Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) TVs have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to produce stunning visuals with deep blacks and vibrant colors. However, as with any technology, OLED TVs also have some downsides that are worth considering before making a purchase. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the top 12 reasons you may want to avoid buying an OLED TV.
1. Risk of Burn-In
One of the most notorious issues with OLED panels is the risk of burn-in. This happens when a static image is displayed on the screen for an extended period, resulting in a permanent ghost-like afterimage. This is because OLED pixels produce their own light and degrade at different rates depending on usage.
Burn-in is especially problematic for users who regularly play video games or watch channels with static logos and tickers on screen. While manufacturers have introduced new features to combat burn-in, such as pixel shifting and screen savers, the risk still exists to some degree. Those looking for a worry-free experience may want to consider other display technologies.
2. Limited Brightness
Although OLED TVs can produce perfect blacks, they have difficulties achieving the same peak brightness levels as LED/LCD TVs. Most OLED models have a peak brightness of 500-800 nits, while high-end LED/LCD TVs can reach 1500 nits or more.
This brightness limitation may be problematic for those who want to watch HDR content or use the TV in bright ambient lighting. The relatively lower brightness makes it harder for OLEDs to reveal details in highlights and render the full spectrum of colors in HDR. If you want a TV for a bright room, an OLED may fall short.
3. Judder and Blur Issues
OLED panels have generally slower response times compared to LED/LCD counterparts. This can result in blurry motion and judder, which are particularly noticeable during fast-action scenes in movies, sports, and gaming.
Manufacturers have introduced features like black frame insertion and motion interpolation to compensate. However, these can introduce soap opera effect or flickering that some users find distracting. While OLED motion has improved, it still lags behind the best LED/LCD TVs.
4. Viewing Angle Limitations
One advantage of OLED screens is they maintain color accuracy at wider viewing angles compared to LED displays. However, the brightness and contrast starts to degrade at around 30 degrees off center.
If you have a very large living room with multiple seating positions or want to mount your TV higher on the wall, the picture quality degradation at wider angles may be an issue. People watching from the sides will get a dimmer picture with muted colors.
5. Reflective Screen
Despite producing less glare than older LCD screens, OLED displays still have a mildly reflective and glossy surface. This can be problematic in rooms with lots of windows or ambient light sources. Reflections on the screen are distracting and make the picture less visible, especially when watching darker content.
Those who want a TV for a bright room may be better off with a high-end LED/LCD that has superior anti-glare and reflection handling properties. OLED screens look their absolute best in dark, controlled lighting environments.
6. ABL Can Dim Bright Scenes
To avoid permanent burn-in and extend the lifespan of OLED displays, manufacturers implement a feature called ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter). Essentially, it dynamically reduces the screen‘s peak brightness if a very bright scene is detected.
This dimming can be distracting and negatively impact HDR performance. Some users have complained about noticeable brightness fluctuations during movies and games with mixed bright and dark content. If you find variable brightness levels distracting, turning off ABL may be necessary on some OLED models.
7. Prone to Temporary Image Retention
In addition to permanent burn-in, OLED displays are also vulnerable to temporary image retention. This happens when remnants of a static image remain on the screen for a short while after switching content. The retention fades over time but can be distracting during mixed usage.
Examples include faint outlines of channel logos, game HUDs, or computer toolbars lingering behind after use. This type of short-term retention occurs faster on OLED than LED/LCD screens. While not a dealbreaker, it‘s something to be aware of.
8. Shorter Lifespan
The organic materials in OLED displays degrade over time. Blue OLEDs, in particular, have a shorter lifespan compared to red and green OLEDs. As the materials decay, the TV‘s brightness declines and color accuracy shifts.
Most modern OLED TVs are rated for around 30,000 hours of usage until the brightness falls to 50% of its original level. In comparison, high-end LED/LCD TVs are rated for 50,000 to 60,000 hours or more. While 30,000 hours is still good for 5+ years for most people, heavy users may want to consider this lifespan difference.
9. Peak Brightness Drops Over Time
Adding to the lifespan concerns, OLED TVs can lose peak brightness capacity well before the overall brightness degrades to 50%. Tests by Consumer Reports and Rtings.com suggest the peak brightness can start declining by 25% or more in the first 1-2 years of usage. This accelerated drop in peak brightness can negatively impact HDR quality and make the TV less ideal for bright rooms over time.
10. Risk of Uneven Aging
Uneven pixel aging is another potential drawback for OLED TVs. Because the organic materials degrade at different rates, parts of the screen that are displayed more frequently can age faster. This leads to subtle unevenness in brightness and color across the panel.
For example, if you consistently watch a channel with a bright static logo, that area of the screen will age prematurely. While manufacturers have algorithms to mitigate uneven aging, it remains a possibility down the road.
11. Costs More Than LED/LCD
OLED televisions typically cost anywhere from 30% to 100% more than comparable LED/LCD TVs with the same screen size, resolution, and features. The price gap has narrowed slightly as manufacturing scales up, but OLEDs still carry a significant pricing premium over mainstream LCD technology.
If your budget is limited or if you want the largest screen possible for the money, an OLED may be out of your price range. Large 75-85 inch OLEDs remain exceptionally expensive for most consumers. The price-to-performance ratio tends to favor LED/LCD overall.
12. Limited Screen Sizes
While OLED TVs are now available in a range of sizes from 42 to 83 inches, the options are still more limited compared to LED/LCD televisions. Large screen LED TVs above 85 inches are widely available and more affordable than equivalent-sized OLEDs. Very small OLED screens under 42 inches are rare as well.
This can be an issue if you want an exceptionally large display over 90 inches or a compact TV under 40 inches. You‘ll have many more size and price options going with LED/LCD technology instead.
- Usage: Do you watch varied content with lots of static logos or the same content for many hours each day? Heavy static content usage increases OLED burn-in risk.
- Room Lighting: Is your room very bright or more controlled lighting? OLEDs perform best in dark home theaters.
- Viewing Positions: Do you watch TV straight on or from wide angles? OLED picture quality diminishes at wider viewing positions.
- Budget: Are you comfortable paying a 30-100% premium for OLED? Lower-priced LED/LCD TVs offer more bang for buck.
- Future-Proofing: Do you plan to keep your TV 5+ years? OLEDs may lose brightness and have uneven aging sooner than LED/LCDs.
- Screen Size Needs: Do you want an especially small or large display? LED/LCD TVs have more size options on both extremes.
Fortunately, there are excellent LED/LCD TV alternatives that avoid the downsides of OLED while still providing gorgeous picture quality:
1. Samsung QN90B Neo QLED TV
- Utilizes advanced Mini-LED backlight technology with precise local dimming zones.
- Can reach up to 2,000 nits peak brightness for stellar HDR.
- Deep blacks and minimal blooming around bright objects.
- Anti-glare screen and great bright room performance.
- Comes in a range of sizes up to 85 inches.
2. Sony X95K LED TV
- Features full-array local dimming with sophisticated XR backlight processing for blacks nearly on par with OLED.
- Gets extremely bright with full HDR impact, rated for over 1,500 nits peak brightness.
- Cutting-edge cognitive intelligence processor delivers sublime picture realism.
- Available in screen sizes ranging from 50 to 85 inches.
3. Hisense U8H Mini-LED TV
- Impressive contrast thanks to Mini-LED backlighting with over 1,000 local dimming zones.
- Peak brightness exceeding 1,500 nits and 120 refresh rate make it a great TV for gaming.
- Runs Google TV smart platform with voice control support.
- Costs thousands less than comparable OLED televisions.
4. Vizio P-Series Quantum TV
- Quantum dot technology delivers cinematic colors and 115% of the Rec 2020 color gamut.
- Up to 792 local dimming zones provide stellar contrast ratio.
- Equipped with Vizio‘s IQ Ultra processor for intelligent upscaling and image enhancements.
- Available in screen sizes from 43 to 85 inches.
OLED TVs clearly produce a stunning picture capable of the deepest blacks and wide viewing angles. However, concerns around burn-in, limited brightness, shorter lifespan, and steep cost mean they aren‘t the best choice for every user.
Carefully weighing the pros and cons against your needs and viewing environment is important before deciding on OLED versus high-end LED/LCD. For many buyers, LED technology may prove to be the smarter buy. But there‘s no one-size-fits-all answer—it comes down to your specific room, use cases, priorities and budget.