The OLED TVs on display in JB Hi-Fi and other electronic stores are usually turned to maximum brightness. While this is great for grabbing your attention, it's not an accurate representation of picture quality in the real world.
So what can you do about it? Here are some tricks of the trade for picking an OLED TV that will actually look great in your lounge room.
I wonder if our readers think we reviewers are off with the pixies from time to time. For example we can say, without a hint of vacillation, that speakers costing $250,000 are good value.
And we inhabit hallowed environments. If something sounds interesting we fire off an email and it’s delivered to us. Okay, only for a week or so, but that’s a week or so longer than our readers get.
After years of this some of us become forgetful about the act of actually spending our own hard-earned on such stuff, and this is where readers probably get frustrated. I read a review of an OLED television recently in which the reviewer waxed lyrical (I agreed with his every word) before saying that he couldn’t make a ready comparison of the telly with its major competitors because he hadn’t seen them side-by-side.
Readers would point out that if he simply walked into a big box shop, something they do whenever they buy stuff, he’d see entire walls of televisions, all side-by-side with their major competitors and often all showing the same programming. Comparing them couldn’t be simpler.
There are tricks, of course. The tellies on display are often turned to maximum brightness, but adjusting is as easy as asking salespeople for the relevant remotes. They’ll usually oblige, albeit with a bit of grumpiness. This also lets you see if the remote is intuitive and well laid out or just a mish-mash of buttons.
Watch closely (colour depth and balance, any colour seepage, blur with fast moving images) and you’ll spot what differences exist. If you can’t spot any then the more expensive ones have to justify their extra cost with brand, warranty and reputation, and maybe even aesthetics.
Sound? Seriously, if you don’t have a good soundbar or hi-fi to plug your new telly into by now you’ll probably be happy with whatever it dishes up. Mostly it’s high, hard and raspy, even when the manufacturer says it has been hand-crafted by the enchanted dwarves of Nibelheim.
You’ll easily pick the improvement of OLED televisions over any incarnation of LCD, no matter how many acronyms their manufacturers invent to fend off the superior tech. The picture is deeper, the colour better balanced and softer, the detail breathtaking. They’re not as bright as their neighbouring LCDs but they’re noticeably better in low light with superior contrast.
Harder to pick, very hard indeed, are the differences between OLED brands and here the retailer’s preference for one brand became obvious. Maybe the margins are better. The brightness of the two major competitors was reduced while on the one they wanted to sell it was maxed out. Once all evened out I decided I’d likely go for a Panasonic, but any of them would be welcome at my place.
What blew me away was just how sharp the prices have become. I saw a 140cm Panasonic OLED for $2495 and a 165cm for $3495. There were some cheaper and some more expensive, including better featured Panasonics for a couple of grand more, but those had the same picture quality as the less expensive Panasonics, at least to my eye.
And I came away from this exercise asking myself why anyone would buy a projection system when 2.15-metre LCDs can be had for less than seven grand. The big LCDs don’t need the maintenance, they’re brighter, sharper and only 38cm smaller than the most popular screen size in projection. Big OLEDs are available too. Panasonic has a stunning 1.95-metre for $15,995 and Sony has a 1.9-metre coming October.