The TVs category is always one of, if not the, most hotly contested in our annual Awards – and 2020 is no different.
Thematically, this has been a year of refinement for OLED, undeniably the category's dominant technology. That might sound somewhat unexciting but, with almost every manufacturer focusing vast resources on squeezing every last drop of performance out of the same LG-made panels, the overall standard is superb and the very best are extraordinarily good.
That brings us to the elephant in the room: our list of Award-winners is conspicuously lacking in LG TVs. That's a surprise for two reasons – not only does LG manufacture all of the OLED panels that other manufacturers use, this is also the first year it's failed to win a What Hi-Fi? TV Award since 2014.
It's not as if LG has dropped the ball this year, either, because its 2020 models have been brilliant. It's simply that it has been trumped – by Philips in the 55-inch and 65-inch sizes, and by Sony in the new 48-inch size.
Philips' wins for the 55OLED805 (above) and 65OLED805 will come as a surprise to some, but the company has produced some of the very best OLED models of the last few years and likely would have won previously if the company hadn't rushed software-incomplete samples to us for consideration. This year, it got proper, finished TVs to us in plenty of time, and its reward is two What Hi-Fi? Awards.
Almost as surprising is the win for the Sony KD-48A9, only the second 48-inch OLED to ever grace our test rooms. Having been blown away by the performance of the LG OLED48CX, we found it hard to imagine that the even more expensive Sony A9 could possibly justify the extra outlay, but that's exactly what it's done. This is a truly stunning TV that's worth every penny of its asking price. In fact, it's the best sub-50-inch TV there's ever been.
This is also the year that 8K TVs have started to come of age, with 2020 being the first year that we've handed out a Best 8K TV Award. It's true that native 8K content is still almost non-existent, but the winning Samsung QE75Q950TS (above) provides access to the small library of 8K that is available, is ready for the inevitable wave that will eventually come, and in the meantime makes 4K look better than ever.
In all of the 8K and OLED excitement, we've certainly not forgotten good old 4K or LCD. We review on a performance-per-pound basis after all, and nothing is more Awards-worthy than a stunning value proposition, and each of our three other Samsung winners are just that.
The Samsung UE55TU8000 (above) is probably the most noteworthy. It's astonishing that that a 55-inch TV of this quality can be bought for under £500. The 50-inch UE50TU8500 might seem like a comparatively poor deal, seeing as it's smaller for the same price, but it is in fact an even better TV in some ways. The UE43TU7100's Award, meanwhile, is Samsung's reward for the rare effort it puts into the smallest and most affordable TVs in its range. Rival manufacturers should take note.
Samsung isn't alone in offering seriously good value TVs, though, and if you're looking for a very large, very well specified and very accomplished TV at an excellent price, the Sony KD-65XH9005 (above) is the TV to buy. This mid-range battleground is fiercely fought over, and Sony beat impressive rivals from Samsung and Panasonic to take the top spot here.
Only one Best Buy in each category can win a distinguished Product of the Year Award, which will be announced on Thursday 5th November – so which will it be? In the last few years it's gone to a 55-inch OLED, but this is the first year we've had a 48-inch OLED in contention, and the first year we've had an 8K Award-winner. Or it could go to one of the more affordable models on account of its performance-per-pound brilliance. In short, they're all in with a shout, and it's not long now until the winner is crowned.