Best TV 2016 - 4K and 1080p buying guide and top picks

Find your perfect set from our selection of Full HD and UHD smart TVs and read our TV tech explainer for the best buying decision

Although we may have dramatically changed where we get our content from and have started watching more on our phones and tablets, nothing can quite beat the experience of watching on a proper television. With lots of different sizes to choose from, plus the question of whether you should go for a 4K TV or stick with Full HD, finding the right model isn't always that easy. Then, there's the question of the smart TV apps that you might need, muddying the waters even more. Fortunately, I'm here to help with my complete guide to finding the right television.

Currently, we're at the point where TV manufacturers are about to launch their new line-ups. Far from making that a bad time to buy a new TV, it's the opposite: last year's models are still excellent and the prices on them have tumbled making them bigger bargains. You'll have to wait until the end of this year for the new models to drop significantly in price.

Related: Dolby Vision vs HDR 10 - what's the difference?

On this page, you'll find all of our recommended models. For more information on each one, just click the full review link and you'll be taken to the full product page, complete with of my in-depth testing. On Page 2 of this article is the complete TV buying guide, which takes you through everything you need to know about finding the right TV for you. If you're not quite sure where to start, this guide is an invaluable primer.

At this point, it's also worth pointing out that you should read our Best soundbars guide, in case you want to improve your TV's sound, while our guide to Ultra HD and 4K will get you primed on how super high-resolution TV is set to change everything.

Ultra HD Blu-ray is here

They sure took their sweet to arrive, but the first Ultra HD Blu-ray players are now available, with the Panasonic DMP-UB900 and the Samsung UBD-K8500 in shops now. Both of these players are capable of playing regular Blu-rays and DVDs, but will also play the brand new 4K discs, giving you four times the resolution of regular Full HD films.

The big benefit of the new disc system is that there's less compression than with streamed services, so the picture quality is sharper and more detailed, giving you a very similar experience to that you get in the cinema.
Both of the players also support the HDR standard, which means a huge difference in picture quality, with brighter whites and darker blacks at the same time. HDR also means that detail can really pop out of the screen.
There aren't many discs available at the moment, although that should increase as time goes on. It's easy for filmmakers to make the discs, as films have largely been 4K (or higher) for years.
I can't say that the players are cheap, but if you love films and want the best experience a 4K TV and an Ultra HD Blu-ray player are the ultimate combination.

Panasonic Viera TX-58DX902B - Panasonic's 2016 flagship television is stunning

Panasonic TX-58DX902B lifestyle

The Panasonic Viera TX-58DX902B is the company's flagship TV for 2016 and has both Ultra HD and HDR support. It's certainly not cheap but for the money you're getting one of the best-looking TVs you'll see this year when it comes to image quality. 

This is due in part to how well it controls its backlight. There are no fewer than 512 individually controlled zones in a honeycomb grid. This means there's less light leakage between zones allowing for improved contrast. The television has been rated Ultra HD Premium and it displays Ultra HD HDR content wonderfully. Its upscaling, however, is also excellent thanks to its Studio Master HCX+ chip, which makes non-HDR Full HD content still look gorgeous.

The Viera TX-58DX8902B isn't a particularly thin TV, but its added thickness does mean its speakers aren't the thin and disappointing affair often seen with flatscreen TVs. Right now, this is the television to beat. Read our Panasonic Viera TX-58DX902B review.

Buy the Panasonic Viera TX-58DX920B now from John Lewis

Screen size: 58in, Native resolution: 3,840x2,160, Video inputs: 4x HDMI (1x ARC),Tuner: Freeview HD,Dimensions: 1,297x804x334mm

Samsung UE48JS8500 - Quantum Dot for less

Samsung UE48JS8500

The Samsung UE48JS8500 is one of Samsung's 2015 TVs, but that doesn't mean it's no longer a stunning television. If anything, it's become even better as its price has dropped considerably from launch, meaning you can now pick one up for around £999. While still a pretty penny, it launched at £1,549 making it great value nowadays. For your money you're getting a Quantum Dot display as well as Ultra HD and HDR support, which makes it futureproof.

Quantum Dot technology allows for a greater range of colours, better colour accuracy and improved contrast, which in short means the UEJS8500 looks beautiful. Judder is also well controlled by the 120Hz panel and the Tizen-based smart functionality provides a great selection of catch up and streaming services in addition to apps. Read our full Samsung UE48JS8500 review.

Buy the Samsung UE48JS8500 now from Crampton and Moore

Screen size: 48in, Native resolution: 3,840x2,160, Video inputs: 4x HDMI, component, composite, Tuner: Freeview HD, Freesat HD, Dimensions: 308x1,083x689mm

Panasonic Viera TX-55CX700B - 4K, Firefox OS and Freeview Play for £1000

The Martian on a big TV

As far as sub-£1,000 TVs go, this Panasonic must surely be up there with the best. During testing we were blown away with its 4K image quality and Full HD upscaling abilities. Accurate and natural colours, superb judder reduction and a huge array of image adjustment options ticked all our boxes as far as image quality goes. 

Equally important these days is smart TV content. Luckily, Panasonic hasn't scrimped on this either. Running its new Firefox OS-based interface, the TV is one of the easiest and slickest to use. It comes with a decent selection of catch-up TV apps as well as an easy pinning system that lets you pin apps, sources and TV channels to your home screen for very quick access. You also get Freeview Play, a good EPG system that lets you open programmes in the relevant catch-up TV app without any faff. Read our full Panasonic Viera TX-55CX700B review

Buy the Panasonic Viera TX-55CX700B now from Currys 

Screen size: 55in, Native resolution: 3,840x2,160, Video inputs: 3x HDMI (2x ARC), SCART, Component, Composite,Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 762x1,237x242mm. Price when reviewed: £999.

Samsung UE32J6300 - premium price, compact size

Samsung's J6300-series consists of high-end sets, but we were particularly happy with the 32in UE32J6300. While its £349 asking price is steep for a 32in TV, you're rewarded with a wonderful, curved design, fabulous image quality a great set of smart TV and catch-up services. Our favourite thing about this TV was its default image quality; you need to make nearly no adjustments to the picture to do justice to your favourite films and TV shows. If you don't have room for a big TV and don't want 4K, it's a great buy. Read our full Samsung UE32J6300 review.

Buy Now from Amazon

Screen size: 32in, Native resolution: 1,920x1,080, Video inputs: 4x HDMI, component, composite, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 428x370x91mm. Price when reviewed: £349.

Philips 6500 series - 55PFT6510/12 - Android TV and AmbiLight for £800

While Philips' tries to make it easy to set up this TV with the simplest set of image and audio adjustment options possible, we'd strongly recommend delving into its more advanced features in order to get its image quality nailed. Out of the box, we weren't hugely impressed but once we'd done some tinkering, things improved a lot on this Full HD TV.

You get Android TV, and while we couldn't get it to run games smoothly, it has a good selection of apps for catching up on TV and streaming Netflix, and the user interface is smooth and easy to use.

You also get Philips AmbiLight, and while this isn't something that makes or breaks the TV, its soft glow that matches the content that's on screen is certainly something you'll want to keep once you get used to it. It's suitable for gaming, too, with a 38ms input lag time with Game Mode switched on. It's a decent set and the 55in model we tested is well worth the £800 asking price. Read our full review now.

Buy Now from Amazon

Screen size: 55in, Native resolution: 1,920x1,080, Video inputs: 4x HDMI, SCART, Component, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 726x1239x279mm

LG EF950V - stunning 4K HDR quality

LG 65EF960V lead image

The LG EF950V range of TVs benefits from HDR compatability. Simply put, HDR takes advantage of a wider colour space combined with deeper blacks and incredibly bright TV backlighting to produce the best-quality footage you've ever seen from a consumer TV. It doesn't come cheap, as the £3,999 price on the 65in version of this TV will testify. What's more, HDR 4K content is thin on the ground right now although Amazon and Netflix are both committed to adopting the standard. For now it's a rather expensive exercise in future proofing, but boy will you appreciate it when HDR content becomes more widespread.

The rest of the TV is great, too, with a decent operating system with fast and colourful menus. It is mising both All4 and ITV Player at present, which might be a source of frustration for some buyers. Overall, though, this is a quality piece of kit for high-end buyers. Read our full LG EF950V review.

Buy the LG 55EF950V now from Currys

Screen size: 65in, Native resolution: 3,840x2,160, Video inputs: 3x HDMI, Common Interface, Composite, Conponent, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 883x1450x236mm. Price when reviewed: £3,999.

HiSense LTDN50D36TUK - 50 inches for just £350

Yes, this is 2015 and yes, this is a non-smart TV, but hear us out. If you're after the biggest Full HD you can buy with acceptable image quality, the HiSense is a seriously good option. The 50in version we reviewed was just £333 at the time and it'll only get cheaper. Stick a Roku or Chromecast in the back of it and you have a fully-fledged smart TV. 

Price when reviewed: £333. Read our full HiSense LTDN50D36TUK review

Buy the HiSense LTDN50D36TUK now from Richer Sounds

Screen size: 50in, Native resolution: 1,920x1,080, Video inputs: 2x HDMI, USB, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 698x1119x245mm

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