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Sony OLED vs. LG OLED: 6 Key Differences and Full Comparison

If you‘re in the market for a new TV, especially a premium OLED model, you‘ve probably narrowed it down to two major brands – Sony and LG. Both make fantastic OLED TVs that deliver stunning picture quality and slim, elegant designs. But which brand is better for your needs and budget?

As an avid TV enthusiast and analyst, I‘ve had the opportunity to extensively test and review the latest OLED TVs from Sony and LG. While both brands produce excellent televisions, they do have some notable strengths and weaknesses compared to each other.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll dive deep into the key differences between Sony and LG OLED TVs across six major categories. I‘ll provide detailed comparisons of their screen technologies, picture quality, smart platforms, gaming capabilities, audio systems, pricing, and more. My goal is to arm you with the full information you need to decide whether to go Sony or LG for your next TV upgrade.

Let‘s get started!

Panel Technology

The core component of any OLED TV is the OLED panel itself. This is where we see the first major difference between Sony and LG.

LG manufactures their own OLED panels and uses them in all of their OLED TV models. In fact, LG Display is the world‘s leading producer of OLED panels. The company has invested billions into OLED research and production facilities over the past decade.

LG‘s proprietary OLED panel technology includes a unique Oxide TFT backplane, which helps improve image accuracy and brightness through more precise control at the sub-pixel level. The backplane transports current through each pixel, so enhancements here translate to better picture quality.

Sony does not actually produce its own OLED panels. Instead, the company currently sources its panels from LG Display. So in many ways, LG OLED TVs have an inherent technological advantage right from the start, since LG owns the entire panel production process.

However, for its 2022 OLED TV lineup, Sony has secured access to LG‘s latest "OLED Evo" panel technology. This represents LG‘s most advanced OLED panel design yet, delivering increased brightness through the addition of deuterium to the organic compounds in each pixel.

So while LG still produces superior OLED panels overall, the gap has closed significantly between newer Sony and LG models since Sony can now leverage LG‘s OLED Evo panels. When it comes to the TV screens themselves, the two brands are more evenly matched than ever before. But LG‘s over decade long experience manufacturing OLED panels likely still gives them a small edge in terms of panel-level enhancements.

Picture Processing

Both Sony and LG OLED TVs deliver incredible picture quality with the deep blacks and vibrant colors that OLED panels are known for. But the two brands employ vastly different processing techniques to handle upscaling, color management, contrast enhancement, and other picture adjustments.

Sony‘s approach with its OLED TVs is focused on reproducing the source content as faithfully as possible to the creator‘s original intent. The company wants you to see movies and shows precisely as the director or cinematographer envisioned.

To accomplish this, Sony TVs rely on the proprietary Cognitive Processor XR chip. This processor utilizes artificial intelligence and advanced sensing technology to divide the screen into hundreds of zones and optimize every part of the picture.

The Cognitive Processor XR can detect the focal point in a scene and enhance texture, contrast, and depth in the most important areas while dimming distracting backgrounds. This really makes key characters and objects pop off the screen.

Sony OLED TVs also come pre-calibrated in the factory with dedicated Netflix and IMAX Enhanced picture modes. These exclusive modes were co-developed with each streaming partner to ensure extremely accurate color reproduction when watching their content.

On the other hand, LG takes more of an enhancement approach to picture processing. The company‘s goal is to actively improve and refine the source video using powerful AI techniques. LG believes OLED TVs have the potential to make content look better than the original.

New LG OLED models are equipped with the latest α9 Gen 5 AI Processor. This chip analyzes the content frame-by-frame to determine the best adjustments needed. It then applies complex video processing like dynamic tone mapping and upscaling to boost contrast, color depth, detail, and overall picture quality.

The LG processor delivers a very refined, polished image that looks subtly optimized across all types of content from movies to sports. But it strays further from the original artistic intent compared to Sony‘s more purist approach.

When it comes to real-world picture quality, both TV brands deliver outstanding OLED viewing experiences. Sony OLEDs produce remarkably natural, accurate images that look just like what the director wanted. LG OLEDs generate a more exaggerated, enhanced picture with heightened contrast and saturation. So neither approach is inherently better. It comes down to personal preference for a more authentic or polished TV image.

Gaming Performance

Gaming has become an increasingly important TV feature as console and PC gaming continue to gain popularity. For gamers, LG currently has a notable edge when it comes to gaming-centric capabilities and features.

LG‘s 2022 OLED TV lineup supports 4K 120Hz gaming with VRR and ALLM on all four HDMI ports. This allows you to connect multiple high-performance gaming machines and enjoy flawless high frame rate gameplay.

Plus, LG OLED TVs have extremely low input lag measuring under 10ms in game mode. This virtually eliminates controller delay, enabling quick reactions in fast-paced titles. The new LG G2 OLED model gets input lag down to an astonishing 5ms.

Sony‘s flagship OLED TV models match LG‘s gaming credentials in certain areas but fall short in others. For example, only HDMI ports 3 and 4 support full 4K 120Hz on select Sony TVs like the A90K. The other ports max out at 4K 60Hz.

And while very good, input lag on Sony OLEDs measures around 15ms across the board – noticeably higher than LG‘s sub-10ms figures. So competitive multiplayer gamers may notice slightly sluggish controls compared to LG‘s extremely responsive gaming experience.

LG also provides dedicated gaming-focused features, such as Game Optimizer menus that make it easy to quickly adjust HDR tone mapping, VRR, input lag, and other settings without fumbling through complex TV menus. The Game Optimizer and gaming dashboard deliver a very streamlined user experience.

Based on their cutting-edge connectivity, ultra-low latency, and exclusive gaming enhancements, LG OLED TVs are better equipped for serious gaming right now. Casual gamers will be happy with either brand, but LG has a clear advantage for hardcore gameplay.

Smart TV Platform

The smart TV platform is the software interface that lets you access streaming services, apps, inputs, and various settings on your television. Sony and LG take very different approaches with their respective smart platforms.

Sony OLED TVs run Google‘s Android TV platform, recently rebranded to Google TV. The interface is clean, attractive, and intuitively organized. The home screen aggregates shows and movies from across installed apps and services into handy tabs like For You, Movies, Shows, and Live.

Google TV really excels at content discovery. The personalized For You tab leverages Google‘s algorithms to serve up relevant recommendations. This makes it easy to find new shows and movies you‘ll love from all your streaming apps in one place, rather than having to check each one individually.

You can also use the built-in Google Assistant voice search to easily pull up content across services just by speaking show/movie names and genres into your remote. Voice search is extremely comprehensive and useful.

Overall, Google TV provides the best full-featured smart TV experience available today. The content-first focus separated from individual apps perfectly matches how we interact with streaming services in the modern era.

LG smart TVs run the company‘s proprietary webOS platform. The interface is relatively simple – the home screen just displays rows of apps without much customization. LG does provide some basic content recommendations on the home page, but they are limited compared to Google TV‘s expansive, personalized suggestions.

However, webOS allows very fast app launches from the home screen. Pressing an app icon instantly opens it rather than having to first select it and then click to open. The platform‘s no-frills focus on app switching is ideal for users who know exactly what they want to watch and mainly need quick access.

But Google TV still provides the most well-rounded smart TV experience with its aggregated content libraries and robust recommendation engine. LG‘s webOS feels dated and limited by comparison.

Audio Performance

Great sound is just as important as picture quality when it comes to an enjoyable TV viewing experience. Here Sony OLED TVs sound noticeably better than their LG counterparts right out of the box.

Sony‘s flagship OLED models utilize the company‘s unique Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology. Rather than conventional downward or forward firing speakers, Acoustic Surface Audio+ vibrates the entire OLED panel to produce sound waves.

By using the panel as the speaker system, audio seems to directly emanate from different parts of the screen. The included subwoofer handles bass, while dialog and effects play directly from the localized screen areas where the action is occurring.

This gives sound an incredibly dynamic, directional quality you can‘t get from a basic built-in speaker system. Sony OLEDs create a very immersive frontal audio experience with outstanding clarity for vocals and details.

LG‘s OLED TV audio quality has traditionally lagged behind Sony. Even high-end LG OLED models only use basic forward or downward firing speakers without the innovative panel vibration technology.

The audio lacks presence and sounds like it‘s coming from below or in front of you rather than directly from the screen. LG does include AI Sound Pro processing that analyzes content and optimizes audio output, but the physical speakers can‘t match Sony‘s display-based system.

Of course, many consumers pair their TV with an external soundbar or surround speaker setup, making the built-in speakers less important. But if you don‘t plan on getting a sound system, Sony OLEDs will provide a vastly superior audio experience out of the box.

Pricing and Value

When evaluating OLED TV brands, price and value are major factors for most buyers. Historically, LG OLED models have been significantly more affordable than Sony OLEDs with similar specs and features.

For instance, the 65-inch Sony A90K has an MSRP of $3,000. Compare that to the 65-inch LG G2 which retails for only $2,200 – a $800 difference at the same screen size. Across other sizes like 55-inch and 77-inch models, we see the same pricing pattern favoring LG.

Even mid-range LG OLEDs like the C2 series tend to cost hundreds less than comparable Sony counterparts. So LG has long offered better value for budget-conscious shoppers wanting advanced OLED technology at more accessible price points.

However, for 2022, Sony has attempted to close the OLED pricing gap with the introduction of two new models:

  • Sony A75K – This mainstream 4K OLED TV is available in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes for under $2,000, giving Sony a viable competitor to LG‘s affordable C2 series.

  • Sony B90K – The B90K offers premium OLED picture combined with Sony‘s Acoustic Surface Audio and Google TV software starting under $1,300 for the 48-inch size, matching some entry-level LG pricing.

With these new additions, Sony now provides greater value across lower price tiers compared to previous years. But LG still has the upper hand for budget-focused shoppers wanting the cheapest possible OLED option. The LG A2 starts at only $1,300 for the 55-inch size, undercutting the least expensive comparable Sony model.

So while Sony has made progress, LG maintains a value advantage. But for shoppers eyeing pricier high-end OLEDs, Sony and LG models are closer in cost than before.

Bottom Line

After breaking down Sony and LG‘s OLED TV offerings in detail, here is a quick summary of their major strengths and weaknesses:

Sony OLED Advantages:

  • Access to LG‘s latest OLED Evo panel technology (on select 2022 models)
  • More advanced cognitive processor optimized for natural picture accuracy
  • Factory picture calibration for Netflix and IMAX Enhanced
  • Superior Acoustic Surface Audio+ sound quality

LG OLED Advantages:

  • Market leading OLED panel production technology including Oxide TFT backplane
  • Support for 4K 120Hz and VRR gaming on all HDMI ports
  • Ultra-low input lag under 10ms ideal for multiplayer gaming
  • Dedicated gaming features like Game Optimizer menu
  • Generally more affordable pricing across all tiers

For most shoppers, an LG OLED likely represents the best overall value thanks to competitive pricing coupled with strong performance across all usage scenarios from movies to gaming. LG‘s broad feature set appeals to a wide range of TV buyers.

However, Sony OLED TVs are ideal for discerning home theater enthusiasts who prioritize image authenticity and audio quality over everything else. Sony‘s focus on delivering content exactly as the creators intended is unmatched.

Both companies make excellent OLED televisions that deliver amazing viewing experiences. Your preferences for panel technology, smart software, gaming features, sound, and price point will determine whether Sony or LG is the right brand for your next TV upgrade. Hopefully this detailed side-by-side comparison helps steer you toward the perfect OLED TV for your needs!

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