The Super Bowl is coming, and this year will be the first-ever broadcast in 4K and HDR, meaning it might be time to grab a shiny new 4K HDR TV.
But don’t worry, you still have time, and we’ve rounded up the best models out there. We’ll skip the details and get right to the point:is the best 4K TV for sheer value and performance you can buy. If the C9 isn’t for you, though, we have some great alternatives that should satisfy any shopper on the hunt for a great 4K display.
Best 4K TVs At A Glance
Why you should buy this: It has a fantastic OLED screen, is brimming with smarts, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Who’s it for: Anyone who wants top-notch picture quality and can afford the price.
Why we picked the 65-inch LG C9 4K OLED TV:
Before we dive into what makes the 65-inch LG C9-Series so great, let’s take a moment to familiarize ourselves with OLED. First, the basics: OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. An OLED TV is made up of millions of individual OLEDs — known as pixels — which work together to form the image on the screen.
OLED TVs have a number of advantages over QLED, a competing screen tech popularized by Samsung. It has a better viewing angle, can reach the darkest shade of black, and uses a lot less power.
The 65-inch C9-Series is the top 4K TV on our list for one primary reason: It blends cutting-edge imaging with an amazing feature set and offers a relatively modest price tag attached. Keep in mind that this is an OLED, though, so it’s not exactly cheap.
With a premium display, you’d expect the C9 to be crammed full of all the basic tools found on the best 4K TVs, and it is. There’s a great 4K Upscaler for turning HD content into 4K Ultra HD, as well as support for the leading HDR standards, including Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma, and HDR10.
It’s also decked out with the firm’s versatile webOS smart software, which is home to a myriad of premium live TV and on-demand streaming services, like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, CBS All Access, AT&T TV Now, HBO Go, Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV — making a set-top box, streaming stick, or anything of the sort unnecessary for a lot of people.
The 65-inch C9-Series will undoubtedly sit at the center of your living room, functioning as the infotainment hub for the entire household. As such, LG has armed it both Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and its own in-house voice assistant, so you can control both the television and the other smart appliances in your home using nothing but your voice.
Here’s a look at the myriad of commands it is capable of executing:
- “Play Orange Is The New Black on Netflix.”
- “Switch over to HDMI 2.”
- “Set the Nest Thermostat to 67 degrees.”
- “Tell the Roomba to vacuum the kitchen.”
- Turn off after this episode of The Good Place.
Finally, the C9 is fantastic for gaming. That’s true not only because of its incredible OLED screen and 120Hz panel, but also thanks to an update that includes both Freesync and G-Sync, Adaptive Refresh Technology (ART) that help to smoothe out gameplay thanks to reduced input lag and a refresh rate that adapts to (or “syncs”) with that of your gaming device.
In short, you can’t miss with the LG C9.
Why you should buy this: It’s the cheapest quality 65-inch 4K TV you’ll find, comes bundled with Roku OS, and looks incredible.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a big screen on a budget.
Why we picked the 65-inch TCL 6-Series 4K Roku TV:
TCL’s 6-Series has been a favorite of ours since it debuted. Every year, it gets a bit better, with new features and faster performance. In 2019, TCL added quantum dot technology to the display for even better color accuracy. As a QLED TV, the new 6-Series boasts a brighter and more colorful on-screen image than ever before, yet it maintains the affordability that helped earn it high praise in previous years.
Sticking around for this year are all of the features that make the 6-Series a great buy: The built-in Roku TV experience is one of the best smart TV platforms you can find, with unparalleled ease of use, thousands of apps for every streaming service you can think of, and a smartphone app that adds lots of extra conveniences.
Pair that with a stunning 65-inch 4K screen and multi-format HDR (including Dolby Vision and HDR10) and the result is a must-have affordable 4K TV that can tap into a near-endless catalog of HD and 4K content from the likes of everything from Amazon Prime Video and Netflix to the least known services you can find.
The fun doesn’t end there, though. The 6-Series is also armed with a voice control feature of its own. Instead of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, it’s armed with Roku’s in-house alternative. True, you won’t be able to control other devices in your home, but you can do what matters: Track down shows, change the volume, and much more.
Let’s take a peek at some of the instructions you can shout its way:
- “Find Chernobyl“.
- “Reduce the volume by 30%.”
- “Play Stranger Things on Netflix.”
- “Turn on ABC News.”
- “Switch over to HDMI 3.”
Why you should buy this: It’s the most impressive picture quality we’ve ever seen.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for the best OLED experience money can buy.
Why we picked the 65-inch Sony Master Series A9G 4K TV:
The 65-inch Sony Master Series A9G 4K TV is the best 4K TV for movies, and frankly, it’s the best TV we’ve ever seen, taking advantage of the firm’s trademark X1 Ultimate imaging processor to deliver best-in-class HDR. It’s a worthy successor to the previous A9 model, the A9F.
It’s through a close relationship with Dolby and IMAX that Sony has been able to push the envelope when it comes to 4K HDR. The A9G is one of the few TVs to ship with IMAX Enhanced, a form of HDR that optimizes Hollywood movies to provide accurate color, dazzling detail, and fantastic contrast, just as the director intended.
That’s all well and good if the movie you’re watching has been encoded with HDR, but what happens when you’re reminiscing with a classic? Well, the aforementioned X1 Ultimate processor will take care of that, upscaling it to a 4K Ultra HD resolution, with remastering thrown into the mix for an HDR effect.
You may have heard that LG’s OLED TVs and Sony OLED TVs use the same OLED panel, so why would you want to pay more for the Sony? Simple: Sony’s picture processing is better than LG’s. The LG C9-Series may get a bit brighter, but it can’t top the A9G for detail and color accuracy, both of which are superb.
The glorious images are only part of the story, however. We don’t think a TV this great should be viewed without an equally good sound system, but if that’s not going to happen, you might be surprised to learn the A9G also sounds great too, thanks to Sony’s clever technique of turning the screen itself into a speaker. The result is dialogue that sounds as though it is coming directly from actors’ mouths. Even if you have a full 5.1 or 7.1 home theater system, you may want to swap out your center channel for the A9G’s built-in speaker — something you can do using the included speaker terminals on the back.
You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something to watch, be it in 4K HDR, 4K Ultra HD, or even Full HD. That’s because the Master Series A9G comes with Google’s Android TV OS on board — a one-stop-shop for all the leading streaming services, such as Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, DirecTV, Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV.
It’s uncommon to find an Android device that hasn’t been infused with Google Assistant, and the Master Series A9G is no exception. It lets you control both the television itself and the rest of the smart-connected hardware in your home, like a Nest Thermostat, using your voice.
Why you should buy this: Available in huge sizes and with awesome off-angle viewing, it’s the best QLED TV you can get.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a premium 4K TV, but especially for those who want a very big screen.
Why we picked the 65-inch Samsung Q90R-Series 4K QLED TV:
Watching sports, perhaps more than any other TV content tends to be a group experience, especially around major events like the Super Bowl. The Samsung Q90R handles this task better than most other TVs because of its excellent viewing angles — the widest in a QLED TV — and its sheer size. Unlike other TVs on this list, the Q90R comes in 65-, 75-, and 82-inch sizes, giving you the biggest array of options for powering your own private viewing party.
If you want to make your TV the centerpiece of your shrine to sports (and really if you’re going to buy an 82-inch TV, why wouldn’t you?), Samsung makes it easy. The company sells a special flush mount for the Q90R that lets it hang on a wall with virtually no clearance at all. Combine that with the Q90R’s remarkable detached input hub, and all you have to worry about is one tiny, nearly invisible cable running to the TV. No special power or in-wall wiring needed.
It’s also an excellent TV for other content, even besting Sony and LG’s OLED panels on one unusual but well-known test of a TV’s abilities: The grueling Game Of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 3, The Long Night test. “This episode, which many found unviewable when it aired, looked the best we’ve seen yet on the Q90R,” noted our reviewer Caleb Denison.
The Q90R gets impressively bright, while still maintaining the best black levels this side of OLED. If you’re looking for your favorite teams to pop from the field, you won’t be disappointed.
If there’s one drawback to the Q90R, it’s Samsung’s ongoing refusal to add Dolby Vision as a supported HDR format. Now that services like Amazon Prime Video and Google Play are beginning to support Dolby Vision’s chief rival, the Samsung-backed HDR10+, it’s less of an issue, but one you should be aware of.
Research and Buying Tips
The answer to that depends on many factors, including your stylistic preferences, the size of the room, and how far away you’ll be sitting. Take a look at our guide to choosing the perfect size for you.
That depends on the TV but as a general rule of thumb: The better (and more expensive) the TV, the better the upscaling.
OLED brightness has come a long way, but QLED TVs like the Samsung Q90R still perform better in bright environments.
Almost all new TVs are 4K, so there are plenty of fantastic options to choose from at the lower end of the pricing scale. Don’t expect a standard LED TV to rival an OLED, though — set your expectations accordingly.
Yes, so long as your computer has an HDMI output. Adapters can be used for other output types but frequently do not pass along audio. Keep in mind, however, if you’re connecting a 4K TV to a PC for gaming purposes, make sure it supports variable refresh rate (VRR) and is compatible with your PC’s gaming technology, like Nvidia G-Sync. Otherwise, certain games might not look very good.
Most modern TVs can be paired with Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant through either an Amazon Echo, Fire TV, or Google Home. Some televisions even have them built-in, eliminating the need for an external smart speaker.
Right now, there are no TVs that have Siri built-in. Those that support AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, however, can be controlled using Siri on an iOS device, such as an iPad, iPhone, or iPod, as well as a Mac.
OLED TVs are the only type of 4K TVs that have the potential to suffer from burn-in, though it’s incredibly uncommon. It’s not really something for average consumers to worry about anymore.
How We Test 4K TVs
We begin each model year by bringing in the top-tier televisions from each of the major brands, including Samsung, Sony, LG, and others. These premium televisions help set the highest standard for the year, managing expectations for each model below them, and providing context among the competitors.
We begin testing by setting up each TV in a completely dark room and adjusting its picture settings using tools and methods readily available to consumers — just like you might do at home. From there, we use a series of test patterns and familiar content, from streaming services to Ultra HD Blu-ray to over-the-air (OTA) TV, to judge each TV’s performance characteristics, including color production, motion resolution, black levels, backlight influence, brightness, HDR quality, and detail resolution.
Once we’ve analyzed a TV’s picture quality, we move on to elements that affect the user experience, including each set’s smart TV interface, user settings interface, remote control, external device recognition and control, and other essential touchpoints.
When possible, we’ll place two competing models side by side to provide additional context for the pros and cons that each TV exhibits. Finally, we make a determination as to which type of user a TV might appeal to. For instance, some TVs provide better bright-room performance, while others are better for dedicated home theater performance. Some are better for sports, while others are better for watching movies or playing games.
In short, we make a thorough evaluation to determine not only which TVs offer the best picture quality, but those that offer the best overall user experience. After all, you’ll be living with your new TV for years to come, and using it should be a joy, not a pain.
Read our complete test methodology for more information.
Glossary of Terms
Here’s a rundown of some of the most common terms associated with today’s TV technology.
4K Ultra HD
This refers to a display resolution that is four times that of 1080p HD. A 4K Ultra HD TV’s pixel resolution is a 3,840 x 2,160 grid in a 16:9 aspect ratio, resulting in nearly 8.3 million pixels. This increase in density adds striking detail and realism to an image and allows larger screens to be viewed from closer distances without individual pixels becoming visible.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
High dynamic range is probably most familiar to people through the HDR mode on their digital cameras. It’s designed to deliver a picture that has greater details in the shadows and highlights, plus a wider range of colors. HDR in televisions pursues the same goal. The color palette is wider, blacks are deeper, and whites are brighter. Presently, there are two major HDR formats: HDR10 and Dolby Vision, with a third — HDR10+ — beginning to show up on new models. The first is the HDR standard, but Dolby Vision offers a premium experience. Consider a TV that supports both. HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) is another recent addition to the HDR collection, which supports over-the-air (OTA) broadcast content with HDR.
Full-Array Local Dimming (FALD)
This refers to an LED TV’s backlighting system. A FALD display contains an array of LEDs spread out in a grid behind an LCD panel, rather than just at the edges of the TV. This LED array is broken up into zones that can be dimmed when necessary to achieve better black levels. Another benefit is more uniform brightness across the screen.
Wide Color Gamut (WCG)
These are the expanded color reproduction abilities of a 4K Ultra HD TV, which are closer than ever to what we see in a digital cinema. By approaching the Digital Cinema Initiative’s P3 color specification, a 4K UHD TV can produce billions of more colors than a 1080p HD TV.
A layer of film loaded with tiny nano-crystal semiconductors that is placed in a TV’s display panel to help produce a wider array of colors. Quantum dots work by altering the light coming from a TV’s backlighting system before it is passed through the TV’s color filter.
An alternative to Quantum Dots, phosphor-coated LEDs have a chemical coating to alter the light’s output. When used in a TV, this results in a purer backlight that’s more easily manipulated by a TV’s color filter, resulting in a wide color gamut and increased color accuracy.
This stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. In an OLED display, the pixels also produce their own light, eliminating the need for an additional LED backlight, making OLED screens super thin. They also tend to exhibit better black levels and color accuracy than LED TVs. For more information, see our OLED versus LED article.
HDMI 2.0b and HDMI 2.1
HDMI 2.1 is the latest version of the HDMI spec, however, it is only just beginning to show up on new TVs in 2020. TVs made and sold in 2019 typically use the older 2.0b specification. If you own a 4K TV that uses 2.0b, don’t worry: There’s no reason why it shouldn’t offering fantastic performance for years to come. If, however, you’re thinking of buying a new TV and want to be absolutely future-proofed, choose one that has HDMI 2.1. Here is a full explainer of all the new features HDMI 2.1 will support.
The latest version of the High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection technology, which provides copy prevention specifically of 4K Ultra HD content. Any source device that requires HDCP 2.2 will require a 4K Ultra HD TV with an HDCP 2.2-compliant HDMI port for a compatible connection.
Stands for “High-Efficiency Video Coding.” A new compression technology developed to make large 4K UHD video files smaller and, therefore, easier to stream over broadband Internet connections. HEVC is said to double the data compression ratio over H.264, the predominant encoding technology used today for 1080p videos while retaining the same video quality. A smart TV or streaming set-top box must be able to decode HEVC in order to play back 4K Ultra HD video from sites like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.
An alternative to HEVC developed by Google and used predominantly for encoding 4K Ultra HD YouTube videos. In order for a smart TV or streaming set-top box to play back 4K Ultra HD YouTube videos, it must be able to decode VP9 videos.