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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 [email protected] 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: best OLED TV
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, 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 Q80T QLED: best gaming TV
The 2020 Samsung Q80T QLED (Check on Amazon) builds on the success of the previous model and is a brilliant HDR TV that is definitely worth considering as it delivers high-end performance at a mid-range price.
Its most notable feature is the incredibly low input lag, which makes the Q80T a great choice for gamers, who will also appreciate its 120Hz refresh rate, support for FreeSync VRR, and its excellent response time. However, its QLED panel makes viewing the TV a pleasure all around.
The Q80T is also the cheapest Samsung 2020 TV to offer full-array local dimming (FALD) technology, meaning you’ll get a bright TV that doesn’t spoil black uniformity. It lacks the premium finish of high-end TVs — it doesn’t have the same build quality as last year’s Samsung Q90/Q90R (Check on Amazon); it also doesn’t exude the same elegance as the “zero” frame we find in this year’s Q950TS/Q95T (Check on Amazon) model, instead, it has a “thick” body compared to other QLED TVs.
This is due to all of its connections that are located inside the main body rather than in a separate box called One Connect. Thankfully there’s nothing missing: it’s equipped with four HDMI inputs that support the main features of HDMI 2.1, such as eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), and HFR (High Frame Rate).
You’ll also get Samsung’s latest Quantum 4K processor and the same advanced features of the Tizen operating system. 4K HDR streaming is available via Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Apple TV+. App support, in general, is superb, with virtually every video and music streaming service available out of the box or for download. The only thing that’s really missing is support for Dolby Vision.
The Q80T is also very simple to set up in order to get the best possible image. It can deliver a brilliantly dynamic image with deep blacks, excellent contrast, and neutral yet vibrant HDR colors. While there are rare occasions when watching content in HDR that skin tones look slightly overcooked, the color balance is almost perfect, while motion is handled smoothly.
Its native contrast, however, is not as good as the Sony’s X950G (Check on Amazon), because Samsung added an “Ultra Viewing Angle” layer that improves viewing angles at the cost of its contrast ratio.
As always we recommend at least a soundbar for the best audio experience, but Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound technology provides, all the same, an open, immersive sound.
If you want an even cheaper option, check out the Samsung Q70/Q70R QLED (Check on Amazon) – this TV’s predecessor – which costs a couple of hundred dollars less.
Instead, if you’re interested in having the most accurate image possible, without having to calibrate your TV, check out the Sony X950G (Check on Amazon).
Sony A8H/A8 OLED: best all-around TV
The Sony A8H OLED (Check on Amazon) is an excellent 4K TV and one of Sony’s best OLED deals to date. For comparison, it’s on par with the LG CX OLED (Check on Amazon). Combining Sony’s premium cinematic performance — color balance is well-judged and wide-ranging, dynamic contrasts are obvious, and detail levels are high — with an audio system that is both powerful and direct, this OLED TV manages to be a surprisingly eye-catching option for home cinema enthusiasts.
The design is simply spectacular. This TV is pretty much all screen: the black frame sits flush with the screen so you don’t notice it when the device is turned off and the fact that it is razor-thin places even more emphasis on the screen.
And what a screen this is! The A8H uses Sony’s high-end X1 Ultimate Picture Processor, equipped with Pixel Contrast Booster, for a more intense image, and the OLED version of Sony’s X-Motion Clarity feature — originally developed for LCD TVs with FALD (Full Area Local Dimming) — for an even more natural motion processing.
The results are great, to say the least. The Sony A8H offers more than just a beautiful 4K image, with world-class colors, incredibly sharp details, and cinematic authenticity perfect for movies. What’s more, SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content is vibrant and dynamic, and even standard-definition content is watchable.
But where this TV truly stands out, is in the viewing of sports. The Sony A8H takes the traditionally excellent blacks and an infinite contrast ratio of most OLED TVs, and combines them with incredibly wide viewing angles — those sitting at the end of the sofa won’t have to suffer poor image quality with faded colors no more – and Sony’s motion tracking that makes viewing sports a real delight, with no smearing, stuttering or ghosting. And thanks to the 4K resolution, you’ll feel like watching the action live and in person.
On the audio side of things, Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio system (where the TV screen participates in sound production) surprised us once again with its crisp and dynamic delivery, and this time around it is aided by a dual-sub woofer bass system (that really helps but cannot work wonders) and Sony’s Acoustic Auto Calibration system that can optimize the sound of the TV for your room.
It sounds much better than most of its rivals at similar prices, although, of course, we always recommend combining it with a dedicated audio system to really elevate the experience.
The only downside is the lack of support for HDMI 2.1. And, even though this set is marginally beaten by its successor, the Sony A80J (Check on Amazon), due to its lower price (Check on Amazon), is currently still the best TV to buy in the Sony range.
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 that lets you stream content directly from your PC or mobile device.
Samsung Q950TS/Q900TS QLED: best 8K TV
Samsung’s flagship TV is our new choice for the best TV you can buy right now thanks to the way it receives a 4K video signal and upscales it to really take advantage of its 8K resolution – since 8K content is still non-existent at this point. It is very expensive and its sound quality is questionable at best… but no other TV is just as stylish!
The new flagship Samsung TV, the Q950TS (Check on Amazon), combines all the advantages of Samsung’s Q900/Q900R 8K screen (Check on Amazon) with the innovations introduced with the Q90/Q90T 4K model (Check on Amazon), such as built-in surround sound, tiny bezels, and the incredibly skillful upscaling, to create the best QLED TV in existence. This model features an 8K panel, optimized image processing using artificial intelligence, even wider viewing angles, improved black filter, and robust HDR performance. And if all this wasn’t enough, Samsung’s Smart TV platform is the most complete on the market.
The Q950TS is not only a wise investment in view of 8K but also manages to improve 4K content. This is thanks to Samsung’s Quantum 8K processor and its AI 8K Upscaling feature, which make non-8K content look better than ever: when reproducing 4K Blu-ray discs, we’ve experienced the sharpest 4K image so far, and no part of the image seemed artificially improved or exaggerated. Artificial intelligence upscaling does an incredible job of filling 33 million pixels with images that look natural and pristine.
The blacks are deep and insightful, while the movement is handled with ease. It’s the best way to watch 4K content — and even upscaled HD content shows only a few small processing imperfections which isn’t much different from what you can expect from a 4K TV.
And HDR content looks even better, thanks to the powerful full-array LED backlight, capable of producing very bright images – brighter than any other TV we’ve seen so far. The good news is that with 480 local dimming zones this TV is also capable of lowering the backlight when needed and thus producing a colossal contrast ratio, especially around where bright and dark areas meet. This, in the past, was the defining feature of OLED TVs, but the Q950TS is brighter than any OLED TV and capable of producing the same black level performance; it’s simply amazing.
Apart from the stellar image, the TV itself is a top-quality product, very stylish and with incredibly thin bezels — it seems like the image is hanging in the air. Moreover, all connections are housed in an external box, called One Connect, which connects to the TV via a single cable, making this TV ideal for a very tidy living room.
Add to all this the excellent smart platform that makes it easy to watch any streaming service you want, and you’ll find yourself with more than a complete package. The Q950TS is the best TV money can buy right now… even if it costs an arm and a leg.
There is also a variant, the Q900TS/Q900T (Check on Amazon), which eliminates the One Connect box and puts all the ports back on the TV itself (making it thicker), but otherwise, it is exactly the same… and significantly cheaper.
The real question is: do you need an 8K TV? 8K content is almost nonexistent, so you’ll pay more for a feature that you can’t take advantage of. On the other hand, if you want to splurge, an 8K TV could be a solid investment if you do not intend to buy another TV when 8K becomes the norm.
So, if you’re looking for a new state-of-the-art Samsung TV — and you don’t mind paying a premium for it — the Q950TS (Check on Amazon) should be at the top of your list.
Samsung Q90T & Q95T QLED: best QLED TV
The Q90T QLED (Check on Amazon) and the Q95T QLED are Samsung’s flagship 4K HDR models for 2020 and are essentially the same TV but with a small difference: the Q95T comes with the One Connect box that houses all the TV’s connections and connects to it via a single small cable; on the contrary, the Q90T has its connections on the unit itself, and therefore it is slightly thicker but also considerably cheaper in countries where both versions are available.
Apart from this difference, both TVs offer a fantastic HDR image and support for almost all HDR content (HDR10, HDR10+, and Hybrid-Log Gamma) — as always, Samsung TVs do not support Dolby Vision.
The key feature here is the 2,000 nits brightness of the QLED panel — twice what you get from even the most expensive and premium OLED TVs. Responsible for all this is the backlight combined with the rich colors of an OLED panel, which make this TV’s picture look simply amazing. The images are vibrant and lush beyond measure but retain the realism of people’s skin color.
Using cutting-edge local dimming technology – Samsung has vastly improved its algorithm – also means that this display is capable of a good depth of contrast — although it still can’t compete with OLED screens on visible details of darker scenes — and is able to put bright and dark elements next to each other without the backlight “bleeding” between them.
The Artificial Intelligence-based upscaling is also impressive, so both HD and 4K sources look great. And it’s also game-friendly, thanks to its low input lag and dedicated gaming features (the HDMI 4 port is HDMI 2.1 compatible and supports gaming functions such as 4K @120Hz, VRR, and ALLM) that make it ready for next-gen consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X).
Similar to its predecessor, the equally excellent Q90/Q90R (Check on Amazon), this panel also uses a viewing angle compensation film that makes the TV look perfect from anywhere in the room, while its anti-glare filter does a brilliant job of suppressing reflections from external light sources, making it ideal for well-lit living rooms.
It’s a fairly expensive premium TV, but also the best – non OLED – 4K HDR TV that you can buy right now.
Sony X900H/XH9005: best value for money
If you value the Sony brand, the X900H (Check on Amazon) is an excellent choice, with image quality on par with the Sony X950H (Check on Amazon) but at a lower price. In addition, it has a suite of connections better than Sony’s flagship LED model. It is actually the cheapest Sony TV with [email protected] HDMI capability capable of maximizing the potential of the new Xbox Series X (Check on Amazon) and PlayStation 5 (Check on Amazon) consoles.
In fact, the X900H is being touted by Sony as one of its “Ready for PlayStation 5” TVs. This means it will support a high frame rate (often referred to as HFR which basically means [email protected] capability), a variable refresh rate (VRR), and an automatic low-latency mode (ALLM). We write “will support” because the TV will require a firmware update to receive all this.
For the rest, this is Sony’s best mid-range TV for 2020 (if not the absolute best mid-range TV), and it does everything it sets out to do, and that is to be able to balance picture quality with the price tag. And it succeeds! Its image quality is pretty striking under the right circumstances, its audio is more than adequate by prevailing standards – a bit lightweight compared to some, but it’s clear, accurate, and well-projected -, it is extremely simple to use and does not falter when it has to reproduce lower resolution content.
Similar to all other Sony’s TVs, image processing is its secret ace in the hole: the way it receives low-resolution video signals and makes them appear sparkling on its 4K display is second to none, and also handles the movement with a gentle touch, keeping things clear and natural.
The secret to all this lies in Sony’s image processing chip, the X1 4K HDR processor, and Sony’s full-array local dimming (FALD) backlight technology, definitely the best in the business. By combining these two elements, the display is capable of producing extremely dark blacks.
In addition, its motion processing technology, called X-Motion Clarity, is very reliable and makes fast-moving images – like those we find in games, sports, and action movies — appear buttery smooth, thus becoming the ideal option for both gamers and cinephiles.
The panel itself is a VA-type LCD, which in general terms is better than the IPS panel used on last year’s model. The LED backlight offers a bright and powerful HDR, which is also carefully balanced to deliver realistic and accurate colors. What’s more, the higher brightness, higher color volume, and improved screen uniformity promised by the VA panel should more than compensate for rather limited viewing angles compared to the IPS panel. It is also noted that the X900H is not equipped with the X-Wide technology of the X950H range.
But there’s a lot more to the X900H than just the picture. It is also packed with cutting-edge technologies such as Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, HDR10, and HLG that are all natively supported. In addition, Apple AirPlay 2, Apple HomeKit, and Google Chromecast are all built-in. Last but not least it is Netflix Calibrated and IMAX Enhanced.
Like all other Sony TVs it also uses Google Android TV and the performance is snappy and satisfying. There are thousands of apps to choose from and we can find virtually every major streaming service that we can think of. Plus, it comes with a voice remote with direct access to Google Assistant for a multitude of voice commands that go far beyond controlling the TV’s functions.
The only caveats to consider are the lack of HDR10+, the slightly reflective screen that may not be ideal for rooms with large bright windows, and its viewing angles that are narrower than OLED TVs and LCD TVs with IPS panels.
All in all, if you have this kind of money to spend on a TV, you definitely have to consider the Sony X900H.
LG BX OLED: best cheap OLED TV
If you like movies, watching them on an OLED TV is the best way to enjoy them at home. The problem is that premium models like the LG CX (Check on Amazon) are really expensive. The LG BX (Check on Amazon) is the best TV for anyone who wants the stunning image quality of an OLED TV without the premium price of high-end models.
In fact, there is not a big difference in image quality between this one and the CX. The BX reproduces the same deep blacks and vivid colors, its upscaling and movement handling are top-notch and runs on the same smart LG WebOS platform as its more expensive siblings. It is not the cheapest OLED TV on the market, but it is the most affordable one that offers almost everything we love about the LG CX.
The BX also supports all the latest high dynamic range standards (Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG) and boasts smart features, such as support for Amazon’s and Google’s voice assistants which are really handy.
In addition, it offers the same future-proof connectivity options as the premium models, including HDMI 2.1 (capable of 4K resolution at 120Hz), the same ultra-fast response times, and support for variable refresh rate (VRR) for next-gen games.
It doesn’t reach the same high level of video processing as the more expensive LG CX and cannot become as bright – thus if you want the best image and HDR performance the CX has a slight advantage – but the gap between them isn’t that huge and as far as we are concerned the BX boasts one of the best image qualities we have seen this year.
On the other hand, the sound is where LG skimped in order to save some money. But that’s okay: nowadays you don’t have to spend much on a good soundbar.
Sony X950H/XH9505: best LED LCD TV
The Sony X950H (Check on Amazon) is the 2020 iteration of last year’s X950G (Check on Amazon) and is better in almost every aspect. The X950H corrects the audio of its predecessor – done too quickly and carelessly – which now sounds incredibly full-bodied. It also updates the Android TV version, now much easier to navigate and more informative when trying to calibrate settings to improve image quality.
You’ll also find the same excellent X1 Ultimate processor as the A8H (Check on Amazon), which produces richer colors – without looking fake – while still being vibrant and more precise than its predecessor.
This chip also excels in motion processing — a field where Sony is renowned — that grants fast movie scenes an authentic look, while at the same time clearing them and adding details, a particularly useful function when watching sporting events. This TV also offers wider viewing angles thanks to the “X-Wide Angle” layer (absent in the 49-inch model).
The X950H uses a great LCD panel that manages to produce surprisingly deep blacks for an LED screen. Plus its peak brightness of over 1,000 nits, produces absolutely fantastic HDR images. If you want a TV bright enough to give you a flagship HDR experience, even in a heavily lit room, this is a really good choice.
Upscaling is the real star of the show; even HD-quality content looks excellent on this Sony TV’s spacious 4K screen. In addition, the Live Color setting, which gives SDR images an HDR shine, is much more capable than we hoped and is worth trying in the settings.
Unfortunately, this TV is not a great choice for gamers. It lacks support for 4K at 120fps and some other game-oriented features, which are oddly present in Sony’s last-gen console (PS5).
The X950H is overall better than the X950G, but its color accuracy out of the box isn’t quite as good. The lack of HDMI 2.1 ports also disappoints a bit, though you’ll still get eARC support for Dolby Atmos and HDR support for Dolby Vision.