Even though CES 2021 has been different than any CES in the past, this year's all-virtual consumer electronics extravaganza has still delivered plenty of exciting announcements and cool tech toys. It also brought with it a lot of great looking TVs.
With new TV models and impressive technological innovations from manufacturers like LG, Samsung, Sony and TCL, 2021 promises to be a year for amazing TVs that look better than ever and offer entirely new tech.
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Obviously, without the opportunity to see these TVs in person, our judgements on new display technology and features are based on the reported specs and past exposure to similar technology. We'll have to wait until our reviewers can actually test and evaluate these TVs to determine which are really praiseworthy, but there's plenty to be excited about based on the announcements that have been made.
From 8K screens and enhanced OLED displays to mini-LED backlights and the first micro-LED TVs, display technology is changing and evolving rapidly. TV sound systems are improving as well, with TVs boasting more speakers, more sophisticated sound processing and pairing with soundbars in surprising new ways.
They're also all getting smarter. Smart TVs are going to do more than just stream Netflix in the coming year, with sets that help you work out, help you shop, help you connect with other people and even beautify your home when you're not watching a show.
We've been covering all of the big TV announcements during CES 2021, so here are the new TVs we're most excited for in the coming months.
LG Gallery G1 OLED TV
When LG announced its new Gallery design last year, we were impressed with the slim, wall-hugging TVs. But the 2021 LG Gallery G1 OLED TV is set to outdo its predecessor thanks to LG OLED Evo, an enhanced OLED panel that produces more light per pixel, resulting in better brightness in color. That boosted brightness should fix one of the only real problems with OLED — darker picture in the absence of a backlight — and make the best looking TVs on the market that much better.
The G1 series is the only model line to get the new OLED panel, but that's not all it has to offer. With LG's latest α9 Gen 4 AI chip and LG AI Sound Pro providing virtual 5.1.2 surround sound and auto volume leveling, the LG Gallery G1 OLED promises to be one of the best looking and sounding TVs on the market. The TV also gets LG's webOS 6.0, the latest and best version of LG's proprietary Smart TV platform.
The LG Gallery G1 OLED will be available in 55, 65 and 77-inch sizes later this year. LG has not announced pricing and availability, but we anticipate a spring launch in March or April.
LG QNED MiniLED TV
LG's OLED TVs aren't the only ones getting a big improvement; LG's LCD-based TVs are getting a boost thanks to a combination of mini-LED backlight for improved brightness and contrast, and a hybrid display panel that benefits from both quantum dot and Nanocell technology. These dual nano-scale enhancements offer boosted brightness, thanks to quantum-dot's emissive qualities, and truer color, using Nanocell filtering.
The combination is called QNED, and while that acronym doesn't roll off the tongue, it does promise to deliver some pretty amazing picture quality. LG's new TVs will also get webOS 6.0 and the redesigned Magic Remote, along with updated processors and HDMI 2.1 connectivity. We haven't yet seen the new LG QNED Mini-LED TVs in person, but it has the ingredients to create a fantastic looking TV.
LG has not detailed the full QNED lineup, but it will contain 10 distinct models, including an 86-inch 8K set backed with 2,500 dimming zones and nearly 30,000 Mini-LEDs. We expect the QNED line will include both 8K and 4K models, but only some with the new α9 Gen 4 AI (others will probably use the 4th-gen α7 processor instead) and HDMI 2.1 support may not be available on all ports.
We expect to learn more this spring as LG prepares the new TVs for launch.
Samsung Neo QLED
Samsung is jumping on the mini-LED bandwagon as well, pairing the micron-scale LED backlights with the latest refinements in QLED to create Samsung Neo QLED, the new version of QLED coming to the 2021 8K QN900A and 4K QN90A flagship TVs. With a proprietary mix of micron-scale LED backlights and a tiny diffuser layer applied to each diode, Samsung Neo QLED 8K and 4K TVs will get brighter backlight, with more depth and gradations of luminance.
The smaller LEDs also allow for a slimmer chassis design, so Neo QLED sets will have a thinner build with Samsung's basically bezel-less Infinity Edge screens. But there's more power under the hood as well, thanks to Samsung's new Neo Quantum Processor, which uses up to 16 simultaneous AI-driven optimizations that enhance everything from color and textures to brightness, focus and motion handling.
Audio is getting a boost, too thanks to additional processing, and Samsung's Object Tracking Sound is back, with audio that tracks along with on-screen objects and actors. And if you want much bigger sound from your TV, the 2021 sets also feature Q-Symphony, which lets you use a Samsung soundbar with your Samsung TV and use all of the speakers in concert to provide a wider and taller soundstage with better support for Dolby Atmos and simulated surround sound.
Samsung hasn't officially announced details about specific models or pricing, but a recent leak sheds some light on the new Samsung model names and screen sizes we can expect to see this spring.
Samsung MicroLED TV
The set we're most excited to see this year is the Samsung MicroLED TV, the first consumer TV to feature micro-LED technology. By using microscopic LEDs as individual pixels in the 4K display, Samsung's micro-LED TVs should offer the same per-pixel lighting, perfect blacks and superb HDR performance as OLED panels, while also offering better brightness and eliminating the risk of burn-in and color drift. The technology is a big step forward for TV displays, and to finally see it coming to the market after years of impressive demonstrations is legitimately exciting.
Available in 110 and 99-inch sizes (with smaller sizes on the way), Samsung's MicroLED TVs are huge. Along with full smart TV capability and Samsung's Ambient Mode, a new feature called Quad View lets you use the giant screen as multiple full HD displays side by side, complete with support for separate inputs or streaming apps. The MicroLED TV features an embedded 5.1 channel sound system, without the need for an external speaker system with Samsung's Object Tracking Sound Pro.
The first Samsung MicroLED TVs are expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2021, but pricing information has not yet been announced.
Panasonic JZ2000 OLED
Panasonic may not be a major player in the U.S. TV market, but the company does make some great TVs. The Panasonic JZ2000 OLED TV is Panasonic's new flagship smart TV, and it's packed to the gills with features we want. Panasonic's TVs already offered both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support, but the JZ2000 has been updated with support for Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, versions of the leading HDR formats that adjust the brightness for better viewing in different lighting conditions. Dolby Atmos support is enhanced with upward and side facing speakers, part of what Panasonic calls 360° Soundscape Pro, all powered by speakers tuned by Technics.
Panasonic's HCX Pro AI Processor offers AI-driven optimizations and auto calibration for the screen, along with HDMI 2.1 support for features like auto low latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rates (VRR). Other smart features include dual Bluetooth connectivity for connecting two wireless devices at once, and even a swiveling stand for easy position adjustment.
The Panasonic JZ2000 OLED TV will sell in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes. Pricing and availability details have not yet been announced.
Sony Master Series A90J OLED TV
Sony has a number of sets for 2021, but the one we're looking forward to the most is the Sony Master Series A90J OLED TV, the updated version of our favorite Sony TV. The new OLED model has a customized OLED panel with enhancements for better brightness and contrast, all backed by Sony's superb video processing.
The TV has a three-way stand that can be positioned for a wider or narrow or footprint or elevated to accommodate a sound bar. The A90J OLED also gets Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio+ sound technology, which uses the screen itself to produce sound. Even a few years after its introduction, it's still one of the most impressive innovations we've seen in TVs.
The Sony Master Series A90J OLED TV will be available in 55, 65 and 83-in sizes, but Sony has not shared details about pricing or dates for retail availability.
TCL 8K 6-Series Roku TV (R648)
One of the most surprising announcements of CES 2021 was the news that TCL was updating our favorite value price TV with 8K resolution. All new 6-Series Roku TVs in 2021 will be 8K sets, bringing the new higher resolution display to our favorite value-focused line of smart TVs, and offering the first 8K Roku TVs on the market.
The new 8K 6-Series models (dubbed the R648) should look excellent thanks to a combination of mini-LED backlight, quantum dot-enhanced display and Dolby Vision HDR support. A new chassis and stand design are also being introduced, with a sleeker look and easier while mounting.
TCL says that the new 8K 6-Series models will be available later this year, but specifics on the launch date and what the new 8K TVs will cost have not been announced.
TCL 4-Series Roku TV 85S435
TCL is also giving us a budget-friendly big screen with the TCL 4-Series Roku TV 85S435, an 85-inch model of the popular 4 series Roku TV. As the entry model in TCL's XL Collection of 85-inch screens, the 4-Series ditches fancy features like QLED and mini-LED in favor of savings.
That bigger size should look great, even with basic 4K resolution and standard HDR support. For shoppers that want a really big TV without the really big price tag, any 85-inch set under $2,000 is a steal, but TCL's consistently high quality should put worried minds at ease.
The TCL 4-Series Roku TV 85S435 will launch sometime this quarter with a suggested retail price of $1,599.