Finding the best 4K TV is only as good as the research you do on the front end. So, we researched the best TVs on the market today and did all the research for you. If you’re new to this resolution and are thinking, “What is a 4K TV?”, make sure you familiarize yourself with the concept. We watched movies, played video games, and explored smart TV features on each of these products to get a good idea of how they all shaped up to our expectations. During our research, we researched things like screen quality, color uniformity, black levels, and performance under high-stress situations like playing games or streaming 4K content via Netflix and Hulu.
Top 4K TVs
- Total Brands/Products Tested
19 Brands, 163 Products
- Top 2 Brands
- Price Range (Budget-Premium)
- Average True Score
- Important Test Criteria
Contrast Ratio (1000:1)
- Most Trusted Testers
- Recommended Retailer
- Typical Warranty
- Covered by Insurance
Yes – AKKO
- Test Methodology
What to Look For in the Best 4K TV
√ Clarity: Of course, the first reason that anyone decides to upgrade to 4K is better picture quality, and pixel clarity leads the pack on what you want to look for most. While all 4K TVs on this list feature the same resolution, what really sets these apart is the clarity and quality of those pixels.
√ HDR10 or Dolby Vision: Like HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, both HDR10 and Dolby Vision are currently locked in a heated format war over who will dominate television screens for the next however-many years. After having thoroughly researched both, it’s my personal belief that HDR10 offers slightly more benefits that Dolby Vision can’t match, though this does come down to more subjective terms than anything since they both add a significant amount of vibrancy to any model that features either spec (plus some models still offer support for both, like the TCL P-Series).
√ Price: 4K TVs are still in a weird space right now, where the highest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best TV, and the lowest doesn’t mean it’s the worst. A great example is the TCL model in our number two slot, which, while not exactly cheap at $749.00, still delivers stellar picture quality that rivals many picks three to four times its cost.
√ Connectivity: This isn’t necessarily unique to 4K televisions, but it’s something you should still be sure to keep an eye on whenever you’re shopping for your next set. With so many devices that demand precious port space, always be certain that the 4K TV you eventually settle on has enough ports (with the proper speeds) to support the HDMI inputs you need for the ultimate viewing experience.
Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a 4K or UHD Television
⊗ Don’t skimp on cost: While price isn’t always directly indicative of the quality you should expect, it’s generally a good idea to avoid any “bargain basement” deals for 4K TVs. These feature refresh rates, contrast ratios, and display technologies that are well below the standard for what you should expect out of a 4K set, and the last thing you want to do is skimp on quality when upgrading.
⊗ Double-check the number of available ports: As we mentioned above, always double-check to be sure that your TV of choice has enough ports to support all your gaming consoles, streaming devices, and Blu-Ray players at the same time.
⊗ Don’t fall prey to marketing speak: Many manufacturers of 4K TVs today are relying on consumer ignorance to jack up the price on sub-par sets. Never assume that because a television comes with “Ultra-View” or “Super-Color,” it’s automatically better than anything else out there. Although, Nanocell technology takes things a step further, allowing for more intense colors that even outperform OLEDs in some cases.
Most Important Features of a 4K Television
- The display technologies that power today’s 4K TVs come in three different flavors: LED, LED-LCD, OLED, AMOLED, and QLED
- There’s still a lot of debate over which tech is best for 4K TVs specifically, but who’s right on either side of the argument will usually come down to the manufacturer of the TV itself
- LG is known for producing OLED TVs that can outperform most LED-LCDs. However, that performance doesn’t come cheap.
- Conversely, Samsung has put out some seriously high-quality QLED-based 4K sets that could put cheaper OLED sets to shame, all for a price that won’t leave your wallet limping on one leg when you walk away from the checkout counter
|Feature||Samsung TVs||LG TVs|
|Display Technology||Primarily QLED and LED||OLED, NanoCell, and LED|
|Smart TV Interface||Tizen OS||webOS|
|Price Range||Low: $200-$500|
|Picture Quality||High-quality, especially with QLED models||Superior with OLED, good with NanoCell and LED|
|Innovations||Ambient Mode, MicroLED in premium models||AI ThinQ technology, rollable OLED displays|
- HDR is the newest addition to 4K TVs, and for our money, is basically an essential component at this point. An HDR TV makes colors significantly more vibrant than they were in previous years, and adds a whole new layer of depth to images that can’t be matched by sets without either HDR 10 or Dolby Vision on board.
- Local dimming is another major technology to keep an eye out for (no pun intended). 2023 is the year the display technology finally came down in price enough to start getting included in budget sets, but the difference that it makes in contrast, black levels, and overall clarity can’t be ignored.
- The refresh rate of any TV – 4K or otherwise – refers to how often the screen refreshes the picture it’s trying to display
- In general, 60Hz is enough for most movies and Blu-Rays, while 120Hz is made more for quick-moving action, as you’d find in a sports game.
- Some sets, like Samsung, claim refresh rates as high as 240Hz, though all of this basically boils down to marketing speak. In reality, it’s still 60Hz interpolated up to 240Hz, which can (and almost always does) result in the “soap opera effect.”
- This occurs when the source material was meant to be viewed at a standard 60Hz, but through interpolation, people’s movement and speech seem to be “sped up” in an unnatural fashion.
- Personally, I’m not a fan of the technology unless it’s only being used for sports viewing specifically, and recommend turning it off in all scenarios aside from that.
- These days you can find that option called something like “MotionFlow” or “SmoothMotion” or whatever the manufacturer decided to label it. Disable this, and you’ll see the soap opera effect disappear instantly.
- 4K TVs almost always come in the flat-plane design, though lately, more makers have started to import the “curved” design from standard HDTVs into this newer style of display.
- Curved displays are all well and good, but they can limit the viewing angles in some models and living room layouts, which can make watching from either side much more difficult for your guests.
- OLED has drastically reduced the overall thickness of most sets, though even standard LED and QLED sets have come down considerably in size from just a few years ago.
Contrast Ratio/Color Accuracy
- All those extra pixels you’re paying for won’t do you a lick of good if the set’s contrast ratio doesn’t have the specs to back it up.
- The resolution boost is only the start of what makes 4K TVs worth their increased price, and a 1080p HD screen with the best color accuracy and contrast ratio will still look miles better than a 4K TV with an opposite set of specs.
Which 4K TV is Right For You?
One of the best parts about a 4K TV is that no matter which size you eventually choose to go with, you’re guaranteed to get a picture resolution that looks great from any distance in the living room. Remember to double-check the size of your space so you get a TV that suits your space. If you already have an entertainment console that you want to put the model on, like a 65-inch but you’re thinking, “How wide is a 65-inch TV?”, check the console dimensions to make sure the TV will fit on it.
The higher the resolution, the better your movies, TV shows, and late-night video game marathons will look, all without the eyestrain and uncomfortable viewing angles that are prevalent on other measly 1080p HD sets. Of course, if you wish to be ready for higher definition content in the future, you can check out our buying guide on the best 8K TV and see if that would be worth it for you.