BEST TVS: OUR BEST SELECTION, PLUS EXPLANATIONS OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES IN PLAIN LANGUAGE
There has never been a better time to buy a TV. The industry has made most of the mistakes on LCD and OLED TVs, and today prices are lower than ever. In fact, high-end 4K models cost about half of what they had last year. We will give you the best deals, a detailed guide to the specifications and features you will come across.
You will be faced with the alphabet of abbreviations and phrases when you go shopping: LED, LCD, HDR, OLED, quantum dots and much more. And the producers are thickening this soup with their own protected nomenclature: Contrast EliteMak, K Style Elite, X-tended Dynamic Range PRO? Give me a break.
Good news? You can ignore everything he says and focus on just four things: color, contrast (including black quality), brightness, and realism. Technology is changing, but your eyes are not.
Here are our main recommendations in three categories. If you want a deeper understanding of why we chose them, here is a detailed customer guide that will be invaluable to you when making your purchase. Click here to jump right to the list of our latest reviews.
Updated February 5, 2020 to add our review of TCL’s low-cost 43-inch 5-series smart TV. This set boasts a high dynamic range of Dolby Vision, and sold for only $ 260 from this writing.
THE BEST LCD TV
Samsung K90R 4K UHD Smart TV
One of the best 4K UHD TVs, the K90R is an 8K UHD K900 conceived as a top-of-the-line Samsung smart phone. But you will pay much more for a similarly sized K900. We also think last year’s K8F will be a very good deal (if you can still find it) and that this year’s K80 series (which we haven’t seen yet) will bring even better overall image quality. But you won’t find a brighter 4K TV than the K90R.
Samsung has remained the king of the hill when it comes to LCD TVs – at least for now. The K90R is an extremely good TV, with a bright, sharp image and very accurate color. And since this model relies on Samsung’s One Connect box to accommodate all of its I / O ports and processing power, the whole set is an incredible 1.6 inches.
65-inch 4K UHD TV Sony KSBR65X900F
Sony’s KSBR Ks900F barely clicked 4 stars due to Sony’s excellent image processing. But its color palette is too blue. And while the 900F is bright, its HDR effect is not as strong as the competition.
No manufacturer handles the image better than Sony. If moiré, dazzling in detailed dishes, jagged text and backlight blockage lead you to the wall, this is the TV to buy.
BEST OLED TV
LG OLED65E9PUA 4K UHD TV (65-inch model)
The E8 was the best 4K TV we saw last year, and the E9 will probably be the best 4K TV we’ll see this year, with a small increase in brightness and minor improvements in image processing and its user interface compared to last year’s model.
For the LG 2018 OLED we said it’s hard to imagine a better TV. Well, we don’t have to think about it anymore, because LG has built it with a new-for-2019 E9 series (we’ve reviewed the 65-inch OLED65E9PUA). This TV supports every HDR standard except HDR10 +, and its picture quality is excellent. LG is taking over its Magic Remote and WebOS operating system (bringing a few improvements to the latter), which make this TV a joy to use. As usual, you need to see black and OLED panel products to understand what you are missing with most LED TVs with LED lighting.
Soni Bravia KSBR65A1E 65-inch 4K UHD OLED TV
This is absolutely one of the best OLED TVs we have seen thanks to Sony’s image processing. Our only drawback is that there is no OLED data available when displaying HDR content.
LG produces the OLED panel that Sony uses for this TV, but the rest of the technology inside – most importantly, the image processor – is all Sony. And if you’re looking for a great TV that you don’t need to supplement with high-quality soundtrack, no TV on the market sounds better than this.
THE BEST TV TO RECORD
Hisense X8F 4K UHD TV (55inch) (2019)
Rich color, 600-bit brightness, much improved black (during the 2018 model) and HDR sizzle are not something we have associated with $ 500 TVs so far. This is great television for money.
Hisense has really upgraded its game for 2019, building smart TVs with better components and selling them at extremely low prices. This year’s H8F series model – available in 50-, 55- and 65-inch configurations, broke our socks with its color, light and HDR performance. That is a huge value.
TCL 55R617 55-inch 4K UHD Roku smart TV
It is unlikely that you will find a 55-inch TV with better color performance or HDR in this price range, and Roku OS is top notch. On the other hand, noticeable stuttering in a series of quick actions, moire in the high detail of moving the photo and backlight remind you to pay much less.
It’s hard to find TVs in this price range that are bright enough for HDR to list as it should. TCL’s R617 series does just that – at a much lower-than-expected price. We reviewed the 2018 55-inch model.
THE BEST SMART TV IF MONEY IS NO BARRIER
MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE
LG 88ZN 88-inch 8K OLED
This OLED TV monster offers 8K resolution and is the first consumer screen to offer full HDMI 2.1 speed. It’s the best consumer display I’ve ever seen with stunning image quality.
If you are lucky enough to be able to afford this mounted 8K OLED monster-sized TV, you will get a fun life time every time you sit in front of it. Too big for wall mounting, LG’s 88ZN comes with furniture like furniture that hides part of its electronics. It’s the best consumer display we’ve ever set our eyes on.
THE STATE OF TV TECHNOLOGY
CRT TVs have been around for over 50 years and were still improving when they disappeared from their favorites. LCD TVs are nowhere near mature, and entry-level models continue to work through the major color and contrast issues that were introduced when LED backlight replaced CFL backlight. Medium and more expensive LCDs with LED backlighting finally return to the picture quality provided by decent decades-old CFL backlighting, but it varies.
OLEDs are still largely Cadillac TVs, but they are still expensive to produce. I’m going to talk a little bit about LED versus OLED.
A rescue race is also underway. Tons of content is still 720p or less, and yet 1080p and 4K UHD (2160p) TVs rule in large numbers. Moreover, the 4K UHD industry has barely come out of the cradle, it’s time to switch to 8K UHD (7680 x 4320).
HIGH-END TVS ARE GETTING CHEAPER
The great news is that cutting-edge technology is quickly filtered out to less expensive TVs, and the high-end isn’t nearly as expensive as it used to be. Samsung’s excellent 65-inch K9FN cost $ 6,000 last year; the 2018 version of K9FN is half as big. Soni’s 65-inch Bravia KSBR A1E OLED was $ 5,500 when we reviewed it and is now available for about $ 3,000. We have not yet seen a medium-range TV (defined as $ 750 to $ 1,500) that would do all this, but we have no doubt that one will appear in the next two years.
But the measure is that these days you can get a top TV for a relatively affordable price. Here’s what you need to know to decide who it will be.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR (AND WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR)
Resolution: While most content stays 1080p or lower, most TVs sold are 2160p (4K UHD, 3840 x 2160). If you don’t buy something for the kitchen or workshop, go 2160p. Who knows? You can get an Ultra HD Blu-ray player for Christmas. Good 2160p content looks spectacular, and most 2160p TVs will completely upgrade to lower resolution content. Just don’t trust any hokum that 1080p content looks like real 4K UHD.
FAUKS K: LG makes spectacular OLEDs, but the company continues to sell about 2.88K LED-backlit LCD TVs as 4K; specifically, the 6300 and 6500 series. These TVs offer a decent picture with a lot of peak brightness, but put it next to a real 4K UHD TV and the details will not be so sharp. These TVs have exactly the same number of subpixels as a real 4K UHD TV, but every fourth subpixel is switched to white, leaving you with a 2.88K RGBV group of pixels.
LG sells its 6300 series as 4K UHD TVs. They are not. You can see in detail the difference to the naked eye when seen next to a true 4K UHD TV. The 6500 Series also suffers from RGBV. It’s not TVs that look bad, but they’re not 4K.
You can read more about the topic in this article . Not bad TVs, just not 4K UHD.
Screen Size: 65-inch TVs are a hot commodity these days, but only you know which size television fits best in your living space. You can save a lot of money – from $ 600 to $ 900 on a top set – by reducing and sitting a little closer. How close is it? 1.5 times the specified TV size is the recommended distance.
HDR : The acronym stands for High Dynamic Range and is the latest thing on TVs. HDR simply means more difference in brightness between the darkest area of the image and the brightest area. It doesn’t sound like much, but the lack of contrast (comparatively flushed appearance) on LED TVs has long been a problem, especially at the entry level. With HDR, which is largely created by significantly increasing the peak brightness, the light saber and flame, the shine in the hair, water and other details really stand out. Trust me. You want it
Dolbi Vision HDR versus standard dynamic range. All HDR will be similar, but only Dolbi Vision and the upcoming HDR10 + adapt the TV in real time during the movie.
So far, the TV industry has been extremely candid about labeling their TVs for HDR: HDR compatible in fine print means the set understands at least some of the HDR formats (HDR10, Dolbi Vision, HDR10 +, HLG, etc.). If it just says HDR, it means it can actually do something about it. how much it can depend on the TV.
The peak light of 700 nits is approximately the least needed to get a decent HDR pop, while 1,000 nits makes the trick pretty nice. Vendors don’t actually list nits and shine in meaningful ways, so you’ll need to read the reviews in which they are measured. Non-HDR televisions generally increase from 300 to 400 nits.
HDR format support: One of the scariest ironies in the TV industry is that, by all accounts, the top player, Samsung, does not support Dolbi Vision, while almost all other vendors (though not all models). All HDR TVs support HDR10 as the baseline, but HDR10 only transmits TV customization information at the beginning of the movie, while Dolby Vision transmits it continuously throughout the movie, so each scene can be set independently.
The HDR10 looks good. Dolby Vision and the new HDR10 +, which does the same thing, look better overall. HDR10 + is Samsung’s baby and its TVs support it. Hopefully this will settle with the content provider.
Contrast: Contrast is another way of describing what we talked about with HDR, it describes a larger gap between the brightness between the darkest and brightest spots in the image. It’s simply an old-fashioned way of describing it. In other words, high contrast TV is HDR TV, although we have never heard of one called “high contrast”. The phrase doesn’t seem sexy enough.
Color: We’ve noticed a definite sharpness in color sharpness (realism), even in the middle of the market, with TVs from TCL and Vizio displaying much more true reds and greens (just like any TV will do well in blue color). Samsung is the king of color these days, at least among the TVs we tested. LG is very good and uses quantum dots on some models that we have yet to test.
LCD with LED Illumination and OLED: There is an image of luxury that LG and Soni OLED TVs produce that appeal to many, including myself. Since each subpixel is its own light source, when the pixel is turned off, you get an almost perfect black color. LCDs with LED illumination emit light in many ways, and even the best can’t match black OLEDs. They, on the other hand, can generate a much higher peak of brightness, which offsets most materials and really makes HDR pop.
The main problem with OLED is its relatively limited lifespan. LG claims 100,000 hours to half the brightness for its TVs: then 500 nits becomes 250 nits, and that number of hours is calculated based on the TV’s display as standard with dynamic range material. HDR content will significantly shorten the life of OLEDs. I’m not telling you not to buy OLED, I’m just warning you that you will have to replace it before the LCD with LED lighting (all other things being equal) if you watch TV for more than a few hours a day.
OLED devices also produce very good colors in low to medium light – almost as good as quantum dot TVs. However, all current large-screen OLED TVs use a four-pixel (RGBV) system that includes a white sub-pixel to maximize brightness. When you add white to any color, it turns pale. Fortunately, this phenomenon is only really noticeable on rare occasions or when using a color meter.
Note: OLED RGBV is a non- subtractive scheme used by LG’s 6300 and 6500 LCD TVs. A white subpixel is added to the existing red, green, and blue sub pixels. OLEDs are true 720P, 1080p or 4K UHD. Also, OLED TVs use white OLEDs with filters to create red, green and blue, instead of the actual native RGB OLEDs found on smaller screens.
Use a light source with less than a certain quantum emission point and you will get pure color directly related to the size of the quantum dot. A layer of them can significantly increase the color sharpness of the TV.
Quantum dots: A relatively small number of TVs (some from LG and Vizio, as well as all Samsung KLEDs) use quantum dots, they are small emitters that produce almost pure colors in strict correlation with their size. TVs that use quantum dots easily create the most accurate colors, so if you want red reds, blue and green greens, you want quantum dots. That said, as mentioned earlier, other technologies are getting closer.
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