Top five TVs for 2021
TVs to avoid buying
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.
You can get an overview of the TVs and technology available from each of the top brands.
LG's 2021 TV line-up
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 and, as with all LG's new smart TVs, come with the . 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 , and other LG ThinQ appliances, including its Signature fridge freezer and washing machine.
Sony's 2020 TV line-up
A handful of 8K TVs and plenty of 4K ones make up Sony's 2021 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 , 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 2021. 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.
Panasonic's 2021 TV line-up
The only 2021 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 2021, too, we just don't know about them yet.