Best TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best TVs you can buy in 2021.
While buying a new TV is absolutely one of the most exciting things you can do with your clothes on, there's also one big problem: there are so damn many to choose from that it can be almost impossible to work out which is best for you. But before you tumble down the well of indecision, allow us to take you by the hand and lead you along the path to TV perfection.
We've run the rule over all the major 4K and 8K televisions we've tested to bring you the best of the best. If a TV is on this list it's a bona fide belter, so you know you're getting top bang for your buck.
These TVs are the very best options for feasting your eyes on all the Ultra HD content that's now available – the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney Plus, Google Play Movies, Apple TV and Sky Q are jam-packed with 4K at this point. Plus you can buy 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays. Basically, there's never been a better time to take the plunge.
Below you'll find TVs of various sizes, budgets and technologies, from 55-inch TVs to OLED TVs, small TVs to cheap TVs, and even 8K TVs. If gaming is your priority, take a look at our round-up of the best gaming TVs you can buy, which goes into extra detail on game-specific features to look out for. And if the biggest TV isn't quite big enough, check out our list of the best projectors.
In a world of ever larger TVs, the 48-inch OLED remains a beacon of hope for those with more modest needs. The Philips 48OLED806 is one of the second generation of such televisions, which promise genuine flagship performance at a more manageable screen size – something that’s impossible to find on the LCD side of the market.
You might have a smaller living space, or want a great gaming TV, a screen for the bedroom or perhaps the 48-inch option is a compromise with your less AV-enthusiastic housemate. Whatever the situation, the 48-inch OLED is an excellent choice, and the Philips 48OLED806 is the best 48-inch OLED you can currently buy.
It takes more effort than most to find the best picture settings, but the effort is worth it – this Philips produces a brilliantly punchy, sharp and rich performance that's further enhanced by the addition of Ambilight. Two fully-featured HDMI 2.1 sockets mean next-gen gaming is covered, and the sound – while not the very best in class – is decently detailed and dynamic.
All told, this is a superb TV choice, and the 65-inch version is brilliant, too – you can read the review of that model by clicking below. You'll also see the latest, lowest prices for all versions of the OLED806 (it's also available in 55-inch and 77-inch sizes) if you scroll just a tiny bit further.
Read the full Philips 48OLED806 review
Read the full Philips 65OLED806 review
Look up ‘unassuming’ in the dictionary and you’ll probably find a picture of the Samsung UE43AU7100. This 43-inch LCD TV doesn’t flaunt a particularly flamboyant design, doesn’t sell for a particularly outrageous price – either high or low – and its features list is certainly no Lord Of The Rings-style epic.
You don’t have to spend long in the UE43AU7100’s company, though, to realise that a TV doesn’t have to be an extrovert to stand out from the crowd. Solid processing and a thoughtful, balanced picture that actually seems to have had some care and attention lavished on it can be more than enough.
On top of the surprisingly mature and accomplished picture performance, you get arguably the best, most app-packed operating system available at any price, plus decent sound. This is a genuine bargain of a TV.
Read the full Samsung UE43AU7100 review
We rate products on a performance-per-pound basis. That’s always been the What Hi-Fi? way. We’re not looking simply for the absolute best product in each category, as that would invariably involve recommending one of the most expensive products in each category; we’re looking for the best bang for your buck. The product that best balances performance, features and price.
That isn’t to say that we’re averse to recommending a premium product when it justifies its high price, and that’s why we were delighted to bestow the full five stars upon Sony’s A90J flagship OLED when we reviewed it a little earlier in the year. Simply put, it’s the best TV we’ve seen so far this year, and we suspect that might well still be the case when we’re all singing Auld Lang Syne on 31st December.
It's not be the best performance-per-pound TV of 2021, though, because this A80J beats it on that metric. This step-down model in Sony’s new OLED range certainly isn’t quite as good as its flagship sibling but, by offering most of what makes the A90J great at a much more competitive price, it’s put itself in the box seat for one of our Awards.
We knew that the A80J had the potential to be a very good TV, thanks to its shared DNA with the awesome A90J, but we had expected the gap in performance to be fairly big, given the huge gap in price.
That isn’t the case. It might not be quite as bright and punchy as its flagship sibling, or as sonically weighty, but in many other ways it’s just as capable. That makes it a remarkably crisp, detailed and dynamic performer for the money, with a superior sound system to those of its price rivals.
Hardcore gamers will still be better served by the LG C1, but if your priorities are movies and TV shows, the A80J is the new benchmark at its price.
We've tested the A80J in its 55-inch size. It's also available as a 65-inch and 77-inch model. We've not yet reviewed it at those bigger sizes but you'll find the latest, lowest prices available for each version below.
Read the full Sony XR-55A80J review
While Sony’s OLEDs are highly regarded, it’s typically hard to justify buying one over a rival LG. Historically, the Sony has a more authentic picture and better sound but is also a step behind on features and usability – and at least a level or two more expensive.
But what if Sony could produce a TV with most of those previously missing features, a more satisfying user experience, and a unique high-quality movie streaming app, all while raising the picture and sound quality to even greater heights? That's exactly what the company's done with the A90J.
In performance terms, the Sony A90J is an absolute stunner. It takes OLED picture performance to new, thrilling levels while maintaining the authenticity for which Sony is justifiably renowned. It also sounds significantly better than all of the other TVs you might be considering. The new Google TV operating system means the user experience is better than that of any pre-2021 Sony TV, too, and the exclusive Bravia Core streaming service is a genuine value-added feature.
Hardcore gamers might want to take a wait-and-see approach, though, as the set doesn't yet support VRR (an update has been promised but not dated) and we found the 4K@120Hz support a little buggy. However, if movies and TV shows are your priority and you have a big budget, we haven’t tested a better television than the Sony A90J.
Do check out the A80J at the top of this before handing over your money, though, as it offers much of (but not all) the A90J's excellence at a significantly lower price.
We've tested the A90J in its 55-inch and 65-inch sizes. It's also available as an 83-inch model, which we've not yet reviewed. You'll see the latest, lowest prices available for each version below.
Read the full Sony XR-55A90J review
Read the full Sony XR-65A90J review
LG’s C-series model has been the go-to pick of its OLED range for several years. It has always been the most affordable model with the company’s best panel and picture processing wizardry. Spending more would get you a fancier design and potentially better sound, but the picture would be no different.
That’s not the case in 2021. LG has introduced a new, brighter and sharper ‘OLED Evo’ panel, and the C1 doesn’t have it.
With so much of the focus on the upgraded G1, it’s perhaps predictable that the C1 isn’t much of an improvement on its predecessor, but there wasn’t much that needed improving. The picture performance and feature set were already exemplary, and LG has slightly improved the former with its new Cinematic Movement motion processing and enhanced de-contouring feature (which reduces banding), and slightly improved the latter with a better menu system and a more complete app selection (all UK catch-up apps are present).
The G1's picture is undeniably better in terms of brightness, sharpness and detail, but we're not talking huge margins and most people will struggle to justify the extra £500 ($500), particularly when the niche design and weaker sound are taken into account.
Ultimately, in performance-per-pound terms, the C1 is the better buy. In fact, it's one of the most recommendable TVs available right now.
We tested the C1 in its 65-inch size. It's also available as a 48-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch and 83-inch model. We've not yet reviewed these versions but you'll see the latest, lowest prices below.
Read the full LG OLED65C1 review
Also consider: Samsung QE65QN95A
Buying guide: best OLED TVs
There’s no substitute for size when it comes to home cinema. After all, the whole goal of ‘home cinema’ is to, you know, bring the cinema home. And what’s the most important part of the cinema experience? The whopping huge screen, of course. That’s why a 65-inch TV (or even bigger!) is what you should aim for if you’re looking to add some serious cinematic scale to your living room.
But we can’t all afford to go big and go super-premium. Your budget might stretch to a 65-inch TV, but perhaps not a 65-inch OLED or flagship QLED. If that’s the case, the Sony XR-65X90J (or near-identical XR-65X94J) could be just what you’re looking for thanks to its heady mix of fancy features, perfectly-pitched picture performance and a mid-range price tag.
Those features include two HDMI 2.1 sockets that support 4K@120Hz (but not VRR... yet) and the new Google TV operating system. The picture is brilliantly natural, authentic and balanced, and the sound is clear and direct too.
While you could buy a 55-inch OLED for around £1500, it’s perfectly reasonable to instead choose to go for a TV that’s a little less premium but a full 10 inches bigger. If that’s the choice you make, the X90J (or X94J) absolutely demands your attention.
If you want a bigger or smaller TV, the X90J is also available in 50-inch, 55-inch and 75-inch sizes. We've not yet reviewed those versions but below you'll find the latest, lowest prices for each size.
Read the full Sony XR-65X90J review
Samsung’s first flush of Neo QLED TVs has been nothing short of revolutionary to date. The extra-fine level of lighting control that mini LED brings has put LCD’s high peak brightness to sophisticated use. It’s added a care with contrast that’s led to a more nuanced on-screen image, with a more solid, three-dimensional depth than ever before. We’ve every reason to expect the same from the QN94A.
If ‘QN94A’ seems a bit of an odd number, that’s to indicate that there’s only a small difference between it and Samsung’s top 4K TV for the year, the QN95A (below). The QN94A TV is identical apart from missing out on the One Connect box – a discrete box that houses all of the QN95A's connections, including power.
The difference in price between the QN94A and QN95A isn’t huge, but if you’re not interested in the One Connect box and are content with just one HDMI 2.1-certified socket, it’s worth saving that little bit of money. Picture quality is excellent regardless of which you choose and the sound isn’t bad at all. An OLED might look better in some scenes but there’s something quite addictive about the brightness of this set. Its super-contrasty and punchy HDR delivery is ever so more-ish.
There’s still no Dolby Vision support but you’ll be getting so much from HDR10 alone that it will hardly be on your mind. This is a great TV and a terrific buy at this price.
We tested the QN95A in its 65-inch size. It's also available as a 50-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch model. We've not yet reviewed these versions but you'll see the latest, lowest prices below.
Read the full Samsung QE55QN94A review
Panasonic has embraced the OLED era in a wholehearted, star-crossed lovers-style, producing some of the best TVs of the last few years. But, for the last couple of those, the company’s flagship picture has been tethered to its flagship sound.
Whether you rate that flagship sound or not (we did in 2019 but didn’t in 2020), the fact remains that in buying Panasonic’s best picture, you’re also forced into paying for something that you might not use because you’ve already got (or are getting) a dedicated sound system.
For 2021, though, Panasonic has changed tack so that its best picture is no longer exclusive to this year’s 2000-series models but is also a feature of the 1500-series, seen here in 55-inch, TX-55JZ1500B guise.
The result is an excellent TV that makes Panasonic’s top picture performance more affordable than ever before. Its rich but natural colours are a particular highlight, and it's brilliantly detailed and sharp, with excellent motion handling to boot.
It’s still an expensive set, though, and the Sony A90J and A80J (both above), which are a good deal pricier and cheaper respectively, should both also be considered before you settle on the JZ1500B. We can well imagine that plenty of people will still choose the Panasonic’s beautifully vibrant performance even after seeing the very best that Sony has to offer.
We tested the JZ1500B in its 55-inch size. It's also available as a 48-inch and 65-inch model. We've not yet reviewed those versions but you'll see the latest, lowest prices for them below.
Read the full Panasonic TX-55JZ1500B review
TCL’s Roku TVs have finally arrived in the UK and the TCL 55RP620K is at the tip of the AV spear. It’s a 4K HDR TV that sits firmly in the affordable category of TVs, but don’t be fooled into expecting something that’s feature-light. This is a Roku TV and they’re nothing if not smart.
Until now, the only Roku TVs available in the UK have been from Hisense, and they’ve certainly been good, with two five-star reviews on the bounce. The 55-inch TCL 55RP620K offers something one step closer to mid-range, though, with a greater bit-depth in terms of colour processing and Dolby Vision support too.
It's certainly not the TV equivalent of fine dining, but the RP620K is much better than its low price suggests. For those after an app-happy and exceedingly user-friendly experience, and a good panel size without having to spend too much, this TV from TCL and Roku is a winning combination.
Read the full TCL 55RP620K review
This year looks very much like the year of Mini LED. The technology, which sees the traditional LEDs of a TV backlight miniaturised in order to increase contrast, is a feature of the 2021 line-ups of most major TV brands, including LG and Philips.
For those brands, Mini LED TVs sit below their OLED models, but for Samsung, Mini LED is its flagship technology (assuming you discount its eye-wateringly expensive new Micro LED sets).
The company has developed its own Mini LEDs, which it says are even smaller and more efficient than those of its rivals, and combined them with its existing Quantum Dot tech to create a range of premium TVs that it calls Neo QLEDs. The QE65QN95A is the first Neo QLED we've tested and Samsung's flagship 4K set for 2021.
In real-world performance terms, Mini LED might not quite be the revolution that Samsung is pitching it as, but it is still a substantial upgrade to an already excellent range of TVs. The overall contrast offered is staggering, and the QN95A combines near-OLED black levels with awesomely crisp white highlights and fabulously vibrant colours, all while retaining an effortless sense of naturalism.
Throw in the best, most app-packed operating system in the business, a delightfully slim design and a full set of next-gen HDMI sockets and this is (a lack of Dolby Vision support aside) as complete a package as can be imagined. Just remember that the QN94A (above) offers the same performance at a slightly lower price.
We tested the QN95A in its 65-inch size. It's also available as a 55-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch model. We've not yet reviewed these versions but you'll see the latest, lowest prices below.
Read the full Samsung QE65QN95A review
For the last few years, the C-class model has been the sensible choice of each new LG OLED range. Until now, it has been the most affordable model with the latest panel and picture processing tech: go further up the range and you might get better sound and a fancier design, but you won’t get a better visual performance.
For 2021, though, LG has introduced a new ‘OLED Evo’ panel that promises increased brightness and sharpness, and to get the Evo panel you have to step up to the G1. That’s slightly disappointing because you also end up paying extra for a rather niche design (the G1 is designed to be wall-mounted, to the extent that there's no stand or feet in the box) that you may not want.
Still, if the design works for you and you don't mind forking out the extra £500, the G1 is undoubtedly the best OLED that LG has ever produced. It takes the picture performance of last year’s GX and CX and improves upon it in almost every way, particularly in terms of brightness, sharpness and detail. That makes it a seriously stunning picture performer. It's also packed with apps and next-gen HDMI features, including 4K@120Hz on all four sockets.
Sound is less strong, but if you were always planning to combine your new TV with a separate sound system and the design works for you (and you've got deep pockets), the G1 should be seriously considered.
We tested the G1 in its 65-inch size. It's also available as a 55-inch and 77-inch model. We've not yet reviewed these versions but you'll see the latest, lowest prices below.
Read the full LG OLED65G1 review
It's official: 48 is the new 55. Time was that you couldn't get an OLED TV under 55in, but then LG launched the world's first commercially available 48-inch OLED set. And now Sony has one of its own, too.
Sony has embraced the smaller size, making the TV as petite as possible thanks to its tiny bezels and low profile pedestal stand. It does have a rather large enclosure bolted onto the back (to house the speakers, processing hardware and connections), but you'll only notice if you look at the set side-on.
Disappointingly – and somewhat surprisingly for such a cutting-edge TV – it lacks some next-gen HDMI features such as 4K@120Hz (HFR), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). Which is bad news for gamers looking to hook up a PS5 or Xbox Series X.
But that's about the only fault we can find with this TV. Sony's X1 Ultimate processor makes images suitably stunning, there's plenty of dark detail on show, and it serves up pretty much every streaming app you could hope for. Motion control is still industry-leading, and in terms of sharpness and detail, there's never been a better TV at this size. If you can stump up the funds, you will not be disappointed.
Read the full Sony KD-48A9 review
The 55OLED805 is a Philips OLED as it should be; genuinely excellent. If you’re prepared to forego the odd next-gen feature, it's the best performance-per-pound OLED you can currently buy.
It produces stunningly crisp and detailed pictures from all sources, delivers far more accomplished audio than most rivals, adds awesome Ambilight (which extends the onscreen action onto the wall around the TV in the form of coloured light) to the mix, and has a lower price tag than its LG, Sony, Panasonic and Samsung equivalents.
If you're in the market for a bigger TV, there's also a 65-inch version available (the 65OLED805) and it's just as good.
Read the full Philips 55OLED805 review
Read the full Philips 65OLED805 review
Chocolate and peanut butter, beer and crisps, sleep and Sundays – some things are perfect partners, whether they were designed that way or not. Samsung’s 8K boffins might not be the same people as those in charge of Mini LED, but together they have managed to create one serious winning combination in the Samsung QE75QN900A 8K TV.
The Samsung QE75QN900A is a 75-inch version of Samsung’s third generation of 8K TVs, but the first to be backed by a Mini LED lighting system. As the name suggests, Mini LEDs are much smaller than standard LEDs, the size of glitter in your hand, and numbering in the thousands, rather than the hundreds, on your TV panel.
In the case of the QN900A, More LEDs means more granular backlight control, and more pixels means crisper definition. Forget native 8K content for now, because there isn't any – focus on the fact that this fabulous TV manages an awesome sense of scale but with the sort of sharpness and detail that we’d normally associate with a smaller 4K set. If you're going really big with your next TV, this is the model to get.
We tested the QN900A in its 75-inch size. It's also available as a 65-inch and 85-inch model. We've not yet reviewed these versions but you'll see the latest, lowest prices below.
Read the full Samsung QE75QN900A review
We'd been waiting for this moment for a long time. After years of waiting, LG finally launched the first 48-inch OLED TV in 2020, bringing true flagship OLED TV performance to under 55 inches fir the first time.
And it really is a fabulous performance. This isn't a downgraded flagship TV – it's a downsized flagship TV. It offers the same performance and features as its bigger brothers in the CX range (which, let's remember, also match the more expensive GX, RX and WX in terms of picture quality and processing), but in a smaller, more lounge-friendly package.
The performance is superb. The perfect blacks and near-perfect viewing angles we're used to from OLED, combine with bright, punchy whites and vibrant but natural colours. LG's motion processing in 2020 is the best it's ever been, too, and its OLEDs continue to impress in terms of upscaling 1080p and standard-def content.
On top of all that you get certified HDMI 2.1 sockets that support next-gen features such as eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), HFR (High Frame Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), and all current formats of VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). Those last two features will be of particular appeal to those gamers looking to upgrade to the PS5 or Xbox Series X.
One fairly big downside for UK buyers is that some of the UK's terrestrial catch-up apps are still missing from LG's 2020 smart platform (although BBC iPlayer has thankfully now been added). You can obviously add these fairly easily and inexpensively by adding a streamer such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, but you really shouldn't have to.
Read the full LG OLED48CX review
There's a lot of pressure on the 49in KD-49XH9505 (XBR-49X950H in the States), as all three of its predecessors have taken home What Hi-Fi? Awards.
The company has basically reused the shell of last year's KD-49XG9005, which is a bit of a shame as it's fairly thick and has awkward-looking feet that give the set an overly wide footprint. But the set looks fairly smart in its own right. You do also get a better remote that's neatly laid out and doesn't require line of sight in order to send commands to the TV.
Most importantly, last year's shell has been stuffed with upgraded kit, including Sony's flagship processor, the X1 Ultimate, which brings with it lots of picture improvements. All told, this is a punchier and more richly coloured performer than its predecessor, with more dark detail and the excellent motion processing for which Sony is renowned. It sounds impressively weighty and solid, too.
Other than a bit of blooming from the direct LED backlight, this is an excellent set, although it's not quite up there with the new 48-inch OLEDs from Sony and LG. However, if you can't quite stretch to one of those but you still want a premium "small" TV, the Sony is the one to get.
Read the full Sony KD-49XH9505 review
The Hisense Roku R50A7200GTUK is likely to be the cheapest 50-inch TV we’ll see on sale in the UK this year from a major manufacturer. It promises a good-sized, punchy 4K HDR image and all the major apps and services you could need, without so much as an additional box or stick in sight.
It’s a pledge that Hisense delivered so well in 2020 with its R50B7120UK model that it has decided to leave the recipe pretty much as it was for its 2021 Roku TV.
Neither the picture nor the sound are perfect, but both are surprisingly good for the very low asking price. Add in a brilliant feature set and an unbeatable content offering, and you've got a great performance-per-pound proposition.
Read the full Hisense R50A7200GTUK review