.com (04/2018) has also tested the LG C8. The conclusion is overwhelmingly positive:
The LG C8 is a great 4K OLED TV with excellent picture quality. […] The motion representation of the input lag is excellent and makes the TV suitable for gaming.
The main criticism of the Rtings tester is the automatic brightness control, which can be switched off. Overall, the LG OLED C8 in the test reaps the very good rating of 8.8 out of a maximum of 10 points. For Rtings the LG TV is the buy recommendation in terms of OLED TV 2018.
The market for OLED TVs is not as big and confusing as that for LCD TVs, but there are some highly interesting alternatives to our favorite. LG itself offers upgrades with the OLED E8 and the OLED W8. They offer the same excellent picture, but complement the basic package with features such as an integrated soundbar (OELD E8) or the extra-thin signature design (OLED W8).
But the competition has also drilled up its OLED portfolio. As before, the TV panels come almost exclusively from the LG production. However, different image processors, systems and features ensure that there are quite interesting alternatives to the LG C8.
Sony delivers with the AF9 from a great OLED TV newcomer. Rather than the AF8 , the AF9 is based on the successful 2017 model, the Sony A1 OLED . This is especially noticeable in the interesting stand design, which reissues Sony. Once again, Sony integrates amazingly strong speakers in the form of the “Acoustic Surface” into the TV. The AF9 does a good job on its own, but it can also be operated as a center box in a surround system.
For image processing comes with the X1 Ultimate for the first time Sony’s latest image processor used. According to the Japanese, it is twice as powerful as the already very good X1 Pro. This is in combination with the improved OLED panel noticeable: HDR content (Sony supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG, but not HDR10 +) come as alive and realistic as classic classic FullHD media, the X1 Ultimate on grandiose the 4K resolution scales. Also on the moving image processing – anyway a strength of Sony – the makers have further filed, so that even fast action sequences slip not only without stuttering, but also without feared soap opera effect on the screen.
For the optimal image adjustment but a little fine tuning is necessary. Not always the default is the best. Top for Netflix fans is the calibrated mode for the streaming service. Sony has partnered with Netflix to make the series and movie productions really look the way the creators imagined.
As usual, Sony also uses the AF9 on Android TV, which is pre-installed in version 8 alias “Oreo”. Compared to previous versions, the home page of Android TV 8 looks a bit tidier and offers comparatively brisk access to interesting content. Nevertheless, the operation still requires more training time than the systems from LG or Panasonic. Above all doubt, the app selection, even the popular media center Kodi can be installed without detours on the Sony TV.
The Sony AF9 is part of the new Master Series and lives up to this claim: A terrific picture with a very powerful image processor is complemented by a strong sound. If you are comfortable with Android TV and not afraid of the higher price, here is a top alternative to the LG C8.
A particularly favorable entry into the world of OLED TVs is the Philips 55POS9002 . As mentioned at the beginning, this does not mean that the picture is weak. On the contrary: Philips P5 image processor handles movements very well, SD and FullHD material scales cleanly up to the 4K resolution and does not pose any major weaknesses.
The real highlight of the OLED TV from Philips is the integration of Ambilight. The Philips technology projects a colored play of light on the wall behind the TV, which is visually synchronized in real time with the TV content. The result is an interesting depth effect that sets TV content in a new light. If you do not like that, you can also deactivate Ambilight.
Apart from that, the 55POS9002 is more home cooking. The 55-inch panel is neatly bright, but sets no standards. At the HDR front are missing with Dolby Vision and HDR10 + the two higher quality standards, after all, HDR10 is on board. Like Sony, Philips also relies on Android TV with all its benefits and weaknesses. Unusual is the double-sided remote control, which offers on the back of a QWERTY keyboard for text input. This facilitates navigation through Android, but it is still not optimal.
What else is there?
The OLED market is getting bigger and bigger. In addition to the still good models from the previous year, there are other alternatives. Below is a selection:
The Sony AF8 can not quite keep up with the AF9, but is still a very good TV. Despite the more traditional design, the “Acoustic Surface” sound technology is used here, which ensures a good sound. The 4K panel moves to a high level, but in terms of color space and maximum brightness can not quite keep up with our recommendation. The X1 Pro image processor is the same one that was already in the Sony A1 OLED. He still does a good job, but the successor to the AF9 is a significant upgrade. Nevertheless, for a good price, the Sony AF8 is still worth a recommendation.
Can it be a bit bigger? Then the Philips 65OLED873 is worth considering. With a screen diagonal of 65 inches it is larger than the 55POS9002 and is correspondingly expensive. The larger screen but especially in combination with Ambilight for an even greater wow experience. The 65OLED873 is also an upgrade to the smaller Philips representative in terms of HDR technology. Although Dolby Vision is missing here as well, the TV supports HDR10 +. Nice is also the possibility to extrapolate non-HDR material. The HDR upscaling works remarkably well in practice and enhances standard TV content. The Philips 65OLED873 is not a cheap but very good alternative to the LG OLED C8.
The LG C7V , our former favorite, is still delivering a good overall package for OLED TVs. It shows a good picture in all situations, supports current picture and sound standards with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos and scores with a sophisticated handling. The very good voice control of the C8 and its even better picture, but push the C7 from the throne.
There are no big differences between our former favorites, the LG C7V and the LG OLED55B7D . The color space coverage is minimal in the B7, but you get him for the same money still a twin tuner. Here everyone has to weigh what is more important to him. If you mainly use Netflix or other streaming services and hardly watch TV anyway, you can certainly do without the twin tuner – but that depends very much on the individual television habits. There are also minor differences in the design. The base looks different on the B7 and is not as stable as the C7’s.
The LG OLED5C7D is the sister model of the C7V. The only difference: The model with the D instead of the V has a twin tuner. For those who are important, the C7D would be the better choice – now the prices have also pretty much equalized, just under 70 euros more are due for the C7D in contrast to the C7V.
Meanwhile somewhat cheaper is the Philips 55POS901F . In addition to the versatile Android TV Buyer expects the typical Philips unique feature Ambilight, which projects light effects on the wall behind the TV. In addition, the model comes with a twin tuner. The image quality of the LG C8 but he does not come close, because it is sometimes far.
The Sony KD-55A1 is in terms of image quality an almost equal alternative to our favorite from LG. The Sony scores with a brilliant color representation and very good picture settings already ex factory and convinces with an idiosyncratic sound concept. The versatile, but comparatively complex operating concept of Android TV we like less, as well as the still quite high price.
The Panasonic TX-55EZW954puts an absolutely solid performance on the floor. It all starts with the design, which usually uses understatement. Also in terms of image, the Panasonic TV must not hide: Rich black and bright colors dominate the picture, even non-HD material is excellent. Only on Dolby Vision Panasonic fans have to do without – whether that still changes by update, is open.
Panasonic continues to rely on MyHomescreen 2.0, a further development of the proven Firefox OS. This looks a little less modern than LG’s webOS, but offers especially for smart TV beginners a tidy operation. However, the Panasonic TX-55ERZW954 produces a rather flat sound, which is only talk show or soap dialogue justice. As much as we want to like it, for the called price we find the Panasonic simply too expensive, especially with regard to the Sony.
Do 4K TVs need ultra-high resolution movies?
Not necessarily. 4K televisions convert all content to 4K resolution – from TV broadcasts to Blu-rays. Current TVs succeed this scaling amazingly well. The 4K devices do not show more details, but thanks to their finer pixel grid, clearer and cleaner images. Of course, the super-televisions only unfold their full splendor when they are fed with a corresponding number of pixels. This picture material is available in almost every household: With its eight million pixels, 4K TVs finally show photos of the digital camera in all its glory.
Which viewing distance is the right one?
At Full HD, a distance of 4 meters is ideal for 1.50 meter screens (55 to 65 inches); On the other hand, viewers of the same size can move up to about 2 meters on the Pelle. Thus, the TV picture fills out almost his entire field of view and pulls him into the action much more intense. If you are sitting much farther away from the TV in your living room, you will only see the sharpness advantage of 4K on even larger models. If you are watching from a distance of 5 meters, you will theoretically need a model with a good 2 meters screen diagonal.
What connections should the TV have?
Meanwhile, all UHD televisions have at least one HDMI port, which also accepts UHD at 60 frames per second, not just 30 frames. As a rule, all three to four HDMI inputs are now equally powerful. The copy protection HDCP 2.2 support all current models of the major brands – otherwise the screen would remain black for many 4K films. Upcoming TVs are synonymous 120 frames per second, but this works only with HDMI 2.1 and future media.
When do TV stations broadcast in 4K?
The beginning was made by Sky: Since autumn 2016, individual games of the Bundesliga and -Champions league in Ultra HD can be seen. More broadcasts and channels are to follow. The public broadcasters as well as RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 state that they are interested in an ultra-high-resolution program – but no one wants to name a concrete date. Until then, for example, ZDF and Sat.1 manage with a trick: they broadcast UHD broadcasts via HbbTV, that is, via the Internet via their media libraries. Satellite operator Astra is showing two demo channels with SES UHD and UHD1, and there is also a sporadic satellite channel RTL UHD and smaller providers such as Pearl-TV in UHD.
Who offers 4K content for streaming?
Currently Netflix has some movies and series in 4K in the program. To see them, but you need the appropriate subscription for 13.99 euros a month. Also Amazon has now some 4K offers, films, however, not as part of the prime flat rate but against extra payment. Both services require the appropriate apps on the TV or the current streaming box Fire TV (4K version) from Amazon. Netflix also has the Chromecast Ultra and the latest Apple TV 4K. The Apple iTunes Store has a good selection of 4K movies at relatively low prices.
Are there already 4K movies on Blu-ray?
Since April 2016, the first Ultra HD discs are in stores. Do not be fooled by terms like “4K Mastered” that adorn the covers of some Blu-ray discs: these are not real 4K resolution movies, but 4K movies downscaled to Full HD. The real UHD Blu-ray recognizes a black cover. To play Ultra HD Blu-ray players are required. The major manufacturers LG, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung have corresponding models in the program, also the Xbox One S is suitable.
What’s up with HDR?
HDR is the abbreviation for High Dynamic Range. With high image dynamics, two features can be meant: Greater contrast range and more reproducible colors with softer gradients. So even delicate lighting conditions can be represented – so that in the football stadium in the low sun scenes in the shade are still recognizable, at the same time the sky but does not seem exaggerated. The high contrast is achieved by LCD or LED televisions, lighting three to five times as bright as the average. OLED televisions do not create such brightness, but achieve a gigantic contrast through a particularly deep black with clean drawing in dark parts of the picture. The greater colourfulness of OLED televisions is also inherent in the cradle.
What are the differences between HDR-compatible televisions?
Many TVs can handle UHD-Blu-ray or video streams recorded with HDR correctly, but their image dynamics are dampened by the capabilities of their screens. Only very high-quality devices bring a visible HDR effect: With LG it is the OLED televisions and the so-called super UHD models from UH8509 , with Panasonic the LCD top model FXW784, Philips from PUS7601 upward, Samsung certifies all SUHD models HDR – Ability (from series 7 of 2015 and 2016, from MU8009 from 2018), Sony models from XD8505 and successor models .
What does UHD Premium mean?
UHD Premium is a quality seal of the manufacturer’s association UHD Alliance. This sets certain specifications for HDR-capable Ultra HD televisions. This includes, for example, a color processing with 10 bits instead of the usual 8-bit – and thus 1024 color gradations for each base color instead of just 256. UHD Premium certified are, for example, the models mentioned in question 8 from LG and Samsung, as well as the DXW904 from Panasonic , The top models from Sony also meet the required specifications, but Sony saved the money for certification from the beginning. Since the 2018 model year, UHD Premium is hardly mentioned anymore.
What do HDR-10 and HLG mean?
These are technical standards for HDR videos. HDR-10 does not cost any licenses and is used by all current TV set manufacturers, as well as Amazon and Netflix streaming vendors. HDR-10 is also used in the UHD Blu-ray.
HLG is the abbreviation for Hybrid Log Gamma and describes the HDR implementation for TV broadcasts. With this method, TV stations like Sky will work. Virtually all HDR-enabled TVs from model year 2017 support both methods, even a large part of the 2016 models.
What’s is Dolby Vision?
Dolby Vision is a competing HDR format that requires a license fee from the filmmaker or device manufacturer. Dolby Vision packs scene-dependent additional information on brightness and contrast (metadata) into the video data. This makes it possible to use the capabilities of the TV better and even more dynamic images represent. Matching TVs are available from LG ( OLED models ), Sony and Loewe. Films using Dolby Vision technology will occasionally come from Netflix and in the future also from Ultra HD Blu-ray. So far, only a few players support the Dolby Vision format.
What are Samsung and Panasonic planning with HDR10 +?
Samsung has developed a similar process as Dolby Vision with dynamic metadata, together with Panasonic and the film studio 20th Century Fox to make it available to other manufacturers and film providers – for a small administrative cost contribution instead of royalties as for Dolby Vision, so the initiators. In addition to the launch of HDR10 + Amazon wants to be there, the first films or TV series to appear in the course of 2017. Suitable TVs are initially all Ultra HD models from Samsung , which come on the market this year (series MU and Q).
What does HFR mean?
The abbreviation stands for High Frame Rate and thus for films with more than the usual 24-frames per second in cinema films. HFR shows movements smoother and sharper. The first known cinema film with HFR was “The Hobbit” with 48 frames per second. Future televisions will also produce 60 frames per second, with the upcoming HDMI 2.1 standard even 120 fps (frames per second) are possible.