Update: It's been a busy week for TV reviews. We've had the budget Sony XE85 and the 65-inch Sony XE93 take home 4.5 stars and the Panasonic OLED TX-55EZ952 walk home with 4. We'll be deciding if these sets have done enough to earn a place in our list of the best TVs of the year soon, but in the meantime check out our current top picks below.
Original article below…
After a period of frantic progress in TV tech, things have thankfully calmed down a little bit.
Whereas if you bought a new TV a couple of years ago you would have been left kicking yourself as 4K and HDR took over, nowadays you can rest assured that these technologies are going to stick around for a good number of years.
But just because a TV supports the latest and greatest tech, that doesn't mean it does it well. There's a large amount of variation in the quality of their interfaces, HDR, and physical design.
Our constantly updated list of the best 4K TVs is the best way to find a set that does what you need it to do without spending more money than you need to on extraneous features.
The world of TV buying can feel unapproachable when you're first getting into it, but give it some time and it will all make sense. Let's try and make your buying decision at least a bit easier with our picks for the best 4K TVs.
Here's our current line-up, with details down below:
- Samsung Q9F
- LG E7 OLED
- Sony XE90
- Panasonic DX802
- Samsung KS7000
- Panasonic DX902
- LG B6 OLED
- Philips 65PUS7601
- Sony XE93
- Panasonic DX750
- Want something to watch? Check out our best movies on Netflix and best movies on Amazon Prime guides.
- Need to give your TV's sound a boost? Check out our guide to the best soundbars available.
- Ultra HD Blu-rays are a fantastic way of watching 4K content without worrying about buffering. Check out our guide to the best Ultra HD Blu-ray players for some suggestions.
Samsung was the first brand to introduce an HDR-compatible screen way back in 2015, but it's not been resting on its haunches ever since.
It's latest flagship, the Q9F, is a perfect example of this. It ups the brightness to 1500 nits, 50% higher than the level required for UHD Premium certification, and the brightest TV we've ever tested.
Outside of an impressive-sounding number this brightness has a real impact on the set's image quality. Detail is preserved in even the brightest areas of the image, and colors are exceptionally vivid and bright.
Even non-HDR content looks fantastic thanks to Samsung's SDR upscaling technology.
No television is perfect, and the Q9F can occasionally suffer from some backlight clouding around bright objects. Additionally some settings cause color striping in HDR colours, but in all other respects this is the best television around at the moment.
Read the full review: Samsung Q9F
Thanks to the thinness the technology affords, OLED televisions often look striking, but LG's OLEDE7's 'picture on glass' design looks especially fantastic.
However beyond its aesthetic appearance, the set delivers the same great picture quality we've come to expect from OLED, with blacks that are far darker than any you'll see from an LCD TV.
It's black levels were already impressive, but LG's development this year has been to boost the maximum brightness level that the set is capable of, resulting in images that really pop.
LG's flagship this year is the crazy-expensive OLED W7, but frankly the E7 offers a very similar level of quality at a much lower price. It still looks great, it's still packing Dolby Atmos, and although it can't boast the wallpaper thinness of the W7, it's not far off.
For all those reasons and more, the E7 OLED is a worthwhile addition to any home theater.
Read the full review: LG OLED E7
Although LCDs haven't quite achieved the same black levels as their OLED rivals like the LG E7 above, the Sony XE90's HDR performance comes tantalizingly close.
This is achieved through the set's direct LED backlight, which allows it to achieve a brightness uniformity that edge-lit displays often fall short of.
Add in fantastic detail and motion handling, and you've got yourself a set that strikes an excellent balance between price and performance, and is well worth a look, even if its Android TV interface can feel a little cluttered, and its remote a little cheap.
Read the full review: Sony XE90
First, the bad news: The DX802s don't have enough brightness and colour resolution to deliver the maximum HDR experience. You also need to use their Adaptive Backlight setting on its highest level to get a convincing black colour during dark scenes, which can cause occasional backlight stability and clouding.
The good news is that once set up right, the DX802s produce far more spectacular 4K HDR pictures than you've any right to expect for such a reasonably priced TV. There's enough brightness to deliver HDR with plenty of punch backed up by unusually good black levels by affordable LCD TV standards, and colours are reproduced with exceptional finesse. This helps the DX802s deliver plenty of impact from its native 4K resolution too, while the mostly lovely pictures are joined by outstanding sound courtesy of an external sound bar that ships free with the TV.
Finally, the DX802s benefit from a seriously eye-catching design that sees the screen hanging between two easel-style legs.
Read the full review: Panasonic DX802
Despite being much cheaper than the year's more premium KS9500 range, Samsung's KS7000 series still meets the demanding specifications set out by the Ultra HD Premium standard. Which means, essentially, that it's got enough brightness, contrast, colour and resolution to produce an uncompromising high dynamic range performance.
So it is that HDR sources look unprecedentedly dynamic and rich for the KS7000 range's level of the market. The sets also do an emphatic job of getting the maximum impact from their native 4K pixel counts.
The TVs look brilliant with standard dynamic range sources too – though a recent firmware update means that all Samsung's 2016 SUHD TVs offer a surprisingly effective processing system for upscaling SDR to HDR.
There's no 3D support, and very high contrast HDR images can suffer with fairly obvious signs of backlight striping and clouding. Neither of these issues, though, stop the KS7000 from being a great value way of finding out what all the HDR fuss is about.
Read the full review: Samsung KS7000
Panasonic was so obsessed with nailing high dynamic range picture quality on its flagship 4K TV series for 2016 that it came up with an all-new 'honeycomb' LCD panel technology. This puts physical dividers between the areas of the different 'zones' of picture illuminated by its direct-lit backlight system to cut down on the usual LCD problems of backlight clouding around bright HDR objects, and even introduces a new diffuser filter to try and stop the light 'breaks' between different LED zones looking too obvious.
Even this doesn't completely solve LED's light control issues with very extreme HDR content, but it certainly does enable the TV to deliver picture quality with HDR sources that for the majority of the time are second only to Samsung's KS9500 TVs for their combination of dynamism, detailing and sheer spectacle – and the DX902s cost hundreds of pounds less than their Samsung rivals.
Read the full review: Panasonic DX902
The brilliantly simple attraction of the LG OLEDB6 4K TV range is that they bring you a similar level of OLED-based picture quality thrills that saw the OLEDE7 range bag a slot right near the top of this list, but they do it at a much more affordable price.
The thing is, the reasons the OLEDB6 models are so much cheaper than the E-series models are down to things like design, build quality and reduced audio performance rather than massively compromised image reproduction. So it still delivers the unbeatable black levels, lovely rich colours, extreme contrast and pixel-level light control of its step-up OLEDE6 siblings.
As a last-generation set (we'll have a review of the current generation B7 soon) the OLEDB6 suffers more with OLED's tendency to lose detail in very bright areas of HDR pictures, but it's as good as it gets with the SDR content we still watch for most of the time and remains the natural successor to the plasma TVs so beloved of AV enthusiasts.
Read the full review: LG OLED B6
On paper the 65PUS7601's pictures shouldn't really work. It only delivers 700 nits of brightness versus the 1000 nits we're seeing from the highest-level TVs this year, and it only hits around 76% of the expanded 'DCI-P3' colour range usually considered necessary for a premium HDR experience.
The reality of watching the 65PUS7601, however, is that once you've wrestled with a rather complicated picture set up system it produces one of the most immersive and spectacular pictures the TV world has to offer. Particularly key to its success is its direct LED backlight system, which manages to deliver a good (albeit not full) sense of HDR without causing nearly as many backlight clouding distractions as any of its more extravagantly bright rivals.
The 65PUS7601 does this, moreover, while also giving you the hundreds of apps available via Google's Android TV smart platform and costing many hundreds of pounds less than other direct-lit 4K rivals like the Panasonic DX902s and Samsung KS9500s.
Read the full review: Philips 65PUS7670
The Sony XE93 range is the more premium range that sits alongside the XE90 above and it's certainly a more ambitious set.
The XE93 features a Sony innovation known as 'slim backlight drive' which attempts to deliver areas of concentrated light in the screen while maintaining a slim form-factor.
For the most part this system performs admirably, and creates fantastically bright images that have real punch and intensity to them.
But the system does have it's issues with keeping this brightness to the bright areas of the image, where it can occasionally see this light 'bleed' out into darker parts of the image.
Thankfully this set is also no slouch in the sound department; it's happily one of the better sounding TVs out there.
So the XE93 is a great looking set, but while it may be much more premium than the XE90 listed above, it doesn't quite go all the way in justifying its increased cost.
The Panasonic DX750s are some of the cheapest TVs around to offer both 4K and HDR playback. Yet despite their affordability they are also very likeable performers. In fact, with the standard dynamic range sources we still spend the vast majority of our time watching they're nothign short of excellent thanks to their winning combination of 4K sharpness, strong contrast and natural, nuanced colour tones.
With HDR the situation is a little less emphatic, as the screen doesn't have the colour or brightness range to provide a truly full blooded HDR performance. There are various occasional backlight distractions with HDR playback too that you have to work hard in the set up menus to try and minimise. Actually, though, for most of the time the DX750s still look good with HDR and deliver at least a flavour of the extra colour and light dynamics that make it so special.
Add to all this Panasonic's friendly, customisable Firefox TV smart engine and you've got a TV range that offers fearsome amounts of bang for your buck.
Read the full review: Panasonic DX750