Top five TVs for 2019
By Martin Pratt
Revamped smart-TV services, 4K picture quality, HDR and stunning OLED screens: it's all here this year. Find the best TVs of 2019.
The latest TVs feature more powerful picture technology and slicker smart-TV platforms than ever before. A high-calibre TV, such as those with 4K HDR and Freeview Play, no longer has 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 different 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. Underneath, we reveal more about what the major brands have in store for their 2019 TV ranges, but have any of the latest models made it into our top five?
You can also get an overview of the new TVs and technology coming from each of the top brands.
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Top five best TVs
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of December 2018.
Not found the product for you? Browse all our TV reviews
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 few hundred pound hole in your bank account.
TVs to avoid
There's no shortage of exceptional 55-inch TVs to choose from these days - but this TV isn't one of them. The three stars for picture and sound quality may lead you to believe that this TV isn't half bad, but it reached those ratings by the skin of its teeth.
Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of December 2018.
Looking for a bargain? Browse our guide to the Best TV Deals of the month.
While LG, Sony and Panasonic continue their support for OLED displays, Samsung is sticking with QLED for its premium 2019 TVs. These high-end sets feature Quantum Dot technology, which is said to improve the vibrancy of colours on screen. Increased brightness and a 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 Q900R 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.
Most 2019 Samsung models, even some of its cheaper sets, support 4K HDR videos that are becoming available to stream on Netflix and Amazon, or via the 4K Blu-ray discs.
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 movies, change channels and, in some cases, control other smart devices in your home. Your Samsung TV will effectively be a smart hub too.
Samsung's new TVs won't release until spring, which means now is a good time to get a great deal on a 2018 TV. 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, akin to Samsung's Quantum Dot. You'll find more affordable LG LED TVs without Nano Cell with 4K HDR support, too.
Now facing competition from Sony and Panasonic in the OLED market, LG has launched new OLEDs, including an 88-inch 8K model. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it also showcased a rollable OLED which disappear entirely into its sound bar base.
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. You'll need deep pockets to afford an OLED TV, however, as they tend to be among the most expensive on the market.
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.
LG 2018 TVs are now cheaper than ever, to see how LG's TVs fare in our tests then check out all our LG TV reviews.
Along with its LED TVs, Sony released a new OLED TV for 2019. Like the other big manufacturers, Sony has a slew of new 4K TVs, priced from under £500 to over £5,000. There's high-definition 'W' models, 'X' branded 4K sets and the 'Z' range sitting at the top of the LED heap.
The new AGF OLED is part of Sony's Master Series, which is debuted at the end of 2018. It features the Acoustic Surface sound technology, which works by vibrating the screen. Sony will also release its first 8K TV in 2018, called the ZF9.
Sony TVs run Android TV, the smart-TV platform developed by Google, and a YouView TV guide. Sony also has an ‘Ultra’ content portal that allows you to purchase films in UHD quality to watch on your shiny new TV. Some Sony TVs can access Freeview Play, too.
Improvements to the picture quality should come in the form of the new X1 Ultimate processor, which replaces the X1 Extreme chip in Sony's high-end TVs. The new 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. We'll know just how much of a difference this new processor makes when we get Sony's new TVs in our test lab.
Sony's new TVs won't be released until the spring, to see if Sony's 2018 TVs are worth buying read our Sony TV reviews.
Panasonic's 2019 range once again focuses on high-end OLED TVs that calls upon its Hollywood expertise to make the best possible picture and sound quality that's as true to the filmmakers vision as possible.
The new OLED is called the GZ2000 and it's the first TV to have upward firing speakers that take full advantage of Dolby Atmos technology that sends sound over your head for even more immersive audio.
Panasonic will bolster its OLED range with plenty of 4K LED sets in 2019, too. With a new processor and the latest HDR formats, Panasonic's TVs have every chance of doing well in our tests.
Read our expert Panasonic TV reviews to find out what we though of its 2018 sets that are now at their cheapest price.