Best TVs 2018

Brian Westover ·
Editor
Updated

We've put more than 500 hours of testing into evaluating more than 40 TVs over the past 12 months. We've evaluated the smart features, lab tested the displays and run the apps to find the best sets out there. If you want the most jaw-dropping TV on the market, look no further than the 65-inch LG E7 OLED, our pick for the best overall 4K TV. Looking to spend a lot less? The TCL Roku TV 55P607 is the best value-priced 4K TV around.

Best Overall

LG E7 OLED (OLED65E7P)

The best 4K TV we've reviewed is the LG E7 OLED (OLED65E7P), one of LG's premium OLED displays. The TV boasts cinema-like viewing on its superb OLED panel, but also offers excellent sound quality and a great smart-TV experience.
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Best Value

TCL Roku TV 55P607

The best bang for your buck in 4K TVs is the TCL Roku TV 55P607, a 55-inch 4K television that boasts Roku's excellent smart-TV interface, better-than-average color quality and even Dolby Vision support, making it one of the most affordable sets to offer the new standard.
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Best Under $1,000

Samsung 55-inch MU6300

Samsung's MU6300 gives you a 55-inch 4K set with HDR support for a reasonable price. We love the excellent remote, handy smart-TV features and apps and elegant design. The sound quality is also decent for the money, but not at max volume.
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Best Value
For those on a budget, the TCL Roku TV 55P607 is a great overall value, with a 55-inch 4K display that delivers a punchier picture than other bargain 4K sets and Roku's smart-TV interface for all of your streaming needs.
The display's solid color accuracy and wide color gamut combine to provide a picture that’s more vibrant and true-to-life than most inexpensive competitors. It also offers robust HDR support with compatibility for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. While plenty of companies have embraced Roku's smart-TV interface, the TCL 55P607 has the best version of it, complete with Roku's excellent remote control with voice interaction and a headphone jack for private listening. If you want the best blend of smart-TV functions for under a grand, the 55-inch TCL Roku TV 55P607 is the biggest and best around. Beyond the high points of the vibrant display and Roku functions, the 55P607 has a decent selection of ports and a back-to-basics design. You can wish for better audio quality or a premium OLED display, but for the price, it's hard to beat the overall value of the TCL Roku TV 55P607. Key Specs — Screen Size: 55 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 120Hz; HDMI ports: 3; Size: 49 x 30.1 x 8.3 inches; Weight: 33.1 pounds
Pros
  • 4K HDR support
  • Easy-to-follow smart Roku interface
  • Advanced remote control with headphone jack
Cons
  • Mediocre audio
  • Occasional exaggerated colors and brightness
$649.99Amazon
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Best Under $1,000
The Samsung 55-inch MU6300 manages to combine a high-quality 4K display and a premium smart-TV experience, and does it for an imminently affordable price.
Full-array backlighting with local dimming greatly reduces the elevated black levels and unwanted haloing seen on many LCD panels. Color quality is better than average, with great accuracy and support for HDR10 and Samsung's own HDR10 Plus formats. We did see some issues with limited viewing angles and minor shadowing in the corners of the display, but on the whole, this is a very good display for the price. The design of the MU6300 a bit nicer than the utilitarian stylings of most inexpensive sets, with a sleek Y-shaped stand, a faux-pewter finish around the display bezel, and a textured chassis. The MU6300 is outfitted with three HDMI ports, a pair of USB connections and wireless connectivity via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Performance and design aside, you'll be hard pressed to pass up the one-two punch of Samsung's smart-TV interface and One Remote. The combination of elegant software and intuitive minimalist remote make for a superb experience, whether you're streaming content, searching for new movies or controlling your smart home. You can even search by voice, using the remote's built-in microphone to find shows or control TV functions. Key Specs — Screen Size: 55 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 60Hz; HDMI ports: 3; Size: 48.9 x 28.3 x 2.5 inches; Weight: 33.7 pounds
Pros
  • Affordable 4K and HDR support
  • Elegant design
  • Great smart TV with excellent remote control
Cons
  • Viewing angles could be better
  • No Dolby Vision support
  • Audio quality drops off at higher volume
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Best Picture Quality
The Sony Bravia XBR-65A1E is a truly superior OLED TV with superb picture quality, impressive sound and robust Android TV features.
The 65-inch OLED panel delivers deep blacks, strikingly sharp pictures and excellent viewing angles. Even stacked against our favorite premium OLED, the XBR-65A1E provides better color, more brightness and great accuracy, especially with skin tones. The 4K set also includes support for Dolby Vision and other HDR formats to deliver better brightness and more colors. Sony also adds some of its own proprietary video processing, providing the secret sauce that lets the XBR-65A1E offer a better picture than LG's E7 OLED despite Sony using an OLED panel manufactured by LG. Equally impressive is the audio, which uses Sony's Acoustic Surface technology. By placing the speakers directly behind the OLED display and vibrating the glass itself to generate sound waves, Sony delivers dialogue as if it were coming straight out of an actor's mouth on-screen. This is paired with a hefty built-in subwoofer for a full, rich sound. Sony's use of Android TV also makes it one of the best smart TVs out there, with all of the major streaming apps, support for Google Chromecast and Sony's own PlayStation Vue streaming service. The TV also has Google Home functionality built in for voice search and smart-home control. Key Specs — Screen Size: 65 inches; Screen Type: OLED; Refresh Rate: 120Hz; HDMI ports: 4; Size: 62.5 x 7.8 x 39.2 inches; Weight: 108 pounds
Pros
  • Excellent OLED picture with great viewing angles
  • Impressive built-in sound
  • Well-rounded smart-TV features
Cons
  • Odd leaning tabletop stand
  • Abysmal remote control
$3498Amazon
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TV News & Updates (April 2018)

Samsung has pulled the wraps off its 2018 product lineup, with its premium Q-Series TVs getting updates that improve picture quality, hide cables and make the smart-TV experience a lot smarter. Samsung has also let details slip about its more exotic products, the 8K-ready Q9S and The Wall, the company's enormous microLED modular display.

If you want the premium OLED experience for an entry-level price, check out our new pick for affordable OLED TVs, the LG 55-inch C7 OLED, which has dropped below $1,700.

The best value in 4K TVs is coming back in 2018, but under a slightly different name. The TCL Roku TV 55P607 was arguably the best budget-friendly 4K set on the market, and it's coming back in 2018 as the TCL 6-Series. Find out why the name changed and what features to expect on the new set.

Vizio’s TVs keep getting better for cord-cutters: the newly announced 2018 models feature improved picture quality, a new app dedicated to free content, and TV tuners in all 2018 models. Check out our hands-on of the Vizio P-Series, M-Series and E-Series to find out more.


How We Test TVs

Tom’s Guide has been testing and reviewing TVs since 2014. Since then, we've watched the TV landscape evolve from stand-alone devices that relied on cable or satellite for 1080p content to today's connected, immersive 4K smart TVs. We've watched prices fluctuate, dropping from astronomical to extremely affordable, and watched as cord-cutting has grown from a niche hobby to a viable alternative to expensive cable packages.

Throughout the year, we meet with the manufacturers and experts behind today's TVs, learning from product engineers and display technicians to understand what goes into a great display. We're briefed on the latest technical developments, from new HDR formats to voice assistants with AI. We've seen early demonstrations of technologies that enhance the viewing experience and gotten close looks at the latest advancements in display technology, all so that we can keep you up to date with what’s changing in the TV industry, and help you to know where things are heading.

But it's not all about the latest tech and fancy features. We also gather expert advice on finding the right model and features for you, whether it's determining the best TV size for your home, or helping you find the best TV for the best price.

To evaluate TVs, we use a combination of instrument-based testing and eyes-on viewing. Our dedicated lab staff tests displays using an Xrite i1 Pro colorimeter and SpectraCal’s CalMan ColorChecker software, allowing us to gather clear, objective data about brightness, color accuracy, color gamut and more. We also test for lag time using a Leo Bodnar HDMI input delay tester, which measures to the millisecond how long it takes for content to travel from the original source to displaying on the screen. We use these results to make numbers-based comparisons about color and display quality.

We spend time with each set for more subjective evaluation. In our testing facility, we compare sets side by side, using a variety of content sources and media formats. In our reviews, we combine these real-world findings with our lab test results to provide as clear a picture as possible of a given TV's performance and viewing experience.

Quick Tips for TV Shoppers

TV buying can be a flurry of obscure-sounding acronyms and confusing specs, which is why we have our in-depth buying guide and articles that explain everything from OLED technology to HDR content. Here are a few key details you should pay attention to on every TV you consider buying.

4K is the way to go: You'll get better picture quality with 4K resolution than you will with the older 1080p HD format, and 4K sets have replaced HDTVs as the standard for modern TVs.

Get the right size: We recommend picking the largest screen size that will fit your home and budget. You can expect to pay about $500 for a lower-priced 55-inch 4K TV and at least $900 for a 65-inch model.

Pay attention to refresh rate: The higher the refresh rate, the more realistic the motion or video should appear on-screen. While 60Hz is common, we recommend 120Hz rate or higher.

Pay the right price: You can spend thousands on a new TV, but it's often possible to find most of the features you want for under $500.


Additional Shopping Advice

As you shop for TVs and read reviews, you'll see that not all TVs use the same display technology. Most TVs use LCD display panels with LED backlighting. These TVs offer great brightness and can have superb color quality, but struggle with blacks and dark imagery. The best displays available today use OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diode. Using organic material to create individual light-emitting pixels, there's no need for a backlight, making for slimmer display panels that offer the deepest black levels available. Of the two, OLED is more expensive.

MORE: Buying a TV? Here Are 11 Things You Should Know

Many manufacturers are also offering enhanced versions of LCD technology under brand names like Samsung's QLED. These are still backlit LCD displays, but they use quantum-dot technology and local backlight dimming to narrow the gap in quality between LCD and OLED panels.

Another important feature if you want the best picture available is high dynamic range (HDR) support. This technology lets TVs deliver more colors, better contrast levels and increased brightness. There are different formats of HDR, with a basic standard called HDR10 and several competing premium formats, like Dolby Vision, HDR10 Plus and Technicolor Advanced HDR. Each format has its benefits, but you'll  see the full capability of each only when playing media that is supported by the display.

MORE: Smart TVs: Everything You Need to Know

Finally, you will almost definitely be getting a smart TV, because nearly every TV on the market has both network connectivity and support for streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu. However, not all smart-TV platforms are created equal. Some of the larger manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, offer their own proprietary TV interfaces, while others opt for third-party solutions, like Roku and Android TV.


What Else You Should Get with Your TV

Streaming Services: There are several streaming options ready to serve up all the shows and movies you can binge-watch. Many current TVs have major services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video baked in, with apps preinstalled. Some smart TVs also come with cable-replacement apps built in, such as Sling TV and PlayStation Vue.

Streaming Devices: If your TV doesn’t already offer these sort of smart features, you can easily add them with a separate streaming device, like a Roku Stick or a Google Chromecast.

HD Antenna: When it comes to free content, there's still nothing quite as robust as the free local and network HDTV channels you can get with a simple antenna. Today’s HDTV antennas are affordable and effective, pulling in channels from miles away while stowing away out of sight, thanks to slim designs.

Soundbar: You'll also want to think about getting a soundbar. Most TVs are built to be slim, attracting shoppers with svelte designs that can be hung on a wall. The narrow confines look slick for a gorgeous display, but they make for lackluster audio. A soundbar gives you big sound and booming bass without the tangle of wires and clutter of a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system.

Universal Remote Control: You'll need a way to command all these devices, along with whatever Blu-ray player, cable or satellite box and other devices you connect to your TV, but it seems like every device has its own remote control. Tame the clutter with a universal remote, which lets you condense these clickers into one handy device. Some even let you control your smart-home gadgets.