The best 4K TVs: the creme de la creme of screens
Finding the best 4K TV can seem like an impossible task. How are you supposed to choose which one to buy when everything looks the same but with very different prices? Especially since it’s now hard to find a non-4K TV on the market today – the majority of TVs on sale are now 3840×2160 pixels instead of the 1920×1080 of a standard HDTV. Streaming services have also followed the trend. All major streaming platforms now have specific 4K or Ultra HD content to experience our favorite media in even higher resolution.
But what is the best 4K TV? The good news is that there are only the best 4K TVs for what you specifically want to use them for. There are of course the best no-object silver options – and we’ve got one below – but largely you’re going to want to balance functionality with price and size. For a few years, you just had to choose between LED and OLED TVs, but the new Mini-LED technology arrived in 2021, promising better brightness than OLED. This adds an extra acronym into the mix, but is definitely on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to spend the land.
Here’s our guide to the best 4K TVs for every budget.
If you’re looking for an affordable OLED TV in the UK, the best 4K TV crown definitely belongs to the Philips OLED806. Not only does this feature-rich display have Philips’ innovative colorful Ambilight technology on all four sides, it also has both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision to get the most out of 4K content on as many streaming services as you like. possible. There are also two HDMI 2.1 ports for next-gen console owners, one of which is an eARC port ideal for a soundbar.
The only downside is that to get the most out of the picture you’ll need to tweak some settings – but this brilliant OLED TV is more than worth spending a few minutes in the menu settings…
Unfortunately, the Philips OLED806 isn’t available in the US, but if you’re looking for the more affordable comparison, the LG A1 is LG’s entry-level OLED. The big difference is the lack of HDMI 2.1 ports for gamers, but if you’re looking for the rich colors and great contrast of an OLED display, the LG A1 still delivers. It also has Dolby Vision for enjoying 4K content offered on Netflix and LG’s WebOS is a nifty operating system for accessing your favorite streaming services. Dolby Vision IQ which changes the brightness depending on the light in your room is a nice touch and support for Google Assistant and Alexa is also welcome. There’s also AirPlay to send your Apple TV content to the screen.
If you’ve just bought a PS5 or Xbox Series X and are looking for the best 4K TV, the LG C1 is well worth the investment. All four HDMI ports are 2.1 compliant, which means 4K gaming support at 120Hz, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and support for NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync (saves screen tearing and maximizes frame rate.) LG has also added what it calls a Game Optimizer menu so we can constantly change settings on the fly. But the C1 isn’t just good for gaming, LG’s latest processor means the 4K OLED imaging here is unmatched with brilliant motion handling and outstanding image quality.
The Samsung AU7100 strikes the perfect balance between features and affordability, meaning you can get a great TV in a huge range of sizes that won’t break the bank. Yes, you’ll need one of the best soundbars out there, but you really won’t mind when you see the great contrast and detailed 4K images on offer here. Upscaling isn’t bad either, but the AU7100 particularly shines with Blu-Rays and other 4K content with nuanced visuals. Add Samsung’s Tizen interface and there’s no need to consider a streaming stick as you’ll find everything you need. Prime Video is particularly strong given the presence of HDR10+, which is Prime Video’s choice of high dynamic range technology.
Sony’s flagship LED TV of 2020 still performs great and delivers a brilliant 4K experience. It’s not the cheapest LED TV on the market and that’s thanks to Sony’s full-array direct lighting system to improve contrast. Sony’s processor means brilliant motion handling and scaling, and there’s an ambient lighting system that adjusts according to the brightness of your room. Sound is also excellent thanks to what Sony calls Acoustic Multi Audio which offers positional sound and, although there’s no HDR10+, there’s Dolby Vision to bring your 4K Netflix shows to life. Further proof of its success, the XH95 has even been certified by IMAX.
Mini-LED is the latest innovation in TV technology and what Samsung calls (just to confuse things) “Neo QLED” instead of regular QLED panels. It adds a bit to the price, but the QN85A is Samsung’s most affordable entry point for this screen technology which offers superior brightness to OLED and impressive colors and blacks. The audio isn’t anything out of the ordinary, so you’ll want a soundbar, but visually it delivers in spades. There’s also Samsung’s excellent Tizen OS for all your streaming needs and a bonus HDMI 2.1 port for next-gen console use. It seems a bit stingy if you have both the PS5 and Xbox Series X but it’s still an exceptional TV.
If only the best will do, then Sony’s OLED A90J is absolutely one of the best 4K TVs money can buy. Exceptional visual fidelity and upscaling come from Sony’s XR processor and the OLED panel delivers rich, vibrant colors. And while the outlay is bigger than most TVs, there’s no need to add a soundbar thanks to Sony’s innovative Acoustic Surface Audio+ feature that turns the screen into a speaker. This forward-facing technology delivers brilliant positional sound without the need for a surround sound setup. A great user interface is the icing on the TV cake and although there’s currently no BBC iPlayer, there’s a built-in Chromecast and AirPlay 2 for streaming from Android and Apple devices.
How to Choose the Best 4K TV for You
Choosing the best 4K TV can be daunting as retailers list endless sizes and acronyms, but there are a few key factors to consider when shopping. It is certainly best to think about the price you want to pay and what you want to use it for before online stores confuse you with all sorts of technical specifications.
Thinking about size is key. If you’re used to an older 32-inch model, the upgrade to something like a 55-inch screen might seem daunting, but as long as you have space to spare, you’ll quickly get used to the new size in your room. Fortunately, OLED panels now come in an attractive 48-inch size, so you don’t need to block an entire wall if you want to go for the deep inky blacks and rich colors that OLED excels at. The price difference between LED and OLED is still huge, so it’s important to balance what you actually need as there are still LED screens out there with the capability of beautiful 4K images.
And those with a next-gen console will also want to keep an eye out for HDMI 2.1 functionality. This version of HDMI means 4K gaming at 120Hz, variable refresh rate (VRR), and automatic low latency mode (ALLM), all of which are desirable for a low lag experience on PS5 and Xbox Series X.