What’s the best TV for me?
When 4K TVs first launched they were hugely expensive and rather spartan in terms of features. In the years since, prices have come down and feature sets have expanded.
In 2019, it’s never been easier to tap into 4K content but, with so many options to choose from, what TV deserves your time and, more importantly, your money?
We’re in the second half of 2019 and it’s 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. We’ve seen Philips’ 55OLED804, which is the first set we’ve seen from the Dutch company this year and builds on the goodwill from 2018, and we haven’t even sampled Sony’s TV range yet.
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That said, these are all 2019 TVs. There are TVs from 2018 that offer excellent value and can be found for a lot cheaper than they launched. TVs such as the Panasonic TX-55FZ952B, 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, then, a summary of all the TVs in this article. Scroll down to find out more about each one, or to click through to read the full review of each.
- 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
- Great viewing angles: Samsung Q85R
- Great HD upscaling: Samsung Q70R
- Best budget OLED: Hisense O8B
- Great all-round 4K TV: Panasonic FZ952B
- Value for money: LG C8
- Great for features: LG B8
- Great for sports: Sony XF90
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
Each year, LG finds ways of improving its OLED range and the C9 is one of the best we’ve seen this year.
It boasts an AI-enhanced picture and sound (both of which are excellent), a comprehensive smart platform and a range of features that turns this TV into a hub for your home entertainment.
Whether it’s displaying SDR or HDR pictures, the image quality is superb and, of course, the design is as elegant as ever. The omission of HDR10+ will no doubt bug some people but, even so, the C9 is a stunningly put together 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 some rivals
One the evidence of its OLED range, 2019 has been one of Panasonic’s strongest years in some some. The GZ1500 is a stellar effort and it’s not even the top-of-the-range set.
Picture quality is, as we’ve come to expect from Panasonic’s OLEDs, fantastic. It boasts some of the best near-black light management we’ve seen on an OLED panel for a rich, natural looking image. And the sound gets an appreciable boost thanks to the inclusion of ‘Blade’ speakers. No, they’re nothing to do with the Marvel character – they generate a wide and encompassing sound field to give Atmos content the space to breathe and they do so in convincing fashion.
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 tops last year’s Q9FN with a much-improved contrast performance. The introduction of Ultra Wide Viewing Angle technology closes the gap between LCD and OLED, allowing content to be seen from almost any angle without a reduction in colour or contrast.
It’s a bright affair too, capable of greater brightness than OLED. Packing 2000 nits of peak brightness, it’s a dynamic and intense picture with terrifically consistent black levels.
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
With its OLED803 and OLED903 TVs, Philips made a big statement about its OLED ambitions. With the OLED804, it’s arguably fulfilled them.
It’s a stunning OLED from the Dutch-based company, with a price that puts it in the more affordable range for an OLED TV. Ambilight again 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 a maze to navigate
There’s not much difference between the C9 and E9 in terms of picture quality and features. Where you can draw a line, though, is with their design.
While the C9 is elegant, the E9 is minimalism personified, with its OLED-on-glass panel design. Its AI sound offers a big, room-filling presence, Dolby Vision content looks great in spite of OLED’s limited brightness and the features are exhaustive and forward-looking with HDMI 2.1 connectivity included. This OLED offers great design, picture quality and features, all in one compelling 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
In Panasonic’s OLED line-up for 2019, the GZ1000 may just hit the sweet spot for performance and features.
The 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 may call it rather basic. If you want a better audio performance, the GZ1000 would benefit from an external sound system. It is, nevertheless, an impressive effort from Panasonic.
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 has been the year that Samsung has spread the wealth of its QLED options across more ranges. Sitting in the middle is the Q80R.
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 you’re likely to need in the here and now. Colours are expressive, upscaling is impressive and the Ultra Wide Viewing Angle technology is effective. With low latency for gamers and an impressive smart interface, 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 to be had.
This is a mid-range 50-inch TV that can be had for well under £1000 and comes with Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Atmos compatibility, and is stocked with a simple, easy-to-use smart interface. The GX800B’s polished pictures are a 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 any room. A very affordable mid-range 4K TV.
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 some care
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.
Outside of a lack of native 8K content and its imposing size, 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
For a while Samsung had the 8K market all to itself. Not any more, with Sony launching its first 8K effort in the ZG9.
And it’s a sensational performer. If you have a wallet big enough for this TV, the Sony rewards the viewer with impressively bright, clear and detailed images. Colour management is excellent and the audio performance is better than Samsung’s 8K models are capable of. It’s a thrilling first effort from Sony.
A stellar example of QLED tech
- Scintillating HDR picture quality
- Almost cable-free design
- Powerful and 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 Q85R is another great showcase of the format’s skills.
Contrast is a great, getting close to what OLED is capable of. The implementation of Samsung’s Ultra Wide screen tech also bothers OLED TVs on viewing angles more than previous LCD TVs (bar the Q90R).
With the brightness, sharpness and colour performance this TV is capable of, 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
The Q70R falls towards the bottom rung of the QLED line-up and, as a result, the feature list is reduced.
There’s no Wide Angle Viewing tech or One Connect box, but this is, after all, a more affordably priced QLED. It still has a direct backlight and local dimming panel, so black levels and contrast remain very good. It’s not as bright as the top models, but HDR images still pop with a sense of vibrancy. If you’re after a QLED panel but aren’t willing to stump up a lot of cash, the Q70R warrants further 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 by producing aggressively priced LCD TVs. Now it’s trying to do the same thing with its first OLED in the O8B.
HDR performance is affected by the set’s limited brightness, but picture quality is impressive, with fine black levels and a natural, accurate look. The VIDAA interface is a simple, responsive and effective affair, and the sound gets a boost in the form of Atmos compliance. For its first OLED, Hisense’s O8B is a strong performer.
A great all-round TV
- Gorgeous, accurate pictures
- Powerful sound
- Good smart interface
- Good app support
- Light-up remote
- Some of the menus could use a facelift
After the plasma TV industry died, Panasonic lost its way somewhat. It has now poured its plasma experience into OLED, and the results are so good that professional colourists in Hollywood use them to grade movies.
The Panasonic TX 55FZ952B OLED offers a natural picture, or closer to the one that filmmakers play with before release. Features include a dynamic Look-Up Table – a map that tells the TV where to put colours – which optimises the picture every 100 milliseconds. The result is more precise colour handling, especially in midtones and highlights for a great looking image.
Throw in the integrated soundbar, which offers a powerful audio performance, and the FZ952B is a fantastic performer.
Another gorgeous OLED set from LG
- Sharp and colourful picture
- Excellent upscaling
- WebOS still rocks
- Low input lag
- Motion could be better
- Better suited to darker rooms
The LG OLED55C8 is armed with the Alpha 9 processor, allowing for a brighter picture plus better sharpness, noise reduction and colour management.
Black levels are perfect and there’s more detail to be found in the shadows, too. Brightness levels are high enough to make for a properly dynamic picture. Unless you’re viewing in sunlight or a very bright room, it’s hard to suggest that OLED isn’t bright enough – LG has torpedoed that argument.
If that weren’t impressive enough, the set’s low latency makes it an excellent choice for gamers.
LG’s cheapest OLED and a fantastic performer for the price
- Great price for an OLED TV
- Typically good OLED picture quality
- Beautiful design
- Picture quality falls short of step-up LG 2018 OLED models
- Not the brightest with HDR sources
- Needs care with set-up
If you’re looking to get into the OLED game without spending huge amounts, the OLED55B8 is your route in.
Bear in mind that this entry-level TV has a less powerful picture processor than the C8. But, in spite of that, this is an impressive TV. It comes with Dolby Vision and Atmos, and a picture performance that revels in deep blacks, rich contrast and gorgeously bold colours.
If you can’t afford LG’s C8, the B8 would be our go-to option. You can currently find one for significantly less than its original RRP.
A mid-range TV that produces a picture 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, going into 2019, is still going. Curiously, rather than going big with its flagship model, Sony focused on its upper-mid-range model: the Sony XF90.
The XF90 a direct-lit model, which is a rare treat these days, with direct backlighting and local dimming far superior to the common edge-lit/zonal dimming configuration. If you want good contrast and find that those top OLED models are just out of your price range, the XF90 is well worth checking out.
Read the following range guides to find out more:
- 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
TV jargon explained
Full HD vs 4K/UHD
Most TVs are Full HD, which gives you a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. These are 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, crammed into generally 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 guide: What is 4K TV and Ultra HD?
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?
LCD/LED vs OLED vs QLED
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.
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. Contrast and rich colours are its strengths, although LCD screens are generally brighter. Read our guide: OLED vs LED LCD.
QLED is a tricky one. In the last 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?
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How we test TVs
Our crack team of 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.