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2 Mar 2021

The four TV features we're most excited about in 2021

Fresh TV ranges from LG, Samsung and Sony will be launching soon; we've picked out the new tech that could make a real difference to TV quality

If you're going to update your entire product line annually, as TV manufacturers do, then you need the innovative features to justify it. The likes of LG, Samsung and Sony have struggled for some years, but in 2021 there are some features that have piqued our interest.

New display technology, ways of making TVs more sustainable, and new speaker systems are some of the things we're excited to investigate further when we start testing these TVs later in the year.

We've picked four features we think could live up to the hype and really improve a TV.

Hundreds of new TVs are on the horizon, so there are great deals to be had on 2020 sets. Take a look at these top TV deals.

1. LG's QNED Mini LED displays

The LG QNED mini LED lineup
The LG QNED mini LED lineup

OLEDs have been at the top of the TV heap for years now. Ever since OLEDs started acing our tests, manufacturers have been scrambling to get cheaper LCD models to a similar standard.

Contrast is usually where OLEDs beat LCD sets. Each pixel in the display creates its own light and can be turned off to display true blacks. This makes for rich, deep dark scenes that can display plenty of detail when light is at a premium. Backlit LCD TVs, which use layers of bulbs shining onto colour-creating crystals to create the picture, struggle to compete.

Better and brighter LCD TVs?

So how do you get LCD models to that same standard? Put simply, you add more bulbs.

LG has shrunk the size of the LEDs in the backlight of its QNED range of LCD TVs. This means it can pack in thousands more to create more dimming zones, giving the TV more control over which parts of the screen are lit. This should boost contrast and help avoid the 'blooming' that sometimes happens when brighter parts of a picture, say a brazier or a bulb, bleed into darker parts.

Even if LG's QNED range can't quite match OLEDs, the addition of more LEDs and dimming zones is unlikely to be a bad thing.

Read our LG TV reviews from 2020 to see our favourites, which are cheaper than ever.

2. Samsung's solar cell TV remote

Samsung Solar Cell Remote

This won't make a big difference to Samsung TV picture quality, but it could make a big difference to the world. Samsung reckons adding remotes that recharge their batteries using light will save the equivalent of 99 million standard batteries.

Those figures are based on people keeping their TV for seven years, which matches up with our own research into TV lifespan.

You don't need to leave your TV out in the sun every morning like a lizard on a rock, it can be charged with indoor light. Samsung's committed to other sustainability targets, too, with claims of improved manufacturing efficiency, power consumption and more recyclable materials used to build the TVs.

Check out our Samsung TV reviews to find an excellent TV at a good price.

3. More speakers in more places

Panasonic JZ2000 OLED
Panasonic JZ2000 OLED

Ever since the deep-as-they-are-wide old-school CRT TVs were replaced with thinner models, TV viewers have been decrying the loss of sound quality. There isn't much room for a big set of speakers in wafer-thin sets, but manufacturers have been searching for ways to improve the sound ever since.

Typically, speakers in modern TVs are at the bottom of the set, pointing down. This sends the sound below the screen and towards you.

However the latest craze is to dot the speakers around the screen. Sony kickstarted this audio revolution in 2018with its first OLED, which had speakers that vibrated the screen to create the sound. We loved it and gave it five stars for audio.

In 2021, this trend looks to take off across more TV ranges:

  • Sony is putting tweeters in the frame of its LCD TVs
  • Panasonic's top-end OLED, the JZ2000, has speakers that send sound sideways from the TV
  • Samsung has positioned speakers behind the screen in its high-end TVs, so the sound appears to be coming from different points.

In theory, arranging speakers in these ways should create more positional audio that sounds expansive, but should also have the ability to be more specific by zeroing in and creating audio that seems to come from a specific point on the screen.

We're planning a dedicated test of the positional audio of these fancy new speaker rays, to see how much difference it makes. We're intrigued to see if they live up to expectations - fingers crossed.

Our guide on TVs with the best sound is the perfect next stop if high quality audio is your top priority.

4. Sony's new XR processor

Sony X90J 4K LCD TV
Sony X90J 4K LCD TV

Sony's LCD sets have struggled to reach the heights set by LG and Samsung, but its new XR processor could change all that - for the three high-end LCD sets that get it, anyway.

The Sony Z9J, X95J and X90J each have the XR processor and all the bells and whistles that come with it. It's been designed with the human mind in mind, and it can recognise the parts of the image that your eye is naturally drawn to. Armed with this knowledge, the XR range will prioritise those focal points to make them look fantastic.

A boat-load of data analysis is done behind the scenes to make this possible. Sony calls it 'cognitive intelligence'. A TV that better understands what its viewers want to see sounds great in theory, and 2021 could be the year we find some Best Buy Sony LCD TVs.

Sony's 2020 sets are still available. Our Sony TV reviews show you which are worth buying.