Best 4K TVs Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best 4K TVs you can buy for any budget in 2018.
Years ago, your friends might’ve thought you were crazy to invest in a 4K TV. Some might have told you that there wasn’t any content available and that “4K TVs look just as good as HD TVs”. They weren’t right then, and they’re not right now. 4K TVs aren’t a passing fad, they’re the future of TV technology.
So why have 4K TVs taken off like they have? Well, for one, they look four times as awesome. (No seriously, 4K isn’t just a catchy marketing term, 4K TVs are actually four times the resolution of traditional 1080p displays.) But, perhaps more importantly, TV makers have joined the 4K revolution en masse. Sure, they’ll still make 1080p TVs for the next three or four years, but anything in a 40-inch and above will probably have a 4K resolution now until the end of time.
To be honest, it’s 4K or the highway these days.
That’s good because 4K TVs truly make a world of difference to the shows and movies you love to watch. So, trust us, bring one of these Ultra-HD TVs home and you’ll never want to look at a 1080p screen ever again.
What’s so great about 4K TVs?
Not only do these screens have four times the amount of pixels as their aged (but still-revered) 1080p brethren, but 4K screens also usually pack in screen technology like High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) that really make those extra pixels shine in all their glory.
The last reason 4K TVs have taken off is that game consoles, like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, have totally embraced the 4K future, as have the Blu-ray industry and streaming video player market. Pretty much everyone is on board the 4K Ultra HD train these days.
If all of this sounds weird or archaic or tough to understand, don’t worry. We’re here to help decipher the wild, wonderful world of Ultra HD. Give us a few minutes of your time and we’ll help you get the best 4K TV on the market.
Why can you trust us? Well, over the years, hundreds of TVs have passed through our reviewers’ doorsteps. Using that wealth of experience – plus some neat side-by-side comparisons – 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. Embrace that times change and that these are the best TVs we’ve ever found.
1. Samsung Q9FN (65Q9FN)
Spectacular HDR picture quality
Powerful, well-rounded sound
Good smart system
Limited viewing angles
After an underwhelming debut, Samsung’s QLED technology really needed to bounce back in style in 2018. It didn’t surprise us in the least, then, to discover Samsung threw the kitchen sink in with its new Q9FN QLED Series of TVs.
As well as being even brighter and more colorful than last year’s equivalent model, Samsung’s 2018 flagship screens use a completely different lighting system to combat its predecessor’s contrast problems: Full Array Local Dimming rather than edge-lit LED lighting. The FALD panel works in tandem with Samsung QLED Quantum Dots to produce a picture that’s brighter and more colorful than near any we’ve seen come from the South Korean manufacturer.
Do those features alone make Samsung Q9FN the best TV on the market? No, but throw in technology like HDR10+ and Q HDR EliteMax – what Samsung bills as its maximum High Dynamic Range experience that’s exclusive to the Q9FN – and there’s very little doubt in our mind that this is Samsung’s best TV ever.
Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV (65Q9FN)
2. Sony Bravia X900F
The best mid-range 4K TV available now
Excellent motion handling
HDR isn’t the brightest
Remote doesn’t feel as premium
Short and sweet, the 65X900F is a brilliant mid-priced TV. Every one of the improvements Sony has introduced over and above last year’s already excellent X900E series – better processing, more brightness, slightly more backlight dimming zones, improved motion performance – delivers the goods, resulting in picture quality that humbles many more expensive TVs.
Its Android TV system and some generally minor backlight clouding stop it short of perfection, but it’s hard to imagine any similarly priced upcoming 65-inch rival getting the better of it.
Read the full review: Sony BRAVIA XBR-X900F
3. TCL 6-Series (R615, R617)
The best budget 4K TV for those of us with shallow pockets
Bright, colorful HDR
Supports Dolby Vision
Roku TV is amazing
Loss of darker details
Limited motion settings
If you have deep pockets and checkbook filled with blank checks, we’d tell you to reach deep and shell out for only the best TVs on the market – LG’s crazy-thin OLED W8 or Samsung’s ultra-bright Q9FN QLED. But that’s not realistic. For the vast, vast majority of us, our budget to spend on a TV is limited to somewhere under $1,000 – and often it’s even less than that.
To that end, it’s absolutely fair to say that the TCL 6-Series is the best TV you can possibly get in this price range. Its performance per dollar is unmatched and its picture quality – despite a few minor flaws – will truly impress you.
Said simply, if there’s a better value TV on the market, we’ve yet to see it.
Read the full review: TCL 6-Series (R615, R617)
4. Sony BRAVIA A1E
The best premium 4K TV for those of us with money to spare
65-inch: Sony A1E OLED
Gorgeous picture quality
Innovative and excellent sound
It’s not very bright
Android TV is clunky
If you have the money to bankroll them, 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.
Read the full review: Sony A1E OLED
5. LG E8 OLED
The best OLED 4K TV of 2018
Awesome picture quality
Opulent and beautiful design
Excellent operating system
Much improved gaming potential
Occasional picture noise
Lacks brightness vs LCD
Having potentially pushed the hardware capabilities of its current OLED screen technology as far as they can go, LG has for 2018 turned its attention to the software that drives these screens – and this shift in focus has yielded surprisingly impressive results, improving and even removing many of the residual niggles associated with 2017’s already in truth outstanding OLED sets.
The OLED65E8 loses a bit of ground sonically from its predecessor, and there’s some stiff competition this year from Samsung’s new Q9FN flagship LCD TV, but all the growing legions of OLED fans will probably need to hear is that the OLED65E8 is comfortably the best OLED TV LG has ever made.
Read the full review: LG E8 OLED (OLED55E8, OLED65E8)
6. Sony XBR-65Z9D
One of the best LCD-LED 4K TVs ever made
Brilliant SDR picture quality
LOOK AT THAT PRICE TAG
Limited effective viewing angle
Look, there aren’t many people out there willing to drop 5,500 on Sony’s 2016 flagship TV. But those who are will be teated to some of best images this side of a high-tech movie theater. There’s just nothing better in the LED-LCD world.
In fact, it might just be the holy grail of television for 2016: a TV able to combine the extreme, high dynamic range-friendly brightness of LCD technology with a 600 LED backlight arrangement capable of getting LCD closer than ever before to the stunning light control you get with OLED technology.
If all that wasn’t enough, the 65Z9D also sports the ‘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 – a must-have if you want to get the most from your movie collection.
Read the full review: Sony XBR-65Z9D
7. LG C8 OLED
The best budget 4K OLED TV
Superb picture quality
Highly effective smart platform
Limited peak brightness for HDR
More expensive than last year
We’ve long loved LG’s B-Series of OLED TVs with last year’s B7 OLED as the pinnacle of affordable OLED technology. But this year, LG has delayed the B-Series and has instead made the C-Series its front-running screen.
While we’re a bit miffed at the price increase from last year’s B7 to this year’s C8, it’s hard to say it’s unwarranted: LG’s C8 builds on the success of last year’s models, resulting in a TV that can deliver astonishing HD/SDR images and equally impressive 4K/HDR pictures. It’s not as bright as an LCD TV but those deep blacks make a huge difference to the dynamic range of the image. It’s also capable of vibrant and gorgeous colors, not to mention an astounding level of detail with native 4K content.
The WebOS smart platform remains the best available and the choice of streaming services is second to none. Once you add the gorgeous design and a comprehensive set of features, you have one of the most complete TVs that we’ve ever reviewed.
Read the full review: LG C8 OLED (OLED55C8, OLED65C8)
8. Samsung Q7FN QLED TV
The best 4K TV for overly bright rooms
Startling color accuracy
Great for daytime viewing
Edge-Lit VA panel
Limited viewing angles
While Samsung’s Q7FN isn’t quite the pinnacle of QLED technology – that honor is reserved for the Q9FN – it is a great compromise between price and performance, offering a bright screen, three forms of HDR and incredibly accurate colors for $1,799 (£1,999, AU$3,699).
Ambient Mode adds a design aesthetic sure to please even the keenest of eyes and its low-latency game mode makes it a competent companion for the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. HDR+ mode helps liven up HD/SDR content and of course 4K/HDR content has an eye-watering sheen when viewed on this set. While the Q7FN isn’t quite a homerun, it’s still a solid swing at the mid-range.
Read the full review: Samsung Q7FN QLED TV