Which is the best TV for you?
When 4K TVs first launched they were hugely expensive and rather spartan in terms of features. Prices have since dropped, while feature sets have expanded.
It’s never been easier to tap into 4K content but, with so many options to choose from, which TV deserves your time and, just as importantly, your money?
2019 has been a bumper year for TVs so far. LG’s OLED range has been consistently excellent, as has Panasonic’s OLED range, and Samsung’s made big strides with its QLED range. The Philips 55OLED804, which is the first set we’ve seen from the Dutch company this year, builds on the goodwill from 2018, and we haven’t even sampled Sony’s TV range yet. You can read more about each brand’s range at the foot of this article.
That said, these are all 2019 TVs. There are TVs from 2018 that also offer excellent value and can be found at far cheaper prices than those charged at launch. TVs such as the Panasonic TX-55FZ952B and LG’s OLED C8, as well as Philips’ OLED803 and OLED903 are still worth investigating (see more of the best cheap TVs here).
The following is a summary of the top 10 TVs in this article. Scroll down to find out more about each one, or to click through to read our comprehensive review of each.
LG Smart 4K HDR OLED TV Deal
Get your hands on the latest feature-packed TV for a premium viewing experience. With AI Smart technology and an unbeatable picture, get a cinematic picture from the comfort of your home.
- Best for audio: LG C9
- Best for 4K picture quality: Panasonic GZ1500
- Best for HDR: Samsung Q90R
- Best for immersive viewing: Philips OLED804
- Best for design: LG E9
- Great for films: Panasonic GZ1000B
- Great for gaming: Samsung Q80R
- Best mid-range 4K TV: Panasonic GX800B
- Best for 8K upscaling: Samsung Q950R
- Great 8K HDR: Sony ZG9
Related: Best Now TV deals
A state-of-the-art OLED TV
- Impressive image accuracy
- Amazing blacks and contrast
- AI-enhanced smart platform
- Dolby Vision and Atmos
- Incredibly low input lag
- Limited HDR brightness
- No HDR10+ support
LG finds ways to improve its OLED range every year and the C9 is one of the best TVs we’ve tested so far in 2019.
It boasts an AI-enhanced picture and sound, both of which are excellent, a comprehensive smart platform and a range of features that turn this multitasking TV into a home entertainment hub.
Whether it’s displaying SDR or HDR pictures, the C9 offers superb image quality, and its design remains as elegant as ever. For some purchasers, the omission of HDR10+ may prove a sticking point, but despite that, the C9 is an outstanding TV.
A stellar television
- Beautifully refined and detailed picture quality
- Strong sound from the Blade speaker
- Easy-to-use smart system
- Slight banding in HDR colour blends
- Occasional motion stutter
- Smart system is less sophisticated than those of some rivals
Judging by Panasonic’s OLED offering, 2019 is one of the brand’s strongest years for some time. The GZ1500 is a stellar effort and it’s not even the model at the top of the range.
Picture quality is superb, and we’ve come to expect nothing less from Panasonic’s OLEDs. It boasts some of the best near-black light management we’ve seen on an OLED panel, giving a rich, natural-looking image. The Blade speakers give sound an appreciable boost; they generate a wide, encompassing sound field that gives Atmos content the space to breathe, and the results are extremely convincing.
Marries the benefits of LED and OLED into one TV
- Groundbreaking contrast for an LCD TV
- Groundbreaking viewing angles for an LCD TV
- Fantastic HDR performance
- No Dolby Vision support
- Some missing shadow detail in Standard mode
- Motion could be handled better
The Q90R’s much-improved contrast performance goes beyond that of last year’s Q9FN. The introduction of Ultra Wide Viewing Angle technology allows content to be seen from almost any angle without any drop in colour or contrast standards, closing the gap between LCD and OLED.
Packing 2000 nits of peak brightness, the Q90R gives a dynamic, intense picture with terrifically consistent black levels, and can even achieve greater brightness than OLED.
Outstanding OLED picture quality
- Extremely sharp, detailed, vibrant pictures
- Support for both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision
- Great price for what’s on offer
- Colours flare out in Vivid mode
- Potential for MPEG noise with dark streamed video
- Sound is a little light on bass
Philips made a big statement about its OLED intentions with its OLED803 and OLED903 TVs. With the stunning OLED804, the Dutch-based company proves its commitment to quality even further.
The OLED804 comes at a price that makes it relatively affordable for an OLED TV. Ambilight adds an immersive aspect to TV watching, but it’s the presence of both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ that makes the Philips such an attractive proposition, killing two HDR birds with one TV.
An outstanding and (nearly) complete package
- Terrific image quality
- Comprehensive feature set webOS functionality
- Very good audio performance
- Low input lag
- No HDR10+
- Settings and modes can be challenging to navigate
When it comes to picture quality and features, there’s not a great deal of difference between the C9 and the E9. Design, though, is another matter.
While the C9 is elegant, the E9’s OLED-on-glass panel design is the epitome of minimalism. Its AI sound offers a big, room-filling presence, Dolby Vision content looks great despite OLED’s limited brightness, and the features are exhaustive and forward-looking – HDMI 2.1 connectivity is included. This OLED offers great design, picture quality and features, all in one enticing package.
An outstanding premium OLED screen
- Catch-all HDR support – HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+
- Outstanding SDR and HDR performance
- Intuitive smart platform
- You’ll want an external Dolby Atmos sound system
- Bulkier than some OLED screens
- Ugly remote control
Panasonic’s impressive 2019 OLED line-up includes the GZ1000, which may just hit the sweet spot for performance and features.
The company’s decision to include support Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic metadata is one we can get behind, and overall image quality is outstanding, whether it’s SDR or HDR images. The smart system is intuitive, though some might think it rather basic. If you want better audio performance, the GZ1000 would benefit from an external sound system. It is, nevertheless, a genuinely impressive effort.
An impressive mid-range QLED
- Bright, high-contrast images
- Good off-axis performance
- Quite full-bodied sound
- Fine OS
- No Dolby Vision
- Relatively deep chassis
- Some mild motion-handling traumas
2019 is the year that has seen Samsung spread the wealth of its QLED options across more ranges. The Q80R sits in the middle.
The QLEDs don’t quite have the shapeliness of their OLED rivals, but they are well-built, robust looking TVs that have all the connections that you’re currently likely to need. Colours are expressive, upscaling is impressive, the Ultra Wide Viewing Angle technology is effective and the smart interface also stands out. Low latency will appeal to gamers. The Q80R ticks all the right boxes.
A mid-range 4K TV that won’t break the bank
- Cinematic picture performance
- Multi HDR support – HDR10, HLG, HLG Photo, Dolby Vision and HDR10+
- Classic good looks
- Limited black level performance
- Brightest HDR performance requires Dynamic image preset
Of all the TVs on this list, the GX800B could well be the biggest bargain.
This mid-range 50-in TV can be had for well under £1000. It comes with Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and Atmos compatibility, and also features an easy-to-use smart interface. The GX800B’s polished pictures are another boon, though black levels could be better, and in terms of design it’s an accomplished, sensible set that looks great in the centre of the room. This very affordable mid-range 4K TV is definitely one to consider if you don’t want to spend too much.
Sets new standards for 8K TVs
- Stunning contrast, brightness and colour
- Wide-angle viewing technology works brilliantly
- Remarkable upscaling system
- Slight backlight blooming with off-axis viewing
- High price
- Set-up requires attention
The 4K market is still maturing, but Samsung is already looking to the future with its 8K TVs. Despite there being little-to-no 8K content out there (yet), the Samsung QE85Q950R is still an impressive performer.
The Q950R sidesteps the lack of 8K by being an expert upscaler of 4K and even 1080p content. It’s a very bright TV, with 2750 nits possible in Standard mode, making for an intense and spectacular image.
Alongside the lack of native 8K content and its imposing size, which may be overwhelming for some rooms, the QE82Q950R’s £9000 price is another barrier. But 8K TV is getting cheaper and more impressive with each passing year.
A stunning next-generation TV
- Sensational 8K HDR picture quality
- Very good, immersive upscaling
- Excellent video processing and backlight management
- Occasional limited backlight blooming issues
- Voices can get lost in action movie audio mixes
Samsung no longer has the 8K market all to itself, as Sony has launched its first 8K effort: the ZG9.
And it’s a sensational performer. If you have a wallet big enough to afford the ZG9, you’ll be rewarded with impressively bright, clear and detailed images. The ZG9’s colour management is excellent and the audio performance surpasses that of Samsung’s 8K models. This first effort from Sony is genuinely thrilling.
A stellar example of QLED tech
- Scintillating HDR picture quality
- Almost cable-free design
- Powerful, slick smart TV system
- No Dolby Vision support
- Occasional backlight blooming
- It isn’t cheap
We’ve enjoyed what we’ve seen from Samsung’s QLED range in 2019, and the brand’s Q85R is another great showcase of the format’s skills.
Contrast is great, and approaches the full extent of OLED capability. The implementation of Samsung’s Ultra Wide screen tech also brings OLED TVs up to scratch on viewing from an angle, improving on previous LCD TVs (bar the Q90R).
The brightness, sharpness and colour performance this TV can provide mean that the Q85R makes an excellent case for choosing QLED over OLED.
A cost-effective QLED
- Great picture quality
- Good HDR performance
- Comprehensive smart platform
- Incredibly low input lag
- No Dolby Vision or Atmos support
- Limited viewing angles
As Q70R falls towards the bottom rung of the QLED line-up, its feature list isn’t as extensive as that of some other models.
There’s no wide angle viewing tech or One Connect box, but this is, after all, an affordably priced QLED. It still has a direct backlight and local dimming panel, so black levels and contrast remain very good. While it’s not as bright as the top models, HDR images still pop with vibrancy. If you’re seeking a QLED panel but aren’t keen to fork out a substantial amount of cash, the Q70R warrants your consideration.
A competitively priced 4K OLED TV
- Impressive picture quality
- Great blacks and contrast
- Simple and effective smart platform
- Dolby Vision and Atmos
- Competitively priced
- Limited HDR brightness
- No HDR10+ support
Hisense has made a name for itself in the UK for its aggressively priced LCD TVs. Now it’s trying to achieve a similar reputation for affordable quality with its first OLED, the O8B.
While HDR performance is affected by the set’s limited brightness, picture quality is impressive, with fine black levels and a natural, accurate look. The VIDAA interface is simple, responsive and effective, and sound is boosted by Atmos compliance. Hisense’s first outing in the OLED arena is a strong performer.
A mid-range TV that should worry pricier TVs
- Excellent contrast for a mid-range TV
- Impressive colours and sharpness
- Class-leading motion processing
- Android TV is still a clumsy smart TV system
- Occasional backlight blooming around bright objects
- Limited viewing angles
Sony was the first to bring its 2018 stock to market. It started strong and has maintained momentum in 2019. Curiously, rather than going big with its flagship model, the company has focused on its upper-mid-range model: the Sony XF90.
The XF90 is a direct-lit model, which is a rare treat these days, with direct backlighting and local dimming that are far superior to the common edge-lit/zonal dimming configuration. If you are seeking good contrast and finding that the top OLED models are just out of your price range, the XF90 is well worth checking out.
How to choose the right TV for you
- Panasonic’s 2019 4K HDR and HD TV line-up explained
- Sony TVs 2019: What you need to know before you buy Bravia
- Samsung QLED TVs 2019: Every new Samsung 4K TV explained
- Philips TVs 2019: Every new OLED, LCD, 4K and HD model explained
- LG TV 2019: Every OLED and NanoCell 4K TV explained
What is full HD vs 4K/UHD?
Most TVs are Full HD, which gives you a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. However, Full HD is gradually being overtaken by Ultra HD (commonly known as UHD or 4K), which gives you a resolution of 3840 x 2160.
That’s four times the number of pixels, generally crammed into the same TV sizes. It means greater sharpness, detail and clarity.
There used to be a real lack of 4K content, but these days there is plenty to stream from Netflix and Amazon Video – and you can buy 4K Blu-rays. Read our What is 4K TV and Ultra HD? guide to find out more.
What does HDR mean?
HDR stands for high dynamic range. Essentially it promises a wider range of brightness, colour and contrast – because your eyes can perceive more information than TVs have traditionally been able to display.
There’s not much content mastered in HDR yet, but there is plenty on the way – this is the next big thing in the world of TVs. Read our guide: What is HDR TV?
What are LCD/LED vs OLED vs QLED TVs?
Plasma TVs are no more, so most TVs are either LCD (often referred to as LED) or OLED.
LCD is the most common, though there’s a big difference between the cheapest and most expensive LCD TVs due to the types of backlight, panel and processing technologies used. You get what you pay for.
OLED is a relatively new technology and it’s expensive, but it’s seen as a natural successor to plasma technology. Unlike LCD, OLED pixels produce their own light, so there’s no need for backlighting or edge lighting. That means screens can be made thinner and more flexible too. Contrast and rich colours are also OLED strengths, although LCD screens are generally brighter. Read our guide: OLED vs LED LCD.
QLED is a tricky one. In the past few years QLED has been used to refer to a theoretical self-lighting technology, similar to OLED. But now Samsung is using the QLED name to refer to its latest Quantum Dot TVs. This is still LCD technology, albeit one with fancy crystals. Consider this a beefed-up version of LCD, rather than an entirely new category.
For more detail, take a look at our guide: What is QLED?
Related: Best deals for TVs
How we test TVs
Our crack team of expert TV reviewers use both the naked eye and specialist tools to check every set they test for contrast, black levels, maximum brightness and input lag, plus any hint of backlight bleed, blooming or anything else that might spoil your viewing enjoyment.
A variety of test footage is used to cover every type of scene, so we can assess a TV’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as how it performs against the competition. Sound quality isn’t forgotten, either – we give the built-in speakers a thorough listen to determine whether you’ll need to invest in a soundbar or speaker system to beef things up.
Read our full guidelines on how we test TVs.