Updating an old Smart TV with Roku or an Amazon Fire Stick, OLED burn-in still a problem (Week 49, 2019)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 49, 2019

Q. Several years ago we bought a Panasonic Smart TV you recommended in your column. It has served us well but we recently received notification that our TV will not support Netflix after December 1st. We aren’t TV nerds, but it looks like we will have to buy a new TV to continue to get Netflix. Can you recommend a new Smart TV for under $999? Also, what does OLED mean?


A. By your own admission you are not “TV nerds” and it does not sound like you would be looking for a new TV had you not received the Netflix notice. There is no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater if you are otherwise happy with your television. You can connect a streaming media player to an HDMI port on your Panasonic and continue to get Netflix, as well as a lot of other streaming content. My favorite streaming media system is Roku, and the Roku Express typically sells for under $30. roku.com

Though Roku is my favorite, the Amazon Fire TV Stick has good things going for it as well. For example, if you are a DISH customer you can add the DISH Anywhere app to your Fire TV Stick and access your subscription channels with an Internet connection. I recently did this at my second home, where I don’t spend a lot of time but still like to have access to the full range of television channels I usually enjoy. Rather than have a second DISH antenna and set-top box installed (along with a second subscription bill to go with it) I simply added a Fire TV Stick. I can now enjoy my full DISH subscription in two separate places at no extra charge. amazon.com/firetvstick

Should you decide to go for the new TV you can get a lot of nice ones for $999 or less. I suggest you look at the Samsung Q60 and Q70 series, TCL 6-Series (both the 2018 model and the 2019 QLED) and the Sony X900F series.

OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, a high-end display technology that competes with the very best LCD/LED and QLED televisions at the top of the marketplace. OLED is championed in the USA by LG and Sony and is undoubtedly the picture quality king. The downside to OLED is burn-in issues that require the owner to be ever vigilant lest they ruin their expensive new TV. As much as I love OLED picture quality, the reputation for burn-in has become enough of a concern that I can’t bring myself to pull the trigger on one for my own use and I tend to steer readers elsewhere now when asked about top-of-the-line televisions. If you can accept the burn-in potential and are willing to adjust your viewing habits accordingly, you will get the absolute best picture quality with OLED. But before you buy, consider your viewing habits and go to https://www.rtings.com/tv/learn/real-life-oled-burn-in-test to see the Rtings Real Life OLED Burn-In Test. Looking at the burn-in animations towards the bottom of the page was enough to scare me away from buying a 77-inch Sony A9G Master Series a few weeks ago, and the Samsung Q90 remains my top-of-the-line television recommendation. The new TCL 8-Series QLED with MicroLED backlighting is said to rival OLED for picture quality, but without the burn-in. I’m looking forward to seeing one in person soon.

Price correction: The Soundcore Liberty Pro 2 listed in my 2019 Gift Guide is $149, not $99. The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 is $99.