Best TV 2018: which TV should you buy?

Best TV Best TV 2018 Best TV of the year

Best TV Buying Guide: Feast your eyes on TechRadar's round-up of the best TVs money can buy in 2018.

You know the feeling. You're stalking the aisles at Best Buy, your eyes locked on a towering, top-of-the-line TV and thought, "I need this." 

But money's tight, and to get the very best TV on the market you're going to have to splash the cash. How can you be sure you're really getting the best screen for your moolah, when an investment of this size can be a massive one?

You do the only logical thing and you go online to shop. 

But then you hit another problem: Shopping for TVs online you'll have hundreds of reviews at your disposal, but the noise can be overwhelming. Weighing up your funds, is it time to make the jump to OLED, or will LCD still cut it? Do you need smart features, and if so, through what platform? And is a giant size as essential as everyone on MTV Cribs makes it out to be? Sigh. 

But don't lose hope. Some screens really do outperform others, offering better contrast, higher clarity and new technologies like Wide Color Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) that will dramatically improve your TV watching experience.

"So, should I buy a TV now or wait it out?"

This is a question we get a lot. Like most technology (cough, iPhones) 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. 

But while doing so will certainly net you a larger screen at a better price, some of the best panels are already being manufactured today. While tomorrow's screens might be a bit larger, a bit brighter and a bit cheaper, today's screens are just as competent in their own right. 

We can say that with confidence knowing that most manufacturers have finally embraced the three most important standards in TVs: Ultra HD , Wide Color Gamut and HDR (HDR10 and, if you're lucky, Dolby Vision). If a TV you're looking at doesn't support at least one of these, you should probably look somewhere else.

Not sure where to start? Here are the best TVs we tested this year.

  • 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 how to set up your TV to make sure you're getting the most out of it.

1. LG C7 OLED Series (2017)

Stunning pictures at an affordable price puts OLED back on top

55-inch: LG OLED55C7 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C7

Stunning contrast-rich pictures
Gorgeous ultra-thin design
Excellent operating system
Lacks brightness vs LCD

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 (something we weren't sure was even possible), 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.

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)

2. Sony XBR-Z9D Series (2016)

Sony’s 2016 flagship TV set new standards in picture quality

65-inch: Sony XBR-65Z9D | 75-inch: Sony XBR-75Z9D | 100-inch: Sony XBR-100Z9D

Stunning HDR picture quality
Ground-breaking backlight
Android TV feels sluggish
Pretty average audio

From the moment we laid eyes on the the XBR-65Z9D we’ve been desperate to get our hands on one. It is, hands down, the holy grail of television for 2018: 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 color technology for unlocking the extended color spectrums associated with HDR sources.

3. LG Signature Series W7 OLED (2017)

LG's W7 OLED melds into the wall

65-inch: LG 65W7OLED | 77-inch: LG 77W7OLED

Insanely slim design
Color, clarity and contrast
Future-proof HDR
Motion issues with TruMotion

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. 

Samsung KS9500

4. Samsung QLED Q9F (2017)

Getting the hots for metal Quantum Dots

75-inch: Samsung QE75Q9F | 65-inch: Samsung QE65Q9F

Unprecedented colour levels
Ultra high brightness
Occasional backlight clouding
Limited viewing angles

It looks like someone on Samsung’s TV design team has been watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 65-inch Q9 is a ringer for that film’s mysterious black monolith thanks to the way both its front and back sides are completely flat and feature ultra-robust, polished finishes. Ultra HD HDR playback is what the Q9F was created to do and, given Samsung’s potent HDR track record, it's no surprise to find that it does it supremely well. Even though the Q9F has 4K HDR optimisation in its DNA, it’s capable of looking seriously good with high definition standard dynamic range content too.

Best TV

5. Sony Bravia A1E OLED (2017)

Sony's brand-new TV for 2017 is returning to OLED

65-inch: Sony Bravia 65A1E | 55-inch: Sony Bravia 55A1E

Gorgeous picture quality
Startling, monolithic design
Innovative and excellent sound
It’s not very bright

If LG's OLED isn't your thing, spend some time checking out Sony's new OLED.

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 colorful pictures. These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things. 

LG OLED E6

6. LG OLEDE7 Series (2017)

OLED just keeps getting better

55-inch: LG OLED55E7 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E7

Gorgeous, contrast-rich pictures
Incredibly thin design
Some brightness-related noise
LCD TVs are brighter

After kickstarting its 2017 OLED campaign with the sensational-but-expensive OLED W7, LG is now following that up with something rather more affordable. 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.

Best TV

7. Sony Bravia XBR-X900E Series (2017)

This is the HDR flatscreen we’ve all been waiting for

Direct LED with local dimming
Excellent motion handling
Unfussy but elegant design
HDR is a bit dim

OK, so you don't want Sony's new A1E OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey ZD9. So what should you buy? Check out the X900E series. With superb 4K image clarity, powerful SDR-to-HDR remastering, and a smooth direct LED backlight, Sony is offering something very different with the X900E. 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 X900E is highly recommended and deserved our Best in Class award. 

LG OLED B6 deals

8. LG OLEDB7 Series (2017)

LG's entry level OLEDs continue to impress

55-inch: LG OLED55B7V | 65-inch: LG OLED65B7V

Excellent all-round image quality
Complete HDR support
Great smart platform
No Dolby Atmos passthrough
Mediocre onboard audio

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

Best TV

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9. TCL P-Series (55P607) (2017)

TCL's 55P607 is simply the best budget TV of 2017

55-inch: TCL 55P607

Bright, colorful HDR
Roku TV is amazing
Upscaling isn’t world-class
Poor black level performance

TV manufacturers have long sought the formula to a great performing TV at a bargain price and, speaking for the last seven years since LED LCD hit the mainstream, have never quite achieved that perfect balance. Until now. 

For us, TCL’s P-Series 55P607 does just that – it packs powerful technology under the hood, including support for WCG and Dolby Vision, in an affordable package that will only get cheaper once the seasonal sales start in November.

If you like your TVs bright, colorful and well-stocked with the latest display technologies, the TCL P-Series 55P607 should be at the top of your list.

Read the full review: TCL P-Series (55P607)

10. Sony Bravia X940E (2017)

One of 2017's finest LCD TVs

75-inch: TCL 55P607

Outstanding picture quality
Dolby Vision HDR support
Rather reflective screen
Limited effective viewing angle

While this monstrous 75-inch size TV will likely be too much for many households to handle, the Sony 75X940E is hands down one of the best new LCD TV of the year. Its combination of outstanding contrast, gorgeously rich but also subtle colors and impeccable sharpness and motion handling works wonders with HDR and SDR alike. It’s surprisingly elegant for such a large TV, too. 

Perhaps best of all, though, its sub-$4,500 price looks like something of a steal when you consider that you’re really buying a high quality home cinema display rather than a mere TV. It comes highly recommended with our seal of approval.

Read the full review: Sony Bravia XBR-75X940E

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