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.
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.
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 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.
Continue on to page two to read about what to look for when buying a TV!