While OLED displays have taken the TV market by storm thanks to their ultra-thin panels, deep blacks, vibrant colors, and excellent contrast ratios, they are not without their drawbacks. As with any technology, especially a new and developing one, there are trade-offs to be made when choosing an OLED TV over other types of displays.
Many customers have documented these drawbacks as complaints in online reviews, and while some have been addressed by manufacturers, some are recurring issues that we think would be good to know if you’re in the market for an OLED TV.
From price to shorter lifespans, there are several key disadvantages to consider before investing in an OLED TV screen for your home or business. Below, we explore these disadvantages in detail and discuss if there are viable solutions to the issues to help you make an informed decision if an OLED TV is worth it. Additionally, we also point you to suitable alternatives if you can’t look past these complaints.
Let’s break down the major drawbacks of OLED displays.
#1: Premium Pricing and High Cost of Repairs
OLED TVs have premium features such as deeper black levels, wider viewing angles, and thinner form factors, which can contribute to their higher price compared to LED/LCD TVs. They also have a sleek and modern design, which results in prices ranging between $1,000 and $2,000 for standard 55- to 65-inch OLED TVs and premium ones in excess of $10,000.
Other than that, the manufacturing process of OLED TVs is more complex and expensive compared to other display technologies. The process involves ensuring each pixel emits its own light by depositing organic materials onto a substrate. These organic materials are also more expensive than the inorganic materials used in LED panels. Furthermore, because OLED is still a relatively new technology, production is limited to only a few manufacturers, with LG being one of the leading manufacturers. This leads to lower economies of scale and a higher price per unit.
The newness of the technology also contributes to the higher price because manufacturers spend a lot of money on research and development in efforts to improve performance and overcome some of the various challenges customers have complained about. It’s disappointing that, in the end, OLED panels are sensitive and fragile, yet the cost of repair is almost equal to that of buying a new TV.
#2: High Risk of Burn-in or Potential Image Retention
Have you ever noticed a news channel logo permanently watermarked onto the bottom of a TV screen? If so, that’s what we refer to as burn-in or image retention. It’s essentially a permanent static image or looped video sequence that appears as a shadow on the screen if you watch the same content uninterrupted for many hours or days.
While burn-in and image retention may be used interchangeably, the former is the long-term or permanent effect while the latter is momentary or short-lived. Burn-in is a result of uneven degradation of the organic pixel materials used in OLED TVs, which is caused by displaying static images or high-contrast content for extended periods of time. It’s more noticeable when the screen is white or idle and is a common issue in OLED displays used to show static images for prolonged periods of time at peak brightness levels, such as those on electronic billboards, in stores, and in exhibits.
OLED displays used for gaming may also be susceptible to burn-in because many games show static content during long gaming sessions. Some common video game elements that may lead to burn-in in OLED gaming screens include persistent on-screen displays, game HUDs (heads-up displays), scoreboards, and logos. Competitive gaming or gaming marathons may pose a higher risk of burn-in compared to casual gaming sessions with varying content.
The risk of burn-in is significantly reduced on screens used under normal conditions and you can also easily prevent it by rotating the type of content your screen displays. Switching off your TV periodically also gives its pixels a rest, which helps prevent this phenomenon. To mitigate the risk of burn-in in OLED displays further, manufacturers now implement screen alternating features such as pixel shifting, screensavers, and automatic brightness adjustments.
A good example of a software feature that helps prevent burn-in on LG C2 OLED evo TVs is the Pixel Refresher. It scans and refreshes the TV’s pixels automatically when you turn off the TV after at least four hours of use. MicroLED displays are giving OLED displays a run for their money by eliminating the burn-in issue by using gallium nitride, an inorganic material, to light up the screens.
#3: Limited Peak Brightness
Although OLED TVs have superior image quality, this doesn’t automatically translate to higher brightness. Thanks to the individual pixels emitting light independently, OLED TVs achieve perfect blacks with an infinite contrast ratio and a wide range of brightness levels, from deep blacks to bright highlights. This makes them ideal for displaying high dynamic range (HDR) content, which is characterized by bright, vivid images with stunning contrast.
Unfortunately, OLED TVs are not able to achieve the same levels of sustained brightness as other display technologies, such as LED, microLED, and QLED. This is especially true on large screens that display bright content for prolonged periods. OLED panels are only able to achieve high levels of brightness in small areas or highlights. However, they may not sustain the same brightness levels across larger areas of the screen or during prolonged displays of bright content. This is caused by a phenomenon called the “Automatic Brightness Limiter” (ABL), which limits the overall brightness of the screen to prevent overheating and protect the OLED panel from potential damage.
While OLED displays have a limited peak brightness of 1,000 nits, microLED displays can achieve up to 4,000 nits of brightness, and QLEDs can reach up to 2,000 nits of brightness. This makes MicroLED TVs and QLEDs better for use in brightly lit environments where OLEDs don’t perform as well. Furthermore, QLED panels outdo OLEDs by delivering better color volume as opposed to the accurate colors delivered by the latter. The brightness of your OLED is a major concern if you intend to mount your TV in a brightly lit room or want more color volume.
Despite these limitations, OLED TVs continue to be popular due to their exceptional picture quality and unique ability to deliver deep blacks and infinite contrast. Manufacturers are also making substantial efforts to improve the brightness of OLED TVs to overcome this limitation. A few approaches they’ve taken include:
- Implementing local dimming technology, which allows users to control the brightness levels in different parts of the screen
- Exploring panel stacking techniques, where multiple layers of OLED panels are used to achieve higher overall brightness
- Incorporating advanced cooling solutions to help maintain optimal brightness performance by reducing the risk of heat-induced degradation
- Allowing advanced HDR format support to enable a wider range of dynamic brightness levels
LG has implemented a new Micro Lense Array technology that consists of billions of tiny lenses inside the lenses that focus the light and improve the brightness by up to 70% in their latest releases.
#4: Shorter Lifespan Compared to Other Technologies
Although LG notes that they should last up to 100,000 hours, consumers have complained that their screens degrade much faster than traditional LED/LCD displays. The main reason why OLED displays degrade much faster than other display technologies is a phenomenon called the “Black Spot Phenomenon.” It occurs as a result of the degradation of the organic materials used to light up the display content on the screens.
The degradation is caused by exposure to X-rays, radiation, and air particles during manufacture and usage. When the organic materials degrade, they result in a gradual decrease in brightness and color accuracy.
Generally, the lifespan and rate of degradation of OLED TVs can vary depending on the specific model, usage patterns, environmental conditions, and brightness levels. You can improve the lifespan of your OLED TV by practicing proper maintenance, which typically involves:
- Preventing exposure to harmful environmental conditions, such as direct sunlight, high humidity, and extreme temperatures
- Switch off your TV when not in use to prevent overheating and burn-in
- Reduce your TV’s brightness
Are OLED TVs Worth Buying?
Despite the potential limitations, OLED TVs are a worthwhile investment for buyers looking for an immersive and high-quality viewing experience. They are among the most advanced TV display technologies available today and boast some impressive premium features, including superior picture quality, wide viewing angles, a sleek design, and advanced HDR support. The OLED TV display is also a game changer that brings new possibilities in the television market that include rollable, foldable, bendable, stackable, and the recently released wireless TVs.
Furthermore, complaints like burn-in and pixel degradation can be avoided if you use your OLED TV under normal conditions. Manufacturers are also working hard to overcome burn-in and improve brightness, so we expect these problems to be non-issues in a few years. Even now, they are not as dire as they were when OLED TVs were first released almost two decades ago.
We actually recommend OLED TVs for home environments when normal usage conditions are maintained. However, we’d suggest you look at LED or LCD displays when you’re looking for screens to use as electronic billboards or exhibits.
- Great contrast, deep blacks, and over a billion colors
- 8 million self-lit OLED pixels
- Alpha 9 Gen 5 AI Processor 4K, exclusive to LG, intuitively adapts to what you're watching
- LG Game Optimizer mode
What are the Best Alternatives to OLED TVs?
If you can’t look past these limitations of OLED TVs, then we recommend finding suitable alternatives that suit your budget, preferences, and needs. Our top recommendations include:
- LED/LCD TVs
- QLED TVs
- Mini LED TVs
- MicroLED TVs
LED/LCD (Light Emitting Diode/Liquid Crystal Display) TVs are the most affordable and commonly used TVs today. They are a good alternative to OLED because of their fair price point, wide range of sizes, and high peak brightness for HDR content.
Unfortunately, you don’t get the same deep blacks, high contrast ratios, or wide viewing angles you get with OLED TVs.
QLED TVs are an advanced version of traditional LED/LCD TVs with better color performance and higher peak brightness. They utilize quantum dot technology to produce a wider color gamut, improve color accuracy, and enhance brightness.
QLED TVs are more affordable and available in a wider range of sizes than OLED TVs, but they are limited in terms of their contrast ratios and wide viewing angles.
- Samsung’s ultra-precise Quantum Mini LEDs
- Quantum HDR 32X
- Neo Quantum Processor 4K uses AI-based deep learning to analyze content and optimize it to full 4K
- Ultra viewing angle
Mini LED TVs
The Mini LED display technology is newer than the OLED technology and is an advancement of the LED/LCD technologies. They produce deeper blacks, higher brightness, and improved HDR performance than their predecessors, but at a slightly higher price. They also last longer and are more resistant to burn-in than OLED panels.
Contrastingly, the picture quality and viewing angles don’t match up to OLED TVs.
- Adapts and adjusts picture and sound quality
- Delivers lifelike viewing experience with rich color, depth
- Smooth on-screen motion with a 120hz refresh rate
- Enjoy richer and more accurate colors at wider viewing angles
- Low-latency, zero-screen tearing for smooth gameplay
Micro LED TVs
Micro LED TVs use millions of microscopic LED pixels, each capable of emitting its own light to create images on your screen. Like OLEDs, they produce deep blacks and have an infinite contrast ratio. They also have a wider color gamut and excellent brightness of up to 4,000 nits. The best part is that they are not susceptible to image retention or burn-in.
Sadly, they’re not widely available, have limited size options, and are insanely expensive, with the cheapest Samsung Micro LED TV costing at least $80,000.
- The 12 Best Reasons to Avoid an OLED TV
- OLED vs. LED: Full Comparison
- LG’s C3 OLED Launches with Serious Flaw: Here’s How to Fix It
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