TV shopping is always a tricky business, especially in the New Year. With the January sales in full swing and TV prices falling for a short time only, what’s the best TV that suits your needs?
You may want to factor the most recent CES in Las Vegas too, which was ground zero for a number of cool TVs. Samsung’s 75-inch MicroLED is not likely to bother retailers this year, but the likes of LG’s 4K OLEDs, Panasonic’s GZ2000 OLEDs and Sony’s A9G TVs are sure to make a splash when they launch later this year.
While these TVs are likely to hover at the more expensive end, it does signal that new sets are on the way that feature improvements on the 2018 class. That knowledge can make it difficult to know when is the right time to pull the trigger on a new TV. Should you stick or twist?
That said, 2018 TVs offer excellent value that will meet people’s needs, so if you see a deal, it’s very much worth considering. If you’re able to splash the cash then the Panasonic TX-55FZ952B is the best overall TV and offers a gorgeously accurate picture.
Panasonic’s 4K OLED is 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
Years ago, Panasonic was top dog. And then the plasma TV industry died and the company lost its edge. After that, Panasonic poured its plasma experience into OLED, and the results are so good that professional colourists in Hollywood now use them to grade movies.
The Panasonic TX 55FZ952B OLED is one of those TVs. In 2019, you won’t find an OLED TV with a more natural picture, or one more close to the stuff that filmmakers play with before release – at least not until the next range of TVs come out. 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.
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
LG performed well in 2017, but the company surpassed itself in 2018 and finds itself in a strong position entering 2019. The LG OLED55C8 comes armed with the Alpha 9 processor, which allows for a brighter picture plus better sharpness, noise reduction and colour management.
Black levels are perfect, but there’s more detail to be found in the shadows, too. Meanwhile, 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 make the suggestion 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. Easily one of the best TVs in 2019 so far.
Buy now: LG OLED55C8PLA for £1699 at Amazon
Want to show off HDR? This TV offers an excellent showcase
- Gorgeous brightness and colours
- Impressively deep blacks
- Full-array local dimming
- Lovely finish
- Not quite OLED levels of shadow detail
The Samsung QE65Q9FN is a truly brilliant telly. This is the best performance we’ve ever seen from an LED LCD, thanks to the use of direct backlight with full-array local dimming, plus some very effective dimming algorithms.
The QE65Q9FN offers astonishing levels of brightness and colour, but also has properly deep blacks. The result is a hugely versatile picture: whether you watch films in a darkened room or put on the football with the lights blazing, this will do nicely.
At the time of original review, this flagship telly was £3799, but you can now find it for far less.
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, LG’s OLED55B8 is your route in.
Bear in mind that this entry-level TV has a less powerful picture processor than the C8, but even in spite of that, this is an impressive TV. It comes with Dolby Vision and Atmos baked in, 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 for significantly less than its original RRP.
Buy now: LG OLED55B8PLA for £1300 at Currys
Panasonic’s step-down 4K OLED offers exceptional picture quality
- Highly accurate pictures
- Effective smart platform
- Decent app support
- Solid build quality
- No Dolby Vision support
- Only two full-fat HDMI inputs
- Menus feel dated
With the TX-55FZ802, Panasonic set out to deliver the best picture performance from a consumer OLED and it arguably succeeds.
The TX-55FZ802 delivers a highly accurate 4K image with deep blacks, vibrant colours and terrific contrast. HD broadcasts look stunningly vivid but also natural looking. Even the smart TV platform, often be so-so, promotes a user friendly and engaging experience.
2018 was been a competitive year for OLED TVs and the TX-55FZ802 makes a mark for itself with an exceptional image and overall performance – both of which put it in good stead for 2019.
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-midrange 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.
The TV to buy if money is no object
- Native 8K pictures are like nothing you’ve seen before
- Brightness and colour are out of this world
- The upscaling processing makes 4K look better than it does on 4K TVs
- Some occasional backlight issues
- Some occasional colour fading issues
- Sound is a little swallowed
While 4K is still maturing, Samsung has eyes to 2019 and beyond with its 8K TV. he Samsung QE85Q900R sounds like a marketing stunt, but after spending time with this gargantuan 85-inch telly, we’re impressed.
Though we’re short of native 8K content, the QE85Q900R can expertly upscale 4K and even 1080p content, making whatever you play on it look instantly better. It’s also the brightest TV we’ve yet seen, with a peak max of 4800 nits (in Dynamic mode).
The only downside, outside of the lack of true 8K content, is the QE85Q900R’s eye watering £15,000 price tag.
Buy now: Samsung QE85Q900R from Currys
TV Jargon Buster
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?
Related: Best TV deals
You may have noticed there are no small TVs in this round-up, and that’s because the best TVs only come in larger sizes. If you’re looking for a small, typically Full HD-only model, you’ll want to look at our Best value TVs round-up.
How we test TVs
Our crack team of TV reviewers use both their naked eye and specialist tools to check every set they test for contrast, black level, 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.
Also, if you have loyalty to a particular brand make sure to take a look at our ultimate guides:
- Panasonic’s 2018 4K HDR and HD TV lineup explained
- Sony TVs 2018: What you need to know before you buy Bravia
- Samsung QLED TVs 2018: Every new Samsung 4K TV explained
- Philips TVs 2018: Every new OLED, LCD, 4K and HD model explained
- LG’s 2018 OLED and LCD TVs
Which TV takes your fancy? Do you have a preferred manufacturer? Let us know by tweeting @TrustedReviews