Best TV 2018: which TV should you buy?

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Best TV Buying Guide: Feast your eyes on TechRadar's round-up of the best TVs money can buy in 2018.

You know the feeling. You're stalking the aisles at Best Buy, your eyes locked on a towering, top-of-the-line TV and thought, "I need this." 

But money's tight, and to get the very best TV on the market you're going to have to splash the cash. How can you be sure you're really getting the best screen for your moolah, when an investment of this size can be a massive one?

You do the only logical thing and you go online to shop. 

But then you hit another problem: Shopping for TVs online you'll have hundreds of reviews at your disposal, but the noise can be overwhelming. Weighing up your funds, is it time to make the jump to OLED, or will LCD still cut it? Do you need smart features, and if so, through what platform? And is a giant size as essential as everyone on MTV Cribs makes it out to be? Sigh. 

But don't lose hope. Some screens really do outperform others, offering better contrast, higher clarity and new technologies like Wide Color Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) that will dramatically improve your TV watching experience.

"So, should I buy a TV now or wait it out?"

This is a question we get a lot. Like most technology (cough, iPhones) TVs are getting incrementally better all the time – which means, yes, if you wait a year there will probably be a bigger, flashier TV out there for less money. 

But while doing so will certainly net you a larger screen at a better price, some of the best panels are already being manufactured today. While tomorrow's screens might be a bit larger, a bit brighter and a bit cheaper, today's screens are just as competent in their own right. 

We can say that with confidence knowing that most manufacturers have finally embraced the three most important standards in TVs: Ultra HD , Wide Color Gamut and HDR (HDR10 and, if you're lucky, Dolby Vision). If a TV you're looking at doesn't support at least one of these, you should probably look somewhere else.

Not sure where to start? Here are the best TVs we tested this year.

1. Samsung Q9FN QLED (2018)

The best TV ever? Could be!

65-inch: Samsung QE65Q9FN

Spectacular HDR picture quality
Powerful, well-rounded sound
Good smart system
Limited viewing angles
Editor's Choice

After an underwhelming debut, Samsung’s QLED technology really needed to bounce back in style in 2018. It didn't surprise us in the least, then, to discover Samsung threw the kitchen sink in with its new Q9FN QLED Series of TVs. 

As well as being even brighter and more colorful than last year’s equivalent model, Samsung's 2018 flagship screens use a completely different lighting system to combat its predecessor’s contrast problems: Full Array Local Dimming rather than edge-lit LED lighting. The FALD panel works in tandem with Samsung QLED Quantum Dots to produce a picture that's brighter and more colorful than near any we've seen come from the South Korean manufacturer. 

Do those features alone make Samsung Q9FN the best TV on the market? No, but throw in technology like HDR10+ and Q HDR EliteMax – what Samsung bills as its maximum High Dynamic Range experience that’s exclusive to the Q9FN – and there's very little doubt in our mind that this is Samsung's best TV ever. 

Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV (65Q9FN)

2. LG C8 OLED Series (2018)

LG sets a new standard with its 2018 OLED range

55-inch: LG OLED55C8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C8

Superb picture quality
Comprehensive features
Highly effective smart platform
Limited peak brightness for HDR
No HDR10+ support

At the top of our list for 2018 is the LG C8 OLED – available in both 55 and 65-inch iterations. It's here because it combines an impressive picture, an extensive set of features, an attractive design and its unrivaled smart platform, to deliver one of the best TVs we have seen to date. It’s not as bright as an LCD TV but those deep blacks make a huge difference to the dynamic range of the image. It’s also capable of vibrant and gorgeous colors, not to mention an astounding level of detail with native 4K content.

There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony's A1E and A8F OLED or LG's own E8 and W8 OLED models) but we think the OLED C7 offers the best price-to-performance ratio of any TV under the sun in the year 2018.

Read the full review: LG OLED C8 (OLED55C8, OLED65C8)

3. Sony XBR-Z9D Series (2016)

Sony’s 2016 flagship TV set new standards in picture quality

65-inch: Sony XBR-65Z9D | 75-inch: Sony XBR-75Z9D | 100-inch: Sony XBR-100Z9D

Stunning HDR picture quality
Ground-breaking backlight
Android TV feels sluggish
Pretty average audio

From the moment we laid eyes on the the XBR-65Z9D we’ve been desperate to get our hands on one. It is, hands down, the holy grail of television for 2018: a TV able to combine the extreme, high dynamic range-friendly brightness of LCD technology with a backlight arrangement capable of getting LCD closer than ever before to the stunning light control you get with OLED technology.

This backlight arrangement comprises more than 600 LEDs that sit behind the 65Z9D’s screen that are capable of outputting their own light levels independently of their neighbors. This should enable the TV to produce more of the extremes of light and shade associated with new high dynamic range (HDR) technology while suffering less than other LCD TVs with distracting clouds, stripes or halos of unwanted, extraneous light.

As if this wasn’t already attraction enough, the 65Z9D also sports Sony’s new ‘X1 Extreme’ video processing system and the latest version of Sony’s reliable Triluminos wide color technology for unlocking the extended color spectrums associated with HDR sources.

4. LG Signature Series W7 OLED (2017)

LG's W7 OLED melds into the wall

65-inch: LG 65W7OLED | 77-inch: LG 77W7OLED

Insanely slim design
Color, clarity and contrast
Future-proof HDR
Motion issues with TruMotion

The LG W7 OLED is truly something special. Not only is it one of the thinnest TVs to ever grace our vision (it’s 2.75mm thin), but it’s also one of the most gorgeous. When fed the right kind of content – in this case, 4K HDR10 or Dolby Vision video – it truly shines. A super-slim design alone wouldn’t have been enough to warrant the extra cost to upgrade to LG’s latest panel. But the thin frame on top of a Dolby Atmos soundbar on top of four types of HDR support on top of the magnetic mounting system on top of the new webOS 3.5 operating system surely did the trick. This incredibly gorgeous TV isn’t without its faults (see: motion handling, its sticker price and soundbar issues), but in terms of sheer picture performance there’s nothing else like it right now. 

5. Sony Bravia A1E OLED (2017)

Sony's brand-new TV for 2017 is returning to OLED

65-inch: Sony Bravia 65A1E | 55-inch: Sony Bravia 55A1E

Gorgeous picture quality
Startling, monolithic design
Innovative and excellent sound
It’s not very bright

If LG's OLED isn't your thing, spend some time checking out Sony's new OLED.

The 55A1 – and the A1 OLED series overall – are crowd pleasers in just about every way. Their ‘picture only’ design has been beautifully realized, managing to be simultaneously subtle and dramatic. Their vibrating screen delivers a far more powerful and effective sound performance than I’d thought possible, too. The real stars of the show here, though, are the A1’s exquisitely detailed, contrast-rich and colorful pictures. These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things. 

6. Sony Bravia X900F Series (2018)

This is the HDR flatscreen we’ve all been waiting for

65-inch: Sony Bravia X900F

Direct LED with local dimming
Excellent motion handling
Unfussy but elegant design
HDR is a bit dim

OK, so you don't want (or can't afford) Sony's new A1E OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey ZD9. So what should you buy? Check out the X900E series. With superb 4K image clarity, powerful SDR-to-HDR remastering, and a smooth direct LED backlight, Sony is offering something very different with the X900F. We loved the consistency of its images, the eye-popping vibrancy of its wide color gamut panel and its easy-to-watch HDR – you get spectral highlights without accompanying eye fatigue. 

Given this set’s high-but-fair price point, any niggles we have are negligible. The X900F is highly recommended and deserved our Recomendded award. 

Read the full review: Sony Bravia X900F (XBR-65X900F) review

Best TV

7. LG E8 OLED Series (2018)

A tiny processor makes a huge difference to the OLED range

55-inch: LG OLED55E8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E8

Awesome picture quality
Opulent and beautiful design
Excellent operating system
Occasional picture noise
Lacks brightness vs LCD

Having potentially pushed the hardware capabilities of its current OLED screen technology as far as they can go, LG has for 2018 turned its attention to the software that drives these screens - and this shift in focus has yielded surprisingly impressive results, improving and even removing many of the residual niggles associated with 2017’s already in truth outstanding OLED sets.

The OLED65E8 loses a bit of ground sonically from its predecessor, and there’s some stiff competition this year from Samsung’s new Q9FN flagship LCD TV, but all the growing legions of OLED fans will probably need to hear is that the OLED65E8 is comfortably the best OLED TV LG has ever made.

LG OLED B6 deals

8. LG OLEDB7 Series (2017)

LG's entry level OLEDs continue to impress

55-inch: LG OLED55B7V | 65-inch: LG OLED65B7V

Excellent all-round image quality
Complete HDR support
Great smart platform
No Dolby Atmos passthrough
Mediocre onboard audio

We've already recommended a couple of different OLED sets on this list, and the B7 is the most affordable of the bunch. 

But rather than compromising on that glorious panel to hit a more wallet-friendly price point, LG has instead compromised on sound. 

This puts the LG B7 in a slightly weird situation audio-wise. It technically supports Dolby Atmos, but played through its mediocre downward-firing speakers the technology lacks most of what makes it impressive. 

Thankfully you're of course able to plug in an external sound system, and we'd advise you to do. 

If that's something you're prepared to do then you'll find the B7 has every bit the talent of its more expensive siblings at a fraction of the cost. 

Read the full review: LG OLED B7

Best TV

9. TCL 6-Series (R615, R617) (2018)

An exceptional 4K HDR TV for the budget-minded buyer

55-inch: TCL 55R617

Bright, colorful HDR
Supports Dolby Vision
Roku TV is amazing
Loss of darker details
Limited motion settings

If you had deep pockets and checkbook filled with blank checks, we’d tell you to reach deep and shell out for only the best TVs on the market - LG’s crazy-thin OLED W8 or Samsung’s ultra-bright Q9FN QLED (both featured on this list). But that’s not realistic. For the vast, vast majority of us, our budget to spend on a TV is limited to somewhere under $1,000 - and often less than that. 

To that end, it’s absolutely fair to say that the TCL 6-Series is the best TV you can possibly get in this price range. Its performance per dollar is unmatched and its picture quality - despite a few minor flaws - will truly impress you.

Read the full review: TCL 6-Series (R615, R617)

10. Bang & Olufsen BeoVision Eclipse

Great looks. Great sound. Beautiful design. But only worth buying if you’ve got money to burn

Outstanding picture quality
Dolby Vision HDR support
Rather reflective screen
Limited effective viewing angle

The B&O BeoVision Eclipse is the full package. It’s smart, its picture looks awesome, and the sound-quality is stunning. But then there’s the price - $9,995, and that’s for the 55-inch model and doesn’t include the floor mount. If you go for the larger, 65-inch model, and want the floor mount, you’re looking at $15,595.

So should you buy it? Well, if you’re absolutely loaded, and want a TV that looks and sounds great, plus it fits in your ultra-modern home setup, then it’s not a bad option. If you’re willing to put a little more time into your setup, however, you may be better served simply buying an LG OLED TV and a dedicated surround sound system.

Read the full review: Bang & Olufsen BeoVision Eclipse

Continue on to page two to read about what to look for when buying a TV! 

  • Want better audio? Check out our guide to the best soundbars available.
  • Once you've decided on a panel, make sure you read our guide on how to set up your TV to make sure you're getting the most out of it.