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.
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.
9 Best 4K TVs in 2019
The Best OLED 4K TV
The Sony Bravia A9F is an interesting beast by any metrics, making for a native 4K OLED TV set, built to drop jaws and, in the same time, empty people’s pockets. Part of Sony’s signature Master Series, the A9F 4K Ultra HD Smart BRAVIA OLED TV comes loaded with basically all the bells and whistles one would expect from a corporate overlord like Sony, including the greatest technologies available in Smart TVs: Picture Processor X1 Ultimate and 4K X-Reality PRO, along with a native 4K panel with 8 million self-illuminating pixels boasting Sony’s patented TRILUMINOS display with 4K HDR Super Bit Mapping.
Besides boasting stellar image quality, this smart OLED TV also sounds ridiculously good, due to Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology. Since we live in the age of smartphones and smart everything, the Sony Bravia A9F comes with built-in smartphone connectivity, including Chromecast, Miracast, video and TV SideView for both Android and iOS, Voice-control via Alexa compatibility, and Android TV with Google Assistant. Finally, the superb 4K OLED panel delivers 120hz native refresh rate, boosted by Sony’s proprietary Motion Flow XR technology, which makes blur on action-scenes a thing of the past.
- Amazing image quality due to Sony’s in-house made phenomenal OLED panel
- Elegant and minimalist design
- Best sound in the industry due to its state of the art Surface Audio+ technology, which delivers amazing sound quality out of the box
- Streams everything: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube in 4K
- Intuitive Android Oreo interface
- HDR support where available
- Excellent HDR upscale for SDR
- Top notch contrast and color
- Arguably the best OLED from Sony to date
- Instantaneous response time
- Ideal for cinephiles due to stellar dark room performance
- did I mention expensive?
- permanent burn-in (image retention like old generation plasma TVs) may be an issue in certain conditions
The Best 4K TV For Gaming
The Samsung NU8000 is a mid-range Flat 4K UHD 8 Series smart TV, making for a versatile and relatively affordable piece of hardware with HDR support, above average motion handling and overall good picture quality. On top of that, the NU8000’s smart features work rather well, and the UI (Samsung’s Tizen in-house developed user interface) is intuitive and easy to use.
On the “dark side”, image quality tends to suffer when viewed at an angle, and you’ll also notice vertical blooming in dark environments, which is not so great for movie aficionados. Design wise, the NU8000 makes for an improvement over the older MU8000, and the picture quality is great due to its high contrast ratio, that delivers deep black scenes in movies. It’s worth mentioning that the Samsung NU8000 uses a VA panel, which translates into poor viewing angles.
- gorgeous design with quasi-nonexistent bezel
- great choice for watching sports and excellent for gamers, due to stellar motion handling
- can play almost any type of content without judder
- picture quality is impressive from directly in-front
- can successfully replace a monitor
- low input lag
- Samsung’s T-shaped stand is amazing for cable management
- Best buy in its price-range
- edge lit LED design
- Bixby (Samsung’s take on Google Assistant) sucks
- dubious sound quality
LG OLED C8P
The Best 4K TV For PS4 Pro
The LG OLED C8P is arguably one of the best 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TVs launched last year, and speaking of smart, the C8P comes with Google Assistant boosted by Artificial Intelligence and powered by LG’s latest-gen α9 Intelligent Processor; moreover, this Big Brained TV also works with Amazon’s Alexa. Basically, if you want a TV that’s smarter than your average pet, the LG C8P would make for a sensible choice.
Joke aside, beside smarts the C8P is regarded as the best buy in the OLED 4K community, due to the wholesome package of features that it offers, i.e. a relatively affordable price and stellar picture quality, everything doubled (tripled?) down by an amazing design. In terms of performance, the LG OLED C8P delivers flawlessly and it does everything right, boasting a colorful and sharp picture quality, industry-leading upscaling and low input lag, which makes it great for gaming or for using it as a huge monitor of sorts.
The WebOS powered interface is considered to be better than Android, which is favored by brands like Sony Bravia or Philips, being intuitive and snappy. The new Alpha 9 chip that powers the whole shebang does a great job in terms of noise reduction, color handling and sharpness; all these features are essential if you’re looking at upscaling non 4K content.
- excellent overall image quality, with deep perfect blacks, as expected from properly implemented OLED technology
- wide viewing angles
- stellar video processing and uniformity
- great out of the box picture quality
- snappy WebOS powered interface makes it a pleasure to use
- amazingly slim panel and minimalist design
- 3 USB ports, 4 HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2
- low input lag makes it a great choice for watching sports and gaming
- delivers lots of bang for the proverbial buck
- lacks HDR10+ support
- just like with most OLEDs, there are some image retention issues if you leave your TV on all day on news channels like Fox or CNN
Great 4K HDR TV With Quantum Dots
The Samsung Q9FN can be described as the best argument against OLED, making for an affordable (compared to OLEDs, mind you) FLAT QLED 4K UHD 9 Series Smart TV. The Q9FN boasts Samsung’s latest Direct Full Array LED technology which works in tandem with Quantum Dots and High Dynamic Range to deliver premium picture quality, as expected from one of Samsung’s high-end products.
Marketing aside, the Samsung Q9FN really is an amazing smart TV, being the company’s flagship QLED LCD TV and offering amazing performance for mixed usage. For example, you’ll definitely love the Q9FN’s high native contrast ratio and local dimming in dark rooms, as these features deliver amazingly deep dark scenes; also, in brighter environments, you’ll appreciate this smart TV’s high peak brightness and state of the art anti-reflective coating, which basically annihilates glare. To describe the Q9FN in a few words, we’d say: Who needs OLED? Yes, this is a blasphemous statement, we are aware of that, but the Q9FN is that good folks.
- amazing value for money
- image quality on par with many OLEDs
- full array local dimming
- good HDR support
- pretty smart
- 4.2 channel sound of above-average quality
- sleek and elegant design
- low input lag and amazing motion handling makes it suitable for gaming and/or binge-watching sports and the like
- no Dolby Vision
LG Electronics B8PUA
The Best Budget 4K OLED
The LG B8PUA is one of the least expensive 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TVs out there. And since everything revolves around price, this baby makes for a very interesting choice for budget-conscious users.
However, don’t let the price tag fool you. Despite its affordability, the LG B8PUA delivers spectacular image quality, as the company made zero compromises in this regard. The black levels are superb, uniformity is flawless, the colors are accurate and the wide viewing angles make it perfect for watching movies. On top of that, the LG B8PUA features an elegant and slim design, with an ultra-thin panel.
- despite being an entry-level OLED (reflected in price), the image quality is stunning
- Flawless deep blacks thanks to emissive technology
- excellent motion handling
- Instantaneous response time makes it great for gaming and watching sports events
- Almost zero motion blur in video games
- wide viewing angles
- sleek design, excellent build quality, premium look and feel
- amazing value for money
- some brightness issues specific to OLEDs
Great 4K TV For The Money
The Sony X900F plays in the “best bang for the buck” category, making for a 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV, which delivers great value for money. One of the most important features of the X900F in terms of image quality is the fact that Sony used Direct Led lightning technology for this smart TV, which confers it deep black levels and great color accuracy, along with high dynamic performance.
Even if the Sony X900F doesn’t have an OLED panel, it still delivers excellent image quality due to full array local dimming (FALD) support. Tech wise, the Sony X900F uses the company’s X1 Extreme video processor, a new MotionFlow “X-motion Clarity system and support for Android 8.0 Oreo via firmware updates.
- great picture quality, both SDR and HDR
- uniform deep blacks
- native 120-Hz refresh rate
- direct LED lighting system in conjunction with local dimming works amazingly well
- motion reproduction is phenomenal due to Sony’s patented Motionflow processing
- impressive backlight
- elegant metal-framed design
- built-in 2×10 watt speakers are rather good for the price asked
- built-in Google Assistant and Chromecast
- 40 ms input-lag for HD in game mode not really suited for gaming
- relatively narrow viewing angles
- remote control is clunky
The Best 4K TV Under 1000 Dollars
The TCL S517 is a 4K Ultra HD Roku-compatible Smart LED TV, which means it will provide you with full access to more than half a million movies and TV series via Roku TV. Price wise, the TCL S517 is hard to beat, and since it comes at such a low price for a 4K/UHD capable device, it would make for the best option for people on tight budgets looking for a no-nonsense smart TV.
Even if TCL is not the most popular brand in North America, it’s actually a big company, which has a $4 billion panel manufacturing plant in China, along with a research facility in Silicon Valley, USA, i.e. these guys are totally kosher.
- Roku Smart TV platform is among the best in the industry
- more than decent black levels and contrast
- good for gaming due to low input lag
- HDR content support of HDR10 and Dolby Vision
- solid image quality at low cost
- amazing value for money
- poor audio quality
- Native Refresh Rate: 60Hz
- poor viewing angles ~18°
The Best Budget 4K TV In Smaller Screen Sizes
The Vizio P-Series makes for an affordable Class 4K HDR Smart TV, and pricewise, it’s arguably one of the best “pound for pound” contenders on the market today. Everything in the Vizio P-Series is centered on image quality, and in this department, this TV set is doing great, boasting a true 120 hz panel with amazing deep black levels, lots of brightness, superb video processing and overall outstanding image quality.
On top of that, the Vizio P-Series can handle both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range noise sources, and it’s Google Assistant/Alexa compatible.
- rock solid picture quality
- Excellent full array LED backlight system with local dimming
- compatible with Amazon Echo and Google Assistant
- cool design
- 5 HDMI inputs, optical and analogue outputs
- great for gaming
- professional out of the box color calibration
- HDR performance is best in class
- subpar Smart TV implementation, slow interface
- horizontal viewing angle could be better
The Best Cheap 4K TV
Finally, we have the Samsung Q6F, which makes for a great option if you’re looking for a 4K HDR Smart TV with premium features and great overall performance at an affordable price. This Flat QLED 4K UHD 6 Series Smart TV is very similar to its Q7FN cousin, but it lacks some of the high-end features of the latter, though it will definitely deliver top-notch image quality and no-nonsense performance at all times.
For example, the contrast ratio is above average, the motion handling is top-notch and the response time is amazing, making the Q6F an excellent choice for gaming aficionados.
- above average black levels, contrast ratios
- color rendering for both normal/HDR
- offers basic local dimming
- excellent motion handling
- low input lag
- sustained display brightness and strong peak
- solid specs and overall performance
- VA panel comes with narrow viewing angles ~30°
- local dimming is crappy
- lacks Dolby Vision HDR
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!