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Technology.

1 December 2021

Best TVs for 2021: Which? Best Buy TVs and expert buying advice

Need help to buy the best TV? See our Which? pick of the best TVs, based on our independent lab tests, plus use our expert advice to help you find the best TV.
Martin Pratt
Buying a TV online via iPad

Need help to buy the best TV? Here's where we come in. When you're facing lists of thin-bezel flatscreen TVs from LG, Panasonic, Hisense, Samsung and Sony, which all look more or less the same, it may seem as though there's not much to pick between them. 

Here, we reveal our pick of the best TVs you can buy right now, plus take a closer look at the key things you should think about before you buy. From big decisions such as which screen size is best for you, to specific features to look out for and how much to spend, our expert advice will help you find your perfect TV.

Top five best TVs for December 2021

Our tough lab tests mean we can reveal in our TV reviews which TVs have superb picture quality, sound fantastic and are easy to use. Plus our reviews will also tell you the results of our annual TV owners' survey - we uncover which brands are the most (and least) reliable, and which ones owners would buy again.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations, below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access to all of our online reviews - from TVs to soundbars - if you join Which.

  • 81%
    £1489.00

    It's hard to find fault with this sublime TV. It looks fantastic, and sounds amazing despite being very thin.

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  • 79%
    £1699.00

    Fantastic HDR implementation and a stunningly detailed 4K picture make this tremendous all-rounder one of the best TVs of 2021.

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  • 76%
    £1757.80

    It's an exquisite TV and a perfect showcase for Samsung's Neo QLED technology. There's very little we can fault here: the speakers are great and we love the design of the menus.

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  • 73%
    £895.20

    It's one of the cheapest OLEDs we've come across and we never expected it to be so good. It's a worthy Best Buy with its lovely screen that superb for 4K.

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  • 70%
    £399.00

    Smaller TVs don't often do well, but this one proved that you don't need a big screen for great picture, sound and smart menus.

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If these models aren't quite right for your home and budget, then head to our TV reviews to see what else we recommend.

Video: how to buy the best TV

Watch our video to see how TVs differ and find out which type is right for you.

What TV is best for you?

There's more to consider with TVs than just how big the screen size. Slide through our gallery, below, and click on the information buttons to discover more about screen types, such as LED, OLED, HD and 4K, features including built-in recording, plus how to connect devices.

Screen type 

  • Curved vs flat - It’s now possible to buy LED and OLED TVs with curved screens designed to wrap the picture around you like an IMAX cinema. However, our tests have found that this does little to improve the viewing experience, and can result in a distorted picture if you’re sitting at an angle. Also, curved TVs don't mount as flush to a wall as a regular flatscreen, so think carefully before buying one.
  • Resolution - TVs are available as either cheap, HD Ready 720p sets that can show broadcast HD TV, or sharper, higher resolution Full HD 1080p models that can get the best out of Blu-ray films. Sharper still are 4K, or Ultra HD (UHD), TVs that have four times the pixels of Full HD and can give superior picture quality. HD TVs are now less commonly available, you should really opt for a 4K TV if you’re upgrading.
  • Screen technology - Most new TVs have LCD screens with LED backlights – plasma models are no longer commonly available. At their best, LED TVs are affordable, energy efficient and have bright, detailed pictures. Organic light emitting diode (OLED) TVs have self-lighting pixels, meaning they can be ultra-slim and achieve deeper black levels. OLED TVs are getting cheaper, but are still pricey compared to LED TVs.

 Features

  • TV tuner - All TVs have Freeview tuners, meaning you can plug in an aerial and enjoy subscription-free TV and radio channels. A Freeview HD set also gives you free HD channels, such as BBC One HD. Many TVs have satellite tuners that can receive services such as Freesat if you have a dish installed, but not all are licensed by Freesat, meaning experiences can differ (check our TV reviews for licensed sets).
  • PVR functionality - Many televisions come with recording functionality built in, meaning you can record TV programmes if you connect an external hard drive via a USB port. A disk size of 500GB will store around 100 hours of HD programmes or 250 hours of standard-definition. TVs with twin-tuner PVRs can record one programme while you watch another, or record two programmes simultaneously. See our PVR reviews for more information.
  • Smart TV functionality adds web services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Facebook. You can catch up on TV you’ve missed, stream films via your broadband connection. Most TVs now come with smart features, but you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to – you can use a smart TV to watch digital terrestrial TV too.  
  • 3D TV never really took off in the UK, partly because few people like wearing 3D glasses at home, and partly because there isn’t that much 3D content to watch – there aren’t any 3D channels available these days, and you can only watch 3D content via an online service or 3D Blu-ray. Very few new TVs now support 3D, and it’s becoming widely accepted as a failed technology of the past.

Connections

  • An optical connection uses fibre-optic cables to transmit digital audio between devices, and is commonly used to connect home cinema systems, sound bars and external speakers to your TV. A preferable connection is now HDMI, which can also handle higher-resolution audio, along with video. It’s more practical and can mean less cable clutter, though optical is still a good backup. 
  • A Scart socket allows you to connect older standard-definition equipment such as VHS players or DVD recorders. With many people now preferring high-definition devices, not all TVs now come with a Scart socket. If the TV you're interested in doesn't have the socket built-in, don’t worry as you can often buy an adaptor, or use an alternative connector to hook up an SD device.
  • USB port - USB sockets on a TV have various uses – you can connect a camera accessory for video-calling applications, or plug in a USB stick to view photos or videos on the TV. You can also connect a hard disk drive via USB to use a TV’s recording feature if it has it. Some TVs have just one USB port, but others can have up to three, enabling you to use multiple USB devices at one time. 
  • Wi-fi capability - Most smart TVs have wi-fi capability to get online. Connecting is simple, but it's preferable to have built in wi-fi, as you won't need additional equipment. Some lower-end TVs require a wi-fi ‘dongle’ that often isn't included, meaning you'll have to buy it separately. You can also use an Ethernet cable (LAN) to get online, but you’ll need your TV close to your internet router to do this.  
  • HDMI is used to connect HD equipment to a TV, such as a Sky or Virgin box, or a Blu-ray player. Most people will need at least two HDMI sockets on their TV, but three or four is preferable. Don’t buy pricey HDMI cables – a cheap lead will perform just as well. Most TVs also have an Audio Return Channel (ARC) HDMI socket, which is useful for connecting a compatible sound bar or home cinema system.

The different types of TV explained

TVs may all look pretty similar when they're lining store shelves, but different resolutions, screen types and software means it's more than just the price tag that sets them apart from each other.

Ultimately, the screen is important, but it's not the be all and end all. It doesn't make a bit of difference to the audio or how easy the TV is to use and you shouldn't discount a TV based purely on what screen it has. So be sure to check our reviews before you buy.

LCD TVs

LCD TVs are the most common and it's likely that your current TV uses one. Several bulbs, known as a backlight, shine on a layer of liquid crystals to create the images on screen. These TVs are cheaper to produce than OLEDs and QLEDs, which is why they are more common, particularly at smaller sizes. 

Organic LED (OLED) TVs

The screen technology widely considered the best for contrast and motion. OLED TVs start at about £1,300 for a 55-inch screen, but can stretch up to a few thousand. 

This type of premium TV is typically among the most expensive on the market, replacing plasma screens in recent years. They don't use a backlight and instead each bulb in the display is self-emitting, which is why the contrast and colour control is so excellent. 

QLED TVs

QLED is Samsung's answer to OLED, but QLED TVs have more in common with LCDs. They still use a backlight, but it illuminates a layer of quantum dots rather than liquid crystals. These dots are said to produce more vibrant colours.

Full HD vs 4K

The low cost of 4K sets means there isn't any reason to choose a Full HD model anymore. Even though there isn't nearly as much 4K content as HD, our research has found that the best 4K sets are better at displaying video at all resolutions.

4K TVs make up the bulk of what's available from LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony, and they start at around £350. These TVs have four times the pixels of HD models, so can display sharper detail and more vibrant images.

The best TVs we've tested have all been 4K; head to our 4K TV reviews to see which impressed us most.

How much do I need to spend on a good TV?

While TVs can cost a small fortune, 4K ones are available for as little as £300 once they've been on sale for a few months - you can get a great TV even if you’re on a tight budget.

Typically, 32-inch HD TVs cost between £200 and £300. For a similar price you could find slightly larger 40 to 43-inch TVs, some of which have a higher-quality 4K Ultra HD screen. We’ve rarely found Best Buys for less than £400, although there are plenty between £500 and £1,000. 

So do I really need to pay more?

Yes and no. 

Yes because TVs from around £800 will have better technology and a sharper design, often with metal finishes and thinner bezels. Better motion processing is a hallmark of premium TVs, which means they will often produce smoother pictures, while cheaper models can sometimes judder. 

No because many of the TVs that are out of your budget at launch will drop in price significantly in the months following. So provided you're prepared to wait, you can bag yourself a bargain. 

Need a new TV now? See our pick of the best cheap TVs.

TV

The best TV brands

Our TV reviews not only contain the results of our tough, independent lab tests, but also the results of our annual owners' survey. We ask thousands and thousands of TV owners to tell us about their television. This enables us to reveal what owners really think about that brand, including which TV brands are the most reliable.

The most popular brands are the 'big four': Samsung, LG, Sony and Panasonic. 

Samsung is the market leader in TVs, followed closely by LG. Both have huge ranges spanning cheap TVs to high-end, big-screen sets costing thousands of pounds. 

Sony and Panasonic don't have the market share they used to, but they are far from being small brands. Panasonic aside (it usually has the smallest line-up), all the leading manufacturers release a similar number of TVs each year, and they follow much the same trends when it comes to size, too. You won't find many 32-inch sets, but there's no shortage of TVs 49 inches and above. 

Aside from these four TV giants, there are various fringe brands, such as Toshiba, Sharp and Philips. A big chunk of the market is taken up by cheap TVs from supermarkets and own brands, such as JVC (Currys PC World) and Technika (Tesco) and Bush (Argos). These TVs are generally cheap, but the models we've tested usually lack quality. You can read more about supermarket-brand TVs in our supermarket TV guide

Chinese manufacturer Hisense may one day be on par with Samsung and LG in terms of brand recognition, but it's not quite there yet. Despite not being a household name, its TVs undercut rivals while offering similar specs and stylish designs, making them an attractive prospect for anyone looking for a high-end TV without a matching price. 

For more in-depth information about the brands, go to which TV brand to buy.

How much do TVs cost to run?

When it comes to how much energy your TV uses, it tends to be its size that dictates how much more it will add to your electricity bill. Whichever size you go for though, they don't tend to cost a great deal to run.

On average:

  • 43-inch 4K TV will add £15.45 to your energy bill each year 
  • 65-inch one will add £24.40
  • 49- and 50-inch 4K TVs are the most popular - they cost £17.27 to run 
  • 55-inch ones cost £20.12
  • 8K TVs are far and away the most expensive to run. The Samsung QE65Q800T we tested in 2020 will cost £59.68.

All of our TV reviews include detailed information on energy use and how much a model will cost you to run per year.

Best TV features to look for

  • Smart TV - smart TVs let you download streaming and catch-up apps, such as iPlayer and Netflix.
  • PVR - record shows and movies onto a USB had drive. Twin-tuner PVRs can record two shows at once.
  • Freeview Play - you can scroll back through the previous week's TV within its digital programme guide.
  • HDR - improves contrast, making whites crisper and blacks deeper, and there are several different formats to get to grips with. Read more in our what is HDR guide.
  • Voice control - change channels, inputs and even search for shows in apps with your voice.

What size TV should I buy?

With the TV market continually shifting towards larger screens, there are fewer top-quality sets smaller than 49 inches each year. But bear in mind that with TV bezels (the frame around the screen) shrinking, larger sets might not be as big as you think, especially if you haven't bought a new TV in a few years.

  • 32-inch TVs and smaller – you won't find 4K TVs at this size because the screens are too small to show off the increased detail. Smaller TVs should still be smart, though, so look for ones that let you access the internet and download streaming apps. 
  • 40 to 43-inch TVs – these are the most popular sizes among our members, but manufacturers favour bigger screens. You'll see HD and 4K sets at these sizes and they should have smart functionality. But there aren't many high-end TVs with the best picture technology and cutting-edge features.
  • 49 to 55-inch TVs – these bigger TVs are where manufacturers focus their time and resources. Barring a few older models, all 49 to 55-inch TVs will be 4K and support HDR. Since TVs at these sizes tend to make up the bulk of a manufacturer's range, you'll find high-end models rich with features as well as budget options with less advanced technology. 
  • 65-inch and larger – TVs at the top end of the size spectrum follow the same trends as 49 to 55-inch models, so you'll find big TVs at the cheap and pricey ends of each manufacturer's range. They will all be 4K and should have smart functionality.

Our TV size guide tool takes into account how far away you sit from your TV to give you your ideal size. 

When's the best time to buy a new TV?

  • New TVs are released every year, usually between April and July.
  • They are usually expensive at launch, so it's best to wait at least a few months.
  • TVs from the previous year will still be available for up to six months following the launch of new models.
  • We've found that TVs tend to hit their cheapest point around eight months after launch.
  • You'll find good deals on Black Friday, in the January sales and when their successors are released.

We can also help you find the best TV deals.

Should I buy a curved TV?

TVs with curved screens started to emerge a few years ago, first on high-end premium TVs but gradually filtering down to more affordable models. But they have recently fallen out of favour and now only Samsung includes them in its line-ups.

Despite manufacturers' claims that curved TVs can enhance your viewing experience by 'wrapping' the picture around you, a bit like watching a film at the IMAX cinema, our expert and independent testing suggests otherwise. We've found the curved effect is minimal at best and is only really visible if you're watching the screen while sitting perfectly straight on (something most people rarely do).

Curved TVs still can perform well in our lab overall, but think carefully about whether one is right for you before you buy. Bear in mind, too, that if you want to wall-mount your TV, a curved model won't sit as flush as a flatscreen will. Plus, a curved screen can look a bit odd, or even warped, when viewed from an angle.

Find out more - see should I buy a curved TV?

Is my TV repairable? 

In 2021, new laws were introduced to make sure TVs were more easy to repair by the owner and by third party repairers.

TV manufacturers are now required to make some parts available for seven years after the TV's release. These rules apply whether you're buying a £2,000 OLED or a £200 32-inch Full HD TV.

To everyone for seven years:

  • external power supply
  • remote control

To professional repairers for a minimum of seven years:

  • internal power supply
  • connectors to connect external equipment (including cable, antenna, USB, DVD and Blu-ray)
  • capacitors above 400 microfarads,
  •  batteries and accumulators
  • DVD/Blu-ray module if applicable
  • hard drive or solid state drive (HD/SSD) module if applicable

Popular TVs compared

We test almost all the TVs released by the four leading brands - LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony - up to 65 inches. That means we see the breadth of each manufacturer's ranges, from budget 32 and 40-inch sets up to range-topping TVs.

We've picked some popular models so you can see how they compare.

LG OLED55C14LB

  • Display: OLED display for unparalleled black levels and smooth motion.
  • Features: 4K display, HDR support for improved contrast, voice control, Dolby Atmos-tuned surround sound, streaming and catch-up apps.

This 55-inch is an important TV for LG. It's a top-tier set with the best features and technology LG has created, but it's not stupidly expensive.

Head to our LG OLED55C14LB review to see if this TV is good enough to be one of LG's top-tier sets.

Samsung QE55QN85AATXXU

  • Display: Neo QLED display is brighter than LCD and OLED, with more vibrant colours.
  • Features: 4K display, voice control, ambient mode, universal guide, HDR support for improved contrast, streaming and catch-up apps.

Samsung doesn't make OLEDs and uses QLED displays for its high-end TVs instead. The QN85A range has a Neo QLED display, which means a thinner backlight and better contrast control.

Does the Neo QLED display make much difference, or should you get a cheaper standard QLED? Find out in our Samsung QE55QN85AATXXU review.

LG 43UN73006LC

  • Display: 4K display at a low price.
  • Features: HDR support for improved contrast, voice control if you buy an LG Magic Remote, streaming and catch-up apps.

High-end TVs are lovely to ogle in John Lewis, but few us would consider buying one. It's TVs like the LG 43UN73006LC that people tend to go for. Even budget models aren't short on features and it tends to be the technology and components that separate cheap TVs from expensive ones rather than what they actually do. 

This TV supports HDR, it's smart and it has a PVR for recording shows onto a USB hard drive, but can it come close to matching the picture and sound quality of the QLEDs and OLEDs of the TV world? Our LG 43UN73006LC review has the answer. ex