Best TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best TVs you can buy in 2022.
While buying a new TV can be a thrilling experience, it's also decidedly daunting simply because there are just so many models, types and sizes to choose from that it can be almost impossible to work out which is best for you. You're hopefully going to be living with this new purchase for a good many years and it'll likely take up a fair amount of space in your living room, so you really don't want to make the wrong choice.
Fear not, though, as we are here to help – before you succumb to crippling indecision, allow us to take you by the hand and lead you along the path to TV utopia.
We've run the rule over all the major 4K and 8K televisions we've tested to bring you the cream of the crop. If a TV is on this list, it's a bona fide belter, so you know you're getting top bang for your buck.
Towards the bottom of this page, below the specific TV recommendations, you'll also find our dedicated guide to choosing the right TV, but here's the abridged version.
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
- Hisense 43A4H:
$240$199 at Amazon (save $41) (opens in new tab)
- Hisense 50-inch QLED:
$530$300 at Amazon (save $230) (opens in new tab)
- 50-inch Samsung The Frame:
$1300$950 at Samsung (save $350) (opens in new tab)
- Hisense 50U6HF:
$530$300 at Amazon (save $230) (opens in new tab)
How to choose the best TV for you
There's a huge amount to consider when choosing a new TV, but the biggest things are the money and space that you have available.
Size really does matter with TVs. Are you looking for a movie theater-like experience in your living room? Then you need to get the biggest TV you can afford. If your budget is limited, it might even be worth sacrificing a little bit of picture quality and next-gen display tech for a few extra inches of screen real estate.
Alternatively, you might have a specific size of TV in mind and an appetite for the best picture quality available. In that case, you need to prioritize the display technology.
Without a doubt, OLED has become the premium TV technology of choice, thanks to its perfect blacks, extraordinary contrast and exceptional viewing angles. QLED, which combines LED (or Mini LED) backlighting with ultra-vibrant Quantum Dots, is a strong alternative, though, largely thanks to being capable of greater brightness and punchier colors. Standard LCD TVs (often, confusingly, sold as 'LED' TVs on account of their LED backlights) are more variable in overall quality but, if you shop carefully, can offer excellent bang for your buck.
Are you planning to combine your new TV with a dedicated sound system? You probably should, because most TVs sound passable at best, even at the high-end. But if you're determined to keep things neat and rely on the in-built speakers, check our reviews to make sure that they're good – there's no point in a great picture if the accompanying sound is terrible.
If you're a gamer, it's also worth considering the next-gen gaming features of your prospective new TV. Xbox Series X and PS5 gamers can gain a competitive advantage on certain games if their TV supports 4K 120Hz, while VRR support can result in a smoother gameplay experience. ALLM, meanwhile, simply ensures that you automatically get the best visual experience from both games and movies / TV shows. If you're a more casual gamer or not a gamer at all, you can pretty much disregard these features, and doing so will likely save you a lot of cash.
The best TVs you can buy
While there are certainly reasons that you might want to opt for a rival, LG's OLEDs have been the go-to premium TV of choice for most people for years now. That means there is huge anticipation for each year's new models – particularly those in the C-series, which have typically been the sweet spot between performance, features and price.
That said, last year saw a picture quality gap emerge between the C-series and the brighter G-series. There is a gap this year, too; this year’s C2 has the ‘Brightness Booster’ technology of last year’s G1, while the new G2 takes things to ‘Brightness Booster Max’ levels.
Having put both the G2 and C2 through their paces (and at a variety of sizes), we are happy to proclaim that while the G2 certainly justifies its position at the top of LG’s 2022 OLED range, the C2 is still the model that most people should buy.
While not as bright as the G2, the new C2 is brighter than all of last year's LG OLEDs. There is noticeably more punch to the whole image, which pops much more effectively, and there is significantly greater contrast and dark detail. Crucially, there’s no downside, either. There is nothing artificial to the image – it’s lifted, but naturally, with no detriment to the colors or black depth.
The C2’s punchier, more attacking delivery is a definite improvement over the C1, too, although there is also a slight rattle from the speaker cabinet when the set is challenged by very deep bass, which is a bit of a shame.
As is now expected of LG's premium OLEDs, the feature set is practically flawless, particularly where next-gen gaming is concerned.
Those with seriously discerning tastes and the budget with which to satisfy them will find it worth levelling up to the G2 or Sony’s A95K, but the C2 is the current bang-for-buck champ of 2022.
We've now tested the C2 at 42-inch, 65-inch and 77-inch sizes, and each version has been Award-winningly exceptional – even the 42-inch version which, along with the 48-inch model, goes a little less bright than the larger variants. You can read the full reviews and unlock the lowest prices for each version by clicking below.
Read the full LG OLED42C2 review
Read the full LG OLED65C2 review
Read the full LG OLED77C2 review
The X90J’s pictures aren’t exactly shy and retiring – and that’s fine by us. Exceptional amounts of brightness make it onto the screen with startling consistency, delivering some of the most flat-out punchy and bright HDR pictures we’ve ever seen on a 50-inch TV.
It’s not just brightness for brightness sake, either. Sony is unashamedly using it to deliver as uncompromising an HDR experience as it can within its backlight limitations. So daylight HDR scenes look more natural and realistically bright by far than they do on any other current TV in its size and class.
Even more impressively, the XR-50X90J has enough headroom with its brightness to ensure that the brightest highlights of already bright HDR images enjoy that extra step up in intensity that usually only the most premium TVs provide.
The price you pay for this superb brightness is slightly elevated black levels and occasional backlight blooming, but neither issue is a huge deal-breaker, and you can also add excellent motion processing, natural colors and decently dynamic sound to the list of the Sony's strong points.
It's also got two HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K at 120Hz and, since a software update, VRR.
Read the full Sony XR-50X90J review
QD-OLED, which is (broadly speaking) designed to blend the best qualities of both OLED and QLED, is finally here in the form of Sony’s A95K.
OLED has become the premium TV technology of choice thanks to its perfect blacks, pixel-level contrast control, near-perfect viewing angles, super-thin designs and increasingly aggressive pricing, and QD-OLED is expected to overcome its main limitation – brightness.
If you are therefore expecting the A95K to be vastly brighter than the best standard OLED TVs, you might be slightly disappointed. Side by side with LG's G2 (the brightest standard OLED available) there is little to choose between the two in terms of peak brightness.
But while the A95K isn't brighter than the brightest traditional OLED TV, it does deliver better bright highlights with subtle shades and colors that its non-QD-OLED rivals miss.
In less cultured hands, the added color vibrancy of QD-OLED’s Quantum Dots could lead to exaggerated vibrancy, but Sony’s careful, authenticity-led approach means the A95K is balanced and natural, and the fine detail, sharpness and three-dimensionality that its flagship 2021 OLEDs exhibited remains.
The bundled Bravia CAM – a camera that magnetically attaches to the rear of the set and peeks over the top of the screen – isn't terribly useful now and possibly never will be, but for picture quality the A95K is a star. It sounds great by TV standards too, thanks to its bespoke Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology, which utilizes actuators that imperceptibly vibrate the whole screen to make sound.
In short, for movies and TV shows, in SDR and HDR and at all resolutions, the Sony A95K is exceptional. Hardcore gamers, particularly those on Xbox Series X, will still be better served by an LG G2, which has more HDMI 2.1 sockets, a Dolby Vision game mode and an HGiG setting, but for everyone else this is, albeit by a relatively slim margin, the new gold standard.
Read the full Sony XR-55A95K review
For reasons unknown, Sony didn’t launch a new 48-inch OLED TV last year. Instead, 2020’s A9 (A9S in the US) was tasked with holding the fort against increasingly large ranks of rivals for almost two years.
Thankfully, relief is finally at hand in the form of the Sony XR-48A90K – Sony’s flagship OLED for those who don’t have the space for its new A95K QD-OLED (above), which isn’t available below 55 inches.
Has the A90K been worth the wait? And does it deliver a true flagship performance? It’s a resounding yes to both questions.
The 48-inch Sony A90K OLED is a force to be reckoned with. It might not quite have the flawless gaming feature set of an LG OLED, but it’s close, and a very good gaming TV in its own right, particularly if you’re a PS5 player.
Where the A90K is almost flawless is in its picture quality. We’ve never before tested a TV this size that’s this good, and while we’re yet to test the new 48-inch LG C2, it’s really going to have to go some to beat this Sony on pure picture quality.
Read the full Sony XR-48A90K review
While not a change that all buyers appreciated, LG decided in 2021 that its premium G-series OLED TVs needed more than just a fancier design to make them a compelling step-up alternative to the brand’s all-conquering C series.
So 2021’s G1 benefited from a new, higher brightness ‘Evo’ panel that the C1 did not get – and instantly did a much better job of justifying its higher price.
LG has continued this approach for 2022: while the new C2 does now have an Evo panel, the G2 boasts a new heat sink element that allows it to be driven even harder – or brighter, in other words – than its predecessor.
In short, if you want LG’s best 4K OLED TV in 2022, this is it.
The OLED65G2 is easily LG’s best OLED TV yet. Its sound is a solid improvement over LG’s 2021 built-in audio, while the extra brightness it achieves thanks to its new heat sink and accompanying new processor delivers nothing but positives, enriching everything from basic HD SDR to sparkling 4K HDR and the finest graphical wares of the latest gaming consoles and PCs. All without anything looking forced or like ‘brightness for brightness sake’.
The extent of the improvements over the new C2 panel is more gentle than dramatic, perhaps raising questions for many about whether the OLED65G2 is worth $700 more than the OLED65C2. The cost issue is even more worthy of thought if you’re not wall-mounting and will therefore need to budget for the optional stand.
While not truly extreme, though, the OLED65G2’s advantages are not only easy for anyone to see, but crucially lift pretty much every image frame to a higher level. So if you’re an enthusiast who just can’t rest unless you know you’re getting the best home theater experience available, the OLED65G2 is going to be seriously hard to resist.
Read the full LG OLED65G2 review
In any sane AV world, we’d be lauding the Samsung S95B as the world’s first Quantum Dot OLED TV. After all, Samsung basically invented the technology. Yet in the end it was actually Sony that gave us our first QD-OLED TV in the glorious form of the A95K.
Samsung has marked the arrival of its first QD OLED TV with quite the design statement. The S95B really is incredibly thin over the vast majority of its rear – just a couple of millimetres deep, in fact.
Connectivity is impressive. In particular, all four of the provided HDMI ports are true 2.1 affairs that are able to handle 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM, and there's an HGiG mode for better HDR accuracy with games. Dolby Vision isn't supported, of course, for gaming or for movie content.
The S95B boasts phenomenal contrast. On the one hand it instantly delivers the sort of immaculate, ultra deep blacks long associated with the best of the OLED world, while on the other it delivers levels of brightness – both in small highlights and, even more noticeably, across the whole screen – that we haven’t seen before on any regular OLED TV. Including LG’s brilliant new G2 series. It 'pops' more than the Sony A95K, too.
Basically Samsung, as usual, seems more prepared than its rivals to take the brakes off, and while that means it's not quite as subtle and accurate as the best sets here (skin tones in particular look a bit off at times), it does provide unparalleled thrills. It sounds surprisingly decent, too, given the super-thin chassis, though bass is rather lacking and you'd be wise to partner a picture this good with sound that matches via a soundbar or home theater system.
Read the full Samsung QE65S95B review
While LCD is no longer Samsung’s only TV technology, the brand clearly still puts it at the heart of its TV world. So much so that Samsung’s 2022 flagship LCD TVs are positioned higher in the brand’s range than its new QD-OLED model.
Also, more usefully for the mainstream TV market, Samsung’s ongoing LED backlighting focus sees it prepared to extend its uncompromising LCD approach down to even relatively small screen sizes, such as the 50-inch QN90B.
While a certain type of AV fan will always be drawn to the greater light stability and pixel-level light control you get with OLED TVs, the QN90B’s combination of higher HDR-friendly brightness, peerless (by LCD standards) light controls and impressive image flexibility ensures it has more than enough charms of its own to make a convincing case for itself. Especially for people looking for a TV able to take on a bright room environment.
Read the full Samsung QN50QN90B review
Samsung’s second generation of Mini LED TVs, as represented here by the QN95B, arrives with the weight of serious expectation on its shoulders. Can it improve on the already high standards we saw in 2021? And does it hold its own against the ever-swelling ranks of premium OLED-based opposition? It's a resounding yes on both counts.
The QN95B produces the finest picture quality we’ve ever seen from a 4K LCD TV. In fact, if you’re into the sort of brightness levels and color volumes that are currently exclusively the domain of high-end LCD TVs, it’s the finest picture quality of any TV, period.
The set also looks beautiful, it has a standalone OneConnect box for connections that can be attached to or detached from the TV as desired, gaming features are plentiful, sound is decent and the operating system, while less user-friendly than before, is second-to-none for streaming service apps.
So while we remain rather baffled at this point by Samsung’s oddly noncommittal approach to its new and very impressive QD-OLED TV above, on the evidence of the QN95B it’s easy to see why it has no intention of quitting on Mini LED any time soon.
Read the full Samsung QE65QN95B review
The QN900B is Samsung’s flagship TV for 2022. A situation it justifies in all sorts of ways, but most notably with an 8K resolution, a premium metallic design that features speakers built into its edges, a high-end implementation of Samsung’s Mini LED backlighting technology, and specialist AI-supported picture processing.
Samsung has thrown a confusing spanner in the works once again by making its latest 8K high-end TV even better, by a margin, than its excellent 4K flagship for 2022 (the QN95B above). In fact, the QN900B is a truly spectacular viewing experience that continues what feels like an annual Samsung theme of redefining what we consider LCD TVs to be capable of.
The lack of actual 8K content remains a serious issue, of course, but the QN900B makes 4K look sharper and more detailed than it does from any native 4K TV, putting its extra pixels to good use even in the pre-8K age. It goes brighter than any other TV we've tested, too.
Add the usual Samsung gaming features and streaming smarts, plus a truly gorgeous design, and you've got a TV worthy of serious consideration regardless of whether native 8K content ever materializes.
Read the full Samsung QE75QN900B review
We rate products on a performance-per-dollar 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.
On that metric, the A80J is a stunner. This step-down model in Sony’s 2021 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 turned out to be one of the very best TVs you can buy.
While not quite as bright and punchy as its flagship sibling, it's not far off, and that means it's still capable of producing more impactful highlights than rivals such as the LG C1. It's just as sharp and detailed as the A90J, too, which makes it an incredibly crisp and three-dimensional performer. What's most impressive is how the A80J combines the spectacular with the natural and authentic – no other TV available right now, bar the A90J, delivers on creative intent as faithfully.
The A80J has a 30W Acoustic Surface Audio+ sound system, which uses actuators to vibrate the screen in order to create sound. It means the audio is tied to visuals in a way that TVs from other manufacturers can't match. The sound is also weightier and more spacious than that produced by similarly priced rivals, and there's impressive punch and dynamic range on offer, too.
Read the full Sony XR-55A80J 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 now. In 2021 LG 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.
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, particularly when the niche design and weaker sound are taken into account.
Ultimately, in bang-for-buck terms, the C1 is the better buy. In fact, it's one of the very best TVs available right now.
We've now tested the C1 in its 65-inch and 48-inch sizes, and both are equally brilliant. While we can't say it with total assuredness, we would expect the 55-inch and 77-inch models to be equally strong.
Read the full LG OLED65C1 review
Read the full LG OLED48C1 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 took OLED picture performance to new, thrilling levels when it launched in 2021, while maintaining the authenticity for which Sony is justifiably renowned. It also sounds significantly better than all of the other TVs you're likely 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.
Do check out the A80J above before handing over your money, as it offers much of (but not all) the A90J's excellence at a significantly lower price. However, if your pockets are deep and your tastes discerning, you won't regret spending the extra on this flagship beauty, which we've now tested in both its 55-inch and 65-inch guises.
Read the full Sony XR-55A90J review
Read the full Sony XR-65A90J review
Traditionally speaking, the C-class model is the sensible choice of each new LG OLED range. Until 2021, it was 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 wouldn't get a better visual performance.
For 2021, though, LG introduced a new ‘OLED Evo’ panel that promised increased brightness and sharpness, and to get the Evo panel you had to step up to the G1. That was slightly disappointing because you also ended 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 cash, the G1 is undoubtedly the best OLED LG of the 2021 range, taking the picture performance of 2020's GX and CX and improving 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. Do, however, also consider the new C2, which has the brightness of the G1 in a more traditional chassis, and the G2, which is a further step-up in picture performance.
We tested the G1 in its 65-inch size. It's also available as a 55-inch and 77-inch model.
Read the full LG OLED65G1 review
If you’re looking for something small for a bedroom or perhaps even to fit out a motorhome or camper, then this budget Roku TV-powered TCL may be just the size and price you need.
You won’t find much smaller or cheaper from a recognized manufacturer and, in TCL, you’re getting a TV from a maker that’s on the up.
The software comes in partnership with Roku, whose operating system provides the platform for all the settings and controls as well the apps and service, while the hardware is TCL. This rock-bottom price only gets you 720p resolution, but that could be all you need.
While there are a lot of cheap TV pitfalls, TCL has done well to avoid most of them. The backlighting is even, the picture is balanced and the sound is clear enough. Its colors lack subtlety and its motion handling is pretty poor but, for the very small size and price, this is a good option.
Read the full TCL 32S335 review
How we test TVs
How we test TVs
Testing a TV is a long and complex process because a modern TV simply does so much. Not only does it need to handle a variety of content resolutions – standard-def, 1080p, 4K and sometimes 8K – and both standard dynamic range and high dynamic range (the latter in a number of formats), all of which need to be specifically tested, is also has a sound system with various advanced settings and a full smart platform. A TV is all-in-one devices in the best sense, but that also makes it a challenging review proposition.
As part of our testing process we manually check that every major app – from Netflix to Hulu, Prime Video to Spotify – is not only present, but also outputting in the video and sound formats that it should. Just because there's a Disney+ app doesn't necessarily mean it's working in Dolby Vision and/or Dolby Atmos. In fact, in many recent cases it hasn't been.
We also connect both a PS5 and Xbox Series X in order to establish which advanced gaming features are and aren't supported, and on which of the TV's HDMI ports. Is 4K 120Hz supported? How about VRR? Is there a Dolby Vision game mode? Is there an HGiG preset for more accurate HDR tone mapping? We check all of these things, and measure input lag using a Leo Bodnar device.
We then test the TV's picture quality using a huge variety of content, from old DVDs to the latest 4K Blu-rays and plenty of streamed movies and TV shows in between. Every TV is tested against the best model at its price and size – we have a stockroom packed full of Award-winners for this very purpose.
We don't accept the out-of-the-box settings that a TV comes in either. While we intentionally don't go down the route of professional calibration (you shouldn't have to have your TV professionally calibrated in order to get the best out of it), we do spend hours adjusting settings using a mixture of test patterns and real-world content until we're sure we're getting the best out of a TV so that it has the best chance to shine.
While we almost always advise that a new TV is combined with a dedicated sound system such as a soundbar or AV amplifier, many people still prefer to stick with their flatscreen's built-in speakers, so we thoroughly test these too, using a wide variety of movie and music content and with great attention spent to the TV's many processing modes and individual settings.
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London, Bath and Reading, where our team of expert reviewers do all of our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. What's more, all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the best products to feature in our Best Buys. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.
How to choose a TV
What size TV should you buy?
While it might be tempting to think that bigger is better, the size of set that’s right for you is closely dependent on how close to the screen you’ll be sitting, and the resolution of the source material you’re watching.
Luckily, an organisation called SMPTE (which stands for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) has published detailed guidelines on exactly how far you should sit in order to optimize the performance of your TV.
If you’re sitting the correct distance from your TV, you’ll see lots of detail, good edge definition and smooth, clean motion, but if you’re sitting too close to the screen, then you’re going to see more picture noise and artefacts.
On the other hand, sit too far away from the TV and you’ll struggle to pick up all the picture detail your TV has to offer.
The following distances are a good place to start:
- 65-inch TV – minimum 98 inches (Full HD) or 83 inches (4K)
- 50-52-inch TV – minimum 87 inches (Full HD) or 67 inches (4K)
- 46-inch TV – minimum 75 inches (Full HD) or 59 inches (4K)
- 40-42-inch TV – minimum 67 inches (Full HD) or 51 inches (4K)
- 32-inch TV – minimum 51 inches (Full HD)
Should you buy a 4K or Full HD TV?
This question is pretty much moot now, as the vast majority of TVs are now 4K. It's actually rather hard to find Full HD (1080p) models, even at relatively small sizes.
If you're buying a TV below 32 inches and can save a lot of money on a Full HD model, by all means go for it (4K won't be a huge benefit at that sort of size anyway), but otherwise 4K is both worthwhile and, in all likelihood, your only option.
Should you buy an 8K TV?
You can now buy 8K TVs from a number of brands, including Samsung, LG and Sony. It's arguably Samsung that has lead the way, and our favourite 8K TV so far is the excellent QN75QN900A.
It's important to note, though, that almost no native 8K content is available. If you buy an 8K TV and want to show of its ridiculously high resolution, you'll have to do so using nature, scenery and space footage from YouTube. At this stage, no streaming services have even hinted at launching 8K content, and it seems unlikely that an 8K disc format will ever materialize.
For those reasons, it's hard to recommend that most people pay the extra for an 8K TV at this stage. That said, if you've got deep pockets and want to be as ready as possible for the potential 8K content of the future, there's no real harm in going for an 8K TV now, particularly as models such as the Samsung QN900A make current 4K content look better than ever.
Should you buy an HDR TV?
High Dynamic Range is without a doubt a much bigger deal than 8K, and certainly something you should consider before buying your next TV.
Essentially, the higher the dynamic range (brightness and colors), the more lifelike the picture. HDR offers greater subtlety and depth of gradations of colors, plus stronger contrast.
There are various types of HDR out there, and with different TV brands backing different variants, it can be a minefield trying to find the best option. Allow us to explain.
First up is HDR10, which is essentially the core HDR format that every HDR TV should support.
HDR10 is a static HDR format that applies the HDR values on a scene-by-scene basis (i.e. whenever the camera cuts to a new scene). Dolby Vision, on the other hand, applies this image information (called metadata) on a frame-by-frame basis. This dynamic form of HDR, when implemented properly, has the potential to improve upon the standard HDR10 presentation.
HDR10+ is a rival format to Dolby Vision. Created by Samsung, it also uses dynamic metadata but, whereas Dolby Vision is licensed, HDR10+ is a free, open format that any company can deploy as it sees fit.
Of these two 'dynamic' HDR formats, Dolby Vision is by far the most prevalent, both in terms of TVs and content, and if you have to choose between one and the other, that's the one we'd recommend. That said, you can now buy TVs from the likes of Philips and Panasonic that support both Dolby Vision and HDR10+.
Finally in our rundown of HDR formats is HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which was developed specifically for broadcasting by the BBC and Japan's NHK. In the UK, HLG is used to deliver all of the HDR content offered by the BBC and Sky, but it's less widespread in the US, with DirecTV really the only major player that's adopted the format.
What TV inputs and outputs do you need?
These days, it's all about HDMI, which is used to connect everything from set-top boxes to video streamers, Blu-ray players to games consoles. Thanks to ARC/eARC (Audio Return Channel / Enhanced Audio Return Channel), a single HDMI connection can even be used to output sound to an AV receiver or soundbar at the same time as it receives a video signal.
Currently, three HDMI connections is standard on budget and mid-range TVs, while four is the norm for premium models.
The specification of the HDMI connections tends to differ depending on the price of the TV, too, with premium models now commonly getting at least one or two HDMI 2.1 sockets. These have greater bandwidth than their HDMI 2.0 counterparts and can support advanced formats such as 4K@120Hz and 8K@60Hz. Fancy gaming features such as Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate are often supported via HDMI 2.1 sockets, too, though not always. It's sensible to check the specs thoroughly if there are particular features you're after.
After HDMIs, USB ports are the most abundant on modern TVs. You can use these to keep devices charged (often particularly useful for stick- or dongle-style video streamers), and some TVs allow the connection of flash drives and hard drives for the recording of live TV content.
Other useful connections include optical and stereo outputs, which can be used in lieu of HDMI ARC to connect legacy audio equipment. Headphone outputs are still fairly common, too, though Bluetooth is also supported by most TVs now and Samsung TVs in fact now feature the latter but not the former.
Lastly, while some TVs feature composite inputs (often via an adapter), most – even at the budget end – have phased out legacy connections such as SCART. So those clinging on to old video cassette recorders, for example, should be aware of that.
Which smart features and TV streaming apps are worth having?
As with 4K, it's now hard to buy a TV that doesn't have a smart platform packed with streaming apps. Almost every TV will have Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on board, and Disney+ is fast approaching a similar level of ubiquity. Apple TV (which is great for pay-as-you-go movies as well as the Apple TV+ subscription service) is becoming increasingly common, too.
Beyond those, you're going to want to look out for services such as HBO Max, Hulu, Paramount+ and Peacock, with priority given to those services to which you already subscribe.
Should you buy an OLED, QLED or LCD TV?
LCD TVs, which require a backlight usually made up of white LEDs to show a picture on the LCD panel, are available in a wide variety of screen sizes and, thanks in part to the technology's low cost of production, at affordable prices.
OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a panel technology that uses self-emissive particles – so there's no need for a backlight. This allows OLED TVs to be unbelievably slim, while also offering convincing pitch-dark blacks, strong contrast and superb viewing angles. LG and Sony are the big brands with OLED TVs in their line-ups and, broadly speaking, they're excellent.
QLED (Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diode), meanwhile, is Samsung’s response to OLED. A QLED TV is an LCD TV but with a quantum dot coating over the backlight. However, the quantum dots (tiny semiconductor particles) in current QLEDs do not emit their own light. So QLED TVs, like conventional LCDs, rely on a backlight. The advantages of a QLED TV? You tend to get brilliantly vibrant colors, plus bright, sharp and crisply detailed images. Samsung's QLEDs have got better and better over the years, existing as a fine alternative to OLEDs TVs. Interestingly, though, Samsung is set to launch its own OLED TVs in 2022.