Do you have your heart set on finally experiencing the high-definition splendor of 4K magic in the comfort of your own home? Maybe you’re shopping for a loved one or you just want to make sure you’re getting the best future-proofed technology that’s worth your investment.
Whether you’re a 4K console gamer, a movie lover or a tech geek, choosing to buy a 4K TV can turn up the wow-factor in all of your media and entertainment experiences. Use this guide to find the best 4K TV that has the perfect specifications, quality and price point for your needs.
Last update on 2024-02-16 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon
How to Choose the Best 4K TV
TVs aren’t just TVs anymore. They’re gaming monitors, Blu-ray players, VR screens, internet streamers and so much more. If you’re looking to buy a TV, the one you choose will depend on your preferences for size, features, functionality and picture clarity.
With so many 4K TV options on the market today, it can be difficult deciding which one to spend your hard-earned money on. Here are some easy steps to follow:
- Size. Start by considering how much room you have and the importance of viewing angles in your home to determine the size of your TV. We’ll give you a tip for this below.
- Price. The best 4K TVs can range from under $1,000 to over $4,000, depending on the size and type of screen. Consider how much money you are ready to spend and also keep an eye on bargain deals.
- Screen type. You know you want 4K resolution, but what about the type of screen itself? Your two main options are either OLED or LCD/LED. Each has their pros and cons related to color brightness, contrast and viewing angles; we discuss more below.
- Sound. Do you plan on using an external sound system or are you going to rely on the built-in sound system of the TV?
- Smart features. Almost all 4K TVs have Smart TV. You should start thinking about what types of online features are important to you.
Today 4K TVs are available in nearly all sizes (from 32 to 70 inches and even more). If you have a bigger living room or there will be multiple people viewing the TV, a TV with a bigger screen might be a better choice (65 or 75 inches). However, if it’s just you and your spouse in a smaller apartment, you might look at 4K TVs that are 55 inches or smaller.
There are some techniques you can use to determine what size of TV you should get according to how much room you have for viewing. You can divide the diagonal width of the screen by 0.84 inches to find the location of the viewing area using the angles. Here is a viewing distance calculator to help you out.
It can be tempting to go as big as possible, but remember to consider screen type, HDR, refresh rate and contrast ratio before making your final decision.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a term that you will find on the majority of 4K TVs nowadays.
HDR is a technology that brings a more realistic picture to your TV by showing you a better pallet of colors (Wide Color Gamut) and enhancing the differences between light and dark tones (Contrast Ratio).
- Wide Color Gamut (WCG). Wide color gamut is what makes the colors on your TV truly pop. With WCG, the colors on your TV become richer and more lifelike, making your experience as immersive as stepping into a forest or a battlefield. You may also come across the term “Dolby Vision”, which is a type of HDR that can help the TV portray billions of colors for incredible depth and brightness.
- Contrast ratio. If you want the best possible picture quality, you need a TV that has a high contrast ratio. The contrast ratio is the relationship between the brightest and darkest colors, which together determine the realism and sharpness of the picture. Blacks will appear truly black, rather than dark shades of other colors. Whites will also be truly white and not slightly yellow or pinkish.
If you want the most out of your 4K TV when it comes to color realism and breathtaking vibrancy, finding one with HDR is a must. Therefore, HDR should play a large role when choosing the best 4K TV for your needs.
Picking the largest sizes and resolutions doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a better picture; this just means that you can see all of the little cells more clearly. HDR means that the colors in those cells are more vibrant and lifelike.
Measured in hertz or Hz, the refresh rate of a TV is how quickly it can update the image on the screen. The more times the picture can be updated in a second, the smoother the picture is to the human eye. This is very important in high-octane media such as action movies and video games.
The refresh rate can be important to minimize the motion blur that’s created by your brain anticipating where the picture (or frame) will be next. The more images that are captured and displayed at a high speed will minimize the amount of blur you will see with your eyes.
The screen type you choose will depend entirely on your personal preference and your budget. When talking about new TV screens, there are a few terms you should know:
- LCD. LCD means “liquid crystal display”. This is a type of panel technology that uses liquid crystals to display the pictures on the TV.
- LED LCD. LED means “light-emitting diode”. This is the primary TV display technology that’s on the market today, rivaled primarily by OLED. LED is actually a type of LCD TV, which explains why you sometimes hear LED TVs referred to as “LED LCD TVs”. Essentially, the LEDs are used as a backlight for the LCD. This produces a much clearer, more detailed picture.
- OLED. The “O” stands for “organic”. This type of panel technology uses electrical currents to emit bright lights. OLED TVs don’t need backlighting, so they’re typically thinner and more energy efficient (but also more expensive).
- QLED. The “Q” stands for “quantum”. This type of panel technology uses quantum dots to filter light, offering wider color ranges than normal LCD TVs.
- Curved. If you’ve walked into an electronics store that sells TVs, you’ve probably seen the large curved TVs on display. While these look cool, they’re generally not practical for normal TV use. This is because your viewing angle is really limited and the screen may have distorted reflections if you’re not looking at it in just the right spot. Curved TVs can be good for those who sit close to their screens at the ideal viewing angle.
LED LCD Versus OLED: Pros and Cons
- LED LCD TVs are generally much brighter than OLED TVs due to the backlighting technology.
- LED LCD TVs are usually more affordable and durable than OLED TVs.
- OLED TVs can have better black levels than LCDs, making dark colors truly dark. However, some LED LCD TVs come with local dimming, which helps with displaying dark areas.
- OLED TVs have a better contrast ratio because they can be both extremely light and extremely dark, making the picture seem more realistic.
- OLED TVs can have wider viewing angles that don’t sacrifice color and contrast.
The sound of your TV can be just as important as the visual quality. If you’re investing in a high-quality 4K TV, chances are that you’re also looking into getting an external sound system, such as surround sound or a soundbar. While TVs generally come with built-in speakers, the sound quality can leave you wanting more if you’re relying on the TV alone.
The speakers built into your TV can make a large difference in how you hear the sound. If they are pointed downwards, then the speakers that are facing the viewer through the screen will sound much better and perhaps more realistic. Likewise, if the speakers are facing away from the viewer and bouncing off the wall, it may sound muffled to a slight degree. It’s usually recommended that you get surround sound or a sound bar with your 4K TV.
The majority of new 4K TVs come with built-in Wi-Fi, although there are some exceptions. This means that you can easily enter in your Wi-Fi password and get access to a variety of online services and applications, depending on which TV you have.
With wireless connectivity, you can easily stream movies and TV shows from applications such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. With some TVs, you can even use compatible devices to make calls and voice commands (for example, Amazon Alexa). With some features or simple add-ons, you may be able to stream media from other devices to your TV.
You can also choose to hook your TV up to your router using the Ethernet port; this would require an Ethernet cable, which needs to be bought separately.
Best 4K TVs
You Can Stop Looking Now
The Sony A80J is the successor of the hugely popular A8/A8H, and it makes for a 65 Inch smart TV with an OLED panel, Ultra HD 4K resolution, Bravia engine, Dolby Vision HDR, Alexa compatibility and all the bells and whistles you would expect to find in a modern-day TV set.
Basically, this smart TV is not quite Sony’s flagship for 2021 (that would be the A90J by the way), but it’s as close as it gets if you’re not ready to break the bank just yet.
Sony is one of the best manufacturers of OLED smart TVs out there, and the A80J was improved over the previous gen with smooth motion via impressive processing courtesy of the company’s flagship X1 Ultimate processor, plus a brand new Cognitive XR chip that elevates this TV to new heights in terms of image quality.
To make it real easy for our readers, if you want to benefit from Sony’s best technologies at an affordable price (well, sort of), the A80J looks like the direct heir of the A8H’s capabilities, but better in every way. More precisely, you’ll get the Cognitive XR processor with XR 4K Upscaling, XR Triluminos Color Pro and XR Motion Clarity, everything aimed at fantastic detail, natural colors, and smooth motion.
Obviously, 4K resolution is the default mode, plus 4K/120Hz video at 48Gbps through at least one HDMI 2.1 port, and both VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode), not to mention Dolby Atmos passthrough, HDR10 and Dolby Vision dynamic HDR.
There’s good news for gamers too, i.e. the A80J has an input lag of less than 8.5ms with 4K/120fps and dedicated Game Mode, while multimedia enthusiasts will definitely enjoy Sony’s use of a Google TV smart platform, rather than the Android TV software usually seen on high-end TV sets, i.e. the A80J has native support for both Chromecast and Google Assistant.
Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology is also present, for better sound via motor-driven ‘actuators’ located around the TV’s casing to vibrate sound across the whole panel, and you’ll even get Netflix Calibrated Mode and IMAX Enhanced.
- Amazing overall performance
- Fantastic image quality
- Solid sound
- Google TV platform
- Well calibrated out-of-the-box
- Flexible stand options
- Good value for money
If you’re shopping for an affordable 4K UHD smart TV from a reputable company, the TU8000 would make for an interesting option, as it offers solid performance for the money. However, if you’re looking for cutting edge technologies and features, this is not the droid you were looking for, given the TU8000’s relatively humble spec list and limitations.
Also, compared to Samsung’s QLED varieties, this LCD doesn’t have the same brightness and color saturation, but it compensates that by its fantastic smart TV system, detailed picture and excellent upscaling performance, i.e. the AU8000 still offers a lot to like for people on a budget.
So, to make a long story short, if you want the best bang for the buck, Samsung’s 8 series is a great place to go, as it balances performance and price in a comprehensive fashion. This particular model boasts Samsung’s proprietary Crystal LCD UHD panel technology for crystal clear images, and offers ease of use, a minimalistic design (which we love), built-in voice assistance technology, and best in class smart TV features.
The TU8000 is very well built, even if it uses plastic for the most part, and our only criticism is that Samsung chose a rather difficult to accommodate wide foot stand for this TV set, and offered a very limited amount of HDMI inputs, especially if you decide to wall mount the TV (some of them will become unusable).
The smart TV system is superb, as the AU8000 offers Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Disney Plus, including an arty Ambient Mode, and obviously all the on-demand and catch-up apps you could wish for.
Image quality is very good for an LCD panel, with crisp/detailed pictures, natural color handling and solid motion processing. Upscaling is also well implemented, while audio performance is on par with the price. HDR is not the best out there, as peak brightness is restricted, yet black levels are strong, detail is excellent, and, bottom line, this TV set offer brilliant value.
- Sharp detailed picture
- Fantastic Smart TV platform
- Good motion handling and upscaling
- Tizen powered
- Slim design
- Gaming capable
- Limited connectivity
- Narrow viewing angles
Affordable QLED from Samsung
If you’re on a tight budget, the Q80A would make for an interesting choice, even if this relatively affordable 4K UHD Smart TV makes some compromises in terms of image quality, and this will affect movie lovers.
The Q80A uses a full array LED backlighting with an in-screen LED array for deep blacks and pure whites, a so-called Quantum processor with machine based AI for better 4K pictures, object tracking sound technology, color volume with Quantum dot, Quantum HDR 12X in order to provide cinematic detail with cinematic colors, and, finally, has an Alexa built-in feature.
All these may sound impressive, but be advised: while this 65-incher may be just great for gamers and groups, it’s not so hot for movie night. That’s due to the TV’s IPS LCD panel, which is actually an IPS variant of an ADS, i.e. it doesn’t have the best black level out there.
The point is, the pictures will not look great in a dark/dim viewing environment, but if you can live with that, the Q80A offers great 4K/HDR picture quality and Tizen based Smart TV. The Q80A also offers 120 Hz native refresh rate, HDR support for HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, dimming technology, and a number of cool features such as Adaptive Picture, Q-Symphony, SpaceFit Sound, Active Voice Amplifier (AVA), Motion Xcelerator Turbo+, Super UltraWide GameView, Game Bar, FreeSync Premium Pro, PC on TV, Multi View, Tap View, Bixby/Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant, Samsung TV Plus, and Samsung Health.
- Bright panel
- Low input lag
- Wide viewing angles
- Solid Tizen OS
- Gaming ready
- Good value for money
- Just one HDMI 2.1
- No Dolby Vision
- Low contrast
LG C1 Series
One of the Best OLEDs Out There
If you’re looking for a high end OLED TV, you’ve just found it: the LG C1 is arguably one of the best TVs released this year, at any price.
That’s a bold statement, but it’s true: the C1 produces amazing images, bright and colorful, and supports most types of HDR. To make a long story short, the LG C1 sets the golden standard for OLED TVs in 2021, and you can take that to the bank.
It must be noted that the C1 is the successor of last year’s LG CX OLED, one of the best TVs of 2020, and amazingly enough, the company managed to keep up with customers’ expectations for the new generation, and actually delivered on all of them.
The C1 now uses LG’s Alpha a9 Gen. 4 processor, which translates into virtual surround audio and better upscaling; moreover, the C1 has 4 separate HDMI 2.1 ports, i.e. it’s gaming ready and fully compatible with the PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and whatever next-generation consoles you have around the house.
There’s a new Game Optimizer menu, specifically aimed at gamers, from where you can adjust quickly contrast, brightness and VRR on the fly, as well as support for both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, available via dedicated buttons on the remote control.
The C1 delivers in full for multimedia aficionados, as it comes fully loaded with virtually all streaming services, the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video and many more.
- Superb 4K/HDR picture
- WebOS rules
- Gaming ready
- 4 HDMI 2.1 ports
- No HDR10+
Solid Mid-Range 4K TV
The Sony X90J is a 2021 model and offers quit a lot of features for a mid-range LED-LCD TV, including UHD 4K resolution. For the money asked, this baby offers basically everything you’d require from a modern day TV set, and few others in its price range can match it in terms of bang for the buck, feature set and picture quality.
All these things make the Sony X90J a solid contender for the best mid-range model, and the only issue we have with it is the fact that it only offers 2 HDMI ports that support 4K/120Hz, and a little bit of screen glare. Overall, the X90J is a fantastic TV, much better than the 2020 model (Sony X900H/XH90), due to its new and improved Cognitive Processor XR that offers incredible contrast control and upscaling.
Also, the new X90J is a native 120 Hz LED-LCD smart TV, which makes it highly desirable for gamers, not to mention its 2 full spec HDMI 2.1 ports, Auto Low Latency Mode, and Variable Refresh Rate, which are a must-have features if you’re going to hook it up with Xbox Series X consoles and/or PS5.
Moreover, the X90J uses a full array panel with local dimming technology for deeper black levels. The TV is easy to set up and uses the Google TV platform, the remote control has a built-in mic and supports voice commands, plus you get 4 shortcut buttons for for Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Disney Plus.
Picture quality is amazing, as well as color saturation, upscaling is fantastic due to the latest Cognitive Processor XR, and despite being a LCD TV, contrast is surprisingly good. However, the panel has some issues with off-axis viewing and glare. However, if looked upon straight-on, image quality is phenomenal out of the box. Audio quality is solid, as the TV comes with 10W speakers and a couple of side tweeters, and the XR offers audio upscaling, plus support for Dolby Atmos passthrough.
- 4K HDR TV with Dolby Vision
- Google TV platform
- Great black levels
- Solid upscaling
- Cognitive Processor XR
- Amazing image quality
- Issues with off-axis viewing
The Best TV for PC Gaming
If you’re shopping for a 55’’ 4K UHD QLED smart TV set with Dolby Vision, Alexa compatibility and tons of gaming centric features, the TCL 6-Series will definitely fit the bill. Basically, this is the jack of all trades, master of gaming so to speak, and dollar for dollar, you can’t touch the TCL 6-Series with a stick.
Allows us to explain: first, this TV does not offer the best picture quality in the game, because it’s just a quantum dot tech LED, not an OLED; as in, if you’re looking for the best image quality, try something else, like the LG OLED CX 55.
However, if you’re going to play a lot of games and watch 4K HDR obsessively, the TCL 6-Series 2021 is the TV to own. Even if this is not an OLED, it still offers excellent picture quality, and, first and foremost, the THX Certified Gaming Mode works very well on PC. Also, you’ll get 120 Hz native refresh rate, which is awesome for gaming and 4K HDR content looks absolutely gorgeous, at least at this price point.
We would safely affirm that this picture quality is shockingly good at this price, i.e. in terms of bang for buck, the TCL 6-Series runs out with the best and probably wins.
The only downside is viewing angles, as far as we’re concerned, as in as soon as you begin to move off-axis, to the left or right of the screen, the color begins to drop off almost immediately. If this is a deal breaker for you, stay away.
If not, just go for it and never look back.
- Impressive image quality
- Amazing value for money
- Excellent for gaming
- Supports 1440p @120hz (!)
- Issues with off-axis viewing
- No HDMI 2.1
Whether you’re shopping for the best 4K TV, gaming monitor, streaming devices or projectors – quality and personal preference is key. If you want a future-proofed TV with online features and extraordinary picture quality, going 4K is probably a choice that won’t disappoint.
4K entertainment is the future, and the future is now. Stay current with a 4K TVs that works for your lifestyle and budget!