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Best TV 2021: 4K, 8K and HDR televisions to buy now

Best TV 2021: 4K, 8K and HDR televisions to buy now
(Image credit: LG)

Most people want the best TV they can afford. After all, TVs are often at the center of our living spaces, and whether it’s 4K, 8K, OLED or HDR you’re going to want the best television you can get, within your budget. There are several different screen technologies in play at the moment, and at the very top end prices can spiral out of control, and wall-sized screens built to display high-resolution video that’s not generally available yet are the domain of the millionaire and the dedicated future-proofer.

OLED or QLED?

If you're spending big on one of the best premium TVs, we recommend going with either an OLED or QLED TV. You spend more, but the difference is noticeable from regular 4K TVs. OLEDs give deeper blacks, and you get thinner, lighter TV units. QLEDs give more brightness, and deeper blacks then regular LED TVs.

For those of us on more reasonable budgets, it’s still possible to pick up a very large TV that looks incredible without needing to remortgage your house. A 55in TV is still large enough to command attention in all but the largest rooms, and a modern OLED screen displaying content in 4K and HDR from one of the best TV streaming services is hard to ignore. 

At the top of the range right now are OLED sets, where every pixel is lit individually. LED or LCD sets use a backlight that lights many pixels at once, so they can’t manage the dark blacks or levels of contrast seen on the OLED or QLED sets. Mini-LED is an upcoming technology that promises to give OLED a run for its money, however, promising future improvements in picture quality above what we’ve already seen.

Alongside the improvements in picture quality seen over the last few years, TV chassis have also improved to the point that they can almost look like picture frames. Modern sets are thin and light - it’s no problem to lift them onto a wall mount or fit them to a stand. Now is a great time to buy a TV, so here’s our pick of the best 4K, 8K and HDR televisions to buy now. And if you need them, we also have a list of the best HDMI cables and the best Blu-ray players.


1. LG CX OLED TV: Best TV overall

(Image credit: LG)

LG CX OLED TV

This is the best TV now, with a stunning picture quality

Sizes: 48, 55, 65, 77 inches | Panel type: OLED | HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG | Operating system: webOS

Stunning image quality
Powerful gaming speeds
Decent price for OLED
Best blacks
No HDR10+

The LG CX OLED TV is the the best of the bunch right now. It offers some of the best picture quality thanks to the stunning OLED display which is now available in more sizes. It does this while brining the price of OLED down once again. 

This panel pumps out 4K resolution with HDR from Dolby Vision, making it the ideal TV to get the best out of streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. It offers a new Filmmaker Mode which recreates movie quality as it was intended to be seen. You also have a smart Game Mode which offers, with HDMI 2.1, next-gen smoothness and support for variable refresh rates and low latency mode. All that makes this ideal for the PS5 or Xbox Series X. Voice controls, AI support and smart apps all work well with a zippy and intuitive webOS interface.

The colors are stunning, with the full DCI-P3 color space covered and support for up to 12-bit color. This, combined with the deepest blacks and total lack of light bleed make for a stunning TV experience from what is also one of the brightest OLED TVs LG has managed to create.

This isn't the cheapest but is less than many other OLED options, despite being one of the best pictures you can get on a TV, bar none.


2. Samsung Q90T QLED TV: Best picture

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Q90T QLED TV

For truly bright, colorful images this TV pushes out the power

Sizes: 55, 65, 75 and 85 inches | Panel type: QLED | HDR: HDR10+ and HLG | Operating system: Tizen

Super bright
HDR10+
HDMI 2.1 support
No OneConnect Box
No Dolby Vision

The Samsung Q90T QLED TV is one of the brightest screens you can buy right now thanks to that smart QLED tech. As such you can get up to 2,000 nits of peak brightness making this ideal for daytime viewing in brighter homes. Yet Samsung has refined its full-array local dimming to mean you also get some very rich blacks and less light bleed than ever.

This packs in HDR10+ but not Dolby Vision. It's slim but still thicker than OLED. And it's more affordable but still premium. It also requires a bit of tinkering with to get the light-to-color balance just right. But all that said, this can create some of the best images on a screen.

The TV is also future-proofed with HDMI 2.1, 120Hz support as well as low latency mode and variable refresh rates, ideal for next-gen gaming consoles. Throw in all of Samsung's smart TV functionality and you have yourself a very capable and impressive TV that does more than the price would suggest.


3. Sony A9G OLED TV: Best sound

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony A9G OLED TV

This TV has exceptional sound, so you won't need external speakers

Sizes: 55, 65, 77 inches | Panel type: OLED | HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG | Operating system: Android

Stunning 4K and HDR OLED panel
Acoustic Surface Audio+
Genius upscaling
No HDR10+
Massive price

The Sony A9G OLED TV is another television with a superb picture, thanks to that OLED panel and Sony smart processing, but this one also sounds good too. In fact it sounds great thanks to the Acoustic Surface Audio+ which is a unique tech that uses actuators to make the TV's glass vibrate to create sound. The result is truly immersive room filling audio that's superb quality and offers a defined and wide soundstage. So while this TV is expensive, you can at least factor in not adding a sound system to your costs. The upscaling of visuals is also excellent making all content fantastic with smooth tracking, rich colors, deep blacks and HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG support. A top-quality TV with a price to reflect that.


4. TCL 6-Series QLED Roku TV: Best for affordable quality

TCL 6-Series

(Image credit: TCL)

TCL 6-Series QLED Roku TV

You get a good TV here, but only pay half the price

Sizes: 55, 65 and 75 inches | Panel type: QLED | HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG | Operating system: Roku

Wide color gamut
Deep blacks
4K with Dolby Vision and HDR10
Motion could be better
Could be brighter

The TCL 6-Series QLED Roku TV is an affordable way to get some of the best image performance thanks to this QLED panel. That means rich colors, deep blacks and decent tracking. You also get all the HDR formats including Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG – something a lot of the big brands don't offer. This also has Roku built in so you can access a huge wealth of apps and features right from your remote. What's the catch? Motion isn't the best and the images could be brighter but even these caveats are only going to be noticed by the most discerning of eyes.


5. Hisense H8G ULED TV: Best budget-friendly TV for streaming

Hisense H8G ULED TV

(Image credit: Hisense)

Hisense H8G ULED TV

Ideal for all streaming platforms at top quality, on a budget

Sizes: 50, 55, 65 and 75 inches | Panel type: ULED | HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG | Operating system: Android

Affordable price
Dolby Vision and Atmos
Bright, colorful
Basic design
OS could be faster
No HDMI 2.1

The Hisense H8G ULED TV is an affordable way to get high-end specs including 4K resolution and HDR. But not just any HDR, this supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, not siding with just one as many premium brands do. That means the most colorful and clear images, no matter where you stream from.

Picture quality is excellent with rich colors and a bright top-end. While refresh rates are limited to 60Hz and there's no HDMI 2.1 support, this does still offers its MotionRate 240 to create smooth movement in gaming and sports. 

Audio is decent, with Dolby Atmos and virtual surround supported. The Android TV OS means lots of apps and integrated smart assistants, but it could run faster from time to time. But at this price it's tough to complain.


6. Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED TV: Best 8K television

Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED TV

Want to go 8K? This is the best option, and it's very expensive

Sizes: 65, 75 and 82 inches | Panel type: QLED | HDR: HDR10+ and HLG | Operating system: Tizen

Smart 8K upscaling
HDR10+
Quantum dot color
Very expensive
Still very little 8K content

The Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED TV is about as future-proof as you can get right now thanks to its 8K resolution HDR panel. There isn't a lot of 8K content at the moment and the price of this screen, even at its smallest, is prohibitively expensive. But the key here is that this can upscale content, so even current 4K feeds look better on this screen. Factor in how long this will last you and suddenly that price doesn't seem so steep. With the bright performance, wide color gamut and smooth motion handling, this is a superb TV that should stay that way for years to come.


7. Vizio M-Series Quantum 4K TV: Best for QLED color on a budget

VIZIO M-Series Quantum 55 4K TV

(Image credit: VIZIO)

Vizio M-Series Quantum 4K TV

Superb colors on a smaller budget

Sizes: 43, 50, 55 and 65 inches | Panel type: QLED | HDR: Dolby vision and HDR10 | Operating system: SmartCast 3.0

Great 4K and HDR performance
Quantum dot color
Local dimming for great blacks
Limited app choice

The Vizio M-Series Quantum 4K TV is a really great way to get QLED technology for less. That means you get all the rich and punchy colors that this panel has to offer backed by local dimming for excellent blacks. The HDR, which supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, helps to show how well this TV can deliver both contrast and that wide color gamut. You also get the SmartCast 3.0 operating system which is limited on apps but offers all the big streaming platforms plus you get Google Cast and Apple AirPlay control built in. It's a genuinely good looking TV too with minimal bezel that helps show off that great picture quality. 


What does 4K actually mean?

When people talk about 4K TV what does that actually mean? 4K refers to the maximum resolution that the TV can display images at. Almost all modern TVs are 4K, which is a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels displayed in the standard 16:9 format (that's the shape of your TV). You may also hear 4K described as Ultra High Definition (UHD or Ultra HD), but the resolution is exactly the same. We call it 4K because it is four times the pixel resolution of regular HD.

Full High Definition, or FHD, is 1920x1080 pixels. You'll often see it referred to as 1080p, which is talking about how the picture is generated by your display. The 'p' stands for progressive scan, which basically means that when your TV displays a picture it is showing 1080 lines all at the same time, updating them each time a frame changes. Technically, the lowest resolution of HD is 1280x720 (or 720p), and images shown at this size are still classed as High Definition.

You should also consider that not all movies and TV broadcasts are 4K. In fact, a surprising number are only in Full HD or lower. So, regardless of the maximum display potential of your TV, it could be that you're only watching content in regular HD (1080p). Many TVs will attempt to artificially upscale images from HD to 4K, but you'll never get the same result as footage that is created in 4K originally.

What is the difference between OLED and QLED?

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, and is a technique in TV panels that allows each individual pixel to be switched on and off independently of the others. This means you can get sharper pictures, for sure, but how does that explain OLED's famously deeper black tones? Well, regular LED panels use either back lights or side lights to illuminate their LEDs, and they do so in groups. So, no matter how accurate your back or side-lighting is, you will always get a slight halo or blooming effect around LEDs, and you won't be able to switch areas of the panel off completely to obtain those levels of absolute black. The advantages of OLED panels is they can be incredibly thin (you don't need to house a backlight!) and can show sharp images with deep blacks. The disadvantages is that they're expensive, and can't get as bright as QLEDs. Speaking of which...

QLED is Samsung's preferred technology, and works differently to OLED, despite sounding remarkably similar. QLED stands for Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode, and it works by placing a Quantum Dot filter over the LEDs inside the TV. Inside the filter are crystal semi-conductor particles that can be lit to form precise colors, at higher brightnesses than regular LEDs. This means you're able to produce more vivid color ranges, while retaining accuracy, despite the fact that QLED panels are technically back lit, like regular 4K TVs. The pros of QLED is that you get brighter images and better, more accurate colors. The downside is that panels are heavier and slightly thicker than OLED and, oh yeah, they're very expensive too.