Article last updated on: Oct 22, 2017

Most TVs on the market today are LED TVs - which should have been called LED-backlit LCDs, as the LEDs are only used as the backlight for these TVs. OLED is the next-gen display technology with improved performance and design. OLED TVs are slowly gaining market share, though high costs and limited production capacity limit adoption.

LG EF9500 flat OLED TV photo


An OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) panel is made from organic (carbon-based) materials that emit light when electricity is applied. An OLED TV is made from millions of pixels, each made from red, green and blue tiny OLED materials.

A LED TV is a confusing term - as it should actually be called LED-backlit LCD. This is still LCD technology, but instead of the fluorescent (CCFL) lamps, an LED TV uses LED lighting for the white backlighting. While LED LCD TVs look better than CCFL LCDs, they are still no match for OLED panels.

OLED displays have the following advantages over LCD displays:

  • OLED offer a better image quality - even with the latest quantum-dots enhanced LED TVs, OLEDs still provide a far better contrast ratio (true blacks), faster refresh rates and wider viewing angles
  • OLEDs typically consume less power (as only lit pixels draw power)
  • Design freedom - OLED panels are thinner and lighter than LCD panels, and OLEDs can be made flexible - and in the future we will see bendable, rollable and transparent OLEDs.

Of course OLED technology is not perfect - two challenges are the relatively limited lifetime (and thus burn-in issues) and the high production costs which are mostly due to the low production volume currently in place.

What about QD-LEDs?

The latest premium LCDs use quantum-dots to enhance the efficiency and color gamut. Read here for a a comparison of OLED and QLED technology.

OLED TVs on the market

As of 2017, only LG Display produces commercial OLED TV panels (China's BOE is initiating small-scale production). LG Electronics has several OLED TV models on the market - ranging in size from 55" to 77". LG's latest range of OLED TVs all support 4K (UHD) resolution and HDR. Reviews of OLED TVs are terrific, and most experts and consumers agree that OLED TVs are the best TVs ever produced - with virtually perfect image quality.

LG Display also supplies panels to other companies - including Panasonic, Sony, Grundig, Philips, Metz, Loewe, Skyworth, Changhong, Haier, Konka and others. The following table shows some of the prominent 2017 OLED TVs available in the US:

Entry level 55"/65" ($1,999 / $2,799)
LG OLEDG7 photo
High end 65"/77" ($4,999 / $9,999)
Wallpaper 65"/77" ($7,999 / $30,000)

In August 2013, Samsung launched an OLED TV as well, the KN55S9C, that used Samsung's own OLED TV panels. Samsung stopped producing and marketing the S9C OLED TVs soon afterwards and is currently focused on quantum-dot enhanced LCDs (and perhaps Micro-LED will be Samsung's future TV display technology of choice).

Further reading