Let’s face it, “cheap OLED” is an oxymoron. OLED panels are the top of the crop when it comes to finding the best image quality in your 4K television. That means you’re going to pay a little something for it, but it doesn’t mean you have to fork over your life savings. You can if you want. LG’s 88-inch Z9 8K OLED TV goes for a paltry $30,000 at Best Buy and Amazon. We’re going to assume that’s not the sort of OLED you’re in the market for with this roundup featuring a few possibilities that are slightly more affordable.
OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode,” and when it comes to TVs your panel is either OLED or the less impressive but far more common LCD (liquid crystal display). LCD televisions work by using liquid crystal over a backlight to manipulate the light and color your display is creating. It’s a powerful technology all on its own and different features like full array local dimming help bring out the best contrast ratios in more expensive sets.
However, OLED works by using an organic compound that responds to electric current. Each and every pixel in an OLED panel responds individually to the electricity being sent to it, which no amount of local dimming in an LCD panel can possibly replicate. That’s eight million individual responses in a 4K OLED TV compared to maybe 1,000 zones in a really good LCD panel.
OLED is very much the superior technology. You’ll notice how good it is on your new TV once you’ve found one you can afford.
Best cheap OLED TVs
Not a whole lot of companies tend to venture into OLED territory mostly because it’s hard to make OLED TVs affordable right now. In the U.S., only Vizio, LG, and Sony make TVs with OLED panels. You can also find a few models from Panasonic, that actually happen to be affordable ones, but those are mostly only available in Europe.
Vizio OLED55-H1 55-inch OLED 4K SmartCast TV
Vizio only has two sizes for the OLED TVs so far: this 55-inch version and a 65-inch version, which is usually on sale for $200 off but isn’t at the moment. They have an innovative bezel-less design, 120Hz refresh rate for gaming with unique features that make the TV more responsive in VR, a powerful chip for 4K upscaling and picture processing, and more. They support HDR content, Vizio’s SmartCast platform for navigating apps, and hands-free voice control using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
LG A1 48-inch 4K OLED smart TV
While not currently on sale, the A1 is LG’s newest entry-level no-frills OLED TV, and it’s one of the least expensive from LG on the market. It lacks some of the advanced features like the Game Optimizer or the 120Hz refresh rates, but the panel still offers amazing image quality thanks to the 8 million individual pixels that can activate independently of each other. It has HDR support along with support for tech like Dolbyu Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos. Includes support for Google Assistant and has Amazon Alexa built in.
LG BX 55-inch 4K OLED smart TV | $100 off
Many sizes are on sale. The OLED55BXPUA BX series is LG’s 2020 entry-level OLED TV. The 55-inch is the smallest size for the BX and the least expensive option. It comes with all the features you’d expect from even a regular LCD TV around this price. It has Amazon Alexa built in, access to LG’s webOS smart platform with all your favorite apps, a powerful processor for 4K upscaling, and more. It even has adaptive sync technology for gamers.
LG C1 48-inch OLED 4K Smart TV | $100 off
Part of LG’s 2021 lineup (and a replacement for the CX Series), this OLED TV includes an improved processor that makes picture and sound adjustments automatically. Get the best resolution possible with every piece of content. The Game Optimizer ensures easy access to game settings with low input lag and fast response times. Has Amazon ALexa built in and also works with Google Assistant.
LG GX Series 55-inch OLED 4K Smart TV | $300 off
One of the later additions to LG’s 2020 lineup, this TV includes a bezel-less design, a 4K AI Processor that can upscale resolutions and make images and audio more clear than ever, and LG’s webOS smart platform. You can even control the TV with your voice using LG’s built-in voice assistant.
Sony A80J Bravia XR 55-inch OLED 4K Google TV | $300 off
Part of the 2021 lineup and one step below Sony’s flagship model. The A80J boasts a Cognitive Processor that helps deliver intense contrast, natural colors, and a wide soundstage based on how humans see and hear. It has 4K upscaling, motion clarity, Bravia’s Core exclusive content service, and Google TV with access to all your favorite apps.
LG CX 65-inch OLED 4K Smart TV | $300 off
Many sizes are on sale. The OLED65CXPUA CX series is a step up from the previously mentioned BX. Most TVs jump in price with a larger size, but you can definitely see the jump with an OLED panel. Still, today’s deal offers some big savings. This screen comes with easy access to LG’s webOS smart platform, HDR support, and even Nvidia G-Sync tech for gaming. Get it for $1,950 if you’re a My Best Buy member, which just takes an email to sign up for.
Sony A8H 65-inch OLED 4K Android TV
Sony’s OLED TV includes the X1 Ultimate processor for enhancing color, contrast, and clarity. The Triluminous display reproduces more colors and can analyze the data from every image to give you something more natural and precise. You also get fantastic HDR support. The TV works with Google and Apple ecosystems and can be controlled by voice with either system or Amazon Alexa.
What to look for in an OLED TV?
Like I said before, right now LG and Sony are the big names in OLED. However, Vizio’s newest OLEDs just released last October and they’ve put LG and Sony on notice. Vizio has managed fantastic OLED TVs that start at prices lower than the competition and will probably get lower over time. I love Vizio TVs. I even own a P Series Quantum X from 2019. One thing that sets Vizio apart is always finding a way to price its TVs very competitively. The new OLEDs from Vizio start at around $1,300, which may make them the least expensive options for anyone looking at OLED. As far as the panels go, the OLED is just as good as LG and Sony. You get deep blacks and fantastic image quality. The smart platform might not be as good and the brightness might be a little less, but these TVs are definitely competitive.
Outside of Vizio’s new lineup, the best way to save on OLED is to keep an eye out on previous generation models. Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart, and other major retailers will often have 2020 versions on sale when they have the 2021 versions in stock. And we are finally starting to see some of the 2021 panels go on sale as well. Unfortunately, many of these deals are pretty limited since once a TV is discontinued the quantity dries up. It’s a constant game in the TV market, and you’ve got to have some patience if you really want to save.
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