It’s getting to be that time of year when TV prices start to drop. The late winter/early spring period is typically when we start to see retailers and TV manufacturers discount last year’s models in order to clear inventory and make way for their successors. Oftentimes, those old TVs are still more than good enough for the average consumer, so the money saved can make up for whatever new features you’d get by waiting for a new model.
These kinds of deals have started to pop up sporadically in recent weeks, but today brings a discount that feels especially worth calling out: the 55-inch variant of LG’s B8 OLED TV is currently down to $1,100 at Walmart and Amazon. That’s a good $400-500 off its usual going rate and as low as we’ve seen this specific model at a major retailer. The purchase comes with a one-year warranty, which is standard for LG.
What you’re getting
Until MicroLED panels start to take off, a good OLED screen is tops in terms of modern TV performance. It has superior contrast, more vivid colors, and better HDR performance than the best LCD panels. The B8, while technically the lowest end of LG’s OLED lineup, is no exception. It supports HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, and Technicolor’s Advanced HDR format, and they all look excellent. If it wasn’t already obvious, the display is in 4K resolution. Ultra HD still isn’t ubiquitous, but OLED’s contrast and color advantages are still handy when you’re stuck streaming in 1080p.
The B8 has the Google Assistant baked in, if you need that, and LG’s webOS interface is generally cleaner than most native smart TV UIs. As far as connectivity goes, there are four HDMI ports, three USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, and an optical audio out port. Input lag isn’t an issue; there’s no 1440p support, but the usual 1080p at 120Hz and 4K at 60Hz work fine. Its voice- and motion-enabled remote is well made. As an owner of this exact set, I can also say that physically setting the TV up should only take a few minutes.
That said, the B8 is not perfect. There’s still a risk of burn-in if static images are left onscreen for excessive periods. It makes a game like look beautiful in HDR, for instance, but if you play it you may see the outline of its UI elements even when the game is off. (Tech review site Rtings has some helpful long-term tests on this, if you want a better idea.) Motion handling is generally great, and generally better than the average LCD, but not flawless. And because it can’t get as bright as top LCD TVs, the whole thing works better in a dark room than a bright one—though the ultra-deep blacks still make HDR content more striking here than it would be on a non-OLED TV.
The B8 specifically runs on LG’s older “Alpha 7” chip, which means it’s technically not as fast as the higher-end C8 or E8 OLED TVs, nor is it as capable with advanced video processing. But outside of those with extensive experience owning high-end TVs, I can’t see most people noticing any major differences in performance. You could pay the extra $260 to get the C8 if you want the peace of mind, but you’d be sacrificing some value.
In general, an OLED set will appeal most to image quality nerds: I had to dig into the picture settings and do a little calibrating out of the box to get the most out of it. To be clear, though, this will still be a serious upgrade for most living rooms for years to come.
LG announced its 2019 OLED lineup at CES last month, so the B8, C8, and E8 will all be discontinued in the coming months—hence the price drop here. The new models will support HDMI 2.1, which is largely a future-proofing measure today but will allow 4K content to play at an ultra-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. The new B9 will get a “2nd-gen” Alpha 7 processor, while all models will support AirPlay 2, variable refresh rates, and an improved “game mode” with lower input lag.
These are not insignificant upgrades, but since the B9 will have the same panel and similar image specs as the B8, those looking to save a few bucks today aren’t likely to feel completely left out in the cold in the coming months. You don’t need to drop everything for this deal if you’ve bought another high-end TV in the last couple of years—and there’s still a chance the B8 or C8 will drop further in the spring—but if you’re looking to make the leap to OLED, this is still a good entry point at a good price.