Update: The best 4K UHD TVs are always in flux. Check out the current line-up below to find our picks for the best of the best in 2016.
In a few short years 4K TVs have gone from incredibly niche high-end technology to more or less mainstream. At the budget end of the spectrum 1080p panels still rule the roost, but even at mid-range prices the 4K options are affordable.
We're also finally seeing native 4K content become available. Both Netflix and Amazon have updated their services to stream in 4K, and the first Ultra HD Blu-ray players are starting to hit the market. Completely native 4K content continues to be the exception rather than the rule however, with many of the first batch of 4K titles having been upconverted from 2K masters.
However it's still not the case that every 4K TV is made equal, and you'll need to be a savvy consumer to ensure your set is as future-proofed as possible.
As in the early days of HD, when consumers had to deal with the confusion of 'HD Ready' versus 'Full HD', the Ultra-HD 4K market currently suffers from a similar collection of interrelated terms.
The solution to this problem, a universal standard for everyone to adhere to, has just arrived in the form of Ultra HD Premium (which you can read more about in our dedicated 4K TV Hub), but the specification is still new and not every manufacturer is currently supporting it – we're looking in your direction Sony.
Thankfully, although the market remains complicated, at least the prices of UHD sets are no longer guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye.
Until things settle down, 4K will remain the domain of the clued-up early adopter, and if that sounds like you then read on for our pick of the best 4K TVs available today.
1. Panasonic TX-65DX902B
Astoundingly vibrant 4K HDR TV
Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Freeview Play | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LCD | Smart TV: Firefox TV OS | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1,457 x 888 x 334mm
At over £3,000 the Panasonic TX-65DC902B's price is still firmly in enthusiast territory, but a Ultra HD Premium specification combined with a simple yet effective Smart TV interface means this set is a solid choice for more than just the initiated.
Panasonic's Honeycomb local dimming technology might not be perfect, but it's the best we're going to get until OLED panels become mainstream over the coming years – and when the technology is capable of creating highlights this bright it's hard to complain, especially when the resulting image is so vibrant.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-65DX902B
2. LG OLED55C6V
"OLED screen technology is quite simply the future of television."
Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 4K Ultra HD | Panel technology: OLED | Smart TV: webOS 3.0 | Curved: Yes | Dimensions: 1,225 x 714 x 48.9 mm
While there's always been a lot of excitement around OLED technology, it seems to have reached fever pitch this year, and it's easy to see why. Having already greatly improved the performance and affordability of its OLED TVs last year, LG – the only brand currently making full ranges of OLED TVs – is claiming further substantial performance boosts and key new features for its 2016 range.
That said, the OLED55C6V is quite simply the best OLED TV yet. It looks gorgeous, particularly if curved screens are your thing, and unprecedented black levels help to deliver picture quality that is, for the most part, dazzling, as LG continues to refine its technology.
Read the full review: LG OLED55C6V
3. Samsung UE55KS9000
"This Samsung dazzler shoots for the HDR stars"
Screen size: 55-inch | Tuner: Twin Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED Edgelit | Smart TV: Tizen | Curved: Yes | Dimensions: 713 x 1226 x 52mm
After some pretty premium pricing in 2015, it's good to see Samsung being reasonably aggressive with the £2,100 cost of UE55KS9000. This doesn't seem an awful lot to ask for the level of specification, design, performance and smart TV capabilities the UE55KS9000 brings to the table, and puts it in the same ball park as the Sony 55XD9305 that's probably its closest rival.
With its sleek lines and 360-degree design the UE55KS9000 looks every inch a premium TV - a design statement it backs up with a new LCD panel created from the ground up to get the maximum impact from the new killer picture quality combination of UHD resolution and HDR. Add in a much-improved smart interface and reasonable price for what's on offer, and it looks like Samsung may be the brand to beat again at the high end of the TV market.
Read the full review: Samsung UE55KS9000
4. LG 65EC970V
"The first 4K OLED TV is finally here."
Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: UHD 4K | Panel technology: OLED | Smart TV: LG webOS | Curved: Yes | Dimensions: 880 x 1447 x 257mm
For many home cinema fans the LG 65EC970V is a dream come true. There are many, many occasions where its combination of a native 4K UHD resolution and OLED screen technology delivers pictures more beautiful and natural than any we've ever seen before on any television.
Its webOS operating system, moreover, ensures that the 65EC970V is still easy to use despite its cutting edge nature, and its design is gorgeous.
If you're lucky enough to have six grand to spare you're faced with a stark TV choice between the LG 65EC970V and the Samsung UE65JS9500. The bottom line though is that it's another ground-breaking moment for TV picture quality.
Read the full review: LG 65EC970V
5. Sony KD-75XD9405
"The best picture quality of any TV I've tested so far this year"
Screen size: 75-inches | Tuner: FreeView and FreeSat | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: Triluminos direct LED | Smart TV: Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1672 x 960 x 52mm
With its huge screen, lengthy feature list and surprisingly attractive (considering how massive it is) design, the 75XD9405 does a pretty good job of justifying its price even before you turn it on – and when you do switch it on you just fall for it all the harder, as it produces the single best picture quality of any TV I've tested so far this year, regardless of whether you're feeding it an HDR or SDR diet.
It also delivers the most convincing all-round showcase of what HDR is capable of that I've seen from a TV to date, while simultaneously working wonders with all that non-HDR stuff we're still going to have to spend most of our time watching. If you've got the living room space and bank balance health to take it on, you'd be crazy not to audition one as soon as possible.
Read the full review: Sony KD-75XD9405
6. Hisense LTDN50K321UWT
"Hisense's UK debut is far better than you've any right to expect for the money."
Screen size: 50-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Hisense | Curved: No | Dimensions: 702 x 1124 x 247mm
Hisense is clearly keen to arrive on the UK TV scene with a bang. At £499 the 50K321 is groundbreakingly cheap for a 50-inch 4K TV, yet despite its extreme affordability it offers a pretty impressive set of features.
The breadth of multimedia playback support, strong connectivity, a smart TV system, and some promising picture specifications are all as welcome as they are unexpected.
It has, at the first time of asking, established itself as a brand capable of operating at the budget end of the market while serving up a markedly better-than-budget level of performance and features. All of which makes it potentially the stuff of nightmares for the more established TV brands.
Read the full review: Hisense LTDN50K321UWT
7. Panasonic TX-58DX700B
Panasonic's entry-level HDR TV range looks and performs very well
Screen size: 58-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Firefox OS | Curved: No | Dimensions: 805 x 1,290 x 239mm
One of the key reasons to choose Panasonic over a Sony or Samsung right now is the excellent FirefoxOS smart TV system. It just works in ways that Android TV doesn't do consistently and is easily a match for LG's webOS system. We prefer it over Samsung' s Tizen system too but really this is all personal preference.
Plus, if you're going to go for a big TV like this, it's a smart move to try and future proof yourself and that means going for an HDR model. That'll enable you to pick up an Ultra HD Blu-ray player down the line without missing out on some of the picture detail. That being said, while 4K, HD and SD pictures are all decent, HDR doesn't quite wow like it does on more expensive models but that's the price you pay for not dishing out more money on a costlier model.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-58DX700B
8. Sony KD-XD9305
4K UHD streaming backed by Sony's X1 processor
Screen size: 55-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LCD | Smart TV: Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1,239 x 769 x 261mm
Whichever way you look at it, Sony's KD-XD9305 is a fantastic-looking telly. The frame is sleek, minimalist and thin, and the cable management options are great for reducing clutter. More importantly, picture quality is impressive across both HD and UHD content.
Which is why it's such a shame that this set is saddled with an annoyingly busy OS and clunky remote. However, if you're someone who relies on an external box for your Smart TV functionality then the XD93's downsides start disappearing rapidly.
Read the full review: Sony KD-XD9305
9. Samsung UE55KS7000
"Fed a diet of Hi-Def or 4K HDR, the UE55KS7000 purrs."
Screen size: 55-inches | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 4K Ultra HD | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Tizen | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1225.0 x 710.0 x 44.3mm
Short on HDR content? Create it yourself. What Samsung calls HDR+ is the key feature to get excited about on this, its entry-level 'true' HDR TV – aka UHD Premium – which offers detailed and involving, yet subtle, images imbued with luscious colour and throughly decent black levels.
It's not perfect – restricted viewing angles and visible edge LED backlighting see to that – but fed a diet of Hi-Def or 4K HDR, the UE55KS7000 purrs.
Read the full review: Samsung UE55KS7000
10. Panasonic TX-40DX600
Firefox stars on this great value 4K TV
Screen size: 40-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Firefox OS | Curved: No | Dimensions: 49 x 904 x 518 mm
A follow-up to last year's excellent 40CX680B, the 40DX600 is Panasonic's best value 4K TV. Four pegs down from Panasonic's flagship DX900 range –five, if you count its OLED – the DX600 series claims a 4K Edge LED-backlit panel with adaptive backlight dimming, 800Hz scanning and Quad Core PRO processor for super-quick smart TV navigation.
It also has both a Firefox OS and a Freeview Play catch-up TV app, as do all Panasonic TVs for 2016, which lend it a smart, usable interface to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-40DX600
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