55 inch TV Reviews – (Updated 2019) Best Guide for 55″ 4K Ultra HD Smart TV for Sale – Buy a 55 inch 4k Flat Screen Television with Confidence!
Stephan Jukic – Updated January, 2019
The 55 inch size category of 4K TVs is one of the most popular among both consumers and TV manufacturers alike. While many models from the different name brands aren’t released in smaller 50 inch or less dimensions and few 4K TV models reach up to beyond 70 inches, almost every important model of 4K TV on the market from all major brands comes in a 55 inch version. This is the case largely because 55 inches is sort of the “ideal” TV display size for mid-sized TVs, just like 65 inches is the ideal display size for larger TVs. 55 is big enough to appreciate the 4K resolution at a reasonable distance and feel immersed in the onscreen content with the TV’s respectable size while also not being so large that the TV looks odd in a smaller space. 55 inch 4K TVs also tend to have much more reasonable prices for a wider consumer base, even if they’re high-end premium models, as most of those we’re about to cover are.
In basic terms, 55 inch TVs could be considered as the electronic equivalent of Goldilock’s proverbial porridge: Not too big, not too small but just right.
Factor in all the awesome cutting edge display technologies that start to get included in many 4K HDR TVs in the 55 inch size range and you get a display quality that’s downright superb for the models we’re about to cover. Most of these are TVs with top-shelf features like HDR, OLED, enhanced color gamut, high brightness and excellent contrast enhancements.
A Note on 4K TV Viewing Distance
The ideal viewing distance for any 4K TV is a product of its size. In other words, for any given screen size, you want to sit far enough away to appreciate the extra sharpness conferred upon content by 4K resolution at 3840 x 2160 pixels while also being close enough to the screen to feel immersed. 55 inch 4K TVs are at the lowest size where 4K resolution starts to become distinctly notable even at larger distances. Smaller TVs than these, when viewed from more than a couple meters are almost indistinguishable from HD models in their resolution, but at 55 inches, the 4K sharpness is noticeable at normal viewing distance. For a 55 inch TV, ideal viewing distance for maximum enjoyment is about 8 feet, or 2.5 meters, though it’s still great at 7 feet or 9 feet too.
The 10 Best 55 inch 4K TVs of 2018 / 2019
Without further ado, here are the 10 best 55 inch 4K TVs on the market today. This list is longer than normal for our other TV guides by size because of how popular the 55 inch size range is. However it will continuously be updated throughout the year as any new 55 inch models with even better performance arrive for our review, so feel free to check back fairly regularly.
We should also strongly note here that the following TV rankings are made with both quality and price taken into consideration. Essentially, we’ve at least partly ranked these models in terms of their quality and value per dollar spent so that we could demonstrate what the best TVs are for the lowest possible prices in their category. The list does of course include lots of premium 4K HDR TVs but if the only measurement was absolute performance, we could simply rank the top five most expensive televisions, one from each of the major brands. Some of the top 55 inch televisions sold today aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Thus, those with very good performance sometimes rank a bit higher than absolute ultra-premium TVs because they cost much less while performing almost indistinguishably as well in their core specs.
As you’ll note, this is the size range at which we finally start to see the spectacular LG OLED 4K TV models, which don’t come in smaller sizes than this. They clearly dominate the rankings due to what are some unarguably excellent overall performance specs.
Also keep in mind that all 4K TV models listed come with a native refresh rate of 120Hz unless otherwise stated for any particular TV.
LG OLED55C8 55 Inch OLED 4K HDR Smart TV
LG’s OLED C8 is in our view the truly outstanding 4K UHD TV of 2018 and early 2019 for its sheer combination of quality and price. This applies particularly to the 55 inch model and while we hardly can call this a budget 4K TV at over $1500 per unit, its price tag is remarkably reasonable if what you’re looking for is the best possible ultra-premium quality at the lowest possible price. Because the C8 is an OLED TV it shares nearly identical specs with all OLED TVs from LG in a given year, this means identical display performance regardless of price, with the only real points of difference being physical design, native audio qualities and processing engines. Because the C8 has LG’s best processing engine of 2018 and because audio in any 4K TV can easily be compensated for by hooking up an external sound system, then that only leaves the display specs, and in the C8 they’re as good as those of any other 2018 OLED.
In other words, the C8 gives you display performance that could easily cost thousands of dollars at just a fraction of price. And speaking of this performance: this ultra HD TV packs some of the best color performance you’ll see in any 4K HDR TV of 2018 and early 2019. On top of this, it can manage motion handling in a way that no LCD TV can match. Furthermore, because we’re talking about OLED technology here, its black levels, contrast and OLED dimming are essentially perfect. This model deserves its top spot.
Sony XBR55X900F 55 Inch LCD 4K HDR Smart TV
We placed the Sony X900F in our top spot for our ranking of best 49-50 inch 4K UHD TVs and here it is again because this is one of the outstanding 4K HDR models of 2018 and into early 2019. This particular television comes with a reasonable price, fantastic display specs and some very good features for everything from movie watching to gaming. It’s just excellent in general. As we’ve mentioned before, the X900F is a full HDR TV that can really output the visuals necessary for doing justice to high dynamic range content from streaming or 4K Blu-ray sources. This means that it delivers very vibrant color accuracy due to its wide color gamut and 10-bit color specs, and that it can manage both the extremely deep blacks and very high screen brightness levels necessary for high quality HDR. This model also comes with full-array LED backlighting and high quality local dimming technology, allowing it to offer even better than average, crisp black levels and contrast.
On a final note, the X900F is also an excellent gaming TV, like most of the models on this list. Its input lag is very low for console connectivity under an assortment of different settings for HDR, 4K resolution, 1080p gaming and different frame rates.
LG OLED55B8 55 Inch OLED 4K HDR Smart TV
LG’s OLED B8 is so close to being as good as the C8 we ranked above this model that they’re nearly identical in their performance, and oddly, the B8 actually gets a bit brighter than the C8 when playing back HDR content. However, it comes with an older internal visual processing core and doesn’t include quite the same audio support specs. On the other hand, this TV is at least a couple hundred bucks cheaper, so if you don’t mind the almost unnoticeable differences created by its processor, we highly recommend it. Processor differences aside, in all key display specs like color reproduction, HDR support, typically beautiful OLED black levels, dimming and contrast, the B8 is excellent, and delivers just as well as the C8 or any other 2018 OLED on these and gaming support as well.
TCL 55R617 6-Series 55 Inch 4K HDR Smart TV
TCL’s 6-Series 4K HDR TVs are probably the single best value of all the 2018/early 2019 4K UHD TV’s we’ve reviewed so far. They deliver so much quality that it’s hard to believe their price tags. This is why we rank this model so highly on this list. It offers nearly ultra-premium display quality and performance at budget prices. Just recently, during the 2018 Christmas Holidays, the 55 inch TCL R617 was selling for only $499.99 and there hasn’t been a single other TV sold in 2018 that was that good for that kind of price.
As for all its high end performance, well, it consists of all the usual hallmarks of quality picture specs, including: extremely high peak brightness, exquisitely deep black levels, extremely high contrast ratios, local dimming to make both of these latter specs even better and some fantastically vibrant color output. The 6-Series also manages excellent motion handling and is one of the best 4K HDR TVs we know of for console gaming thanks to its extremely low input lag metrics. Just about the only defect of this model is its slightly cheap build, but the 6-Series is sturdy enough.
Samsung QN55Q8FN 55 Inch LCD 4K HDR Smart TV
The Samsung Q8FN is the highest caliber Samsung QLED TV that comes in the 55 inch range. The Q9F 2018 model is even better in almost any way but it starts at 65 inches, so the Q8 is Samsung’s single best QLED ultra-premium model in this list in our opinion. It’s a bit expensive but not exorbitantly so and in terms of overall performance, it simply isn’t likely to disappoint anyone. This physically lovely 4K HDR TV offers up stunningly good contrast, extremely high display brightness and some of the best color performance we’ve ever seen in a 4K TV thanks to its legitimately unique QLED color enhancement technology (it ain’t just marketing hype). We also consider this model to be fantastic console gaming HDR television and given its generally incredible display specs, it will absolutely hammer out the very best in even the most detailed UHD HDR Xbox or PS4 Pro games you throw at it, and at very low input lag as well.
On the other hand, we don’t entirely appreciate the Q8FN’s lack of Dolby Vision HDR support and the local dimming technology in this TV is only mediocre at best. This isn’t such a problem though because this model outputs exquisitely good black levels and contrast ratio by default.
Samsung Q6FN 55 Inch LCD 4K HDR Smart TV
Again we come back to Samsung, because for 2018 at least, the company really knocked out some great 4K TVs across the board. In this case, we come to the elegantly lovely Q6FN model. This is Samsung’s cheapest QLED 4K TV of 2018/early 2019 but it still delivers spectacular quality at a very reasonable price. The Q6 offers excellent color reproduction with wide color gamut, fantastically good black levels, really strong contrast and as a result of all these things, its HDR performance is spectacular pretty much across the board. Two of its very few defects are a lack of Dolby Vision HDR support and some fairly weak local dimming technology, but due to this model’s otherwise fantastic display specs, these are relatively minor issues. We also think the Q6FN could be a bit cheaper but it’s not terribly priced either.
Sony XBR55A9F Master Series 55 Inch OLED 4K HDR LCD Smart TV
Sony’s OLED 4K HDR TVs are the only other option out there on the U.S market and the A9F Master Series model is pretty much the best of them. It’s just as good as, if not slightly better than LG’s C8 or E8 OLED 4K HDR TVs but beats them handily on a couple of little things. On the other hand, this OLED TV is really expensive for being so similar to the LG OLEDs we mention and this is why we rank it somewhat lower.
In terms of overall specs, the A9F is just about the same as the LG C8 except that from our comparisons of the two TVs, the Sony OLED delivers slightly better shadow detail and marginally more accurate color rendering. These however are minor differences given the steeply higher price, so again, our lower ranking here. That said, Sony’s OLED TV does have one particular feature on which it completely kicks any competitor TV’s ass and that’s its native audio quality. It’s simply fantastic as far as the speakers of any 4K UHD TV are concerned. The A9F pulls this off through a system of powerful dual speakers and a subwoofer located right inside the screen. Previous Sony OLED TVs had the same thing but for their latest OLED, the company beefed things up considerably to a notably higher level of sound quality; the simple fact that you can listen to very decent audio renderings from your favorite movies with the sound coming from what seems like the very visual source that’s creating it (onscreen characters voices for example), is quite cool, and even more so if you combine the internal in-screen speakers/woofer of the A9F with an external surround sound speaker system or at least a decent sound bar.
If you like good TV audio, this might be a decent OLED TV for you but bear in mind that it will still cost more than the LG C8 does by a price margin that’s quite a bit higher than the cost of a very decent external sound bar which you could simply buy for an LG OLED TV.
Samsung UN55NU8000 55 Inch LCD 4K HDR Smart TV
Finally for our main TV rankings, we finish off with yet another Samsung 4K TV. This is the NU8000 and it’s also one of the outstanding 4K HDR televisions of 2018 and early 2019 despite being a mid-range 4K TV. The NU8000 is Samsung’s premiere NU-Series model and though it lacks the QLED technology that the next model up (the Q6FN ranked above) comes with, it delivers wonderful overall picture quality to a degree that makes it comparable to many ultra-premium 4K TVs in certain ways. For example, this TV comes remarkably high picture brightness, some truly high caliber high dynamic range color capacity (with both high DCI wide color gamut and 10-bit color delivery), excellent deep black levels and some really high contrast. The NU8000 also has local dimming for even further contrast and black level enhancements though the feature isn’t exceptionally powerful in this model. On a final note, this 4K TV is a wonderful choice for HDR movie fans and console gamers who want the best levels of performance at a price that won’t crush their budget. The latter of these things because the NU8000 also comes with very high gaming responsiveness with low input lag.
Bonus 2017 4K HDR TVs We Still Love
Just because the 2018 batch of 4K UHD TVs is so loaded with worthy models that they basically have to occupy our top spots doesn’t mean that the 2017 editions have simply lost all their quality. In fact, they’re perfectly good televisions already and there are several 2017 4K UHD TV models we think are still superb choices due to their prices and specs. We’ve removed most of these from this list because of space concerns but here are a couple that we think really deserve special mention even now in early 2019.
LG Electronics C7 Flat 55 4k ultra HD OLED HDR TV (2017 Model)
LG’s C7 was without a doubt the single most affordable high-end, cutting-edge OLED 4K HDR TV model released among the 2017 4K UHD TVs. It’ basically took on the role of this year’s OLED C8 in terms of performance and quality. Well, though it may be a last-last year’s model, it’s still great and due to price reductions also delivers better value per dollar spent than ever before. The C7’s display specs are extremely similar to those of the C8 and Sony A9F above and its biggest real “defect” is that this television does not not quite reach the same brightness as its successors in 2018. The C7 also comes with slightly weaker speakers than OLED TV models for this year and has a slower processing engine than its successor the C8. On the other hand, oddly, the C7 delivers a solid 800 nits of maximum peak brightness and this is high enough to put even some of the other LCD 4K TVs on this very list to shame. It also remains damn impressive for an OLED TV. Aside from these things, the C7 is largely identical to the C8 in most display specs, full HDR support and awesome connectivity. Like all OLEDs it also offers superb motion handling and makes for one hell of a gaming console 4K TV. We can’t recommend it enough for anyone who wants a new OLED 4K HDR TV at the lowest possible price.
Sony X930E 4K HDR Ultra HD LCD TV (2017 model)
Sony’s X930E model was beaten by almost no other LCD 4K HDR TV in 2017 as far as overall quality and display performance go and even when compared to 2018 LCD TV models, it’s outperformed only by Samsung’s QLED TVs and Sony’s own new Z9F Master Series 4K LCD Edition. So with that, this television is still a firm placeholder for superb HDR LCD TV technology, now that we’ve run through the inevitable OLED winners and 2018 LCD models. The X930E is one of the brightest (literally, due to its peak brightness) HDR LCD TV’s we’ve reviewed for 2017 and to this it adds superb deep black levels for an excellent, almost unmatched contrast ratio. The X930E also offers some of the best full HDR color performance of any 4K TV you’ll find in 2017. It also supports Dolby Vision as an added bonus. Sony really outdid itself with this model. We’d also like to mention that the X930E television makes a great console gaming TV and in general offers fantastic motion handling specs for nearly any kind of content. It’s still slightly on the pricey side but cheaper than any of Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs, which it comes very close to matching despite its very slightly older technology
4K TV Connectivity
Pretty much all major 4K TV brands offer the same core connectivity in their ultra HD TVs, regardless of size or price, so this isn’t a major concern as far as getting access to what you need for content viewing at a decent price is concerned. Thus, with all of the above models and their more affordable cousins, you’ll find several USB ports, several HDMI 2.0 or better ports and of course, built in WiFi and Ethernet connectivity for smart TV functionality and access to streaming content. Here is a breakdown of the most important content and web connectivity specs:
HDMI: HDMI is the core connection port technology in any 4K TV worth its salt. IT’s via HDMI 2.0, which is what’s found in virtually all modern 4K TVs, that you’ll get access to 4K and HD videos from external media sources like 4K Blu-ray players, conventional Blu-ray players, DVRs, set-top boxes and gaming consoles. The latest version of HDMI, 2.0 offers 4K UHD video at 60 frames per second with a 60Hz transmission refresh rate and a variant of HDMI 2.0 called 2.0a also allows for HDR coding in 4K content from external sources to be delivered to any HDR-capable 4K TV. Most ultra HD TVs and all of the above models offer at least three and usually 4 HDMI 2.0 ports.
USB: USB is your core connectivity port for peripheral media devices and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It’s also a great connectivity option for attaching external hard drives and controllers to your TV. Most 4K TVs today offer between 2 and 4 USB 2.0 ports with some models offering the even more powerful USB 3.0. These ports can be used to transfer music, non-4K video and other lower-bandwidth media to and from your 4K TV. They can also be used for charging devices from the TV.
Ethernet/WiFi: Ethernet is integral to the smart functionality and 4K/HD video technology of any 4K TV today. Without Ethernet connectivity, your TV definitely won’t be able to stream 4K UHD content from major commercial sources and it likely won’t have full smart TV functionality either. However, there is a caveat here, for full use of all the streaming media options in any of the above 4K TVs, you should also have an internet connection of at least 15 to 20 Mbps feeding your Ethernet cable and ideally, for maximal smooth access to streaming live sports and so forth, your home internet connection should offer at least 25 to 30Mbps.
As for WiFi, it’s useful for sharing certain types of content between your TV and other display devices nearby, like smartphones and tablets. Many 4K TVs allow you to stream content from your phone to their much larger screens, with their built in upscaling technology for superior visible resolution.
Smart TV Platforms
All 4K UHD TVs come with smart TV platforms built into them. These are what offers all of these TV internet browsing, digital media apps and communications capacity. The best smart platforms, like those found in almost all of the above models, also offer features like voice and gesture control and accompanying smart remotes with their own related features. Full web browsing capacity is also a common feature of most 4K TVs and of all of the top 55 inch models we’ve listed.
The LG WeboOS 2.0/3.0 smart TV platform variants are particularly good, easy to use, feature-packed and highly intuitive, and we thus consider WebOS to be the best smart TV platform on the market so far. Following closely behind are Android TV for Sony 4K models and Samsung’s Tizen smart OS with Smart Hub. Vizio’s new 2016 SmartCast mobile-device based smart TV platform is a great improvement from what Vizio offered in 2014 and 2015 annd sits at a close fourth to these leading smart OS systems but still suffers from a couple of minor flaws.
Native 4K display extras and Upscaling,
As we’ve covered in other guides, all 4K UHD TVs have variations between model types in how well they display their 4K ultra HD content. Yes, all TVs offer up the same quantity of pixels and thus technically the same fixed ultra-sharp resolution, but differences in central processor technology, color quality, contrast and other display specs can really make a massive difference in just how good native 4K video looks on a 4K UHD TV screen. All of the above 4K models are some of the best for their brands and thus offer superb picture quality for native 4K movies. However, even between them, there are serious differences, with the OLED 4K TV models delivering contrast and dimming technology which are simply incomparably better than those of the LCD 4K models in the listing above.
As for Upscaling, it’s an integral part of any 4K TV worth its value, for the simple reason that most TV content today is not in native 4K resolution and thus 4K TVs need a reason to be valuable for HD and non-HD video as well. This is what upscaling achieves. It reprocesses non-4K video to make it look sharper and closer to native 4K resolution. For Full HD video, the effect is stunning and in a good upscaling engine, even 480p video can be made to look better than it normally would. All of the listed 4K TV models offer superb upscaling engines.
HDR technology is also a crucial feature of the leading 2018 and 2019 4K TVs in the 65 inch range. With high dynamic range, display quality takes a major leap upward and the standards for HDR that the top 4K TVs in this list have adopted are considerably better than what we saw of this technology in models from previous years. For an even more detailed breakdown of how the HDR in the best 55 inch 4K TVs and other models works, check out our guide to high dynamic range for a complete overview.
Backlighting in all 4K TVs on sale today can basically be divided into two broad technology types: LCD/LED display and OLED display. Without going into too many details here, we believe OLED to be the far superior screen illumination technology in 4K models and the top-ranked LG OLED TVs we covered in the number 1 and 2 spots bear this out. However, for a really detailed breakdown of how OLED and LCD stack up against each other, check out our comparison guide here.