T3's best TVs of 2022 guide has been carefully curated to feature the top high definition displays that are all about providing the most value for their price. Delivering the latest features and tech expected from today's top displays, we worked tirelessly to include only the top TVs of 2022 in this handy guide.
With new displays releasing every year, many of which introducing new tech and performance improvements, there's an ever growing roster of 8K TVs that get cheaper by the year. Most of the best TVs you'll find on our list will be of the 4K variety, since 8K displays tend to come with price tags that just don't justify the purchase just yet.
Of course, not all 4K TVs are created equal and there’s a world of difference between competing sets and the different technologies used. The good news is that our guide makes it easy see the latest and greatest displays from top brands like Samsung, LG, VIZIO and Sony. Scroll on to see some of the best TVs of 2022.
Best TV 2022
It has taken quite something to knock the QN95A off its lofty perch as the top TV: turns out the only thing that could beat it comes from Samsung's own stable. The QN900A is, in no uncertain terms, the best TV you can buy today.
"By nearly tripling the number of dimming zones," says our full QN900A review, focusing on the 75-inch version, "the 75QN900A raises the bar even higher, combining extreme brightness, colour and 8K sharpness with unprecedented levels of contrast and backlight control to produce the all-round most spectacular pictures I’ve seen on a TV that's remotely affordable."
It's not an OLED killer, as such. There are still those who'll favour emissive pixels over backlit LCD, but good luck finding an 8K OLED in this sort of price bracket and especially one which can match its lowest 65-inch size. And frankly, you'll look at the QN900A and swear it is OLED, so effective is its 1,920-zone Neo QLED backlight at banishing glow, enhancing HDR, and hitting peak brightness up to 4,000 nits.
It has all the functionality you'll need for new games consoles; it has AI-powered 8K upscaling that, says our review, is a "significant step up from even the already impressive upscaling of 2020’s Samsung 8K TVs," offering creditable results even on SD sources. It's essentially bezel free, with eight drivers firing sound out of the back of the unit - with that direction being perhaps its one small flaw.
In short, this is outstanding, a TV ready for everything today has to offer and (we'd hope) able to deal with tomorrow's challenges too.
The Samsung QN90A is the flagship 4K model from the company's 2021 range, and was the first to use the new Neo QLED Mini-LED display tech. The results are utterly incredible. "From its stunning control of precise light and dark to its generous helpings of detail and smooth motion control, it impresses start to finish. As the total image package, it edges out the OLED TVs we've seen so far," our review says.
Mini-LED tech is exactly what it sounds like – Samsung says its LEDs are 40 times smaller than previous models, which means it can can pack in more of them, but also create smaller and more precise dimming zones. That means this set can really blast out bright HDR peaks, but also offers basically the best control of bloom from light areas to dark that we've ever seen outside of OLED TVs. Combined with latest generation of Samsung's image processing, everything you can throw at it looks astounding, even when being upscaled.
It's also future-proofed thanks to having four HDMI 2.1 ports, and we also love that those ports are concealed in Samsung's One Connect box, which is totally separate to the main body of the TV, connecting to the panel by just a single cable. It means you can hide away cable clutter, and really shows off how good the design of this TV looks… and it looks good. At 25mm thick, it's a work of art itself.
The on-board smart options are excellent too – Samsung's Tizen platform is really easy to use, is packed with streaming apps and other options, including a new Game Bar that will be genuinely useful to those who want the best from their gaming hardware.
Our full Samsung QN95A/90A review digs deeper into why this TV edges out the competition as our pick for the best TV available as a showpiece for Samsung's image quality, and the Mini-LED 'Neo QLED' tech powering it."
We all use our TVs for different things, so it's important to get something versatile and able to do anything from playing games to watching movies to turning iffy broadcast TV into something half-watchable. LG's mid-range screen may lack a couple of the G1's fringe features, but it has the things you really need: taking the design of the CX and making it better, adding in the feature set that everyone needs (we're talking HDMI 2.1, VRR, all the good stuff) as well as LG's revised webOS, an iteration on what was already the best TV operating system that makes things slicker and neater than ever before.
The C1 is just so capable. It's happy with 4K 120Hz signals, it works with Freesync and G-Sync, it supports eARC and Atmos. And the Alpha 9 processor inside is a powerhouse, sporting an expanded AI Picture Pro learning engine that handles 4K with aplomb and does a spectacular job turning HD and SD signals into something more.
There's no HDR10+ here, just as there's no Dolby Vision support on Samsung TVs, due to complicated internal squabbles that we won't go into - but the C1's HDR provision is wide and rich, supporting Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG and doing brilliant things with each of them.
Sound is middling, though it's fully loud enough and supports LG's AI Sound Pro system, so you'll get a virtual height channel if it detects Dolby Atmos soundtracks.
Scale back your screen size and the C1 actually starts looking like a bit of a bargain, being available in both 58- and the new 48-inch OLED flavors. Scale it up and you can spend a little more on the 65- or 77-inch versions; go completely mad, and there's a somewhat more expensive 85-inch version on the way which will truly fill your wall. Check out our full LG C1 review to find out more.
When it comes to value, you can’t beat the TCL 6-Series. It packs features into the set you usually need to spend some serious cash for – and it does it for well under $1,000. Along with QLED tech, the latest model uses mini-LED backlights, which makes the TV much brighter than the usual backlights you find on many cheaper units. Mini-LEDs are grouped into small bunches to allow for more precise local dimming. That creates nice contrast, too, though not as good as you’ll find on OLEDs. The 6-Series comes in 65, 55 and 75 inch models to match your room size.
Perhaps best of all is that the TCL 6-Series comes with Roku baked in – it’s the system’s smart OS. That means you get all the apps and ease of use of a Roku unit without having to use one of your HDMI ports or attaching a separate streaming unit.
Gamers will love that the 6-Series supports auto game mode and variable refresh rate – both important for next-gen consoles such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X. It’s THX certified for game mode at 1440p/120 Hz (though it won’t do 4K at 120Hz) and its low lag time means you can’t blame the TV for any gameplay problems.
The QN85A is the lowest-priced model in Samsung's next-gen 'Neo QLED' TV line-up, and this is the smallest size it comes in. It uses Mini-LEDs to offer a pretty incredible balance of image quality and price – its HDR is brilliantly bright, but the precision of its backlight is able to deliver huge contrast when it comes to deep black levels too. It gives a bigger dynamic range than other mid-range LED TVs manage, but also goes brighter than OLED TVs for the same price can deliver, so is great for bright rooms.
Samsung's image processing is excellent and means that both native 4K video and upscaled HD look seriously impressive and detailed. Our full Samsung QN85A review, we said "Give the QN85A the best stuff to work with and it’s capable of deeply impressive results."
It's also great for features – including Samsung's excellent smart TV platform, which is full of all the key streaming services, while also being really easy to use. There's also an HDMI 2.1 port, which supports next-gen gaming features, including VRR and 4K 120Hz – though it's a shame there's only one.
Its only weaknesses are handling standard definition content (other sets here upscale that better), average sound and if you're a sports lover, some sets deal a little better with fast motion. We also wish it had Dolby Vision to really make the most of its HDR abilities, but we're already so impressed with its HDR that we can live with it. But for sheer bang for buck when it comes to bright, beautiful images, this is one hell of a set.
This is the first TV with LG's new 'OLED evo' panel – a next-gen version of OLED tech that consumes less power, can go brighter, and offers even more accurate colors. In the case of the LG G1, that means it can hit around 20% brighter than previous LG OLED TVs, giving scope for broader and more striking HDR than ever.
That's combined with LG's ever-improving control over the near-black elements of pictures, which means better performance at both ends of the brightness spectrum, giving more true-to-life pictures, and making the most of the advantage that OLED's self-emissive pixels have when compared to LED TVs (even mini-LED).
LG's new image processing powers everything, with a noticeable boost to how it handles upscaling from HD to 4K especially – everything looks sharper, but also more natural. And actual 4K video looks better than ever, thanks partly to improved 'AI' recognition of scenes – the TV is better at identifying what's on-screen and tweaking its performance to make the most of it.
As well as being phenomenal for movies, the LG G1 is an excellent choice for gaming. All four of its ports are HDMI 2.1, with 4K 120Hz, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) support, and a new Game Optimiser mode adds flexibility to balance responsiveness with picture quality.
It even sounds good, thanks partly to improved audio processing, which now promises something akin to 5.1.2 channels from the 60W of onboard power.
However, there is one very notable omission here: it doesn't come with a stand in the box. This is a 'Gallery' TV, and it's made for wall mounting – it comes with a special flush wall bracket, so that it sits as slim as possible when up. You can buy some feet, or LG's fetching 'Gallery Stand', but be warned that this is something you'll have to add yourself.
Shhh, don't let the secret out, but there's not a vast difference in the image quality between this and the LG C1 above, and no difference at all in the smart platform or future-proofed connectivity options, including 4K 120Hz and Variable Refresh Rate support for next-gen gaming.
The C1's screen is generally measured brighter than the B1, so it still has a slight edge on HDR performance, but the gap between them really isn't colossal. The B1 also has slightly less advanced processing, but it's still a class act for handling upscaling and motion.
There's no drop in HDR format support either, so you get the dynamic images of Dolby Vision support, plus the webOS operating system has plenty of apps that support this, including Netflix and Apple TV. Other UK catch-up services are present, as is Freeview Play and Amazon Prime Video, though the HDR10+ support of the latter can't be used, because the TV itself doesn't support it.
However, the sound has definitely been skimped on in this TV, to save money. But that's fine – you don't have to spend much at all on one of the best soundbars (opens in new tab) to compensate.
The LG CX is the blockbuster of LG's 2020 range: it's got the same image quality at TVs double its price, but delivers them at a cost more people can afford, especially now that there's a new 48-inch size that's even less expensive, alongside the 55-inch, 65-inch and 77-inch models.
There's no big leap forward for OLED technology here – the developments in picture quality are improvements in processing, making better-than-ever use of OLED's ability to bring out detail and subtlety in dark areas of the screen.
Brightness peaks at around 750 nits, which is normal for quality OLEDs, but because this handles the breadth of its contrast range better than almost any TV we've seen, it certainly feels brighter than that, and OLED's ability to put bright pixels right next to dark ones continues to look stunning.
The new image processing also helps with making detail and skin tones more realistic, resulting in a notable improvement in the overall image – especially when you're watching something richly cinematic in a room with the right lighting (though the inclusion of Dolby Vision IQ means it will tweak what the screen shows to match the light levels in the rooms without harming contrast).
This is also the perfect TV for those looking at buying a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X – or to use with a PC – thanks to its excellent gaming features. We've measured an incredibly low lag of just over 13ms in its gaming mode, which is almost as good as it gets – but the gaming mode keeps an impressive amount of image optimization still going on, so it looks glorious.
On top of that, it supports Auto Low-Latency Mode, Variable Refresh Rates and 4K video at 120 frames per second – all major features in the next-gen consoles. It also includes Nvidia G-Sync support, for PC gaming with an Nvidia graphics card.
The gaming support here is so good, in combination with the TV's overall quality, that it won the award for Best Gaming TV at the T3 Awards 2020 (opens in new tab). Read more in our full LG CX review.
Shhh, don't let the secret out, but there's really very little difference in the panel or picture processing technology between this and the LG CX above (or indeed, the much more expensive GX or WX models).
The CX's screen is generally measured as a little brighter at its peak than the BX, so if you want the best picture, it still has a slight edge, but the gap between them really isn't big at all. That's partly due to the fact that the BX has all the same electronics powering it, including the same strong upscaling and motion handling, plus 120Hz support, and variable refresh rates, and all the connections you could want.
There's no drop in HDR support either, so you get the dynamic images of Dolby Vision support, plus the webOS operating system has plenty of apps that support this, including Netflix, Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video, though the HDR10+ support of the latter can't be used, because the TV itself doesn't support it.
However, the sound has definitely been skimped on in this TV, to save money. But that's fine – you don't have to spend much at all on a soundbar to compensate.
The 55-inch version of this TV has occasionally dipped to around the $1,200 mark, which is excellent value for a future-proof set. But we've picked the 65-inch version because it's the best-value big OLED we've seen so far – it's often available for $2,000, which just about edges out other budget OLEDs at the time of writing.
Discover the differences in the LG BX vs LG CX models.
This TV is Sony's flagship 4K LCD TV from 2020, but it doesn't cost flagship money – it costs less than the LG CX or Samsung Q90T, for example.
It still delivers high-class image quality, though: with brightness peaking at over 1,000 nits, you get bountiful HDR from it, and Sony's image processing is second to none. Colors are supremely rich without coming across as fake, and skin tones, in particular, have a class-leading realism to them, while still being vibrant.
It also handles motion better than just about anything else, giving fast scenes in movies an authentic look but without any judder. At the same time, it clears up and adds detail, which is especially great for watching sports. It's also a highly talented upscaler, so HD video and streams look at close to 4K as possible.
It's not a great choice for gaming thanks to lack of support for 4K at 120fps and a few other missing features (surprisingly, given that Sony's own PS5 will support them), but if you want a TV bright enough to give you a full-on HDR experience even in a strongly lit room, this is a really good choice.
For more, read our full Sony XH95 review
The X90J is a smash hit of a 4K TV and for good reason. It offers bright and beautiful HDR images that can't fail to wow, and local dimming of its full array backlight helps it to keep dark scenes looking convincingly dark. It also includes HDMI 2.1 for future-proofing, which means it's geared up for next-gen console features.
Sony's new 'Sony's Cognitive Processor XR' is on board here, and this next-gen image processing is a big part of its magic. Sony was always a leader in handling motion and upscaling, and it's only gotten better with the new model – whether you're watching in native 4K or upscaling from HD, everything looks wonderfully detailed, and motion appears clear and smooth with appearing robotic.
It all adds up to image quality that's seriously impressive for the price, with the slight caveat that the set is pretty reflective, and also doesn't keep its quality over wide viewing angles as well as some of the competition. However, depending on your setup, they may not even be big issues for you.
The speakers are solid, and that HDMI 2.1 support includes 4K 120Hz for gaming – though no Variable Refresh Rate yet, which is promised in an update.
As our full Sony X90J review put it: "Sony's X90J provides a noticeable step up from last year's model … Its color reproduction is just wonderful, with some clever processing techniques which allow images to look as good as can possibly be on an LED TV."
The Sony A8H is the more affordable of Sony's 2020 OLED TVs – its price puts it in competition with LG's CX, and makes a strong case for itself as an alternative.
Sony is the leader when it comes to image processing, and the deft touch this TV provides to make sure that motion looks totally natural, or to upconvert non-HDR video to something close to real HDR so it pops more on the screen, makes everything you view on it better.
That's all rolled in with the overall picture quality, which is a home theater enthusiast's dream: the way it handles subtle shades, areas of hard contrast and the overall color is just about impossible to fault.
The one arguable issue with its picture is that it's not as bright as LG's OLED TVs, and even more so than the Samsung TVs above. It's also a little reflective, so doesn't stand up well to bright sunlit rooms, but if your use is mostly in controlled lighting, that won't be a problem.
Also impressive is the built-in sound system, which uses the screen panel itself as a speaker, which means unlike most thin TVs, the sound is directed right toward you – this makes elements like dialogue immediately clearer and richer. It's no substitute for surround sound, but where, with LG's CX, we'd recommend getting one of the best soundbars (opens in new tab), this is kind of like having one built-in already.
For smart TV functions, you've got Android TV, which is fairly comprehensive for app support, though isn't the slickest option on the planet.
Those planning to get the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X may want to consider another set, though: it doesn't support 4K at 120fps or Auto Low Latency Mode, which are features of the new consoles.
If you don't care about next-gen consoles and want simply incredible movie images with sound you don't have to immediately pay to upgrade, this is an ideal TV. Read more in our full Sony A8/A8H review.
The Sony Z8H brings a lot of the key advantages of the Z9G to a much lower price. The image quality is simply astounding, and when it comes to making SDR sources look like HDR, or making motion looking clearer without the 'soap opera' effect, this is the best in the business.
The upscaling to 8K is truly impressive, though not really any better than the Samsung above. It still really makes the most of the huge screen though. Also impressive is the built-in sound system, which is so much meatier and bigger than just about anything else we've heard, which is a nice bonus.
As well as the full-blown 85-incher, it also comes in 75-inches for only a fraction more than half the price. So, is also well worth considering.
The support for Dolby Vision is a bonus over the Samsung above, but it lacks HDR10+ support, and does offer support for Variable Refresh Rate, which is a great feature of the PS5 and Xbox Series X. However, it does support 4K at 120Hz.
To discover more, read our full Sony ZH8 review here.
This is Sony's mid-range wonder TV, and finely balances image quality with budget. The full-array LED backlight here provides bright and powerful HDR that's also carefully balanced to deliver realistic and precise colors.
As usual with Sony TVs, the image processing is a big draw here on its own – the way it takes lower-res video and makes it sparkle on the 4K display is second to none, and it also handles motion with a deft touch, helping to avoid judder, but still keeping things looking clear and natural.
When combined with the really impressive HDR performance, you've got a TV that feels premium, but falls comfortably into the mid-range price bracket – this is going to be hugely popular and deservedly so.
That's especially true because this is Sony's lead TV for the PS5, carrying “Ready for PlayStation 5” branding, because (somewhat inexplicably) it's the only TV in Sony's line-up that's due to get support for every major PS5 (and Xbox Series X) new TV tech, including ALLM, VRR and 4K at 120fps. Or, actually, it will support all those. Right this second, only 120fps is actually supported (via an update). The rest are promised to arrive very soon.
Want to know more? Read our full Sony X900H review
If you’re looking for a TV that costs around $500, the 55-inch Hisense H8G should be first in line. The TV punches well above its weight class. With solid color and excellent black levels, the H8G delivers excellent contrast. Full array local dimming helps with the overall picture quality.
Gamers working with limited funds will especially like its low lag time, though it lacks a variable refresh rate and tops out at 60Hz refresh rate. It runs Android TV, which means you’ll have plenty of apps to choose from, and includes Google Assistant for voice assistance as well as Google Chromecast for streaming content from your phone. It also handles Dolby Atmos sound for improved clarity – especially when paired with a soundbar that supports Atmos.
It supports two types of HDR – Dolby Vision and HDR10 – which puts it behind some more expensive units, but it handles HDR content well nonetheless. It’s also not as bright as TVs that cost more, so if you watch a lot of TV during the day it may not be a great match. But if you’re on a strict budget, you’ll be pleased with what you see. It also comes in 50, 65 and 75-inch models.
This is Sony's mid-range wonder TV, and finely balances image quality with budget. The full-array LED backlight here provides bright and powerful HDR that's also carefully balanced to deliver realistic and precise colours.
As usual with Sony TVs, the image processing is a big draw here on its own – the way it takes lower-res video and makes it sparkle on the 4K display is second to none, and it also handles motion with a deft touch, helping to avoid judder, but still keeping things looking clear and natural.
When combined with the really impressive HDR performance, you've got a TV that feels premium, but falls comfortably into the mid-range price bracket – this has been a huge hit, and deservedly so.
That's especially true because this is Sony's lead TV for the PS5, carrying 'Ready for PlayStation 5' branding, because (somewhat inexplicably) it's the only TV in Sony's line-up that's due to get support for every major PS5 (and Xbox Series X) new TV tech, including ALLM, VRR and 4K at 120fps. Right now, only 4K 120fps is currently supported, but Sony says the rest are coming via an update soon. Here's our original Sony XH90 review.
Which TV is the best to buy right now?
Our overall top choice of best TV is the phenomenal Samsung QN90A. This 4K mini-LED screen has Samsung's NEO QLED designation and is a testament to just how good this technology can be. It has contrast and blacks that will give even the best OLEDs a run for their money and will please serious gamers too, with its 120Hz display, 4 x HDMI 2.1 ports and auto low latency mode.
For incredible 8K performance, look no further than the Samsung Q950TS. This 8K QLED screen combines high vibrancy with class-leading HDR performance and sensational color reproduction, plus its upscaling really does make 4K video look close to 8K – it genuinely makes 4K look better than it would normally, which is great at bigger screen sizes. Thanks to an innovative full-array backlight, it not only delivers convincing shiny highlights but also does a fine job managing deep black levels. It also supports next-gen gaming features, including 4K at 120Hz and Variable Refresh Rate.
If you're looking to come into more realistic price ranges, we'd suggest the Samsung Q90T/Q95T as the best LED TV pick, or the LG CX as the best OLED TV pick.
How to choose the best TV for you
Shortlisting your next television can be a complicated business, but a few simple rules of thumb will help.
As we move from HD to 4K and ultimately 8K, screen size becomes a key consideration. To see incremental differences in resolution, you’ll probably need to buy a bigger screen than you had previously, or move your seating closer. Long story short: think big, then buy bigger.
Then there’s the viewing environment. If you tend to watch in high ambient lighting, or during the daytime, an LED or QLED screen will typically serve you better. If you prefer to view with low or no lighting, an OLED will deliver greater subjective contrast and shadow detail.
Smart platforms are no longer a decisive reason to buy. All TVs are smart these days, and the choice of apps ubiquitous – focus on image quality, price and any other features you're keen on.
That said, 4K TVs are cheaper than ever and most of them are Smart TVs, meaning all major streaming services including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube, Apple TV and Rakuten are built right into the display.
Better still, most TVs today improve image quality on their own with image enhancing processors built-in, so most non-4K content looks incredible when upscaled or downscaled appropriately. Some the best gaming TVs even have ability to optimize the display for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X gaming, enhancing response times and improving image quality like never before.
Hoping to save some cash? We've got guides to help you find the best TV deals happening right now including a guide to find the best TVs under $1000 today. As the latest tech drops, you'll find last years 4K TVs on sale for incredible prices. Be sure to take a look!
For advice and guidance on selecting the right display, head to our TV buying guide for more info.
Should you upgrade to a 4K TV?
Yes, definitely (although, to be fair, if you buy a new TV that’s what you’re going to get whether you like it or not).
The resolution of 4K/Ultra HD is four times higher than Full HD, at 3840x2160. It means a far more detailed picture, with content requiring a lot more bandwidth and storage space. 4K TVs tend to be good at upscaling HD video to Ultra HD, and native 4K content is now widely available from a variety of sources.
Our advice? Replace your HD screen with a larger 4K UHD model to really enjoy the resolution benefit. Similarly, buy a larger 8K TV than your 4K screen, if you’re stepping up again.
What are the best types of TVs right now?
The lighting on OLED (organic light emitting diode) TVs is achieved by passing an electric current through an emissive, electroluminescent film. This technique produces beautiful color and high contrast and also enables screens to be extremely thin and flexible. LG Display is the only supplier of 4K OLED screens to mainstream TV manufacturers, meaning they all use the same panels, but picture processors and implementation all vary, so you can still expect differences between brands.
Samsung is the leading exponent of QLED, a variant of LED LCD display technology that uses a highly efficient Quantum Dot filter that increases brightness and color volume. QLED screens with a full array backlight offer the best performance when it comes to HDR peak brightness and LCD black level control.
LED TV: Direct LED
Sometimes called FALD (Full Array Local Dimming), these displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This enables localised dimming – meaning immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively – and greatly improves contrast.
LED TV: Edge LED
With these Edge LED TVs, the LEDs of the backlight are mounted along the edges of the panel. This arrangement enables radically slender displays, but can't achieve the same picture quality as directly lit LED sets. However, Edge LED displays do come in far cheaper which is why the more budget LED TVs out there use this technology.
What to look for when buying the best TV for you
Here are some of the things we look for when we review a TV screen, so you should, too...
Contrast: Bright whites shouldn't have any signs of green, pink or blue in them, while blacks should look solid and not washed out, grey, green or blue.
Colors: Look at how bright and solid they are; how noiseless their edges are; how 'dotty' richly saturated areas are and how natural skin looks, especially in dim scenes.
Fine detail: How much texture does the screen give? Does a tree look like a green lump, or can you see the individual leaves?
Edges: Check for ghosting, bright halos and jaggedness, especially around curves.
Motion: Check moving objects and quick camera pans for smearing or blurring, trailing, jerkiness and fizzing dotty noise.
Image artefacts: Look for blockiness, color bands, grain, smearing, dot crawl: anything that looks like it's added by the TV’s picture processing engine.
How many HDMI ports do you need?
For a living room TV you should be looking for a minimum of three HDMI inputs, but ideally, four if you want to attach a set-top box as well as games consoles, Blu-ray player and a media streamer.
Is sound quality important when selecting the best TV?
To provide the best audio to complement the pictures, your TV should be hooked up to a separate audio system, be it soundbar or home cinema separates, but this isn't always an option. So, here's what we listen for when testing a TV's speakers:
Bass: Deep, rounded rumbles that don't cause the set to rattle or speakers to distort cramp or overwhelm the rest of the sound; but that expand when needed.
Vocals: Voices should sound open, rich and clear, not boxed in, nasal or thin.
Trebles: Treble effects should sound clean, rounded and smooth in loud scenes and shouldn't dominate the soundstage.
Soundstage width/depth: A good TV should throw the sound away from the TV, to the sides, forward and back, to give an extra dimension to what's on screen, without losing any coherence.
Is it a good time to buy a new TV?
We tend to say this all the time, but now really is a great time to invest in a new TV!
4K resolution opens the door to more detail without any obvious onscreen pixel structure, while wide color gamut panels and high brightness panels make for vibrant, color-rich images, even when viewing regular HD TV channels.
The quality of HD upscaling has also never been better, as the power of image processors grows exponentially. All the main TV brands are now fast-tracking image processing which utilizes advanced AI with Deep Learning and Machine Learning, for better picture clarity.
With high dynamic range (HDR), images enjoy a greater sense of realism. HDR is basically a technology that enables TVs to show a broader range of colors and brightness, closer to what the eye is capable of seeing. Bright highlights, such as reflections and fireworks, glint and glow more realistically. HDR also allows for greater subtle shadow detail, adding extra depth.
There is a caveat though. Cheaper LED screens may claim HDR support, but they often lack the inherent brightness to actually do much with it. At the high end, the dynamics will always be more pronounced.
HDR comes in a variety of flavors. Static HDR, aka HDR10, is the standard. It’s used on UHD Blu-ray and by streaming services. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are dynamic HDR variants, able to optimize HDR characteristics on a scene-by-scene basis, thanks to the use of dynamic metadata.
Dolby Vision is the more widely used of the two. It’s favored by Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV/iTunes and UHD Blu-ray. HDR10+ appears on some discs but is more commonly used by Amazon Prime. Most manufacturers support one or the other; a few (Panasonic, Philips) favor both.
HLG is a live broadcast HDR standard, still largely undergoing trials – support is widespread.
Audio is often a key differentiator between models. Flagship 4K TVs tend to have enhanced sound systems, often with support for Dolby Atmos, the immersive 3D sound format. If you invest in a sound system or soundbar with support for vertical audio channels, this can create a 'dome' of sound with precise 3D positioning for all sounds – it's really quite remarkable.