With so many options out there, it’s not always as easy as you’d think to find the best 4K TV for 2018. 4K, or Ultra HD (UHD) TVs have been available and on shelves for a few years now, but it’s only until recently that manufacturers have finally started to nail down the perfect balance between quality, features, and cost.
In all these metrics, we believe the Samsung Q7F 4k UHD TV earns the top spot as the #1 best 4K TV for 2018, featuring some of the deepest blacks, best contrast, and sleekest design at a cost that strikes a nice middle ground between high-end sets and the budget crowd.
That in mind our list of 4K TVs is broken down by size, allowing you to find the best ultra HD tv for your room. After all, it’s a strong likelihood that you’ve already picked one or two sizes that will fit your space.
Now it’s just a question which is the top 4K TV for that spot. If not, then you’re in for a treat (especially if you can make room for a 70-inch set).
So which is the ultimate 4K TV for 2018? Read on in our in-depth guide which breaks everything down on a size-by-size basis to find out for yourself.
Top 4K TV’s for 2018 Compared
#1 Samsung Q7F – Editor’s Choice/Best 4K TV for 2018
v Features: QLED display technology, Invisible Connection wiring system, Local dimming
v Sizes Available: 55″, 65″ and 75″
- Great picture quality for the price
- Smart Hub is one of the best navigation tools in the business
- Sleekly styled OneRemote
- Beautiful design overall
- QLED quality still won’t match OLED pound for pound
For my money and yours, Samsung’s Q7F achieves stunning picture quality in all testing scenarios, beating out some sets that cost twice as much at this 65″ size. The set trounced every competitor we tested in its class on a range of various metrics, whether it was the simple but deeply-featured nature of the menu system, the outstanding performance displaying HDR content, or even just the onboard speaker which was both surprisingly boomy and bassy given its limited size.
Speaking of size, the Samsung Q7F is impeccably designed, looking sleek and slim from all sides while featuring Samsung’s proprietary Invisible Connection™ technology. This takes all the mess and muss of your wires and discreetly hides them behind Samsung’s main connection hub, which then leads into a single nearly-invisible wire which can be stashed in the TV’s own stand. This adds up to a nearly seamless experience, allowing you to truly take in everything the Q7F has to offer in all its highly detailed glory.
Samsung’s navigation software is also simply top-notch, outclassing just about every other set we’ve tested thanks to its Smart Hub system. Smart Hub uses a “home bar” style of navigation which makes it incredibly simple to navigate not only between various streaming applications, but also to pick back up right on the episode you were watching on say, Netflix, from the Hulu app.
And finally (speaking of navigation), this is a small bonus in my book but Samsung has nailed the OneRemote on the Q7F. Just as sleek and stylish as the set itself, this small silver remote fits effortlessly in your hand and covers every task you’d need handled with about four buttons in total. Personally I love when simplicity of design and core functionality are married as beautifully as they are in the OneRemote, and although the voice-command tech was fairly limited (it didn’t work in almost every major streaming app we tested), it was still fun to play around with in the Smart Hub when it did actually have the ability to respond.
For all these reasons and more, it’s no wonder why the Samsung Q7F has snatched up the title as the #1 best 4K TV for 2018!
#2 TCL 55P607 – Best 55″ 4K TV
v Features: HDR10 and Dolby Vision color spec, Roku integration, Headphone-ready remote
v Sizes Available: 55″ only
- Spectacular picture quality for the price
- Plenty of app support
- Good sound
- Quality won’t match competing sets using QLED/OLED
- Menu could be clunky at times
- Roku remote app was useless
The TCL won’t be winning any beauty contests anytime soon, but considering the price we’re actually okay with that. The included interface features many of our favorite streaming apps already installed straight out of the gate, including staples like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and Vudu ready to go as soon as you turn it on for the first time. However that said, one major sticking point for us on the TCL was the complete lack of picture settings available natively on the set itself. To adjust anything from the color palette to the white balance, instead users will need to download the ancillary Roku companion app which, only after a lot of extra troubleshooting, finally discovered the TV we were trying to use it with.
Aside from that small caveat though, you simply aren’t going to find a television on shelves today that offers a better combination of picture quality to price. If you’re shopping on a budget but don’t want your favorite movies, television shows, or games to take on that “budget” look many sets in this price tier are guilty of, then the TCL 55P607 is the best choice in 2018 for you!
Read: Best 55 Inch TV
#3 Sony XBR-A1E OLED – Best 4K HDR Display Quality – Best 65″
v Features: OLED display technology, HDR10-compatible, Acoustic Surface™ technology
v Sizes Available: 55″, 65″ and 77″
- Stunning picture quality
- Acoustic Surface technology is amazing
- Again, picture quality is unmatched
- Stand style makes floor viewing sections awkward
- Price is high for most consumers
- Sony remote is massive
- Android TV can be finicky on weak WiFi
Sony has made some pretty big moves in the design of the A1E OLED that may not gel with everyone, and I might even include myself in that camp. In order to create the seamless effect of your TV sitting right on your mounting area, they’ve stashed all the inputs and processing units in the stand itself, which leans back and means the screen itself will only operate if it’s leaning at that same 15° angle. Personally I’m not sure how to feel about this choice as it makes it a bit awkward to watch if you wanted to say, lay on the floor in front of the television and look up at it, but aside from those fringe use cases most people probably won’t see a problem.
Another new addition we found on the A1E was the addition of Sony’s own Acoustic Surface technology, which actually turns the screen itself into one giant speaker/amplifier. This makes it so voices come through clearer than any other speaker we’ve tested on other sets, and also gave action scenes a surprising amount of bass that never actually rattled the screen itself.
Finally there’s the picture quality, which even straight out of the box easily outclassed every other set we’ve tested this year. In every single test we ran the A1E OLED produced images that almost seemed too real to be real, and although we’d like to say that it was able to do this at a reasonable price, the nearly $3,500 cost makes that upgrade in visuals a bit more understated. That in mind, if you have the cash to spend and you’re on the hunt for the tip top of what 4K viewing has to offer in 2018, look no further than the A1E LED because it’s got everything you could want and more.
How We Tested the Top 4K TVs
To start, we only considered TVs this year that had HDR 10 or Dolby Vision included, because aside from OLED this is the most exciting advancement that 2018 4K televisions have made over their predecessors of 2016-2017.
Even budget manufacturers like Vizio and Hisense are now including the color spec in their lower end sets, which means that no matter what your spending level you can still expect a whole new way to watch television that makes colors more vibrant than they’ve ever been before.
For this year’s lineup we received a number of sets in house, and once we had them on the testing table it was time to run them through their paces.
- Standard picture tests like watching 4K Blu-Rays (HDR-compatible) on them
- Streaming 4K content via Netflix and Vudu
- And also running a number of different games on the set to see how they respond when under stress
- Furthermore, we displayed a number of test images that would help us to determine the
- Overall color uniformity
- Brightness uniformity
- Contrast capabilities
- Backlight bleed
- Black levels
- And (if they have it), the uniformity of local dimming.
We also did our best to consider a wide spectrum of price ranges to fit every buyer’s budget, because while some content perfectionists might not accept anything less than a $3,500 set like the A1E from Sony, others might not have as much to spend and are just fine entering in closer to the $600 – $800 range.
Finally, we interviewed several 4K TV experts in the field, whether they were professional installers or buyers for major websites who deal in hundreds, if not thousands of 4K TVs a day.
Why You Need a New 4K TV for 2018
As we mentioned in the previous section, the primary and most obvious reason anyone should look to upgrade their kit in 2018 is due to the drop in price we’re seeing for HDR and Dolby Vision sets. Once reserved for only the most elite options, these days it’s almost a crime for a 4K TV not to have one or the other included as a core feature.
Another major improvement has come with the display technologies themselves, or rather the price that people should expect to pay for options like OLED.
No matter which way you swing it, OLED is a significant upgrade over LED and LCD when it comes to black levels, contrast ratios, and overall brightness uniformity, but until recently the production methods needed to create OLED TVs kept them in the realm of the unaffordable for most average consumers.
In 2018 we’re finally starting to see those prices dip below the $2K level. Furthermore options like the Samsung Q7F offer near-OLED quality in the $2,000 range, thanks to the addition of QLED technology.
Another major addition to mid-to-low end sets this year is the inclusion of local dimming technology, which helps create deeper black levels, more crisp contrast, and an overall boost in clarity that sets from several years ago just can’t match.
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen such a drastic shift in technology year-over-year in the 4K TV market, but if there were ever a time to upgrade then 2018 is definitely it!
4K TV Buyer’s Guide
What to Look For in the Best 4K TV
v Clarity: Of course, the first reason that anyone decides to upgrade to 4K is better picture quality, and pixel clarity leads the pack on what you want to look for most. While all 4K TVs on this list feature the same resolution, what really sets these apart is the clarity and quality of those pixels.
v HDR10 or Dolby Vision: Like HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, both HDR10 and Dolby Vision are currently locked in a heated format war over who will dominate television screens for the next however-many years. After having thoroughly tested both it’s my personal belief that HDR10 offers slightly more benefits that Dolby Vision can’t match, though this does come down to more subjective terms than anything since they both add a significant amount of vibrancy to any model that features either spec (plus some models still offer support for both, like the TCL P-Series).
v Price: 4K TVs are still in a weird space right now, where the highest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best TV, and the lowest doesn’t mean it’s the worst. A great example is the TCL model in our number two slot, which, while not exactly cheap at $749.00, still delivers stellar picture quality that rivals many picks three to four times its cost.
v Connectivity: This isn’t necessarily unique to 4K televisions, but it’s something you should still be sure to keep an eye on whenever you’re shopping for your next set. With so many devices that demand precious port space, always be certain that the 4K TV you eventually settle on has enough HDMI ports (with the proper speeds) to support the inputs you need for the ultimate viewing experience.
Read More: Best 65-inch TV for 2018
Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a 4K or UHD Television
? Don’t skimp on cost: While price isn’t always directly indicative of the quality you should expect, it’s generally a good idea to avoid any “bargain basement” deals for 4K TVs. These feature refresh rates, contrast ratios, and display technologies that are well below the standard for what you should expect out of a 4K set, and the last thing you want to do is skimp on quality when upgrading to become a part of the 4K revolution.
? Double-check the number of available ports: Like we mentioned above, always double-check to be sure that your TV of choice has enough ports to support all your gaming consoles, streaming devices, and Blu-Ray players at the same time.
? Don’t fall prey to marketing speak: Many manufacturers of 4K TVs today are relying on consumer ignorance to jack up the price on sub-par sets. Never assume that because a television comes with “Ultra-View”this or “Super-Color” that that it’s automatically better than anything else out there.
Also Read: Best TV For Gaming
Most Important Features of a 4K Television
- The display technologies that power today’s 4K TVs come in three different flavors: LED, LED-LCD, OLED, AMOLED, and QLED
- There’s still a lot of debate over which tech is best for 4K TVs specifically, but who’s right on either side of the argument will usually come down to the manufacturer of the TV itself
- LG is known for producing OLED TVs that can outperform most LED-LCDs, however that performance doesn’t come cheap.
- Conversely, Samsung has put out some seriously high-quality QLED-based 4K sets that could put cheaper OLED sets to shame, all for a price that won’t leave your wallet limping on one leg when you walk away from the checkout counter
- HDR is the newest addition to 4K TVs, and for our money is basically an essential component at this point. HDR makes colors significantly more vibrant than they were in previous years, and adds a whole new layer of depth to images that can’t be matched by sets without either HDR 10 or Dolby Vision on board.
- Local dimming is another major technology to keep an eye out for (no pun intended). 2018 is the year the display technology finally came down in price enough to start getting included in budget sets, but the difference that it makes in contrast, black levels, and overall clarity can’t be ignored.
- The refresh rate of any TV – 4K or otherwise – refers to how often the screen refreshes the picture it’s trying to display
- In general, 60Hz is enough for most movies and Blu-Rays, while 120Hz is made more for quick moving action, like you’d find in a sports game.
- Some sets like the Samsung claim refresh rates as high as 240Hz, though all of this basically boils down to marketing speak. In reality it’s still 60Hz interpolated up to 240Hz, which can (and almost always does) result in the “soap opera effect”.
- This occurs when the source material was meant to be viewed at a standard 60Hz, but through interpolation people’s movement and speech seems to be “sped up” in an unnatural fashion.
- Personally I’m not a fan of the technology unless it’s only being used for sports viewing specifically, and recommend turning it off in all scenarios aside from that.
- These days you can find that option called something like “MotionFlow” or “SmoothMotion” or whatever the manufacturer decided to label it. Disable this, and you’ll see the soap opera effect disappear instantly.
- 4K TVs almost always come in the flat-plane design, though lately more makers have started to import the “curved” design from standard HDTVs into this newer style of display.
- Curved displays are all well and good, but they can limit the viewing angles in some models and living room layouts, which can make watching from either side much more difficult for your guests.
- OLED has drastically reduced the overall thickness of most sets, though even standard LED and QLED sets have come down considerably in size from just a few years ago.
Contrast Ratio/Color Accuracy
- All those extra pixels you’re paying for won’t do you a lick of good if the set’s contrast ratio doesn’t have the specs to back it up.
- The resolution boost is only the start of what makes 4K TVs worth their increased price, and a 1080p HD screen with the best color accuracy and contrast ratio will still look miles better than a 4K TV with an opposite set of specs.
Which 4K TV is Right For You?
One of the best parts about 4K TV is that no matter which size you eventually choose to go with, you’re guaranteed to get a picture resolution that looks great from any distance in the living room.
The higher the resolution, the better your movies, TV shows, and late-night video game marathons will look, all without the eye-strain and uncomfortable viewing angles that are prevalent on other measly 1080p HD sets.
Best 50″ Hisense 50H7GB2 4K TV – Editor’s Choice/Best Value 4K TV
Price: Check Price | Features: LED display technology, 120Hz refresh rate, Smart TV capability
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Hisense 50H7GB2 combines decent picture quality at bargain basement prices.
This is a 4K TV that simply has no business being as cheap as it is, and looking as good as it does at the same time. How this unknown Chinese manufacturer (usually a huge red flag) was able to pack so many premium features into a 4K TV that outprices most standard-HD sets in its cost tier is still a mystery…but all we know is it looks great, and does it all on a dime.
But cheap price alone does not a spectacular viewing experience make. The cost makes a bit more sense when you see the thickness of the set compared to other models (the set is a hefty 3.2″ back to front), and its contrast ratio (3050:1, a middle-performer in its class) could certainly be better. That said, if you’re in the market for a 4K set but are shopping on a budget, the Hisense 50H7GB2 can’t be beat. Which is why we name it our best 4K TV for the money.
Best 55″ Samsung UNKU6500 – Best Curved 4K TV
Price: $947.99 | Features: LED display technology, PurColor image reproduction, UHD dimming
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Samsung UNKU6500’s slight curve gives an immersive viewing experience unlike anything else.
Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that curved flatscreen TVs are here to stay. Tech journalists and consumers alike have been inundated at each year’s CES with dozens of TVs that promise greater levels of immersion and more cinematic viewing experience, but very few deliver the way that Samsung’s UN55KU6600 does.
Read: Best 55 Inch TV
As a part of the 6-Series tier of Samsung 4K sets, this isn’t necessarily the best that the company has to offer, but for those who want to find the best TV thats strikes a balance between a midrange budget with a quality picture too, the new UN55KU6600 is as good as you’re going to get.
Because this is a curved 4K TV the viewing angles aren’t always going to measure up to what you’d see on a flatter model, and the panel is also quite a bit thicker (12.2″ at its widest point) since the chassis needs to put a slight bend in how the image is displayed. If those two factors aren’t much of an issue though, the Samsung UN55KU6600 is one of the top 4K TVs you can find at this price
Best 60″ VIZIO P602ui-B3 60-inch Ultra HDTV – Best 4K TV for Gaming
Price: $2,014.98 | Features: 64 active LED zones, 240Hz refresh rate
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Vizio isn’t stuck on the bottom of the pile anymore.
When HDTVs were first gaining in popularity during the early-aughts, it used to be that the brand “Vizio” was synonymous with “cheap piece of junk”.
Perhaps the company finally got tired of being the last one’s in the race, or maybe they just wanted to up their game to compete with the big boys, but either way, the Vizio P602ui-B3 is a solid, affordable entry into the market that features a range of smart TV apps alongside a beautiful full-array LED 4K picture.