Playbook for picking an OLED TV

By Alex Jensen

As we jump from one major sports event to another, it seems like there’s always an excuse to improve the viewing experience from the comfort of home with a new OLED TV. The latest of these excuses has been the FIFA Women’s World Cup, as TV viewers in America already set an audience record despite the immense time difference with Australia and New Zealand where the tournament’s being held until Aug. 20.

Just as women’s football is surging in popularity, so too are OLED TVs. They are set to take up 46.1% of the premium TV market (referring to TVs priced above US$1,500) this year, according to research firm Omdia’s findings in June as cited by Korean media. Not only is OLED’s premium TV market share rapidly rising from last year’s 36.7% and heading towards 68.7% by 2027, it’s already over 50% in key regions such as North America.

I’ve been enjoying this latest summer’s sports on my own OLED TV. Its millions of self-emissive pixels have perfectly captured all the vivid colors, the speed, and the sheer energy without unwanted interruptions like motion blur getting in the way. But if I were buying a new OLED TV right now, there are several factors I’d want to consider given the options that are constantly evolving. For those people in that position right now, here’s my playbook for picking an OLED TV.

What will be the TV’s primary purpose?

Our homes are filled with screens. Adults and kids alike sit glued to smartphones with tablets, laptops, and PC monitors nearby. So, if you’re buying a premium TV, you’re probably not going to want to use it for scrolling through YouTube Shorts. Yet, even if most OLED TV panels are made by LG Display, they aren’t all created equal. For one thing, they come in a massive range of sizes – from 42 inches all the way up to 97 inches! If you’re looking to completely immerse yourself in sports or want to create a home movie theater vibe, then the bigger the better. However, if you’re planning to watch the nightly news with some general content thrown in, then anywhere between the 40- and 60-inch range will probably suit you fine.

Aside from size, TV consumers often pay attention to factors like resolution. All of the OLED TV panels produced by LG Display are going to offer outstanding image quality with a minimum resolution of 4K. They will all allow you to experience exceptional contrast with OLED’s perfect black, an exquisite range of colors, and rapid refresh rates. But if you’re a sports or movie lover, you’ll want to check out third-generation OLED panels equipped with LG Display’s META Technology. Released just this year, META Technology offers 60% more brightness thanks to billions of micro lenses placed over OLED’s pixels in addition to an algorithm known as META Booster. But take note that while LG Display makes the panels, TV manufacturers will use their own language to describe what they offer, so it’s worth checking whether the TV you’re considering buying is equipped with third-generation OLED technology.

One other point to mention is the trend that’s seen gamers adopt OLED TVs, attracted by this technology’s superior response time and refresh rates. In other words, the same benefits that allow us to enjoy super-smooth gameplay in sports also apply to games. It comes down to personal preference but I would say OLED TVs in the 40-inch range are probably most versatile for serving both gaming and viewing general content.

Where do you plan to position the TV?

Speaking of size, there’s another consideration that is vitally important – where do you want to put your TV? Even a “smaller” 48-inch TV isn’t going to jump from room to room with ease. So, ask yourself whether this TV is for the main room of the house or whether it’s a second or third TV.

Once you’ve decided where it will go, measure the distance from where you (and perhaps others) will be sitting down to watch TV. Some people might like to sit relatively close to the screen, but a general guide is that you should divide the distance from seat to TV (in inches) by 1.4 – and that will give you the optimal TV screen size. For example, a distance of five feet points to a 42-inch TV, whereas an eight-feet distance indicates a 65-inch TV.

One thing you won’t have to worry about as much with an OLED TV is the angle of your sitting position. OLED TVs have long been renowned for their viewing angle superiority, but META Technology has taken something great and made it even better – third-generation OLED panels deliver a 30% viewing angle improvement over conventional OLEDs. To put it another way, they present the widest viewing angle of all existing TVs – something to consider when you have a crowd gathered round a room for that big match!

What is your personal style?

I have already implied that personal taste is important when it comes to size and TV viewing habits. Individual style is clearly a big factor. Regardless of the size of your living room, you simply might not want a large TV in there.

Yet, OLED TVs do have the ability to “hide” in plain sight. This is partly because all OLED panels are ultra-slim as their self-emissive pixels don’t require any kind of backlight. For an even less imposing TV, META Technology has also made it possible to design OLED panels with narrower bezels – down to a width of just 4.3 mm!

If that’s not good enough – but you’re sure you actually want a TV – then OLED’s flexibility may still come to the rescue. LG Display’s Rollable OLED panel has been commercialized, and while not cheap, it allows your TV to roll in and out of sight. The discerning home decorator has the option therefore to make their TV disappear at will. I remember seeing an even less conspicuous option at CES 2021 – a 55-inch Transparent OLED display that could slide in and out of its base! And with Transparent OLED developing fast, it might not be long before see-through displays become pretty standard.

But honestly, for watching the next big game in whatever sport, I’d want something big, loud, and proud to generate the most exhilarating atmosphere possible!

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