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LG OLED TV summer price check: 2017 models are still the best deals

The 55-inch 2018 OLED is $600 more expensive than the 2017 version, and it's still not worth it.

LG OLEDC8P series

My buying advice on LG's 2018 C8 OLED TV: Red light till the price drops further, probably this fall.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you want the best deal on an OLED TV, it's all about keeping an eye on current prices. And as summer begins in earnest, the 2017 versions are still my "bargain" picks, even after modest price drops on the 2018 models.

This spring I reviewed LG's 2018 OLED TV, the C8, and it's the best-performing TV I've ever tested. But even discerning high-end TV shoppers should only buy it if they have a lot more money than patience. That's because it still costs a lot more than the 2017 versions, the LG C7 and B7A, and isn't that much better. 

CNET reviews: Best TVs of 2018 (picture quality)

LG also just released the 2018 B8, which is $200 cheaper than the C8. I haven't reviewed it yet, but I expect it to perform very similarly to the others. It costs $600 more than the 2017 B7A at 55 inches, and $500 more at 65 inches.

Once again, the "old" OLED is still the best OLED for more people.

Here's current pricing on Amazon and Best Buy for the 55- and 65-inch models in each series. I also included pricing from early May, for context.

2017 LG C7 and B7A vs. 2018 LG C8 and B8

Model Year Size Price, June 29 Price, May 2
OLED55B7A 2017 55-inch $1,500 $1,600
OLED55C7P 2017 55-inch $2,000 $1,700
OLED55B8P 2018 55-inch $2,100 N/A
OLED55C8P 2018 55-inch $2,300 $2,500
OLED65C7P 2017 65-inch $2,500 $2,600
OLED65B7A 2017 65-inch $2,500 $2,600
OLED65B8P 2018 65-inch $3,000 N/A
OLED65C8P 2018 65-inch $3,200 $3,500

Looking more closely at the chart, a few things stand out to me. One is that the 55-inch LG C7 is $2,000 at Amazon -- more expensive than it was in early May. That tells me inventory is finally running out on that model (although the 55-inch B7A is still available). Meanwhile Amazon just dropped its price to $2,500 on the 65-inch C7, matching the B7A for the first time, perhaps in an effort to get rid of remaining inventory.

As for price drops on the 2018 C8 since May, they're only $200 and $300 respectively so far. At this rate the 65-inch C8 might drop below $3,000 later this summer, but I wouldn't bet on it.

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So is it worth getting the 2018 model yet? Nope. Over the last three years, all OLED TVs I've tested offer very similar image quality. Yes the newest ones are the best TVs ever, but last year's versions are a very close second. Here's how I summed it up in my review of the 2018 C8.

As of April 2018, the LG C8 is the best TV I've ever tested, beating the 2017 Sony and LG OLED TVs by a hair. And it's a thin hair: The C8's main advantages are really minor, including slightly better screen uniformity and ephemeral new video processing options. The 2017 and 2018 models all deserve a picture quality score of "10".

If you have to buy a new OLED TV right now and want the best deal, the LG C7 or B7A from 2017 are my top picks. But if you can afford to wait a few months, the LG C8 and B8 will fall in price.

Want the best deal? Wait until Black Friday 2018

So when will those prices fall? If history is any indication, the very best price on 2018 TVs won't come until November and later, when the big Black Friday sales hit. 

Here's a look at the price history of the 65-inch C7 from camelcamelcamel.com, a site that tracks pricing on Amazon. Right now that TV is more affordable than ever. 

screen-shot-2018-05-02-at-11-27-18-am
camelcamelcamel.com

As usual, I'll be keeping close tabs on the pricing of high-end TVs and adjusting the Value score of my reviews accordingly. Right now the C8 is a poor value, with a score of 5, which is why the C7 is rated higher overall. When the 2017 models get phased out and the 2018s fall in price, the C8 will probably become a better buy.

Even though the year is more than halfway through, the 2018 high-end TV price drop game is just getting started. Unless you're dying to get a new TV now, your best bet is to wait.