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Best 4K TV 2021: the top 10 Ultra HD TVs worth buying this year

One of the best 4K TVs showing sunset at sea in moody living room
(Image credit: Sony)

Looking for the best 4K TV? Look no further than this one handy guide – with a full list of the greatest 4K screens available today. 

At this point in time you've probably got some questions: Do you get a Sony 4K TV or a Samsung 4K TV? Should you buy a 4K OLED and QLED (LED-LCD)? There are a ton of models out there right now, and the choices seem endless. 

In this guide, we walk you through the best UHD TVs currently on the market, talking you through their price, specs and features, comparing elements like Dolby Vision and Atmos support, HDR color range and OLED panel technology. 

Bear in mind that while some of these displays remain pricey – OLED TVs especially – they pale in comparison to the eye-wateringly expensive 8K TVs we’re seeing gain traction elsewhere in the TV market, and we've done our best to list a few budget 4K TV models in there like the TCL 6-Series that are a little easier on the wallet.

Best 4K TV in 2021

The LG C1 OLED 4K TV showing a pink tree

(Image credit: LG)

1. LG C1 OLED Series

New for 2021, the LG C1 OLED is the current king of TVs

Specifications
Screen size: 48-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: OLED
Smart TV: webOS
HDR: HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful 4K/HDR picture+Four HDMI 2.1 ports+WebOS is fantastic
Reasons to avoid
-Reflective glass surface-No HDR10+

The LG C1 OLED is the follow up to TechRadar’s best 4K TV of 2020, the LG CX OLED. You can understand, then, why our expectations for the C1 OLED were immense – and yet, it has managed to deliver on all of them. 

That’s because LG has made a number of small tweaks to last year’s model. It’s now using LG’s Alpha a9 Gen. 4 processor for better upscaling and virtual surround sound audio, and with four separate HDMI 2.1 ports, it’s ready for the PS5Xbox Series XXbox Series S, and whatever next-gen consoles can throw at it. Gamers will also appreciate the new Game Optimiser menu that gives you the option to quickly adjust brightness, contrast and VRR on the fly.

The LG C1 isn’t flawless, as we did encounter issues around how the new Alpha a9 Gen. 4 upscales faces, and how reflective the all-glass screen is in the daylight, but the issues are few and far between.

There are, of course, higher resolution UHD TVs out there right now like the LG Z1 OLED, which offers 8K resolution, and the new LG G1 Gallery Series that uses the coveted OLED evo panels that offer better brightness. However, we feel that the LG C1 OLED offers the best blend of price and performance and should be high up on your list for potential UHD TVs to buy in 2021 and beyond.

Read the full review: LG C1 OLED

Sony A90J OLED

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony A90J OLED Series

Sony advances the art of OLED with the A90J

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 83-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel Type: OLED
Smart TV: Google TV
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Robust sound+Nice new OS
Reasons to avoid
-Not exactly cheap-Missing some key features

Sony hasn’t held back in pricing the new A90J 4K TV with OLED, but we believe the performance does justify the hefty price tag. 

Picture quality, from any source, is about as good as it currently gets from any 4K screen, and in every meaningful department – motion control, contrast, edge definition, detail levels, you name it. For those moments when you’re reduced to watching sub-4K content, it’s great at upscaling, too. 

The Sony A90J is more than a few steps ahead when it comes to sound quality. Using the entire surface of the screen as a speaker is still novel and effective, and backing it up with two conventional bass drivers means the A90J sounds fuller, more direct and just, well, better than any alternative that doesn’t feature an off-board sound system.

Add in a smart new Google TV interface, the usual Sony standard of build and finish, feet that change position to accommodate a soundbar, an exclusive movie streaming service, and an authentically well-designed remote control, the A90J looks like the complete package. Although complete packages seldom come cheap.

Xbox Series X gamers should watch out, though, as there's no VRR support – though you'll find the 4K/120Hz capability and auto low latency mode to match any PS5 console.

Read the full review: Sony A90J OLED TV review

This TCL 4K TV shows a colorful pattern while on wooden media unit

(Image credit: TCL)

3. TCL 6-Series QLED with MiniLED (R635)

A beacon of hope for budget TV buyers

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, 85-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: QLED (LCD)
Smart TV: Roku
HDR: HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Uses MiniLED backlighting+Quantum dot color
Reasons to avoid
-Middling peak brightness-Poor motion handling

When we discovered that the new TCL 6-Series 2020 QLED (R635) would use MiniLED back at CES, we were shocked. That’s because, just last year, that same technology came to the high-end 8-Series and cost hundreds of dollars more than the ultra-affordable 6-Series.

It's not the end-all, be-all LED-LCD we were dreaming it would be due to its limited brightness and poor motion handling, but it truly is an exceptional value and one that we'd recommend to nearly everyone.

The 6-Series is brighter than before, more colorful and doesn’t have a single hint of haloing or light bleed. It’s designed in a new way to hide your cables and it’s the first TV to come with THX Certified Game Mode for 1440p/120Hz gaming.

It's not exactly the TV we'd recommend to next-gen-ready gamers looking for a perfect companion for the Xbox Series X or PS5 that can push 4K at 120 fps, but if you're buying a TV to binge Netflix, stream Hulu or, well, basically just enjoy your viewing experience, this is the 4K UHD TV that we'd recommend for you.

Read the full review: TCL 6-Series 2020 QLED with MiniLED (R635)

A reddish-white feather on the Sony X90J, one of the best 4K TVs

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony X90J 4K TV

A great all-round 4K TV aimed squarely at the mid-range

Specifications
Screen size: 50, 55, 65, 75-inch
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Panel technology: LCD
Smart TV: Google TV
HDR formats: HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Best-in-class image quality+Easy setup and Google TV
Reasons to avoid
-Lingering HDMI issues-Slight screen glare

The Sony X90J could be a good shout for those with a large enough budget who aren't bothered about a high-end OLED screen.

It has excellent image quality, thanks in part to a new Cognitive XR processor rolled out to Sony's top 2021 sets, making for excellent upscaling and contrast control. The X90J also sports the new Google TV smart platform, for easy setup and broad app support as well as the perks of Google Cast from Android devices. There's Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio packed in too.

When it comes to gaming, the X90J has a 120Hz panel with 4K resolution and two full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports for your Xbox Series X and PS5, with VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode, for sub-10ms lag) to really up your gaming experience. Just be sure to head into the picture settings and switch on 'Enhanced format' for your selected HDMI port, otherwise you won't get the benefit of its 2.1 specification.

There are still a few lingering issues, including middling off-axis viewing and struggles with direct daylight – and the X90J will no doubt be beaten by the capabilities of its step-up X95J model for a small uptick in cost. Still, the Sony X90J succeeds in delivering stellar performance for a reasonable price. 

Read the full review: Sony X90J 4K TV

Samsung QN85A Neo QLED on media unit

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung QN85A QLED TV

Samsung’s first foray into Mini LED is a resounding success

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: Mini LED
Smart TV: Tizen
HDR: HDR, HLG, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Bright, colorful images+Useful for next-gen gamers+Great smart TV interface
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision-Sound is nothing special

Why buy the QN85A? This Neo QLED TV delivers blacks that give OLED a run for its money, and highlights that are free from blooming. A stylish design and comprehensive feature-set make for an impressive 4K TV that’s sure to please.

Not only is it adept enough with both black and white tones to allow contrasts to pop from the screen but it can output brilliant colors, draw edges with absolute confidence and it has nice wide viewing angles. It’s blessed with one of the very best smart TV interfaces around and it’s able to support all the clever features of your next-gen games console (as long as you only own one of them).

That said, the QN85A isn’t perfect – its sound is nothing to write home about, it can’t upscale properly low-resolution content with much conviction and it will occasionally have ‘a moment’ when the on-screen motion gets particularly testing. But taken as a package, and with the price/screen-size ratio uppermost in your mind, the QN85A emerges from this test with a lot more in the ‘positive’ column than in the ‘negative’.

Still, we think it's an excellent TV and well-worth considering.

Read the full review: Samsung QN85A Neo QLED TV

The LG G1 4K TV hangs like a painting in stylish living room

(Image credit: LG)

A very expensive premium OLED TV that reaches for the light

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: OLED
Smart TV: webOS
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding contrast+Impressively thin design
Reasons to avoid
-No stand included-Sound system struggles with bass

The LG G1 OLED is a knockout television that builds on the sleek design of last year's Gallery Series OLED and somehow makes it better.

The real hero here is LG's new OLED evo technology, which updates the panel structure to eke out even more brightness – without increasing blooming effects or, we're told, the chance of burn-in.

It's an expensive set, and the Dolby Atmos sound system isn't the best for bass – something that will effect all the other LG OLEDs in this guide. But the breathtakingly slim design makes it a real centerpiece television, with the contrast and color benefits of OLED pushed to new, lighting-enhanced heights. 

The new a9 Gen 4 AI processor is even more capable of smartly upscaling and processing onscreen objects, too, with motion processing in particular getting an upgrade. 

The G1 is really designed to be wall-mounted, though, and it won't come with a TV stand or feet out of the box. You can buy a floorstanding Gallery Stand alongside, or find a third-party solution for placing on a counter, if you need.

Read more: LG G1 OLED TV review

The Hisense H8G shows a beach scene in blue-white surroundings

(Image credit: Hisense)

7. Hisense H8G Quantum Series

The Hisense H8G Quantum is a 4K wonder at a low price

Specifications
Screen size: 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: LED-LCD
Smart TV: Android TV
HDR: HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Bright, colorful at a budget price+Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR
Reasons to avoid
-Design is a bit bland-Android TV can run a bit slow

Hisense's H8 Series has long offered high quality at a very reasonable price, but these days it's getting harder and harder to make waves in the budget TV market – Samsung and LG now offer plenty of great 4K UHD TVs well under the $1,000 mark, while TCL has been making headlines with its $600 TCL 6-Series

Hisense's latest H8G range of smart televisions have all of the features of the other brands without the high price. You can debate the finer points of OLED versus ULED all day, but in the end, the main decision when considering the Hisense H8G Quantum is whether you want features like 8K, HDMI 2.1 and eARC, or if you can live with a gorgeous screen without next-gen features.

At just $700 for the 65-inch version of the Hisense H8G, it’s an outstanding value, the apps are easy to find and use, Google Assistant support is handy, and the technical specs rival much pricier models. 

Read the full review: Hisense H8G Quantum

The Vizio P-Series Quantum X hangs on wall in front of family

(Image credit: Vizio)

8. Vizio P-Series Quantum X

This is Vizio’s best and brightest TV

Specifications
Screen size: 65-inch, 75-inch, 85-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: LED-LCD
Smart TV: SmartCast
HDR: HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Quantum dot technology+3,000-nit peak brightness
Reasons to avoid
-Poor upscaling and slight blooming-SmartCast can get hung up

The Vizio P-Series Quantum X (2020) is a consistently impressive LED-LCD TV that combines the brightness of a QLED and some of the best black levels this side of an OLED. Offering upwards of 2,000 nits of peak brightness, it lights up any home cinema and cuts through ambient lighting to become one of the best TVs for brightly lit living rooms – and thanks to a recent firmware update, it's now a great match-up for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 4K/120hz support, auto-low latency mode and responsive 13ms lag time with 4K/60 games. 

That said, it's not without its faults. 4K UHD TVs this bright are bound to have some blooming, which can be noticed when you’ve got white text on a black background, and its upscaling - while much better than previous years - still isn’t at the same level of LG, Samsung or Sony TVs. SmartCast, similarly, is a lot better than it’s been in past years thanks to the addition of Apple TV PlusDisney Plus and Peacock, but it’s still frustratingly slow at times.

If you truly have deep pockets and want the best image quality out there, then it’s still worth going for LG's OLED or Samsung's QLED TVs – but in the absence of a six-figure salary, the $1,599 Vizio P-Series Quantum X P75QX-H1 is clearly an excellent option for those that want quantum dot tech in a smart TV at Vizio-level prices. 

Read the full review: Vizio P-Series Quantum X (2021)

4K TV Buying Advice

What's the deal with 4K?

4K resolution, at least the way most TV companies define it, is 3840 x 2160 pixels, or 2160p. To put that in perspective, a Full HD 1080p image is only 1920 x 1080. 4K screens have about 8 million pixels, which is around four times what a 1080p set can display. 

You find any less than 4K resolution on this best TV guide, though you might see the odd 8K TV, which packs in 33 million pixels instead for even greater detail – usually at an even greater price.

What types of TV are there?

There are a lot of different screen types out there, all working in different ways to produce the same results. Each technology has its own unique strengths and weaknesses so here are some basics to consider:

LED TV: Direct LED
These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This enables localised dimming – meaning immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively – and greatly improves contrast. LED TVs are also more power efficient and capable of a wider colour gamut than CCFL sets. Because of the extreme cost of mounting these arrays of LEDs, cheaper TVs usually use Edge-Lit LED screens over Direct or Full-Array LED screens.

LED TV: Edge LED
With these TVs, LEDs of the backlight are mounted along the edges of the panel. This arrangement enables radically slender displays and offers superior contrast levels to CCFL, but can't achieve the same picture quality as directly lit LED sets. However, they do come in far cheaper which is why most LED TVs out there now use this technology.

OLED TV
The backlighting on OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets is achieved by passing an electric current through an emissive, electroluminescent film. This technique produces far better colours and higher contrast and also enables screens to be extremely thin and flexible. This is the holy grail display technology and LG, Sony, Philips and Panasonic have all adopted it in their flagship sets.

Quantum Dot
Quantum Dot is Samsung's big play in the LED TV space. With it, the brand claims that it's able to produce more colorful pictures than LG and Sony while offering even brighter panels. LG's Super UHD TVs all use a variation of Quantum Dot called Nano Cell, and Hisense makes a number of Quantum Dot TVs for the US and China.