Finding a new TV is a difficult task with so much jargon and techy standards to get your head round like 4K, Ultra HD, HDR and so on. Don’t worry though becuase our smart TV guide is here to guide you through everything you need to know to pick the right set. There are various
Finding a new TV is a difficult task with so much jargon and techy standards to get your head round like 4K, Ultra HD, HDR and so on. Don’t worry though becuase our smart TV guide is here to guide you through everything you need to know to pick the right set.
There are various things to consider, especially when you can spend under £300 or over £2,0000 on TVs that on the whole look like they offer the same thing. Do you need OLED or should you go with Philips to enjoy Amblight?
Best is subjective as it depends what is most important to you, so we’ve reviewed and ranked a range of different TVs covering budget and premium prices and various features from various manufacturers including Sony, Samsung, Philips and Hisense. Also check out the latest TV Deals.
Remember that we can only test one size (typically 55in) but specs can vary slightly between models.
Now available for considerably less than its RRP, the Q7FN offers a lot of TV for your money. Although there are a couple of niggles with image quality, that’s all they are: you’ll be blown away by the pin-sharp 4K HDR quality from this stunning TV.
It’s particularly well suited to wall mounting, with the near-invisible cable that supplies power as well as the video and audio signals.
Read our Samsung QE55Q7FN review.
If you’re looking for a premium Ultra HD TV then the Sony AG9 is a real standout with class-leading picture quality. This really is a stunning TV with amazing colour, contrast and localised brightness and this is despite the lack of HDR10+.
The design, as you would expect, is sleek and luxurious and having Android TV and Chromecast built-in add extra value even if loading the Android interface cuts off what you were watching. The sound is also impressive and Sony knows it since you can use the TV as an audio input.
Really the only issue is whether you can afford this set, even at the cheapest 55in size when there are a number of cheaper options out there to choose from so you’ll need to consider whether you’ll appreciate the difference.
Read our Sony KD-55AG9 review.
This collaboration between Hisense and Roku has resulted in one of the best budget TVs you can buy so we’re glad it’s finally made it to the UK.
For under £500 – potentially half that price dending on the size – you get a lot of TV for your money. Design and build is never going to be anything special but it’s also far from ugly.
The main thing here is that you get an excellent combination of picture quality and Roku’s user-friendly interface packed with features and streaming services. This is budget done properly.
Read our Hisense Roku TV (B7120UK) review.
Not everyone has over £1,000 to spend on a TV but you also don’t want to compromise on features and picture quality.
Well the B7500 is the perfect option with even the 50in model coming with a reasonable amount of change from £500.
Despite this affordable price, you still get an excellent Ultra HD (4K) picture with HDR support, a responsive and useful interface with lots of big name services and a sleek design. There’s very little to complain about here.
Read our Hisense B7500 review.
If you want a high-quality OLED TV without spending thousands then this model from Philips is easily a front runner in the category.
The OLED754 offers a premium-esque Ultra HD experience for a lot less than rivals, featuring sleek design outstanding picture quality and Philips’ unique Ambilight.
The downsides here are slightly sluggish navigation at times along with a stripped back operating system.
Read our Philips 55OLED754 review.
The Q70R sits almost at the bottom of the 2019 QLED range, but shares some great features with the flagship models. It doesn’t come with the One Connect box and isn’t as bright as the equivalent 2018 and 2017 QLED versions, but you do at least get a direct backlight instead of edge lighting.
Picture quality is excellent so long as you’re not sitting off to the side, and the smart hub offers loads of video content including 4K. Plus, being based on LCD technology, there’s no worry about burn-in.
Read our Samsung Q70R QLED 4K TV review.
7. Hisense U8B
If you’d like a large 4K HDR-capable TV but need to control the budget, then the Hisense U8B was made for you. Well-engineered, reasonably specified, with an effective interface and decent sound output. Videophiles will pick holes in the local backlighting and Dolby Atmos implementation, but it’s harder to argue against the price.
Read our Hisense U8B review.
Samsung’s QLED models are the flagships, but if anything the cheaper models are where you’ll find the best value. The NU8000 is a great example, with many of the same features you’ll find on the most expensive sets. It also looks great and has great image quality.
The 55in model we tested costs less than £740 from Amazon, which is a great deal.
Watch out for the 49in model as that has a different screen and isn’t as good.
Read our Samsung UE65NU8000 review.
With Ambilight, Freeview Play built in and solid image quality, the 6703 is a great choice for the discerning TV buyer on a budget.
It doesn’t have the best HDR performance and not all the HDMI ports support 4K input but these should be minor points considering the affordable price.
Read our Philips 55PUS6703 review.
4K TV buying guide
4K TVs have a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels, which is exactly four times more than Full HD. You should look for a model that has several inputs – not just one – that can handle incoming 4K content sources. These can be Ultra HD Blu-ray players, games consoles and media streamers such as the Apple TV 4K and Amazon Fire TV 4K .
The key specification to look out for is HDMI version 2 input with HDCP 2.2 support. The latter is a version of copy protection used by all external 4K sources, so the more inputs that support it the better. If you buy a budget TV, it most likely will only have one HDCP 2.2-compliant input.
This means you can only connect one 4K device to the TV, which is not ideal. The prices of 4K UHD TVs have fallen dramatically, so most cost the same as HD models did a couple of years ago.
While the extra resolution that 4K offers is best appreciated on a large screen (50in or more), that hasn’t stopped smaller panels appearing. While there’s no reason not to buy a 4K TV at 40 inches, and the performance can be excellent, don’t expect to see overt picture improvements if you’re sitting the typical 8-10 feet away.
All the TVs tested here have 4K resolutions. These UHD (Ultra HD) sets are the ones to buy now. Only go for a Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) set if you can’t afford a 4K model or you’re buying something under 40in.
4K content is becoming more widely available with broadcasters gearing up to show a lot of sport and drama in 4K. 4K is also available over your broadband connection as long as it’s quick enough.
Around 15Mb/s should provide you with a source of 4K video from Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and Sky Q. Alternatively you can buy a 4K Blu-ray player and 4K UHD Blu-ray discs.
BT also broadcasts sport in 4K (football, rugby, Moto GP, squash, to name but four) via its Infinity broadband. Because this streams at 2160/50p a much faster broadband connection is required. BT will generally refuse to offer a 4K set-top box to those Infinity customers on less than a 45Mb/s connection.
4K? What about 8K!
Just as 4K is starting to become mainstream, manufacturers are now beginning to shout about 8K. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a 4K TV.
8K broadcasts are a long way off, and there is almost no 8K content to watch. But just like 4K TVs, 8K models will upscale video so it looks sharper. But the same rules apply about screen size: you need a very, very large screen to notice the extra detail. That’s why Samsung’s smallest 8K TV has a 65in screen.
Unlike previous leaps in TV quality (black and white to colour, SD to HD), both 4K and 8K started off without proper, agreed standards. This is another reason why 4K is a more sensible purchase now: modern sets have the necessary H.265 support to decode broadcasts, but some early models didn’t.
We think it’s too early to be jumping on the 8K band wagon.
A new generation of HDR (High Dynamic Range) UHD TVs arrived in 2017 which offer higher peak whites and better colour depth than what came before. However, to appreciate these capabilities you need to feed your HDR 4K TV with HDR content, and there isn’t masses around.
You’ll find UHD Blu-rays such as Planet Earth II, and some content on Amazon and Netflix, but the rest is likely console games rather than TV shows and films.
Put simply, it isn’t a deal-breaker if your chosen model doesn’t support it or doesn’t do a very good job of displaying it. You’ll see even budget models claiming to support HDR, but in reality there’s no perceptible difference, so read reviews rather that going only on specifications.
The Google Assistant, Bixby and Siri are assistants that originated in smartphones but are gradually finding their way into TVs. With a voice-activated assistant onboard, you’ll be able to adjust the volume and change the channel on the TV, but also control anything else within its scope, such as smart lights and heating. It’s certainly a nice feature to have, but it’s not a deal-breaker if it’s missing.
If you can’t install your TV yourself, note that Amazon now offers services including wall-mounting from around £100. What you can do yourself is to tweak the settings using our guide on how to get the best picture from your TV.