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Best 8K TV 2020: The three most covetable 8K TVs

Best 8K TV: The future is now. 8K TVs have arrived and, while they’re not cheap, 2020 could be the year where they become more affordable than before. If you’re looking to future-proof your home set-up for years to come, an 8K TV could be the the TV to get.

At CES 2020, Samsung’s bezel-less 8K TV attracted admiring glances, and both LG and Sony stepped up their efforts to bring 8K TVs to the masses in more affordable guises. That means more sizes at prices that aren’t as eye-watering.

Samsung has been at the forefront of 8K TV push as it looks to own the market. Whether it’s OLED or bog-standard LED, LG has an 8K TV for anyone and everyone. And Sony, which entered the market slightly later, still made quite the impression with its two TVs.

As the market for 8K TV is still young, there aren’t that many to choose from. If money is no object and you want the future of home cinema technology in your living room, these are the best 8K TVs on the market.


LG OLED88Z9

Bigger, better and more expensive

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Pros

  • Stunning picture quality with 8K and good 4K sources
  • Gorgeous design
  • Strong smart TV system

Cons

  • It isn’t cheap
  • Needs an external decoder box for non-HDMI 8K sources
  • Some streamed sources can look noisy

At £30k, the Z9 isn’t what you’d call affordable. But this is a TV that’s spared no expense to deliver an optimal 8K performance, and on an OLED screen – the Z9 offers the most beautiful picture quality of any TV we’ve seen.

The focus is on the upscaling, and the Z9’s performance arguably bests the Samsung with a picture quality that’s more dense, crisp and detailed. Colour performance is also stunning. The 8K resolution, combined with the contrast that self-emissive OLED technology delivers, results in a rich, natural-looking performance.

The LG needs an external decoder box for non-HDMI 8K sources, and for the outlay you’d expect better. Still, 8K looks amazing on this TV.

Samsung Q950R

Superb upscaling performance

Pros

  • Stunning contrast, brightness and colour
  • Wide-angle viewing technology works brilliantly
  • Remarkable upscaling system

Cons

  • Slight backlight blooming with off-axis viewing
  • High price
  • Set-up requires attention

When the Q950R was first released, it had the market all to itself. That’s no longer the case, but it’s still an outstanding TV.

Samsung has placed a big emphasis on upscaling content and it’s a very impressive performer. Sub-8K content receives a boost in terms of sharpness and detail. It’s also very bright, with 2750 nits possible in Standard mode. That helps the TV’s colour volume and expression for a punchy HDR picture.

Samsung’s continuing refusal to incorporate Dolby Vision HDR is irritating, but even so, the Q950R delivers a spectacular 8K picture.

Sony KD-85ZG9

Sony KD-85ZG9

A stunning next-generation TV

Pros

  • Sensational 8K HDR picture quality
  • Very good, immersive upscaling
  • Excellent video processing and backlight management

Cons

  • Super-expensive
  • Occasional limited backlight blooming issues
  • Voices can get lost in action movie audio mixes

Sony hasn’t waded into the 8K TV market with fists flying, but its softly-softly approach is intriguing.

This is a belter of a TV, and probably the best showcase of bright 8K HDR content. Sony won’t reveal how bright it can go, but it’s peak brightness is more than the Samsung, and it generates an impressively naturalistic image.

Detail levels are immense, and Sony’s video processing is probably the best on the market. The audio performance also makes it the finest sounding system on this list. The backlight blooming is an issue, though, but it’s had £4k lopped off its asking price, making this slightly more attainable. If you’re a footballer, that is.


What you need to know about buying an 8K TV

What is an 8K TV?

8K carries four times as many pixels as a 4K TV. That’s a jump from eight million pixels to 33 million, and a resolution bump from 3840 x 2160 to 7680 x 4320.

That makes for a sharper, more detailed and clearer image. Watching 8K is akin to peering through a window, such is the level of clarity it offers.

Is there any native 8K content to watch?

Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that 8K content can be found on YouTube – although, while it looks beautiful, it’s mostly animals and helicopter shots of cities.

No, in the sense of any broadcast, physical media or content from streaming services. The issue of 8K’s lack of content has been brought up many times, but in order for 8K to get there, the infrastructure and end-user experience needs to be in place to stimulate demand.

Do I have to sit closer to the screen to get the 8K effect?

You could. The 8K effect works best for big screen sizes, and it’s best to sit near enough so that the majority of your view is taken up by the screen.

Does 8K TV support HDMI 2.1?

Yes, it does, and that’s important, as HDMI 2.1 supports higher video resolutions and frame rates, including 8K at 60fps. The specification also supports Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), both of which are expected in the PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles. eARC is bundled in too, and with the higher bitrate that HDMI 2.1 allows for, that makes room for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X to be sent to AV receivers from streaming services and apps.

When will 8K TV become affordable?

2020 is expected to be the year when 8K TV becomes more than just a tantalising piece of TV tech. The TVs will be expensive, but the expectation is that Samsung’s new 8K TV will be in the same ballpark as its 2019 flagship Q90R 4K TV.

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