Best TV Buying Guide: settle in for TechRadar's round-up of the best TV sets you can get your hands on in 2018.
Not sure how to choose the right TV for you? You're not alone. With more manufacturers than ever in the TV space, radically new technology coming every single year and seemingly endless deals popping up every week, finding the right 4K TV at the right price can be a daunting and difficult challenge.
The good news is that we can help. We've spent years reviewing TVs on TechRadar and have seen the vast majority of the TVs on the market. Many of them have adorned our home entertainment centers while many more have been shown to us by the manufacturers during demos and first look events.
- Want to know about the best TVs of 2019? Our CES 2019 coverage starts January 7!
After all that experience we're more than happy to impart what we know for you, demystifying the TV buying process and directing you toward our favorite TVs.
To that end, we've divided our guide into two pages. The first page details the best TVs of 2018 along with their key specs, while the second page will teach you more about what makes a TV tick and why those specs matter so much.
If you're looking for a buying guide that deals with TVs that only support a 4K 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 and best Cyber Monday TV deals guide, which contain boatloads of savings.
[Update: Cyber Monday is over, but the deals aren't gone yet! We can help you shop for new TV through the holidays with our Cyber Monday deals article. Check it out for the latest deals, discounts and best buys until December 25.]
"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 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.
1. Samsung Q9FN QLED (2018)
The best TV ever? Could be!
65-inch: Samsung QE65Q9FN
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 (65Q9FN)
2. LG C8 OLED Series (2018)
LG sets a new standard with its 2018 OLED range
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 colors, not to mention an astounding level of detail with native 4K content.
There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony's A1E and A8F 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
85-inch: Samsung QN85Q900RAFXZA
With most people - *cough* content providers - only just getting to grips with 4K resolution, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Samsung had gone nuts by introducing the world’s first true 8K TV. And yet, while it's easy to be critical about the Samsung Q900R, it truly does usher in a new era of TV picture quality.
Its 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 85Q900R is a vision of the future that’s actually spectacularly worth buying today.
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. 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.
6. Samsung Q8FN 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 Q8FN is still a fantastic TV. Phenomenally bright, colorful 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, color saturations reduce, and backlight blooming becomes much more noticeable. Also, Samsung’s Auto motion processing system is a bit over aggressive, causing too many distracting side effects for comfort.
7. Sony Bravia X900F Series (2018)
Sony's mid-range model offers affordability and stellar images
65-inch: Sony Bravia X900F
OK, so you don't want (or can't afford) Sony's new A9F OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey Z9F. So what should you buy? Check out the X900F 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 X900F. 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 X900F is highly recommended and deserved our Recommended award.
Read the full review: Sony Bravia X900F (XBR-65X900F) review
8. TCL 6-Series (R615, R617) (2018)
An exceptional 4K HDR TV for the budget-minded buyer
55-inch: TCL 55R617
If you had deep pockets and checkbook filled with blank checks, we’d tell you to reach deep and shell out for only the best TVs on the market - LG’s crazy-thin OLED W8 or Samsung’s ultra-bright Q9FN QLED (both featured on this list). But that’s not realistic. For the vast, vast majority of us, our budget to spend on a TV is limited to somewhere under $1,000 - and often less than that.
To that end, it’s absolutely fair to say that the TCL 6-Series is the best TV you can possibly get in this price range. Its performance per dollar is unmatched and its picture quality - despite a few minor flaws - will truly impress you.
Read the full review: TCL 6-Series (R615, R617)
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 Q7FN QLED TV (2018)
Bright and beautiful but still missing some key components
The Samsung Q7FN QLED TV has most of what makes the class-leading Q9FN great: Its quantum dots help produce a colorful but not oversaturated image and local dimming has really improved year-on-year. That said, off-axis viewing is still an issue and motion handling isn’t as good here as it is on Sony’s similarly priced X900F BRAVIA series.
That said, while the Q7FN is bright, colorful and beautiful, it loses many of those qualities the moment you shift a few degrees off-axis. This isn’t an area where some of Samsung’s competitors - like the LG OLED or Super UHD TVs - stumble, and that makes it tough to give a full unadulterated recommendation.
But, overall, the Q7FN is a good compromise between price and performance offering a bright screen, HDR and incredibly accurate colors for $1,799.
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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