Best TV Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best TVs you can buy in 2018.
We’ve all been at Best Buy, staring down a wall of brightly glowing TVs and thought to ourselves, “Wow, these all look great.”
Logic told us that someway, somehow one of these TVs was the best, but finding out just which one met our needs was an impossible feat.
Fast-forward a couple of years. Now, you’re shopping for TVs online. You’ve got hundreds of reviews at your disposal – some claiming this TV is the best panel ever made while two comments down someone claims it’s the worst – and although things have improved slightly, buying a new TV is just as hard as ever.
But don’t lose hope. There are winners and losers out there. Some screens truly are better than others, offering better contrast, higher clarity and new technologies like Wide Color Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) that will dramatically improve your TV watching experience.
“So, 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. If a TV you’re looking at doesn’t support at least one of these, you should probably look somewhere else.
If you really want to be cutting-edge and know what’s coming next for TVs, we’d be remiss if we didn’t let you know about the new HDMI 2.1 standard, which as well as allowing support for 8K at 60 frames per second and 4K at 120 will also allow for FreeSync to be supported over HDMI.
It’s cool technology for sure, but unless you’re seriously into your gaming then we reckon you’re safe making a purchase now.
- 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.
1. LG C7 OLED Series (2017)
Stunning pictures at an affordable price puts OLED back on top
55-inch: LG OLED55C7 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C7
Stunning contrast-rich pictures
Gorgeous ultra-thin design
Excellent operating system
Lacks brightness vs LCD
At the top of our list for 2018 (so far) is the LG OLED C7 – available in both 55 and 65-inch iterations. It’s here because it delivers better brightness and light control than last year’s C6 (something we weren’t sure was even possible), making it a high dynamic range performer that doesn’t sacrifice OLED’s class-leading standard dynamic range capabilities. It delivers its new picture thrills at a price that finally makes OLED a financially viable alternative to top-end LCD sets making it, beyond a doubt, one of 2018’s most irresistible TVs.
There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony’s A1E OLED or LG’s B7 and W7) 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 C7 (OLED55C7)
2. Sony XBR-Z9D Series (2016)
Sony’s 2016 flagship TV set new standards in picture quality
65-inch: Sony XBR-65Z9D | 75-inch: Sony XBR-75Z9D | 100-inch: Sony XBR-100Z9D
Stunning HDR picture quality
Android TV feels sluggish
Pretty average audio
From the moment we laid eyes on the the XBR-65Z9D we’ve been desperate to get our hands on one. It is, hands down, the holy grail of television for 2018: a TV able to combine the extreme, high dynamic range-friendly brightness of LCD technology with a backlight arrangement capable of getting LCD closer than ever before to the stunning light control you get with OLED technology.
This backlight arrangement comprises more than 600 LEDs that sit behind the 65Z9D’s screen that are capable of outputting their own light levels independently of their neighbors. This should enable the TV to produce more of the extremes of light and shade associated with new high dynamic range (HDR) technology while suffering less than other LCD TVs with distracting clouds, stripes or halos of unwanted, extraneous light.
As if this wasn’t already attraction enough, the 65Z9D also sports Sony’s new ‘X1 Extreme’ video processing system and the latest version of Sony’s reliable Triluminos wide color technology for unlocking the extended color spectrums associated with HDR sources.
3. LG Signature Series W7 OLED (2017)
LG’s W7 OLED melds into the wall
65-inch: LG 65W7OLED | 77-inch: LG 77W7OLED
Insanely slim design
Color, clarity and contrast
Motion issues with TruMotion
The LG W7 OLED is truly something special. Not only is it one of the thinnest TVs to ever grace our vision (it’s 2.75mm thin), but it’s also one of the most gorgeous. When fed the right kind of content – in this case, 4K HDR10 or Dolby Vision video – it truly shines. A super-slim design alone wouldn’t have been enough to warrant the extra cost to upgrade to LG’s latest panel. But the thin frame on top of a Dolby Atmos soundbar on top of four types of HDR support on top of the magnetic mounting system on top of the new webOS 3.5 operating system surely did the trick. This incredibly gorgeous TV isn’t without its faults (see: motion handling, its sticker price and soundbar issues), but in terms of sheer picture performance there’s nothing else like it right now.
4. Samsung QLED Q9F (2017)
Getting the hots for metal Quantum Dots
Unprecedented colour levels
Ultra high brightness
Occasional backlight clouding
Limited viewing angles
It looks like someone on Samsung’s TV design team has been watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 65-inch Q9 is a ringer for that film’s mysterious black monolith thanks to the way both its front and back sides are completely flat and feature ultra-robust, polished finishes. Ultra HD HDR playback is what the Q9F was created to do and, given Samsung’s potent HDR track record, it’s no surprise to find that it does it supremely well. Even though the Q9F has 4K HDR optimisation in its DNA, it’s capable of looking seriously good with high definition standard dynamic range content too.
5. Sony Bravia A1E OLED (2017)
Sony’s brand-new TV for 2017 is returning to OLED
65-inch: Sony Bravia 65A1E | 55-inch: Sony Bravia 55A1E
Gorgeous picture quality
Startling, monolithic design
Innovative and excellent sound
It’s not very bright
If LG’s OLED isn’t your thing, spend some time checking out Sony’s new OLED.
The 55A1 – and the A1 OLED series overall – are crowd pleasers in just about every way. Their ‘picture only’ design has been beautifully realized, managing to be simultaneously subtle and dramatic. Their vibrating screen delivers a far more powerful and effective sound performance than I’d thought possible, too. The real stars of the show here, though, are the A1’s exquisitely detailed, contrast-rich and colorful pictures. These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things.
6. LG OLEDE7 Series (2017)
OLED just keeps getting better
Gorgeous, contrast-rich pictures
Incredibly thin design
Some brightness-related noise
LCD TVs are brighter
After kickstarting its 2017 OLED campaign with the sensational-but-expensive OLED W7, LG is now following that up with something rather more affordable. Picking the more affordable option means you have to forego the W7’s incredibly thin and flexible screen, as well as its external control box and speaker system. However, the OLED E7 still looks like a million bucks, still boasts an integrated soundbar that claims Dolby Atmos support, still boasts LG’s excellent webOS smart system, and still, most importantly of all, delivers pretty much identical picture quality to its more expensive sibling. For all those reasons and more, the E7 OLED is a worthwhile addition to any home theater.
7. Sony Bravia XBR-X900E Series (2017)
This is the HDR flatscreen we’ve all been waiting for
Direct LED with local dimming
Excellent motion handling
Unfussy but elegant design
HDR is a bit dim
OK, so you don’t want Sony’s new A1E OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey ZD9. So what should you buy? Check out the X900E 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 X900E. 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 X900E is highly recommended and deserved our Best in Class award.
8. LG OLEDB7 Series (2017)
LG’s entry level OLEDs continue to impress
Excellent all-round image quality
Complete HDR support
Great smart platform
No Dolby Atmos passthrough
Mediocre onboard audio
We’ve already recommended a couple of different OLED sets on this list, and the B7 is the most affordable of the bunch.
But rather than compromising on that glorious panel to hit a more wallet-friendly price point, LG has instead compromised on sound.
This puts the LG B7 in a slightly weird situation audio-wise. It technically supports Dolby Atmos, but played through its mediocre downward-firing speakers the technology lacks most of what makes it impressive.
Thankfully you’re of course able to plug in an external sound system, and we’d advise you to do.
If that’s something you’re prepared to do then you’ll find the B7 has every bit the talent of its more expensive siblings at a fraction of the cost.
Read the full review: LG OLED B7
9. TCL P-Series (55P607) (2017)
TCL’s 55P607 is simply the best budget TV of 2017
55-inch: TCL 55P607
Bright, colorful HDR
Roku TV is amazing
Upscaling isn’t world-class
Poor black level performance
TV manufacturers have long sought the formula to a great performing TV at a bargain price and, speaking for the last seven years since LED LCD hit the mainstream, have never quite achieved that perfect balance. Until now.
For us, TCL’s P-Series 55P607 does just that – it packs powerful technology under the hood, including support for WCG and Dolby Vision, in an affordable package that will only get cheaper once the seasonal sales start in November.
If you like your TVs bright, colorful and well-stocked with the latest display technologies, the TCL P-Series 55P607 should be at the top of your list.
Read the full review: TCL P-Series (55P607)
10. Samsung KS9800 Series (2016)
Samsung’s 2016 flagship UHD/HDR TV raised the bar
Stunning HDR picture quality
Appealing curved screen design
Some HDR backlight issues
Striping with UHD Blu-rays
When it came out, the KS9800 produced the most dramatic demonstration of what new high dynamic range technology was capable of. Its brightness in particular was unprecedented, which helped it deliver a much fuller sense of HDR’s expanded light range and color capabilities than we’d ever seen.
The screen features that helped it excel with HDR also made the UN65KS9800 gorgeous to behold with standard dynamic range sources, and it even sounds fantastic despite having no visible speakers. That said, it was expensive.
But instead of going straight for Samsung’s flagship from last year, consider LG’s E6 or G6 OLED TVs as well. The OLED screens deliver superior black levels, avoid backlight bleed issues and excel with standard dynamic range content, but the UN65KS9800 delivers more punch, dynamism and detail with HDR.
Continue on to page two to read about what to look for when buying a TV!