Whether you picked up a bargain during the Bank Holiday sales, are eyeing up the Black Friday sales, or decided to gift your family (and yourself) a new OLED telly last Christmas, you’re in for a treat. OLED TVs have never looked better.
Of course, now you have to find the best possible content to watch on your shiny new TV. We’ve put together a selection of fantastic films and TV shows – in 4K and HDR, on Blu-ray discs and streaming – that we think look particularly amazing on an OLED screen, and will show off OLED's pitch-dark blacks, glowing contrast and rich, subtle colours to their fullest extent.
Planet Earth II
BBC’s Planet Earth II is the current gold standard for 4K and HDR. Not only is every single episode full of fascinating stories of amazing wildlife, the thistle-sharp definition and stunning colours are a credit to the videographer’s camera work and also to the 4K Blu-ray disc format.
The Galapagos’ volcanic landscape in the Islands episode and the skylines in the Cities episode are perhaps the pinnacles of the HDR experience: the luminescent lava and Toronto city lights punching out from the plunging blacks of the ash-covered rock and the night sky look lush – and life-like – on an OLED screen.
It’s also the surfacing of smaller things that help to make Planet Earth II so immersive – from the flicker of flowers caused by a bird’s flapping wings to the snow specs on a bobcat’s fur coat, all is brought to our attention by the exceptional picture.
And who can forget the tense racer snakes versus baby iguana chase scene: it’s nail-biting stuff that will leave your mouth agape in awe and wonder.
Stranger Things 2
If you haven’t seen this love-letter-to-everything-80s TV show about a group of kids, a small town, a secret government conspiracy about multi-dimensional aliens and psychic children - where have you been?! The second series of Stranger Things is available to stream in 4K and HDR on Netflix, and it’s never looked better.
Here’s where your OLED TV’s ability to pick out detail within black depths will really be put to the test. Will’s nightmare visions of an apocalyptic future have a looming sense of dread, the Demogorgon-infested tunnels underneath the town feel terrifyingly gaping and endless, and the flecks of ash peppered across the Upside Down look spooky and ethereal in equal measure.
The title sequence alone - neon-red letters on a black screen - looks exciting enough on a good OLED.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
At no point when watching the pristine 4K HDR release of Blade Runner does it seem like it was made over 35 years ago. The phenomenal opening scene is perfect fodder for OLED: vibrant plumes of fire and pinpricks of light piercing through the vast, pitch-dark dystopian Los Angeles landscape. It’s breathtaking. The neo-noir film looks richer and more expressive than ever looked before, and makes you appreciate the production design and aesthetics even more.
The recent sequel, Blade Runner 2049, also makes a stunning 4K disc - it's a cleaner, slicker image with sumptuous aesthetics - but the original film remains an astonishing visual success.
You don’t always need epic space battles and neo-noir skyscrapers to show off OLED’s skills. Logan is an unflinchingly brutal, violent and bleak - but surprisingly colourful - film.
Going against the grain of dark, cool-toned superhero films, most of the time Logan is bathed in sunlight and warm tones. The bright, sunlit scenes will show off how well your OLED TV handles contrast, especially when the action cuts to gloomier shots inside the car. Night scenes are beautiful and lush, despite the dusty bodywork on Logan’s limo and the dirt, scars, and blood clinging to the main cast.
While Mad Max: Fury Road remains the top viewing choice if you want dusty and barren vistas with strong, stylised contrast, Logan offers a more naturalistic tone full of hidden depths.
While much of the film’s entertainment comes from the whimsical, banter-tastic script, a great deal of our enjoyment is owed to the bright and colourful cinematic palette. From Jeff Goldblum’s gold robes and metallic blue makeup to the battle-hardened (but still brilliantly coloured) gladiator arena, it’s an absolute delight for your eyes.
Next-level contrast notably enhances the viewing, especially as white-hot lightning sparks from Thor in the final battle. The gaudy garbage planet Sakaar is where all the fun happens, though. Packed with colours that never look overblown, just wonderfully dense and rendered, it’s a surprisingly realistic feel for a fantasy space comedy.
Blue Planet II
Sci-fi films – especially those that take place in space and have epic spaceship battles with lasers and such – naturally look amazing on a ‘look at how great I am at contrast’ OLED telly.
But glow-in-the-dark fishes in the unfathomably inky depths of the deep, deep sea have exactly the same effect. Actually, it’s even more impressive, because everything you see in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II nature documentary is real. Stunningly vivid coral reefs, bright and colourful fishes, wondrous animals that can change colour, alien-like creatures that look creepy and fascinating at the same time – they all look fantastic in sharp, clear and vibrantly realised 4K HDR. Whether you caught the 4K HLG stream on iPlayer or have snapped up the 4K Blu-ray release, this is a must-watch for any TV fan.
Space may be the final frontier, but the big blue ocean and its many hidden depths are made for OLED viewing.
Star Trek: Discovery
Speaking of which, if you do want to stare at glittering stars and dusty swirls of galaxies glowing against the backdrop of velvety black space, then we will direct you to the latest Star Trek prequel series on Netflix.
This is an odd one as it’s not a 4K stream - but it is HDR, which at least gives the incredible display of colours a chance to shine. Some of the space scenes - especially from the first two cinematic episodes - are just beautiful. There is an element of a pristine spaceship with lens flare going on, but there’s a more interesting mix of colours - greens, purples, pinks, bronzes - thrown in together to bring the show’s visual style to life.
It’s such a shame Discovery isn’t shot in 4K, as those colours and the ship’s interiors deserve to be seen in higher resolution - but it's definitely still worth a watch on your new TV.
Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s sprawling road-trip novel about old gods and new gods (and lots more in between), American Gods is a visual feast. Dark scenes, daylight scenes, dizzyingly colourful scenes, sleazy neon scenes - each episode is a smorgasbord of ideas, themes and effects that uses every colour palette available to man.
With the vast and diverse cast, you’ll need your OLED to handle texture, tone and detail skilfully. You can only get the crisp 4K picture when streaming on Amazon Prime Video (the Blu-ray release is HD only), but we’re sorely disappointed it’s not in HDR too. Whether it’s the cool and unfriendly metal interior of Technical Boy’s limo or the bubbling, pastel shades of Easter’s garden party, the picture bursts with colour and depth at every turn.
Let’s hope future series will employ HDR – we reckon it will look even more sumptuous.
Out of every film released in 2017, this heart-warming family film has ended up being the most unequivocally loved film in the What Hi-Fi? office. It’s not hard to see why: it’s utterly charming, inventive and full of good-mannered humour that will tickle children and adults alike.
The film looks beautiful. Infused with a warm, golden-yellow tone that makes every house, garden and street corner look inviting, it very much feels like stepping into the pages of a lovingly crafted children’s pop-up book. Radiant greens, deep blues, sunflower yellows and lush reds all come together harmoniously on the screen. Paddington’s fur looks so intricately detailed we want to reach out and touch him.
The film's deep, glossy blacks and rich, varied hues look gorgeous on an OLED screen.
Life of Pi
We’ve been using Life of Pi to test picture quality - especially Full HD and 3D - for years now, so it’s no real surprise it looks spectacular in its upscaled 4K and HDR form. The upconversion and retouch process has been done with utmost care, and adds to the extraordinary realism of the CGI.
The resolution pulls everything that much more into focus – like putting on glasses. The HDR blanket ups the richness of lush Indian green fields, the vibrancy of the market stalls and golden hues of sunset reflected on an endless silky ocean. It's not just an onslaught of colour and contrast but a considered one too, adding more shades of pink to flamingo feathers and realistic glisten to hippos’ wet backs. An engaging picture, and a great test of your TV's skills.
Murder on the Orient Express
Kenneth Branagh is no David Suchet (and that moustache is... well, it deserves its own dressing room), we never spend too much time with the superb but crowded cast, and the story isn't quite the tense whodunnit Agatha Christie penned it to be.
But where the film excels is in picture quality. This is a native 4K disc (it was shot on 65mm and scanned in 8K), which gives every chance for the opulent, slick looking production to shine. It looks absolutely resplendent in 4K HDR, with velvety textures and gorgeous lighting springing the period costumes and settings to life. The delicate shading and depth of the image are at times stunning.
Not the most gripping film, but the picture performance is quite beautiful.
Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection
All eight Harry Potter films in 4K HDR? For certain generations of adults, teens and children, this is the ultimate boxset.
The eight films span a decade of production (the first film came out in 2001), so we’re fully expecting the quality of the picture to fluctuate as camera and visual effects technology progressed. However, the first two films of the franchise are real 4K - taken from the original film negatives, which were mastered and scanned in 4K - while the rest (as far as we know) are remastered from the 2K prints.
We’re still making our way through the boxset, but what we’ve seen looks enchanting. Hogwarts has never looked more magical or inviting, you get to see more of the intricate special effects and set designs of the wizarding world, and colours pop with a vivacity we would never have seen in the original DVD or Blu-ray releases. The later films’ sombre tone benefit more from HDR when trying to see into darker scenes (of which there are many), but the entire venture is so wonderfully realised it feels like you’re watching the films for the first time.
Next stop: The Lord of the Rings trilogy in 4K HDR, please.
It's nearly 20 years old, but there's still something so unique about The Matrix that no other film has ever been able to replicate. If you've forgotten just how groundbreaking and stunning this film is, you owe it to yourself to get it on 4K Blu-ray. The film is awash with an overwhelmingly green-tinted palette, with plenty of black latex and pale complexions that's completely at home on an OLED screen. Detail is just incredible at times, very sharp and revealing - the epic corridor sequence is an excellent showcase for this.
The intensity of colours is strong: they are deep and vivid in a way that produces a rich, textured look. The green interlaced code of the matrix is brighter, but it's not overwhelming. It's a beautifully balanced picture and in some respects, this is the most natural-looking version we've seen.
We'd happily go down the rabbit hole over and over again if it looks this good.