Best TVs 2020 – the top sets to buy for bingeing movies, sports, soaps and more

As our viewing habits change, so do our TVs. They're getting sleeker, sharper and smarter...
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  • TVs are undergoing a revolution. It’s not just the way we consume our telly that’s evolving (hands up fellow members of the binge-watching brigade!), it’s all change on the hardware and software front, too.

    For the latest expert advice on the gadgets to get, read our buying guide reviews

    Why do I need a new TV?

    Slim and stylish, with better picture quality than ever, today’s flatscreens make Noughties TVs look like something from the dark ages.

    And with new services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and smart-device connectivity delivering awe-inspiring shows, your viewing pleasure demands a new set to watch them on.

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    Image Credit: Panasonic

    But buying a new telly can be a daunting prospect. There’s a forest of acronyms to break-down, like OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) HCX (Hollywood Cinema eXperience) and LED (Light-Emitting Diode). While price-wise, models range from the affordable to the eye-popping expensive.

    A key reason to upgrade is design – a key consideration if you don’t want a big black box that ruins your living room‘s aesthetic. The latest TVs embrace a minimalist aesthetic that’s easy to accommodate, while wafer thin bezels (tech speak for ‘the space around the screens’) are in. Smart TVs connect to the web, so you’ll never miss your daily dose of Phillip and Holly.

    You can also stream must-see shows, so you don’t need a clunky digital box to store them on. For late-night bedroom viewing, that’s ideal.

    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….

    Best TVs 2020

    1. Panasonic TX-58HX800 LED 4K TV

    Best TV overall

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    With designer good looks, this talented mid-ranger is the perfect option if you want a polished LED flatscreen 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’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Panasonic TX-58HX800 LED 4K TV, £899.99, Currys

    2. Philips 55OLED754 OLED TV

    Best value OLED TV

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    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 a soundbar 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

    Buy now: Philips 55OLED754 OLED TV, £989, Currys

    3. Samsung QE65Q80T QLED 4K TV

    Best gaming TV

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    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’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Samsung QE65Q80T QLED 4K TV, £1,999, John Lewis & Partners

    4. Panasonic TX-65HZ1000

    Best home cinema TV

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    Panasonic OLED TVs are as cinematic as the Hollywood hills. Also available in a more affordable 55-inch screen size, 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 preset, 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’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    5. LG 65-inch OLED65GX

    Best hang-on-the-wall TV

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    LG calls its GX OLED TVs the Gallery range, because they’re designed to be hung on a wall like paintings, rather than sat on furniture. The cabinet has a uniform depth, unusual for OLEDs, which enables them to sit virtually flush on to wall.

    We auditioned the 65-inch model, but it’s also available in 55- and 77-inch sizes. All are a uniform 20mm deep, with a picture bezel just 5mm thick. Interior designers will them.

    The set may look fancy, but it lacks some basic niceties. Rather disappointingly, there’s no Freeview Play tuner from LG on its OLED range this year, so you might plan on getting your catch-up TV thrills elsewhere.

    On the plus side, picture quality is first class. As we’d expect from OLED, images enjoy superb contrast, with inky blacks and crisp definition.  A new Alpha 9 Gen 3 image processor with AI Picture Pro processing technology really adds extra detail and dynamics.

    Compatible with Dolby Vision, the GX is a perfect partner for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

    With Dolby Vision, we recommend watching using the Dolby Vision Cinema Home preset as this rather cleverly employs the TV’s AI Brightness Control function to ensure images always look their best, regardless of any ambient light. Good news if you fancy a film matinee during the afternoon.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: LG 65-inch OLED65GX, £3,199, Currys

    5. Toshiba 58-inch U2963 LED 4k TV

    Best second room TV

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    If you’re seeking a big 4K TV at an irresistibly small price, then this budget offering from Toshiba takes some beating.

    Let’s not kid ourselves, when it comes to design this telly most definitely looks better on than off (it’s quite chunky at 74mm), but if you’re after a bargain priced big screen for box set binging or games play, then we’re prepared to forgive any fashion faux pas.

    One upside of its girth is that there’s a decent pair of speakers onboard, so the U29 goes loud and sounds fulsome.

    Also available in 43- and 65-inch screen sizes, the U29 is handy for catch-up, thanks to a smart platform overflowing with streaming TV services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Brit Box, Rakuten.TV and YouTube.

    If you’re an Amazon Alexa user you can also voice control volume and channel selection.

    Picture quality is fine for the price. The U29 offers extremely sharp images, with vibrant colour and a good level of overall brightness. Dolby Vision HDR technology is on hand to make the most of your favourite 4k Netflix shows.

    All things considered, this is an astonishingly high value screen. Indeed, the only reason not to buy the U29 is probably the high brightness LED power button, which glares at you from below the screen. We would have liked an option to dim that down.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Toshiba 58-inch U2963 LED 4k TV, £349, AO.com

    6. TCL 50C715K

    Best 50-inch TV

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    The TCL brand may not be a household name, but this manufacturer is huge on the global TV stage, which makes this feature-rich fifty-something well worth a look.

    Intriguingly, it uses QLED panel technology, more commonly found on Samsung’s high-end TV offerings, coupled to the latest Android smart platform.

    It also boasts posh niceties like Dolby Vision HDR, to ensure Netflix always looks presentable. In addition to this featured screen size, there are 55- and 65-inch versions, and they’re pretty cheap too.

    One consequence of the C715’s low price is the rather ordinary build quality, but that shouldn’t be an issue when you dim the lights and dish out the popcorn. Picture quality is above average for the cash, with a high level of detail and vibrant colours.

    There’s no shortage of streaming services and catch-up TV either, thanks to the Freeview Play tuner, while Chromecast is built in, which makes it a doodle to cast from an Android smartphone to the set. It’ll also work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    7. Samsung UE50TU8500

    Best 43-inch TV

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    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’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    8. Hisense B7500

    Best 55-inch TV

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    Temptingly priced under the Hisense’s ULED models, this 4k 55-incher is big on value and performance.

    Also available in 43-, 50-,and 65-inch screen sizes, it combines Hisense’s own-brand Vidaa U smart portal, where you’ll find the likes of Rakuten, Prime Video, YouTube and Netflix, plus Freeview Play with Catch-up TV.

    It also responds to Amazon Alexa voice commands, if you have a connected Echo device. You can use it to control volume and change channels, by voice control.

    We like Hisense’s Vidaa U interface, as it keeps things simple. If you don’t want to be bamboozled by menus and stuff, it’s a good option.

    This is also a solid choice for gamers and sports fans. Ultra Smooth Motion processing is on hand to maximise clarity during fast moving scenes.

    HDR support covers Dolby Vision, but to keep the set looking its best, our suggestion is  not to dim all the lights on movie night – that’s when the cheapo price point comes home to roost. Black level performance is limited, so if you want to prevent blacks greying out, watch with some low level of room lighting.

    Overall though, a fantastic value flatscreen.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    9.  Sony Bravia KD-65AG9BU 4K OLED TV

    Best 65-inch TV

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    Sony’s Master Series AG9 presents a whopping 65-inch panel, but neatly designed so it won’t take over your living room.

    Not only is this 4k OLED panel artfully stylish, it sounds great too, thanks to an innovative Acoustic Surface Audio+ sound system. Noises emanate from the panel itself, rather than conventional forward-facing speakers.

    The AG9’s picture performance completely won us over with its ability to deliver naturalistic highlights, with plenty of shadow detail.

    Usability is good, if not immediately intuitive. This Sony uses the Android TV smart operating system, and has Chromecast built-in, so you can stream from your Google phone.

    Despite supporting Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, the AG9 lacks Freeview Play, but compensates with a YouView app which offers all the key catch-up channels.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Sony Bravia KD-65AG9BU 4K OLED TV, £2,999, Currys

    10. LG OLED55E9 OLED 4K TV

    Best home cinema TV

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    If you’re seeking an TV that offers exceptional picture quality but doesn’t push the price envelope, then LG’s 55-inch E9 should be at the top of your list.

    The design of the E9 is particularly cool. Not only is it impressively thin, beneath the speaker bar there’s a transparent Perspex lip which gives the illusion that the panel is floating on air.

    Charged with keeping images crisp is LG’s second generation Alpha 9 intelligent picture processor. This delivers excellent contrast, great for watching films brimming with colour.

    There’s also rather clever Deep Learning AI picture management, which allows the panel to better display shadow detail by reacting to viewing light levels and adjusting the picture accordingly.

    LG has won numerous awards for its webOS smart platform, and it’s easy to see why. The Launcher bar, which runs across the bottom of the screen, provides a neat, fast way to launch your favourite streaming services. So there’s plenty to choose from, including Now TV and Netflix.

    Like many of its rivals, the E9 also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

    The icing on the cake is a powerful integrated soundbar, which keeps dialogue muffle-free.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: LG OLED55E9 OLED 4K TV, £1,999, John Lewis & Partners

    Buying a TV – everything you need to know

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    Image Credit: LG

    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.

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    Image 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.

    Panasonic TX-40GX800

    Image Credit: Panasonic

    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.

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    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.

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