Best 4K TV of 2021
Apr 9th, 2021
Best 4K TV of 2021: we chose the 5 sharpest options
The best 4K TVs from early 2021 are still last year’s models, but the list will certainly update as we get to test new models from numerous manufacturers Not only do 4K TVs offer high resolution today, they also offer cutting- edge television technology with their OLED panels, Quantum Dot filters, and Dolby Vision and HDR supports. The year 2021 will bring new technological advances to the market that we will not be able to test. If you are buying a new TV, we recommend that you get a TV with at least 4K resolution. There are already new 8K TVs on the market , so lower than 4K is no longer worth considering. At the same time, more accurate resolution means more accurate image, sharpness and detail than before.
TV models are updated every year, but luckily we here at TechRadar have been testing the latest models for years. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best 4K TVs of 2021 based on our in-depth testing.
We’ve selected a selection of 55-inch , 65-inch and 75-inch 4K options for the list to find the right model for everyone in the living room. We are also actively updating the list, as more and more televisions are coming to market.
What is 4K resolution?
4K resolution, at least the way most TV companies define it, is 3840 x 2160 pixels, or 2160p. To put that in perspective, a Full HD 1080p image is only 1920 x 1080. 4K screens have about 8 million pixels, which is around four times what your current 1080p set can display. Think of your TV like a grid, with rows and columns. A full HD 1080p image is 1080 rows high and 1920 columns wide. A 4K image approximately doubles the numbers in both directions, yielding approximately four times as many pixels total. To put it another way, you could fit every pixel from your 1080p set onto one-quarter of a 4K screen.
The best 4K TV in a nutshell:
1. LG CX OLED
2. Samsung Q90T / Q95T QLED
3. Panasonic HZ1500
4. Sony A8 OLED
5. Samsung Q70T QLED
1. LG CX OLED
The LG CX OLED is an easy choice for the best 4K TV of the year. It has the best user interface on the market (webOS), phenomenal contrast and a rich OLED panel, as well as a slew of quality features and format support that make it a great replacement for older 4K TVs. Released last year, the LG C9 is already much cheaper today, but the new 48-inch CX is a good low-cost option to switch to this year’s models. There won’t be much change between the new and old models in the end, but the 3rd generation Gen a9 processor means even better image quality with the vividness familiar to OLED panels, dark blackhead and rich color scheme. In addition, the model has support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, but unfortunately not for HDR10 +.
2. Samsung Q90T / Q95T QLED TV
Samsung will be at the forefront of new TVs in 2020 with the Q90T / Q95T QLED for 4K models. It provides the best image quality on the market and the brightness familiar to QLED models, further enhanced by Samsung's Quantum dot technology. Unfortunately, this model does not support Dolby Vision, but the company’s new Object Tracking Sound feature creates a home theater-friendly sound experience in the living room. However, Samsung will drop to second place this year as the company’s focus has already shifted from 4K. The company's top model this year is an 8K television, so 4K models do not have the company's latest technology. The Q90R, released last year, is technically better than the Q90T / Q95T, although it's worth noting that the new models are significantly cheaper than the Q90R. While the 2020 models no longer have the same wide viewing angles, they have an extremely sharp 4K image and phenomenal contrast and color depth for the QLED models.The Q95T is virtually identical to the Q90T, but has a Samsung OneConnect box for a small extra charge.
3. Panasonic TH-75GX650L
The Panasonic HZ1500's OLED panel and HCX Pro Intelligent processor work together to create a beautiful and stunning image in deep blacks that brings HDR images to life. The model also supports both HDR10 + and Dolby Vision, so TV buyers don’t have to choose a side. Unfortunately, the new model is running out of support for Disney + and HDMI 2.1 connections. This is also not a recommended option for players as its latency is not low enough. For film use, on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with the picture. 80 W Dolby Atmos speakers also make the movie experience worthwhile.
4. Sony A8 OLED
The Sony A8 OLED makes the impossible true and moves the previously listed A9G OLED aside. Sony’s 2019-released A9G had everything we needed from an OLED TV except for the high price. Now, the company has finally launched a more affordable OLED TV that matches last year’s top model in other features. The new model features state-of-the-art OLED image quality, Sony's high-quality X1 Ultimate processor, Pixel Contrast Booster and improved X-Motion Clarity, developed by Sony for the company's new FALD LCD TVs. In addition to these, the model features a high-quality sound system that combines two subwoofers with Acoustic Surface Audio technology. Together, these bring a more feel to movies and series. If you can live with the TV’s relatively low brightness, then the A8 offers one of the best experiences on the OLED front at the moment.
5. Samsung Q70T QLED TV
The Samsung Q70T QLED isn’t as high quality as the top-ranked Q95T, but it’s also a much cheaper option. Samsung has reorganized the names of its TVs, so the Q70T is actually the successor to the Q60R released last year. Its backlight is also handled through the pages, so it does not maintain the brightness of other QLED models. Fortunately, it has the extremely sharp image and excellent upscaling that the company is known for. There are also no noticeable tails or blur in the moving image. Unfortunately, HDR performance is degraded due to the backlight coming from the side and only 600 stays left. Black levels are also lower than expected. For its price, the level is still good, and especially for gaming use, the low 9.1 ms game mode is a great achievement. It is worth noting that Samsung TVs support HDR10 +, while Dolby Vision used on Netflix, among others, is not supported. But if you’re looking for an affordable TV that is capable of better than the price suggests, the Q70T is a great option for 2020.
What do you need to know about 4K TVs?
Not only do these monitors have four times the number of pixels compared to their older (but certainly respected) 1080p brothers, but 4K monitors also mostly feature new technology like High Dynamic Range ( HDR ) and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) that really let the pixels shine in all their magnificence.
One of the main reasons for the actual take-off of the 4K has been that game consoles like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X have actually taken on the features of the 4K, as well as the Blu-ray industry as well as video streaming services. So almost all the major commercial players have jumped on the 4K Ultra HD train.
It should be further clarified that, although television manufacturers often use 4K and Ultra HD as synonyms, those terms do not technically mean exactly the same thing. 4K has so-called movie resolution, so it’s a little wider than usual. Its resolution is 2,160 x 4,096, while Ultra HD has a resolution of 2,160 x 3,840. The difference is clearly illustrated, for example, from 00:50 onwards in the video below.
What is 4K resolution? Our guide to Ultra HD viewing
What is 4K resolution? In this guide, we’ll take a look at 4K Ultra HD technologies, clarify the differences with HD or even 8K displays, and explain why it matters when you're considering a new TV.
First up, 4K is a screen resolution. And this ultra-high-definition screen resolution, which is also known as UHD, 4K, or 4K UHD, has become the most popular resolution across most TV screens – as well as many PC monitors too.
4K is the most common resolution you’ll find for all brand new television sets, surpassing both HD and Full HD to become the resolution of choice (except on quite small TVs, that is) for those looking for a crisp and detailed TV picture.
You'll see ‘4K’ all over in-store televisions, plastered on tech retailer websites and in many of our TV reviews here on TechRadar. But although 4K might be common nowadays, it isn't the only top TV tech options. 4K tech now has plenty of competition in 8K resolution which you’ll find in the best 8K TVs. This is an even sharper resolution that's starting to gain traction in the TV market and is worth keeping an eye on – but, for now, 4K TVs still reign supreme.
4K TVs can also display lower-resolution content, such as movies and TV shows that have been filmed in HD, but it will 'upscale' to ensure it looks normal on a 4K screen. Upscaling tends to work better on some TVs than others, though, and cheaper sets can struggle to do this well.
However, it might not be the raw resolution of 4K that ends up tempting you into your next TV purchase. Instead, the other cool technologies that are built-in to many 4K TVs, which include Quantum Dot and OLED panels and High Dynamic Range (HDR) might be what sways your purchasing decision in the end.
In the guide below, you'll find a video explaining 4K in a nutshell, with more information about pixel count, viewing distances, and the difference 4K really makes below that.
What is 4K resolution?
4K resolution, at least the way most TV companies define it, is 3840 x 2160 pixels, or 2160p. To put that in perspective, a Full HD 1080p image is only 1920 x 1080. 4K screens have about 8 million pixels, which is around four times what your current 1080p set can display.
Think of your TV like a grid, with rows and columns. A full HD 1080p image is 1080 rows high and 1920 columns wide. A 4K image approximately doubles the numbers in both directions, yielding approximately four times as many pixels total. To put it another way, you could fit every pixel from your 1080p set onto one-quarter of a 4K screen.
Why is it called 4K?
Because the images are around 4,000 pixels wide. And before you ask, yes, the industry named 1080 resolution after image height, but named 4K after image width. For extra added fun, you also might hear this resolution referred to as 2160p. Welcome to the future. It's confusing here.
Do all of those extra pixels matter?
That's where it gets sticky. We're talking about a similar jump in resolution as the one from SD (480 lines high) to HD (1080 lines high). And 4K screens are noticeably sharper than 1080p screens.
But if you're sticking with roughly the same size of television, and are used to sitting pretty close, you may not see that much of a difference – especially if you're still mostly watching HD content rather than 4K video.
Difference between Ultra HD and 4K
Technically, "Ultra High Definition" is actually a derivation of the 4K digital cinema standard. However while your local multiplex shows images in native 4096 x 2160 4K resolution, the new Ultra HD consumer format has a slightly lower resolution of 3840 x 2160.
This is one reason why some brands prefer not to use the 4K label at all, sticking with Ultra HD or UHD instead. However, the numerical shorthand looks likely to stick.
Why should I care about 4K Ultra HD?
There are many reasons why 4K should make you rethink your next TV purchase (actually, there are eleven and you can read about them here), not all of them immediately obvious.
Photographers who routinely view their work on an HD TV are seeing but a fraction of the detail inherent in their pictures when they view them at 2160p.
A 4K display reveals so much more nuance and detail – the difference can be astonishing. While 3D has proved to be a faddish diversion, 4K comes without caveats. Its higher resolution images are simply better.
The higher pixel density of a 4K panel also enable you get much closer without the grid-like structure of the image itself becoming visible –this means you can comfortably watch a much larger screen from the same seating position as your current Full HD panel.
What is 4K OLED?
More acronyms! Isn't this fun? OLED – organic light emitting diodes – have been around for some time, but producing big screens using this technology has proven to be prohibitively expensive, something which has so far prevented OLED television from being a mainstream proposition.
It's a real shame because OLED technology can be stunning, offering vibrant colors, deep blacks and bright whites. But don't give up hope just yet. Several companies (most prominently LG) are laboring away to bring OLED to 4K televisions. They're certainly gorgeous, though pricing remains high even years after they first came to market – and it's generally accepted that they don't have the longevity of LCD screens.
Are 4K and HDR the same thing?
No. There's no shortage of acronyms in home entertainment, and it can certainly get confusing though.
HDR, or high dynamic range, essentially increases the difference between the lightest and the darkest portions of an image. Blacks get properly dark rather than milky grey, and whites get blindingly light.
This means that images have more depth to them, and you should also be able to perceive more detail in the lightest and darkest portions of the image.All Products