Best TV 2016 - buying guide and top picks
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.
On this page, you'll find all of my current best-buy 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.
Samsung UE48JU7500 - a brilliant 4K TV for less than £900
Samsung's JU7500 series of 4K TVs is as good as you're going to get without creeping into its top-end SUHD range. Available in 48in, 55in, 65in and a massive 78in, the JU7500 looks stunning no matter which screen size you go for. Its curved display serves up some truly incredible images, and its LED panel is capable of hitting some pretty impressive black levels - so much so that they're almost as deep as an OLED TV.
Add in one of the most comprehensive selection of Smart TV apps, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5, and you'll be absolutely set for all your catch-up TV needs. Samsung's Tizen operating system powers the JU7500 and it's easily one of the most intuitive smart TV UIs we've used, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding your chosen program or app.
The only thing it doesn't have is a hybrid TV/catch-up EPG like Freeview Play - something that comes as standard with Panasonic's Viera TX-55CX700B (below). This means you have to search for your favourite shows via its respective app rather than being able to scroll back through the EPG, but this is a fairly minor point and certainly shouldn't put you off buying this particular set.
Price when reviewed: £879. Read our full Samsung UE48JU7500 review
Screen size: 48in, Native resolution: 3,840x2,160, Video inputs: 4x HDMI 2.0, Component, Composite,Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 1,081x681x308mm
Panasonic Viera TX-55CX700B - 4K, Firefox OS and Freeview Play for £1000
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.
Price when reviewed: £999. Read our full Panasonic Viera TX-55CX700B review
Screen size: 55in, Native resolution: 3,840x2,160, Video inputs: 3x HDMI (2x ARC), SCART, Component, Composite,Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 762x1,237x242mm
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.
Price when reviewed: £349. Read our full Samsung UE32J6300 review
Screen size: 32in, Native resolution: 1,920x1,080, Video inputs: 4x HDMI, component, composite, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 428x370x91mm
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.
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
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.
Price when reviewed: £3,999. Read our full LG EF950V review
Screen size: 65in, Native resolution: 3,840x2,160, Video inputs: 3x HDMI, Common Interface, Composite, Conponent, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 883x1450x236mm
HiSense LTDN50D36TUK - 50 inches for just £333
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
Screen size: 50in, Native resolution: 1,920x1,080, Video inputs: 2x HDMI, USB, Tuner: Freeview HD, Dimensions: 698x1119x245mm