Christmas is a great time to buy a new TV. Perhaps it's a lovely present to yourself (go on, you deserve it!), a way to make the most of all of those heart-warming Christmas movies and/or extra Premier League fixtures, or you've been waiting for the Boxing Day sales.
Whatever the reason, I notice a massive increase in requests for recommendations from friends and family members (and blokes from the pub) at this time of year. Why are they asking me, of all people? Because I've been reviewing TVs for over 16 years! I'm obsessed with picture quality and equally passionate about value for money – I know what's good and I know what it's worth.
So, what am I recommending to the people who have asked me for personal recommendations this year? As ever, it comes down to how big they want to go and how much they're happy to spend. This year it also matters how much of a gamer they are.
So, let's get to it.
Best large TVs this Christmas
Sony A80L OLED – best overall
Sizes available – 55, 65, 77 and 83 inches
Launch price – £2399 (55 inches)
Target price – £1399 (55 inches)
Sony's A80L OLED is the best all-round TV of the year, which is why we proclaimed it the Product of the Year in the TV category in the recent What Hi-Fi? Awards. It uses 'standard' OLED technology (rather than MLA or QD-OLED), but that helps to keep the price attainable.
What's more, Sony seems to have squeezed every last drop of performance out of the raw materials: the A80L is bright, punchy, vibrant, exceptionally detailed and razor-sharp, all while maintaining cinematic accuracy. It's the best-sounding TV in its class, too, with a delivery that's both direct and spacious. We do still recommend adding a soundbar if you can, though.
The A80L is also a good gaming TV, thanks to support for 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM. It only has two HDMI 2.1 sockets, though, and doesn't support Dolby Vision gaming. If those are deal-breaking issues for you, scroll down to the LG C3.
The 55-inch version of the A80L dropped to £1399 during Black Friday, so I'm calling that the target price. You will probably have to wait until the Boxing Day sales to get it at that price, though, and it's still great value at the current (at the time of writing) price of £1499.
Read our full Sony A80L review
LG C3 OLED – best for serious gamers
Sizes available – 55, 65, 77 and 83 inches (plus smaller versions, below)
Launch price – £2100 (55 inches)
Target price – £1299 (55 inches)
If you're a hardcore gamer with multiple consoles and perhaps a gaming PC, too, the Sony A80L's two HDMI 2.1 sockets might not be enough for you, particularly if you end up with a soundbar that needs to be connected to one of them. Xbox Series X gamers might also be frustrated by the Sony's lack of support for Dolby Vision gaming.
That's where the LG C3 comes in. It has four HDMI 2.1 sockets, all of which support every major gaming feature, including 4K/120Hz, VRR, ALLM and, yes, Dolby Vision gaming (right up to 4K/120Hz), in fact. It also has an excellent HGiG setting that makes it really easy to get better and more accurate contrast with many HDR games. Not to mention incredibly low input lag and a very useful Game Optimiser menu.
The LG C3's picture isn't as punchy or crisp as the Sony A80L's, but it is very good in its own right, with lovely balance and consistency. It also has a better operating system that's packed to the rafters with streaming apps. Do budget for a soundbar if you can, though, as the C3 doesn't sound very good.
Right now, the 55-inch C3 is £1499, but it has been available for less than that several times already. I've seen it drop to a smidge below £1200, but only briefly and only with limited availability. I think it shouldn't be too hard to pick it up for £1299, but probably only after Christmas.
Read our full LG C3 (65-inch) review
TCL C845K QLED – best value option
Sizes available – 55, 65, 75 and 85 inches
Launch price – £849 (55 inches)
Target price – £799 (55 inches)
If you're looking for a more affordable TV, boy, have I ever got a great option for you. The TCL C845K is simply the TV bargain of the year, offering a performance and feature set way better than its price tag suggests.
This isn't an OLED TV but it is a QLED that features both Quantum Dots and a Mini LED backlight. This backlight features hundreds of individual dimming zones – much more so than those of most backlit TVs that cost a heck of a lot more money – which it uses for better contrast. In truth, there is a little greyness to blacks at times, and a slight bloom around bright objects in otherwise black images, but these issues are pretty rare and minor, and they don't overly detract from the overall performance.
That overall performance is bright, vibrant, sharp and detailed. There's awesome impact to the TCL's pictures, but it's no blunt instrument – it might lack the subtlety of the more expensive TVs I've recommended, but it's well-balanced overall.
Add to that a sound performance that embarrasses the C3 above and a feature set that includes support for not only 4K/120Hz but also 4K/144Hz (plus VRR and ALLM, of course), and you've got a TV that represents exceptional value.
Presumably because the C845K is already clearly very aggressively priced, discounts aren't common or large, but if you're patient and pounce at the right time, you should be able to get £50 off the full asking price.
Read our full TCL C845K review
Best small TVs this Christmas
LG C3 OLED – best overall
Sizes available – 42 and 48 inches (plus larger versions, above)
Launch price – £1499 (42 inches)
Target price – £999 (42 inches)
While they don't go quite as bright as their larger siblings, the 42-inch and 48-inch versions of the LG C3 are still superb TVs. In fact, assisted by a slight lack of competition, they're the very best TVs available at their sizes.
You of course get the perfect blacks and pixel-level contrast control that only OLED can offer, making for an awesomely dynamic picture, and LG's balanced and consistent approach to picture quality makes you feel as if you're always seeing movies and TV shows as intended.
On top of that, you get the same, flawless gaming spec of the larger C3 models, which means four HDMI 2.1 sockets with support for 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM, plus Dolby Vision gaming and an HGiG setting for super-accurate picture quality with many HDR games.
Sound is pretty poor, so budget extra for a soundbar if you can, but otherwise this is an exceptional TV.
I've spotted the 42-inch C3 for £899 in the past, and the 48-inch model at £1079, but you have to be very patient and eagle-eyed to get prices such as those. You should be able to get the former for under a grand after Christmas, though, and don't expect to pay significantly more for the latter.
Read our full LG C3 (42-inch) review
Read our full LG C3 (48-inch) review
Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED (50 inches) – best value option
Sizes available – 43, 50, 55 and 65 inches
Launch price – £650 (50 inches)
Target price – £450 (50 inches)
Let me say right away that we have not (yet) reviewed the 43-inch version of the Omni QLED and it is quite different to the 50-inch model we have tested, so please approach that one with caution. It does have the same operating system and broad feature set as the 50-incher, but I can't vouch for its picture quality.
The 50-inch model, meanwhile, is an absolute cracker. It's the features that draw you in – the app-packed Fire TV operating system, support for every HDR format going, VRR and ALLM gaming features, and QLED panel technology – but it's actually the grown-up and balanced picture quality that keeps you watching.
Sound is good, too, with the relatively straightforward stereo setup providing much better clarity and directness than the on-paper fancier sound systems of many a more premium TV.
Whatever you do, don't pay full price for one of Amazon's Omni QLED TVs. Discounts are regular and often huge, and you should be able to buy either the 43- or 50-inch model for well under £500.
Read our full Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED (50-inch) review