Welcome to the TV section of our T3 Awards 2021 winners celebration, which is full of the most mind-blowing 4K and 8K TVs available today.
It's a huge year for TVs, with key new technologies appearing in the form of the first major upgrade to OLED in years, the Mini-LED revolution arriving for LCD TVs, and HDMI 2.1 becoming the norm in many more sets.
It makes 2021 an especially tempting year to upgrade your TV, and not just because the very latest sets are so irresistible – some slightly older models have now had price cuts that makes them incredibly good value, and the quality is so high that their age really won't matter.
So let's meet the wonderful TVs that have won the T3 Awards 2021, and taken home tech's highest honour.
Best TV: Samsung QN900A
When it comes to crowning the overall T3 Awards 2021 winner for our best TV, we're looking for something that shows the absolute peak of what TVs can do at this point in time, and that's the Samsung QN900A.
The combination of next-generation Mini-LED backlight, 8K resolution and AI processing delivers not just the best experience when it comes to detailed pictures, but also delivers the full spectacular range of HDR movies and TV in a way other sets can't match.
There might be a lack of native 8K content, but the incredible upscaling of 4K sources justifies the extra pixels and expense of the 8K panel – the processing does a truly convincing job of adding extra detail, and makes movies look better than any 4K screen can, as a result.
Then you add Samsung's incredible brightness from its Mini-LED backlight, which can truly dazzle with its highlights, but also offers contrast in dark areas that is astoundingly close to what OLED can do. The QN900A offers more local dimming zones than Samsung has ever used before, which means you get a sharper separation of light and dark, and less blooming.
In combination, all of the above is simply mind-blowing to watch, and makes it the best TV available today. Our full Samsung QN900A review called it a "genuinely fearsome demonstration of why Mini-LED technology looks set to be such a game changer for LCD TVs".
And that's before we talk about the millimetres-thin design, thanks to all the connections and electronics being in a separate box, connected by a single cable. And those connections include great HDMI 2.1 support, ready for next-gen consoles.
The best TV shortlist
Best OLED TV: LG G1
The per-pixel lighting of OLED TVs mean that the sheer precision and refinement of the technology has made it a top choice for videophiles over the last few years, yet the technology hadn't evolved much in that time. But the LG G1 is our T3 Awards 2021 winner for best OLED because it takes things forward, while also being a top-class TV.
This is the first set to use LG's new type of OLED panel, known as 'OLED Evo'. The LG G1 is brighter than any LG OLED set that's come before thanks to this new panel, and also offer even more accurate colours.
It does this in a body that's designed to make the the most of the ultra-thin OLED panel, mounting flush to your wall, then producing simply gorgeous 4K HDR images out of nowhere on demand.
When you factor in the design, the next-gen panel and LG's fantastic smart TV system and excellent feature list (including full HDMI 2.1 support on all four ports), it's simply the best OLED TV of the moment. As our LG G1 review says, "Pictures on the LG G1, regardless of whether you’re watching TV or gaming, are consistently and jaw-droppingly spectacular," and that's what our TV awards are all about.
The best OLED TV shortlist
Best 8K TV: Samsung QN900A
Given that the winner of our overall best TV award was an 8K TV, it's no surprise to see that model taking home this award as well – the Samsung QN900A is the officially best 8K TV at the T3 Awards 2021.
That's because it's the best ambassador for 8K right now, demonstrating why the technology has a place in the TV world, even without actual 8K video to watch. And it does it without being a price that only oligarchs can hope to pay,.
The Neo Quantum Processor 8K that sits at its heart can take 4K video and upscale it to look close to what real 8K video would, meaning that the extra pixels aren't just for show. The AI-based processing knows what real-world objects should look like, and so can polish and sharpen the pictures with unsurpassed realism. If you're going for big sizes in particular, there is a clear jump in clarity to be found here, far beyond what anything else delivers – it's the ultimate home cinema screen for that reason.
When combined with the stunning HDR performance of the Mini-LED backlight, plus top-tier connectivity and an excellent smart TV platform, you've got an 8K that single-handedly justifies why the technology is here to stay. It's easily the best 8K TV available today.
The best 8K TV shortlist
Best Gaming TV: LG G1
The big thing for gaming in 2021 is HDMI 2.1. The new connectivity standard supports key features of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, including 4K 120Hz video, Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode. These are all designed to make sure that games can play smooth and respond more quickly to your input than ever.
With that in mind, we're delighted to reveal that the LG G1 is the winner of our best gaming TV award this year, thanks to its combination of wide HDMI 2.1 support, plus excellent gaming features and response times, as well as its overall image quality.
When it comes to a gaming focus, LG is always a leader for features. Aside from the top-tier connectivity and next-gen features, you've also got support for both AMD FreeSync Pro and Nvidia G-Sync on PCs. And a tiny, tiny response time, so you see what's happening on-screen as quickly as possible. And you can even adjust the mode for different game genres, so for fast-paced shooting you can focus on response time, or you can tell the TV you're playing a more chilled-out game, and it'll apply extra image improvement processing.
OLED TVs still carry a small risk of image burn-in for certain types of gaming, but for the average player it's not a major concern. All in all, the one-two-three punch of having so many excellent features, no hassle over worrying which HDMI supports the features you want, and it being an award-winning TV more generally, mean that it's the best gaming TV available today.
We're awarding a Highly Commended model in this category too, and that goes to the Samsung QN95A. This 4K TV uses Mini-LED for top-tier HDR performance, and includes HDMI 2.1 ports with full support for 4K 120Hz, VRR and ALLM. Samsung's new Game Bar also makes it easy to adjust your gaming setup, and the support for ultra-wide resolutions is a very cool feature.
The best gaming TV shortlist
Highly Commended: Samsung QN95A
Best Mid-Range TV: LG BX
When we talk about the best mid-range TVs, we're looking for the best TVs under £1000. And right now, that includes some fantastic sets that started life at a higher price, but have now received price cuts that make them simply phenomenal sets for the money.
The winner of our T3 Awards 2021 gong for best mid-range TV is exactly that kind of set: the LG BX. At the prices you can now find this 2020 TV for, it's astounding value for money.
The 4K OLED panel brings exactly the kind of rich HDR performance the technology is known for, in a fairly stylish and very slim design. The smart TV platform is as good as any other out there, and is easy to use while also offering all the key streaming apps. And it's even got HDMI 2.1 connectivity for next-gen gamers, with support for 4K 120Hz and VRR.
As our full LG BX review noted, this is easily the best cheap OLED TV now, and is basically a premium TV that's got lost and found itself in a much more affordable neck of the woods. If you're looking for bang for buck, there's nothing noisier to be found for this price.
The best mid-range TV shortlist
Best Value TV: Samsung TU8500
When we're looking at value TVs – such as the best TVs under £500 – we're aiming for the basics to be done really well. We want good contrast, rich HDR colours, crisp 4K details, and an easy-to-use smart TV platform – everything else is just gravy.
That's exactly what you get from the Samsung TU8500, which is why it's our T3 Awards 2021 winner for the best value TV. It impresses in all the places a TV needs to impress, and that includes the price.
All budget TVs need to cut corners somewhere compared to the bigger sets, but the TU8500 doesn't feel like it's a pared-back model. Our full Samsung TU8500 review particularly picked out the dual-LED backlight as being worthy of praise – made specifically for cheaper sets, this technology helps to create convincing and even black tones without adding the extra cost that Samsung's QLED tech does.
Combined with great image processing for sharp 4K images and good HD upscaling, plus a great low response time for gaming, you've got a TV that's just an impressive all-rounder for picture performance.
The cherry on top is the smart platform, which is exactly the same as all of Samsung's TVs. Yes, even the elite 8K models – that means it's got apps for all the key streaming services, is really smooth to use, and easy for anyone to understand. If you want a TV that looks good and makes it easy to watch your favourites for a low price, this is the best option available today.
The best value TV shortlist
- See all the T3 Awards 2021 winners