There's never a bad time to buy one of the best TVs for 2020. So far we've seen big discounts on top of last year's models, and in the coming months we expect to see a slew of new TVs from Sony, LG, Samsung, Hisense and TCL's. Until then, the same TVs will start to gradually become cheaper as we lead in the second half of the year.
Speaking of which, Samsung recently announced a crop of 2020 QLED TVs that include new versions of the Q90, Q80, and Q60 Q70 and LG should have its own 2020 LEDs in the next month or two.
If you can't wait a few months for new models to arrive, there are plenty of amazing TVs from 2019 out there that are still worth buying - often at heavily discounted prices.
Below you will find a list of 10 TVs that we can wholeheartedly recommend to Australians. That includes kits from the likes of TCL, which offers high performance at a very good price, and high-end options like Samsung's QLED TVs and LG's LEDs.
We expect new TVs to hit the market in the coming months, but with 2020 just getting started, we're still recommending the best TVs from the previous year until their replacements officially come into their own.
The best TV at a glance:
- Samsung Q90R QLED TV
- LG OLED S9 series
- Sony Bravia A8G OLED
- Samsung Q900R QLED TV
- Sony Master Series A9G OLED
- LG B9 OLED Series
- Samsung Q70R QLED TV
- Sony Bravia X9500G Series
- TCL's X7 Series QLED Displays
- LG SK85 Super UHD
Samsung Q90R QLED
Last year, Samsung Q9FN was the TV to win. It won a lot of applause for its performance and picture quality, not to mention its excellent, improved smart platform that came with support for Bixby and Samsung's SmartThings.
It wasn't perfect, though, and there are legitimate complaints about viewing angles and an aggressive local dimming system that grinds detail just above black.
Samsung has clearly taken these reproaches to heart and addressed them directly with the Q90. The new model has a noticeably improved viewing angle on an OLED TV, while local dimming delivers deep blacks without losing shadow detail. To that end, the new Ultra Black Elite Filter is nothing short of a revelation, rejecting ambient light in a way that simply amazes Vera.
The Q90 is capable of delivering images that can directly compete with OLED, with natural colors, bright, deep shadows, and well-defined shadows. It can also outdo any OLED when it comes to image editing with images that are often breathtaking in their detail and dynamic range.
In fact our only criticism would be that unlike some of the competition, the Q90 does not support Dolby Vision. In all other respects, however, the Samsung Q90 is an absolutely stellar TV that takes QLED to another level.
LG С9 OLED (OLED55C9, OLED65C9, OLED77C9)
The LG S9 is a truly exceptional 4K OLED TV that takes what was so impressive last year's S8 OLED display and builds on it. The main difference is the inclusion of the 2nd generation Alpha9 processor, which uses AI enhancements to achieve outstanding SDR and HDR images, and makes upscaling and processing second-to-none with an incredible level of detail and image clarity.
As is the case with OLED panel TVs, brightness pales in comparison to an LCD TV, but brightness isn't everything. The absolute blacks and pixel-level accuracy provided by Self-Sufficient Emission Technology ensures that HDR looks stunning. There is support for Dolby vision, and only the lack of HDR10+ is disappointing.
There are other LEDs to consider this year (see: LG's own E9 series), but we think the OLED C9 offers the best price-performance ratio of any TV under the sun - there's one in 2019, and one in 2020.
Sony Bravia A8G OLED
If there's one thing the OLED A8G proves, it's that Sony is still the king of upscaling. In our review, we found that the Sony brave OLED A8G was able to take an old HD DVD/SDR footage and make it look modern, creating natural visuals and incredibly smooth motion.
True, we're not too crazy about Sony's acoustic audio surface tech, or the IR remote control transmitter that comes with the TV, but no one denies that delivers goods when it comes to its most important aspect: image quality.
That being said, Sony's AG8 is still expensive, especially when compared to the LG B9 and S9 OLED. Both TVs cost significantly less and offer virtually the same picture quality at a more affordable price point, however, we feel that Sony's incredible upscaling technique won't justify the price increase.
Samsung Q900R QLED TV
Most people - *cough* content providers are just an introduction to 4K resolution, you'd be forgiven for thinking Samsung went nuts introducing the world's first true 8K TV. And yet, while it's easy to be aware of the Samsung Q900R, it really will usher in a new era of TV picture quality.
Its native 8K photos are impressive, looking just like the real world - only better. But more importantly, given the scarcity of true 8K content for the foreseeable future, the Q900R makes less of all of today's resolution sources look better than they do elsewhere, too.
Whether 8K delivers the same impact on small screens is still unseen, but if you have a big room and a budget, the Q900R is a vision of the future that's actually spectacularly worth buying today.
Sony Bravia A9G OLED (2019)
A direct replacement for last year's Sony A9F/AF9 OLED, the Sony A9G/AG9 Master OLED series is Sony's new flagship TV fleet. It embraces a characteristically minimalist design that hides a host of advanced features such as Dolby vision and Dolby Atmos support, plus Netflix calibrated mode (of interest to many), and IMAX enhanced certification (of little interest).
It's a screen that looks premium, and also has specs on the right side of the righteous. The Android platform is easy to live, which vibrates the entertainment system's sound and picture quality at the highest level. Offering Dolby Vision technology is a welcome refinement, but a nuance is the lack of HDR10+ support. However, it does an amazing job of upscaling for HD/SDR, so it's easy to overlook the absence of at least one HDR format.
It's undeniably expensive, but all things considered, it's class glass.
LG OLED B9 Series
The LG V9 OLED absolutely delivers on its promise - to give shoppers a cheaper way into the world of OLED display with high contrast and vibrant colors that draw in.
Inevitably there are some corners to cut to get there and you don't get a great C9 or E9 experience - the delay in the launch of the budget B9 model, and the continued price cuts on more premium sets means this year the Series B hasn't quite been the case for months back.
If the V9 is all your budget allows, it's a solid buy, although saving up and saving for the LG S9 OLED - and keeping an eye out for it's on sale - might be your best bet in the long run.
Samsung Q70R QLED TV
Samsung's flagship Q90R QLED TV recently blew us away with its wider viewing angles, richer blacks, and improved HDR imaging - however, unfortunately, not everyone can afford a flagship model. So what can Samsung offer for those who want to experience QLED image quality on a budget?
Despite sitting at the bottom in a QLED lineup, the Q70R incorporates the same full-fledged smart platform, extensive connectivity, and cutting-edge features found in the range. It's not the most luxurious-watching TV that Samsung has ever made, but if your funds are limited, the Q70 with crackling QLED is an all-rounder that's worth checking out.
Sony Bravia X950G Series
So, you don't want (or can't) Sony's new A9G OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey Z9G. So what should you buy? Check out the X9500G series. With superb 4K image clarity, powerful SDR-to-HDR remastering, and smooth direct LED backlighting, Sony offers something very different with the X9500G.
Right out of the box, the best way to describe the image quality of the X9500G is…well, of course. It doesn't strike the eye. It's not too bright. Colors are not oversaturated. It's just a natural picture with muted colors and great black levels perfect for HD/SDR content. That said, if you're the kind of person who wants a little more pop for your images, all you have to do is enable video color in the image settings. This mode works on HD content/SDR to add a little more color, saturation to the image and helps make the image "pop" in a way that really grabs your attention.
It's a shame that poor sound quality ruined such a great 4K/HDR TV footage, but taken on its own, the Sony X9500G is a flawless screen with tons of features.
OPTOMA TRUE 4K
The first thing you will notice about the TSL X7 series is its beautiful display. It is notable for the fact that you can physically confuse OLED panels. It has a similar panel look, very modern in its style.
If you're looking for a TV with lots of smarts, TCL has you covered, as the X7 series runs on Android 8.0 'Oreo'. Like it's Android TV, it implements Google Assistant Voice Control. It's also compatible with Amazon Alexa, albeit with a bit of hoop-jumping-enhancing skills on TCL Alexa.
In terms of brute force, the X7 is equipped with a 1,1GHz, 64-bit quad-core processor with 2,5GB of RAM for processing. Sometimes, this results in some minor judder and artefacting with 1080i/50 and 576i/50 content, but that shouldn't turn out to be too much of an issue.
This TV offers Ultra HD (4K) resolution and support for HDR pictures (though not Dolby vision), and thanks to the presence of 16 local dimming zones, the X7 is capable of producing some surprisingly deep black levels. It's also a QLED TV that uses quantum dots to improve color fidelity - an impressive feat given its price.
Traditional thinking would suggest that your new TV should be of the OLED or QLED variety. However, we're here to tell you that there are still some very good standard LED TVs available with stunning 4K HDR picture quality and state-of-the-art AI capabilities.
LG company LG SK85 super UHD for one such TV set. While it still sports a bezel-lit backlight system, it's still capable of producing relatively good black levels. It also boasts fantastic color accuracy (thanks to the presence of Dolby vision support) and exceptional fluid motion, which is of paramount importance when considering a new TV to buy.
In addition, the LG SK85 boasts the company's ThinQ AI platform, allowing you to speak directly to the TV to issue commands and ask questions such as what the weather will be like tomorrow.
What TV technologies are better? What is the best LCD TV? What screen size is best for your living room? What is the difference between LCD and LED TVs?
The answers are not always obvious. In fact, buying a new TV can be stressful, even for the tech-savvy—there are so many brands, so many options, so many screen sizes, colors, technologies, and flavors to choose from.
So which one is right for you, your family and your living space? In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a new TV.
What types of TVs are there?
There are many different types of screens out there, all work differently to produce the same results. Each technology has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, so here are some basics to consider:
LCD TV: LED
A few years ago, all LCD TVs were backlit by always-on, light CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps. This aging technology has been replaced by the improved SID method on more expensive kits, but is still the standard on some cheaper models.
LED TV: Direct LED
These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This allows you to localize darken meaning, directly adjacent areas of light and darkness can be rendered more efficiently - and greatly improves contrast. LED TVs are also more energy efficient and capable of wider color gamut than CCFL sets. Due to the high cost of mounting these LED arrays, cheaper TVs usually use Kra-lit LED screens with direct or full array LED screens.
LED TV: Edge LED
With these TVs, backlight LEDs are installed around the edges of the panel. This mechanism allows for drastically thinner displays and offers improved contrast levels in CCFL LCD curing, but cannot achieve the same image quality as directly LED lit sets. However, they are much cheaper, which is why most LED TVs out there now use this technology.
The backlight display on an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) sets is achieved by passing an electric current through emissive, electroluminescent films. This technology delivers much better colors and high contrast, and allows screens to be extremely thin and flexible. It's the Holy Grail of Display technology and LG, and Sony, Philips and Panasonic have all adopted it into their flagship sets.
Quantum Dot is Samsung's big game in the LED TV space. With this, the brand claims that it is capable of producing more colorful pictures than LG and Sony, offering even brighter panels. LG's super TVs with UHD resolution all use variations on quantum dots called nano cells, and Hisense makes a number of quantum dot TVs for the US and China.
Plasma is almost completely abolished at this point, but PDP (plasma panel) TVs use glass panels containing millions of tiny cells filled with a mixture of inert gases. Electricity excites the gases, causing them to glow pixels across the screen. Plasma, while undeniably superior to LCDs in terms of contrast and color accuracy, is only possible on large (42-inch+) screens and has been retired except by a few manufacturers. You will be lucky to find it on the shelves these days.
Some manufacturers are now making televisions that have slightly curved screens. But unlike older CRT TVs, the curve is inward, not outward. The idea is that this makes every pixel an equal distance from your eyes deliver a more satisfying picture. However, there are downsides to this type of screen - basically that if you're sitting far enough away to one side - more than 40 degrees or so the curve obviously starts to affect the image geometry, angle the content next to you and compress the image down the center.
What resolution technician should I go for?
TV with high definition image in two resolutions. Sets with ready for must be able to display at least a 720p picture, and typically has a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Meanwhile, full HD TVs have a higher resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It's highly recommended that you don't go for anything less than full HD in this day and age, and really should look almost exclusively at 4K sets.
Ultra HD and 4K
Ultra HD resolution is exactly four times higher than Full HD and 3840 x 2160 resolution. This means a much more detailed picture, with content requiring a lot more bandwidth and storage space. 4K TVs are generally good at upscaling HD video to Ultra HD, but there are currently several options for viewing 4K content, but terrestrial broadcasters in the US have yet to adopt this as the new standard.
The next big thing in TVs, HDR technology produces a surprisingly high level of visual fidelity and can be found in some of the latest Ultra HD TVs. HDR is a technology and a standard. Content must be mastered in HDR and you need the TV's HDR mode to see it. However RVB offers, it's worth the extra steps to get it - you'll see increased contrast and more realistic colors, zoom in for a more cinematic level.
What else should I consider?
Buying a flat screen TV is a major investment and one that you can't afford to take lightly. Just go to the nearest store and grab the first plasma or LCD you see, don't get you the best deal on a screen that suits your needs, or the gear you require to make the most of your new purchase.
People tend to choose the size of a flat screen TV based on the space they have for it, it's not necessarily wise. Projection TVs take up much less space than you think, so your new TV may end up a foot or two away from your viewing area, making the picture look smaller.
Plus, with hi-def, you can have a larger screen and the same viewing distance without having to worry about seeing the flaws inherent in the source. A 4K TV's lack of noise means that the ideal distance from the screen is three to four times the TV's height.
How to calculate the correct HD TV size:
The trick here is to make sure your TV is big enough to fill your line of sight, but small enough to be crisp and clear. Remember, if you're only going to watch standard-definition sources, the larger the screen, the worse the picture will look.
The ideal screen size can be calculated by multiplying the distance you intend to sit from it by 0.535 and then rounding up to the nearest size.
So if you're sitting far away from an 80" TV, the ideal size is 42" (80 x 0.535 = 42.8).
What features should I be looking out for?
There are too many features to go into here, but here are some things you should consider.
Photo View: If you have a digital camera, a TV that has a memory card slot or a USB memory card reader will allow you to view your photos on the screen.
Here are some of the things we look for when we're browsing on screen, so you should too...
Contrast: light whites should not have any sign of green, pink or blue in them, while those of blacks should look solid and not washed out, grey, green or blue.
Colours: see how bright and firm they are, how noiseless their edges are; how "dotted" saturated areas are and how natural skin looks, especially in darkened scenes.
Small parts: how many textures do not give? Does the tree really look like a green cone, or you can see individual leaves
The edges: check for halos, bright rims and jaggedness, especially around curves.
Movement: check moving objects and fast camera for blurring or blurring, trawling, twitching and hissing dotty noise.
Image Artifacts: look for blockiness, color banding, grain, smudge, bypass point: nothing like TV picture processing or a weak TV tuner. Tweak your TV's picture settings before making your final decision. Factory settings are rarely good for everyday viewing.
What about sound?
To provide the best sound to complement the picture, your TV must be connected to a surround sound system, but this is not always an option. So, here's what we listen to when testing TV speakers:
Bass: deep, round rumbles that don't cause a set of rattles or speakers to distort, cramp or overwhelm the rest; but what to expand when needed.
Vocals: voices should sound open, rich and clear, not boxed, nasal or thin.
Frequencies: The HF effects should sound clean, round and soft in loud scenes and should not dominate the sound.
Sound Width/Depth: a good TV should throw the sound away from the TV, sideways, back and forth to give an extra dimension to what's on screen without losing coherence.
How many HDMI outlets do you need?
For living room TV, you should look for at least 3 HDMI inputs. If you want to attach set-top boxes, as well as game consoles, etc., the HDMI ports will quickly fill up.
I want to hang my TV on the wall?
First, you need to consult with a building expert to check that the wall is strong enough to support a flat screen. Then find out if the kit is designed for wall mounting and, if so, ask if the appropriate bracket is included as standard or as an option.
Will I be connecting it to a home theater?
If the answer is No, you might want to think more carefully about your set's audio performance. Look for a screen that can go as loud as you need without distortion or cabinet rattle. Consider how the dialogue sounds and how much low bass rumble is capable of.
Conversely, it's pointless to pay more money for exceptional built-in speakers if you already have a home theater system.