Crystal-clear 4K QLED display. Blazing-fast smart TV. Immersive 3D sound. Lifelike color range. Premium gaming mode. Thin bezels. Wide viewing angle. Available in four sizes.
Impressively bright and richly colored 4K UHD display. Affordable. Large collection of streaming apps. Supports Dolby Atmos. Deep color contrast. Available in four sizes.
Its stand is somewhat wobbly.
Gorgeous OLED 4K HDR display. Android TV. Lifelike contrast. Powerful and crisp audio. Supports IMAX, Dolby Atmos, and Dolby Vision. Wide viewing range. Available in three sizes.
An especially pricey 4K TV.
Bright and color-rich 4K UHD display with Dolby Vision HDR. Deep contrast. Huge collection of streaming apps. Fairly affordable. Smooth gaming mode. Available in two sizes.
Its feet are splayed quite wide, so you need a wider surface to set it on.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
It took a little while, but 4K TVs are now mainstream, and you can now find models that include cutting-edge on-board tech like video streaming apps and HDR for less than $500. If you’ve been on the fence about upgrading your TV, there’s never been a better time.
The latest 4K TVs offer huge jumps in picture quality over standard 1080p HDTVs: they offer four times as many pixels, and in many cases, are made with new panel technologies that produce brighter, more vibrant images than we’ve ever seen before. They’re also starting to integrate other technologies — for example, it’s not tough to find a 4K TV that’s compatible with voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, or one that’s got Google’s Chromecast local streaming technology included. Make no mistake: TV technology has evolved by leaps and bounds, and now’s the time to reap the rewards.
If you’re ready to make the leap to 4K, we’re ready to help you find the perfect 4K TV. Read on for our best advice for finding the perfect 4K TV.
Before you start shopping, spend some time thinking about some of the basics to help focus your search. Start with these questions.
How big of a TV do you want? The first decision to make is about screen size. The bigger the TV, the better the picture you’ll get — but you’ll also pay a lot more. Consider the area where you’ll be placing the TV, and do some quick measuring to determine your ideal size.
Are you willing to pay a little more for a significantly brighter screen? TV manufacturers are using improved display panels on their best models, resulting in a picture quality that’s substantially brighter. Each company has their own version (you’ll see OLED, XLED, and QLED, for starters), and those models are more expensive than standard 4K TVs. If you’re a movie fanatic, or you just want the best picture quality available, you’ll need to spend a little more, but it’ll be worth it.
All 4K TVs boast an impressive 3840 x 2160 resolution, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Here are the 4K TV features that separate the best models from the ones that are just so-so.
OLED, XLED, or QLED panels. Traditional LED panels light up pixels from behind in clusters, so while an LED 4K TV will display a resolution of 3840 x 2160, the light clusters bleed into one another, resulting in a picture that looks good but can at some times be fuzzy. Samsung’s QLED and Vizio’s XLED 4K TVs use new approaches to solving this problem that reduce light bleeding, so you can see every pixel much more quickly. LG’s and Sony’s OLED 4K TVs are in a class of their own: they individually light each pixel, and can turn off individual pixels to display the color black. OLED 4K TVs are the most expensive models, by far, but they offer a visual experience that other TVs can barely compete with.
High dynamic range (HDR). HDR is one of our favorite features on 4K TVs, because it dramatically improves colors and overall picture quality. With HDR, both contrast and color are improved, so roses look redder, violets look bluer, and pitch-blacks are much darker than ever before. You’ll need to find HDR-enabled content to take advantage of the feature, but most 4K Blu-rays and 4K streaming services offer a wide array of content in HDR.
Dolby Vision. Dolby Vision is a rival technology to HDR which is harder to find, but arguably provides an even better picture. Like most tech debates, the HDR versus Dolby Vision argument polarizes viewers. Our take: because HDR is available with more content than Dolby Vision is (at least for now), most people will be more than satisfied with an HDR-enabled 4K TV. If you’re a fan of Dolby Vision, or you want to be prepared for when more Dolby Vision content becomes available, get a 4K TV that supports both standards — just be forewarned you’ll need to look a little harder and pay a little more.
Smart TV apps. App-enabled televisions are the norm now, so you can count on any 4K TV you buy to be a smart TV. Smart TV apps are great for streaming video, playing casual games, or even using your TV for video calls over the web.
Once you’ve got the right 4K TV, you’ll need the right gear to play all of your content. Start with these peripherals.
Streaming box: Apple TV 4K
Chances are, your 4K TV is a smart TV, but if you’re serious about your streaming, we recommend getting a separate streaming box anyway. Streaming boxes have more apps and more frequent updates, and in the case of the Apple TV, they offer key functionality like access to iTunes movie and TV rentals as well as Dolby Atmos. If you’re planning on watching Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, or Vudu on your new 4K TV, get an Apple TV 4K for the best picture and sound quality available.
If you want big sound to go with your 4K TV, but you don’t have a lot of room, a soundbar may be your best bet, and Yamaha’s YAS-207BL is one of the best soundbars in the industry. Don’t let its plain, understated looks fool you: it’s capable of handling any surround sound format, and it uses a system of upfiring speakers to create virtual surround effects, so it sounds like it’s coming from different directions. The included subwoofer means that you’ll get deep, rich bass, plus it’s wireless so you can place it anywhere.
Universal remote: Sideclick Universal Remote Attachment for Apple TV
Not all universal remotes are complicated! If you’ve got an Apple TV, you can pick up a Sideclick remote, which attaches to your existing remote and adds multi-device functionality. If the minimalism of the Apple TV’s remote bugs you, the Sideclick is here to turn it into a powerhouse that can control even more devices. (And if you own a FireTV, you can get one for that remote, too.)
Between $250 and $800, you’ll find barebones 4K TVs with LED panels. TVs in this price range have great picture quality, solid streaming video apps, and are super easy to use. If you’re buying a secondary TV, or a 4K TV for a small apartment or dorm, you can find a solid value in this price range. If you’re looking for a larger TV (bigger than 55”), or one with features that improve picture quality, you’ll need to spend more.
Between $800 and $1,400, you’ll encounter the best values in 4K TVs. It’s not hard to find a massive 4K TV with HDR for this much, or a TV with a QLED or XLED panel. If you’re looking for TV with an incredible picture that will last you until 8K TVs arrive without breaking the bank, this is the price range to keep in mind.
Between $1,500 and $,3500 are the best and brightest: ginormous 4K TVs that are made with the best technology in the industry, like OLED panels or premium audio features like support for Dolby Atmos. If you’re building a home theater, or simply want the best TV money can buy, plan on spending this much.
Look into how you’re going to keep your 4K TV screen clean. To keep your 4K TV’s picture looking as bright and sharp as possible, make sure to keep it clean, and read the manual carefully for how best to clean your specific TV. We recommend using a soft microfiber cloth once every few months to keep the dust away. Never use any cleaning agents or sprays on your 4K TV’s screen.
If you’re planning on mounting your 4K TV to the wall, check to see what size VESA mount it requires. All 4K TVs can be wall mounted, but you’ll need a wall mount that’s the right size. Wall mounting hardware kits are all built to VESA standards, a system for making mounting measurements universal. Before you buy a wall mount, check the 4K TV to see what VESA standard it works with, for example, 400 x 300; then, make sure the mounting kit you buy supports the 400 x 300 standard.
If you’re looking for a 4K TV that’s a good middle ground between high-end features and cost, check out the Samsung Curved 65" 4K Smart LED TV. While not everyone is a fan of curved TVs, we love them for making us feel like we’re right in the middle of the action. It’s got apps on board, it’s got a whopping 65-inch screen, and it even supports HDR. If you’re looking for a TV that looks and feels like a high-end set without the corresponding price tag, this is the one to get.
If you’re on the hunt for a smaller 4K TV, consider the Toshiba 43” 4K Smart LED TV with HDR - Fire TV Edition. With this TV, Toshiba has partnered with Amazon to use their Fire TV operating system as their smart TV platform. The result is an incredible match: you can enjoy all of the benefits of Amazon’s ecosystem, including streaming apps, video games, and a voice-activated remote, without having to buy a Fire TV device. Based on the specifications, this TV should be a lot more expensive than it is, making it an easy recommendation for anyone who doesn’t need a monster-sized 4K TV.
Q. What kind of connections should I look for in a 4K TV?
A. Using 4K video requires a new input, called HDMI 2.0a. The connection looks just like the one on your old TV (HDMI 1.4), but can carry more data. Some 4K TVs only have one HDMI 2.0 port, while on others you’ll be able to input 4K on all ports. The easiest way to research this is to get the model number of the TV you’re interested in, then look up the owner’s manual online. Most brands will have this manual available as a free download on their website.
Q. Do I need new HDMI cables for 4K?
A. If you’ve bought an HDMI cable in the last few years, it’s likely you won’t have to replace it to watch 4K. The only thing you need to do to make sure your HDMI cable is 4K-compatible is to make sure it’s a “high-speed” variety. That doesn’t mean you have to buy the fancy, gold-plated cable for $50. Most HDMI cables currently sold are high-speed cables, and you won’t notice the difference between the ones you buy on Amazon for $10 and the $50 or higher cables.
Q. But what about HDMI 2.1; I’ll need new cables for that won’t I?
A. Okay, so it’s a little more complicated. HDMI 2.1 is a brand-new specification that provides a lot more data bandwidth. However, you don’t have to worry about it. HDMI 2.1 ports are backward compatible with HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 devices. When HDMI 2.1 devices do hit the market, you’ll need new cables, but that’ll be years from now. It’s best to think of HDMI 2.1 as a way to futureproof devices. Until 8K TVs become a commonplace, though, HDMI 2.0 will be good enough.
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