Best guide to buying TV: get started for TechRadar's collection of the best TV sets you can get in 2018.
Choosing a new TV is not easy. Whether you use it to watch blockbuster movies in 4K, or log in to the news every night, you'll probably clink about the lifespan of a TV for many hours – and the last thing you want is to invest in something that does not meet your needs.
With so many functions to consider, where new TV technologies are being introduced, taking a decision becomes increasingly difficult. A brand new top-of-the-line TV offers such a wide range of different technologies and functions that it can be difficult to know what you are looking for. And with all the major manufacturers in an annual weapon race to outperform rivals, keeping up with the latest developments can not seem possible.
You could get the TV that promises to pack in every new technology there is, but it's not all essential. Sky Q may support HDR10, but does not worry about the more advanced Dolby Vision. Not even the 4K Xbox One X.
Or if you are a Sky Q and Xbox One X user, you probably do not want to earn the extra money for a TV that supports Dolby Vision.
- Confused about high dynamic range? Do not miss our guide to HDR
But if you feel uncomfortable, our guide to the best TV & # 39; s helps you to separate the cheap panels from the best 4K screens. We help you find a great flat screen without wasting hours of research on comparing spec sheets – that's our job.
If you are looking for a buying guide that deals with TV's that only support the new Ultra HD resolution, please visit our page at the best 4K TV & # 39; s. Or if buying a flat screen on the cheap side is your biggest concern, check out the best 4K TV deals.
But if you are looking for the best-of-the-best TV available today, without limits or regulations, then this is the place for you.
"So, do I have to buy a TV now or wait?"
We hear this question a lot. Like most technology, TV's are getting better – which means, yes, if you wait a year, there will probably be a bigger, more flashy TV for less money.
But that said, a lot of progress has been made lately, because manufacturers are rushing to embrace new display standards, including Ultra HD, Wide Color Gamut and HDR.
Most TV manufacturers now support this next generation of features, but in some cases you will have to check the fine print.
As long as your next TV purchase supports these technologies (looking for an Ultra HD Premium certification this is a good way), we think you will not kick yourself in six months when the next batch sets arrive
OK, but let's say you want to know what the future holds for TV & # 39; s. If that is the case, we have no idea if we have not informed you of the new HDMI 2.1 standard, which in addition to support for 8K with 60 frames per second and 4K at 120 also allows a series of new gaming functions that via HDMI must be supported.
It is definitely cool technology, but unless you are serious about your game, we think you are safe to make a purchase now.
For more information, see our TV buying guide below:
1. Samsung QLED Q9FN (2018)
The best TV ever? Could be!
75-inch: QE75Q9FN | 65-inch: QE65Q9FN | 55-inch: QE55Q9FN
Spectacular HDR image quality
Powerful, well-rounded sound
Good smart system
Limited viewing angles
After a disappointing debut, Samsung's QLED technology really had to rebound in style in 2018. It did not surprise us in the least to discover that Samsung was throwing the sink in with its new Q9FN QLED television series.
In addition to the fact that Samsung's 2018 flagshades are brighter and more colorful than the comparable model of last year, they use a completely different lighting system to combat the contrast problems of their predecessor: Full Array Local Dimming instead of edge-lit LED lighting. The FALD panel works with Samsung QLED Quantum Dots to produce a photo that is brighter and more colorful than almost everything we have seen from the South Korean manufacturer.
Do these functions only mean that Samsung Q9FN is the best TV on the market? No, but throw in technology like HDR10 + and Q HDR EliteMax – what Samsung regards as its maximum High Dynamic Range experience exclusive to the Q9FN – and there is very little doubt in ours that this is the best TV ever from Samsung
Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV
Samsung QN65Q9FN QLED TV
2. LG C8 OLED series (2018)
Stunning photos at an affordable price put OLED back on the map
55-inch: LG OLED55C8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C8
Stunning contrast-rich photo's
Beautiful ultra-thin design
Excellent operating system
Fog clarity relative to LCD
Weaker speakers compared to higher LG OLEDs
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 photo, an extensive range of features, an attractive design and an unparalleled smart platform to deliver one of the best TVs we have seen so far. It is not as bright as an LCD TV, but those deep blacks make a huge difference to the dynamic range of the image. It is also capable of vibrant and beautiful colors, not to mention a stunning level of detail with native 4K content.
There are other OLEDs that are worth this year (see: Sony & # 39; s A1 and AF8 OLED or LG & # 39; s own E8 and W8 OLED models), but we think the OLED C7 offers the best price-performance ratio for every TV in the sun in the year 2018.
Read the full review: LG OLED C8 (OLED55C8, OLED65C8)
3. Sony XBR-ZD9 series (2016)
Sony's 2016 flagship TV unit sets new standards in image quality
65-inch: Sony XBR-65ZD9 | 75-inch: Sony XBR-75ZD9 | 100-inch: Sony XBR-100ZD9
Stunning HDR image quality
Android TV feels slow
Pretty average sound
From the moment we saw the XBR-65Z9D, we were desperate to get one. It is a TV that can combine the extreme, highly dynamic reach-friendly brightness of LCD technology with a backlight that brings LCD closer than ever to the stunning light control you get with OLED technology.
This backlight consists of more than 600 LEDs behind the screen of the 65Z9D that are able to perform their own light levels independently of their neighbors. This should allow the TV to produce more of the extremes of light and shadow associated with new high dynamic range (HDR) technology, while having fewer LCD TVs with distracting clouds, stripes or halos of unwanted, strange light.
As if this did not have enough attraction yet, the 65Z9D also sports Sony's new X1 Extreme & # 39; video processing system and the latest version of Sony's reliable Triluminos wide color technology for unlocking the extensive color spectrums associated with HDR sources, even if you & # 39; only & # 39; power supply of SDR content.
The LCD screen can not achieve the same level of our top choice, the LG C7, but the ZD9 shows what the best LCD in 2018 can do.
4. Panasonic FZ952 / FZ950 OLED (2018)
This polished Panasonic 4K Pro HDR OLED is perfect for photos
55-inch: Panasonic TX-55FZ952B | 65-inch: Panasonic TX-65FZ952B
Excellent 4K picture quality
Effective HDR performance
Elegant smart platform
No Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos support
The FZ952 is a sumptuous OLED that puts performance first. The color treatment is leading and his HDR talents are a match for all his rivals. It even offers the best image performance we have seen on a 4K OLED so far.
The FZ952 is not the complete package, it lacks Dolby Vision and Atmos compatibility, but it wins more arguments than it loses. We suspect that you will appreciate the simple refinement of the smart platform, the quality of that low lag gaming mode and the pure musicality of the Technics soundbar.
5. Sony Bravia A1 OLED (2017)
Sony's brand new TV for 2017 returns to OLED
65-inch: Sony Bravia 65A1E | 55-inch: Sony Bravia 55A1E
Beautiful image quality
Surprising, monolithic design
Innovative and excellent sound
It is not very smart
If LG & # 39; s OLED is not your thing, spend some time viewing the Sony version.
The 55A1 and the A1 OLED series in general are audience visitors in almost every way. Their & # 39; photo-design is beautifully realized, at the same time it has succeeded in being subtle and dramatic.
Their vibrating screen delivers much more powerful and effective sound performance than I thought possible. However, the real stars of the show here are the beautifully detailed, high-contrast and colorful photo's of the A1.
These emphatically prove what we have long suspected: more brands that use OLED technology can only lead to good things.
Only the exceptionally high price tag prevents it from overthrowing LG's budget panels.
6. LG E8 OLED series (2018)
A small processor makes a big difference for the OLED range
55-inch: LG OLED55E8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E8
Great image quality
Opulent and beautiful design
Excellent operating system
Incidental image noise
Fog clarity relative to LCD
Because they may have pushed the hardware capabilities of its current OLED display technology as far as possible, LG has drawn attention to the software that drives these screens in 2018 – and this shift in focus has produced surprisingly impressive results, leaving many of the remaining problems in connection with the existing OLED sets of 2017.
The OLED65E8 loses a bit of ground from its predecessor and there is some stiff competition this year from Samsung's new Q9FN flagship LCD TV, but all growing legions of OLED fans will probably have to hear that the OLED65E8 is comfortably the best OLED TV LG has ever made it.
Read the full review: LG E8 OLED (55OLEDE8, 65OLEDE8)
7. Sony Bravia XF90 series (2018)
This is the HDR flat screen that we have all been waiting for
Direct LED with local dimming
Excellent movement handling
Unfussy but elegant design
HDR is a bit weak
OK, so if you can not afford Sony's new A1 OLED or the fantastic but pricey ZD9, check out the all-new XF90 series from Sony. With superior 4K image clarity, powerful SDR to HDR remastering and smooth direct LED backlight, Sony offers something completely different with the XF90. We loved the consistency of the images, the excellent freedom of movement for football fans, the eye-catching vivacity of the wide color gamut panel and the easy-to-view HDR – you get spectral highlights without losing the eye fatigue.
Given the high, but fair price of this set, all the problems we have are negligible. The XF90 is highly recommended and deserves our recommended price.
Read the full review: Sony Bravia XF90 (KDL-65XF9005) review
8. LG OLEDB7 series (2017)
The OLED & # 39; s at entry level of LG continue to impress
55-inch: LG OLED55B7V | 65-inch: LG OLED65B7V
Excellent all-round image quality
Full HDR support
Great smart platform
No Dolby Atmos passthrough
Moderate built-in audio
We have already recommended a number of different OLED sets on this list and the B7 is the most affordable of the set.
But instead of compromising on that glorious panel to get a more wallet-friendly price, LG has instead made a compromise on sound.
This places the LG B7 in a somewhat weird situation in terms of audio. It technically supports Dolby Atmos, but with its mediocre downwards speakers the technology lacks most of what makes it impressive.
Fortunately, you can of course connect an external sound system and we advise you to do that.
If that is something that you are willing to do, you will find that the B7 has all the talent of its more expensive siblings at a fraction of the cost.
Read the full review: LG OLED B7
9. Philips 9002 series (2017)
Ambilight is a great partner for OLED
Ambilight works wonderfully
Excellent overall image quality
Android TV can irritate
Somewhat weak sound
Complicated to use
It is a public secret in the TV industry that every OLED TV uses panels produced by LG Display, meaning that, regardless of whether you buy a Sony, a Philips or a LG, the OLED panel is at the heart of every set is the same hardware.
However, Philips has a bit of a headache thanks to Ambilight technology, which projects colors on the wall behind them that matches the TV itself.
The result is that the company's flagship OLED series, the 9002, is truly a great piece of technology, and the P5 image processing engine is great to get the most out of its OLED panel.
You pay a small price premium in relation to LG's more budget sets, but Ambilight could be exactly what you need to justify that premium.
Read the full review: Philips OLED 9002
10. Samsung Q8DN QLED TV (2018)
The 2018 QLED TVs from Samsung continue to impress
65-inch: Samsung QE65Q8DN | 55-inch: Samsung QE55Q8DN
Very bright HDR photos
Good smart TV system
Limited viewing angle
Some mild backlighting flourish
Although it is clearly a step back from the all-important Q9FN from Samsung, the Q8DN is still a fantastic TV. Phenomenally clear, colorful and ultra-sharp – it has the right things for a huge impact of today's most advanced image sources.
It's worth paying attention to, this is a fantastic TV for HDR content, because the direct lighting system manages to produce as many as 2,100 measured nits of light from a 10% white HDR window. This kind of clarity is unparalleled for the price of the TV and ensures that it delivers the highest extremes of HDR's extended brightness range with spectacular effectiveness and punch.
So why is it not higher on our list? If you view the TV from an angle, the color saturation decreases and the backlight becomes more visible. Secondly, Samsung's automatic motion processing system is a bit too aggressive and it causes too many disturbing side effects for comfort. Fortunately, the image is not too stingy if you prefer – as we did – to put the movement processing in general.
Also, due to the usually high standards of Samsung, the Q8DN is something of a simple Jane. It is deeper than most TV's on the back, it sits on two rather simple feet instead of a chic, centrally mounted tripod, and all its connections appear on the TV instead of on a separate junction box.
These are of course minor problems and the image quality is still top for a LED-LCD screen. But they do keep the Q8DN in the # 10 spot on our list.
Read the full review: Samsung Q8DN QLED TV
Go to page two to read what to look for when buying a TV!
- Do you want better audio? View our guide for the best soundbars available.
- After you have chosen a panel, first read our guide to make sure you get the most out of it.