Best TV 2018
Everything you need to choose the best TV for your home cinema set up.
1. Samsung QLED Q9FN (2018)
The best TV ever? Could be!
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.
2. LG C8 OLED Series (2018)
Stunning pictures at an affordable price puts OLED back on top
55-inch: LG OLED55C8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65C8
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 colours, not to mention an astounding level of detail with native 4K content.
There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony’s A1 and AF8 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.
3. Sony XBR-ZD9 Series (2016)
Sony’s 2016 flagship TV set new standards in picture quality
From the moment we laid eyes on the the XBR-65Z9D we’ve been desperate to get our hands on one. It’s 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 colour technology for unlocking the extended colour spectrums associated with HDR sources, even if you’re ‘only’ feeding it SDR content.
It’s LCD panel can’t quite pull off the same black level of our top choice, the LG C7, but the ZD9 shows off the best LCD is capable of in 2018.
4. Panasonic FZ952/FZ950 OLED (2018)
This polished Panasonic 4K Pro HDR OLED is picture-perfect
55-inch: Panasonic TX-55FZ952B | 65-inch: Panasonic TX-65FZ952B
The FZ952 is a luscious OLED that puts performance first. Its colour handling is class-leading, and its HDR talents are a match for any of its rivals. In fact, it just might offer the best picture performance that we’ve seen on a 4K OLED to date.
The FZ952 isn’t the complete package, lacking as it does Dolby Vision and Atmos compatibility, but it wins more arguments than it loses. We suspect you’ll appreciate the easy sophistication of its smart platform, the quality of that low-lag game mode, and the sheer musicality of the Technics soundbar.
5. Sony Bravia A1 OLED (2017)
Sony’s brand-new TV for 2017 is returning to OLED
65-inch: Sony Bravia 65A1E | 55-inch: Sony Bravia 55A1E
If LG’s OLED isn’t your thing, spend some time checking out Sony’s version.
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 colourful pictures.
These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things.
Only it’s exceptionally high price tag prevents it from toppling LG’s budget panels.
6. LG E8 OLED Series (2018)
A tiny processor makes a huge difference to the OLED range
55-inch: LG OLED55E8 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E8
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.
7. Sony Bravia XF90 Series (2018)
This is the HDR flatscreen we’ve all been waiting for
OK, so if you can’t afford Sony’s new A1 OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey ZD9, check out the all-new XF90 series from Sony. With superb 4K image clarity, powerful SDR-to-HDR remastering, and a smooth direct LED backlight, Sony is offering something very different with the XF90. We loved the consistency of its images, motion being handled superbly for football fans, 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 XF90 is highly recommended and deserved our Recommended award.
8. LG OLEDB7 Series (2017)
LG’s entry level OLEDs continue to impress
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.
9. Philips 9002 Series (2017)
Ambilight is a great partner for OLED
It’s an open secret within the TV industry that every OLED TV uses panels produced by LG Display, meaning that whether you’re buying a Sony, a Philips, or a LG, the OLED panel at the heart of each set is the same hardware.
However, Philips has a bit of a trick up its sleeve thanks to its Ambilight technology, which projects colors onto the wall behind it that mirror those shown on the TV itself.
The result is that the company’s flagship OLED series, the 9002, is a really stunning piece of tech, and its P5 picture processing engine is great at getting the most out of its OLED panel.
You’ll be paying a slight price premium over LG’s more budget sets, but Ambilight could be exactly what you need to justify that premium.
10. Sony XE93 Series (2017)
Sony turns to the bright side using its Slim Backlight Drive
The XE93 Series builds on last year’s XD93 series in a few important ways, the first of which is by including one of Sony’s new X1 Extreme chipsets. These are around 40% more powerful than the original X1 chips, and introduce separate databases to help the TV analyze noise and upscale sub-4K sources to the screen’s native 4K resolution. Add in an apparently much-improved sound system and Sony’s Triluminos technology for delivering today’s wider colour ranges and the XE93 series seems to tick all the right boxes.
Unfortunately, though, even an improved version of Sony’s Slim Backlight Drive can’t completely hide the fact that with current edge LED technology there’s always a backlight-based price to pay for all that HDR-sating brightness.