Welcome to the Best TV Buying Guide: Get ready for TechRadar’s round-up of the best TV sets for your home in 2019.
The age-old question: when you're on the market for a new television, what really is the best TV out there? With so many sets appearing every year, each building on the improvements of its predecessors, even the best TVs are always under threat by new releases – and as high-resolution screens and advanced picture processing becomes the norm, it's harder than ever to suss out which sets really do have the upper hand.
That's good news for you: there are plenty of options for a high-performing television, and when you get to the very best of the best, it's hard to go wrong with choosing one over the other.
But the best TV isn't just the one with the most powerful specs or flashiest design: it's whatever set is going to suit your needs best. You're going to clock up a lot of hours – and likely spend a considerable sum – on your new screen, so you'll want to make sure it's the right one for your home.
If you're feeling confused, 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. Anyone after a TV that won't dominate their home, too, can check out the best small TVs.
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?"
This is a question we're asked 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 smart 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.
- TV stands: finding the best TV stand to suit your living room cinema needs
For more, watch our TV buying guide video below:
The best TVs of 2019
1. Samsung Q90 QLED TV (2019)
The best TV ever? Could be!
Last year the Samsung Q9FN won plaudits galore for its features and image quality. But it's now been replaced on our list of the best 4K TVs by the Q90 QLED TV. The Q9FN wasn't perfect and there were legitimate complaints about viewing angles and an over-aggressive local dimming system that crushed detail just above black.
Samsung has clearly taken these criticisms to heart, and directly addressed them in the Q90. The new model has a visibly superior viewing angle that holds its own against an OLED TV, and the local dimming delivers deep blacks without losing shadow detail. To that end, the new Ultra Black Elite filter is nothing short of a revelation, rejecting ambient light in a way that just staggers belief.
It's not too much of a leap to say that the Samsung Q90 is the most impressive QLED we have reviewed to date, incorporating comprehensive features and cutting-edge picture innovations. As a result, this TV can deliver a performance that is capable of competing with and often surpassing even the best OLEDs.
Read the full review: Samsung Q90 QLED TV review
2. LG C9 OLED Series (2019)
The smartest TV on the planet?
55-inch: LG OLED55C9 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C9 | 77-inch: LG OLED77C9
Replacing the LG C8 model from last year, and vying for the top spot against the Q90 above, the LG C9 OLED is a stunning evolution of the TV-maker's OLED technology.
Combining a stunning display with an immense amount of features and formats – with LG's brilliant webOS smart platform – this is undoubtedly one of the best 4K TVs ever made. There aren't huge differences with last year's model, but the addition of the 2nd Gen a9 processor means the picture processing is truly top-notch.
While it's not as bright as an LCD TV, 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 more expensive LG models in the range: notable the W9 and E9 OLEDs, though you're mainly paying for the fancier form factor and bigger audio output. For an OLED TV this year – or any TV, really – that performs for the price, you should really be considering the C9.
Read the full review: LG C9 OLED (OLED55C9, OLED65C9, OLED77C9)
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.
Read our full review: Samsung Q900R 8K QLED TV
4. Sony Bravia A9G OLED
The A9G Master Series is an OLED to take on the best
65-inch: Sony Bravia 65A9G | 55-inch: Sony Bravia 55A9G
The update to last year’s A9F OLED does not disappoint, with best-in-class upscaling to ensure all those SD and HD images look startlingly detailed on the A9G’s 4K display, and the OLED panel to draw out incredible color and contrast performance. Sony’s premium Acoustic Surface+ Audio technology also means you’re getting sound that vibrates out of the panel itself, for an immersive sound that isn’t limited to specific downward-firing drivers; there’s a two-channel audio system here, rather than the previous model’s 3.2 channel output.
There are some specific flaws worth noting, including the lack of Freeview Play, the on demand service for British broadcasters. While you get premium Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos formats, there’s also no HDR10+, which may be an issue depending on which streaming services and HDR sources you use. The A9G is, however, IMAX Enhanced certified for those keen on the cinematic aspect ratio and DTS-mixed audio that affords.
Coming in 55-inch, 65-inch, and 77-inch sizes, there’s a lot of screen on show too – though you’re starting at £2,899 for the smallest size, with a considerable price tag for a television in your home.
Read the full review: Sony A9G Master Series OLED
5. Panasonic GZ1500 OLED TV
Hollywood-worthy picture, with some minor caveats
55-inch: Panasonic TX-55GZ1500B | 65-inch: Panasonic TX-65GZ1500B
Panasonic has really impressed with its OLED TVs this year, with all of its 2019 OLED models garnering 4.5 or 5-star reviews from our team.
The whole OLED range packs in every HDR format you could think of, including both competing Dolby Vision and HDR10+ formats that we so often end up having to choose between. Add to that Dolby Atmos, HLG, and of course the standard HDR10, and it’s clear you’ll never be cursing your purchase over an incompatible 4K Blu-ray, Netflix movie or TV broadcast.
The GZ1500 stands out though for its built-in soundbar, with an expansive soundstage and the ability to lock vocals to their sources onscreen – something you won’t get the Sony A9G’s vibrating panel. The only place it really falls is its lack of more advanced smart features, while the output isn’t quite as bright as some other OLEDs. Be assured, though, this is still one of the best TVs released in 2019.
Read the full review: Panasonic GZ1500 4K OLED TV
6. LG E9 OLED
A stunning looking-glass OLED TV
55-inch: LG OLED55E9 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E9
The LG E9 OLED certainly has the design chops. Its slim glass display does without any fiddly legs or rim around the screen's edge, and the effect is startling. LG's new a9 Gen 2 processor is hard at work here too, ensuring crisp detail and smooth motion throughout – with the typically deep blacks and rich, vibrant colors expected of an OLED display.
We're still sad about the absence of the E7's integrated soundbar – both the E8 and E9 opted for a thinner speaker band instead – but the 4.2 channel audio and Dolby Atmos support still make for a dynamic soundscape far beyond your average television.
When all's said and done, it's hard to justify the E9 over the C9, given the similar picture processing and same outstanding smart TV platform, webOS – now with Alexa integration and an upgraded menu system for easier navigation. But if you want an OLED set with the looks to match, and a boost to audio, the E9 will be a stunning addition to your living room.
Read the full review: LG OLED E9
7. Philips OLED 803 (UK/EU only)
Gorgeous Ambilight colors and an equally gorgeous OLED panel
55-inch: Philips 55OLED803 | 65-inch: Philips 65OLED803
Philips OLED 803 is a beautiful OLED television, if you can get past some minor issues.
The main draw here is Philips second-generation P5 processor, which manages to double the processing power of the chip seen in the 803's predecessors. The results are stunning, with a Perfect Natural Reality function that algorithmically tweaks contrast, brightness, and definition to optimize your picture on the fly.
The effect of Philips' P5 engine may sometimes be subtle with real-world content, but it gives this set an edge when it comes to playing in SDR 4K or HD. You're also getting Philip's unique Ambilight technology, which throws onscreen colors onto the wall behind your television, giving a sense of real atmosphere.
The 803 is technically second-in-line to Philips' OLED, after the OLED 903+, but the only real difference is the latter's integrated Bowers & Wilkins soundbar – an improvement on sound, sure, but you'll save a neat £500 by going after the 803 and sticking with your current sound system instead.
There's some input lag, so this isn't as well-suited a TV to gaming as some of the others on this list – and the Android TV interface isn't the most seamless. Not to mention the exclusion of the Freeview Play catch-up service, which is increasingly expected as standard for UK viewers.
But the 803 is no doubt the most tempting OLED Philips has produced, and the competitive price compared to the 903+ just nabs it a place on this list.
Read our full review: Philips OLED 803
8. Hisense U8B (UK only)
High-value 4K on an expansive Hisense screen
55-inch: H55U8BUK | 65-inch: H65U8BUK
As ever, Hisense’s contribution is a good deal cheaper than others on this list, though the budget TV maker also offers a lot for the price.
The Hisense U8B ULED goes for bigscreen home entertainment, with 55- and 65-inch sizes that only go up to £999 for the larger model. The Vidaa U 3.0 smart platform is straightforward, connectivity with other devices doesn’t disappoint, and overall the picture performs well – even if poor local dimming leads to a lot of light blooming. The sound system packed into the U8B’s thin panel is also impressive.
The ‘ULED’ labelling isn’t too important, and refers to a set of internal criteria for Hisense’s more premium LED TVs – much like Samsung’s QLED displays. But you’re certainly getting a TV beyond the average LED, and with a more consistent performance than the Hisense O8B OLED TV. Given its price, the U8B just manages to nab a place on this list.
Read the full review: Hisense U8B ULED
Continue on to page two to read about what to look for when buying a TV!