Best 4K TVs Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best 4K TVs you can buy for any budget in 2018.
[Update: we’re well into Black Friday deals season, and many of our top picks for the best 4K TVs are seeing discounts. If you’re in the UK, the LG OLED B7 at number 6 in our list is discounted by £1000 at Very.co.uk. This was already LG’s cheapest set, so a reduction of this size makes it even better value.]
Far from being the niche high-end technology that it was a few years ago, 4K resolution (also known as Ultra HD) has more recently exploded into the mainstream.
If you’re buying even a mid-range TV these days it’s more than likely going to be 4K, which means four times the resolution of traditional HD displays.
Thankfully there’s now a lot of content for the new standard. Netflix and Amazon both offer 4K streams, Ultra HD Blu-rays are increasingly common, and even gaming is getting in on the action with the 4K toting Xbox One X.
But making a good 4K TVs isn’t just about how many pixels you can push to a screen; it’s about the quality of those pixels. To that end, there’s even newer technology that we’re excited about, like High Dynamic Range and Wide Colour Gamut, that promise to take all those new pixels and make them truly shine.
If the world of TV buying feels unapproachable when you’re first getting into it, don’t worry. Give it some time and it will all make sense. Plus, you’ve got us here to help you pick out the best 4K TV on the market.
Over the years, hundreds of TVs have passed through our reviewers’ doorsteps. Using that wealth of experience, we’ve created a list of the best 4K TVs. We constantly update the list with the latest and greatest panels, so if you see things shuffled around a bit since the last time you were here, don’t freak out.
1. LG OLEDE7 series
OLED isn’t done getting better just yet
Gorgeous picture quality
Thinness of OLED
Minor picture noise problems
LCD TVs are still brighter overall
Thanks to the thinness the technology affords, OLED televisions often look striking, but LG’s OLEDE7’s ‘picture on glass’ design looks especially fantastic.
Sure, the E7 might not have the same sexy allure as LG’s flagship from this year, 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.
If you want almost all the high-end features LG’s OLED series have to offer without taking out a second mortgage on your home, the E7 OLED is a worthwhile, cost-effective addition to any home theater.
Read the full review: LG OLED E7
2. Samsung Q9F QLED
Phenominally bright panels do wonders for HDR content
65-inch: Samsung QE65Q9FAM
Fantastic color levels
Very bright screen
HDR color banding can occur
Backlight clouding can be an issue
Samsung was the first brand to introduce an HDR-compatible screen back in 2015, but it’s not been resting on its haunches ever since.
Samsung’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 colour striping with HDR, but minor flaws aside this is one of the best TVs around in 2018.
Read the full review: Samsung Q9F
3. Sony Bravia XE90 series
An fantastically sleek and capable set
Excellent motion handling
HDR isn’t the brightest
Remote doesn’t feel as premium
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
4. Sony BRAVIA A1E OLED
Sony’s brand-new flagship TV from 2017 is simply amazing
65-inch: Sony A1E OLED
Gorgeous picture quality
Innovative and excellent sound
It’s not very bright
Android TV is clunky
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.
5. Panasonic DX902 series
Brand new LCD screen technology and stellar processing helps the DX902 range deliver spectacular 4K and HDR impact.
Bright, contrast-rich pictures
Clever and usually effective local dimming technology
Some motion blur
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
6. LG OLED B7 Series
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
LG’s ‘B’ line of OLEDs has consistently offered a great entry point into the display technology without compromising on what makes it so exciting.
The B7 series is no different. Contained within the TVs is exactly the same panel that’s powering the more expensive C7, E7 and yes even the W7 LG televisions, which means an exceptional bump over last year’s OLED panels at a much lower price.
So where has LG saved the money? In a word, sound. The B7’s downward firing speakers are the worst all the company’s OLED TVs. Not only that, but the set is also currently unable to pass Dolby Atmos to an external sound system over HDMI (although a firmware update to fix this is on the way).
If however, you’re content to put up with a standard surround sound experience, then the B7 is a fantastic entryway into a piece of TV tech that still feels futuristic in 2018.
Read the full review: LG OLED B7
7. Panasonic EZ1002 OLED
Panasonic’s flagship TV takes OLED to another level
65-inch: Panasonic TX-65EZ1002
Stunning contrast performance
Unprecedented colour accuracy
No Dolby Vision support
Some occasional vertical banding
With a price tag of nigh £6,000, the 65EZ1002 needs to be special. Fortunately, it is. By implementing a number of features usually reserved for the professional mastering monitor world, Pana’s flagship OLED is able to deliver the most consistently beautiful and accurate pictures seen to date, with both HDR and SDR sources. It also offers a highly effective smart system, and a strong audio performance from its built-in soundbar.
For AV enthusiasts keen to reproduce their favourite directors’ vision at home with no expenses spared, the 65EZ1002 is simply as good as it gets.
8. Philips 65PUS7601
Brilliant backlight controls make this surprisingly affordable Philips 4K TV one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.
65-inch: Philips 65PUS7601
Excellent backlight control
Great price for the picture quality on offer
Complicated picture set up
Android TV interface is clunky and impersonal
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
9. Sony XE93 series
Bright HDR images and rich colors make this set one worth considering
Bright HDR with rich colors
Great HD upscaling
Issues with blooming around bright objects
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.
10. Panasonic DX750 range
An eye-catchingly affordable way to bag yourself outstanding 4K standard dynamic range and decent HDR pictures.
Good all-round picture quality
Friendly smart TV interface
Some backlight concerns with HDR
Only gives a watered down HDR experience
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