On the market for a new TV but not sure which to get? Then check out Tech Times Today’s best TV buying guide for 2019.
Shopping for a TV is tricky; first you must pick what resolution you want – HD? 4K? Most TVs are Full HD, which gives a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. These are gradually being overtaken by Ultra HD (commonly known as UHD or 4K), which gives a resolution of 3840 x 2160.
There’s now even an option to buy 8K, thanks to the arrival of the Samsung QE85Q900R. That’s four times the number of pixels, crammed into generally the same TV sizes. It means greater sharpness, detail and clarity, but a premium to pay for that luxury.
Most 4K TVs are moving towards including HDR as standard; even Sony has a range of HD TVs that support HDR. The more complicated question is what type of HDR are you in the market for? Dolby Vision or HDR10+? Different TV manufacturers support different variants of the HDR format.
Then of course there’s determining what size to buy. Do you have space for something large, or looking for something to fit a smaller space? And then after all that there’s the shopping around to find a model that’s within budget. To help streamline the process we created a list of the best TVs recently reviewed.
There used to be a real lack of 4K content, but these days there is plenty to stream from Netflix and Amazon Video – and 4K Blu-rays are now on market.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Essentially it promises a wider range of brightness, colour and contrast – because our eyes can perceive more information than TVs have traditionally been able to display. 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.
QLED is a tricky one. In the last few years QLED has been used to refer to a theoretical self-lighting technology, like 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.
There are no small TVs in this round-up, and that’s because the best models only come in larger sizes.
1. Panasonic TX-55FZ952B
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 developing OLED, and the results are so good that professional colourists in Hollywood 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 closer to the stuff that filmmakers play with before release – at least not yet. New features include a dynamic Look-Up Table – a map telling the TV where to put colours – which optimise the picture every 100 milliseconds. The result is more precise colour handling, especially in mid-tones and highlights.
2. LG OLED55C8PLA
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 did extremely well in 2017, but the company managed to surpass itself in 2018 and is in a strong position entering 2019. The LG OLED55C8 is armed with the new Alpha 9 processor, features a brighter picture plus better sharpness, noise reduction and colour management.
Black levels are perfect, but there’s more detail in the shadows. 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 very hard to suggest OLED isn’t bright enough – LG has completely torpedoed that argument. If that weren’t impressive enough, the set’s low latency makes it an excellent choice for gamers. This is still easily one of the best TVs in 2019.
3. Samsung QE65Q9FN
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 TV. This is the best performance possible 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 watching films in a darkened room or put on the football with the lights blazing, this will do nicely.
4. LG OLED55B8
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
Anyone looking to get into the OLED game without spending a huge outlay, LG’s OLED55B8 is ideal.
Bear in mind that this is the entry-level TV with a less powerful picture processor than the C8, but even despite that drop, 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.
5. Panasonic TX-55FZ802
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. It arguably succeeds.
The TX-55FZ802 delivers a highly accurate 4K image with blacks that are deep, vibrant colours and terrific contrast. Take a step down to HD broadcasts and the picture is stunningly vivid but also natural looking. Even the smart TV platform, which can often be so-so, promotes a user friendly and engaging experience. 2018 was 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 continue to stand it in good stead.
6. Sony KD-65XF9005
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 is still going well. Curiously, rather than going big with its flagship model, Sony has decided to focus on its upper-midrange model: the Sony XF90. It’s a smart move, because these TVs aren’t hugely expensive, so they’re more likely to sell.
Sony has decided to make the XF90 a direct-lit model. That’s a rare treat these days: direct backlighting with local dimming is far superior to the common edge-lit/zonal dimming configuration. Anyone wanting good contrast and those top OLED models are just out of their price range, this is well worth checking out.
7. Samsung QE85Q900R
The TV to buy if money is no object
• Native 8K pictures are like nothing 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 in its infancy, Samsung has eyes to the future by releasing a full-fat 8K TV. This may make the Samsung QE85Q900R sound like a marketing stunt, but after spending time with this gargantuan 85-inch telly, the impression left is huge.
Though there isn’t much commercial 8K content on the market, 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 ever 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 $16,000 price tag.