If you're shopping for a new TV, then look no further. TechRadar has brought together the biggest, brightest, and smartest televisions to have ever passed by our eyeballs.
Top performing TVs can be pricey, but you need to think of this as an investment that will return value over many hours and many years, and will benefit your whole family.
Most of the 2021 TV ranges haven't arrived just yet, so many of the sets below are from 2019, but don't let that put you off. Upgrades between TV generations tend to be small steps, so you won't miss out on a huge amount by sticking with these models. Remember, all these TVs get software updates over the Internet anyway.
For now, you can safely choose to upgrade to one of these top performing TVs currently on the market.
- Is bigger better? Check our picks of the best 65-inch TVs
Best TVs at a glance:
- Samsung Q90R QLED TV
- LG CX OLED Series
- Best 8K: Samsung Q950TS QLED TV
- Budget OLED: LG B9 OLED Series
- Samsung Q80T QLED TV
Last year, the Samsung Q9FN was the TV to beat. It won plaudits galore for its features and image quality, not to mention its excellent, improved smart platform that came with Bixby support and Samsung SmartThings.
However it 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.
The Q90 is able to deliver images that can directly compete with an OLED, with natural colors, bright highlights, deep blacks, and well defined shadows. It can also surpass any OLED when it comes to HDR, with images that are often breathtaking in their detail and dynamic range.
In fact our only real criticism would be that, unlike some of the competition, the Q90 doesn’t support Dolby Vision. However in all other respects the Samsung Q90 is an absolutely stellar new Samsung TV that takes QLED to another level.
Read the full review: Samsung Q90R QLED TV
The LG CX OLED is certainly the best OLED TV for 2020, and fully deserves to scrape the top of this list to the best TVs available today.
Iterating on last year's LG C9 Series, the LG CX might not seem all that different – and it isn't. But by continuing the same mesmerizing picture quality and standout webOS smart platform, with a few modern-day updates like HDMI 2.1 and an a9 Gen 3 processor, it's managed to outdo its predecessor.
With a new 48-inch OLED TV size now available too, the CX is an even more flexible proposition for a wider variety of wallets and homes. With a slimline design and support for Dolby Vision and Atmos – along with bellowing built-in audio – it's a fantastic choice at any size.
LG is really looking to entice gamers with its 2020 range, too, with rock-bottom input lag, support for Nvidia G-Sync, and compatibility with 4K/120HZ gameplay for next-gen consoles.
You won't get HDR10+ here, sadly, and UK viewers will have to go without all of their fave catch-up apps, but make no mistake – this is the best OLED TV for you in 2020.
Read the full review: LG CX OLED
The Samsung Q950TS represents the latest 8K TV from the manufacturer, combining all the benefits of last year’s Samsung Q900 8K screen with innovations first introduced the 2019 flagship Samsung Q90 4K TV that hit shelves earlier this year.
Combined in one top-notch QLED TV, the new Samsung Q950 offers an 8K panel and AI-enhanced image processing, plus wider viewing angles, an improved black filter and standard-setting HDR performance. If all that wasn’t enough, Samsung’s smart TV platform is the most comprehensive on the market.
So if you’re looking for a state-of-the-art new Samsung TV – and don't mind paying top-dollar for it – the Q950TS should be at the top of your short list.
Read the full review: Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED
The LG B9 OLED absolutely delivers on its promise – to give shoppers a cheaper way into a world of OLED, with the sharp contrast and vivid colors that involves.
Inevitably there are some corners cut to get there, and you’re not getting the excellent experience of the C9 or E9 – while the delayed launch of the budget B9 model, and continuing price cuts to more premium sets, means this year’s B Series isn’t quite the deal it would have been a few months ago.
If the B9 is all your budget allows for, it’s a solid purchase, though scrimping and saving for the LG C9 OLED – and keeping an eye out for it in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales – may be a better decision in the long run.
New for 2020, the Samsung Q80T QLED builds on the successes of previous models for a brilliant HDR TV definitely worth checking out.
The most notable feature is the incredibly low input lag, making the Q80T a great choice for gamers who want responsive gameplay, but the QLED screen will also make general watching a pleasure all around.
The Q80T is the cheapest 2020 Samsung TV to come with a full-array backlight, meaning you'll get consistent brightness, though not some of the premium qualities of higher-end sets – hence why it lands lower on this list than last year's Q90 QLED. It also isn't quite as stylish as the zero-bezel Q950TS, with a thick body compared to other QLEDs in this year's range.
However, you'll still get Samsung's latest Quantum 4K processor, vivid HDR colors, and advanced smart TV features through the Tizen OS.
If you want more of a saving, too, the Q70R QLED is this TV's predecessor, and will cost you a good few hundred dollars less than the new Q80T model (yes, it's the some product line, and yes, the naming is confusing).
Read the full review: Samsung Q80T QLED TV
How to buy
What TV technology is best? Which is the best LCD TV? Which screen size is best for your living room? What's the difference between LCD and LED TVs?
The answers aren't always obvious. In fact, buying a new TV can be stressful even for the tech-savvy – as there are so many brands, so many features, so many screen sizes, colors, technologies and flavors to choose from.
So which one is right for you, your family and your living space? In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a new TV.
What types of TV are there out 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.
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 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.
Some manufacturers are still making TVs that have slightly curved screens. But unlike old CRT TVs, the curve is inwards rather than outwards. The idea is that this makes every pixel equidistant from your eyes, delivering a more satisfying picture. However, there are drawbacks for this type of screen, the main one being that if you sit far enough to one side – more than 40 degrees or so – the curve clearly starts to affect the image's geometry, foreshortening content near to you and compressing the image's centre.
What resolution tech should I go for?
HD TVs come in two resolutions. Sets with the HD ready are required to be able to display a minimum 720p picture, and generally has a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Meanwhile, Full HD TVs have a higher resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It's highly advisable that you don't go for anything less than full HD in this day and age.
Ultra HD and 4K
The resolution of Ultra HD is exactly four times higher than full HD – 3840 x 2160. It means a far more detailed picture, with content requiring a lot more bandwidth and storage space. 4K TVs tend to be good at upscaling HD video to Ultra HD but there are currently very few options for watching native 4K content. Read more about 4K resolution.
If 4K isn't enough to impress you, there are now a good number of 8K TVs entering the market. This ultra-ultra-high-definition format packs in four times the number of pixels as 4K, for even sharper, crisper images.
The difficulty is that there's little 8K content available – nothing on Netflix, for example! That means these sets need highly advanced processing to make upscale HD or 4K content for 8K screens, and while it isn't yet a must-buy technology, it's certainly where the TV market is going. Read more about 8K resolution.
Arguably the shift to HDR video could make a more dramatic difference to your viewing experience than moving from HD to 4K. Like still HDR images, the moving version expands the range of both the light and dark ends of spectrum, providing more detail for both.
HDR needs new filming methods though – at the moment there is no way to backfill HDR into existing video. It also needs new TV tech too, with Samsung the only ones to create specific screens, though LG and Sony are going be able to update some of their existing stock to be compatible.
What else should I consider?
Buying a flatscreen television is a major investment and one that you can't afford to take lightly. Just popping into the closest store and grabbing the first plasma or LCD you see won't get you the best deal, the screen that suits your needs, or the gear you require to make the most of your new purchase.
People tend to pick the size of their flat TV based on the amount of space they have for it, this isn't necessarily wise. Flat TVs take up much less space than you might think, so your new TV may end up a foot or two further away from your viewing position, making the picture appear smaller.
Also, with hi-def, you can have a bigger screen and the same viewing distance without worrying about seeing blemishes inherent to the source. A 4K TV's lack of noise means that the ideal distance to sit from the screen is three to four times the height of the TV.
How many HDMI sockets do I need?
For a living room TV you should be looking for a minimum of 3 HDMI inputs. If you want to attach a set-top box as well as games consoles etc, those HDMI ports will fill up fast.
Do I want to hang my TV on the wall?
First off, you'll need to consult a construction expert to check that the wall in question is strong enough to support a flatscreen. Then find out if the set you want is designed to be wall-mounted and, if so, ask if the relevant bracket is included in the basic package or as an optional extra.
Will I be connecting it to a home cinema?
If the answer is no, you might want to think more carefully about your set's audio performance. Look for a screen that can go as loud as you'll need without distortion or cabinet rattle. Consider how dialogue sounds and how much low-end rumble the bass is capable of.
Conversely, it's pointless paying out more cash for exceptional built-in speakers if you already have a decent home cinema system.
Other buying guides to check out
- 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.
- Are you looking for the best universal remote for your new home theater setup?
- Need something to watch on your new TV? check out our list of best TV streaming services.
- Looking more premium? Check out the best OLED TV prices and deals available now.