Best TV: upgrade your living room with the best OLED, 4K and Smart TVs

The best TVs to invest in for your next film night, weekend binge-watch or the big match, from Samsung, LG, Philips and more

Included in this guide:

best TV: Samsung 75" Class Q90T Series QLED 4K UHD Smart Tizen TV
(Image credit: Samsung)

If you’ve recently been feeling inspired to seriously upgrade your TV set-up, then you’re not alone. Spending more time at home has naturally led many of us to start daydreaming about our next TV, whether that involves a considerable size increase, a jump to 4K (or even 8K) or something else. The best TVs can turn an ordinary Friday night in front of Netflix into a cinema-worthy experience.

If that’s been lacking for you, then we think it’s high time you take a look at what’s on offer.

But how to choose the perfect set? Specs and features in the television space can too often turn into incomprehensible jargon, so it’s essential to do your homework before handing over your hard-earned cash.

And, if you’re having trouble, then we’re here to help decipher things like the difference between LED, OLED and QLED, 4K and HD, and whether an 85-inch TV can ever really look good in an ordinary-sized living room.

Keep reading to see how we rated some of the best sets out there right now, or narrow down your search with our guide to the best 75 inch TVs.

The best TVs 2021

LG C1 Smart 4K OLED TV

(Image credit: LG)

1. LG C1 Smart 4K OLED TV

Best TV overall

Specifications
Panel: OLED
Resolution: 4K
Smart TV: webOS
Sizes: 48", 55", 65", 77"
Year: 2021
Reasons to buy
+Alexa and Google Assistant built-in+Dolby Atmos sound
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR 10+

The LG C1 OLED TV is our pick of the best OLED screen right now. Released in 2021, the C1 sports a gorgeous 4K panel with an a9 Gen4 processor that upscales everything beautifully. In addition, its smart TV offering, webOS, is one of the most popular for streaming fans.

The panel is incredibly thin, which means it looks pretty sublime mounted to the wall, and there's a Game Optimiser setting the uses NVIDIA G-SYNC and FreeSync Premium to boosts specs.

Google Home and Alexa are also built-in, so you can enjoy smart home features even if you don't yet have a standalone smart speaker.

LG CX Smart 4K OLED TV

(Image credit: LG)

2. LG CX Smart 4K OLED TV

Best TV for sound

Specifications
Panel: OLED
Resolution: 4K
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HLG
Sound: DTS-HD, Dolby Atmos, OLED Surround
Smart TV: webOS
Reasons to buy
+Alexa and Google Home built-in+Dolby Atmos
Reasons to avoid
-Picture not as sharp as other brands

Next on our list is the LG CX Series, released in 2020 as an update to the brand's C-Series. The set is perfect for movies night on the sofa and the big game or, for gamers, that Sunday afternoon session. The experience is boosted by Dolby Vision IQ, an upgraded video processor and more.

The magic remote that comes along with the set is the cherry on top, allowing you to control your TV with gestures, and in-built Alexa and Google Assistant make it ideal for existing smart homes and newbies alike. You won't be disappointed by the sound quality, either, with Dolby Atmos creating a surround sound experience without the clutter of additional speakers.

Samsung Q80T Smart 4K QLED TVReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung Q80T Smart 4K QLED TV

Best QLED TV

Specifications
Resolution: 4K
Panel: QLED
Smart TV: Tizen
Sizes: 49", 55", 65", 75", 85"
Year: 2020
Reasons to buy
+Object tracking 3D sound with dialogue amplifier+Alexa, Google Assistant and Bixby all built-in+Ambient Mode+
Reasons to avoid
-No Freeview Play-No Dolby Vision support

It may now count as a slightly older model, but the Samsung Q80T still offers a lot. It looks fantastic in the room with a full-array backlight that floods the screen and an ultra-thin bezel.

And that's before we get to the Ambient Mode feature, which turns your unused TV from a big black rectangle to just part of the décor (just take a picture on your phone and upload it - magic!).

It's also plenty impressive while you're watching, of course, with bright HDR and AI-enhanced images, 4K resolution and a QLED panel. In addition, audiophiles (or those who struggle with hearing what's going on) will be pleased with the object tracking 3D sound and voice amplifier, which creates the illusion of audio coming from specific points on the screen.

There's the Game Motion Plus setting for gamers, which reduces judder and blue for smoother gameplay. You also have a good choice of sizes, from a 49" set that would be ideal for the bedroom to an eye-popping 85" set.

Real Homes rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Hisense A7200 Smart 4K LED TVReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Hisense)

Best budget TV

Specifications
Resolution: 4K
Panel: LED
Smart TV: Roku
Sizes: 43", 50", 55", 65"
Year: 2021
Reasons to buy
+Affordable price tag+Easy to use OS+Works with Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit
Reasons to avoid
-Only available from Argos in UK-No built-in smart assistants 

If you're looking for a way to upgrade your TV set but don't have a ton of spare cash, then we're here to recommend the Hisense Roku A7200 TV. Exclusive to Argos in the UK, it's a brilliant deal for those who want to get 4K HDR visuals and user-friendly smarts for less.

Roku won't be for everyone, but it's one of the most easy-to-use operating systems out there - proven by the popularity of their streaming sticks. It also has all of the content you could want, from Netflix and iPlayer to Disney+ and NOW TV. 

There are no in-built smart assistants, but you wouldn't expect that for the price, and it's compatible with Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit if you already have a speaker at home. It also works with Apple AirPlay for iOS users.

Real Homes rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars | read our full review of the Hisense Roku A7200 TV

Samsung The Frame Smart 4K QLED TVReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

(Image credit: Samsung)

Best lifestyle TV

Specifications
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: QLED
Smart TV: Tizen
Sizes: 43", 55", 65", 75"
Year: 2021
Reasons to buy
+Hangs flush to wall+Alexa, Google Home and Bixby built-in+Home décor friendly
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Samsung's Frame TV gives you QLED features with a strong steer towards interior design. It offers an outstanding viewing experience with a thin bezel that is styled to appear like a picture frame that you would hang on the wall. 

The Frame blends with your other pictures thanks to Art Mode, displaying thousands of attractive digital photos when it's switched off. You can subscribe to Samsung's Art Store (for just £3.99 per month) to access hundreds of images ranging from contemporary to classic, or you can create your own slide show using your own snaps. The tech has gone one step further this year to suggest artwork in line with your specific tastes - very clever!

Essential to this set is the No Gap Wall Mount, which sits this TV flush to your wall with only enough space for the tiny near-invisible cable to run discreetly down to the One Connect box - which you can then tuck away inside a cupboard.

Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars | read our full review of the Samsung The Frame TV 

Samsung The Serif Smart 4K QLED TVReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

(Image credit: Samsung)

Best lifestyle TV (runner up)

Specifications
Resolution: 4K
Panel: QLED
Smart TV: Tizen
Sizes: 43", 50"
Year: 2020
Reasons to buy
+Alexa, Google Home and Bixby built-in+Ambient Mode++Great design
Reasons to avoid
-Only available in a couple of mid-range sizes

The Samsung Serif TV may not have caught attention like its sister, The Frame, but it's a great lifestyle TV in its own right. With the same 4K QLED screen technology, it sports a design by Bouroullec that incorporates a black metal floor stand (it can also sit on another flat surface if this isn't for you.

Ambient Mode+ allows you to have your TV display everything from beautiful works of art to your own family photos, and you can also use the Multi-View feature to have your favourite series and your Twitter feed on screen side by side.

As an alternative to The Frame, The Serif has many of the same features and an even more distinctive design. It also scored highly in our review, so it comes recommended.

Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars | read our full review of the Samsung The Serif

LG GX Smart 4K OLED TVReal Homes Rated Silver Badge

(Image credit: LG)

7. LG GX Smart 4K OLED TV

Specifications
Display: OLED
Resolution: 4K
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
Smart TV: webOS
Reasons to buy
+Minimalist aesthetic+Gallery design+Decent audio+Google Assistant built-in
Reasons to avoid
-A little pricey (could be worth it, though!)-No built-in Alexa

Released in 2020, this LG television is a piece of artwork that will display your favourite entertainment with beautiful detail and clarity. The only thing that might give you pause is the heavy price tag, but if you want the latest screen, then this is an excellent option.

The LG GX offers a unique minimalist aesthetic, made possible by OLED's revolutionary panel technology and ultra-thin form factor. In addition, the TV mounts flush to the wall, akin to a piece of art in a gallery, meaning it is the ultimate choice for interior design fanatics.

Talking of the OLED screen - you'll witness perfect blacks, intense colour, and infinite contrast when it's switched on with your entertainment. This one is stunning, on or off.

LG OLED TVs now all feature the all-new Filmmaker Mode. This disables special effects such as motion smoothing and image sharpening to preserve the original, just as the director intended. This can be easily activated through the TV menu or the LG smart remote in-built voice control. 

Real Homes rating: 4 out of 5 stars

How to choose the best TV for your home

SAMSUNG The Frame QE55LS03AAUXXU 55 Smart 4K Ultra HD HDR QLED TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

What should I consider when looking for the best TV?

Choosing a TV for you and your family can be daunting. The single most significant decision you’ll need to make (other than agreeing on a budget) is between LED, OLED and QLED.

OLED TVs are the most expensive of the bunch, but they benefit from absolutely astonishing levels of contrast thanks to the fact that they’re able to turn off individual pixels for ‘perfect’ black levels. That said, they aren’t quite as bright as LED TVs, meaning they can be a little harder to watch in bright living rooms. You also don’t get quite as much sparkle in those bright parts of the image.

Beyond panel type, your decision will come down to the strengths and weaknesses of each TV in particular. Ultimately this depends on what you want in a TV - the latest tech, the biggest screen, the smartest abilities and voice control? The list goes on.

And for those who want a TV that will blend into the rest of their décor, check out our guide to living room TV ideas for ways to cleverly disguise your tech. 

 What is the best TV brand?

Logik - for budget LED TVs in HD and 4K. Sizes range from 40” to 65”. Prices range from about £250 to about £550.

Toshiba - for budget LED TVs in HD and 4K. Sizes range from 32” to 65”. Prices range from about £250 to about £550.

TCL - for budget LED TVs in HD and 4K. Sizes range from 40” to 65”. Prices range from about £300 to about £550.

JVC - for budget LED TVs in HD and 4K. Sizes range from 32” to 65”. Prices range from about £200 to about £600.

Panasonic - for LED TVs in HD and 4K. Sizes range from 40” to 65”. Prices range from about £450 to about £1,500.

Hisense - for budget LED, OLED and QLED TVs in HD and 4K. Sizes range from 40” to 75”. Prices range from about £300 to about £2,500.

Philips - for LED and OLED TVs in HD and 4K. Sizes range from 43” to 70”. Prices range from about £350 to about £2,500.

Sony - for LED and OLED TVs in HD, 4K and 8K. Sizes range from 43” to 85”. Prices range from about £450 to about £8,000.

Samsung - for LED and QLED TVs in HD, 4K and 8K. Sizes range from 32” to 85”. Prices range from about £300 to about £12,000.

LG - for LED, OLED and QNED TVs in HD, 4K and 8K. Sizes range from 32” to 88”. Prices range from about £300 to about £30,000.

What is the difference between QLED and OLED?

This TV vocabulary is being thrown around a fair bit, which can be confusing, but it’s always good to know about these things before committing.

OLED, or Organic Light Emitting Diode, means that each pixel in the screen is self-lighting and can be switched on and off individually. There is also an extra white sub-pixel, which delivers ultra-fine gradation and a true-to-life colour palette.

OLED TVs are fast becoming the most popular option, and it’s easy to see why. The self-lighting LEDs mean that the TV can be thinner, and a faster refresh rate reduces motion blur for sharper, more natural images.

QLED, or Quantum-dot Light Emitting Diode, was introduced by Samsung as an alternative to OLED technology. In simplified terms, QLED TVs place a quantum dot colour filter in front of an ordinary LCD backlight which - though not sounding too impressive - has caught on with more companies wanting to invest in it.

QNED, or Quantum NanoCell Emitting Diodes, is the new kid on the block and is only being sported by a handful of LG TVs right now. The technology uses tens of thousands of tiny LEDs to control brightness, contrast and everything else in minute detail, combining the best parts of NanoCell LCD and Mini LED tech. 

Are 4K and 8K worth it? 

The three main resolutions to choose from these days are HD, 4K (or Ultra HD) and 8K. This refers to the number of pixels carried - and the higher, the better.

You can buy 4K TVs for pretty affordable prices these days, so we would recommend going for it if picture quality is at all important to you. It’ll also be somewhat future-proof with more and more 4K content delivered via streaming apps like Netflix.

8K is a different proposition, as those who have already leapt are finding that there really isn’t much around at the moment to enjoy in the brain-busting resolution. So it’s an expense that may not be justifiable, BUT you may be glad you invested in a few years when 8K movies and TV shows are more common. Technology moves quickly, as we all know. 

What is HDR?

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is the next step in picture quality, giving you bright spectral highlights, reflections that glint and sunlight that glares. If you're an avid sports fan, it's a real bonus. Plus, HDR content is currently available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. When choosing an HDR-compatible TV, don't buy a budget model – mid to high-end models only will give you the picture quality you're seeking.

What size TV should I buy?

Got your tape measure to hand? Good, because choosing the right size TV for your living space may be the most straightforward step, but it’s also vitally important.

There’s a simple equation to use when it comes to getting a TV that will fit in your space and allow everyone to watch from a comfortable distance: 

  • Tips: Divide the diagonal width (in inches) of the TV by 0.84 to get the optimum viewing distance. 

For a 65 inch TV, for example, you will need to be sitting at least 6.5ft from it  – something to bear in mind if you have a smaller living room, but your heart is set on a giant screen. 

That said, modern TVs are smaller/slimmer than older models, which means you can afford to go larger than your last model. Plus, if you replace an HD TV with a 4K one of the same sizes but don’t change your viewing distance, you won’t see an improvement in resolution. So either buy a larger 4K TV than your old HD one or stay the same and pull your sofa nearer.

How long will a new TV last?

Buying a new TV is often a big budget-stretching event, especially if you want a model that is all singing and dancing (so to speak). You’ll be glad to hear, then, that many models come with at least a 1-2 year guarantee as standard, which will cover you for any faults that develop with the technology (though not accidental damage). 

Tuning into a BBC podcast with Martin Lewis, it’s explained that, should your TV fail you beyond the warranty, you need to ask yourself, ‘what is a reasonable amount of time for this television to last?’. It’s often subjective reasoning, i.e. if you’ve spent £2,000 on something, you would expect it to last a few years. Therefore, if your reasoning is realistic and not something down to you, you will have the Consumer Rights Act to fall back on as it’s not fit for purpose. 

  • We hope this guide has gone someway in helping. Want to see our full list again? Jump back up to the top ^
Caroline Preece
Caroline Preece

Caroline has been part of the Real Homes ecommerce team in the UK since the start of 2021, after working for the last decade as a journalist across publications in technology, entertainment and more. In her spare time she's usually obsessing about space-saving and DIY hacks for small spaces, and how to affordably make a rental feel like a home.

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