Top five TVs for 2020
By Martin Pratt
Revamped smart-TV services, 4K and 8K picture quality, HDR, and stunning OLED screens: it's all here this year. Find the best TVs of 2020.
The latest TVs feature more powerful picture technology and slicker smart-TV platforms than ever. A high-calibre TV, such as those with 4K HDR and Freeview Play, no longer needs to break the bank as these features can be found on sets for less than £500.
4K now features on the vast majority of new TVs and since 4K ultra-HD TVs are able to support HD content as well, Full HD-only models are now in the minority. Even those on modest budgets can find a 4K set, with Best Buy models available for less than £400.
High Dynamic Range, or HDR, has since been added to the ranks. HDR is said to give brighter whites, deeper blacks and more subtlety of tone in between. There are five HDR formats and each manufacturer supports one or more of them. You can see how they differ in our guide to HDR
We've rounded up the top TVs based on our extensive lab tests in the table below.
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Top five best TVs
And here are three TVs to avoid
Not all TVs are created equal. With big differences in the technology on board, quality varies wildly between brands and prices. And you can't judge a TV by specs alone. We've seen premium TVs come up short in our testing. A Don't Buy TV will leave you with poor picture, shoddy sound and a hole of a few hundred pounds in your bank account.
TVs to avoid
While LG, Sony and Panasonic continue their support for OLED displays, Samsung is sticking with QLED for its premium 2020 TVs. These high-end sets feature Quantum Dot technology, which is said to improve the vibrancy of colours on screen. Increased brightness and wider viewing angles should mean the image appears less faded when you're watching at an angle.
The priciest TVs will be 8K. It's all well and good releasing an 8K TV, but if there's nothing to watch on it then what's the point? Well, the Q950TS range uses artificial intelligence to dynamically upscale standard-definition, HD and 4K content. The resulting resolution won't be 8K, but the picture should be sharper and more detailed.
Its 8K range is expanding in 2020 and will now include the Q800 range, which will be priced roughly in line with Samsung's high-end 4K sets, which means 8K could be affordable this year.
Samsung is slowly moving away from LCD sets and making more of its line-up with QLED displays. It's great to see this high-end screen technology, which uses quantum dots rather than liquid crystals to make the picture, filter down into cheaper models.
Samsung's 7 and 8 Series TVs, as well as the range-topping QLED sets, will have Bixby voice control. You'll be able to ask your TV to find specific TV shows and films, change channels and, in some cases, control other smart devices in your home. Your Samsung TV will effectively be a smart hub too.
Take a look at all our expert Samsung TV reviews to find one that suits you.
LG has both LED and OLED sets available this year. Its top-end LED 4K TV range features 'Nano Cell' screen technology - it's still basically LCD, but with a few extra features that should improve the colour and contrast control. You'll find more affordable LG LED TVs without Nano Cell but with 4K HDR support, too.
LG's high-end TVs are still its OLED sets, but there are some notable changes. Most exciting is the new 48-inch CX model: it's the smallest OLED we've seen from LG or anyone else, although LG had to share the limelight with Sony, which also announced a 48-inch OLED. There are more 8K OLEDs than in 2019 now too.
All these top-end OLED TVs support HDR content, feature the latest version of webOS smart TV and, as with all LG's new smart TVs, come with the Freeview Play TV guide. OLEDs are still pricier than most TVs, but the price has been coming down steadily since they first became popular in 2017. The BX range and that 48-inch OLED could easily end up costing less than £1,000.
LG's new OLED TVs and some of its Ultra-HD 4K sets will have Dolby Atmos, which fires the audio upwards to create a more immersive surround-sound effect. They will also have ThinQ software built in, which means the TV can act as a smart hub by controlling different smart devices around your home. It will work with third-party devices, such as Philips Hue light bulbs, and other LG ThinQ appliances, including its Signature fridge freezer and washing machine.
See how LG's TVs fare in our tests and check out all our LG TV reviews.
A handful of 8K TVs and plenty of 4K ones make up Sony's 2020 line-up. Unlike LG and Samsung, which have smaller 8K sets, Sony's smallest is a living-room-dominating 75 inches. One smaller set has piqued our interest though - its 48-inch OLED will be the smallest yet.
High-end LCD and OLED sets will be powered by the X1 Ultimate processor. The processor supports more HDR formats, increased brightness and it can assess the image on screen frame by frame to make the picture more detailed (in theory, at least).
Sound hasn’t been ignored either. Sony adopted a unique approach for high-end sound on its TVs some years ago and is continuing with it in 2020. Tweeters, subwoofers and actuators sit behind the screen and vibrate the part where the sound is coming from. This creates a directional sound that’s more like what you experience at the cinema. The 8K ZH8 speakers even vibrate the TV’s frame, which sounds like a recipe for disaster given the TVs with rattly bezels that we have tested in the past. Hopefully Sony has avoided that pitfall with its flagship sets.
Check our Sony TV reviews to see if any are worth buying.
The only 2020 Panasonic TV we know about for now is the HZ2000. It's the OLED successor to 2019's GZ2000 and once again its aimed at people who love to tweak the picture and those who don't. Slight contradiction there, but bear with us.
Any obsessive TV tinkerers can use the boatloads of calibration settings to set the screen exactly how they want it, while Dolby Vision IQ and Filmmaker Mode will automatically adjust the picture based on the light in the room and strip away anything the director of what you're watching deemed extraneous, so you can watch the film the way they intended.
Panasonic will bolster its OLED range with plenty of 4K LED sets in 2020, too, we just don't know about them yet.
Read our expert Panasonic TV reviews to find out what we thought of its sets.