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Sony 4K LED vs OLED TV Comparison
Sony 4K vs OLED TV Comparison
In this article, we compare the differences between Sony's LED and OLED panel technologies. Learn what makes Sony TVs such a good choice and how to find the best model for your space and budget.
Company & Product Overview
If you have been in the market for a new flat panel TV, you have probably noticed there are two different types of TV technology to choose from. When flat panel TV’s first arrived on the market around the year 2000, they were all of the plasma types. Later LED models came out that were more cost-effective, lighter, and in some cases had a better picture. However, many die-hard plasma TV owners still swore by the pure blacks a plasma TV could reproduce.
Later, OLED TVs hit the market with some offering black levels that rivaled or bettered those coveted high-performance plasma TVs. Initially, the OLED sets were very expensive but today, if you are looking for a better than average TV, you’ll be confronted with a choice of OLED or LED technology.
We are going to take a look at both technologies from Sony, who is by far and away, our favorite video company at Audio Advice. First, we will get into the pros and cons of each technology, then look closer at some of the individual models to help you make a better decision for your needs and environment.
You may be wondering why the team at Audio Advice are such huge fans of Sony TVs. Obviously, there are other large video companies out there, but it comes down to the best picture quality and the best customer service.
Sony is the only company that makes commercial movie and TV cameras, professional video editing consoles, and the projectors used in the best movie theaters all over the world. They touch every single part of the process.
To our eyes, the picture on Sony TV’s just looks a lot more natural than the other brands. We feel this is due to all of the great technologies Sony has developed to process the picture better. Some TV’s may appear to be brighter or jump out more when you first see them, but if you watch for more than 10 minutes, you’ll notice they just do not look natural. We will get more into their video processing in the individual TV’s, but they just do it better than anyone else.
The other aspect is customer service. Normally, you will never have an issue with a television. But there are those rare occasions where someone does. In our 30+ years of selling Sony, we can say they stand behind their products far better than the competing brands. There is just no comparison. If there is a problem, they make it right.
As a matter of fact, we just had a prime example. One of our customers had a Sony TV that had failed twice in an 18 month time period, which was just highly unusual. We had another customer’s different brand break on the same day that interestingly enough was almost the same age.
Sony replaced the set for the customer within one week at no charge. The other customer waited 9 weeks to even get the brand to send a tech out to their house. We see this kind of thing a lot with the other brands, they just do not seem to care as much about the end-user as Sony.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Features & Technology
LED vs OLED TVs
LED type TVs have a liquid crystal panel that forms the picture, but this panel does not create any light itself. That is the job of LEDs placed behind the panel. The first LED TV’s used what was called “Edge-Lit” with LED’s surrounding all four sides, just the left and right side or top and bottom, or even just the bottom. Tiny dispersion lenses are used to spread the light evenly across the screen. This type is still made today and is the most cost-effective, but we do not feel it has the best picture.
Later “Direct-Lit” LED TVs came out where the LEDs were spread evenly behind the LCD panel, but they could not be individually controlled and usually there were less than 100. These offered better performance.
Full-Array LED TVs then entered the market with hundreds of LEDs behind the LCD panel. And better yet, this technology allowed for control of zones on the screen or even down to each LED. The models with the best control are called Full Array Local Dimming.
All of the better Sony LED TVs use this type of technology and today’s models are available starting with their 900H series and going up from there, which is about 75% of the models they make.
This tech can produce a very bright and vivid image with excellent contrast.
OLED, which is short for Organic Light-Emitting Diode is the other new display technology. While the structure is simpler than an LED TV, the panels cost quite a bit to manufacture. With this tech there is no need for backlighting by LEDs, the diode emits its own light. The great side effect of this is when the diode turns off, you get pure black. This means you also get what is an almost perfect contrast ratio.
Both of these new technologies can produce amazing pictures, but as we said earlier, we feel a lot of the quality of the picture comes down to the video processing that occurs before the signal even gets to the panel whether it is LED or OLED. Sony actually buys their OLED panels from LG but then applies their own video processing for that wonderful Sony picture.
So Which Tech Is Best For You?
We feel it will come down to five things: your environment, off-axis viewing, gaming, screen size, and price.
While OLED display type TVs have gained in the ability to throw out more light, they still do not have the ability to overcome a brightly lit room. LED TVs on the other hand can give you a great picture in a room that is not totally dark.
So, if you are the type of person who wants the deepest blacks, best contrast, and watches TV in a dark or dimly lit room, you will prefer OLED. If your viewing is mostly going to happen with a lot of light in the room, or you just love the “pop” of a bright image, go with LED.
OLED is the winner by far here. If you are sitting off-axis, there is not much change at all with OLED. The nature of LED sets and the LEDs behind the LCD panel mean they are designed to be viewed straight on. If you are 30 degrees or less off-axis, you’ll be fine with LED. For a steeper angle, you would prefer OLED. But remember, you do need a light-controlled room for the best picture with OLED.
Most TVs these days have greatly improved input lag which used to be a big deal for gamers. However, OLED still holds an advantage in that it has a faster response time than LED.
The average TV size sold today is 65” and you will find many choices of both types in this size. However, once you go larger, there are fewer choices in OLED and above 77”, there are none under $25,000. So if you are looking at a super large screen, you will likely go with an LED type.
Here is where things have gotten trickier for 2020. It used to be that OLED sets cost far more than the same size LED. They still do but have gotten a lot closer. For example, a 65” LED from Sony with their best video processor will be about 30% less than the same size OLED with the same processor. However, since TVs have dropped so much in price — that 30% is only a few hundred dollars. And remember, you will likely keep your TV for 10-15 years and use it every single day.
For most people serious about getting a great picture, it will come down to their viewing environment. If you can control the lighting in your room, OLED will be the best choice for not that much more in cost if you are considering a 55” or 65” TV. As you get larger in OLED, the price does start to jump up.
2020 Sony Model Line Up
We are going to bypass the two lower models that do not have full local dimming and look at the four models that do.
Heck, you get a lot of features that just a couple of years ago were only found in the top of the line Sony models. These include the calibrated for Netflix mode, Dolby Vision, Extended Dynamic Range, X-Motion Clarity, and 4K X-Reality with Sony’s X1 4K HDR processor. That is certainly a mouthful of technical terms, but each and every one of them is about bringing you the best picture possible.
To be able to get these great features that filtered down from the top of the line Master Series is very impressive for the cost of the 900H series models. The picture quality on the X900H models is amazing compared to what you could get just 5 years ago on a top of the line Sony model, but things do get better as you move up.
There are two big step-ups in technology found on the X950H, plus a cosmetic upgrade. The big deal is the X1 Ultimate video processor. This is the exact same model found in the top of the line Master Series.
The other upgrade found on all of them but the 49” model is something Sony calls X-Wide viewing angle which gives a better than expected viewing angle for LED-type TVs.
These also have a very thin bezel and Sony moved the feet out to the edges of the screen which makes it seem like it is floating above your cabinet.
However, the real game-changer is the better video processor. We believe that once you have a great panel, the processor has a huge influence on picture quality. This processor is twice as fast as the X1 4K HDR in the 900H series and does an even better job for a picture that is clear, sharp, and amazingly lifelike.
Sony Master Series TVs
These are the best of the best in LED technology. Sony introduced their first 8K sets last year with the Z9G series which remain in the line for 2020. Since they upscale the picture for the 8K panel, the image is just incredibly stunning.
If you want the very best LED picture, choose one of the new Master Series models for your home theater or media room.
The Sony OLED models are more limited than their LED counterparts, but there is some really great news this year for the person who has a light-controlled viewing environment and wants the blackest blacks and amazing contrast.
Last year, Sony introduced the Master A9G series which was their best OLED sets ever. These use the same X1 Ultimate processor as the best LED models with the advantage of an OLED screen. Sony also hand selects and calibrates each and every individual OLED panel for the best possible performance.
For 2020, they were supposed to be introducing a new A9H with an even better processor, but this was delayed due to COVID. The result was, they put all of the best tech from last year's A9G into a new line called A8H. These do not have the hand-selected and calibrated panel, but they are much less expensive.
What this means is you can get just an incredible OLED picture using Sony’s best processor and other video technology for not much more than their mid-level LED models. The only catch is there are just two sizes, a 55” and 65”.
The A8H models are our favorite choice for 55” and 65” sizes if you have an environment where the lighting can be controlled. You will not believe how lifelike the picture looks when you combine OLED technology with Sony’s amazing video processing. It is almost like you can reach out and touch the image! These are a really great value. Of course, if you want the best of the best, go for the Master Series A9G!
We love the fact that with the new Sony models, you can choose the technology that will deliver the best picture for your viewing environment and budget.
LED type TVs with full-array backlighting delivers a very impressive picture and typically cost a little less than an OLED TV of the same size. This type of TV can deliver more light output and is better suited for a room where you can not fully control the lighting.
OLED TV’s offer the best blacks and contrast, but require a darker room to fully experience these benefits. If you want the very best picture and your viewing occurs in a dimly lit or dark room, OLED will be the best choice if it fits your budget.
Every year it seems like Sony takes their video processing to another level and takes what was their best and puts it into more affordable models, which is just fantastic for people who want a great picture without breaking the bank.
When you combine their amazing picture with the best service in the industry, there is just no other choice in our opinion.
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