The biggest event of the footballing calendar is almost upon us, and if you’re sat at home staring listlessly at your tired old TV wondering why you can’t watch England’s road to World Cup glory in style, then maybe it’s time for a new one.
With 2018 TVs from LG, Samsung, Panasonic and Sony beginning to appear in stores, what’s on offer can start to look a little pricey. But fortunately there are still a handful of 2017 TVs at bargain prices just looking for a good home.
Whether you’re a football super-fan with every sports channel going or you simply want a TV that shines no matter what you’re watching, then there are a few things you need to watch out for.
Picture and sound quality are obvious, but what else does a TV need to make it the perfect set for watching England triumph in Russia?
Impressive in every way, these are the best TVs we’ve tested.
The importance of viewing angle
The World Cup is the perfect excuse to get your mates round. Having four or five chums gathered round the TV with salty popcorn and a Peroni is a great idea, but if you get there late and end up sat on the lonely armchair at the side of the room you’re not going to get the best picture.
With some TVs the difference is negligible, but our testing has found sets where the colours look washed out when you’re sat just 30 degrees from the centre of the screen. The contrast takes a hit in this situation, too – dark scenes will look grey and the picture will tend to look overly bright.
You can avoid all this by choosing the right TV, since some maintain a consistent picture quality even when you’re watching at an angle. If you can, try and arrange your room so that everyone’s sat as close to the centre of the TV as possible.
All our TV reviews have a star rating for viewing angle, so when you buy you’re next set you can make sure it won’t be an issue.
What size TV should I buy?
A big one, a small one, one that’s somewhere in the middle? Manufacturers are pushing more towards larger sets with 55-inch screens or even bigger, and that means we’re seeing fewer smaller sets every year.
32-inch sets now make up a tiny portion of LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony’s output, and 43- to 49-inch TVs are going the same way. As the number of options dwindles, a larger TV may be your only option. But big TVs aren’t the unsightly behemoths they used to be – modern models are sleek, with minimal bases and practically non-existent bezels.
To see what size TV your living room can accommodate, use our free TV size tool and see the best TVs at the size you need.
Should I buy a 4K TV for the World Cup?
We don’t know for sure if either the BBC or ITV will stream games in 4K, but there have been positive signs. The BBC has trialed 4K footage on iPlayer, most recently with a rugby game. If you’re feeling optimistic, and given England’s typical World Cup form we’d forgive you if you weren’t, then the BBC just might stream a few games in 4K and HDR.
However, even if we do get lucky there’s no getting away from the fact that 4K content can be difficult to come by, so is it really worth investing in a 4K set, particularly if you’re happy with HD quality? To find out, we compared how both Full HD and 4K TVs rate in our in-depth tests when it comes to displaying HD-quality content.
As you can see, there’s a good argument that if you’re buying a new TV then it should be 4K whether you can watch the World Cup in ultra-high definition or not. Our testing has found that 4K TVs are better at displaying HD content than HD TVs across a range of sizes. With more 4K content arriving from streaming services and the price of Best Buy TVs dropping all the time, there’s no reason not to buy one the next time you upgrade.
Take a browse through some of the most impressive with our pick of the best 4K TVs.
Today’s top deals on TVs
New TVs are usually expensive at launch, even mid-range models. The price of 2017 sets, on the other hand, has plummeted and while stocks of these older TVs last you can pick them up on the cheap.
We’ve scoured the internet to see if there are any particularly choice bargains on TVs for the World Cup.
LG 55UJ701V – £569 from Currys
£569 is only £20 more than the cheapest price we’ve seen for this TV. It’s a 55-inch set, too, which means you’ll have a 1-in-20 chance of getting it for free by entering Currys’ raffle system promotion. It’s one of LG’s mid-range LCD TVs, but it looks high-end thanks to its curved metal stand and silver bezels. It uses LG’s excellent smart TV system to give you a range of streaming and catch-up apps, and you can use Freeview Play to easily watch what you’ve missed in the electronic programme guide. For our full assessment of this TVs picture and sound quality, as well as its ability to handle motion, head to our LG 55UJ701V review.
Samsung UE40MU6120 – £349 from John Lewis
40-inch TVs aren’t as scarce as 32-inch ones, but they aren’t far off. This TV from Samsung’s popular 6 Series isn’t as good-looking as some of the QLED sets Samsung puts out, but it has the same Tizen smart system, which is one of our expert’s favourites thanks to how easy it is to use use and customise. It’s fair to say that manufacturers pay more attention to bigger models higher up the range, but does that mean the UE40MU6120 will look and sound worse than its premium cousins? Read our Samsung UE40MU6120 review to find out.
Samsung UE55MU6120 – £529 from ao.com
If you’re after something a bit bigger, then you can snag the 55-inch version of Samsung’s 6 Series for under £200 more than the 40-inch model. Just because both TVs are from the same range doesn’t mean they will get the same score and we’ve seen big fluctuation in quality between the same models in different sizes. Will the 55-inch model beat the 40-inch one, or will both TVs match each other for sound and picture quality. Read our review of Samsung UE55MU6120 for more.
For more great deals, read our guide to the best TV deals in the UK.