The 10 best 4K TVs of 2016


Update: A couple of our top 4K TV picks are seeing some discounts this Black Friday weekend. The Samsung UEKS7000 is currently £350 off at Hughes, the Panasonic Viera 58DX902B is down from £1,999 to £1,799 at John Lewis , and finally the Sony Bravia 65XD9305 has also been discounted by £300 at John Lewis

Original article below…

First it was standard definition, then we had High Definition, and now we finally have Ultra High-Definition, which is commonly referred to as UHD or 4K

Ultra HD is a massive step up in the amount of pixels on screen, with a resolution that roughly equates to four HD screen’s worth of pixels placed in a grid. 

As well as offering a big boost in picture clarity due to the increased number of pixels, the era of 4K is also ushering in a number of excellent new TV technologies such as HDR which are combining to offer a big boost in image quality. 

The only catch is that just because a TV has a 4K resolution and, perhaps, HDR and wide colour technologies it’s not automatically a brilliant TV. In fact, HDR in particular is proving quite a challenge for TVs to get right. So let’s try and make your buying decision at least a bit easier with our pick of the best 10 4K TVs you can buy today.

(Editor’s note: If you’re looking to purchase a 4K Blu-ray player then be sure to check out our list of the best 4K Blu-ray players, or alternatively check out the Xbox One S, which comes equipped with a 4K Blu-ray player of its own.)

Best 4K Tvs

1. Samsung KS9500 range

As well as delivering some of the sharpest 4K pictures yet, the KS9500s also go further than any other TVs to maximise the impact of HDR

65-inch: Samsung UE65KS9500 | 78-inch: Samsung UE75KS9500 | 88-inch: Samsung UE88KS9500

Jaw-dropping, class-leading HDR pictures

Unexpectedly good sound

Curved screen won’t suit all

Some backlight ‘blooming’ in dark scenes

No TVs in 2016 deliver pictures more downright spectacular than Samsung’s KS9500s. Partly because no other commercially released TVs have ever delivered as much brightness, but also because Samsung has used a high-end backlighting system and a proprietary take on Quantum Dot colour technology to ensure that the emphatic brightness is joined by excellent contrast and explosively rich but also gorgeously nuanced colours.

Push all this technology to the max with today’s highest quality sources – especially, the incredible images you can get from the new Ultra HD Blu-ray format – and you’ll witness pictures the like of which just haven’t been seen on a TV before.

The KS9500s aren’t perfect; the push for such extreme contrast from an LCD screen can sometimes cause backlight clouding around very bright objects, and the most accurate Movie preset can cause colour striping with UHD Blu-ray. There’s no 3D support either. So extraordinary are the KS9500s’ pictures at their best, though, that their flaws become seriously easy to forgive.

Best 4K TV

2. LG OLEDE6 series

The OLED TV technology so beloved of AV enthusiasts for the past few years is taken to bold new heights by LG’s groundbreaking OLEDE6 series.

55-inch: LG OLED55E6 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E6

Incredible black level response

Jaw-dropping ultra-thin design

Missing details in very bright areas

Various subtle picture noise issues

For the sort of AV enthusiast who always preferred the contrast and subtlety of now defunct plasma screens to the more brightness focussed charms of LCD, OLED technology has long looked like the next big thing. And LG’s stellar OLEDE6 models do nothing to dispel this notion.

This is because it manages to combine OLED’s currently unique ability to have every single pixel in its screen produce its own light and colour independent of its neighbours with a substantial leap in brightness versus any previous OLED generation. What’s more, this HDR-friendly leap in brightness has been delivered without compromising the remarkable black level reproduction that’s OLED’s trademark.

LG will need to improve brightness still further if it wants to avoid the loss of detail in really bright HDR areas the OLEDE6 models sometimes fall prey too, but for many AV fans the E6s’ freedom from the sort of backlight flaws all LCD TVs suffer with to some extent will prove nigh-on irresistible.

Best 4K TV

3. Sony KD-75XD9405

When it comes to 4K, size matters. A point this 75-inch Sony monster rams home in emphatic style.

Huge screen tips you into home cinema territory

Lovely picture quality

Android TV’s interface is clunky

Yucky remote control

The 75XD9405’s huge 75-inch screen serves up a spectacular demonstration of the advantages of having four times as many pixels as you get with an HD TV, adding a sense of scale to 4K’s enhanced precision that leaves pictures looking so lifelike it’s almost scary. Not that size is by any means the only thing the 75XD9405 has going for it, mind you.

Sony’s Triluminos wide colour spectrum technology and a strong contrast performance from its direct (behind the screen) LED lighting system also play their part, delivering both standard and high dynamic range pictures in a balanced and nuanced way that combines with the screen acreage to provide a massively immersive experience.

The 75XD9405 isn’t as bright as some rivals and extreme-contrast HDR shots occasionally cause backlight clouding, but if your tastes are more home cinema than TV, the 75XD9405 is currently uniquely qualified for the job.

Best 4K TV

4. Panasonic DX802 range

A well set up DX802 is a rare thing in 2016: a reasonably affordable TV that’s able to do a truly convincing job with HDR as well as 4K.

50-inch: Panasonic TX-50DX802B | 58-inch: Panasonic TX-58DX802B

Good value

Bright, detailed pictures

Native contrast isn’t the best

Some backlight issues

First, the bad news: The DX802s don’t have enough brightness and colour resolution to deliver the maximum HDR experience. You also need to use their Adaptive Backlight setting on its highest level to get a convincing black colour during dark scenes, which can cause occasional backlight stability and clouding.

The good news is that once set up right, the DX802s produce far more spectacular 4K HDR pictures than you’ve any right to expect for such a reasonably priced TV. There’s enough brightness to deliver HDR with plenty of punch backed up by unusually good black levels by affordable LCD TV standards, and colours are reproduced with exceptional finesse. This helps the DX802s deliver plenty of impact from its native 4K resolution too, while the mostly lovely pictures are joined by outstanding sound courtesy of an external sound bar that ships free with the TV.

Finally, the DX802s benefit from a seriously eye-catching design that sees the screen hanging between two easel-style legs.

Best 4K TV

5. Samsung KS7000 range

The KS7000 delivers an HDR-friendly level of specification you just can’t find elsewhere for the same sort of money.

49-inch: Samsung UE49KS7000 | 55-inch: Samsung UE55KS7000 | 60-inch: Samsung UE60KS7000

Aggressively priced

Good all-round picture quality

Some backlight clouding issues

No 3D

Despite being much cheaper than the KS9500 range that tops this list, Samsung’s KS7000 series still meets the demanding specifications set out by the Ultra HD Premium ‘standard’. Which means, essentially, that it’s got enough brightness, contrast, colour and resolution to produce an uncompromising high dynamic range performance.

So it is that HDR sources look unprecedentedly dynamic and rich for the KS7000 range’s level of the market. The sets also do an emphatic job of getting the maximum impact from their native 4K pixel counts.

The TVs look brilliant with standard dynamic range sources too – though a recent firmware update means that all Samsung’s 2016 SUHD TVs now offer a surprisingly effective processing system for upscaling SDR to HDR.

There’s no 3D support, and very high contrast HDR images can suffer with fairly obvious signs of backlight striping and clouding. Neither of these issues, though, stop the KS7000 from being a great value way of finding out what all the HDR fuss is about.

Best 4K TV

6. Panasonic DX902 series

Brand new LCD screen technology and stellar processing helps the DX902 range deliver spectacular 4K and HDR impact.

58-inch: Panasonic TX-58DX902B | 65-inch: Panasonic TX-65DX902B

Bright, contrast-rich pictures

Clever and usually effective local dimming technology

Chunky bodywork

Some motion blur

Panasonic was so obsessed with nailing high dynamic range picture quality on its flagship 4K TV series for 2016 that it came up with an all-new ‘honeycomb’ LCD panel technology. This puts physical dividers between the areas of the different ‘zones’ of picture illuminated by its direct-lit backlight system to cut down on the usual LCD problems of backlight clouding around bright HDR objects, and even introduces a new diffuser filter to try and stop the light ‘breaks’ between different LED zones looking too obvious.

Even this doesn’t completely solve LED’s light control issues with very extreme HDR content, but it certainly does enable the TV to deliver picture quality with HDR sources that for the majority of the time are second only to Samsung’s KS9500 TVs for their combination of dynamism, detailing and sheer spectacle – and the DX902s cost hundreds of pounds less than their Samsung rivals.

Best 4K TV

7. LG OLEDB6 Series

The OLEDB6 series is the most affordable way to get your hands on LG’s 2016 OLED TV technology. Which is all you need to know, really.

55-inch: LG OLED55B6V | 65-inch: LG OLED65B6V

Gorgeous, contrast-rich picture quality

Spectacularly thin design

Detail clipping in bright areas

Occasional brief colour noise

The brilliantly simple attraction of the LG OLEDB6 4K TV range is that they bring you most of the OLED-based picture quality thrills that saw the OLEDE6 range bag a slot right near the top of this list for a much more affordable price.

The thing is, the reasons the OLEDB6 models are so much cheaper than the E6 models are down to things like design, build quality, reduced audio performance and removing 3D playback from the spec list rather than massively compromised image reproduction. So it still delivers the unbeatable black levels, lovely rich colours, extreme contrast and pixel-level light control of its step-up OLEDE6 siblings.

The OLEDE6 doesn’t solve OLED’s current issue of lost detail in very bright areas of HDR pictures, but it’s as good as it gets with the SDR content we still watch for most of the time and remains the natural successor to the plasma TVs so beloved of AV enthusiasts.

Best 4K TVs

8. Philips 65PUS7601

Brilliant backlight controls make this surprisingly affordable Philips 4K TV one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.

Excellent backlight control

Great price for the picture quality on offer

Complicated picture set up

Android TV interface is clunky and impersonal

On paper the 65PUS7601’s pictures shouldn’t really work. It only delivers 700 nits of brightness versus the 1000 nits we’re seeing from the highest-level TVs this year, and it only hits around 76% of the expanded ‘DCI-P3’ colour range usually considered necessary for a premium HDR experience.

The reality of watching the 65PUS7601, however, is that once you’ve wrestled with a rather complicated picture set up system it produces one of the most immersive and spectacular pictures the TV world has to offer. Particularly key to its success is its direct LED backlight system, which manages to deliver a good (albeit not full) sense of HDR without causing nearly as many backlight clouding distractions as any of its more extravagantly bright rivals.

The 65PUS7601 does this, moreover, while also giving you the hundreds of apps available via Google’s Android TV smart platform and costing many hundreds of pounds less than other direct-lit 4K rivals like the Panasonic DX902s and Samsung KS9500s.

Best 4K TV

9. Sony XD9305 series

Sony’s new Slim Backlight Drive technology helps the XD9305 series produce some of the most beautiful 4K and HDR pictures 2016 has to offer.

55-inch: Sony KD-55XD9305 | 65-inch: Sony KD-65XD9305

High contrast for an edge LED TV

Beautiful colour and detail performance

Some quite defined light ‘blocks’ with high contrast HDR content

Android TV interface isn’t very friendly or slick

With the XD9305 series, Sony has joined the other big brands this year in delivering some genuine, HDR-led innovation. In the XD9305’s case this takes the form of the Slim Backlight Drive, which cleverly uses two edge-mounted LED light modules and dual light guides to essentially double how locally the XD9305 TVs can control the light in their images.

The result is a contrast performance that gets closer to what you’d normally only see from TVs with a direct LED lighting system at a fraction of the price.

Sony’s Triluminos technology also contributes some mesmerisingly good colour handling, while the brand’s X1 processing system ensures that both native 4K and upscaled HD sources both looks fantastically detailed and sharp.

Occasional rather defined backlight ‘blocking’ artefacts and the clunky Android TV smart engine stop the XD9305 TVs from challenging for the top spot on this list, but at their best the XD9305’s pictures are genuinely sensational.

Best 4K TV

10. Panasonic DX750 range

An eye-catchingly affordable way to bag yourself outstanding 4K standard dynamic range and decent HDR pictures.

50-inch: Panasonic TX-50DX750B | 58-inch: Panasonic TX-58DX750B

Good all-round picture quality

Friendly smart TV interface

Some backlight concerns with HDR

Only gives a watered down HDR experience

The Panasonic DX750s are some of the cheapest TVs around to offer both 4K and HDR playback. Yet despite their affordability they are also very likeable performers. In fact, with the standard dynamic range sources we still spend the vast majority of our time watching they’re nothign short of excellent thanks to their winning combination of 4K sharpness, strong contrast and natural, nuanced colour tones.

With HDR the situation is a little less emphatic, as the screen doesn’t have the colour or brightness range to provide a truly full blooded HDR performance. There are various occasional backlight distractions with HDR playback too that you have to work hard in the set up menus to try and minimise. Actually, though, for most of the time the DX750s still look good with HDR and deliver at least a flavour of the extra colour and light dynamics that make it so special.

Add to all this Panasonic’s friendly, customisable Firefox TV smart engine and you’ve got a TV range that offers fearsome amounts of bang for your buck.


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