The best TVs for sport aren't necessarily the same as the best TVs on the market right now. Sure the top TVs might be cinematic and great for movies, but sport is a different ball game.
That's because televised sport is, for the most part, going to include a lot of on-screen motion. It's the case whether you enjoy watching football, cricket or WWF. With all of these sports, the on-screen images are constantly on-the-go.
Certain TVs are much more accomplished at handling the refresh rates to help you keep up with all of that moving around than others are. With that in mind, here’s our guide to the TVs that are great at handling motion, and have all the other top features and picture-making talents built-in too.
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LG has made a number of small tweaks to last year’s CX model: It’s now using LG’s Alpha a9 Gen. 4 processor for better upscaling and virtual surround sound audio, and with four separate HDMI 2.1 ports, it’s ready for the PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and whatever next-gen consoles can throw at it.
Gamers will also appreciate the new Game Optimiser menu that gives you the option to quickly adjust brightness, contrast and VRR on the fly.
The LG C1 isn’t flawless, as we did encounter issues around how the new Alpha a9 Gen. 4 upscales faces, and how reflective the all-glass screen is in the daylight, but the issues are few and far between.
There are, of course, higher resolution flatscreen TVs out there right now like the Samsung QN900A, which offers 8K resolution, and the new LG G1 Gallery Series that uses the coveted OLED evo panels that offer better brightness. However, we feel that the LG C1 OLED offers a near-unbeatable blend of price and performance and should be high up on your list of the best televisions TVs to buy in 2021 and beyond.
Read the full review: LG C1 OLED
Sony hasn’t held back in pricing the new A90J 4K TV with OLED, but we believe the performance does justify the hefty price tag.
Picture quality, from any source, is about as good as it currently gets from any 4K screen, and in every meaningful department – motion control, contrast, edge definition, detail levels, you name it. For those moments when you’re reduced to watching sub-4K content, it’s great at upscaling, too.
The Sony A90J is more than a few steps ahead when it comes to sound quality. Using the entire surface of the screen as a speaker is still novel and effective, and backing it up with two conventional bass drivers means the A90J sounds fuller, more direct and just, well, better than any alternative that doesn’t feature an off-board sound system.
Add in a smart new Google TV interface, the usual Sony standard of build and finish, feet that change position to accommodate a soundbar, an exclusive movie streaming service, and an authentically well-designed remote control, the A90J looks like the complete package. Although complete packages seldom come cheap.
Read the full review: Sony A90J OLED TV review
There's little doubt in our mind that, for gamers, the new Sony X90J is one of the best televisions out there.
It has excellent image quality, thanks in part to a new Cognitive XR processor rolled out to Sony's top 2021 sets, making for excellent upscaling and contrast control. The X90J also sports the new Google TV smart platform, for easy setup and broad app support as well as the perks of Google Cast from Android devices. There's Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio packed in too.
When it comes to gaming, the X90J has a 120Hz panel with 4K resolution and two full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports for your Xbox Series X and PS5, with VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode, for sub-10ms lag) to really up your gaming experience. Just be sure to head into the picture settings and switch on 'Enhanced format' for your selected HDMI port, otherwise you won't get the benefit of its 2.1 specification.
There are still a few lingering issues, including middling off-axis viewing and struggles with direct daylight – and the X90J will no doubt be beaten by the capabilities of its step-up X95J model for a small uptick in cost. Still, the Sony X90J succeeds in delivering stellar performance for a reasonable price.
Read the full review: Sony X90J 4K TV
You’ll need to overlook the inexplicable and quite significant lack of UK TV catch-up services if you’re going to find a place in your home for LG’s superb OLED55CX – but if you’re a sports fan then you should try your hardest. The LG is a great TV for sports-viewing – once you have a delve into the LG’s extensive set-up menus.
Weirdly enough, it’s not the OLED55CX’s ‘Sports’ picture preset which makes sport look its best. Instead, get down into the depths of the set-up menus and select ‘TruMotion’, and then have a fiddle with the ‘de-judder’ and ‘de-blur’ adjusters. It’s fairly straightforward to get a balance that makes the LG’s motion-handling as smooth as freshly polished silk, while retaining all the detail and lovely color balance that the screen is capable of.
Read more: LG CX OLED review
In general terms, the Panasonic HX800 is something of a steal – the ‘picture-quality-per-pound’ ratio is perhaps stronger here than with any other TV in this list. And while it’s generous enough to offer complete HDR support (by no means a given, sadly), one of the headline reasons it’s such a bargain, relatively speaking, is the absolutely sterling work it does with televised sports.
For once, this Panasonic is a TV that looks its best with sports when set to its ‘Sports’ picture mode. From there, it takes only a moment’s finessing of the ‘Intelligent Frame Creation’ setting to get a result that combines utterly convincing motion-handling with the fine edge-definition and detail retention that makes the Panasonic such an enjoyable and absorbing watch.
Read more: Panasonic HX800 TV review
The Philips OLED 805 is a winning combination of excellent picture quality, powerful processing, and lovely build quality.
The 805 isn't quite as competitively priced as its step-down sibling, the OLED 754, but it packs in all the same features with even more impressive specs. All the HDR standards? Check. Excellent P5 picture processing engine? Check. Unique-to-Philips Ambilight arrangement to make a big picture look bigger still? Check.
And Philips, of course, is the TV brand that trusts its customers more than any other. That’s why the 65OLED805 comes complete with an absolute stack of picture-adjustment options for its owner to spend hour after hour fiddling with.
It’s possible to make minute changes to the way the P5 fettles images – and as long as you have the patience, the 805 is capable of turning out some of the best-controlled and most lifelike sports pictures around. Just turn off all the ‘noise reduction’ options in ‘Standard’ mode and you’re most of the way to some brilliantly controlled sports action.
If you don't want to have to fiddle with your settings too much, though, this might not be the best choice for you.
Read the full review: Philips OLED 805
The Vizio P-Series Quantum X is a consistently impressive LED-LCD smart TV that combines the brightness of a QLED and some of the best black levels this side of an OLED.
Offering over 2,000 nits of peak brightness, it lights up any home cinema and cuts through ambient lighting to become one of the best TVs for brightly lit living rooms – and thanks to a recent firmware update, it's now a great match-up for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 4K/120hz support, auto-low latency mode and responsive 13ms lag time with 4K/60 games.
That said, it's not without its faults. TVs this bright are bound to have some blooming, which can be noticed when you’ve got white text on a black background, and its upscaling – while much better than previous years – still isn’t at the same level of LG, Samsung or Sony TVs. SmartCast, similarly, is a lot better than it’s been in past years thanks to the addition of Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus and Peacock, but it’s still frustratingly slow at times.
If you truly have deep pockets and want the best image quality out there, then it’s still worth going for LG's OLED or Samsung's QLED TVs. In the absence of the sufficient funds, though, the $1,599 Vizio P-Series Quantum X P75QX-H1 is clearly an excellent option for those that want quantum dot tech in one of the best TVs, at Vizio-level prices.
Read the full review: Vizio P-Series Quantum X (2021)
The Samsung QN90A is one of the first 4K screens in 2021 to use the company’s hyped-up Neo QLED panels that sport a higher count of light emitting diodes per square inch than previous generations. The result is a brighter TV than before, if that’s even possible with Samsung, and one that can display a deeply satisfying array of colors.
All Neo QLED TVs sport the higher-end Neo Quantum Processor 4K that uses a neural network to analyze images for better HD upscaling and Motion Xcelerator Turbo+ for better motion handling – all of which has really paid off for Samsung’s flagship screen.
That said, there are a few looming issues this year that we can’t ignore, like the slight wobble of the pedestal stand, or the surprisingly lackluster sound quality that doesn’t befit a flagship 4K TV. There’s also no support for Dolby Vision still, which means you’re stuck with HDR10 on Netflix and HDR10+ elsewhere.
That's not a deal-breaker, but it does lower Samsung's 2021 flagship QLED TV to the number seven spot on our best TV list.
Read the full review: Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV
The Hisense H8G Quantum Series is a great choice for those looking to spend little and get a lot from their smart TV.
At just $700 for the 65-inch version of the Hisense H8G – after a massive price drop from its original RRP – it’s outstanding value. You're not having to make do with a sub-standard set, though, as the apps are easy to find and use, Google Assistant support is well-implemented, and the technical specs rival much pricier models. Motion is brilliantly smooth, too, with great performance across HD and 4K video despite a drop in brightness compared to competing QLED models.
You won't get quite the quality experience of many others in this list, and the design of this set isn't very inspiring. For the price, though, the Hisense H8G Quantum Series certainly delivers.
Read the full review: Hisense H8G Quantum Series
The all-new Samsung Q70T QLED TV boasts much of the feature armory found in Samsung’s more expensive QLED 4K screens, but doesn’t come with such a punishing price tag – making it a great buy for folks who can't reasonably spend a couple thousand on the flagship Samsung Q95T.
Despite using an edge-lit design, its imagery is bold and bright, connected platform is top notch and, if you’re planning to buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X, it could well be your cheapest route to high frame rate 4K gameplay.
The Q70T benefits from the same AI smarts employed by other 2020 QLED 4K models, and it's a genuine strength. Samsung hits the proverbial bullseye when it comes to adding naturalistic detail and nuance to sub-4K images.
The set’s Auto Motion Handling image interpolation is top notch and on Auto pilot, it does a cracking job of enhancing picture sharpness according to content.
If you prefer, the Auto Motion Plus setting can be manually configured, with adjustable blur and judder reduction. Typically we would set blur reduction at 9 or 10, with judder reduction at 3 or 4. There's also an LED clear motion option, but while this succeeds in cleaning up the image, it drops overall brightness significantly.
Read more: Samsung Q70T QLED TV review
Best Sports TV FAQ
What should you look for in a sports-centric TV?
If you’re buying a TV and you know you'll be watching a lot of sport, there are a few key things to consider. For starters, there are many different aspects of picture performance to bear in mind, including detail retrieval, color fidelity, and edge definition. Of course, these are all the hallmarks of a good TV, but a great TV for sport needs some extras.
We’d expect slow camera pans to follow faster movement, abrupt changes of direction, movement in the opposite direction the way the camera is moving, and great big swathes of uniform color with smaller elements of different color in constant motion. You get the idea. The way a TV handles motion is extremely important.
How efficient a TV is at handling motion comes down to how well it implements different refresh rates. You don’t need to get caught up in the technicalities here, but it’s worth considering that UK broadcasts are almost always at 50Hz (or 50fps).
This means there are 50 images broadcast per second, which is what makes still pictures look like they’re moving. Therefore, how well a TV can handle this rate of transmission will determine how smooth and convincing the on-screen motion is going to look.
Bear in mind that there isn’t a TV out there with a refresh rate of less than 50Hz. So in theory, one TV should be very much like another when it comes to taking those 50 images per second from the broadcaster and delivering them at a rate of 50 per second on the screen.
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