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Dossier: Three affordable OLED TVs from Philips, Sony and LG compared

Three OLED TVs comparison
Review: Three OLED TVs comparison - A comparison between three affordable TVs LG CX series; Philips OLED805 series; Sony A8 series
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This article presents a review of comparison between three OLED TVs from Philips, Sony and LG. OLED TVs have settled comfortably in the upper TV segment in recent years. The immersive picture experience with its rich colors and perfect black is a pleasure to the eye. In this dossier we look at three recent models that are on the shelves for an affordable price. What is the best affordable OLED TV at the moment?

A word of explanation before three OLED TVs comparison

While conducting three OLED TVs comparison, we are looking for a 2020 4K OLED model, in 55 or 65 inch screen format. It doesn’t have to be the absolute top model, we rather aim for the most popular and affordable models. Due to the corona problems, the Panasonic model (the HZ1000 / HZW1004) did not reach us in time. You will find that device later on the website and in a next edition of FWD Magazine.

HDMI 2.1 or not?

The introduction of HDMI 2.1 has been behind us for quite some time, but still offering not all manufacturers support this latest version with all its features. For film and sports enthusiasts, HDMI 2.1 is not very important for the time being (we do not expect 4K HFR content any time soon), but all the more for gamers. Features such as ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) are specifically for them. And the higher bandwidth of HDMI 2.1 that enables 4K High Frame Rate (HFR) content will also initially be important for the users of the latest generation of consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X). A feature such as eARC can be interesting to prevent your soundbar or AV receiver from being a limiting link in the video chain. See also elsewhere in this magazine an extensive background article on eARC. Since a TV is only replaced every six to seven years, we believe that HDMI 2.1 should be given a certain weight.

High Dynamic Range

The market still has not determined whether Dolby Vision of HDR10 + for dynamic tone mapping will make up the bulk of the content offering. Maybe both will remain, or standard HDR10 with static tone mapping will remain the most important. Devices that support all HDR versions certainly have a trump card. What we do notice is that tone mapping, the step that translates the incoming HDR image signal to the possibilities of the screen, has become very good. And most manufacturers use a proprietary form of dynamic tone mapping under the hood (where the HDR display is tuned to the capabilities of the specific screen), so the absence of one of the dynamic standards is not necessarily a handicap.

Sound and Dolby Atmos

We have been saying for a long time that if you are looking for truly captivating sound, it is best to buy a soundbar or other external audio solution. Fortunately, we notice that high-end models such as these OLEDs still have excellent sound on board. All these models even support Dolby Atmos but with the TV’s speakers, good Atmos reproduction will often remain relatively limited. For true surround, choose an external solution.

Devices from last year?

Devices from last year (the LG C9, Philips OLED804 and Sony AG8) are often still available at a very favorable price. Are those good alternatives? Those devices also deliver excellent image and sound, but you give up the small step forward in image processing. Apart from that, it is best to check, just as with the current devices, whether the features that are important to you are present. Only with the Sony AG8 we have some reservations, because this device really lags behind the newer A8.

What is the best affordable OLED TV at the moment?

In this part of three OLED TVs comparison we discuss three affordable OLED televisions from Philips , LG and Sony. Below you will find the conclusions from each of the reviews, with a link to the full review.

LG CX series

LG CX series is first among Three OLED TVs comparison. The list of negatives on the LG CX series is very short. HDR10 + support is missing, which is a pity for a device that offers everything else. Our measurements also indicated that the CX series is slightly less bright than last year, but it remains clearly within the limits of typical OLED performance. The HDMI 2.1 connections give a maximum of 40Gbps bandwidth while on the C9 you got 48Gbps. We are not satisfied with the communication in this regard, it was unclear, but the impact on most consumers is non-existent. If you take a look at the review of the C9, you will notice that the OLED65CX6LA is really very close to its predecessor in terms of pure image quality. It mainly concerns small improvements (such as OLED Motion Pro, Filmmaker mode or Dolby Vision IQ). Yes, all those features further improve your viewing experience, but they are rarely worlds apart. OLED performance seems to have reached a plateau in recent years.

Anyone who explores the plus points will soon notice that the OLED65CX6LA has a lot to offer. Gamers can look forward to a TV that delivers fantastic results on both next-gen consoles and PC, and supports all the required features. Movie lovers enjoy the distinctive black, fantastic color reproduction and great HDR performance. Excellent sound quality and an extensive and handy WebOS complete this handsome television. The price for all that beauty is very high for the time being, but in line for the segment. The Samsung Q95T is slightly cheaper, but the toughest competition actually comes from LG’s own C9.

Cons

  • No HDR10 +
  • A little less bright than last year

Pros

  • Very good image processing
  • Dolby Vision IQ, Filmmaker Mode
  • Improved motion sharpness
  • Top black reproduction with lots of shadow detail
  • Excellent HDR images
  • HDMI 2.1 with widest feature set
  • Great sound, including Atmos

Philips OLED805 series

The second OLED TV in list for Three OLED TVs comparison is the 55OLED805 (OLED805- series). It is a worthy successor to the OLED804? He inherits a lot of things from his predecessor, that’s for sure, also a few weaker points. The Android chipset that could be a bit more powerful for this model, for example. And he still struggles with color bands in dark, low-quality images. However, we don’t think these are showstoppers. Where we are a bit disappointed is the lack of HDMI 2.1 connections and functions. That is especially a downside for gamers, but the lack of eARC can also be a disappointment for film lovers. Philips has also given its remote a make-over and although it now looks a bit nicer, we are less satisfied with the ease of use.

Excellent points are awarded to the Philips 55OLED805 for its general image processing. It got some extra muscle power with the addition of a touch of AI. The device also features a very accurate color reproduction and impressive black detail for a fantastic image result. In HDR, the TV combines that with high peak luminance and support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 +. With Perfect Natural Reality you can give SDR images a nice HDR effect. The sound is more powerful on this model, with a solid dash of bass. Philips has also thought in its design of people who still want to use a soundbar, the TV can be placed higher with the help of an adapter set. Finally, with the addition of DTS Play-Fi, Philips has given its TVs and its audio products a multi-room audio system and wireless surround at once.

Cons

  • No HDMI 2.1 connections
  • New remote provides moderate ease of use

Pros

  • Very good image processing
  • Top black reproduction with a lot of shadow detail
  • Excellent HDR images
  • DTS Play-Fi and Ambilight
  • Supplied legs to lift TV for a soundbar
  • Excellent sound, including Atmos

Sony A8 series

The last in list of Three OLED TVs comparison is Sony A8 series. Where the AG8 was a rather poor copy of the AF8, the A8 is a real upgrade. A more powerful Android chipset, new menus and remote, and the X1 Ultimate processor. The main flaw at Sony is the absence of a full HDMI 2.1 connection and the accompanying gamer features. For a high end model and with the announcement of the PS5 just behind us, it remains difficult to understand. We would also have liked to see HDR10 + support.

The A8 delivers excellent image quality. The X1 Ultimate processor guarantees top upscaling and image processing, with an extra good point for the “smooth gradation” option that eliminates color bands. The OLED screen not only delivers pitch black, but also shows excellent black detail. Sony has also eliminated the light flickering in very dark images. The new 120Hz Black Frame Insertion improves the detail reproduction in fast moving images, without sacrificing too much clarity. Supplemented with nice sound and a nice and especially smooth user experience of Android 9 combined with the new remote and menus, this is a nice total package. The KD-55A8 (A8 series) is at the level of the LG CX with its price. This makes it relatively expensive for the time being.

Cons

  • No HDR10 +
  • Minimal loss of white detail in HDR
  • Except eARC, no HDMI 2.1 features

Pros

  • Excellent image processing
  • Improved motion sharpness
  • Top black value and lots of black detail
  • Unique sound solution with support for Atmos
  • Excellent user experience (Android 9 and remote)
  • Two setup options (one for soundbar)

 

Conclusion of three OLED TVs comparison

Because OLED TVs all use the same OLED panels (from LG Display) and because the technology has not changed fundamentally for a few years , the performance of the different devices is getting closer to each other. All these models offer top color reproduction, excellent clarity and beautiful HDR images. The Philips scores the highest brightness, but the lead is modest. The Sony shows the best HDR color reproduction, in SDR the Philips and LG score slightly better. Philips is the only one to support Dolby Vision and HDR10 +. But the dynamic tone mapping that LG and Sony implement themselves are very good. At this point we give the LG the best points.

when we talked about Three OLED TVs comparison, how do devices differ from each other? With design, for example. Both Philips and Sony have thought of soundbar users, placing a soundbar at LG will be more difficult. The audio performance of all models is very good and all three offer Dolby Atmos support. Here too we give the Philips a small lead. Ease of use is another factor, where we give LG the best points.

Ultimately, during three OLED TVs comparison, the biggest differences are in the range of features. LG is the only one to offer HDMI 2.1 connections with all the important features, an asset with a view to the future, but not decisive for many viewers. The new 120Hz Black Frame Insertion that makes fast moving images slightly sharper without too much loss of brightness or flicker is only found on LG and Sony. If you think AirPlay is important, you look at the Sony and the LG, while Philips has two unique advantages with DTS Play-Fi and Ambilight. Although Play-Fi still has to prove its importance; it certainly has potential. Ultimately, your choice for one of these devices will often be based on the right combination of features. For image and sound, the differences are often subtle, and only of interest to the most discerning viewers.

Putting everything together, we hand out the Best Tested logo to the LG OLED65CX6LA. The device combines the most important features with excellent image and sound quality. If we also look at the price tag, we give the Best Buy to the Philips 55OLED805. Keep in mind that prices are close to each other, and therefore offers or future price evolution can influence your decision.

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