Best TV – sets for binge-watching, gaming, sports, soaps and more

The best TVs to evolve your living room set-up with your viewing habits, from brands like Samsung, Philips, Panasonic and more.
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  • TVs are always changing and evolving, and so is the advice for how to get the best TV for your home. With so many buzzword features, sizes and brands to choose from, it can be near-impossible to find the perfect screen for your next binge-watch.

    On the plus side, TV and movie watching at home has never been better, with a cinema-quality experience now in reach for pretty much everyone. And with services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ (not to mention all the rest!) churning out brilliant content at breakneck speed, now is the perfect time to upgrade your own living room set-up.

    Whether you want to upgrade because of aesthetic reasons (there’s sometimes nothing worse that a boxy eyesore in the middle of the room) or you’re interested in new technology such as OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) LED (Light-Emitting Diode) and HCX (Hollywood Cinema eXperience) and smart streaming features, we’re here to help cut through the noise a little with our ranking of the best TVs around right now.

    Scroll down for more information and to see what we thought and, once you’ve chosen a new TV, why not take a look at our rundown of the best soundbars – a good picture needs good audio to go with it, after all.

    The best ranked TVs 2021

    1. Panasonic TX-55HZ1000B

    Best home cinema TV

    best tv: Panasonic TX-55HZ1000B

    Size: 65 inches 
    Dimensions:
    71.2 inches (W), 9.1 inches (D), 38.3 inches (H)
    Resolution:
    4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160p
    Processing rate:
    Smooth Motion Drive Pro
    Reasons to buy:
    Provides some of the best colours money can buy
    Reasons to avoid: For £2,400, this is a big investment to make

    Panasonic OLED TVs are as cinematic as the Hollywood hills. This Panasonic TV is built around a Master OLED panel that’s literally been tuned in La La Land (by leading movie colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld). Hues are rich but not ridiculous, contrast is filmic and details so sharp they could cut corners.

    Not that Panasonic has. This top quality set is chokka with  image processing technologies able to make the most of regular HD telly and Blu-ray discs, as well as 4k streams from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

    It also boasts Filmmaker Mode, a shiny new Hollywood approved cinema image pre-set, with Intelligent Sensing, and Dolby Vision IQ. Both automatically optimise the picture based on the lighting in your viewing room, so that the movies you watch are never too dark or look washed out.

    The HZ1000 is pretty smart too. Panasonic’s My Home Screen TV portal is one of the better ones to live with, mixing streaming services (only Disney+ is conspicuous by its absence) with a full complement of catch-Up TV, courtesy of its Freeview Play tuner.

    The set is also beautifully built, with a high quality finish and a super thin bezel. It even swivels on its stand. What more could a film fan want?

    Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    2. Samsung QE65Q80TATXXU

    Best TV for gaming

    best tv: Samsung QE65Q80TATXXU

    Size: 65 inches
    Dimensions:
    96.5 cm (H) x 162.1 cm (W) x 21.4 cm (D)
    Resolution:
    4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160p
    Processing rate:
    3800 PQI
    Reasons to buy:
    QLED technology means it’s screen burn-proof; perfect for gamers
    Reasons to avoid: Some customers have noted that the TV apps don’t support Dolby Atmos

    The Samsung Q80T is packed with some of Samsung’s sharpest TV technology, but avoids the painful price tags found higher up its QLED range.

    It’s actually the cheapest 2020 QLED TV to offer a full array backlight, which means you get punchy HDR (High Dynamic range) images with excellent contrast. We auditioned the 65-inch screen size, which is big on impact, but it’s also available in 49-, 55-, 75- and 85-inch guises, so there’s a model to suit most rooms.

    Smart connectivity is impressive. The Q80T doesn’t just offer catch-up and streaming TV services (Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, Rakuten TV, Disney+, BT TV and YouTube, amongst others), it also has Samsung’s signature Ambient Mode, which turns the screen into a photo gallery when left in standby.

    The Q80T is also a fabulous choice for gamers, with class leading low image lag (just 8.7ms), so you’ll never be slow on the draw when the competition heats up in Fortnite. QLED technology is also guaranteed screen burn free (that thing where static images can sometimes get burnt into the panel itself), which comes as welcome comfort if you’re planning console marathons.

    The TV also sounds surprisingly good. In addition to downward firing stereo drivers and woofers, the set boasts additional speakers positioned top left and right rear, which work with Samsung’s OTS (Object Tracking Sound) technology to create a more involving, immersive audio experience.

    We reckon there’s no better 4k HDR TV for joystick jockeys right now.

    Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    3. Panasonic TX-40HX800B

    Best mid-range TV

    best tv: Panasonic TX-40HX800B

    Screen size: 58 inches (also available in 40″, 50″ and 65″)
    Dimensions:
    58.7 inches (W), 7.8 inches (D), 36.2 inches (H)
    Resolution:
    4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160p
    Processing rate:
    1600 Hz BMR
    Reasons to buy: 
    Has Netflix, Amazon, Freeview Play and more built-in
    Reasons to avoid: Some customers have noted the picture quality lacks when watching sports

    With designer good looks, this talented mid-ranger is the perfect option if you want a polished LED flat screen for home cinema, sports and gaming.

    Picture quality has literally been fine-tuned in Hollywood (by Stefan Sonnenfeld), and the set boasts universal dynamic HDR support, which basically means it’ll automatically maximise image quality on a scene by scene basis when you’re watching 4k HDR programmes.

    It’s also a great gaming TV, even giving the Samsung Q80T a run for its money when it comes to low input lag.

    The TX-58HX800 is fashionably minimalist too. Just as we saw on last year’s Panasonic GX800 models, the LCD panel appears to sit on top of, rather than within, the bezel. It’s a cool design embellishment.

    But it’s in the picture department that the HX800 really shines. Arguably the most cinematic of all the LED LCD TVs available right now, there’s lushness to its colours, and a sense of image depth, that hints of OLED. But it’s brighter, and more contrasty when viewed in daylight.

    Also available in 65-, 50- and 40-inch screen sizes, we were really impressed by this 58-incher. For many the size will be a good compromise, if 65-inches just seems a tad too big for comfort.

    Intuitive and versatile, Panasonic’s own My Home Screen platform, remains one of the easiest smart TV platforms out there to use. There’s no shortage of catch-up TV, thanks to Freeview Play, and there’s also Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Unfortunately, Disney+ is AWOL. Let’s hope Panasonic gets it on the platform sooner rather than later.

    The set will also work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa smart home products.

    Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    4. Philips 555OLED754/12

    Best value OLED TV

    best tv: Philips 55OLED754/12

    Size: 55 inches (also available in 65″)
    Dimensions:
    55.2 inches (W), 7 inches (D), 34.2 inches (Height)
    Resolution:
    4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160p
    Processing rate:
    4500 PPI
    Reasons to buy:
    The OLED screen creates vivid colours
    Reasons to avoid: Doesn’t run on Android, so not all Smart TV apps are available

    Typically, you can expect to pay more for an OLED TV than an LED LCD model. Unlike LED LCD models, OLED screens have the ability to deliver a perfect deep black, with realistic shadow detail, image clarity and colour vibrancy. Picture enthusiasts love them.

    But Philips didn’t get the price memo, and is selling this 55-inch OLED754 model for less than £1,000. If you’re after a premium performer at a great price, snap it up.

    One reason why the TV undercuts others in the Philips OLED range is that it uses last year’s P5 graphics engine. Not that you’ll notice. Philips knows how to make images really pop, and the OLED754 exhibits superb definition, dynamics and colour.

    Design is a winner too. The bezel is fashionably thin and there’s a nice brushed metal effect on the rear panel. You might scratch your head when it comes to adding the best soundbars in front of the screen though, as the panel sits virtually flush with its stand.

    Connected smarts are top notch. Freeview Play covers all the usual Catch-Up TV needs, with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Rakuten TV and YouTube also catered for. The set looks particularly fabulous with 4k HDR from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video – images are wonderfully cinematic!

    And of course, the TV comes equipped with Philips secret weapon, Ambilight. A ring of LED lights cast colours onto the wall behind, creating spectacular mood lighting.

    Ideal Home rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    5. Samsung UE65TU8500UXXU

    Best 43-inch TV

    best tv: Samsung UE65TU8500UXXU

    Size: 43 inches (also available in 50″, 55″ and 65″)
    Dimensions:
    44.9 inches (W), 26.4 inches (H), 6.7 inches (D)
    Resolution:
    4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160p
    Processing rate:
    2800 PQI
    Reasons to buy:
    Crystal Processor for the best 4K picture and targeted sound
    Reasons to avoid: Has just 3 HDMI ports

    Just below Samsung’s premium QLED models, you’ll find the brand’s top-selling Crystal UHD TVs, and it’s easy to see their appeal. They’re competitively priced,  look good, and have all the smart toys you might need.

    This is the smallest of the Crystal UHD 8 series (it’s also available in 50-, 55- and 65-inch screen sizes), but it packs a lot into its modest frame.

    Like its more expensive stablemates, the set runs Samsung’s Tizen platform, one of the best served when it comes to smart features. Not only does it have all the usual streaming and catch-up TV services, it boasts original niceties like Ambient mode (in which the picture blends with the wallpaper when in Standby), Multi View simultaneous smartphone/TV viewing and SmartThings gadget support.

    Needless to say, the picture also has plenty of visual appeal, with rich colours and snappy contrast. We rate the TU8500 a terrific all-rounder.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Read next: how to disguise your TV stylishly

    How to choose the best TV for you

    Samsung QE65Q80TATXXU viewed from the side mounted on wall

    Credit: Samsung

    We know there are a lot of questions that need answering before you commit to a new TV, so here is some advice to make the buying process a bit easier.

    Is it worth getting a 4K TV? (And is 4K really better than 1080p?)

    In a nutshell: definitely.

    With a 4k screen, it really does look better than regular HD models. That’s because a 4k UHD TV uses 4 times as many pixels as a 1080p HD model. Think chunky knit versus fine Merino wool.

    There’s no 4k TV on regular terrestrial TV, but you will find it from streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, as well as from premium pay TV suppliers like Sky, Virgin Media and BT. 4k is also available on UHD Blu-rays (you’ll need a UHD Blu-ray player to spin them).

    But there’s a catch. To appreciate this resolution it makes sense to buy a screen larger than the one you’re replacing, or move your sofa nearer.

    Helpfully, thinner panels and better design have seen TV’s take up less space. In the room occupied by a 2010 43-inch telly, you’ll now probably fit a svelte 2019 55-inch model.

    Most all new 4k TVs will also be HDR compatible. This translates to brighter highlights, so the sun shines hotter, lights glow more realistically in the dark, fireworks dazzle.

    Panasonic TX-40HX800B in living room standing on light wood sideboard

    Credit: Panasonic

    What are the key features I should look for in a smart TV?

    All our featured screens connect to the internet over Wi-Fi, which means they have access to streaming services and catch-up TV.

    Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube are all standard attractions, but the number of secondary services varies. If there’s a specific streaming provider you want, check your shortlisted sets offer it.

    For the best in catch-up TV look for a model with a Freeview Play tuner. This guarantees all the main-channel catch-up players are on board (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, My5).

    Increasingly, smart TVs will also work with voice control systems such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant: “Alexa, play Great British Bake Off!”

    Is QLED better than OLED? And what’s the deal with LED?

    OLED, QLED, LED LCD? TV manufacturers use a variety of panel technologies, each with their own pros and cons.

    The vast majority of TVs available are LCD lit by an LED backlight (hence LED LCD). They’re bright and affordable, but can have a limited black level performance. Consequently, in a fully dark room, blacks tend to turn grey.

    OLED models are only available in larger screen sizes (55-inches plus) and command a price premium. OLED is widely regarded as the best TV technology currently available.

    Self-emissive, OLED doesn’t require a backlight. As every pixel is controllable, the technology can deliver pure, accurate blacks. Nirvana, if you’re a film fan.

    A Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode (QLED), as favoured primarily by Samsung, may sound like OLED, but it’s actually an LCD variant. QLED helps improve colour vibrancy and brightness. As with standard LCD panels, they require a backlight.

    QLED screens are TVs with brighter viewing environments, offering an unbeatable light and colour combination.

    Samsung UE65TU8500UXXU in light living area on wooden stand

    Credit: Samsung

    What will the sound quality of my TV be like?

    Probably poor. One inevitable consequence of ever thinner TVs is weak audio. There’s typically not enough room in the cabinet to accommodate decent loudspeakers. The result is thin sound with limited volume.

    The solution is to partner your thin screen with a separate soundbar (prices range from £100 to £1000+), which will add volume, width and clarity.

    A soundbar turns on and off automatically, effectively replacing the speakers in the set itself. Alternatively, you can had over sonic duties to an AV receiver. This creates a full-blown home cinema system with speakers front and back.

    There are exceptions to this rule of sound though, and we’ve picked several TVs here. Our Best Overall TV winner, the Panasonic GZ2000, has a very convincing Dolby Atmos sound system on board that offers wide, high cinematic sound.

    Sony also has an inspired solution in its Acoustic Surface Audio+ system, which uses vibrating acoustic transducers attached to the panel itself to create forward facing sound waves.

    How we test our TVs

    All our chosen TVs have been rated not just on technical performance, but how they perform in the real world.

    We’ve peered at pixels and scrutinised backlights. We’ve also taken the selfless task of sitting down and watching our favourite shows on regular TV and other sources, like Netflix and YouTube.

    We ate an obscene amount of popcorn watching the latest 4k HDR (High Dynamic Range) movies from a UHD (Ultra High Definition) Blu-ray player, and we rated screens on general usability.

    We also ask, do they have Freeview Play? Is their smart larder well stocked? Are they more confusing than flat-pack furniture? That kind of thing….

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