Samsung is still the TV market leader in most of the world (although LG is snapping at its heels). It doesn’t rest on its laurels though, and each year Samsung brings new technology to help keep its TV at the top of the heap.
In 2021 that technology was Neo QLED. It’s a new backlight designed to boost contrast to close to OLED quality (a type of display that doesn’t use backlights which Samsung doesn’t make).
Neo QLED TVs are expensive of course, but Samsung’s 2021 lineup is a big one with many standard QLED sets and LCD models. But can any of these cheaper and more basic TVs hold a candle to Samsung’s hot new tech? Let’s find out.
We lab test and review hundreds of TVs each year and there’s bound to be one that suits you and fits in your budget. Check out all of our expert TV reviews.
How Samsung Neo QLED, QLED and LCD TVs differ
- Neo QLED – these TVs are brand new in 2021 and differ from ordinary QLEDs because of their backlights. A backlight is a layer of bulbs shining on a colour-producing layer to make the picture. The Neo QLED backlight has far smaller LEDs than QLED and LCD TVs. More LEDs means more control over brightness and what parts of the screen are lit – which should make for better contrast.
- QLED – they are still LCD TVs at heart, so liquid crystals create the picture when light hits them, but (like Neo QLEDs) QLED TVs have an extra later of quantum dots. These boost colour for a more vibrant image.
- LCD – it’s the most common TV type and every brand makes them, not just Samsung. A backlight shining on liquid crystals creates the picture. It may be the most basic and widely available display type, but it’s ubiquitous for a reason – it’s still a perfectly good display type and we usually find Best Buy LCD TVs every year.
Samsung TVs compared
We test just about every aspect of a TV, but many of the tests boil down to a few vital aspects: picture quality, sound quality and ease of use.
If a TV does well in these three areas, then it’s likely to be a Which? Best Buy TV.
All star ratings listed below are out of five.
Samsung TV picture quality
Because of that snazzy backlight and theextra control over the contrast it’s supposed to provide, we expect the Neo QLEDs to do best for picture quality.
|TV type||Best picture quality rating||Lowest||Average|
Samsung TV viewing angle
Unless you live on your own, don’t have visitors and always sit directly in front of your TV, viewing angle matters. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that an improved display that makes the world of difference to picture quality won’t necessarily help the viewing angle.
There are many factors to this test, including luminance, colour deviation and reflections, and it’s one of the more difficult tests to predict.
|TV type||Best viewing angle rating||Lowest||Average|
(Star ratings are out of five)
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Samsung TV sound quality
The Neo QLED backlight won’t make any difference to sound quality, but Samsung has another trick up its sleeve for its most high-end sets. It’s called Object Tracking Sound and it simulates audio coming from specific parts of the screen.
The Neo QLEDs should again be the top choice for sound quality, thanks to this new tech.
|TV type||Best sound quality rating||Lowest||Average|
Samsung TV ease of use
Samsung puts the same operating system across all its TVs and most have the same remote, so we expect consistent scores here.
|TV type||Best ease of use rating||Lowest||Average|
Find out more about QLED TVs: what is QLED TV plus our best QLED TVs.
What Which? test scores do Samsung TVs get?
As well as our star ratings, each TV we test gets an overall Which? test score – this helps you easily compare TVs to see which are best. Hundreds of expert lab tests make up our overall TV score.
As well as the vital picture and sound quality tests, we look at everything – from how easy the PVR is to use to how carefully each TV handles the data it collects.
Here’s what happen when we average those scores across different types of Samsung TV:
- 74% Neo QLED average score
- 61% QLED average score
- 60% LCD average score
The difference in the average between the Neo QLEDs and everything else is vast. It’s bigger than the difference between LCD, NanoCell and OLED TVs we saw when examined whether cheaper LG TVs are good enough or if it’s worth paying more for an OLED.
We’ve tested close to 40 Samsung TVs so far in 2021 – this is the majority of its 2021 lineup, aside from TVs bigger than 65 inches. The majority are LCD TVs.
Since all Neo QLED sets are high-end, expensive and packed with advanced tech, we always expect them to do better. LCD ranges, on other hand, have more variance in price and spec and the individual scores vary more as a result.
Our latest batch had some of Samsung’s cheapest 2021 TVs and we’ve picked a few here to showcase.
Recently reviewed cheaper Samsung LCD TVs
43-inch Samsung UE43AU7100KXXU – £449
This is Samsung’s cheapest 4K TV for 2021, but it still gets an advanced HDR format: HDR10+. Samsung is one of the few manufacturers that puts an advanced format in every 4K TV in its lineup.
HDR10+ can adjust contrast to suit each scene. It shows its basic tendencies in other areas though. It has no PVR or built-in voice control.
Read our Samsung UE43AU7100KXXU review to see how Samsung’s entry-level TVs compare to LG and Sony’s.
50-inch Samsung UE50AU9000KXXU – £629
Spending a bit more on a Samsung you get a PVR and a microphone built into the remote so you can take advantage of Bixby voice control.
This is still an LCD TV rather than a QLED though. You can always spot a QLED because it has ‘Q’ in the model name and a Neo QLED will have ‘QN’.
Read our Samsung UE50AU9000KXXU review to see if spending more on a Samsung LCD TV is worth it.