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11 best 4K TVs

OLED or LED LCD? We get behind the jargon and review the latest TVs

The Panasonic TX-55FZ952B offers tremendous picture quality ( Panasonic )

If it’s time to replace your TV, and you haven’t performed this task for a while, you may find things have changed. The highest-resolution TVs currently routinely available are 4K, also called ultra-high definition (Ultra HD or UHD). This is four times the resolution of high definition (HD). Of course, there’s not that much native 4K content available yet, and almost no broadcast 4K – sports channels from Sky and BT are the main exceptions with occasional BBC special events which are delivered via iPlayer.

The lack of native 4K content isn’t as crucial as when HD, for instance, arrived, as the TVs have upscalers built in, which make HD content look almost as good as 4K. But some broadcasters have downloadable movies and TV shows in 4K resolution. Sky has the most of this, but streaming boxes like Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and the Apple TV 4K box let you stream 4K content from sources like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Many 4K TVs have apps for Netflix and Amazon built in, so you don’t even need the streaming box, though you do need a decent speed in your broadband connection – 15Mbps is an absolute minimum, and more is preferable.

The next step after 4K will be 8K, which has resolution four times 4K, that is 16 times that of HD. The only TV capable of doing this that’s actually on sale is the Samsung QE65Q900. The picture quality is amazing and, again, an upscaler makes the most of non-8K content to match the TV’s capabilities.

Alongside 4K is another technology: HDR. This stands for high dynamic range and means the screen can show detail in dark shadows and bright skies at the same time. It leads to striking images. Most 4K TVs now are HDR-capable. However, be warned – there are different HDR standards. Everybody has HDR10, and some other TVs also manage HLG, Dolby Vision and Technicolor. The more your TV supports the better, generally speaking.

There are two kinds of 4K TV available: OLED and LED LCD. OLED (organic light emitting diode) means each individual pixel is separately lit, so is much better at contrast than LCD. OLED is not as bright as LED and is much pricier to boot, but it’s probably the best picture quality you can currently buy.

Finally, when going for 4K, don’t hold back on going for a big screen. Picture resolution is so detailed that you can sit closer than you would with HD, making for a more immersive experience.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Panasonic TX-55FZ952B: £1,799, John Lewis & Partners

Screen size: 55in
Display technology: OLED
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Dimensions: 1,230 x 710 x 60 mm plus stand
Audio: Stereo

Panasonic’s 55-inch OLED is 4K with HDR in three formats, HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG, but not Dolby Vision. The colours on this TV look immaculate – Panasonic has worked with Hollywood colourists to achieve this and the results are stunning. Design is good, and a soundbar runs across the base of the screen for considerable sonic oomph.

It even has a remote with backlit keys. But the main event, of course, is the picture quality –which is tremendous, with deep contrast and strong black levels, punch colours, decent brightness and exquisite detail. The Panasonic smart TV interface is also good with bold, simplistic icons making it easy to navigate.

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Samsung QE65Q900R: £4,799, John Lewis & Partners

Screen size: 65in
Display technology: QLED LCD
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Dimensions: 1,450 x 899 x 35mm plus stand
Audio: Stereo

This is the only 8K TV available, though expect other manufacturers to join the fray soon. This has a QLED screen – that is, Samsung’s special version of LED LCD. The Q stands for quantum dot, a special tiny particle that effectively works like a filter for higher brightness, improved colour accuracy and more. Samsung’s latest quantum dots are metal-clad particles which deliver a wider colour range.

The 8K resolution is little short of jaw-dropping, and the upscaling effects are strong enough that you don’t need to wait for native 8K content to become widespread (which will take a few years, frankly). The design of the TV is good but not outstanding. It’s only when the screen is turned on that you’ll see what the fuss is all about. The price stops this screen from earning the Best Buy recommendation, though in terms of value it’s actually pretty keen.

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Sony KD-65AF8: £2,699, Richer Sounds

Screen size: 65in
Display technology: OLED
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG
Dimensions: 1,447 x 836 x 55mm plus stand
Audio: Dolby Digital

This 65-incher looks and sounds great. The sound comes from the display itself: it vibrates, which may seem an unlikely recipe for success but sound and picture quality are both pristine. This is an OLED screen, with HDR (HDR10, HLG). The design is also very strong: a tiny bezel round the screen and no visible speakers and minimal stand.

The operating system is Android TV which isn’t as elegant as LG’s interface, for example. However, picture quality is helped by Sony’s proprietary image processing system which gives realistic colours. A similarly sumptuous 55in screen model is available, for £1,799.

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LG OLED55C8PLA: £1,699, Currys PC World

Screen size: 55in
Display technology: OLED
HDR compatibility: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, Technicolor
Dimensions: 1,228 x 707 x 47mm plus stand 
Audio: Dolby Atmos

LG has been making OLED screens longer than many rivals (and also makes panels other companies use in their TVs). This model has a 55in display and, though not cheap, is good value in the world of OLED – indeed, it’s dropped sharply in price over the last few months. It’s capable of HDR in four formats: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG and Technicolor. LG’s TVs use easily the best operating system around, called webOS.

It’s simple and intuitive, offering a series of onscreen tabs to choose from for the content you want to watch. It’s simple but effective, making smart TVs instantly accessible. The Freeview Play tuner means catch-up services are easy, too. The audio features Dolby Atmos, a system which bounces sound off the ceiling to create a richer sense of surround sound – though it’s still not quite as good as actual rear speakers.

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Panasonic TX-55FZ802: £1,799, Currys PC World

Screen size: 55in
Display technology: OLED
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Dimensions: 1,230 x 710 x 60 mm plus stand
Audio: Stereo

So, you like the look of the Best Buy TV above, but you have your own home cinema sound speakers, thanks very much? Well then, the FZ802 is for you.

Instead of the blade-shaped soundbar that runs across the base of the FZ952, this has a regular stand instead. In pretty much every other respect, the two TVs are the same, with extraordinary OLED picture quality and Hollywood-engineered colour fidelity, easy interface and striking design. The sound is good even without external speakers.

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Loewe Bild 3.55: £2,990, Richer Sounds

Screen size: 55in
Display technology: OLED
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Dimensions: 1,230 x 742 x 56mm plus stand
Audio: Stereo

High-end German brand Loewe has created a range that’s more affordable than many of its products, including this 55in OLED TV. It has excellent picture quality, and the design is elegant but solid, with front-facing speakers at the base, which sound good.

The HDR works with HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision. It comes with a stand that conveniently lets you swivel the screen to exactly the right angle.

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Samsung The Frame 2.0: £1,299, Amazon

Screen size: 55in
Display technology: LED LCD
HDR compatibility: HDR10+, HLG
Dimensions: 1,230 x 751 x 43mm plus stand
Audio: Dolby Digital Plus

The Frame is unique. It is best mounted on the wall because it is cleverly designed so that when you’re not watching TV it genuinely looks like a framed photo or piece of art printed on paper – it’s the closest you can get to an invisible TV. This is because the ambient light sensor expertly dims the artwork on screen to match the surroundings, even matching the colour to the colour temperature of the room it’s in.

It also comes with what Samsung calls its near-invisible cable. Well, it is visible, but it’s remarkably thin and carries the power and all the signals from your satellite or cable box, say, which you can put wherever you like in the room. And when you’re actually watching the TV, picture quality is strong with HDR capability as well as 4K. There are various frames to choose from to match your living room style.

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Philips 55POS9002: £1,180, Amazon

Screen size: 55in
Display technology: OLED
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG
Dimensions: 1,230 x 715 x 50mm plus stand
Audio: DTS HD

Philips has a special system called Ambilight, which cleverly sprays light on the wall behind the TV, matching the content onscreen. It sounds gimmicky but it has the effect of making the screen more immersive to look at and more relaxing on the eye. It’s an unusual system but when you turn it off, you really notice it. This model has Ambilight on three sides and it looks terrific. The image quality of the screen is great too – full of contrast, sharp and vibrant.

It uses the Android Smart TV system and the HDR capability is compatible with HDR10 and HLG. This TV is tremendous value for the strikingly good image quality.

Buy now

LG OLED65E8PLA: £2,999, Currys PC World

Screen size: 65in
Display technology: OLED
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG, Technicolor, Dolby Vision
Dimensions: 1,449 x 903 x 52mm plus stand
Audio: Dolby Atmos

The super-thin E8 series is right at the top of LG’s range, and has a powerful processor to ensure it offers a great picture. This works, because the image quality is deeply impressive. Its HDR compatibility is wide, offering HDR10, HLG, Technicolor and Dolby Vision.

The TV’s design is also outstanding: LG calls it picture-on-glass which gives the effect of the TV picture floating in air. Like the other LG here, it uses webOS, the slickest and most enjoyable TV operating system.

Buy now

Samsung QE65Q9FN: £2,399, Richer Sounds

Screen size: 65in​
Display technology: QLED LCD
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Dimensions: 1,450 x 899 x 35mm plus stand
Audio: Stereo

This TV looks very striking, with vivid, almost luminous, colours and good attention to detail. Because it’s an LCD screen, it looks good even in bright living rooms where OLED TVs can struggle. The trade-off can be less impressive black levels, but this TV is not far off OLED levels of excellence.

The interface is also good, simple and intuitive, better than Android TV but not as good as LG’s webOS. This is at the top of Samsung’s range and looks stunning, not least thanks to cleverly managed dimming – some displays can show a halo effect around a light element on a dark screen but this screen avoids most of this. HDR on board is compatible with HDR10, HLG and Samsung’s favoured HDR10+ formats.

Buy now

Panasonic TX-65FX750B: £1,699, Currys

Screen size: 65in
Display technology: QLED LCD
HDR compatibility: HDR10, HLG
Dimensions: 1,453 x 840 x 56mm plus stand
Audio: Stereo

Panasonic also makes highly impressive LED LCD TVs with 4K resolution. Thanks to advanced image processing, using the same tech in its flagship OLEDs, the colour-rich, contrasty images are fantastic. Since LED LCD screens are backlit, it’s easy to lose the deep blacks OLED can manage but this TV has advanced dimming capabilities to improve things considerably.

The FX750 has strong design, the same excellent interface of the other Panasonic screens here and is easy to operate. It’s significantly cheaper than an OLED TV, too.

Buy now

The Verdict: Best 4K TVs

In terms of sheer, eye-popping picture quality, the Samsung QE65Q900R is amazing to look at. But it is pricey (even though it’s still great value). So, for the best balance of gorgeous picture quality and decent price, the Panasonic TX-55FZ952B is hard to beat.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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