Best TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best TVs you can buy in 2021.
There's just one problem with buying a TV: there are so damn many of them that it can be almost impossible to work out which one 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+, 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 our for. And if the biggest TV isn't quite big enough, check out our list of the best projectors.
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 the most recommendable TV available right now.
Read the full LG OLED65C1 review
This is one of the cheapest 4K TVs that Samsung currently offers. But fear not, it still boasts Samsung's core performance and feature set, at a smaller size and a lower price. In short, it's pretty much the best cheap TV you can buy.
Most 43-inch TVs offer about a tenth of the features of a bigger set, but not this one. The Tizen operating system is identical to that found on pricier sets, with the same winning UI and stacked app selection. It's 4K, naturally, HDR formats are well catered for (with the exception of Dolby Vision, which no Samsung sets support), and it supports Auto Low Latency Mode, which switches the TV to game mode when it detects a gaming signal. That's a feature missing from many much pricier sets, such as the 48in Sony in the top spot on this list.
The contrast ratio isn't as impressive as an OLED or QLED TV, of course, but that's to be expected. The blacks are actually surprisingly deep for a TV this affordable, and there's a hefty amount of punch. The TU7100 is a sharp and detailed performer, too, and it handles motion with a good balance of smoothing and authenticity. It's an excellent picture performance for a TV of this size, and you'd have to spend a fair bit more to get a significant improvement.
Read the full Samsung UE43TU7100 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.
It’s early days for 2021 TVs, but Samsung has thrown down the gauntlet in emphatic style and it will be fascinating to see how its rivals respond.
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.
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
The 65XH9005 was less "Ready for PS5" at launch than the marketing suggested, but it does now have 4K@120Hz support and is still due to get VRR and ALLM (neither of which the PS5 currently supports) via a future firmware update.
But with or without these console gaming features, this is an excellent TV. There are plenty of connections for hooking up partner kit, and you won't be wanting for onboard tech: this is a full-array LED-backlit TV with local dimming, and supports the HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR standards, and Dolby Atmos for sound. It’s also Netflix Calibrated and IMAX Enhanced.
And the picture quality? Excellent. Sony’s X-Motion Clarity motion processing technology is reliably superb, making fast-moving pictures like games, sports and action films as smooth as butter. There are plenty of options to fiddle with, but just leave it on auto and you'll still be treated to a great experience visually. It's got good sound, too. A little lightweight compared to some, but it's clear, precise and well projected. An ideal option for both gamers and non-gamers alike.
Read the full Sony KD-65XH9005 review
Samsung's 8-series has traditionally been positioned just below the company’s glamorous range-topping QLEDs. In the past, it has proven to be the sweet spot where picture quality and price intersect to maximum effect. And so it proves once more.
The TU8000 is astonishingly good value. For comparatively very little money you're getting a 55-inch TV that performs brilliantly, particularly with HDR content, and one that boasts the best, most app-laden operating system available at any price.
Its sound quality is only so-so and the Samsung is lacking the outright brightness and next-gen HDMI features of its more premium siblings, but it's still undeniably brilliant for the money.
Read the full Samsung UE55TU8000 review
This is the price where TVs tip over from budget to mid-range, and this set is the new best in class.
The feature set is very impressive, with ALLM, eARC, 4K and three formats of HDR supported. There's no VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), but at this price, that's hardly surprising. The Tizen OS is the same as seen on Samsung's flagship TVs, which means a slick user interface and apps galore.
It comes with Samsung's standard remote, plus its One Remote, which is more ergonomic and has a stripped-back selection of buttons that cover all of the bases. Voice controls are handled by Amazon's Alexa or Samsung's Bixby personal assistants, with Google Assistant due to land soon via a firmware update.
Picture-wise, it blows most of the similarly priced competition out of the water, with deeper blacks and bright white highlights. On the motion side of things, it displays a satisfyingly natural degree of smoothing, and manages to dig up plenty of detail. At this price, there really is no competition.
Read the full Samsung UE50TU8500 review
We'll just come out and say it: you don't need an 8K TV. 8K content is extremely thin on the ground, so for the most part, you'll be paying for something you don't use. On the other hand, if you're happy to spend the money, an 8K set could be a sound investment – it'll also play 4K content, after all, and if you don't want to buy another TV when 8K takes off, paying once could be the smart option.
The Samsung QE75Q950TS is not only a wise investment for 8K, it also manages to improve on 4K content. That's thanks to Samsung's Quantum Processor 8K and its 8K AI Upscaling feature, which succeed in making non-8K content look better than ever: watching a 4K Blu-ray, we can’t recall a sharper 4K picture, with nothing looking artificially enhanced or exaggerated – it simply pops from the screen more than we’ve previously seen.
Blacks are deep and insightful, while motion is handled with aplomb. Away from the picture, the TV itself is stylish, super slim, and the bezels are amazingly thin. It sounds pretty great, too. Ticks all the boxes, then.
Read the full Samsung QE75Q950TS review
The Panasonic TX-55HZ1000B is an absolutely brilliant TV. It’s just so balanced in its delivery: punchy but natural, sharp but not exaggerated, vibrant but controlled. It makes the most of 4K HDR but it also does a superb job with lower resolution, SDR content. Its motion handling is fantastic, too.
It’s a shame that none of the Dolby Vision presets feels quite right, and we would have liked to have seen some more advanced HDMI features such as VRR. The supplied remote really isn’t befitting a TV of this quality, either.
Those are fairly minor flaws, though. A slightly bigger one is that the HZ1000 is currently more expensive than all of its obvious rivals, and those TVs are all excellent, too.
Still, this is undeniably one of the very best TVs you can currently buy. If you’re in the market for a premium OLED, you really have to check it out.
Read the full Panasonic TX-55HZ1000B 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
We've already covered the new 48-inch version of the CX above, but it's worth remembering that the 55-inch and 65-inch models are also still available and the bigger you go, the better value you get.
The picture performance is just as excellent on these bigger sets, and simply more cinematic to boot, and of course the next-gen HDMI feature set and smart platform is the same, too. What's more, the bigger sets sounds a little bigger and fuller, too, thanks to the bigger chassis, although it's worth bearing in mind that the CX isn't the best-sounding TV in its class and that you're well advised to also budget for a soundbar.
All told, this is a superb all-rounder in whichever size you buy it.
Read the full LG OLED55CX review
Read the full LG OLED65CX review
The Samsung Q90T is a slightly tricky proposition. It’s the top 4K TV in Samsung’s 2020 TV range, but as a result of the company’s increased focus on 8K models, it’s also less of a flagship model than 2019’s Q90R.
Whether you consider the Q90T to be the true successor to the Q90R or not, it is a better TV overall. It has a more natural balance, significantly better motion and a much-improved sound system. It’s true that it doesn’t go quite as bright or quite as black but, in fairness to Samsung, the Q90T is also more aggressively priced.
More important than how it fares against its discontinued sibling, though, is how it fares against similarly priced 2020 TVs such as the LG OLED55CX and Philips 55OLED805. These sets go blacker and, in the case of the LG, produce brighter highlights in otherwise dark images, but the Samsung is vastly punchier with almost everything you watch and images pop from the screen in a way that OLEDs still can’t match. It also has the best, most app-packed operating system by quite a margin, and a feature set that will keep it relevant for years to come.
There’s no doubt that the Samsung Q90T is an excellent TV, and you certainly shouldn’t discount it for not being an OLED or not having as many dimming zones as its ‘predecessor’.
Read the full Samsung QE55Q90T review
This set is practically all screen – the black bezel is flush with the screen so you don’t notice it when the set is off. The fact it's so thin puts the emphasis squarely on the screen.
And what a screen it is. Images are beautifully natural, lending themselves to a cinematic authenticity that's great for movies. Dark detail is a particular highlight, though in high contrast sections (like white credits on a black screen) the Sony tends to play it a little safe. We would've liked more punch.
Typically for a Sony, the motion processing is superb, and SDR content remains vibrant and dynamic. It even makes standard definition content watchable. Just.
On the audio side, the A8 lacks a little bass depth and weight, but otherwise impresses with its crisp, dynamic delivery. It sounds a lot better than most of its similarly-priced rivals, though of course we would always recommend partnering it with a dedicated sound system to really enhance the experience.
Read the full Sony KD-55A8 review
The Panasonic TX-58HX800B may be towards the bottom of the 2020 Panasonic TV range, but to consider it a low-end set would be a mistake. Indeed, it looks more like a pricier OLED, thanks mostly to the edge-lit LED backlight.
Performance is stunning, especially with dark detail. The colours falter slightly with SDR content, but upscaling brings a wealth of picture detail that otherwise would've been missed. But edge lighting does have its downside.
The screen occasionally leaks a bit of light close to the edge of the frame and the whole panel could be a little better shielded from its light source. But that's just a symptom of mid-range edge-lit LED sets. It's not too noticeable, and is a small compromise given the saving compared to an OLED set.
This Panasonic's motion handling is superb, too, and the sound has a sense of spaciousness that could convince you you don't need a soundbar (though obviously we would recommend one).
Despite being a little pricier than some mid-range rivals (and its predecessor), the HX800 remains an excellent performance-per-pound proposition.
Read the full Panasonic TX-58HX800B review
While most people will be more than satisfied with one of LG's C-class models, which are the most affordable sets with all of the company's best picture processing, this GX takes that same picture and adds more powerful sound and a beautiful design.
This is LG's 'Gallery' model, and as such is entirely intended for wall-mounting. You don't even get a stand in the box (although feet can be bought separately), with a low-profile mount provided instead. The set is a uniform 2cm deep, which is exceptionally slim. The CX, by comparison, is 4.7cm deep at its thickest point.
Picture-wise, LG has taken the exemplary performance of its 2019 OLEDs and improved it in a few key areas, with dark detail, colour richness and motion handling all getting a worthwhile boost. The set sounds decent, too, particularly for one with essentially invisible speakers.
Read the full LG OLED65GX 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-XH9505 review
Brand new for 2020, the Q95T shares the top spot in Samsung's 2020 4K TV range with the Q90T. The only differences between the two are that the Q95T gets a more stylish, metal remote and the One Connect system, which sees all connections (including power) routed through a separate box that can be easily hidden away.
Somewhat disappointingly, the Q95T and Q90T have fewer dimming zones and go less bright than the Q90R, but they're otherwise better in every meaningful way. They deliver a richer, more solid and more natural picture, as well as better sound.
The Tizen operating system is largely unchanged, and that's no bad thing. No other operating system has as much content or more quickly gets you to what you want to watch.
If you're after Samsung's top 4K model, the sensible money would be spend on the Q90T, but if you like the idea of extremely clever and neat One Connect solution, there's nothing wrong with spending the extra money on the Q95T.
Read the full Samsung QE65Q95T 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
This new Samsung QLED set a formidable benchmark for mid-range TVs in 2020, offering a high-end performance at a very reasonable price.
The Q80T looks much like any other Samsung QLED, although it is a little bit chunkier than the Q95T and Q90T above. There's nothing wrong with the specs of those connections, though: the HDMI inputs support the key features of HDMI 2.1, such as eARC, VRR and HFR. 4K HDR streaming is available via the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+. In fact, the app support is superb, with pretty much every video and music streaming site you can think of on offer here. The only feature gap of real significance is the lack of Dolby Vision.
A simple TV to set-up when it comes to getting the best possible picture, the Q80T ultimately delivers a brilliantly dynamic image with deep black levels, excellent contrast and neutral but vibrant colours. While there are rare occasions when watching HDR that a skin tone seems slightly overcooked, the colour balance is a great strength overall, while motion is handled confidently and smoothly throughout our testing. And while we'd recommend a soundbar or some speakers, Samsung's Object Tracking Sound technology provides open, engaging audio.
As well as being excellent in this 55-inch guise, we've also now tested the 65-inch version, and very good that one is, too.
Read the full Samsung QE55Q80T review
Read the full Samsung QE65Q80T review