Best TV Buying Guide: Settle in for TechRadar's round-up of the best TV sets you can get your hands on in 2018.
Picking a TV is no simple task. If you're a movie buff, this screen may end up as your best friend not just for the coming months, but years – while we replace our phones on a fairly regular basis, the best TV screens should sit prettily in our living rooms for a good long while. They're pricey purchases, and we expect to get our money's worth.
And with so many features to consider, with new TV technologies being introduced all the time, making a decision is getting harder all the time. A brand new top-of-the-line TV can offer such a wide range of different technologies and features that it can be hard to know what you're looking for. With the major manufacturers in a yearly arms race to outdo rivals, keeping up with all the latest developments isn't always easy.
You could get the TV that promises to pack in every new technology out there, but it's not all essential. Sky Q may support HDR10, but it doesn't bother with the more advanced Dolby Vision. Neither does the 4K Xbox One X.
If you're a Sky Q and Xbox One X user, then, you probably won't want to bother forking out the extra money for a TV that supports Dolby Vision.
For more, watch our TV buying guide video above.
- Confused about high dynamic range? Don't miss our guide to HDR
Feeling flummoxed? Don't worry, TechRadar is here to be your guide. Our guide to the best TVs available will help you separate the cheap panels from the best 4K screens. We'll help you find an awesome flatscreen without wasting hours of research comparing spec sheets.
If you're looking for a buying guide that deals with TVs that only support the new Ultra HD resolution, check out our guide to the best 4K TVs. If getting a flatscreen on the cheap is your main concern, check out the best 4K TV deals.
But, if you're looking for the best-of-the-best TV out there today without limits or stipulations, this is the place for you.
"So, should I buy a TV now or wait it out?"
We hear this question a lot. Like most technology, TVs are getting incrementally better all the time – which means, yes, if you wait a year there will probably be a bigger, flashier TV out there for less money.
The majority of TV manufacturers now support these next generation of features, but you'll have to check the small print in a few cases.
So long as your next TV purchase supports these technologies (looking for an Ultra HD Premium certification is a good way to go), we reckon you won't be kicking yourself in six month's time when the next batch of sets arrive
OK, but let's say you do want to know what's coming next for TVs. If that's the case we'd be remiss if we didn't let you know about the new HDMI 2.1 standard, which as well as allowing support for 8K at 60 frames per second and 4K at 120 will also allow for a range of new gaming features to be supported over HDMI.
It's cool technology for sure, but unless you're seriously into your gaming then we reckon you're safe making a purchase now.
- Want better audio? Check out our guide to the best soundbars available.
- Once you've decided on a panel, make sure you read our guide on to make sure you're getting the most out of it.
1. Samsung QLED Q9FN (2018)
The best TV ever? Could be!
After an underwhelming debut, Samsung’s QLED technology really needed to bounce back in style in 2018. It didn't surprise us in the least, then, to discover Samsung threw the kitchen sink in with its new Q9FN QLED Series of TVs.
As well as being even brighter and more colorful than last year’s equivalent model, Samsung's 2018 flagship screens use a completely different lighting system to combat its predecessor’s contrast problems: Full Array Local Dimming rather than edge-lit LED lighting. The FALD panel works in tandem with Samsung QLED Quantum Dots to produce a picture that's brighter and more colorful than near any we've seen come from the South Korean manufacturer.
Do those features alone make Samsung Q9FN the best TV on the market? No, but throw in technology like HDR10+ and Q HDR EliteMax – what Samsung bills as its maximum High Dynamic Range experience that’s exclusive to the Q9FN – and there's very little doubt in our mind that this is Samsung's best TV ever
Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV
2. LG C7 OLED Series (2017)
Stunning pictures at an affordable price puts OLED back on top
55-inch: LG OLED55C7 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C7
At the top of our list for 2018 (so far) is the LG OLED C7 – available in both 55 and 65-inch iterations. It's here because it delivers better brightness and light control than last year’s C6, making it a high dynamic range performer that doesn't sacrifice OLED’s class-leading standard dynamic range capabilities. It delivers its new picture thrills at a price that finally makes OLED a financially viable alternative to top-end LCD sets making it, beyond a doubt, one of 2018’s most irresistible TVs.
It's at the cheaper end of LG's lineup which means it's not got the heftier speakers of the E7, G7 or W7, but we think it strikes the perfect balance between price and performance.
There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony's A1E OLED or LG's B7 and W7) but we think the OLED C7 offers the best price-to-performance ratio of any TV under the sun in the year 2018.
Read the full review: LG OLED C7 (OLED55C7)
3. Sony XBR-ZD9 Series (2016)
Sony’s 2016 flagship TV set new standards in picture quality
65-inch: Sony XBR-65ZD9 | 75-inch: Sony XBR-75ZD9 | 100-inch: Sony XBR-100ZD9
From the moment we laid eyes on the the XBR-65Z9D we’ve been desperate to get our hands on one. It's a TV able to combine the extreme, high dynamic range-friendly brightness of LCD technology with a backlight arrangement capable of getting LCD closer than ever before to the stunning light control you get with OLED technology.
This backlight arrangement comprises more than 600 LEDs that sit behind the 65Z9D’s screen that are capable of outputting their own light levels independently of their neighbors. This should enable the TV to produce more of the extremes of light and shade associated with new high dynamic range (HDR) technology while suffering less than other LCD TVs with distracting clouds, stripes or halos of unwanted, extraneous light.
As if this wasn’t already attraction enough, the 65Z9D also sports Sony’s new ‘X1 Extreme’ video processing system and the latest version of Sony’s reliable Triluminos wide colour technology for unlocking the extended colour spectrums associated with HDR sources, even if you're 'only' feeding it SDR content.
It's LCD panel can't quite pull off the same black level of our top choice, the LG C7, but the ZD9 shows off the best LCD is capable of in 2018.
4. LG Signature Series W7 OLED (2017)
LG's W7 OLED melds into the wall
65-inch: LG 65W7OLED | 77-inch: LG 77W7OLED
The LG W7 OLED is truly something special. Not only is it one of the thinnest TVs to ever grace our vision (it’s 2.75mm thin), but it’s also one of the most gorgeous.
When fed the right kind of content – in this case, 4K HDR10 or Dolby Vision video – it truly shines. A super-slim design alone wouldn’t have been enough to warrant the extra cost to upgrade to LG’s latest panel.
But the thin frame on top of a Dolby Atmos soundbar on top of four types of HDR support on top of the magnetic mounting system on top of the new webOS 3.5 operating system surely did the trick. This incredibly gorgeous TV isn’t without its faults (see: motion handling, its sticker price and soundbar issues), but in terms of sheer picture performance there’s nothing else like it right now.
5. Sony Bravia A1 OLED
Sony's brand-new TV for 2017 is returning to OLED
65-inch: Sony Bravia 65A1E | 55-inch: Sony Bravia 55A1E
If LG's OLED isn't your thing, spend some time checking out Sony's version.
The 55A1 – and the A1 OLED series overall – are crowd pleasers in just about every way. Their ‘picture only’ design has been beautifully realized, managing to be simultaneously subtle and dramatic.
Their vibrating screen delivers a far more powerful and effective sound performance than I’d thought possible, too. The real stars of the show here, though, are the A1’s exquisitely detailed, contrast-rich and colourful pictures.
These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things.
Only it's exceptionally high price tag prevents it from toppling LG's budget panels.
6. LG OLEDE7 Series (2017)
OLED just keeps getting better
Picking the more affordable option means you have to forego the W7’s incredibly thin and flexible screen, as well as its external control box and speaker system. However, the OLED E7 still looks like a million bucks, still boasts an integrated soundbar that claims Dolby Atmos support, still boasts LG’s excellent webOS smart system, and still, most importantly of all, delivers pretty much identical picture quality to its more expensive sibling.
For all those reasons and more, the E7 OLED is a worthwhile addition to any home theater.
7. Sony Bravia XF90 Series (2018)
This is the HDR flatscreen we’ve all been waiting for
OK, so if you can't afford Sony's new A1 OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey ZD9, check out the all-new XF90 series from Sony. With superb 4K image clarity, powerful SDR-to-HDR remastering, and a smooth direct LED backlight, Sony is offering something very different with the XF90. We loved the consistency of its images, the eye-popping vibrancy of its wide color gamut panel and its easy-to-watch HDR – you get spectral highlights without accompanying eye fatigue.
Given this set’s high-but-fair price point, any niggles we have are negligible. The XF90 is highly recommended and deserved our Recommended award.
Read the full review: Sony Bravia XF90 (KDL-65XF9005) review
8. LG OLEDB7 Series (2017)
LG's entry level OLEDs continue to impress
We've already recommended a couple of different OLED sets on this list, and the B7 is the most affordable of the bunch.
But rather than compromising on that glorious panel to hit a more wallet-friendly price point, LG has instead compromised on sound.
This puts the LG B7 in a slightly weird situation audio-wise. It technically supports Dolby Atmos, but played through its mediocre downward-firing speakers the technology lacks most of what makes it impressive.
Thankfully you're of course able to plug in an external sound system, and we'd advise you to do.
If that's something you're prepared to do then you'll find the B7 has every bit the talent of its more expensive siblings at a fraction of the cost.
Read the full review: LG OLED B7
9. Philips 9002 Series
Ambilight is a great partner for OLED
It's an open secret within the TV industry that every OLED TV uses panels produced by LG Display, meaning that whether you're buying a Sony, a Philips, or a LG, the OLED panel at the heart of each set is the same hardware.
However, Philips has a bit of a trick up its sleeve thanks to its Ambilight technology, which projects colors onto the wall behind it that mirror those shown on the TV itself.
The result is that the company's flagship OLED series, the 9002, is a really stunning piece of tech, and its P5 picture processing engine is great at getting the most out of its OLED panel.
You'll be paying a slight price premium over LG's more budget sets, but Ambilight could be exactly what you need to justify that premium.
Read the full review: Philips OLED 9002
10. Sony XE93 Series (2017)
Sony turns to the bright side using its Slim Backlight Drive
The XE93 Series builds on last year's XD93 series in a few important ways, the first of which is by including one of Sony’s new X1 Extreme chipsets. These are around 40% more powerful than the original X1 chips, and introduce separate databases to help the TV analyze noise and upscale sub-4K sources to the screen’s native 4K resolution. Add in an apparently much-improved sound system and Sony’s Triluminos technology for delivering today’s wider colour ranges and the XE93 series seems to tick all the right boxes.
Unfortunately, though, even an improved version of Sony’s Slim Backlight Drive can’t completely hide the fact that with current edge LED technology there’s always a backlight-based price to pay for all that HDR-sating brightness.
Continue on to page two to read about what to look for when buying a TV!
- Are you looking for the best universal remote for your new home theater setup?