Best TV 2019: These are the must-see, must-own TV sets of 2019.
Shopping for a new TV can be tough, especially if it’s been a few years since you last bought a big screen. TVs can have complicated names, complicated feature sets and price tags that seem to shoot up without reason. It’s so easy to give up searching that most folks just plunk down money on whatever’s cheapest – even if that means getting the worst TV on the shelf.
We don’t want that happen. In fact, we’re going to do everything in our power to help you find the best TV in your price range. That’s what this list is all about.
- Editor’s note: While every TV on our list offers both a 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, we also have a list specifically tailored to those features in the form of our best 4K TV 2019 list.
The TVs listed below are based on scores assigned by our sterling team of reviewers and compiled by TechRadar editors based on price and performance. At the top of our list you’ll find the brand-new Samsung Q90, available now, which is an early contender for TV of the year. Behind it is LG’s new 2019 C9 OLED and a stellar Vizio screen that can reach up to 3,000 nits of peak brightness.
We’ve got models from Samsung, LG, Sony, TCL and Vizio below, so if you’ve got a particular brand affiliation – or an ecosystem you want to stay within – there’s something for you. After you’ve found a TV on page one, the second page will teach you more about what makes a TV tick and why those specs matter so much.
“Should I buy a TV now or wait it out?”
This is a question we get a lot. Like most technology (cough, iPhones) TVs are getting incrementally better all the time – which means, yes, if you wait a year – or even a few months – there will probably be a bigger, flashier TV out there for less money.
But while doing so will certainly net you a larger screen at a better price, some of the best panels are already being manufactured today. While tomorrow’s screens might be a bit larger, a bit brighter and a bit cheaper, today’s screens are just as competent in their own right.
We can say that with confidence knowing that most manufacturers have finally embraced the three most important standards in TVs: Ultra HD, Wide Color Gamut and HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision). If a TV you’re looking at doesn’t support at least one of these, you should probably look somewhere else.
Not sure where to start? Here are the best TVs we tested this year.
Last year, the Samsung Q9FN was the TV to beat. It won plaudits galore for its features and image quality, not to mention its excellent, improved smart platform that came with Bixby support and Samsung SmartThings.
However it wasn’t perfect and there were legitimate complaints about viewing angles and an over-aggressive local dimming system that crushed detail just above black.
Samsung has clearly taken these criticisms to heart, and directly addressed them in the Q90. The new model has a visibly superior viewing angle that holds its own against an OLED TV, and the local dimming delivers deep blacks without losing shadow detail. To that end, the new Ultra Black Elite filter is nothing short of a revelation, rejecting ambient light in a way that just staggers belief.
The Q90 is able to deliver images that can directly compete with an OLED, with natural colors, bright highlights, deep blacks, and well defined shadows. It can also surpass any OLED when it comes to HDR, with images that are often breathtaking in their detail and dynamic range.
In fact our only real criticism would be that, unlike some of the competition, the Q90 doesn’t support Dolby Vision. However in all other respects the Samsung Q90 is an absolutely stellar TV that takes QLED to another level.
Read the full review: Samsung Q90R QLED TV
The LG C9 is a truly exceptional 4K OLED TV that takes what was so impressive about last year’s C8 OLED and builds on it. The major difference is the inclusion of the 2nd generation Alpha9 processor, which uses AI enhancements to deliver stellar SDR and HDR images, and helps make the upscaling and processing second-to-none with incredible levels of detail and image fidelity.
As is the case with all OLEDs the panel brightness pales when compared to an LCD TV, but brightness isn’t everything. The absolute blacks and pixel level of precision afforded by the self-emissive technology ensures that HDR looks stunning. There’s support for Dolby Vision as well, and only the absence of HDR10+ disappoints.
There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: LG’s own E9 Series) but we think the OLED C9 offers the best price-to-performance ratio of any TV under the sun in the year 2019.
Read the full review: LG C9 OLED (OLED55C9, OLED65C9, OLED77C9)
The Vizio P-Series Quantum X is a home run for Vizio. Sure, the SmartCast interface isn’t all the great, and the speakers are worth bypassing, but the TV is packed with awesome features and backed up by an excellent image quality. We’re looking forward to AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support, but even without those features the TV is still one of the best options in its price range.
If you truly have deep pockets and want the best image quality out there, then it’s still worth going for LG’s OLED or Samsung’s QLED TVs – but in the absence of a six-figure salary, the $2,199 Vizio P-Series Quantum X PX-65G1 is clearly an excellent option for those that want quantum dot tech in a smart TV at Vizio-level prices.
Read the full review: Vizio P-Series Quantum (PQ65-F1)
After an underwhelming debut, Samsung’s QLED technology really needed to bounce back in style in 2018. It didn’t surprise us in the least, then, to discover Samsung threw the kitchen sink in with its new Q9FN QLED Series of TVs.
As well as being even brighter and more colorful than last year’s equivalent model, Samsung’s 2018 flagship screens use a completely different lighting system to combat its predecessor’s contrast problems: Full Array Local Dimming rather than edge-lit LED lighting. The FALD panel works in tandem with Samsung QLED Quantum Dots to produce a picture that’s brighter and more colorful than near any we’ve seen come from the South Korean manufacturer.
Do those features alone make Samsung Q9FN the best TV on the market? No, but throw in technology like HDR10+ and Q HDR EliteMax – what Samsung bills as its maximum High Dynamic Range experience that’s exclusive to the Q9FN – and there’s very little doubt in our mind that this was Samsung’s best TV ever until the Q90 came along.
Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV (65Q9FN)
With most people – *cough* content providers – only just getting to grips with 4K resolution, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Samsung had gone nuts by introducing the world’s first true 8K TV. And yet, while it’s easy to be critical about the Samsung Q900R, it truly does usher in a new era of TV picture quality.
Its native 8K pictures are incredible, looking just like the real world – only better. But even more crucially given the dearth of true 8K content for the foreseeable future, the 85Q900R makes all today’s lower resolution sources look better than they do anywhere else, too.
Whether 8K delivers the same impact on smaller screens remains to be seen, but if you have a big enough room and budget, the 85Q900R is a vision of the future that’s actually spectacularly worth buying today.
Sony’s second-generation OLED flagship, the A9F, is coming at a good time – just as Samsung and LG have stepped up their games with the Samsung Q9FN QLEDand LG E8 OLED, Sony has fired back with a phenomenal OLED of its own.
Even better than the A1E before it, the A9F is unquestionably Sony’s best OLED offering to date, and arguably a strong contender for high-end screen of the year.
While we experienced some minor issues (notably Black level crushing on Dolby Vision, and that Netflix Calibrated mode), niggles are to be expected on a set as ambitious as this. If you can live with the slightly idiosyncratic design, and afford the asking price, it’s a glorious UHD display.
Overall, the LG E9 OLED offers a dazzling picture, with crisp detail and truly cinematic visuals. LG’s organic LED displays lack the brightness of competing models, but those after a proper movie night in won’t be disappointed.
The E9 differs mostly from other LG OLEDs in its shape and its size options – both the more premium W9 and cheaper C9 offer a larger 77-inch model – but we’d be surprised if the E9’s all-glass panel design didn’t impress you. With a unique look, and the multi-channel audio to elevate it above other OLED sets in the range, the E9 is a fantastic addition to any living room if you can afford one.
Samsung’s flagship Q90R QLED TV blew us away recently with its wider viewing angles, deeper blacks, and superior HDR images – sadly, however, not everyone can afford the flagship model. So what can Samsung offer for those wanting to experience QLED picture quality on a budget?
Despite sitting lower down in the QLED line-up, the Q70R includes the same comprehensive smart platform, extensive connections, and cutting-edge features found further up the range. This isn’t the flashiest-looking TV that Samsung has ever made, but if your funds are limited the Q70 is a cracking QLED all-rounder that’s worth checking out.
Read the full review: Samsung Q70R QLED TV
OK, so you don’t want (or can’t afford) Sony’s new A9F OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey Z9F. So what should you buy? Check out the X900F series. With superb 4K image clarity, powerful SDR-to-HDR remastering, and a smooth direct LED backlight, Sony is offering something very different with the X900F. We loved the consistency of its images, the eye-popping vibrancy of its wide color gamut panel and its easy-to-watch HDR – you get spectral highlights without accompanying eye fatigue.
Given this set’s high-but-fair price point, any niggles we have are negligible. The X900F is highly recommended and deserved our Recommended award.
Read the full review: Sony Bravia X900F (XBR-65X900F) review
If you had deep pockets and checkbook filled with blank checks, we’d tell you to reach deep and shell out for only the best TVs on the market – LG’s crazy-thin OLED W8 or Samsung’s ultra-bright Q9FN QLED (both featured on this list). But that’s not realistic. For the vast, vast majority of us, our budget to spend on a TV is limited to somewhere under $1,000 – and often less than that.
To that end, it’s absolutely fair to say that the TCL 6-Series is the best TV you can possibly get in this price range. Its performance per dollar is unmatched and its picture quality – despite a few minor flaws – will truly impress you.
Read the full review: TCL 6-Series (R615, R617)
Continue on to page two to read about what to look for when buying a TV!
- Want better audio? Check out our guide to the best soundbars available.
- Once you’ve decided on a panel, make sure you read our guide on how to set up your TV to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
- Are you looking for the best universal remote for your new home theater setup?
- Need something to watch on your new TV? check out our list of best TV streaming services.
What TV technology is best? Which is the best LCD TV? Which screen size is best for your living room? What’s the difference between LCD and LED TVs?
The answers aren’t always obvious. In fact, buying a new TV can be stressful even for the tech-savvy – there are so many brands, so many features, so many screen sizes, colors, technologies and flavors to choose from.
So which one is right for you, your family and your living space? In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a new TV.
What types of TV are there out there?
There are a lot of different screen types out there, all working in different ways to produce the same results. Each technology has its own unique strengths and weaknesses so here are some basics to consider:
LCD TV: CCFL
A few years back, all LCD TVs were backlit by always-on, CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps. This ageing technology has been superseded by the superior LED method on more expensive sets, but is still standard on some cheaper models.
LED TV: Direct LED
These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This enables localised dimming – meaning immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively – and greatly improves contrast. LED TVs are also more power efficient and capable of a wider colour gamut than CCFL sets. Because of the extreme cost of mounting these arrays of LEDs, cheaper TVs usually use Edge-Lit LED screens over Direct or Full-Array LED screens.
LED TV: Edge LED
With these TVs, LEDs of the backlight are mounted along the edges of the panel. This arrangement enables radically slender displays and offers superior contrast levels to CCFL, but can’t achieve the same picture quality as directly lit LED sets. However, they do come in far cheaper which is why most LED TVs out there now use this technology.
The backlighting on OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets is achieved by passing an electric current through an emissive, electroluminescent film. This technique produces far better colours and higher contrast and also enables screens to be extremely thin and flexible. This is the holy grail display technology and LG, Sony, Philips and Panasonic have all adopted it in their flagship sets.
Quantum Dot is Samsung’s big play in the LED TV space. With it, the brand claims that it’s able to produce more colorful pictures than LG and Sony while offering even brighter panels. LG’s Super UHD TVs all use a variation of Quantum Dot called Nano Cell, and Hisense makes a number of Quantum Dot TVs for the US and China.
Plasma has almost entirely been phased out at this point, but PDP (plasma display panel) TVs use glass panels containing millions of tiny cells filled with a mixture of inert gases. Electricity excites the gases, causing them to illuminate the pixels across the screen. Plasma, while arguably superior to LCD in terms of contrast and colour accuracy, is only viable on large (42in+) screens and has been dropped by all but a handful of manufacturers. You’ll be lucky to find one on the shelves these days.
Some manufacturers are now making TVs that have slightly curved screens. But unlike old CRT TVs, the curve is inwards rather than outwards. The idea is that this makes every pixel equidistant from your eyes, delivering a more satisfying picture. However, there are drawbacks for this type of screen – the main one being that if you sit far enough to one side – more than 40 degrees or so – the curve clearly starts to affect the image’s geometry, foreshortening content near to you and compressing the image’s centre.
What resolution tech should I go for?
HD TVs come in two resolutions. Sets with the HD ready are required to be able to display a minimum 720p picture, and generally has a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Meanwhile, Full HD TVs have a higher resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It’s highly advisable that you don’t go for anything less than full HD in this day and age, and really you should be looking almost exclusively at 4K sets.
Ultra HD and 4K
The resolution of Ultra HD is exactly four times higher than full HD – 3840 x 2160. It means a far more detailed picture, with content requiring a lot more bandwidth and storage space. 4K TVs tend to be good at upscaling HD video to Ultra HD but there are currently a few options for watching native 4K content, but terrestrial broadcasters in the US have yet to adopt it as the new standard. about 4K.
The next big thing in TVs, HDR produces astounding levels of visual fidelity and can be found in some of the latest Ultra HD TVs. HDR is a technology and a standard. Content needs to be mastered in HDR and you need an HDR TV to see it. What HDR offers however, is worth the extra steps to get it – you’ll see increased contrast and more realistic colors, enhancing the image to a more cinematic level.
What else should I consider?
Buying a flatscreen television is a major investment and one that you can’t afford to take lightly. Just popping into the closest store and grabbing the first plasma or LCD you see won’t get you the best deal, the screen that suits your needs, or the gear you require to make the most of your new purchase.
People tend to pick the size of their flat TV based on the amount of space they have for it, this isn’t necessarily wise. Flat TVs take up much less space than you might think, so your new TV may end up a foot or two further away from your viewing position, making the picture appear smaller.
Also, with hi-def, you can have a bigger screen and the same viewing distance without worrying about seeing blemishes inherent to the source. A 4K TV’s lack of noise means that the ideal distance to sit from the screen is three to four times the height of the TV.
How to calculate the right size HD TV:
The trick here is to ensure that your TV is big enough to fill your line of vision, but small enough to be sharp and clear. Remember, if you intend to only watch standard-definition sources, the bigger the screen gets, the worse the image will look.
The ideal screen size can be calculated by multiplying the distance that you intend to sit away from it by 0.535 and then rounding this up to the nearest size.
So, if you sit 80in away from your TV, the ideal size is 42-inch (80 x 0.535= 42.8).
What features should I look out for?
Features are too numerous to go into here, but here are some things you should consider.
Photo viewing: If you have a digital camera, a TV that has a slot for memory cards or a USB socket for a card reader will let you view your photos onscreen.
Here are some of the things we look for when we review a screen, so you should, too…
Contrast: Bright whites shouldn’t have any signs of green, pink or blue in them, while blacks should look solid and not washed out, grey, green or blue.
Colours: Look at how bright and solid they are; how noiseless their edges are; how ‘dotty’ richly saturated areas are and how natural skin looks, especially in dim scenes.
Fine detail: How much texture does the screen give? Does a tree look like a green lump, or can you see the individual leaves
Edges: Check for ghosting, bright halos and jaggedness, especially around curves.
Motion: Check moving objects and quick camera pans for smearing or blurring, trailing, jerkiness and fizzing dotty noise.
Image artefacts: Look for blockiness, colour bands, grain, smearing, dot crawl: anything that looks like it’s added by the TV picture processing or a weak TV tuner. Tinker with a TV’s picture settings before making a final decision. Factory settings are rarely good for everyday viewing.
What about sound?
To provide the best audio to complement the pictures, your TV should be hooked up to a surround sound system, but this isn’t always an option. So, here’s what we listen for when testing a TV’s speakers:
Bass: Deep, rounded rumbles that don’t cause the set to rattle or speakers to distort, cramp or overwhelm the rest of the sound; but that expand when needed.
Vocals: Voices should sound open, rich and clear, not boxed in, nasal or thin.
Trebles: Treble effects should sound clean, rounded and smooth in loud scenes and shouldn’t dominate the soundstage.
Soundstage width/depth: A good TV should throw the sound away from the TV, to the sides, forward and back, to give an extra dimension to what’s on screen, without losing any coherence.
How many HDMI sockets do I need?
For a living room TV you should be looking for a minimum of 3 HDMI inputs. If you want to attach a set-top box as well as games consoles etc, those HDMI ports will fill up fast.
Do I want to hang my TV on the wall?
First off, you’ll need to consult a construction expert to check that the wall in question is strong enough to support a flatscreen. Then find out if the set you want is designed to be wall-mounted and, if so, ask if the relevant bracket is included in the basic package or as an optional extra.
Will I be connecting it to a home cinema?
If the answer is no, you might want to think more carefully about your set’s audio performance. Look for a screen that can go as loud as you’ll need without distortion or cabinet rattle. Consider how dialogue sounds and how much low-end rumble the bass is capable of.
Conversely, it’s pointless paying out more cash for exceptional built-in speakers if you already have a decent home cinema system.