Best TV Buying Guide: settle in for TechRadar's round-up of the best TV sets you can get your hands on in 2018.
How to choose the right TV for you? Whether you need a new television for that dream home cinema setup, or just something to watch the news or the odd football match, you're likely to clock up a lot of hours during your time with it.
TVs can be some of the biggest purchases you make for your home, and the last thing you want is to invest in something that doesn't suit your needs.
But whatever your budget for a new telly, there are countless features, smart capabilities, panel technologies, and more to consider when pinning down your perfect purchase. And with all the major manufacturers in a yearly arms race to outdo rivals, keeping up with the latest developments can feel impossible.
- Want to know about the best TVs of 2019? Our CES 2019 coverage starts January 7!
But if you're feeling flummoxed, our guide to the best TVs available will help you separate bargain-buy panels from the best 4K screens. We'll help you find an awesome flatscreen without wasting hours of research comparing spec sheets – after all, we've done the research already.
If you're looking for a buying guide that deals with TVs that only support the new Ultra HD resolution, check out our page on the best 4K TVs. Or 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 months' time when the next batch of sets arrive.
If you do want to future-proof against the next wave of hardware specifications, though, the new HDMI 2.1 standard is going to prove crucial for serious gaming setups: allowing support for 8K resolution at 60 frames per second, 4K at 120, alongside a range of new gaming features that will 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.
For more, watch our TV buying guide video below:
The best TVs of 2018
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 colourful 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 colourful 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 C8 OLED Series (2018)
Stunning pictures at an affordable price puts OLED back on top
55-inch: LG OLED55C8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C8
At the top of our list for 2018 is the LG C8 OLED – available in both 55 and 65-inch iterations. It's here because it combines an impressive picture, an extensive set of features, an attractive design and its unrivaled smart platform, to deliver one of the best TVs we have seen to date. It’s not as bright as an LCD TV but those deep blacks make a huge difference to the dynamic range of the image. It’s also capable of vibrant and gorgeous colours, not to mention an astounding level of detail with native 4K content.
There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony's A1 and AF8 OLED or LG's own E8 and W8 OLED models) 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 C8 (OLED55C8, OLED65C8)
3. Samsung Q900R QLED TV (2018)
An 8K LCD-LED TV for the history books
65-inch: Samsung QE65Q900RATXXU | 75-inch: Samsung QE75Q900RATXXU | 85-inch: Samsung QE85Q900RATXXU
The 8K television we've been waiting for? With only so much 4K content out there, you'd be forgiven for thinking Samsung may have jumped the gun slightly on this one. But this is still the world's first true 8K TV, and while it's easy to be critical about the Samsung Q900R, it truly does usher in a new era of TV picture quality.
The native 8K pictures are incredible, looking just like the real world – only better. But even more crucially given the dearth of true 8K content for the foreseeable future, the 85Q900R makes all today’s lower resolution sources look better than they do anywhere else, too.
Whether 8K delivers the same impact on smaller screens remains to be seen, but if you have a big enough room and budget, the Q900R is a vision of the future that’s spectacularly worth buying. In the UK you can find 65, 75, and 85-inch models, ranging from £4,999 to £14,999 – not quite for any budget, but with a few options for those weighing up the cost.
4. Sony Bravia A9F OLED (2018)
LG isn't the only OLED maker in town - the A9F is Sony's killer screen
65-inch: Sony Bravia 65A9F | 55-inch: Sony Bravia 55A9F
Sony’s second-generation OLED flagship, the A9F, is coming at a good time – just as Samsung and LG have stepped up their games with the Samsung Q9FN QLEDand LG E8 OLED, Sony has fired back with a phenomenal OLED of its own.
Even better than the A1E before it, the A9F is unquestionably Sony’s best OLED offering to date, and arguably a strong contender for high-end screen of the year.
While we experienced some minor issues (notably Black level crushing on Dolby Vision, and that Netflix Calibrated mode), niggles are to be expected on a set as ambitious as this. If you can live with the slightly idiosyncratic design, and afford the asking price, it’s a glorious UHD display.
5. Panasonic FZ952/FZ950 OLED (2018)
This polished Panasonic 4K Pro HDR OLED is picture-perfect
55-inch: Panasonic TX-55FZ952B | 65-inch: Panasonic TX-65FZ952B
The FZ952 is a luscious OLED that puts performance first. Its colour handling is class-leading, and its HDR talents are a match for any of its rivals. In fact, it just might offer the best picture performance that we’ve seen on a 4K OLED to date.
The FZ952 isn’t the complete package, lacking as it does Dolby Vision and Atmos compatibility, but it wins more arguments than it loses. We suspect you’ll appreciate the easy sophistication of its smart platform, the quality of that low-lag game mode, and the sheer musicality of the Technics soundbar.
6. LG E8 OLED Series (2018)
A tiny processor makes a huge difference to the OLED range
55-inch: LG OLED55E8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E8
Having potentially pushed the hardware capabilities of its current OLED screen technology as far as they can go, LG has for 2018 turned its attention to the software that drives these screens - and this shift in focus has yielded surprisingly impressive results, improving and even removing many of the residual niggles associated with 2017’s already in truth outstanding OLED sets.
The OLED65E8 loses a bit of ground sonically from its predecessor, and there’s some stiff competition this year from Samsung’s new Q9FN flagship LCD TV, but all the growing legions of OLED fans will probably need to hear is that the OLED65E8 is comfortably the best OLED TV LG has ever made.
Read the full review: LG E8 OLED (55OLEDE8, 65OLEDE8)
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, motion being handled superbly for football fans, the eye-popping vibrancy of its wide colour 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. Philips 803 OLED
The best 4K TV in terms of value
55-inch: Philips 55OLED803 | 65-inch: Philips 65OLED803
With its second generation of OLED TVs, and a new P5 Perfect Processing Engine, Philips has managed to even further enhance the vivid picture and color contrast that last year's Philips 9002 OLED was capable of.
The Philips 803 is a truly capable 4K television, and all the better a deal for being the cheaper sibling to Philips' flagship 903 model – so you're not getting Bowers & Wilkins speakers, but the reduced price brings the 803 much more in reach.
This is one of the most promising OLEDs you'll find on the market today, while Philips' Hue-compatible Ambilight room lighting system is gorgeous for at-home watching. The software doesn't always match the promise of the panel, such as poor catch-up TV provision, a mere two full-spec UHD HDMI inputs and the lack of Dolby Vision. But these are minor concerns in the face of a dazzling OLED picture.
Read the full review: Philips 803 OLED
9. Vizio P-Series (2018)
Vizio’s new P-Series puts Samsung’s QLED screens to the test
65-inch: LG 65W7OLED | 77-inch: LG 77W7OLED
Vizio's 2018 P-Series is a great choice if you're after a TV that performs at an above-average level with great pricing. It has a number of top-shelf features with good black levels, but has its share of problems, too, like some audio reproduction issues and a slower operating platform.
Thankfully, there’s nothing to complain about with the TV’s 4K HDR performance. In fact, considering how much work it takes for other screens to come close to natural colors, the P-Series is supremely good right out of the box.
10. Samsung Q8DN QLED TV (2018)
Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs continue to impress
Although it’s clearly a step down from Samsung’s all-conquering Q9FN, the Q8DN is still a fantastic TV. Phenomenally bright, colourful and ultra sharp - it has all the right stuff for getting huge impact from today’s cutting edge picture sources.
Worth calling attention to, this is a fantastic TV for HDR content as its direct lighting system manages to produce a whopping 2,100 measured nits of light from a 10% white HDR window. This sort of brightness is unparalleled for the TV’s price point, and ensures that it delivers the upper extremes of HDR’s extended brightness range with spectacular effectiveness and punch.
So why isn't it higher on our list? If you watch the TV from an angle, colour saturations reduce, and backlight blooming becomes much more noticeable. Second, Samsung’s Auto motion processing system is a bit over aggressive, causing too many distracting side effects for comfort. Happily the image isn’t too juddery if you prefer - as we did - to generally leave the motion processing off.
Also, by Samsung’s usually high standards, the Q8DN is something of a plain Jane. It’s deeper than most TVs round the back, it sits on two fairly basic feet rather than a swanky, centrally mounted stand, and all of its connections appear on the TV rather than on a separate connections box.
These are minor issues, obviously, and the picture quality is still top notch for an LED-LCD screen. But they do keep the Q8DN in the #10 spot on our list.
Read the full review: Samsung Q8DN QLED TV
Continue on to page two to read about what to look for when buying a TV!
- 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.
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