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Finding the best TV for you may seem an easy task, but it’s not as simple as picking the most expensive model or choosing the one with the most features. You need to think about both image and audio quality, the most useful smart functions, but also the price.
The biggest “problem” when buying a TV is that there are so many models that it can be almost impossible to find out which one is best for you. Therefore, allow us to take you by the hand and lead you along the path of television perfection.
TV manufacturers rely on acronyms and numbers when they try to convince you that their model is the best. Our mission, on the other hand, is to offer you real tips that give meaning to the jargon and explain exactly what each TV can do for you. Of course, we’ll also list the specs, but we’ll also explain what they mean for your viewing experience.
There are two different types of panels, LED and OLED, each one with its own strengths and weaknesses. There is no perfect TV, and choosing the right option for you will depend on personal preference. In general, even low-end 4K TVs offer more than decent picture quality, while high-end models are worth their price tag only if you plan to take full advantage of them, like watching Blu-ray 4K HDR content for example.
An OLED TV offers the best picture quality possible, but they are very expensive and may not be available in the desired size. That’s where this list comes into play. We gathered the best TVs with different prices, sizes, and technologies. Our intent is to find the best image quality for money.
In our comparisons, we evaluate things like contrast ratio, brightness, colors, uniformity, input lag, and refresh rate, as well as the number of HDMI ports and how well the TV supports your favorite streaming app (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, etc.). Most of these TVs are also good for next-gen gaming consoles like PS5 and Xbox Series X, with support for HDMI 2.1 and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) which is now standard on high-end sets.
Our choices represent “la crème de la crème” of what is available today, but we have also highlighted a number of models that offer the best performance-to-price ratio.
Here are our tips and the things you need to know and keep in mind before buying:
How to find the best TV for you
Selecting your next TV can be a complicated business, but a few simple rules will help you along the way.
As we switch from HD to 4K and ultimately 8K, screen size is a key consideration. To see incremental differences in resolution, you’ll probably need to buy a larger screen than the one you had before, or sit closer to the TV. To make it short: think big, then buy even bigger.
It may be counterintuitive, but 8K screens are more suitable for smaller rooms if you want to be able to see all the details they offer. Everything you think you know about viewing distances is in fact changing…
Then there is the viewing environment. If you watch TV in ambient lighting conditions or during the day, an LED or QLED screen will serve you better than an OLED one. If you prefer to watch TV in a dark room, an OLED TV will give you greater contrast and better shade details.
Smart platforms are no longer a deciding factor. All TVs are smart nowadays, and the various apps are ubiquitous: focus on image quality, price, and any extra features you truly need.
Which display technology is best, QLED or OLED? Which TV brand is best? What is the perfect size?
The answers are not always obvious since there are so many brands, models, screen sizes, technologies, and features to choose from.
So which TV is the right choice for you? In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about buying a new TV.
What kinds of TV are out there?
There are different types of screens out there. Each technology has its own pros and cons, so let’s find out what each one brings to the table:
From Plasma to OLED
Plasma TVs were the only flat-panel model available when they were first introduced more than ten years ago. Now they are extinct. This means that your choice will be between LED LCD TVs (called simply LED TVs) and OLED TVs.
Note: LCD and LED TVs have generally been considered two different kinds of TVs, despite the fact that both use an LCD panel. All LCD panels must be illuminated. “LED” TVs illuminate LCD panels using LEDs, while “LCD” TVs use CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps). CCFL is no more, thus almost all LCD TVs out there are LED TVs.
LED backlight technology is the most common type of TV, and has been an integral part of LCD TVs for over a decade. LED TVs are the cheapest to produce but they offer good colors and contrast ratio and they are not susceptible to the burn-in effect. The problem is their performance with black levels. As a result, in a completely dark room, blacks tend to appear gray.
There are further differences between the various LED TVs. LED TVs can be edge-lit or backlit.
Edge LED TVs
Edge-lit TVs illuminate their screens via an array of LEDs placed along the edges of the panel, thus allowing the set to be thin and light.
This technology allows for much thinner displays and offers higher contrast levels than CCFL TVs, but cannot achieve the same image quality as Direct LED sets. However, this technology is much cheaper and this is why most LED TVs out there are Edge LED TVs.
Direct LED TVs
Backlit TVs use a large number of LEDs located directly behind the panel, making the screen a little thicker, but allowing for more even illumination. High-end screens can also adjust individual LEDs to improve black levels.
Called FALD (Full Array Local Dimming), this technology allows for local dimming. This means that the TV tries to intelligently lower the backlight in certain areas of the screen where a scene is darker, and increase it in the areas of the screen where the scene is brighter. This way it manages to display immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness much more effectively — thus greatly improving contrast.
Quantum Dot TVs / QLED TVs
Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode (QLED) is Samsung’s big bet. It may seem similar to OLED, but this is an LCD variant. QLED technology still needs LEDs to illuminate an LCD panel but inserts a layer of nano-particles between the LEDs and the LCD panel that help filter light to achieve livelier and more realistic colors. This way Samsung claims to be able to produce more colorful images on brighter panels than LG’s and Sony’s LED TVs. In fact, QLED displays with FALD backlight offer the best performance when it comes to HDR peak brightness and black levels (for an LCD panel). QLED screens are ideal for bright viewing environments and offer an unbeatable combination of brightness and colors.
LG’s Super UHD TVs also use a Quantum Dot variant called Nano Cell.
OLED displays (Organic Light-Emitting Diodes), on the other hand, are a rarer and very expensive technology, and despite the name, they are very different from LED TVs. In fact, they are closer to plasma screens in the way they work. Each diode is self-emissive, generating both its own light and color – similar to plasma screens.
The illumination of OLED sets is achieved by passing an electric current through an electroluminescent emissive film. Unlike LED TVs, OLED TVs can adjust the illumination of individual pixels; and they can even turn them off completely in order to produce a true black. This means OLED screens deliver much deeper blacks, making it the perfect technology for truly immersive movies. OLED TVs also boast much faster response times, so they are ideal for gaming. This technology produces better colors and a higher contrast ratio, and also allows screens to be extremely thin and flexible. OLED is regarded as the best TV technology currently available.
OLED TVs are however way more expensive and they are also susceptible to the burn-in effect, where an image becomes permanently visible on the screen even when that content is no longer displayed. Modern techniques can mitigate this problem, but it is a downside that’s worth considering when buying an OLED TV.
LG Display is the only provider of OLED screens for mainstream TV manufacturers, which means that they all use the same panel, but image processors and implementations vary among them.
Resolution: HD — Full HD — Ultra HD/4K
HD TVs are available in two resolutions. HD Ready sets generally have a screen resolution of 1,366×768 (just over a million pixels in total). Meanwhile, Full HD TVs have a higher resolution of 1,920×1,080 (over two million pixels in total). It is highly advisable not to buy a TV with a resolution lower than Full HD.
Then we have Ultra HD or 4K which is exactly four times higher than Full HD: 3,840×2,160 (more than eight million pixels in total). 4K TVs tend to be good at upscaling HD video to Ultra HD, and native 4K content is now widely available. 4K has become the standard for medium to large sets; it is, in fact, difficult to find a TV bigger than 40 inches that is not 4K.
Do I need to upgrade my HD TV to a 4K one?
Yes, a 4K screen is way better than standard HD models.
If 4K is not impressive enough for you, now there are a good number of 8K TVs on the market. This ultra-high-definition format contains four times the number of pixels of 4K (7,680×4,320 resolution), for even sharper images.
The problem with 8K is content. Netflix for example only goes up to 4K! Thus you will only be able to watch 4K videos upscaled to 8K.
Do I need to upgrade my 4K TV to an 8K one?
No, full stop.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
Switching to HDR (high dynamic range) video could make a more dramatic difference for your viewing experience than switching from HD to 4K. HDR content provides the display with much more information than the standard video signal. The resolution remains the same, but the color gamut and the amount of light each pixel can produce are significantly wider resulting in more detailed shades of light and darkness than before.
There are two main standards: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is an open platform while Dolby Vision is only used by Dolby. The former uses 10-bit color values while the latter supports 12-bit color. The UHD Alliance certifies TVs that meet the HDR10 standard as Ultra HD Premium. The TVs that support Dolby Vision say so on their box.
Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) is a third standard developed by the BBC (English broadcaster) and NHK (Japanese broadcaster) and is backward compatible with standard dynamic range TVs. Meanwhile, Samsung and Amazon Video are working on HDR10+.
HDR content is rarer than Ultra HD/4K content, but it is becoming increasingly available. Ultra HD Blu-rays use HDR10 and also support additional HDR standards, while Netflix offers movies and TV shows in Dolby Vision. Nobody can say which standard is better. What is certain is that HDR TVs can produce a far better image than standard TVs when viewing HDR content.
Refresh rate and contrast ratio
Long story short you can easily ignore the refresh rate and the contrast ratio when trying to decide between TVs.
The refresh rate is the rate (displayed in Hz) at which the panel updates the image. Theoretically, a faster refresh rate results in a smoother image. However, in practice, it is not worth paying more for a TV with a refresh rate above 120Hz. In most cases, a 60Hz refresh rate is good for watching movies, and a 120Hz refresh rate is more than enough for video games and when viewing sports (and you’ll probably have to turn off the high refresh rate mode when watching TV, otherwise you will get the dreaded “soap opera” effect).
The contrast ratio is the difference between the darker blacks and the brightest whites that a panel can display. Theoretically, you want the highest possible contrast ratio as deep blacks and bright whites create a high-quality image. However, there is no standardized way for manufacturers to measure this specification, so, for example, Samsung’s numbers are not comparable with Sony’s numbers. Ignore any claims of contrast ratios in the millions – the only exception is LG’s OLED panels which are the only ones that can actually produce an infinite contrast ratio – even the best LED TVs tend to have a five-digit contrast ratio.
Smart apps and services
Almost all new TVs offer built-in Wi-Fi and apps. These features allow you to connect your TV to the Internet and access online services such as Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube. Some manufacturers like Samsung and LG develop their own connected platforms for their smart TVs, while others like Sony use third-party platforms like Android TV.
These platforms are feature-rich and offer access to most major streaming services, along with features such as voice assistants, local media streaming, and a variety of apps.
More recently, support for Apple AirPlay 2 has also been added to several new TVs (as well as older models) from LG, Samsung, and Sony. This way you can also use your iPhone or iPad to stream content via iTunes to your TV. Apple has also launched the Apple TV app with its Apple TV+ service on a number of Smart TV platforms. This means that you can watch Apple video content on almost any TV without the need for an Apple TV player.
Get the right connections
The ideal TV should provide sufficient connections not only for now but also for the future. The most important connection is HDMI, which supports all major forms of digital video sources, including Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, TV boxes, cameras, camcorders, smartphones, tablets, and PCs via a single cable. Most TVs have three or four HDMI ports, but some may only have two. This is the best way to send video and audio from your devices to the screen with just one cable, and it will be the main way to connect your main sources of entertainment to your TV. If you chose a 4K screen, make sure that at least one of the HDMI ports is HDMI 2.0 as it is the standard that supports 4K video at 60 frames per second; older HDMI ports can only handle 4K up to 30 frames per second.
Do I need a separate audio system?
An inevitable consequence of increasingly thin TVs is poor audio. There is usually not enough space to accommodate decent speakers. Most built-in speakers work quite well in the sense that you can understand the dialogue, but beyond that, they are typically quite depressing, with a tiny sound and limited volume. You can dramatically improve your movie and gaming experience by getting an additional sound system, such as a soundbar or a dedicated multi-channel home theater.
If you are on a budget, a soundbar is the best solution. Soundbars are long, thin, and stand-alone speakers that sit under the TV. Compact and simple to set up, they are less expensive than surround systems and add volume, amplitude, and clarity to the sound.
What size TV should I get?
People tend to choose the size of their flat-screen TV based on the amount of space they have for it, and this is not necessarily wise. A large TV set placed too close to the viewer can be just as inconvenient as a small TV placed too far away, so do not assume that a bigger screen is always the best choice.
Fortunately, there is a simple formula to help you narrow down the size of your TV based on how far you sit from it.
The ideal size (diagonal) of the screen can be calculated by dividing the distance from the screen (in inches) by 2.
So, if you sit 10 feet (120in) away from the TV, the ideal size is 60 inches (120/2=60).
The best time to buy a new TV
New models usually come out every spring. If you can find last year’s models heavily discounted towards January – and it’s a model that we recommend – then buy it without thinking twice.
Keep an eye out for offers just before the football season starts.
Big price cuts during Black Friday most often target cheap to mid-range TVs.
Frequently asked questions
Which TV brand is the best?
If a TV is not made by LG, Samsung or Sony, make sure you have done your homework. They are our favorite manufacturers at the moment. A cheap TV may seem tempting, but try to avoid extremely cheap models, which may look great on paper, but almost always do not offer a good picture or build quality.
If you can’t afford a new model, we recommend that you look for last year’s TVs (often heavily discounted).
Which TV will last me longer?
As long as you buy a well-known brand TV, the longevity depends more on the model and technology than the brand. Most modern OLED TVs are rated for about 30,000 hours, which is enough to watch eight hours of TV every day for over 10 years. LCD TVs, on the other hand, are rated from 30,000 to 60,000 hours; it is likely that you will buy a new TV before one of these sets finally stops working.
- In our opinion, the bigger the TV, the better. Big-screen TVs are cheaper than ever, and you’ll get more by spending extra on a larger screen rather than for a slight update of image quality.
- If you don’t like the built-in smart TV system, you can always add a TV box. They are cheap and easy to use and receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs.
- The sound quality of built-in speakers is almost always terrible, so it’s worth complementing your new TV with a soundbar or a dedicated surround system.
Best TVs 2021: our list
LG C1 OLED: best OLED TV
The LG C1 OLED (Check on Amazon) is the current king of TVs. It’s the successor to one of the best TVs of 2020, the LG CX OLED (Check on Amazon), so our expectations were high, yet it managed to realize them all. It offers one of the best images we’ve ever seen, with almost perfect cinematic colors. It also features AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, making it a great option for gamers.
LG made a series of small improvements to last year’s model. The C1 uses the 4th generation Alpha 9 processor that can improve upscaling (LG’s new AI Picture Pro engine manages 4K content with ease and does a spectacular job of transforming HD and SD signals into something more — it can make 1080p Blu-rays look so good to think they were 4K) and virtual surround sound (the sound is mediocre, like on all ultra-slim TVs but loud enough, while LG’s AI Sound Pro system also supports Dolby Atmos) and with four HDMI 2.1 ports (with eARC support) for 4K@120Hz gaming makes it ready for any next-gen console – PS5 (Check on Amazon), Xbox Series X (Check on Amazon), Xbox Series S (Check on Amazon). Gamers will also appreciate the low input lag (just 6 ms), the almost instant response time, and the new Game Optimiser that gives you the ability to adjust brightness, contrast, and variable refresh rate (VRR) on the fly.
It’s not without flaws: being an OLED panel it is better suited for viewing in a dark room — visibility shouldn’t be a problem in most well-lit rooms as it has great reflection handling. It also doesn’t support HDR10+, just like Samsung TVs don’t support Dolby Vision, but it displays a wide range of colors and has an adequate HDR peak brightness, enough to bring out the highlights.
What’s more, there are now higher resolution TVs – like the LG Z1 OLED 8K – while the LG G1 (Check on Amazon) uses the new OLED Evo panels that offer better brightness, sharpness, and detail.
It’s not cheap, of course, but we were happily surprised to find out that all LG C1 OLED models were launched at a lower price than their LG CX OLED counterparts.
All in all, we believe that the LG C1 OLED (Check on Amazon) offers the best combination of price, specs, and performance of all other TVs we have tested so far and should be at the top of your list as a potential TV to buy in 2021.
LG CX OLED: a valid alternative
The LG CX OLED (Check on Amazon) is certainly the best 2020 OLED TV. It sports an incredible display, support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and a ton of other features for smart home control.
Iterating on last year’s C9 series (Check on Amazon), the CX doesn’t look that different – and it isn’t; developments in image quality are traced back to improvements in processing, making the most of the OLED panel’s capacity to emphasize details in the dark areas of the screen.
The CX uses the amazing webOS 5.0 smart platform, has an intuitive remote for motion control, and adds modern updates such as the even more powerful third-generation a9 processor and support for HDMI 2.1 and its last-gen features such as eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), HFR (High Frame Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) as well as all current VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) formats!
With the new 48-inch model – alongside the 55, 65, and 77-inch models -, the CX series is an even more flexible proposition that will suit a wider range of wallets and homes. The 48-inch model is not a downgraded OLED TV, but a scaled-back flagship TV. It offers the same performance and features as its bigger siblings, both in terms of image quality and processing power, but in a smaller package that is better suited to a smaller room.
The CX boasts a slim design, and superb performance supports both Dolby Vision IQ (which adjusts HDR performance based on ambient lighting) and Atmos, and improves sound with audio tuning powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Blacks and viewing angles are perfect — this is an OLED TV we are talking about — and are combined with bright but natural colors and bright whites. The brightness reaches peaks of about 750 nits, which is normal for an OLED panel, but since this series handles the breadth of its contrast range better than almost any other TV set we have seen so far, it certainly feels brighter than that, and OLED’s ability to mix bright pixels next to dark ones continues to produce a stunning image!
Motion processing is also the best it’s ever been. The new image processing technology helps make details and skin tones more realistic, thus producing an overall image quality that is noticeably better. This TV also impresses in terms of upscaling content with standard definition.
And LG, this time around, considered gamers as well. The CX has a very low input lag (just over 13ms in Game mode) and offers support for Nvidia G-Sync and 4K/120Hz compatibility for next-generation consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X).
The only thing missing is support for HDR10+ but that fact doesn’t subtract much from the best OLED TV of 2020. And while its premium price might scare off some potential buyers, it packs more value than any of its more expensive OLED competitors, while still providing an unprecedented image.
Samsung QN90/QN90A/QN94A Neo QLED: best OLED alternative
The Samsung QN90 (Check on Amazon) is one of the first 4K screens to use the company’s Neo QLED panels that combine Samsung’s refined Quantum Dot technology with advanced Mini LED backlight control — in simple terms, these panels sport significantly more light-emitting diodes per square inch and significantly more local dimming zones than previous generations.
The result is a brighter TV than ever before — and considering its fantastic reflection handling, visibility should not be a problem even in the brightest environments — and one that can produce a surprisingly wide range of colors, and all of this technology is packed into a beautiful design that’s just 1 inch thick!
In addition to performing well in bright environments, this TV is also an excellent choice for watching movies in dark rooms. Its VA panel boasts an excellent contrast ratio (it doesn’t reach the spectacular infinite contrast of OLED panels, but it is closer than ever) and the local dimming function helps produce even deeper blacks.
All Neo QLED TVs also feature Samsung’s new NeoQuantum 4K processor that uses a neural network to analyze images for better HD upscaling and Motion Xcelerator Turbo+ for better movement handling.
It features a 120Hz panel and HDMI 2.1 connectivity (HDMI 3 and 4 ports, not all HDMI ports), so you can easily play 4K games at up to 120 FPS using a PS5 (Check on Amazon) or an Xbox Series X (Check on Amazon). Moreover, the native support for AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility that combat screen tearing, as well as a low input lag (around 12ms) and a quick response time makes for smooth movement and grant an unprecedented gaming experience.
[Note: The 43-inch model (Check on Amazon) is limited to a 60 Hz panel and no variable refresh rate (VRR).]
Furthermore, Samsung’s new “Game Bar” can be used to display all relevant information about the game in one convenient location.
Sadly, its local dimming function is worse in “Game” mode, thus blacks aren’t as deep while gaming.
And, as if all this wasn’t enough, Samsung has also added a multitude of Smart TV functions (the QN90 supports all major voice assistants, and you can choose which one to use by default) and truly intelligent features, such as a solar-powered remote that renders batteries obsolete.
That said, there are a couple of “problems” we have to speak about, such as the slight wobble of the base or the lackluster sound quality (despite support for Dolby Atmos) that don’t suit a premium TV. Last but not least, there’s still no support for Dolby Vision, which means you’re limited to HDR10 and HDR10+.
All in all, if you desire a high-end TV with spectacular image quality, but you don’t want an OLED TV — perhaps because of the risk of screen burn-in — then the Samsung QN90 Neo QLED (Check on Amazon) should do the trick.
Sony A90J OLED: best all-around TV
We love Sony’s OLED TVs but find it hard to justify buying them over rival LG TVs. Historically, Sony TVs have a more authentic picture and better sound, but they are held back in terms of functionality and usability.
The ideal TV, then, is one that combines Sony’s picture and sound quality with LG’s functionalities. This is exactly what we have in the Sony A90J OLED (Check on Amazon)!
In terms of performance, the Sony A90J is stunning. It takes OLED picture performance to new and exciting levels while maintaining the authenticity that Sony is renowned for. The A90J blends the deep and even perfect blacks of an OLED (nearly infinite contrast ratio) with some of the brightest highlights we’ve ever seen (and with no bloom around bright objects in darker scenes). Its OLED panel gets, in fact, much brighter [even brighter than the LG G1 (Check on Amazon)], especially in HDR, so most of the small highlights stand out in the way the creator intended. Compared to LG, it also has better out-of-the-box accuracy and better gradient handling, which means it displays colors more accurately and without banding in similar color areas, thus preserving those fine details.
It features Sony’s XR cognitive processor, which does a fantastic job of upscaling older and lower resolution content, allowing you to enjoy the latest movies, as well as classics, in the highest picture quality.
It even sounds better than all other TVs. Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ turns the entire OLED panel into a loudspeaker that is flanked by a two-subwoofer bass system. In addition, XR Surround makes that sound feel like it comes from everywhere around you, while the automatic acoustic calibration system can optimize the TV’s sound for your room. If you connect it to an A/V receiver instead, Center Speaker mode allows you to use the A90J as the center channel of a surround sound setup.
Last but not least, the Sony A90J is also packed with new features including eARC compatibility, support for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision (but not HDR10 +, meaning some content may be limited to HDR10), HDMI 2.1 connectivity, a native refresh rate of 120Hz, a variable refresh rate (VRR from 40-120Hz), and an automatic low latency mode [these features are essential in order to get the most out of a PlayStation 5 (Check on Amazon) or an Xbox Series X (Check on Amazon)]. The new Google TV operating system (which replaces Android TV) ensures a better user experience and a large selection of apps via the Google Play Store.
If you have discerning tastes and money is no issue you won’t regret spending extra on the Sony A90J OLED (Check on Amazon). If not, check out the Sony A80J OLED (Check on Amazon) since it offers much (but not all) of the A90J excellence for a significantly lower price.
Sony A9G/AG9 OLED: a valid alternative
Without a doubt, this TV is a clear improvement over the Sony Master Series A9F.
The Sony Master Series A9G (Check on Amazon) not only features the best 4K Ultra HD OLED screen we have reviewed so far, but it also sports an innovative audio system that is simply fantastic. It’s called Acoustic Surface and it works by sending sound waves through the screen. This creates the unique effect of sound coming out of the TV.
It also offers the best upscaling and ensures that all those SD and HD images look surprisingly detailed on the 4K display.
Thus the A9G offers the best viewing experience money can buy, with Sony’s incredible image processing and impeccable HDR delivery that is ahead of the competition.
In addition, it uses Google’s Android TV, which is the most complete OS out there, Google’s Assistant, for controlling both the TV and other smart devices connected to it, and Google’s Chromecast which lets you stream content directly from your PC or mobile device.
Sony A80J OLED: a cheaper alternative
Here at Effemeride, we evaluate products based on their performance/price ratio. Looking for the absolute best product in each category would result in automatically recommending the most expensive one; instead, we search for the product that best balances performance, features, and price.
On that metric, the Sony A80J OLED (Check on Amazon) is fantastic. It certainly falls short of its flagship sibling, the Sony A90J OLED (Check on Amazon), however, it offers most of what makes the A90J great but at a much more competitive price point.
The picture quality is characterized by a perfect contrast, brilliant color gamut coverage, exceptional color accuracy, first-rate screen uniformity, and wide viewing angles that ensure everyone can enjoy a sharp image no matter where they sit at. In addition, it manages to produce more impactful highlights than rivals like the LG C1 (Check on Amazon); but most impressive is how the A80J combines the spectacular with the natural and the authentic: no other TV available right now, aside from the A90J, offers such faithful creative intent.
The stunning visuals are complemented by equally excellent sound thanks to Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ system, which turns the TV screen into a speaker (uses actuators to vibrate the screen in order to create sound). Thus the audio is tied to the picture in a way that TVs from other manufacturers cannot match. The sound is enveloping and more immersive than that produced by similarly priced competitors, and there’s also an impressive amount of gravitas and dynamic range on offer, even without an optional surround sound system or soundbar.
The new Google TV operating system was created for televisions from the ground up, and it shows: it is well designed and intuitive to use, highly responsive, and provides access to all major streaming platforms.
Last but not least, a pair of HDMI 2.1 ports make the A80J a great choice for gamers, thanks to support for 4K at 120Hz, variable refresh rate (VRR), and auto low latency mode.
The Sony A80J OLED (Check on Amazon) is a high-end TV that will allow you to have a cinematic experience similar to a home theater, as well as make your favorite video games great.
LG C2 OLED: best gaming TV
The LG C2 (Check on Amazon) is a superb TV, but right now the 2021 model [LG C1 (Check on Amazon)] is a better deal. In terms of image quality, the two are essentially identical, despite LG having equipped it with the new “Evo” panel of the LG G1 (Check on Amazon) and G2 (Check on Amazon) TVs.
Real improvements include a carbon fiber construction for up to 47% lighter weight, the new Alpha 9 Gen 5 processor – capable of stunning colors, adaptive brightness control, and incredible upscaling – and a new “Always On” feature.
Plus, you get a “Virtual Surround Sound”, with the TV upscaling stereo content to 7.1.2 channel sound. While we weren’t convinced by LG’s claims, the audio performance is really good for a flat-screen TV.
In addition to these improvements, the C2 retains the four HDMI 2.1 ports (which it inherited from the C1 OLED), a 120Hz refresh rate, and an incredibly low input lag, making it a great TV for gaming. It also has full support for both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, so you can enjoy a tear-free game regardless of which system (PS5 (Check on Amazon) and Xbox Series X (Check on Amazon) or PC) you connect to it. Last but not least, the LG Game Optimizer gives you precise control over a number of factors, as well as some standard presets for specific genres, to improve image quality and responsiveness if needed.
There are, of course, higher resolution flat-screen TVs out there – like the Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K (Check on Amazon) – while the new LG G2 OLED (Check on Amazon) has slightly higher peak brightness, but for gaming, this is the best one you can buy in 2022.
[Attention: the LG C2 is also available in 42-inch and 48-inch sizes, but the two smaller models do not receive the new “Evo” panel, thus you will get the “true” C2 experience only from a 55-inch model and up.]
LG G1 OLED: best OLED evo TV
If you want the best OLED TV ever and you can afford it then the LG G1 (Check on Amazon) is the best TV we’ve tested so far, with unbeatable contrast, wide viewing angles, and excellent color consistency thanks to LG’s new OLED Evo panel. Its main advantage over the LG C1 (Check on Amazon) is its thinner and more wall-friendly design, thus if you appreciate this style and you can afford it, this is the TV to get.
Until now, the C-class model has been the sensible choice of every new LG OLED TV range – this was the most “affordable” model boasting the latest in panel and image processing technology – if you could pay more for the G-class model then you could get a better sound and a more elaborate design, but not better visual performance.
In 2021, however, LG introduced a new “OLED Evo” panel (a next-gen version of OLED technology that consumes less power) but to get it, you have to splurge for the G1. The “problem” is that you also end up paying extra for a design, extremely elegant, but rather niche (the letter “G” in G1 stands for “Gallery” and LG’s Gallery OLED series bears this name because it is designed for hanging on a wall like a work of art) that you may not want.
That said, if the design works for you and you don’t mind paying a premium for the “privilege”, the G1 is arguably the best OLED TV LG has ever produced. It takes the image performance of last year’s GX (Check on Amazon) and CX (Check on Amazon) models and improves it in almost every way. All thanks to LG’s new OLED Evo technology, which updates the panel structure to achieve even more brightness (20% more brightness than previous LG OLED TVs) which in turn pushes contrast and colors to higher levels, thus producing a wider HDR image that’s more stunning than ever without increasing the bloom effect or, according to LG, the possibility of burn-in.
This is combined with LG’s improved control over the near-black elements of images (by leveraging the self-emitting pixels of OLED panels, their true advantage over LED panels – even those that use the new mini-LEDs) which means better performance at both ends of the brightness spectrum and this translates to an even more realistic picture.
In addition, the new 4th Gen AI a9 processor further improves upscaling (especially from HD to 4K) and the intelligent processing of objects on the screen (the TV is better at identifying what is on the screen and tweaking its performance to make the most of it) with motion processing, in particular, getting a clear update. The result is that everything looks more sharp and natural!
As a result, the LG G1 appears to be a real revolution for the OLED TV maker and certainly an upgrade over the cheaper LG C1, unlike last year, when the CX and GX models offered the same picture performance. That said, only the sharpest eyes will recognize the difference in image quality between the G1 and C1.
In addition to being phenomenal for movies, the LG G1 is an excellent choice for gamers too. All four HDMI ports are 2.1 (4K@120Hz) and it also features a Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), an Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and a new Game Optimizer mode that adds more flexibility in balancing responsiveness with image quality.
It sounds good too, thanks in part to its improved audio processing, which now promises something like 5.1.2 channels, although the Dolby Atmos sound system isn’t the best for bass.
Still, there’s one very notable omission: it doesn’t come with a stand in the box… it includes, instead, a special recessed wall bracket, so that it can be as thin as possible when hanging. You can buy third-party feet to place it on your TV cabinet or LG’s floor “Gallery Stand”, but keep in mind that these solutions add to its price.
The LG G1 (Check on Amazon) is the flagship of the OLED TV range, offering slightly better performance than the LG C1 (Check on Amazon), albeit at a significantly higher price point, and for this reason, the G1 doesn’t top our rankings. Nevertheless, if you decide to buy it, you’ll be investing in one of the best TVs for the money and it will remain so for years to come.
LG G2 OLED: a valid alternative
There are many TVs designed specifically for wall mounting, but the LG G2 OLED (Check on Amazon) is the best one. It sits at top of LG’s OLED range and is priced accordingly, but it looks great and performs better than any other OLED we’ve tried.
Although it shares the same “Gallery” design name as its predecessors [GX (Check on Amazon) and G1 (Check on Amazon)], it actually looks completely different: the frame is just 22mm deep and the edges around the screen are discreet (this offers a seamless look, an aspect that it holds from any angle), while composite fiber materials make it much lighter than last year’s G1 and significantly easier to mount.
The image quality is outstanding. The G2 takes the already excellent design with its OLED Evo panel and further enhances it with a huge internal heat sink. This additional cooling means that the panel can get even brighter than before. The impact of the extra brightness is immediately noticeable: it gives the colors more volume and punch, whether you are talking about a very vibrant and rich tone, or a subtle and mild one, thus making every frame of any source even more sublime than before. Its only weakness is the lack of HDR10+, which is not a problem since most streaming services seem to prefer the Dolby Vision format anyway.
We were also impressed with the AI-enhanced sound system – something that can’t be said about the built-in audio of many other flat TVs.
LG’s WebOS 22 operating system remains the most complete and responsive smart platform around thanks to its huge selection of streaming services, while the four HDMI 2.1 ports (capable of handling the maximum 48Gbps of data supported) ensure that the G2 is exceptionally well equipped for gaming. This means hardcore gamers can connect an Xbox Series X (Check on Amazon), a PS5 (Check on Amazon), and a PC at the same time and enjoy a 4K@120Hz resolution, a variable refresh rate, and automatic switching to low-latency mode from all of them.
The end result is such a great OLED TV that barely misses the title, mostly because it’s designed specifically for wall mounting and because the G1 (Check on Amazon) is still on sale for hundreds of dollars less.
Sony X90J: best mid-range TV
The Sony X90J (Check on Amazon) is one of the big TV hits of 2021 and for good reason. With excellent picture quality, full-array local dimming, and enough brightness to bring out HDR content that can’t fail to impress, this TV is the king of the mid-range.
The picture is brilliantly natural, authentic, and balanced, thanks in part to the new Cognitive XR processor that powers Sony’s top 2021 TVs and offers excellent upscaling and contrast control.
Sony has always led the sector in motion handling and upscaling, and that only got better with the new model – whether you’re watching content from a 4K or HD source, everything looks beautifully detailed and motion looks clear and smooth without appearing robotic.
The sleek appearance of this set and the Google TV operating system (for easy setup and broad app support as well as the benefits of Google Cast from Android devices) add to the perfect recipe, while support for next-gen consoles is just the icing on the cake.
In fact, when it comes to gaming, the X90J boasts a 120Hz panel, two HDMI 2.1 ports (4K@120fps support perfect for the new consoles), and an Automatic Low Latency Mode (under 10ms) that can really improve your gaming experience (and Sony also promises a Variable Refresh Rate… sometime in the future).
Even the speakers are solid, with clear, direct sound, and there’s also support for Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.
Some issues persist, of course, including average viewing angles and the slight warning that this set turns out to be quite reflective during the day.
That said, the X90J is a noticeable step up from last year’s model… its color reproduction is simply wonderful, with some clever processing techniques that allow images to look as beautiful as possible on an LED TV, and all this for a mid-range price. If you want a branded TV, then the Sony X90J (Check on Amazon) offers perhaps the best value out of all we’ve tried so far.
Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K: best TV ever
An 8K TV might seem a bit excessive for some, but there’s no doubt that the Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K (Check on Amazon) has ushered in a new era of flat-screen TV technology.
It delivers outstanding picture quality, by combining extreme brightness, color, and 8K clarity with unprecedented levels of contrast and backlight control to produce the most spectacular all-around image we’ve ever seen on a TV. Adds to that the premium sound that comes from the eight drivers on the back of the unit — with that direction perhaps its only minor flaw — and packs it all in a chassis that is unmatched in terms of design.
The QN900A is part of Samsung’s third generation of 8K TVs and the first to implement Mini LED lighting technology. As the name suggests, “Quantum” Mini LEDs are much smaller than standard LEDs (1/40 thick as a normal LED) and are measured in the thousands, rather than hundreds on a TV panel.
This means that thousands of smaller LEDs can be packed much tighter together, allowing for much more accurate local dimming areas and deep blacks that are virtually indistinguishable from an OLED TV. And since these LEDs are much smaller, they are also able to be controlled much more precisely and with almost no “bloom” — the effect of seeing bright areas of the screen unnaturally bleeding into darker areas.
Forget native 8K content for now, because there’s none: instead focus on the fact that this TV employs fantastic AI-based upscaling management (AI Multi-Intelligence from Samsung) which is a significant step forward compared to the already impressive upscaling of Samsung 8K TVs in 2020, offering excellent results even from SD sources but with the kind of sharpness and detail that we usually expect from a 4K TV. In fact, the QN900A is capable of producing images that look better than the source!
And not only does this TV boast the latest HDMI 2.1 and eARC capabilities, but it’s also ideal for gamers who have recently invested in a next-generation console or gaming PC, featuring support for 4K@120FPS or 8K@60FPS gameplay, the Game Motion Plus technology (eliminates ghosting and blur) and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro (eliminates screen tearing).
It’s not “better” than OLED TVs, in the strict sense of the word. In fact, there are still those who prefer emissive pixels over backlit LCDs, but good luck finding an OLED TV with 8K resolution in this price range and especially one that’s smaller than 65 inches.
In short, the Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K (Check on Amazon) is, in no uncertain terms, the best TV you can buy today.