Best TV 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

TVs are one of the hardest home appliances to buy, as there is such a mind-boggling array to choose from. Plus, the technology is constantly rapidly advancing, so you may want to invest now to ensure you’re not outdated in a few years.

It can be hard to keep up with the latest technologies, what they do and which is best – never mind the differences in price. From the various types, screen sizes and connections to accessing smart apps, it’s harder than ever.

So we have touched on the best TVs to buy for movies, watching sports, accessing Netflix and experiencing 4K, as well as our favourite picks for under £500 or something if you’re after a smaller screen.

A good TV can vary wildly in price depending on size and technology, so it’s important to invest in the features that are a priority for you.

The Best TV’s – Our Top Picks

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
Samsung Q90R
  • Screen Sizes: 55”, 65”, 75”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/QLED
  • Refresh Rate: PQI 4000
  • HDMI Ports: 2.0a x 4
  • Additional Ports: USB 3.0 x 3, Optical x 1, Ethernet
  • Tuner Type: Freesat HD x 2, TV PLUS x 2
  • Audio Power: 60W
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LG C9
  • Screen Sizes: 55”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/OLED
  • Refresh Rate: 120Hz
  • HDMI Ports: 2.1 x 4
  • Additional Ports: USB 2.0 x 3, Optical x 1, 3.5 mm jack
  • Tuner Type: Freeview Play HD x 2, Freesat HD x 2
  • Audio Power: 60W
Click for Best Price
Samsung Q60RA
  • Screen Sizes: 43”, 49”, 55”, 65”, 82”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/QLED
  • Refresh Rate: PQI 4300
  • HDMI Ports: 2.1 x 4
  • Additional Ports: USB x 2, Optical x 1
  • Tuner Type: Freeview HD, Freesat HD
  • Audio Power: 20W
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Best Televisions

Samsung Q90R

BEST OVERALL

When picking our best overall television, we wanted to find something which has the whole package. A great picture quality, choice of screen sizes and the full smart package are just some of the things we thought made a standout.

Enter the Samsung Q90, which is the closest to having it all. 4K streaming is amongst the best on the market, so you will have a futureproof set for its lifespan. It also uses HDR 2000 technology, for darker blacks and more impactful colours, so everything looks as it would in real life.

100% colour volume also means nothing will appear lacklustre or washed out. Direct Full Array Elite gives precise, pin-sharp contrast across the entire screen, so every single pixel is how it should be.

When the television is not in use, it can be placed in Ambient Mode. This will allow the screen to look more like a picture than a television, using decorative customisable content perfect for wall-mounting or acting like a digital photo frame. Or, it can display photos or important information such as the weather and time. Why not upload a picture which is the exact colour of the paint behind the screen to make it look invisible?

There is also an ultra wide viewing angle for clearer visibility wherever you are sat in the room. Bixby voice control is also built in, so you just need to talk to change channels or apps. Or, connect it to an existing Google Home, Amazon Alexa or SmartThings if you want to make it part of your existing smart home setup.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 55”, 65”, 75”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/QLED
  • Refresh Rate: PQI 4000
  • HDMI Ports: 2.0a x 4
  • Additional Ports: USB 3.0 x 3, Optical x 1, Ethernet
  • Tuner Type: Freesat HD x 2, TV PLUS x 2
  • Audio Power: 60W

We like

  • Quantum Processor 4K for the best picture, sound and compatibility
  • Near bezel-less design
  • Universal Content Guide to combine all available channels and programmes from apps
  • High 4000 PQI processing rate - can cope with fast action

We dislike

  • Price (a real investment)

Final Verdict

It is pricey, but one of the best for futureproofing your purchase if you don’t want to go overboard. Plus it ticks all the boxes in terms of extra technology

LG C9

BEST SMART TV

Many televisions are smart these days, but just how smart they are still varies. The C9 works with Google Assistant so you can control it via your voice. Change the channel or adjust the volume by speaking to the remote, so you don’t have to spend ages getting to where you need to be.

If you have other LG items around the house, you can also control these through the remote with the help of ThinQ AI. So when you’re settling down in front of the television, you can ask it to play the movie and adjust the lights in one sentence.

When the latest boxset isn’t playing, Gallery Mode brings world-famous travel attractions to your living room, using pictures updated seasonally by TripAdvisor. When it is, there is a choice of some of the most popular apps like Netflix 4K, Amazon Prime Video 4k, Rakuten TV and Chilli, as well as catch-up services or music apps.

It isn’t just one of the best smart TV’s around, but also one of the best televisions for sound quality. You have Dolby Atmos, which brings the audio quality right up to match the picture. Big blockbusters are suddenly given surround sound treatment which could rival any cinema. 5.1 Virtual Surround Sound gives the feel of an entire home cinema system without the clutter.

The technology isn’t the only thing which boosts the sound, though. The stand may look the part, relatively subtle yet substantial, but it has primarily been designed to funnel sound from the TV’s downward firing speakers. This ends up going right to you, so you’ll always get loud, clear audio.

If you occasionally like to play games on the screen too, it is up to the job. A 1ms response time and 12.9ms input lag makes it a super fast option for all your high-octane requirements.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 55”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/OLED
  • Refresh Rate: 120Hz
  • HDMI Ports: 2.1 x 4
  • Additional Ports: USB 2.0 x 3, Optical x 1, 3.5 mm jack
  • Tuner Type: Freeview Play HD x 2, Freesat HD x 2
  • Audio Power: 60W

We like

  • HDR Game Mode available
  • Huge choice of apps
  • Clever design for the best experience

We dislike

  • Price

Final Verdict

It has high design, image quality, sound quality and is one of the best if you enjoy streaming and using applications

Samsung Q60RA

BEST BIG SCREEN

If you want (or need) the biggest screen possible, then an 82” is going to be your limit. Which we are sure you’ll actually be pretty pleased with.

This is a television packed with all of the necessary bits and bobs for making your screen pop out at you, and there is a generous choice of screen sizes if you decide that 82” is a little extreme on second consideration.

You have a razor-sharp 4K resolution and dynamic HDR support for a spectacular picture, as well as 100% colour variation for vivid brights and dark blacks. Samsung’s HDR Elite, a version of HDR10+, gives incredible contrast and the complete range of brightness.

There is also Quantum 4K technology, so content not made for 4K viewers will be upgraded and upscaled in spectacular fashion. If you still love your older shows, they will now look like you have never seen them before.

It is a Smart television thanks to instant connection to Samsung’s built-in Smart Hub. At the press of a button, you have Netflix, Apple TV, BT Sport and all those other subscription and catch-up platforms you can think about. Apple TV is rare when it comes to non-Apple televisions or smart setups, so this is a standout if you love that service.

When you aren’t sitting down to watch the latest films, the television can blend in with the environment. Ambient mode can all be controlled with your phone so you get the exact look you want, or it can blend in with the background or display the weather and time.

It uses Bixby voice assistant, to control your TV with a vocal command. And as it is a Samsung, you can use SmartThings to control other smart devices around your home too, such as the lights. It is also Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple AirPlay compatible if you prefer these setups

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 43”, 49”, 55”, 65”, 82”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/QLED
  • Refresh Rate: PQI 4300
  • HDMI Ports: 2.1 x 4
  • Additional Ports: USB x 2, Optical x 1
  • Tuner Type: Freeview HD, Freesat HD
  • Audio Power: 20W

We like

  • Fab range of colour
  • Efficient 4K upscaling
  • Works well with other smart items

We dislike

  • Poor audio power - you’ll need a soundbar for sound which matches the picture

Final Verdict

Ultra-clear picture despite the size, and with loads of the latest technology packed into it, the Q60 is one of the best if you want something which is compatible with the other tech in your life

Samsung Q950R

BEST 8K TELEVISION

While they are still rare, you could consider buying an 8K television now so you are on the game when content for the service starts being released, or if you want the absolute best upscaling and Quantum Processor money can buy.

This is the best 8K currently around in our opinion. It is a Samsung, so also benefits from their top-notch QLED screen technology for a perfect picture combination. Plus, the price is not too extortionate compared to a lot of the other ones out there.

Not only do you get pin-sharp contrast and full colour range, but HDR 4000 gives a staggering brightness range too. Dolby Digital + audio quality improves the experience as well, so you get crisp sound without the need for too many extra speakers and

It has Ambient Mode technology so you can blend it into the background or show the world your favourite family photos. There is also Bluetooth present, which can be rare amongst some other TVs but is still a fab way of getting content from one device onto the big screen.

There are a couple of other features which may appeal to you as well, depending on how you use the telly. Game Enhancer mode adapts the sound and picture to suit your game, so even if you need things to be lightning fast, it will handle it with a breeze. Adaptive Sound also changes things depending on what you’re watching, as well as the acoustics of the room.

Finally, Quantum Processors are what makes your TV tick. They’re the brains behind the system, ensuring everything flows. The 8K QP in this model doesn’t only make the adjustments mentioned above, but also learns what you like to watch, giving recommendations and making it easier to access them. Rewatched Peaky Blinders, Line Of Duty and Breaking Bad in the past few months? The latest gritty crime drama will likely be appearing at the top of your must-watch list.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 65”, 75”, 82”
  • Screen Type: 8K Ultra HD/QLED
  • Refresh Rate: PQI 4300
  • HDMI Ports: 2.0a x 4
  • Additional Ports: USB 2.0 x 3, Optical x 1
  • Tuner Type: TVPlus, Freesat HD x 2
  • Audio Power: 60W

We like

  • Gets to know your viewing habits and lifestyle
  • User interface is very easy to use
  • Adapts sound and picture to suit your programme and room

We dislike

  • Still early technology - may miss some features which are in later models

Final Verdict

Clever, and perfect to act as the central hub of your smart home. The picture quality is unrivalled, too - for those who want to enjoy the latest tech before everyone else. The fact we give it 5/5 shows those little niggles are soon forgotten

Samsung The Serif (2019)

BEST TELEVISION FOR STYLE

Designed by the Bouroullec brothers, The Serif is another one of the latest televisions which can incorporate style into your living space.

Serif Ambient Mode can turn the otherwise black blank screen into artwork, displaying decorative content from the Bouroullec palette with two exclusive patterns. The slim body broadens at the top to form a flat surface, and it sits on an elegantly designed metal stand to give it a minimalistic yet bold look.

NFC and Bluetooth connectivity allows you to pair it with your phone or laptop and stream music when the picture isn’t in use, acting like a speaker for your home. Sound is adaptive at all times, to suit both the content of what you’re watching, and the acoustics of the room.

Both the sound and picture work fast to keep up with demand, making it a great choice for gaming or sports. It is smart, too, using an intelligent assistant called Bixby to help you manage your TV and compatible smart home devices. Alexa, Google Assistant and Smart Things devices are all compatible.

You still get QLED technology and Q HDR to improve picture quality and the colour palette available to your eyes. So in all, it is a well-designed TV with modernity at its core, but still with Samsung’s famed quality technology.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 43”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/QLED
  • Refresh Rate: PQI 2400
  • HDMI Ports: 2.0 x 4
  • Additional Ports: USB x 2, Optical x 1, Ethernet
  • Tuner Type: TVPlus
  • Audio Power: 40W

We like

  • Great picture quality
  • Stand is strong and stable
  • Good amount of connections

We dislike

  • Looks great but not for everyone

Final Verdict

We wouldn’t say it is a match for The Frame, but if you want a stand and less of a ‘picture frame’ look, then it could be worth the extra pennies

Samsung RU8000

BEST FOR GAMING

When you’re gaming, you need something with a high refresh rate which can keep up with the demand of fast changing screens, vivid colour which shows everything perfectly, and plenty of connections to hook every games console up.

Well, the RU8000 is a great bet. There is a dedicated Game Mode which offers incredibly low lag while delivering superb picture quality, with a FreeSync variable refresh rate. You also get enhanced sound, and the AI 4K processor finely tunes everything depending on what it is you’re playing.

Dynamic Crystal Colour technology offers a huge range of colours, and brings out the best to make everything look incredibly lifelike. Subtle colours are brought out, and the blacks look darker while the whites are bright. HDR10+ adjusts the contrast frame by frame.

Bixby voice control can help you access Netflix with a simple vocal command, or simply change the channel quickly so you don’t miss a second of that 9pm drama. As it is a Samsung, you also get SmartThings integration so you can control smart home devices like lightbulbs and thermostats too.

It is compatible with all three of the big smart providers too, so whether your home is filled with Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple AirPlay, this telly can become part of the wider picture. Samsung’s Universal Guide will also display everything which is available for you to watch in one handy place, so if you are subscribed to Amazon Prime Video, you’ll see top picks alongside standard live programming from the BBC and ITV.

The audio power isn’t the absolute best around for a television of this size, but is better than some others in the price range. You may still want to purchase a soundbar, though. And the price may be more than you were originally hoping to pay, but if you will be using it as an ordinary main television too, then it is one of the best performing units around for both TV and gaming for the cost.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 49”, 55”, 65”, 82”
  • Screen Type: 4K Premium UHD/LED
  • Refresh Rate: 120Hz
  • HDMI Ports: 4
  • Additional Ports: HDMI ARC x 1, USB x 2, Ethernet, Optical x 1
  • Tuner Type: Freeview HD, Freesat HD
  • Audio Power: 20W

We like

  • Pause/rewind live TV
  • Range of apps including Apple TV app and NOW TV
  • Ultra slim

We dislike

  • Price may be a bit high if you just want a dedicated gaming telly

Final Verdict

Outstanding with both ordinary viewing and quick car racing games

Techwood AO8UHD

BEST BUDGET 4K UNDER £500

This television is not just well under £500, but under £400 too. This should give you plenty of leftover dollars if you want to jazz up the setup with speakers and other additions.

As it is 4K, it is four times as clear as standard HD. This luxury can often seem like it comes at a price, but the AO8UHD shows it is now more affordable than ever to have the best of the best. You get 70 subscription-free channels via Freeview HD, so can get watching straight away. It is also fully smart enabled, with apps such as Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and YouTube all there within the press of a few buttons. You also get a web browsing app so you can surf the internet on the big screen.

Film Picture Mode, Sports Mode and Gaming Mode are two additional settings which will vastly improve different media forms. From boosting the clarity and vividness of the colours to adjusting lag time for fast sequences, it isn’t just live television which you can enjoy.

There is also a Recommended Content addition, which will pop up available content based on the shows and films you have previously enjoyed. If it is going to be the main television in a family home, the Parental Control will let you limit what the kids can watch.

Techwood may be a make you have never heard of before, but if you want a budget 4K-ready television which is simple to control and navigate, they have shown it is now more possible than ever.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 43”, 49”, 55”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/LED
  • Refresh Rate: 50hz
  • HDMI Ports: 3
  • Additional Ports: USB x 2, 3.5mm jack
  • Tuner Type: Freeview HD
  • Audio Power: 20W

We like

  • Great sound and display
  • Fab price for a large screen 4K
  • Easy to set up

We dislike

  • Only thing missing is the ability to cast to the TV in any way

Final Verdict

Price-friendly yet packed with modern technology and family-friendly to both use and control. A real bargain

Philips OLED803/12 Smart Ambilight

BEST FOR COLOUR EXPERIENCE

The majority of higher end televisions you’ll find nowadays will boast great colour ranges and clear quality, so when looking for the absolute best for colour range, we had to slightly adjust what we were looking for.

Step up the Philips OLED803/12. Philips pioneered the Ambilight technology, so you know the colour will be vivid and popping. This sends the colours from the screen outwards from three sides of the television onto the wall or surface surrounding the unit like a backlight. Because of this, it is one of the best televisions for wall mounting, especially if you have a blank light wall paint.

Combine this with the OLED screen and HDR technology which gives the absolute best colour range, and you will no longer be disappointed by lacklustre content. It can upscale older content into 4K so you always get the best out of your programming.

It is smart ready, with access to Netflix and catch up services. There is also a Google Play portal store, so you can purchase additional apps according to your usage. Voice control from Google Assistant  via the remote allows you to switch channels, adjust the volume or open apps with a vocal command, too. It will also support HDR Gaming.

The Android control panel can sometimes be a bit slow and laggy, taking a while to load, but the voice control will boost things by cutting out some steps.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 65”
  • Screen Type: 4K Ultra HD/OLED
  • Refresh Rate: 4100 PPI Hz
  • HDMI Ports: 2.0 x 2, 1.4 x 2
  • Additional Ports: USB x 2, Optical x 1, 3.5 mm jack
  • Tuner Type: Freeview HD
  • Audio Power: 50W

We like

  • Effective upscaling
  • Colours are deep and vibrant
  • Crisp picture

We dislike

  • Can be a little slow if you want to access apps or install new ones

Final Verdict

Very clean design and barely any bezel improve the overall look, and Ambilight technology is a really fab addition for immersive viewing

Toshiba 24WD3A63DB Smart TV/DVD Combi

BEST VALUE UNDER £200

When looking for a budget telly under £200, we wanted to find the one which offered the most for your money. And this one has loads of little extras which make it the perfect standalone television.

There is Freeview HD, giving you 70 channels as well as 15 in HD quality. It is a smart TV too, which can be rare with budget television models. Two HDMI sockets and a USB gives you plenty of choice over what to connect, whether it be a memory stick of films or a Blu-ray player.

Talking of DVD’s, it is a TV/DVD combi model. This is another rarity amongst modern televisions, but if you have a large DVD collection but have got rid of your player to stop the clutter, you’ll be happy to see that they can still be used.

It is Alexa enabled, so you can connect it to your Amazon Echo and switch channels or apps with your voice. Sound is good for the size of the unit, and is clearer than a lot of other models tested in its price range. There is a HDMI ARC socket in case you do want to add a soundbar though.

You can mount it to your wall safely, or use the static stand provided. A few other users have said it makes the perfect addition to a bedroom or caravan because of the DVD player inclusion, and full range of smart services and Freeview.

You also have Game Mode if it is hooked up to an Xbox or PlayStation, and a Movie mode too, so despite the relatively low refresh rate, it’ll be able to adjust and keep up with the action.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 24”
  • Screen Type: 720p HD/LED
  • Refresh Rate: 50 Hz
  • HDMI Ports: 2
  • Additional Ports: USB x 1, HDMI ARC x 1, 3.5mm jack
  • Tuner Type: Freeview HD
  • Audio Power: 5W

We like

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Integrated DVD player
  • Easy to access and switch between Freeview/apps

We dislike

  • DVD motor can be a bit loud when watching quieter films

Final Verdict

Packed with a load of features which will no doubt come in handy, and you’ll be thankful for the little ‘dated’ extras for years to come

Panasonic E302B

BEST SMALL SCREEN

First thing first – this TV isn’t smart. But if you want smart services and already have a Streaming Device set up, or aren’t bothered about streaming/are happy to access it through your phone or laptop, then this is a perfect affordable television.

It is one of the most popular small televisions on the market, and great for anyone looking for a small television. Easy to set up, the picture and sound are surprisingly on the good side for a small telly.

A lot of users and other reviewers have said that it is the perfect size and clarity for their kitchen, bedroom or conservatory, but also for anyone who wants a primary living room television and aren’t bothered about an all-singing-all-dancing model.

It has a scart socket, which is a rare thing these days for new televisions. If you have an older games console this will really appeal though, and it could therefore make the perfect addition to a games room or bedroom. You also get two HDMI sockets and a USB, so there is a nice balance for the set up you want.

The audio output isn’t magnificent and booming but decent for the size, and there is an output socket for connecting a speaker if you want a little boost. To say it comes very comfortably under £150, you’ll have money to spend on jazzing it up – you can’t really ask for more.

Specifications

  • Screen Sizes: 24”, 32”
  • Screen Type: 720p HD/LED
  • Refresh Rate: 200Hz
  • HDMI Ports: 2
  • Additional Ports: Scart x 1, USB x 1, 3.5mm jack
  • Tuner Type: Freeview HD x 2
  • Audio Power: 2.5W

We like

  • Good price
  • Connection choice
  • Easy to set up

We dislike

  • Sound can be a bit tinny

Final Verdict

One of the best budget televisions, and you still get the picture and sound quality which you’d expect from a Panasonic

TV Buying Guide

Screen Size

Believe it or not, size isn’t everything. It’s common to think that the bigger your TV the better, but actually you should aim to choose your screen size based on how far away you will sit from the screen. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Less than 1.5 m = <32 inches
  • 1.5 to 2m = 32-39 inches
  • 2 to 2.5m = 40-45 inches
  • 2.5 to 3m = 46-55 inches
  • Over 3m = 56 inches<

Screen size is measured diagonally from top corner to bottom. This doesn’t include the bezel (frame) – only the screen itself. Bezels are actually far smaller and narrower now than they used to be, so a 46 inch TV today would actually be much more compact than the same size a few years ago. You may be able to go up a size if you’re upgrading.

For the average family, it will be quite unlikely that any of you will be sitting within 2 metres of your screen. If nothing else, it’s bad for your eyes! A good bet for a standard-sized living room would be a TV of between 46 and 56 inches – the largest that will fit comfortably in the space and not feel overpowering.

Also assess your space, of course. Larger rooms may look a little like something is missing if there is just a small screen in the corner, and similarly a small bedroom could be overrun by anything over 32”

Having said that bigger isn’t always better, there are plenty of reasons why getting a larger screen could improve your viewing. We have given the pros in the FAQ’s

Resolution Types

In simple terms, screen resolution refers to the number of pixels that your TV screen is made up of. The higher the number, the better the resolution.

The most common screen resolution that people go for nowadays is 4K, which is 4x the quality of 1080p Full HD. This is pretty much standard for a new TV; you definitely shouldn’t go lower than this if you want your television to be a futureproof investment. As the screens have got bigger, the resolution has had to adapt.

Having said this, there are still plenty of 1080p options out there, and they will generally be cheaper if you’re on a budget but still want a larger size and a good choice of connections.

720p models are the oldest option about now, but still readily available and most common in smaller screen sizes and cheaper options.

  • 720p – 1,280 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 720 pixels down the screen vertically. Around 1 million pixels make up a 720p display altogether, which sounds like a lot but depending on the screen size, may actually be poor. This is why they are mostly found on smaller screens, so they can pack more densely and still give a good picture
  • 1080p – Referred to as Full HD. 1,920 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 1,080 pixels down the screen vertically. They offer around twice the number of pixels compared to a 720p altogether, meaning the picture is technically twice the quality. This allows for slightly bigger screens
  • 4K Ultra HD – The ‘4K’ comes from the fact they are 4x the resolution of full HD sets. They are quickly becoming the norm with new televisions, and are getting much more affordable. Many streaming sites can now offer 4K programming, and 4K Blu-ray discs and players are also widely available
  • 8K – Not content with 4K, Samsung and Sony are now producing 8K televisions. They aren’t massively commercially available, and will likely cost you over £10,000, but if you want to futureproof your investment to the max and are always ahead of the curve, then you may want to consider it. Read more about the pros and cons of 8K televisions below in the FAQ’s

Screen Technology

You may not have as much freedom over whether to have an LED, OLED or QLED screen as you previously thought.

OLED screens aren’t available in sizes smaller than 55”, and QLED is 49”. The latter is also exclusively made by Samsung, so you’re also restricted regarding brand. So if you’re after something smaller than this, you’ll have to opt for LED, which is the most common option.

  • LED – Light-Emitting Diode. A form of television which uses LED backlighting instead of the cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) backlighting, shone through an LCD screen. They offer better contrast and colour range, more energy efficiency and more rapid response rates than old LCD models, and are more widely available than OLED or QLED, but aren’t seen as the absolute latest technology
  • OLED – Organic Light-Emitting Diode. They use self-emissive light particles (the individual pixels make their own light), so don’t require a backlight. This makes them a lot slimmer, and also allows for higher contrasts over a large screen, and deeper blacks as they can turn themselves off
  • QLED – Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diode. Samsung’s response to OLED, which uses LCD technology but with a quantum dot coating over the backlight. As these dots don’t currently emit their own light, they still need a backlight. But the picture is sharp, detailed and of high contrast as the particles can be controlled for colour output

HDR

Refers to high dynamic range. 4K and 8K televisions give the best picture as they pack more pixels into a screen, but it is the HDR which gets the best out of those pixels. There is no point in having them if they aren’t any good, after all.

So 720p/1080p/4K tells you the quantity, but HDR the quality. With HDR, you get deeper blacks and brighter whites, and more contrast between the two. A firework will be clear, crisp and vivid against a dark sky, rather than looking blurry.

On standard screens, everything below a certain brightness is one standard black. You can tell the difference between just dark, and really dark. Pop on a horror movie and you will see what we mean.

You will mostly find HDR in Ultra HD screens

Audio

You may have noticed that screens are getting thinner and thinner. It’s great for aesthetics and the picture, but it’s not great for sound.

Most standard TV speakers are actually not that good in terms of sound quality, so if you’ve invested in a nice TV then you may also consider getting a soundbar to complete the home cinema experience. Soundbars can be bought for relatively little cost – maybe around £200 – and they make a significant improvement to the sound while being compact and easy to use and install. Other options include soundbases or entire home cinema systems.

If you don’t want to spend any more, or like the minimalist uncluttered look, then look for a television with Dolby Atmos and which is rated highly for sound quality

Smart TVs

Don’t be fooled by advertisers making out that smart televisions are some kind of big deal. Almost all new TVs are ‘smart’ nowadays – it simply means that they can connect to your Wi-Fi or Ethernet, so you can browse applications, connect to your other devices and use streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, or catch up on BBC iPlayer.

Just make sure that the model you buy will support all of the services that you want to use. Some will offer only certain apps, but the most popular will usually be there. Ones which may be harder to find include Amazon Prime Video, NOW TV, Apple TV and social media apps like Facebook.

Other devices which they can connect to may include your smart speaker, or some smart lights which can create a real 4D atmosphere. If you want a cheaper television which isn’t Smart-ready, you can always purchase a Smart TV Streaming Device

Voice Control

Many smart televisions now also have voice control. You will have likely seen this with the latest Sky Q or Amazon Fire Stick remotes, and it just makes life easier – especially if you’re a voice-control geek.

The most common which are integrated into television remotes are Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Bixby. They generally do the same thing, so it is down to personal preference. It will just make finding programmes and changing channels much easier, without infinite scrolling or switching between apps. If it isn’t built in, then as mentioned above, you may be able to connect a smart speaker to the television for voice control instead

Connections

The range of connections and ports available on televisions is now a bit smaller than previous years. HDMI has overtaken scart sockets as the picture connection of choice for example, and RCA cables are also being phased out.

There are loads of additional appliances which you can connect to your screen compared to ten years ago, too. If you want a soundbar, you’ll have to look for an HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) port, or optical digital or analogue outputs at the very least

Refresh Rate

This is basically how fast the picture can change. If you’re watching an action film or gaming, then you want this to be as high as possible. You usually should opt for below 120Hz.

Manufacturers tend to use their own measurements, so one brand of television is not always comparable to others. Samsung use Picture Quality Index (PQI), for example

Ambient Mode

Some of the top-end televisions will have this feature. It basically means that when the screen is not in use, it can display other features rather than being plain black.

This can range from photos from an album on your phone or USB stick, to a large clock or the weather, to the background of the wall behind it to fully blend in.

It is mainly designed with people who hate having a black screen on display in their living room as it damages the aesthetics. We personally don’t think it is a must-have – people aren’t exactly going to be shocked or disgusted by the TV in your room – but it could be a nice extra to use if you have it, especially if you really tune the image into the surroundings

FAQs

Should I Go For A Bigger Screen?

As mentioned in the buying guide, bigger screens can pack more pixels into the size and also offer better technologies, such as OLED. You can also improve the viewing angles, so if your seating is spread out all over the room, there is a good chance everyone will be able to see all of the action.

It is also seen as the best investment. Screens are only getting bigger, so if you don’t want to be made jealous by all of the adverts for super-sized screens in two years time, it is best to put your money towards something grander now

QLED Or OLED?

As mentioned above, there are a few differences between the technology both of these systems use, yet they are very similar in output.

QLED still uses a backlight, but OLED has no need for it. But there isn’t much of a difference between the actual screen display. As a general rule of thumb, OLED can produce deeper blacks than rivals as each individual light can turn itself off completely, but QLED can produce more vivid colours due to the film over the lights.

QLED is only made by Samsung, too. If you aren’t fussed about which brand of television you pick, then you have more freedom between the two. You may wish to opt for Samsung if you have other products in their range, such as speakers or soundbars, or if you are a fan from previous experience

What Is 8K?

We have mentioned that 4K is better than 720p or 1080p, but the next level is 8K. It is the latest technology, vastly ahead of the game, but what is it and is it worth the money?

The resolution is 7,680 x 4,320 pixels, a huge 16x greater than HD, and 4x greater than 4K. That’s 33 million+ pixels altogether. Because of this, the screen sizes are usually 65”+, and you won’t even be able to make out each individual pixel up close

Is 8K Worth The Purchase Just Yet?

Plenty of television and streaming is now being made for 4K screens, but 8K content is still a little while off being the norm. Having said this, most units will upscale existing HD content into 8K so you still reap the benefits of display quality.

Of course, 8K TVs can also offer some other aspects of the latest technology, such as AI Smart ability and connectivity, the best sound around without the need for soundbars, great energy efficiency and Ambient Mode so it completely disappears when not in use.

The downside? The price. They start at around £5,000 and can go up to £15,000+. A cost many will be unwilling to pay, especially as the technology is still relatively new and in the early stages. But there is proof that manufacturers will be moving forwards with 8K technology, and it could therefore be good if you don’t want to buy something lesser now just for the sake of it while you wait.

Another negative to bear in mind is that no 8K movies are currently being made, and streaming in 4K is already too much for some internet connections to cope with. 8K content will be no good if you can’t actually watch it uninterrupted.

Still, if you believe in investments and having the absolute best, it could be worth it. Don’t worry if not though – there is going to be a good few years before they become the norm so you won’t be very out of date just yet

Freeview, Freesat or YouView?

All televisions will now have a built-in tuner, offering mostly free to air (FTA) channels. As part of the Government’s digital drive, analogue is not available any more. But the tuner type offered varies between either Freeview, Freesat or YouView.

It is worth noting first that if you subscribe to a service such as Sky or Virgin, you’ll probably not be fussed at the moment. Likewise if you don’t watch live TV. But do bear in mind that you may want to change this in the future.

All three are similar on the outside. You get the free channels, some catch-up services and an Electronic Programme Guide. If you have the ‘Plus’ or ‘Play’ version, you can also record programmes or pause and rewind live TV.

  • Freeview – Over 70 FTA channels, with some in HD. You can record with Freeview Play. Uses aerial and internet transmission
  • YouView – The same as Freeview, but uses YouView+ to record
  • Freesat – Generally offers more channels than Freeview, currently 200+. But you need a satellite dish such as a Sky dish for the picture as opposed to a standard aerial. Good for areas with poor digital transmission

In conclusion, they are all pretty similar. Opt for Freesat if you want more standard channel choice or already have an existing satellite dish installed, but otherwise, Freeview is said to be the easiest to set up and work.

Some will have a twin tuner, so can watch a programme while recording another, or even two at the same time using the Picture In Picture feature. Samsung televisions may also have TVPlus present, which is their own tuning service and allows for integration with other apps, such as Netflix and catch-up TV, displayed on one home screen.

Which Ports Do I Need?

If you have a modern Freeview/Sky box, DVD player or gaming console, it will likely use HDMI connections. Thankfully, most televisions will now have a few of these. Think about how many extra gadgets you’ll want to connect to your television both now and in the next few years, and look for the same amount of HDMI connections. Three or four should be enough for most standard setups.

You may want some USB connections for attaching sticks for additional media viewing, and if you have any older games consoles or items, such as PlayStation, Wii or Xbox, you may need a scart. The latter is rare now, so you may have to make some adjustments

Which Brands Make The Best TVs?

The best TV for you can’t really be decided for brand, as you have to look at specifications and sizes primarily. Having said that, some of the biggest names out there are often the most reliable.

Look for Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Toshiba. Brands which are up and coming or focus on more budget models include JVC, Sharp, Logik, Blaupunkt, Hisense, TCL, Techwood and Veltech