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.
Samsung's 2021 TV line-up
Neo QLED TVs are the major new addition to Samsung's TV catalogue. The LEDs that make up the displays powered by the new technology are miniscule – just 1/40th the height of the LEDs in previous QLED displays. This means Samsung can pack far more of them into the display, and more tightly control colour and light dispersal. The result should be crisp colours that don’t bloom out into darker regions of the screen. Two of Samsung’s new ranges will have this technology: the 8K QN900A and 4K QN90A.
Samsung is focusing on sustainability and accessibility on its new models. The top-tier QLEDs will come with remotes that are recharged using the sun or indoor light. It claims to be using more recycled materials in the manufacture of the TVs, too.
A slew of new accessibility features include adjustable captions sizes, adjustable sign language interpreter size and a clever app that helps people with colour blindness see more of the spectrum.
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.
The QNED range is new for 2021. These backlit TVs have smaller LEDs than normal, which allows for more dimming zones. This will help boost contrast and display more detail in darker parts of the screen.
LG's high-end TVs are still its OLED sets, but there are some notable changes. OLED Evo is, quite literally, an evolution of OLED technology. LG says the Evo range will be brighter and crisper. The brightness will be welcome, since it's one of the areas where backlit LCD and QLED sets do better.
There will be more of the popular 48-inch OLEDs in LG's 2021 lineup, too.
All these top-end OLED TVs support HDR content, feature the latest version of and a redesigned Magic Remote . OLEDs are still pricier than most TVs, but the price has been coming down steadily since they first became popular in 2017. The B1 OLED range could easily end up costing less than £1,000.
Sony's 2021 TV line-up
A handful of 8K TVs and plenty of 4K ones make up Sony's 2021 line-up. The Bravia XR is processor is new and comes with cognitive intelligence technology that understands which part of the image your eyes are drawn to and makes it look as good as possible. Five ranges will use the XR processor: one 8K, two 4K OLEDs and two 4K LCD ranges.
Sony is doing away with its cheapest sets that don't feature Android TV, so we wont have any models that don't have app stores. It's a good move.
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. Some models have speakers in the frames, too.
Panasonic's 2021 TV line-up
The JZ2000 OLED is leading the charge for Panasonic, but there will be cheaper LCD sets available, too. It's 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.