Crisp picture quality, particularly with HDR video. Adequate sound. Easy to set up, especially with app-based smartphone remote. Plenty of HDMI ports. Color balance is fine out of the box, owners report. Auto-switching is much less buggy.
Wi-Fi connection can knock off several megabits of streaming speed, compared to direct Ethernet connection. SmartHub can be glitchy and requires occasional reset.
Impressive, true-to-life picture. Smart view app offers expanded remote functionality via smartphone, a plus for many owners. SmartHub loads quickly and performs well. Works well with game consoles. Easy to set up, with fluid functionality.
Built-in speakers have less-than-adequate sound quality for many owners. Backlight is visible at screen edges. Base sometimes tilts screen at an odd angle. Auto-switching between inputs can be annoying.
Works well with gaming consoles. “Phenomenal” picture quality, users report. Setup is very simple. Owners like its competitive price point. Built-in 10-watt speakers have crisp sound. Apps load quickly.
Owners feel its available apps are limited. Some reports of TV failing after a few months of use, but within warranty. A few reports of streaming apps crashing during use.
Very clear and sharp picture. Owners like the TV’s styling. UHD streaming quality is crystal clear, and HD signals render well on this screen.
Remote is not backlit. Television’s backlighting is too bright for some owners. Calibrating color and sound can take time to figure out. Some calibration issues with game consoles.
Built-in Chromecast is a big plus for streaming fans. Owners find 120 Hz refresh rate is great for watching fast-moving sports or gaming. Easy to wall mount. Picture is crystal clear, even viewed at a distance or at an angle.
Excessive backlight bleeding at corners of the screen. Dead pixels in some screens. Smartcast feature has a learning curve. Picture looks washed-out to some owners. Screen is reflective. Included remote has minimal function, and not all users like having to pair their smartphone to get more remote features.
We live in the golden age of content, with more amazing TV shows being created every day, so you might be thinking about buying a TV that will do them justice. If you're looking for a top-notch model, an Ultra HD TV is the only option.
It's not a small purchase, however. In fact, high-end Ultra HD TVs can set you back thousands of dollars. It's understandable that you'd want to carefully consider your purchase before handing over your credit card, and that's where we at BestReviews come in.
It's our primary mission to help you, the consumer, find the perfect products to fit your needs. To do so, we test items in our labs and in the field, gather feedback from real customers, talk with expert consultants, and do extensive product research.
Read on for our full guide to Ultra HD TVs, which cuts through the jargon and will aid you in finding the right model for your home.
An Ultra HD — or "4K" — TV is one with a resolution of 3840x2160. This is even higher than regular HD — displaying over 8 million pixels on screen compared to around 2 million — which means you get an exceptionally sharp, detailed image. While not all movies and TV shows are shot or broadcast in Ultra HD, it's likely to be the standard format in years to come, so buying a 4K TV now will stand you in good stead.
Plasma screen TVs were once very popular, but have now fallen out of favor, as they aren't as thin as LED TVs, use a lot more energy, and are expensive to produce.
Not all Ultra HD TVs are the same. The majority of models have one of two different screen types: LED or OLED.
Standard LED TVs have an LCD screen that's lit by LED lights. They may be edge-lit only, or have full-array backlighting.
Pros: One of the most readily available and most affordable screen types, models with full-array backlighting can give excellent image quality by individually lightening and darkening different parts of the screen.
Cons: Pixels can't go completely black, so you lose some detail in shadows and contrast. There are some imperfections when viewing rapid motion, and reduced image quality when viewed from the side.
You can also find "QLED" Ultra HD TVs. This kind of screen is manufactured by Samsung only, and uses quantum dot technology to give deeper contrast and depth of color.
OLED is a new type of screen that doesn't need to be backlit by real LEDs. Rather, it creates its own organic light when electricity hits it. This means each pixel is individually lit and controlled.
Pros: Can create true black, giving you incredible contrast and stunning picture quality. OLED screens retain image quality when viewed from the side.
Cons: May be less bright than standard LED sets. As this is a newer technology, it hasn’t been tested over long periods of time. They’re also very expensive.
At the moment, not many manufacturers are producing OLED TVs, so your choices are limited.
TV size is a personal preference. Some people want the largest TV they can afford (and will fit in their lounge or entertainment room), whereas others don't want their TV to look too obtrusive, and overwhelm the room. If you're looking to buy your main TV set for everyday use, we recommend choosing a model of at least 50 inches. You might want to go smaller if you're purchasing a TV for occasional use, for instance in a bedroom or kitchen. Pay attention to the actual dimensions of the TV, which will be larger than the screen size due to the outer frame. Make sure it will fit in the spot you've chosen for it.
Remember that TVs are measured on the diagonal — from bottom left corner to top right corner — rather than across the horizontal axis.
The refresh rate is the amount of times per second that the image on your TV refreshes. Refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz). Ultra HD TVs can have a refresh rate of either 60 Hz or 120 Hz. While a higher refresh rate is excellent for gaming, it's usually unnecessary for simply watching TV or movies, since most are shot at either 24 or 30 frames per second (fps). A high refresh rate can cause films and shows to look somewhat unreal, like a videogame or a soap opera.
If your TV has a 120 Hz refresh rate, you can opt to set it to 60 Hz if you find you don't like the way footage appears at 120 Hz.
Not all 4K TVs have high dynamic range (HDR), but those that do give you a significantly better picture quality. TVs with HDR deliver a wider range of colors, so images on the screen appear more realistic with better contrast and increased brightness. You might think the picture you're getting looks highly realistic with accurate colors, but when you do a side by side comparison between an Ultra HD TV with HDR and one without, the difference is extremely noticeable. Dolby Vision is another form of HDR, which is starting to gain momentum, so if you want an HDR TV, we recommend opting for one compatible with Dolby Vision, too.
Look for Ultra HD TVs with 10- or 12-bit color depth. Older models usually have 8-bit color depth, meaning they can't display as great a range of colors.
Most TVs, including the Ultra HD variety, come with a wide range of inputs and outputs for connecting various devices to your TV. Unless you have a particular, non-standard, device you want to connect to your TV — such as an old game console — all you really need is an HDMI input. Today, HDMI is the standard that connects most devices to a TV, so most users needn't concern themselves with any of the others. That said, if you plan to use your own speakers or playbar, you'll want an HDMI ARC input, which is essentially the audio version of HDMI. HDMI ARC also simplifies your home theater setup, often allowing you to use one controller for multiple devices.
Some viewers swear by curved TV sets, whereas others report no difference in image quality whatsoever. Many manufacturers are now phasing them out of production.
If you want an excellent 4K TV, make sure it's certified “UHD Premium.” This means it meets certain minimum requirements regarding resolution, color depth, HDR, and more.
You mother might have told you never to sit close to the TV or you'd get square eyes, but you should sit closer to an Ultra HD TV if you can. The closer you are to the screen, the more you'll notice the incredible level of detail you get from 4K footage.
Today, most TVs are smart TVs, capable of connecting to streaming services and similar without the use of a dongle or set top box. In fact, you'd be challenged to find a new TV that doesn't offer these options.
At the moment, you won't find much HDR programming available, so even if you have an HDR set, not everything you watch will be displayed with HDR. That said, a greater number of HDR movies and shows are becoming available via streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and it's likely to become even more widely adopted soon.
Q. What kind of content is currently available in Ultra HD?
A. The majority of contemporary movies are shot in 4K, so an Ultra HD TV will let you see every last pristine detail — a must-have for a true movie buff. A lot of TV shows are following suit, so you can find a lot of Ultra HD content out there, with the list growing longer every day.
Q. Are Ultra HD TVs "future proof?"
A. Future proof technology is that which will stand the test of time. Technology moves so quickly nowadays that consumers understandably worry about spending a lot of money on a passing fad. While we can't guarantee Ultra HD TVs are completely future proof (we might be watching TV via chips in our brains in a decade!), they're definitely here to stay for now. Ultra HD is slowly taking over from HD, in the same way that HD took over from standard definition. Will there be something that takes over from 4K HD? Probably — but not for a while.
Q. Should I get separate speakers for my new 4K TV?
A. Sound quality is an issue that plagues all TVs. Since you can only fit small speakers in a streamlined Ultra HD TV, you'll never get incredible sound quality. Many people are fine with this, but if you want a truly immersive home cinema experience, we recommend budgeting for a surround sound system or, at least, a soundbar.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.