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Budget OLED TVs: the best sets you can actually afford

(Image credit: Panasonic)

Just a couple of years ago, the idea of being able to round up a selection of the best budget OLED TVs would have been inconceivable. The technology that offers the deepest blacks, true-to-life colours and arguably the most desirable TVs on the market has long come with a hefty price tag, but that’s all starting to change.

Now, don’t get too excited. You aren’t going to be picking up an OLED TV for the bargain prices that you can find some LCD TVs selling for. Most of these sets still tip over the $1,000 / £1,000 / AU$1,400 mark and above, but when you can expect to pay two or three times that for a flagship set, that’s a considerable saving indeed.

Our selection includes some of our best-rated picks from LG, Panasonic, Sony and Philips. Most offer their best prices at a very respectable 55-inch screen size, but the first 48-inch OLED from LG also makes the list, for those with a little less space (or budget) to play with.

If you’re looking for a bargain, keep reading for our pick of budget OLED TVs you can buy right now. 

A note: a couple of models listed here (Panasonic HZ980, LG BX) haven't been fully tested, but are iterations or alterations on sets we've reviewed favorably.

  • Got a little bit more to spend? Then go forth and check out our selection of the very best OLED TVs on the market instead.

Best budget OLED TVs, at a glance:

  • Best budget OLED: LG OLED48CX 
  • Best for style: Philips 55OLED754
  • Best for upscaling: Sony Bravia KD55A8
  • Best value: LG OLED55BX
  • Wild card: Panasonic TX-55HZ980

(Image credit: LG)

1. Best budget OLED: LG OLED48CX

A simply superb OLED TV – at a 48-inch size

Reasons to buy
+Outstanding picture quality+Gorgeous design 
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+ support -Missing UK catch-up apps for now

LG’s C Series has long been an outstanding demonstration of how to balance features and performance at a reasonable price. But as we’ve just mentioned, ‘reasonable’ in OLED terms doesn’t always hold the same meaning as it does elsewhere.

However, this year’s excellent CX range introduced the first-ever 48-inch OLED size. It’s one of the smallest OLED TVs you can currently buy – along with the 48-inch Sony A9S – and comes with a smaller price tag to match, all while offering the same panel as you’ll get at the very top of the range. That means for $1,499 / £1,499 (around AU$2,000), you can get one of the best picture performances we’ve seen this year.

Following on from last year’s outstanding C9, the CX has only seen minor tweaks, the key one being the new a9 Gen 3 processor. This offers enhanced picture processing, meaning you’ll notice things like improved shadow detail, increased peak brightness in HDR scenes and better colour handling too. 

At just a couple of millimetres deep, it looks the part too and gamers will be happy with the low input lag. We’re also wholly impressed with its connectivity options, including the four HDMI 2.1 inputs with eARC support.

It does have a couple of snagging points – one being its lack of HDR10+ support and the second being that the usually excellent webOS smart TV platform currently has no UK catch up apps on it. Even so, this is still the best OLED TV you can spend your money on this year.

Read our full LG CX OLED review

(Image credit: Philips)

2. Best for style: Philips 55OLED754 (UK)

Punchy OLED pictures with the beauty of Ambilight

Reasons to buy
+Great visuals+Ambilight is still cool
Reasons to avoid
-Saphi interface can be a chore-Motion settings need fine tuning

The OLED754 is Philips’s entry-level OLED, offering a solid performance across the board for those wanting OLED tech without the price tag – at least, in the UK.

Its design isn’t quite as refined as you’ll see elsewhere, but its Ambilight feature more than makes up the wow factor. You’ll get three-sided Ambilight here, which can be tweaked to your preferences and can even be tied in with a Philips Hue smart lighting system too.

Instead of using Android TV like other Philips sets, the 55OLED754 uses a Linux-based platform called Saphi. It’s got all of the streaming apps you could want, but is just a little frustrating to use.

Thankfully, the 55OLED754 comes into its own when you start watching it, and is at its best with 4K HDR content. It’s a stunning performance, with its ability in dark and near-black scenes what really impresses. It offers universal HDR support too, so you can be sure you’re getting the best picture your content can offer – not something every TV can boast.

The Philips does a great job with upscaling, though its cheaper processor can sometimes be a touch aggressive and introduce some noise. Motion processing isn’t perfect either, but some careful tweaking of the settings can offer vast improvements.

Thanks to the extra space afforded to the 2.1 channel sound system due to Ambilight, the 40W speakers are richer than we’ve come to expect from most flatscreen TVs. Dialogue is clear and there’s some notable weight to the bass too. 

Overall the 55OLED754 offers a good balancing act between features, performance and price. While it’s not without its annoyances – its interface being chief amongst them – the experience of watching an OLED TV with Ambilight for under £1,000 makes it a tempting prospect indeed.

Read our full Philips OLED 754 review

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Best for upscaling: Sony Bravia KD-55A8

Refined picture across the board

Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous, refined picture+Superb upscaling
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+-Android TV still has its hiccups

For those on a budget, the Sony A8H/A8 OLED TV strikes the ideal balance between price and performance by borrowing premium OLED features from the Sony A9G Master Series and bringing them to a lower price point.

For a start, the A8 adopts a more understated design than the flagship range, offering wide height-adjustable feet and an unobtrusive metal bezel. 

Connectivity is great, with a four full-spec 4K HDMI inputs to play with, plus there’s Android TV, which despite its issues, is getting better with each iteration. Most of the catch-up and on-demand services you could want are present and correct too, thanks to YouView.

Picture performance certainly doesn’t let the side down either, and the A8’s refinement in dark scenes and subtle handling of colour is something to behold. Even better, serve it up something in bog standard HD and this set shines too, thanks to market-leading upscaling. It’s not the brightest screen we’ve tested though, making it best suited to darker rooms.

Sony’s Acoustic Surface audio tech is on board here, and sounds fantastic. It’s one of the most effective built-in audio solutions you’ll hear, even with Atmos content.

You can pick up the 55-inch version of this set for around £1800, or if you want to take a step up in the range, you could take a punt at this year’s 48-inch A9, which is available now for the same price.

Read our full Sony A8H/A8 OLED TV review

(Image credit: LG)

4. Best value: LG OLED55B9

Some compromises, but still fantastic

Reasons to buy
+Rich colours and sharp detail+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+-Not the latest processing

LG's entry-level B Series range is a fantastic way to sample the excellence of OLED at a reasonable price.

LG’s 2020 entry-level OLED has just launched – the BX OLED – and is available for around £1,300 for its 55-inch version. But given we haven't had the chance to review the new model yet, we're going with last year's brilliant B9 OLED instead. (You can read all about the differences in our LG BX vs LG B9 comparison – or see why the B9 was such a good buy in our LG B9 OLED review.)

You can still get 2019's B9 OLED in the US, but appears to be sold out in the UK – so UK shoppers may be tempted to simply buy the newer model instead.

As an entry-level set, the B Series is not without its compromises. It packs a cheaper casing and lower processing to the rest of the range, which we know from previous years, can be frustrating. However, if you’re on a budget, you’ll still find a lot to love if you manage your expectations accordingly.

The B9 was at its best with 4K content, demonstrating outstanding fine detail and great colour handling across the board. Mid-range processing did show itself up with some noise in darker scenes though, plus the display was noticeably dimmer than those further up the range, meaning HDR images didn’t pack quite the same punch.

It also fell down with upscaling, which wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen elsewhere, and motion not quite as slick either. However, the B9 still offered a gorgeous and enjoyable picture for the money – and we expect the BX to offer similar performance too.

Read our full LG B9 OLED TV review, or check out our LG BX vs LG B9 comparison

(Image credit: Panasonic)

5. Wild card: Panasonic TX-55HZ980 (UK)

Panasonic’s most affordable OLED yet

Reasons to buy
+HCX Pro Intelligent processor+Good value
Reasons to avoid
-Static stand-Less capable motion processing

The Panasonic HZ980 was something of a surprise announcement from Panasonic in the middle of this year, considering it already had a three-strong OLED offering in 2020. 

It was a welcome one nonetheless, especially for those on a budget, offering the same panel, processor and 30W Dolby Atmos speaker system as the excellent HZ1000 but coming in £300 cheaper. 

That means you can pick up the 55-inch model for £1,699, which is the cheapest we’ve ever seen a Panasonic OLED at launch. 

So what are you sacrificing for this saving? Actually, very little. Firstly, the HZ980 offers a static stand instead of the swivel one seen higher up the range, so you can’t adjust your viewing angle quite so easily. Secondly, the Motion Drive Pro technology is a step below the one you’ll find in the HZ1000, so you can expect some small-but-notable difference in the way motion is handled. 

We haven’t actually got to test a HZ980 just yet, but given the five-star performance of its close sibling, the HZ1000, we don't expect a huge disparity in performance. Of course, a small hit to picture processing is expected at this price too. But it still seems like less of a compromise than the LG B Series – which uses a cheaper, lower-spec processor compared to the LG CX – so we wouldn't rule this one out.

Read more: Should I buy the Panasonic HZ980 OLED TV?