Best HDR TVs Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best HDR TVs you can buy in 2020.
The 4K resolution (or revolution, you could say) might have dominated the headlines in recent years, but there's another way to really boost your TV's picture quality: HDR.
HDR stands for 'high dynamic range', and it enhances the difference between the light and dark parts of the image - essentially the contrast - giving the picture more depth at one end at the same time as making it look brighter and more vibrant at the other.
But it's not as simple as buying an HDR TV and sitting back and enjoying the quality boost. Oh no. Rather, there are competing formats of HDR, with different TV manufacturers backing different ones. That's right, we're in the midst of another format war.
The most common form is HDR10. It's an open standard that has been adopted by numerous manufacturers, service providers (such as Amazon and Netflix) and the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA). Basically, all 4K TVs should feature HDR10. This means your TV will be compatible with the most widely available 4K Blu-ray discs, 4K players and 4K streaming content – and it should offer a far better picture than a 4K TV without any HDR.
Dolby Vision is another format of HDR. It promises a subtler, improved image because its metadata is 'dynamic', in that it's added to an HDR image on a frame-by-frame basis (whereas HDR10 adds it scene by scene). In reality, results depends on how well the tech is implemented, but Dolby Vision is absolutely capable of producing better results than HDR10. LG, Panasonic, Sony and Philips TVs all employ Dolby Vision, though rarely on every model in their ranges, so it's worth checking before you buy. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
HDR10+ is a rival, dynamic metadata-based HDR format created by Samsung but also available to other manufacturers. Predictably, Samsung TVs feature HDR10+ but not Dolby Vision. New TVs from Philips and Panasonic, meanwhile, support both formats. Amazon also now carries a fair bit of content in HDR10+, although it doesn't flag it as such so it's hard to be sure that you're getting it. There's also now a handful of 4K Blu-rays encoded with HDR10+, including Bohemian Rhapsody.
HLG stands for Hybrid Log Gamma, and is designed for HDR TV broadcasts. The vast majority of HDR TVs support HLG, but the content is currently very thin on the ground. This could become a bigger deal in years to come.
Finally, Advanced HDR by Technicolor is a format made by LG and video specialists Technicolor, but it appears to gone the way of the dodo. LG was the only TV manufacturer supporting it and isn't doing so on its 2020 models. No content mastered in the format has ever appeared.
So that's the current state of the HDR landscape. You'll find our pick of the best HDR TVs around below.
LG's first 2020 OLED is a barnstormer. While we'd usually like to start the year with the C-class model, which is the most affordable set with all of the 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.
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.
The only issue for UK buyers is the current lack of catch-up apps such as BBC iPlayer, but LG assures us it's working on this. Either way, this is a stunning TV and the current 2020 TV benchmark.
Read the full LG OLED65GX review
Looking to go big for relatively little money? Then you simply have to check out the TX-58GX800B. The 50in version of this TV is already good value, but for just a little extra cash you can add an extra 8in of screen, turning an engaging viewing experience into something really cinematic.
Not that size and price are the only things that this Panasonic has going for it. It also boasts both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, an operating system that looks a bit basic but is very simple to use and contains all of the vital apps, and a performance that's effortlessly natural and detailed.
The viewing angles aren't amazing and you really need to add a soundbar to get an audio performance worthy of the picture, but for the money this is an absolute belter.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-58GX800B
The A8 is Sony's 2020 OLED model, and it's a real belter that combines brilliantly natural, authentic picture quality with clever, engaging audio to excellent effect.
HDR images (the TV supports HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision) are bright, punchy and vibrant, but also always realistic. Blacks are perfectly deep, as is expected from OLED, but also packed with detail. Full HD, SDR content is similarly balanced and impressive, and even standard-def is surprisingly accomplished. Only when asked to combine a very bright object on an otherwise uniformly black screen (simple film titles or credits, for example) does the A8 pull its punches slightly.
Sound is provided by two woofers and two actuators, the latter of which imperceptibly vibrate the whole screen, essentially turning the whole panel into a big, flat driver. It's not only extremely clever, it more effectively ties audio and video together (the sound is actually coming from the image, after all) and provides a very direct, punchy and dynamic delivery, at least by the standards of integrated TV speakers at this sort of price.
The HDMIs are lacking next-gen features such as VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), which might be of concern to gamers, particularly those planning to upgrade to a PS5 or Xbox Series X, but for everyone else the A8 is an excellent all-rounder that demands consideration.
Read the full Sony KD-55A8 review
2019's LG C8 was our TV Product of the Year, and its successor, the C9, brought home the same Award for LG in 2019. The panel for this is broadly the same, but extra processing power and AI smarts brought unexpected picture improvements, making the best even better. Contrast is glorious, colours are rich and vibrant, and detail levels are exemplary.
Considering it's around the bottom of the 2019 range in terms of its speaker system, it sounds really rather good, too – although we would, as ever, recommend buying a quality sound system to do justice to the fabulous picture.
Also check out the OLED65C9SLC, which is the same but for the design of the pedestal stand.
The C9 has now been superseded by the CX and GX, and so won't be available for much longer. That does of course mean you should be able to pick it up at a heavily discounted price while stocks last.
Read the full LG OLED65C9PLA (65in) review
Read the full LG OLED55C9PLA (55in) 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. While other challengers will emerge before the 2020 Awards deadline (the 49in version of the Samsung Q80T and 48in LG OLED CX could be very good), Sony's put itself in a great position to make it four in a row.
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 absolute corker, and the new benchmark for 49in TVs.
Read the full Sony KD-XH9505 review
Brand new for 2020, the Q95T isn't the successor to the Q90R that we were expecting it to be, but it is a brilliant TV in its own right and has launched at a lower price than did its 'predecessor'.
It has fewer dimming zones and goes less bright in real terms than the Q90R, but the Q95T is otherwise better in every meaningful way. It delivers a richer, more solid and more natural picture, much improved motion processing, and 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.
Read the full Samsung QE65Q95T review
This is the best cheap 50-inch TV you can buy. The Hisense R50B7120UK is a direct LED-backlit TV, with a 4K resolution, HDR support and all of the apps you could possibly need, thanks to the excellent Roku TV platform (it's the first Roku TV to land in the UK). And all at a staggeringly low price.
It may not look much but in terms of features and connectivity, it surely offers everything you need, from HDMI, optical, USB and headphone connections, to Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Freeview Play, Apple TV, Disney Plus, Spotify, and plenty more. The universal search could be better but the content is certainly there.
The picture itself is good straight out of the box, too, though tinkering a little with the contrast, brightness and colour settings will yield even better results. Motion is handled confidently, colours are bright and dynamic but never artificial, and while absolute detail in dark scenes can be bettered by more expensive TVs, any flaws here never distract from what is a watchable picture. We can't help but give a hearty recommendation for this budget 50-inch 4K TV.
Read the full Hisense R50B7120UK review
This new Samsung QLED sets a formidable benchmark for 55-inch TVs in 2020, offering a high-end performance at a fairly mid-range price.
The Q80T looks much like any other Samsung QLED, although it is a little bit chunkier than the Q95T above as all of the connections are inside rather than in a separate One Connect box. There's nothing wrong with the specs of those connections, though: the four 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.
This is the first mid-range 55-inch TV we’ve seen in 2020, but the Samsung QE55Q80T sets a formidable benchmark thanks to its dynamic and solid picture, substantial sound and thorough feature set.
Read the full Samsung QE55Q80T review
The TX-55GZ2000B's headline-grabbing feature is a speaker system that includes rear-mounted, upward-firing drivers for Dolby Atmos sound, and impressive it is, too.
But it also takes the attention away from the picture upgrades that Panasonic has bestowed upon this flagship OLED. Those picture upgrades are so special, in fact, they make the GZ2000 a better performer than LG’s current OLEDs – meaning that this is the best OLED we’ve tested.
So why isn't it at the very top of this list? Simple: price. It costs around twice as much as an LG C9 of the same size. Sonically, it’s much better, but the picture is only a marginal step up. Therefore, as brilliant as the GZ2000 is, it doesn’t replace the LG C9 as our performance-per-pound TV recommendation.
Read the full Panasonic TX-55GZ2000B review
Always one to plough its own furrow, Samsung has created QLED, a TV technology to rival OLED. For this set, it addressed previous criticisms and greatly improved viewing angles, while also improving the amount of detail visible in dark scenes without compromising black levels. Which is no mean feat.
Colours remain on the cooler side, maintaining a more neutral balance but with no loss of punch. Again, impressive. The one slight niggle is motion processing, but if you can live with that you'll be more than happy with this set.
The Q90R has now been replaced, partly by the Q95T above and partly by the Q800T 8K model, so don't expect to see stock available for much longer.
Read the full Samsung QE65Q90R (65in) review
Read the full Samsung QE55Q90R (55in) review
If you're looking for a high-end TV at a smaller size than 55in, the Sony KD-49XG9005 should be at the top of your list. It doesn't get every feature of its bigger XG9505 siblings (hence the slight difference in model number), but it does get most and delivers an excellent picture for its size and price.
Brilliantly balanced, natural colours, lots of detail and super-sharp edges combine to deliver a picture that's both authentic and enticing, not to mention consistent across all sources. And it requires almost no tweaking to get the TV performing at its best.
The Android TV operating system, while still a bit behind the Samsung and LG alternatives, is steadily improving and boasts all of the apps you're likely to need. Sony has also added YouView to ensure all of the usual UK catch-up services are on board.
Read the full Sony KD-49XG9005 review
The LG B9 is a mixture of the old and the new – it combines the company's 2018 processor with its 2019 OLED panel. This makes it the most affordable model in LG’s 2019 OLED range and a tempting proposition indeed.
The picture is natural, colourful and well-measured for contrast whether you’re watching in 4K or upscaling from HD, and whatever processor power is missing certainly won't ruin your TV experience.
There are small discrepancies in light and dark detail that the top LG processor offers and it’s worth paying the extra for them if you can. As far as this price proposition goes, though, the LG OLED65B9PLA gets our full vote of confidence.
Read the full LG OLED65B9PLA review
The new Panasonic GZ950 isn't quite up there with the LG C9 and Samsung Q90 for dynamism and punch, but it is a good deal more affordable than both, sounds much better than both, and boasts Dolby Vision and HDR10+.
What's more, it's an accomplished performer in its own right, with an excellent, natural colour balance and the sort of all-round consistency that means you never question what you're watching. A sleeker operating system and more apps would be nice, but the major bases are covered, including Netflix and Amazon Video in 4K and HDR.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-55GZ950B
The GX800 range is one of the first we tested that supports both of the two competing dynamic metadata-based HDR formats, Dolby Vision and HDR10+, and this 50in set comes at a bargain price. Panasonic (and other brands) claim that HDR formats with dynamic metadata are of more use to lower-end sets than flagship models, as they tailor the image to the specific capabilities of the set. It’s a compelling argument, and while this TV can't match the premium TVs, this is an undeniably great budget TV for the money.
Amazon and Netflix are here, in all their HDR 4K glory, as well as a whole host of the usual catch-up streaming TV apps, but no sign of Now TV or Spotify. There are enough HDMI and USB connections, plus optical and headphone outputs. The picture produced is natural, clean and free from motion judder. Black levels are pretty good, though they're let down by poor viewing angles, the picture losing brightness off-axis.
Still, despite typically lightweight sound from a flat TV (even with 'Atmos' mode on board) we still think the performance here is good enough to make it a great deal at this price. A simple but effective 50-inch 4K TV - and its 58-inch sibling is just as brilliant (not to mention a 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award-winner).
Read the full Panasonic TX-50GX800B (50in) review
Read the full Panasonic TX-58GX800B (58in) review
This is Sony’s top 2019 model below its Master Series ZG9 8K LCD and AG9 OLED, and it’s intended to bring the Master Series’ authentic approach to a greater audience.
A direct-backlit set with loads of punch, the XG9505 gets the same X1 Extreme processor of Sony's 2019 flagship sets but costs a whole lot less. If you can put up with a slightly inconsistent backlight and poor viewing angles, this is a lot of very good TV for the money.
Read the full review: Sony KD-65XG9505