The 65-inch LG C8 is the best 4K TV available right now, delivering a fantastic viewing experience at a price that’s within reach for us mere mortals. In fact, it’s so good we awarded it a rare five out of five star rating in our review — an occurrence that’s about as rare as a Big Foot sighting.
Despite being the best all-rounder, there are a number of other 4K TVs on the market that are more suited to different viewing habits (and financial circumstances). If you’re after something sizeable for watching movies, the 65-inch Sony Master Series A9F is the television for you. Gaming? Check out the 65-inch Samsung Q9FN. Shopping on a budget? Go with the 65-inch TCL 6-Series.
Best 4K TVs At A Glance
Why you should buy this: It has a fantastic OLED screen, is brimming with smarts, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Who’s it for: Everyone who likes video content and can afford it.
Why we picked the 65-inch LG C8-Series 4K TV:
Before we dive into what makes the 65-inch LG C8-Series so great, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with OLED. First, the basics: OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. An OLED TV is made up of millions of individual OLEDs — known as pixels — which work together to form the image on the screen.
OLED TVs have a number of advantages over QLED, a competing screen tech that’s the brainchild of Samsung, with the main being it has a better viewing angle, can reach the darkest shade of black, and uses a lot less power.
The 65-inch C8-Series is without a shadow of a doubt the best 4K TV on the market for one main reason: It fuses cutting-edge imaging with an amazing feature set and comes out the other end of the reactor with a modest price tag attached. Keep in mind that this is an OLED, though, so it’s not exactly cheap.
Given the fact the C8-Series retails for north of a thousand bucks, you’d expect it to be crammed full of all the basic tools found on your run-of-the-mill 4K TV, and it is. There’s a 4K Upscaler for turning HD content into 4K Ultra HD, as well as support for all the leading HDR standards, including Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma, and HDR10.
It’s also decked out with the firm’s versatile webOS smart software, which is home to a myriad of premium live TV and on-demand streaming services, like Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, DirecTV, HBO Go, Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV — eliminating the need for a set-top box, streaming stick, or anything of the sort.
The 65-inch C8-Series will undoubtedly sit at the center of your living room, functioning as the infotainment hub for the entire household. As such, LG has armed it with Google Assistant, so you can control both the television and the other smart appliances in your home using nothing but your voice.
Here’s a look at the myriad of commands it’s capable of executing:
- “Play Orange Is The New Black on Netflix.”
- “Switch over to HDMI 2.”
- “Set the Nest Thermostat to 67 degrees.”
- “Tell the Roomba to vacuum the kitchen.”
- “Turn off after this episode of Designated Survivor.“
Read our full LG C8-Series review
Why you should buy this: It’s the cheapest good-quality 65-inch 4K TV you’ll find for the price, comes bundled with Roku OS, and looks incredible.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a big screen on a budget.
Why we picked the 65-inch TCL 6-Series 4K TV:
TCL has fast evolved from a backroom brand rolling out sub-par slop to a top-tier FTSE-listed manufacturer that’s at the forefront of the global 4K TV market, competing among sector bigwigs LG and Samsung, in part due to a long-standing partnership with streaming titan Roku that sees the firm’s Roku OS bundled on all its latest TVs.
Pair that with a stunning 65-inch 4K screen and multi-format HDR, and the result is a must-have affordable 4K TV that can tap into a near-endless catalog of HD and 4K content — the former of which is upscaled to 4K Ultra HD for a more immersive viewing experience — from the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
The fun doesn’t end there, though. The 6-Series is also armed with a voice control feature of its own. Unlike the 65-inch LG C8-Series, it isn’t Google Assistant, but rather Roku’s in-house alternative. Sure, you won’t be able to control other devices in your home, but you can do what matters: Track down shows and change the volume.
Let’s take a peek at some of the instructions you can shout its way:
- “Find Chernobyl“.
- “Reduce the volume by 30%.”
- “Play Stranger Things on Netflix.”
- “Turn on ABC News.”
- “Switch over to HDMI 3.”
Read our full TCL 6-Series review
Why you should buy this: It’s the most impressive picture quality we’ve ever seen.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for the best OLED experience money can buy.
Why we picked the 65-inch Sony Master Series A9F 4K TV:
The 65-inch Sony Master Series A9F 4K TV is the best 4K TV for movies, if not the best TV we’ve ever seen, taking advantage of the firm’s trademark X1 Ultimate imaging processor to deliver best-in-class HDR. In fact, when we first saw the Master Series A9F in person, we couldn’t help but stare in awe. It’s that good.
It’s through a close relationship with Dolby and IMAX that Sony has been able to push the envelope when it comes to 4K HDR. The A9F is one of the few TVs to ship with IMAX Enhanced, a form of HDR that optimizes Hollywood movies to provide accurate color, dazzling detail, and fantastic contrast, just as the director intended.
That’s all well and good if the movie you’re watching has been encoded with HDR, but what happens when you’re reminiscing with a classic, like The Great Escape? Well, the aforementioned X1 Ultimate processor will take care of that, upscaling it to a 4K Ultra HD resolution, with remastering thrown into the mix for an HDR effect.
You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something to watch, be it in 4K HDR, 4K Ultra HD, or even Full HD. That’s because the Master Series A9F comes with Google’s Android TV OS on board — a one-stop-shop for all the leading streaming services, such as Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, DirecTV, Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV.
It’s uncommon to find an Android device that hasn’t been infused with Google Assistant, and the Master Series A9F is no exception. It features the exact same version as the LG C8, letting you control both the television itself and the rest of the smart-connected hardware in your home, like a Nest Thermostat, using your voice.
Why you should buy this: It’s a QLED, offers FreeSync VRR, and has an Auto Latency Mode on board.
Who’s it for: Die-hard gamers looking to breathe fresh life into their battle station.
Why we picked the 65-inch Samsung Q9FN:
Earlier we touched on OLED, so now it’s high time we turned our attention to QLED — Samsung’s rival screen tech. In a nano-sized nutshell, QLED TVs are LED TVs that have been infused with a sheet of quantum dots, which allow the processing unit on board the television to tap into a wider color spectrum and achieve higher brightness.
The end result is a clearer, more vibrant visual that’s superior to that of an OLED in bright environments. The fact that Samsung’s latest QLEDs also have excellent black levels makes the Q9F perfect for pretty much any scenario, whether you’re in a bright room, or a gaming den where light is kept to the bare minimum to eliminate glare. After all, there’s nothing worse than sunlight obscuring your vision while you’re jostling to survive a wave of zombies.
Samsung has also added a couple of features to make the Q9FN a little more appealing to gamers. There’s a dedicated Automatic Low Latency Mode, which is triggered when a console is connected to cut down on input lag, and FreeSync VRR for the Xbox One X. It also has the firm’s UHD Engine on board to convert HD content into 4K.
When it’s time to retire for the evening, Samsung’s Tizen OS smart software can be called upon to serve up piping hot bowls of 4K entertainment through streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix right out of the box. And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always tune into some live TV through DirecTV or Sling TV.
Read our full Samsung Q9FN review
Why you should buy this: It’s the best OLED screen we’ve ever seen, but also the most versatile.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking the best OLED — no budget attached.
Why we picked the 65-inch Sony Master Series A9F 4K TV:
You won’t find a 4K TV that’s better suited to viewing the latest sporting event than the 65-inch Sony Master Series A9F. It has a 120Hz refresh rate for capturing the action, a slew of software features to reduce motion blur, unique tools to optimize the finest details and let’s not forget: The OLED screen is the best we’ve experienced to date.
You don’t need a cable subscription, a set-top box, or a streaming stick to watch the action unfold, either. The Master Series A9F is armed with Google’s Android TV OS, which is home to a number of sport-specific applications, like MLB, NBA, NHL, and UFC, as well as ESPN and fuboTV, for watching live or catching up at a later date.
We aren’t going to run through all the reasons the Master Series A9F is so good all over again, since we went through that a mere two sections ago when we crowned it the best 4K TV for movies. Instead, we’ll focus on something we didn’t mention then, since it can’t quite rival a soundbar, but will suffice for sporting consumption.
We’re talking about Sony’s Acoustic Surface Technology, which sends sound through the screen itself. That’s made possible by mounting two actuators on the back of the screen, passing the waves through the front. What’s more, there’s a third actuator and a subwoofer on the rear of the television itself to create a sense of depth in the room.
Having experienced it first hand, the result is impressive and something that most viewers will find useful. Although, if you’re forking out this kind of cash for a TV, you’re likely after the best viewing experience you can possibly have, and Acoustic Surface Technology won’t cut it. You’ll need the full works — soundbar and all.
Research and Buying Tips
The answer to that depends on many factors, including your stylistic preferences, the size of the room, and how far away you’ll be sitting. Take a look at our guide to choosing the perfect size for you.
That depends on the TV but as a general rule of thumb: The better (and more expensive) the TV, the better the upscaling.
You’ll need an OLED or QLED TV, like the 65-inch LG C8-Series 4K TV or Samsung Q9FN.
Almost all new TVs are 4K, so there are plenty of fantastic options to choose from at the lower end of the pricing scale. Don’t expect a standard LED TV to rival an OLED, though — set your expectations accordingly.
Yes, so long as your computer has an HDMI output. Adapters can be used for other output types but frequently do not pass along audio.
Most modern TVs can be paired with Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant through either an Amazon Echo, Fire TV, or Google Home. Some televisions even have them built in, eliminating the need for a receiver.
Right now, there are no TVs that have Siri built in. Those that support AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, however, can be controlled using Siri on an iOS device, such as an iPad, iPhone, or iPod, as well as a Mac.
OLED TVs are the only type of 4K TVs that have the potential to suffer from burn-in, though it’s incredibly uncommon. It’s not really something for average consumers to worry about anymore.
How We Test 4K TVs
We begin each model year by bringing in the top-tier televisions from each of the major brands, including Samsung, Sony, LG, and others. These premium televisions help set the highest standard for the year, managing expectations for each model below them, and providing context among the competitors.
We begin testing by setting up each TV in a completely dark room and adjusting its picture settings using tools and methods readily available to consumers — just like you might do at home. From there, we use a series of test patterns and familiar content, from streaming services to Ultra HD Blu-ray to over-the-air (OTA) TV, to judge each TV’s performance characteristics, including color production, motion resolution, black levels, backlight influence, brightness, HDR quality, and detail resolution.
Once we’ve analyzed a TV’s picture quality, we move on to elements that affect the user experience, including each set’s smart TV interface, user settings interface, remote control, external device recognition and control, and other essential touchpoints.
When possible, we’ll place two competing models side by side to provide additional context for the pros and cons that each TV exhibits. Finally, we make a determination as to which type of user a TV might appeal to. For instance, some TVs provide better bright-room performance, while others are better for dedicated home theater performance. Some are better for sports, while others are better for watching movies or playing games.
In short, we make a thorough evaluation to determine not only which TVs offer the best picture quality, but those that offer the best overall user experience. After all, you’ll be living with your new TV for years to come, and using it should be a joy, not a pain.
Read our complete test methodology for more information.
Glossary of Terms
Here’s a rundown of some of the most common terms associated with today’s TV technology.
4K Ultra HD
This refers to a display resolution that is four times that of 1080p HD. A 4K Ultra HD TV’s pixel resolution is a 3,840 x 2,160 grid in a 16:9 aspect ratio, resulting in nearly 8.3 million pixels. This increase in density adds striking detail and realism to an image and allows larger screens to be viewed from closer distances without individual pixels becoming visible.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
High dynamic range is probably most familiar to people through the HDR mode on their digital cameras. It’s designed to deliver a picture that has greater details in the shadows and highlights, plus a wider range of colors. HDR in televisions pursues the same goal. The color palette is wider, blacks are deeper, and whites are brighter. Presently, there are two major HDR formats: HDR10 and Dolby Vision, with a third — HDR10+ — beginning to show up on new models. The first is the HDR standard, but Dolby Vision offers a premium experience. Consider a TV that supports both. HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) is another recent addition to the HDR collection, which supports over-the-air (OTA) broadcast content with HDR.
Full-Array Local Dimming (FALD)
This refers to an LED TV’s backlighting system. A FALD display contains an array of LEDs spread out in a grid behind an LCD panel, rather than just at the edges of the TV. This LED array is broken up into zones that can be dimmed when necessary to achieve better black levels. Another benefit is more uniform brightness across the screen.
Wide Color Gamut (WCG)
These are the expanded color reproduction abilities of a 4K Ultra HD TV, which are closer than ever to what we see in a digital cinema. By approaching the Digital Cinema Initiative’s P3 color specification, a 4K UHD TV can produce billions more colors than a 1080p HD TV.
A layer of film loaded with tiny nano-crystal semiconductors that is placed in a TV’s display panel to help produce a wider array of colors. Quantum dots work by altering the light coming from a TV’s backlighting system before it is passed through the TV’s color filter.
An alternative to Quantum Dots, phosphor-coated LEDs have a chemical coating to alter the light’s output. When used in a TV, this results in a purer backlight that’s more easily manipulated by a TV’s color filter, resulting in a wide color gamut and increased color accuracy.
This stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. In an OLED display, the pixels also produce their own light, eliminating the need for an additional LED backlight, making OLED screens super thin. They also tend to exhibit better black levels and color accuracy than LED TVs. For more information, see our OLED versus LED article.
The latest version of the HDMI spec. Compliance with this standard assures a 4K Ultra HD display or source is capable of providing all the digital information needed for 4K Ultra HD resolution, HDR, and Wide Color Gamut, all at up to 60 frames per second.
The latest version of the High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection technology, which provides copy prevention specifically of 4K Ultra HD content. Any source device that requires HDCP 2.2 will require a 4K Ultra HD TV with an HDCP 2.2-compliant HDMI port for a compatible connection.
Stands for “High-Efficiency Video Coding.” A new compression technology developed to make large 4K UHD video files smaller and, therefore, easier to stream over broadband Internet connections. HEVC is said to double the data compression ratio over H.264, the predominant encoding technology used today for 1080p videos while retaining the same video quality. A smart TV or streaming set-top box must be able to decode HEVC in order to play back 4K Ultra HD video from sites like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.
An alternative to HEVC developed by Google and used predominantly for encoding 4K Ultra HD YouTube videos. In order for a smart TV or streaming set-top box to play back 4K Ultra HD YouTube videos, it must be able to decode VP9 videos.