All The Absolute Best 4K HDR TVs of 2020:
Ranking of 4K Smart, HDR, OLED, LCD TVs – Sony, Samsung, LG, Vizio & More for every budget.
We tested all the top rated 4K TVs available for sale for early 2020 to compare which ones are the best for which budgets. Below you will find a list of the models we think are the absolute finest performers among these, as well as detailed reviews of most of them and where they’re available at the most affordable possible prices!
We should also mention 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 rankings below are of course also split into one for 4K TVs of all types and a second list of exclusively budget 4K UHD models that cost less than $1000, followed by our last ranking which is for all the best 4K TVs we’ve reviewed that go for less than $500.
However, even the best of the best 4K HDR TVs of 2020 right below have been ranked so that TVs with the absolute finest possible quality at the lowest possible price rank higher than just the best and most expensive TVs in terms of sheer specs. Often price and overall quality are both reflected in the same TV but not always.
The 8 Absolute Best 4K TVs of 2020 as Reviewed by 4K.com
The following are the 10 best 4K TVs that 4K.com has reviewed or thoroughly covered to-date. The following models are mostly the latest editions from each brand that we have reviewed so far or are certain of their rankings and a very few older models which we still think are stunning enough to compete with newer editions and deliver a superb level of performance relative to their price or in absolute terms. In other words, this list will be updated as regularly as new television models get reviewed or thoroughly vetted by us. Furthermore, you should check back regularly to see how we’ve updated our rankings of models based on new releases and reviews. Also, bear in mind that we’ve selected the following models based on how much value each offers when both pricing and overall display performance specs are balanced against each other.
We start things off with our rankings of the best 4K HDR TVs of them all for 2020. These are mostly premium models and can be pricet (the budget listings can be found further down this page) but their rankings definitely take quality per dollar spent into consideration. For this reason, a few notably superb and famous flagship models from major brands like LG, Sony and Samsung are excluded below because we believe that much more affordable “lower-ranking” models offer performance that’s almost as good or equal to that of the flagships but for much better prices. All of the following 4K TVs deliver full, high quality HDR performance, a native refresh rate of 120Hz and they all offer full support for judder-free playback of 24p movie content from all sources unless otherwise stated in their specific descriptions. Furthermore, the majority of the following top-ranked 4K UHD TVs come with other premium technologies such as full.array LED backlighting, full-array-based local dimming and complete HDR support in terms of both color performance AND extremely strong black levels/peak brightness
1. BEST 4K HDR TV of them all: LG C9 OLED 4K HDR TV
OLED 4K HDR TVs are almost consistently among the best televisions available on the market today. They perform exceptionally well at just about everything you could want a premium UHD TV to do and their HDR capabilities in particular are especially incredible. Their one weakness is that they can’t get quite as bright as the best LCD HDR TVs but even this has become less of an issue since luminosity in OLED screens has improved enormously by this point. Furthermore, because of how OLED technology works, these TVs offer the best motion handling in existence.
The LG C9 is the brand’s latest and best OLED TV so far and it embodies all of the above nearly to perfection. Furthermore, it supports fantastic gaming performance. It’s also remarkably affordable for an OLED. This doesn’t affect its performance though since a little secret with OLED TV releases is that all models released by a brand for any given year have always performed identically in our experience. In other words, the C9 delivers the same as LG’s most expensive OLED at a much lower price.
2. Single best LCD 4K HDR TV: Samsung Q90R QLED 4K HDR LCD TV
While OLED takes the top spot, LCD TV technology can get incredibly impressive and for early 2020, the best you’ll find anywhere is that which the Samsung Q90R QLED flagship 4K TV offers. This ultra HD television is insanely good, with stunningly high peak brightness across the board, some of the best contrast we’ve ever seen and incredibly rich, inky black levels. New Samsung technology for its VA LCD TVs also means that the Q90R offers really good viewing angles, which hasn’t been the case before with any 4K TV’s from any brand. Other great features of this television include superbly powerful gaming performance and one truly crisp level of motion control. The Q90R is expensive but damn is it worth buying for how much it impresses at everything a 4K TV is supposed to do.
3. 4K HDR LCD TV with the most stunning color delivery: Sony X950G 4K HDR LCD TV
Sony’s X950G is this brand’s answer to Samsung’s Q90R and while it doesn’t perform quite as well as its rival, the latest and best of Sony’s LCD 4K HDR TVs still performs insanely well. The X950G delivers out of this world color performance and accuracy, gets incredibly bright and also manages to deliver some of the best game console handling we’ve ever seen from a Sony LCD TV so far. Additionally, it’s a 4K TV with great local dimming because of its full-array LED backlight. While the X950G’s contrast ratio and black levels don’t quite match those of the Q90R, they’re still superb and look exceptionally well in a dark room.
The HDR performance of the X950G is fantastic due to the combination of all factors above and unlike Samsung’s premium 4K TVs, this model supports all HDR types including Dolby Vision.
4. Best really damn expensive UHD HDR TV: Samsung Q900 QLED 8K HDR TV
Samsung’s Q900R is one truly exceptional ultra HD HDR LCD TV that offers the further benefit of full blown 8K resolution instead of the usual 4K. There may not be any consumer 8K content in existence yet, but who cares? With this TV, you get to show off to your friends, family and neighbors that you own what is probably one of the only 8K TVs on the block, or possibly in your whole neighborhood.
What’s surprising about this particular ultra-premium TV is that it manages to upscale all non-8K content with remarkable crispness on its pixel-crammed screen, and this upscaling capability even works for the lowest typical consumer content resolutions like 480p. Obviously 480p or 720p videos won’t look as if they’re playing in native 8K on the Q900, but they will look better than they normally should. Aside from this, the Q900R delivers specs on color, contrast, motion handling and gaming capacity that are nearly identical to those of the Q90R, except that in this case everything is being done with four times as many pixels -a total of just over 36 million of them! The Q900R is still insanely expensive even by premium Samsung TV standards, which is why we ranked it lower down on this list, but it’s impossible not to include a fully awesome 8K TV regardless of its price.
5. Vizio P Series Quantum 2019 4K HDR LCD TV
The Vizio P Series Quantum 2019 4K HDR LCD TV is one stunningly good performer that matches or exceeds most other premium LCD 4K HDR TVs for the year from any other brand. This television doesn’t get quite as astonishingly bright as some of Vizio’s 2018 editions but it’s still fantastically luminous and delivers fantastically deep black levels, black uniformity and contrast. It also comes with excellent local dimming capability for razor-sharp picture quality. The P Series Quantum is furthermore a superbly good 4K TV for gaming via console or PC hardware and its overall motion handling for both entertainment content and games is truly excellent.
We don’t like Vizio’s native Smartcast smart TV app but that’s easy to fix with an external streaming media device. The P Series is seriously underappreciated as one of the year’s absolute best 4K HDR LCD TVs.
Check out Vizio’s Affordable and awesome P Series Quantum 2019 4K HDR LCD TV on sale at Amazon
4.7 – 4 Reviews
6. Best alternative ultra-premium QLED: Samsung Q80R QLED 4K HDR LCD TV
Samsung’s Q80R 4K HDR QLED TV is basically a slightly weaker cousin of the Samsung Q90 edition that we gave top LCD TV spot to above but this doesn’t mean it sucks at all. Instead, this television provides most of the same specs and performance that the Q90R can deliver but costs a fair bit less in doing so. For this reason above all others, we love it. The Q80R can handle outstandingly rich HDR and normal color rendering; it offers deep strong black levels and its motion control features are nearly perfect.
In fact, the Q80R is a superbly good premium gaming TV like very few others. Samsung also gave the Q80R the same “Ultra Viewing Angle” technology that the Q90R and 8K Q900R have, so this TV can also deliver wide viewing angles despite having a VA display screen. Best of all, the Q80R costs a lot less than the Q90R or any comparable Sony HDR LCD TV.
Check out Samsung’s premium but more affordable QLED HDR TV, the 2019 Q80R for sale at Amazon
4.7 – 4 Reviews
7. Best non-LG OLED: Sony Master Series A9G OLED 4K HDR TV
Sony’s A9G OLED RK HDR TV definitely deserves a serious mention on this ranking of the very best TVs of the year. It’s almost exactly as good as LG’s OLED TVs like the C9 but because we think it’s a bit more steeply priced than it deserves to be, we ranked it lower. That said, the A9G is absolutely outstanding. In terms of color rendering, HDR performance, sheer visual power and fantastic OLED motion handling, the A9G is as good as the best OLED TV of the year. It’s not quite as bright as the LG OLED C9 but it does come with a much stronger native sound system as a consolation. We also love Sony’s Android TV smart platform, which is simply crammed with apps and access to more of them via Google Play. If you’re a serious fan of Sony technology but still want an OLED 4K TV, the A9G is the ideal choice.
8. Most affordable ultra-premium 4K HDR TV: The LG B9 OLED
LG’s B9 is just as good in almost everything as the C9 that we gave top spot to, or the A9G Sony edition right above, but it costs much less than either of these editions. Maybe it’s just a bit slower with its processor and maybe it gets just a bit dimmer screen luminosity than the C9 but in both cases, the differences are barely if at all noticeable while this model’s much smaller price is definitely something you’ll note. Thus, it fully deserves a spot on this list of the best TVs of early 2020.
With that said, the B9 basically delivers the exact same performance in all other things as the C9 in the Number 1 spot. It’s color rendering is outstandingly good, its motion and motion blur handling is OLED-perfect (which completely outdoes any LCD TV) and of course, it renders the exact same quality of perfect black depth, black uniformity and infinite contrast as the C9 OLED or any other TV in the LG lineup. The B9 is also a superbly responsive gaming TV. On this last metric we think it even slightly outperforms the C9 or Sony A9G. Once again, it’s also the cheapest premium, new model OLED TV available right now.
The following TVs are all awesome, they’re just not quite as good as their closest comparable models above, so though we loved them and think they’re worth a look if you want to get much of the quality from the TVs mentioned above but at slightly higher or lesser prices, they’re not the best of the best in our view.
Sony’s now slightly aged 2018 OLED 4K HDR TV is still stunningly good and cheaper than ever. The A9G comes with some newer specs and faster performance but the A9F is definitely capable of better brightness. If you want superb Sony OLED display but at a slight savings, we still HIGHLY recommend the A9F edition.
Samsung’s Q70R came so close to getting a numbered spot on our list of top ranked TVs but ultimately it doesn’t quite make the grade because the LG B9 costs nearly the same at the same size ranges while offering so much more. The Q70R is similar to the Q80R but with slightly less color quality, a bit less brightness and that’s about it. In almost every other way, this 4K HDR TV is superbly good too. It’s a QLED and they are genuinely good across the board.
The Vizio P Series Quantum X is one of the best LCD 4K HDR TVs of 2019 and early 2020, and we consider it to be a superior performer to the P Series Quantum we ranked above but because it’s also quite a bit more expensive, the performance difference is too small to be justified. That said, the Quantum X kicks ass, even if it’s getting hard to find in stores or online.
The 5 Best 4K HDR TVs of 2020 for Less Than $1000:
After the mostly premium and ultra-premium 4K TV models above which generally sell for close to or over $1000, we now come down to what we consider to be the absolute best 4K UHD TVs at the largest possible display size for less than $1000. All of these models offer mostly great and sometimes even excellent HDR specs and full HDR color. Furthermore, all of these TVs promise an excellent home theater experience and gaming performance despite their possible lack of some features like QLED technology, full-array LED backlighting, full HDR color and higher levels of peak brightness (though some of them still have all of this technology even with their lower prices). In other words, if you’re looking for the highest possible display performance on a highly reasonable a budget, you can’t go wrong with any of these televisions. They’re all excellent too.
1. The best of the best and for the lowest price: TCL 6 Series 2019 4K HDR LCD TV
The TCL 6 Series 2019 4K HDR LCD TV is easily the best 4K UHD HDR television that you can get for less than $1000 without sacrificing on incredible quality and massive display size. It’s simply extremely affordable, with the giant 65 inch edition costing just $700 before shipping or possible taxes. For this price, the 6 Series delivers display performance that’s easily close to that of many of the best and most expensive 4K HDR TVs of the year. We’re talking about fantastic full blown HDR specs, superbly vibrant wide color gamut delivery, incredibly strong local dimming technology and superbly powerful motion handling.
The 6 Series also offers some of the best gaming connectivity for consoles or PCs that we’ve ever seen. This TV is one superb choice. Its only major defect: none really, we certainly couldn’t find anything that made the 65 inch R625 in any way a bad deal at its low price.
2. Best ultra-premium 4K HDR TV for color under under $1000: Samsung Q70R 49 Inch edition
Samsung’s Q70R is one of our top 8 4K HDR TVs of the year but only the 49 inch model sells for less than $1000, so that’s why it’s here and the somewhat limited 49 inch display is why it’s ranked a bit lower than either of the above TVs. That said, the Q70R is definitely better at color rendering than the RU8000 above and gives the TCL 6 Series TV in our number one spot on this list a serious run for its money. One detail we need to mention though: this 49 inch edition that costs just below $1000 only offers 60Hz refresh, so if you want a 4K TV with high frame-rate gaming capacity, the other two TVs above are better choices.
Check out Samsung’s more affordable QLED 4K HDR LCD TV, the 2019 Q70R for sale at Amazon
4.7 – 4 Reviews
3. Best Gaming 4K HDR TV for under $1000: Samsung RU8000 65 Inch edition or smaller
Samsung’s 65 inch RU8000 is not only one of the best 4K HDR TVs of any kind that you can buy for under $1000, it’s also one of the large-edition gaming 4K TVs available at this price today. The RU8000’s general motion handling chops are superbly good and its console gaming input lag is downright excellent. Furthermore, this 4K HDR LCD TV just delivers excellent quality across the board, with full HDR color, extremely deep, rich black levels, high contrast and one very decent local dimming feature all working under its display to render stunning picture quality. Whether you want to use the RU8000 for any kind of ordinary SDR content or full HDR movies, it delivers exceptionally good performance.
Check out Samsung’s best mid-range 4K HDR LCD TV, the 2019 RU8000 for sale at Amazon
4.7 – 4 Reviews
4. Absolute best IPS 4K TV of 2020: LG SM9000 55 Inch edition or smaller
LG’s SM9000 is probably the single best LCD 4K HDR TV with IPS display that was produced for 2019 and early 2020. Its overall display chops are excellent and the SM9000 delivers incredibly good gaming performance. This LG UHD TV particularly excels at rendering vibrant, rich HDR color and comes with full support for all major HDR formats, including Dolby Vision. The SM9000’S IPS display does mean that it delivers only modestly decent contrast and black levels but even on this, it does so better than any other IPS TV we reviewed in the last year, so that means you can enjoy its exceptionally wide viewing angles without losing out too badly on the black performance.
Check out LG’s Excellent Nano Cell 4K HDR LCD TV, the 2019 SM9000 for sale at Amazon
4.7 – 4 Reviews
5. Best Large ultra-premium QLED on a budget: Samsung Q60R QLED 65 inch edition
Samsung’s Q60R is the cheapest of the latest QLED TVs from the brand and doesn’t quite get the sort of punch-to-the-eyes picture performance that the Q70, 80 and Q90 can manage. However, its color rendering is QLED-awesome and outstandingly high on wide color gamut. Furthermore, this TV offers some of Samsung’s absolute best gaming performance with excellent low input lag packed into a much bigger screen than the Q70R above this. Its motion handling is downright great and the Q60R absolutely delivers the essentials of high contrast, deep black levels and very decent local dimming performance. As a gaming 4K TV in particular, we really recommend it because it’s so similar to the Q70 but available in a much larger size for less than $1000.
None of the notable mentions below are quite as good as the top 5 4K HDR TVs for under $1000 above but they’re still great overall performers, as each one’s blurb explains. Also, they all have one important thing in common: they’re available in large 65 inch editions for for even cheaper prices than the above editions, making them wonderfully affordable alternatives to the above. Thus if you want to save even more money but still want lots of display space, these are good bets.
LG’s SM8600 is one notch below the SM9000. It doesn’t get quite as bright and its overall motion handling performance isn’t quite as good. Furthermore, it lacks the real punch of full HDR color specs. That said, it’s still a great IPS 4K UHD TV and most users will love it. Its gaming performance is good too.
TCL’s 5 Series 4K UHD TV is a robust, reasonably bright ultra HD television with some decent HDR specs and very reasonable motion handling. Most of all though, it’s a fantastic gaming 4K HDR TV that comes with a wonderful price for the giant 65 inch model. We definitely recommend it as a good starter 4K TV or a gamer’s display.
We really liked the Samsung RU7100. It offers lots of kick, superb motion handling for its price and a great level of overall picture quality. The RU8000 is the better choice by far but the RU7100 is a really good option if you want the same 65 inch display size at a further savings of a couple hundred dollars.
The Best 4K & HDR TVs of 2020 For Under $500
That’s what we’re going to cover here. We’re taking the idea of high quality 4K resolution with full HDR on a budget even further down from $1000 dollar limits and right into a demonstration of the best possible picture quality and decent display size you can get even if your budget is less than half that amount. All of the following 4K ultra HD TVs offer high dynamic range, solid overall display performance and several other important features while costing less than $500. We’ve ranked them top to bottom from best down to least valuable for $500 or less.
Let’s get started.
1. Absolute best of the best at the lowest price: TCL R625 6-Series 2019 55 Inch model
TCL’s R625 6 Series 4K HDR TV makes the rankings again as the single best 4K HDR TV you can buy at this budget price range. There’s just one tiny catch, at $549 it costs just a little bit more than $500, though it’s often on sale for less. Despite this slight extra cost, this 4K HDR TV is absolutely worth getting if at all possible. The simple reason why is that it is by far and away the absolute best 4K UHD TV of any kind that you can get for anything less than $550 and for us that’s close enough to be great. The 6 Series 2019 edition excels at nearly every spec, with fantastically strong premium-level performance on brightness, color saturation, full-array local dimming and outstanding HDR rendering. It also offers great motion handling and gaming performance.
2. Best HDR specs for less than $500: TCL R617 55 Inch 2018 model
It may be from 2018 but damn does TCL’s 2018 predecessor to the R625 above simply have to be in the number 2 position here. The reason why is simple: it delivers the absolute best 4K HDR TV performance in existence for literally less than $500. In fact, it is almost as good as its 2019/2020 counterpart the R625. This UHD TV’s specs are nearly the same as those of the newer model with full-array LED backlighting, fantastic full HDR color, outstanding black levels and contrast and some wicked gaming chops for console or PC. It’s only two “major” weaknesses are slightly inferior motion handling in terms of motion interpolation and a bit less local dimming quality.
3. Best Value 4K HDR TV for less than $500: TCL 5 Series S525 55 Inch Edition
Yes, that’s right, another TCL 4K TV on this list of the five best models for less than $500. The reason why is that TCL is just really good at creating very decent to excellent 4K HDR TVs and selling them for incredibly accessible price tags. The TCL 5 Series 2019 edition costs way less than $500 and in exchange you can have it with a huge 65 inch display. It performs admirably well, with superb color accuracy, great motion handling for most content and some truly outstanding responsiveness for console gaming. It also renders exceptionally good black levels, contrast and uniformity. This TV’s color accuracy is wonderful even though it doesn’t support full HDR color due to a lack of wide color gamut coverage.
4. Best Samsung 4K HDR TV on a lean budget: 55 Inch RU7100 4K HDR LCD TV
Samsung’s RU7100 is a great all-purpose 4K HDR TV that actually manages to deliver some decent basic HDR performance. For normal 4K TV SDR content from disc media, streaming, broadcast TV or any other source, it’s excellent in terms of contrast, black levels, color accuracy and motion blur control. This TV’s motion handling in general is also pretty good and the RU7100’s gaming responsiveness is simply wonderful for console or PC use. In basic terms, it delivers all the essentials and the very respectably-sized 55 inch model has a price that’s neatly under $500.
Check out Samsung’s highly affordable and decent RU7100 2020 budget 4K HDR LCD TV on sale at Amazon
4.7 – 4 Reviews
5. Best IPS 4K HDR Gaming TV for less than $500: LG 55 Inch UM7300 Edition
LG’s UM7300 is a good IPS 4K HDR TV with great color accuracy, decent motion handling and some really strong gaming responsiveness. Its black levels and contrast aren’t exceptionally good because it has an IPS display but in exchange you can enjoy the TV’s really wide viewing angles because of the same technology. At 55 inches, it’s also respectably large for most living rooms. By the standards of IPS 4K TV technology, this particular HDR TV manages to render reasonably decent black uniformity and contrast even though it lacks local dimming.
Check out LG’s highly affordable and decent UM7300 4K HDR LCD TV with IPS display on sale at Amazon
4.7 – 4 Reviews
These two models aren’t as good as the above editions but they’re both available in huge sizes and do indeed deliver very decent overall performance. If you want to save even more money for a 55 inch model or want a larger 65 inch budget 4K TV for less than $500, both of them are ideal choices.
The Vizio V Series delivers fairly weak peak brightness for both HDR and SDR content but because its black uniformity, contrast and black depth are all really damn good, the somewhat dim screen highlights will barely be noticeable in a darkened room. Aside from this, its gaming performance is good and its motion handling and color accuracy specs are all very decent.
The TCL 4 Series 2019 edition is the cheapest 4K option in TCL’s latest line of TVs and quite frankly, it’s not bad at all. This TV outputs very strong color accuracy, great black depth and contrast and its motion blur control is surprisingly excellent. On the other hand, it doesn’t get very bright but this is barely noticeable in a darkened room. We liked it and it’s incredibly low-priced as well.
4K HDR TVs: Everything you Need to Know
4K UHD (along with HDR) is the latest buzzword in the entertainment display industry, but in this case the buzz isn’t simply hollow jargon. Why? Because 4K UHD really seems to be the future of all video display technology. From there it might even move up to 8K in the next few years, as is already happening with some ultra-premium consumer market TVs.
Given this potential trend and all the resulting hype, you’re probably curious about what 4K HDR TV is really all about.
Well look no further for an explanation. We’re about to cover all the essentials of what 4K TV technology refers to, how HDR fits the picture, and give you some solid advice on making a buying decision.
What Exactly Is 4K TV?
4K TV is a title used to describe any TV display technology that offers a total pixel count which offers 4 times the final resolution that you’d find in ordinary Full HD TVs. A 4K TV doesn’t exactly need to have 4,000+ pixels in horizontal pixelation. Instead, with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 (as most 4K TVs have, it already offers 4 times the resolution of 1920 x 1080p typical Full HD displays; though some 4K TV models do indeed offer even more than 4,000p horizontal resolution. Some TVs come with a flat screen while others might be curved, here is a great guide on the Pros & Cons of a curved TV.
Furthermore, 4K televisions aren’t just about their massively augmented pixel count. They also offer a whole plethora of other technological enhancements that leave many conventional HD TVs in the dust. These include much better frame rates than normal HD TV, the ability to upscale regular HD video, far superior wide color gamut color palettes and HDR contrast ratios along with extras like full 3D TV capacity in most cases.
What’s the Difference Between 4K and UHD?
In practical terms as far as branding is concerned, there is no difference between UHD and 4K. In most cases, TV manufacturers use the two terms interchangeably to describe the same 4K technology. However, if we’re speaking strictly, 4K is different in the sense that it has to consist of display resolution at least four times greater than that of normal 1080p HD and by its own industry standard it is specifically defined as 4096 x 2160 pixels (at a 1.9:1 aspect ratio).
UHD, on the other hand, can be used to describe any resolution range that’s considerably larger than normal 1920 x 1080 Full HD.
So for example, any type of TV resolution that doesn’t reach 4K levels but does give you say twice the pixel count of 1920 x 1080p would also be considered UHD, and furthermore, any resolution that goes way beyond even 4K TV, such as say 8K technology at 7680×4320 pixels would also be considered UHD.
In fact, there are also several types of informally defined 4K resolutions such as those with pixel counts of 4096 × 2160p or 3996 × 2160p. The bottom line is that 4K is a format which outstrips pretty much anything else currently commercially available for the consumer market.
What about High Dynamic Range?
Now that 4K has firmly been established in TV displays, the biggest technology to come along for home entertainment is high dynamic range, and 4K TVs are right at ground zero of this new trend because at least so far, HDR has been applied exclusively to 4K displays and 4K UHD content without shifting over to Full HD video as well. This first became broadly evident in the premium ultra HD TVs of 2015 but in 2016 and 2017 it expanded much further to cover all mid-range and premium television models from pretty much every single brand. And since 2018 and 2019, pretty much all new TV models available at least support pass-through of HDR formatting. Even most low-cost 4K UHD TVs include HDR color and dynamic range specs as part of their core package of features. At this point, every TV brand has also included HDR color and dynamic range levels in all of its newer 4K HDR OLED and LCD TV models. In basic terms, 4K TVs today all come with some degree of HDR display performance, though the premium and flagship TVs from each major brand (such as those listed as our Best Picks at the top of this page) offer what could truly be called comprehensive and stunning HDR display.
As for what HDR itself does to TV display quality, well we can’t understate the value of the technology. Unlike 4K resolution, which only really makes a visual impact in larger TVs viewed at closer distances, the picture quality improvements in color, contrast and realism are immediately visible in even the smallest TV sets viewed from almost any normal distance. This is because with this technology, color range, color depth and contrast precision are all dramatically enhanced in content which has been formatted to display in HDR on a TV with a compatible display. Currently, the three main HDR standards in the consumer market are HDR10, Dolby Vision and for some types of broadcast content, HLG. At least one of these and now more frequently both are available in all HDR TVs currently being sold.
Basically, HDR is turning into a technology with even more importance than 4K resolution itself and it’s definitely here to stay and get refined further down the road. All of the genuinely high quality 4K TVs of 2016 and 2017 come with HDR and if you’re just now thinking of buying a new 4K TV, high dynamic range is one of the core features you absolutely should make sure to see included in your model of choice regardless of your budget. Doing so will offer the benefit of future-proofing your TV for new content and other standards during a longer period of time than would be the case if you simply went for a basic SDR 4K model.
Fortunately, HDR is no longer expensive either. The price of TVs with the technology has dropped even faster than did the prices of 4K TVs in general since they first started being sold to consumers. Thus, today, with the near universality of high dynamic range in all major 2019 and 2020 TV models and brands, very decent HDR sets in the 40 to 55 inch range are available for well below $1000 and many 4K HDR TVs even sell for less than $500 –with some smaller models retailing for less than $300 even.
For much more detail on how dynamic range works and the benefits it brings to home entertainment, check out our comprehensive HDR guide here.
4K TV and Home Theater Costs
Though these gadgets make some truly superb home theater setups, they aren’t cheap yet. On average, a decent 50 inch TV or more from any one of the major high end brands that make them (such as Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio) will cost you a highly affordable minimum of $300 USD new and decent 65” inch to 75 inch models go for nearly twice that price.However, many models in these size ranges can cost well below $2000 towards the $1000 end.
However, prices are indeed dropping and at a steady pace. In comparison to what the first mass produced 4K TVs cost back in late 2012, todays models are not only more feature rich but also considerably cheaper for it. Furthermore, even the big brands like Samsung, Sony 4K TV and LG now have a number of smaller models with screens at or below the 50″ inch size level which sometimes sell for less than $500. These are very small 4K UHD TVs but at least they offer some truly superb visual technologies and will only continue to offer more display features as things like quantum dots and HDR mature and proliferate in 4K televisions of all sizes and prices.
The bottom line for 4K UHD TV pricing is that it’s dropping and like a stone. At the same time, the overall quality of these 4K TVs is expanding enormously with new specs, new features and other new technologies which are pretty much exclusive to 4K TVs and also happen to make them superb investments. For one thing, you’ll be buying a TV that’s future ready and can handle the content that will increasingly fill the Ultra HD market in the next 3 to 5 years and secondly, many 4K TV models such as any of Samsung’s excellent 4k UHD TV QLED editions come with design and warranty features that make them very easy to upgrade as new advancements come along.
4K Content and Regular Content
For the moment, actual native 4K content for your would be UHD TV is still in the minority among content choices but its range is growing quickly and now includes a much wider than ever selection of 4K streaming offerings, VOD 4K movies and shows, download 4K content and even live broadcast sports and other movies from a number of services. You can check all of these out here on our movies page for plenty of details on what to get and from which source. Keep in mind however that for streaming 4K entertainment from the major sources like Vudu, Amazon Prime and Netflix among others, a fast internet connection of at least 20Mbs is essential. Furthermore, with the advent of 4K HDR TVs, the content available in high dynamic range and 4K resolution is also expanding in scope. Netflix, Amazon and Vudu are two particular sources of HDR ultra HD programming and if you have one of the HDR 4K TVs that have emerged from 2015 onward, these are definitely worth checking out for a truly stunning home theater experience. On top of these options, there is also the growing body of 4K ultra HD Blu-ray disc media that’s on sale with new release and remastered classic movies being sold for consumers who own a 4K TV and a 4K UHD Blu-ray media player. To date, nothing quite beats 4K HDR Blu-ray in terms of sheer picture quality, at least from what we’ve seen so far when viewing this type of content on TVs with high dynamic range.
However, for now, most of your enjoyment will probably come from seeing the enhancements your TV offers to conventional HD content, which according to some users are definitely noticeable (though others disagree on this). At the very least, having your TV, you’ll be ready to enjoy any new UHD content that will almost certainly be emerging at an accelerated pace over the next couple of years.
One of the crucial aspects of deciding which 4K television to buy revolves around the connectivity specs your TV is going to come with. In this area, you need to pay careful attention to making sure the TV you buy comes with the right specs so that you can enjoy ultra HD content in the widest possible variety at the best possible level of quality.
There are several key connections and connectivity specs any 4K TV worth its salt must have if you want to be up to date with the latest and best content delivery technology.
For starters, any 4K TV worth its salt must have at least 1 and preferably several HDMI 2.0a ports built into it. Ideally, at least one of these ports should also be HDCP 2.2 enabled. Thus, with these in place, you will get access to the widest range of 4K content from set-top boxes, external media players, Blu-ray players and other potential sources. Furthermore, because HDMI 2.0a is uniquely capable of delivering 4K HDR content at a much smoother refresh rate of 60 frames per second, you’ll be able to enjoy your entertainment on the screen much more smoothly.
Second a DisplayPort 1.2 connection built into your 4K TV would be ideal though this isn’t a common feature or much of a requirement in 4K TVs. DisplayPort is in fact much more common and needed in UHD PC monitors for easy connectivity to the graphics cards which are needed for gaming in UHD and other resolutions.
An Important Note on Smart TV Technology
Smart TV is an integral part of any decent 4K TV setup and all of the major brands include Smart functionality as a fundamental feature of their ultra HD TV models. In fact, a very large part of what 4K TVs are all about revolves around their Smart platforms, and there are many to choose from indeed.
First of all, just to cover the essentials of Smart TV as a whole, we need to briefly describe what all such platforms have in common.
In the most basic terms, a Smart TV is any television, HD or 4K, that is capable of connecting to the web and runs with its own internal operating system with interactive technology and access to streaming media apps and other software systems.
Thus, most modern smart TVs come with their own different operating systems depending on which brand you’re dealing with and in all of these different platforms, you’ll find essential features like a web browsing platform, a central apps navigation and search menu, a series of interactive controls for TV display and configuration options and access to things like on-demand video rental apps, internet music streaming platforms, and the media player software for running all of these. All Smart TV platforms connect to the internet connection in a home via either a wired Ethernet connection or through the powerful WiFi that virtually all 4K TVs have built into them.
Some of the major brands use their own natively developed Smart TV operating systems while others install major adaptations of third party platforms. Some notable examples of the former are LG 4k TV with its native (and excellent) WebOS 2.0 and some highly effective examples of the second include the Android TV platform for 4K that’s found on Sony’s latest 4k UHD TVs, or the Firefox TV OS found in select Panasonic 4K TVs.
Because smart TV platforms are essentially computing platforms very similar to those found in a PC, their online connectivity also means that they can be updated remotely as new apps come along and new features for their different software features. These updates are often automatic and include better software, new games and all sorts of other constantly developing technologies and entertainment mediums.
Some of the best rated smart TV systems in existence today are the webOS 4.5 platform found in LG’s latest 4K TVs and its OLED 4K models, the Android TV platform of Sony’s 2017 4K TVs and the native Tizen operating system of Samsung’s 2017 Ultra HD TV models and the company’s QLED 4K TVs in particular. Then there is also Vizio’s highly innovative mobile device-based SmartCast smart TV application which instead of being controlled from the TV display, has its UI on the mobile device the app is downloaded to. This is an entirely new take on smart TV technology and one we might see emulated in more brands down the road.
Finally, if your own 4K TV’s smart platform isn’t something you’re happy with, there are numerous plug-and-play streaming media platforms available online or in stores with their own, often much better internal smart platforms and content apps. We go into deep detail on these and just how affordable and easy to install they are in our “Streaming and Gaming Media Devices” page, here.
What’s the Bottom Line, Is 4K TV Sticking Around and Should I buy One?
That 4K will stick around and keep growing in importance is almost without question. Major broadcasters, TV makers and content producers are all investing ever more heavily in the technology. Furthermore, professional film cameras are increasingly switching over to UHD resolutions and they are absolutely going to want to show their shooting off to audiences.
Addtionally, the bottom line is that 4K Televsions are the new mass market premium TVs that Full HD models were a few years ago. Thus, it is 4K TV models which get all of the best connectivity specs, the most innovative new display technologies (like the HDR covered above) and assorted other features. In essence, the best and brightest of quality home entertainment is almost entirely geared towards the sort of technologies found in today’s 4K UHD TVs. What this obviously means is that if you want access to the cutting edge of home entertainment, a 4K TV and particularly a newer HDR 4K TV is basically becoming an essential purchase.
As to whether or not you should buy one of these TVs, well that’s a very personal decision that depends a lot on your finances and love of truly superior home entertainment systems. However, if you really want to be ready for the inevitable rise of 4K resolution as a replacement of 1080p HD, then at least one of the more affordable 4K TV screens would make for a great investment, especially now that 4K televisions become the de facto top-shelf models form all the major brands, meaning that they are the TVs in which the best and latest display technologies like high dynamic range and wide color gamut get included.
What sort of 4K TV is right for me?
This is another rather subjective issue for would-be 4K TV buyers but a few key considerations are going to simplify your own decision making process here. First of all, as a general rule, bigger is indeed better with 4K TVs. This isn’t to say that a larger TV is always better than a smaller TV –because some smaller models offer much better display specs than other larger-issue models– but larger screens of 55 inches or more generally deliver a much better appreciation of native ultra HD resolution and upscaled non-4K video as well. The arrival of HDR in numerous different 4K TVs of all dimensions has definitely made size less of a factor in display quality than it was before but even here, a larger screen with UHD resolution definitely shows off HDR color and contrast much more impressively than a small screen does.
What we can definitely say is that you should buy the largest and best possible 4K TV your budget allows you to get your hands on while also not stretching yourself too far for something which offers only a bit more screen real estate but leaves you too broke to really appreciate your television. Thus, if a 55 inch model from a major brand costs several hundred dollars less than a 65 inch version of the same TV, the 55 incher will probably be more than good enough if your budget is a bit tight.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many 4K TV specs and manufacturer touted features often mean very little or nothing when it comes to actual performance in a 4K television. Looking at specs sheets is great for knowing if a TV has the right sort of connectivity, or if it has certain basic smart TV features or not, or if there is HDR and 3D technology in the model but beyond these sorts of things, manufacturer-described benefits like “great color”, “contrast enhancement engines” and motion interpolation technologies can be either misleading or outright false. Instead, pay attention to real third party review descriptions of key performance metrics or best of all, see if you can observe a model you’re interested in a showroom as it performs in the flesh.
Below we’ve selected several of the 4K UHD TVs for 2017 and 2018 which we consider to be the best on the market today, either based on their sheer quality or on a combination of very decent quality and affordable pricing. These models cover both the budget end of the spectrum and the ultra premium end but all of them have something great to offer in terms of home entertainment for their given price range. Below the following select 4K TVs, we’ve also listed links to our 4K TV size guides, which cover all the best currently reviewed 4 TVs we’ve covered so far by different size categories.
For some well researched listings on the best 4K TVs by size range, check out our own guides to the best 4K TVs on sale today in all the different sizes ranging from a compact 40 inches up to a gigantic 80+ inches. The following links will take you to each guide, and we updates these guides regularly.