Need a new TV but not sure where to start? Here are what we deem the best TV brands and their top models for every budget and need
While brand loyalties don’t seem to be as embedded into consumer behaviour as they used to be, homing in on the best TV brand for your specific needs is a really useful way of narrowing down which television you should buy next.
Whether it’s the size of the range, pricing, design, compatibility with kit you may own or want, support for a specific unique feature you need, picture or sound quality or even company philosophy, the best TV brands all try to stand out from their rivals in some way or other.
To help you find a TV that meets your requirements, we’ve combined our experiences of all the tellies we’ve reviewed this year with what we know about every brand’s favourite peccadilloes and pre-occupations to come up with our five best TV brands.
Before we name that quintet, we’ll run through some of the thought processes and criteria we applied when coming up with our final list to both help you understand our choices better, and make it easier to further narrow down the TV brand that’s the best fit for you.
READ NEXT: The best smart TVs to buy
How we test the best TV brands
Our recommendations for the best TV brands are based on extensive testing of the various manufacturers’ televisions.
We test picture performance using an X-Rite colorimeter in conjunction with Portrait Displays’ Calman colour calibration software, which allows us to measure important metrics such as colour gamut coverage, greyscale and colour accuracy, and peak brightness. Data is measured across the various picture modes a specific TV supports and is backed up by numerous hours of watching the TV as you would at home. We watch as eclectic a selection of content as possible, so will view shows and films of various genres on Netflix, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video and more, as well as programmes on over-the-air channels such as BBC One.
Audio performance is assessed alongside picture performance and involves testing how a TV’s in-built speakers handle a range of content from various sources. Spotify playlists, blockbuster movies, podcasts and YouTube tutorials are just some of the things we’ll listen to when evaluating sound quality.
One key factor that separates different TV brands is their choice of operating system and we test these extensively. Particular attention is paid to how easy these are to navigate, how responsive they are to commands, and the range of apps and services available.
Other areas of testing focus include smart functionality such as voice controls, and next-gen gaming support. For the latter, we’ll hook the TV in question up to either a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X via an HDMI 2.1 cable and test out a range of titles and game-related picture settings.
How to choose the best TV brand for you
The range of screen sizes, screen technologies, smart features and designs that populate today’s TV landscape has never been greater. In fact, the best TV brands are finding themselves having to offer ever more options in their ranges each year just to try and keep up with the pace of technological change. Most of them, though, still end up with some areas where they excel more than others.
Think about your budget
While all of our chosen brands offer diverse enough ranges to have something to suit almost all budgets, some brands definitely fare better than others when it comes to the quality they deliver at the cheaper end of the scale.
LG, for instance, tends to struggle with its budget TVs since they always use IPS LCD technology, which tends to produce much lower contrast than the rival VA panel type that rival brands use in at least some of their relatively affordable TV ranges. In fact, since Samsung tends to use the least amount of IPS panels in its LCD TVs, even at the cheaper end of the scale, it tends to be the safest bet when looking for a budget model.
Other brands have some great value LCD TVs in their ranges too, but since they tend to mix IPS and VA panels more readily, even with different screen sizes in the same range, you need to do more research to make sure you’re getting a good one. And that research is not always easy, as brands aren’t all keen to say whether any given TV is sporting an IPS or a VA panel.
If your budget can stretch to a more mid-range option, the situation becomes more complicated. For instance, you can now find OLED TVs joining the upper end of the mid-range price bracket, with Panasonic and, especially, LG leading the charge when it comes to high-value OLEDs. Sony has a couple of very strong mid-range LCD TVs too, as does Samsung – especially now its trademark mini LED technology is creeping into lower price points.
If money’s no object to you, finally, the world’s essentially your oyster and you can simply rely on our other suggestions below to help you find the brand that’s right for you.
The way a TV looks has become a key factor in TV buying decisions, leading brands to try and create their own distinct visions that tend to carry (with small variations) across multiple ranges. Probably the most distinctive and unique design concept around in the TV world today is Philips’ Ambilight technology, which casts pools of coloured light onto the wall behind the TV capable of matching the colours of the images you’re watching.
Samsung, meanwhile, tends to focus on super-slim designs with all but its most budget TVs, with its premium models additionally taking on a monolithic style with rears as flat as their fronts.
Sony consistently goes for a non-nonsense, minimalistic, elegant approach with a focus on build quality, LG tends to combine slim screens with eye-catching metallic finishes and stands, and so on and so forth. If design is a big part of your TV buying decision, just have a look at a few current models from different brands and see which ones suit your tastes and decor the best.
READ NEXT: What is OLED?
There are two levels to this TV-buying consideration. First, if you already own a soundbar from a brand that also makes TVs, you may want to get a TV from the same brand as there’s a decent chance doing so will unlock extra performance and features you won’t get if you go the separate brand route.
Samsung and LG, in particular, both now offer extensive interoperability between their TVs and soundbars. This extends to sharing audio processing modes and features, including enhancements based on artificial intelligence/machine learning, and combining the speakers in the TV and soundbar to create a larger, more detailed sound stage.
TV brands usually try to achieve a degree (sometimes admittedly quite tenuous) of aesthetic similarity between their TVs and soundbars, too. All of which makes perfect sense when market research suggests that more than 70% of AV consumers intend to match their TV and soundbar.
Every TV brand is always on the hunt for that certain special feature that gives them an edge over their rivals. Panasonic and Philips, for instance, have chosen to support both the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ premium HDR formats rather than only one or the other like most brands do.
Philips has its unique Ambilight technology. Sony has its Acoustic Surface technology where the screens of its OLED TVs are used instead of conventional speakers to produce impressively direct and detailed sound. LG initially and now Samsung too offers class-leading and unique gaming features. Samsung and Sony now have a new type of screen technology, Quantum Dot OLED, to shout about.
Some brands, especially the premium likes of Loewe and Bang & Olufsen, offer high-end build quality and bespoke design options.
Even the unique picture processing systems every brand strives to deliver can become a major selling point if they’re particularly good. Samsung has scored points with its AI-led processing, for instance – though other brands are catching up with that now. Sony has a well-earned reputation for its motion handling, while Panasonic has done well with its efforts to try and replicate the director’s intention with its Hollywood-influenced picture processing.
Operating system and streaming platforms
It’s also worth considering what operating system a particular TV brand favours. For instance, LG TVs solely use LG’s webOS platform, while Samsung generally sticks with its own Tizen OS. The various platforms work slightly differently and can offer distinct features, along with support for a variety of streaming services. Most of the big brands support all of the key services, like Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+, but it’s worth checking the set you like the look of supports the services you use most.
READ NEXT: The best 8K TVs to buy
Picture and sound quality
Last but not least on our list of factors that contribute to becoming a successful TV brand is, of course, performance. Often built up over a period of years, a reputation for having both the hardware and processing know-how to deliver a premium picture and sound performance can be the single biggest driving force behind putting a brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
Happily for us consumers, a number of brands have excelled in this most important of departments – and it’s actually this prowess that’s most informed the following list of the best TV brands of 2023.
The best TV brands
The Japanese brand’s policy of TV tech neutrality, offering screens of every sort to cater for all tastes and budgets, paid off more than ever last year and it continues to shine in 2023. At the top end, it offers TVs incorporating Quantum Dot OLED technology, while it also has options using basic OLED and Mini LED panels.
Gaming support on Sony TVs is great, with a number of them including “Perfect for PlayStation” features you won’t find elsewhere. That said, the company’s premium options only have two HDMI 2.1 ports rather than four, which is an issue if you own both a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and want to make use of the eARC functionality found on one of the HDMI 2.1 inputs.
Sony struggles a bit at the lower end of its range thanks to its use of IPS panels in some models, and it still refuses to offer support for HDR10+. Overall, though, its TV range is as impressive as it is varied.
- Sony A95K (2022): 55 and 65in | From £1,999
- Sony A80L (2023): 55, 65 and 77in | From £1,599
- Sony X90K (2022): 55, 65, 75 and 85in | From £999
After more than a decade of being an LCD-only brand, Samsung finally re-entered the OLED fray in 2022 with its S95B range – a new take on the self-emissive OLED screen technology so beloved by home cinema fans. The 2023 QD-OLED models – the S90C and S95C – are even better, with quantum dots pushing OLED to new brightness and colour purity heights.
Samsung’s flagship Mini LED offering has gone from strength to strength, too, for people wanting a brighter, more punchy HDR experience. Its latest models manage to take their picture quality to even greater heights with improved power management and a Shape Adaptive Light Control system that can vary where light peaks within a particular dimming zone.
Samsung’s already strong gaming support has also been improved, with more of its TVs offering full support for the latest gaming features of 4K at 120Hz and variable refresh rates across all of their HDMI inputs, as well as class-leading input lag (the time a screen takes to render picture data) of only just over 9ms with 1080p/60 sources, and around half that with 120Hz sources.
The ongoing lack of Dolby Vision HDR support is a little frustrating, and the brand’s new smart interface is disappointingly awkward to use. It’s still otherwise a fantastically comprehensive platform, though, backed up by an impressive voice recognition system.
- Samsung S95C: 55 and 65in | From £1,597
- Samsung S90C: 55, 65 and 75in | From £1,329
- Samsung QN900C: 65, 75 and 85in | From £4,199
- Samsung QN95C: 55, 65, 75 and 85in | From £1,799
- Samsung BU8500 (2022): 43, 50, 55, 65 and 75in | From £399
LG faced a tricky 2022 thanks to the arrival of quantum dot OLED TVs from Samsung and Sony, and fierce WOLED (white OLED) competition from other rival brands. It still more than held its own, though, and has a great lineup for 2023.
The performance of its already super-impressive OLED range has been bolstered by the addition of LG’s high-brightness evo panel designs to the popular mid-range C series, while the G series now uses Micro Lens Array technology to deliver some of the best brightness on the OLED market.
LG TVs continue to excel as gaming displays. All of the HDMIs on the G and C series support the latest gaming features, their gaming interface is excellent, and their graphics performance all the way up to 4K at 120Hz in HDR is outstanding.
LG has improved the sound of its OLED TVs recently too, and all of the OLED options are beautifully designed. Perhaps best of all, the C and G ranges offer excellent value for money, while buyers can now also pick up the A series for even less if they’re willing to forego a few features (including 120Hz support) to secure OLED picture quality for less.
LG’s 8K OLEDs are still too expensive, and its LCD range is still hampered by the brand’s use of exclusively IPS panels. Its core OLED range is still amply good enough, though, to make LG a TV powerhouse.
- LG G3 (2023): 55, 65, 77 and 83in | From £1,899
- LG C2 (2022): 42, 48, 55, 65, 77in and 83in | From £999
After coming perilously close to disappearing from the European TV scene a few years back, Philips (now owned by TP Vision) is now once again a force to be reckoned with.
While the brand offers a wide range of TV picture technologies, it’s OLED that’s really helped Philips get its mojo back. Philips’ picture engineers have clearly been having a grand old time adapting their famously potent picture processing to the core strengths of the latest OLED panel technologies, resulting in arguably the most vibrant and sharp 4K HDR picture playback the regular OLED world has to offer. Its gaming support delivers compatibility with all the latest features too, while the value of its entry and mid-range OLED TVs – especially the 807 series – is outstanding.
But perhaps the biggest draw of Philips TVs is their unique Ambilight feature. This sees coloured light being cast out from a TV’s sides that can match the colour content of the picture you’re watching for a viewing experience that’s as spectacular as it is immersive. Philips has improved Ambilight’s accuracy this year, too.
Philips has also now added Mini LED to its range of OLED and highly affordable LCD TVs, while its position as one of the best TV brands is bolstered by the outstanding results of its partnership with Hi-Fi brand Bowers & Wilkins. This sees a number of Philips’ televisions delivering class-leading sound quality, but its OLED+937 range, which features an external multi-channel Dolby Atmos speaker bar that doubles as the TV’s stand, is a particular stand out.
Unlike most rivals, Panasonic very clearly defines its LCD and OLED TVs as belonging to its budget and premium ranges respectively, with no real crossover. This means that aside from one or two good value efforts, the LCD half of Panasonic’s range isn’t particularly standout. Its OLED range, on the other hand…
Panasonic has more skin in the self-emissive TV game than most thanks to its long history with plasma screens. Couple this with the unique relationship it’s developed with the film industry over the years thanks to its Hollywood laboratory, and you’ve got an OLED TV range that’s stuffed with winners from top to bottom.
At the premium end, the new MZ2000 gives you something approaching the stunningly refined, subtle, natural and accurate performance of a professional mastering monitor – taken to yet another level by new Micro Lens Array technology that increases the TV’s peak brightness even higher than 2022’s LZ2000.
The MZ2000 combines its pro-grade pictures with a powerful, multi-speaker Dolby Atmos sound system. Panasonic has also made its premium picture quality experience much more affordable by providing it on the step-down MZ1500 range, though this doesn’t incorporate a Micro Lens Array so isn’t as bright. It’s a similar story further down the range, with the various OLED models and a new Mini LED model benefitting from Panasonic’s obsession with delivering pictures that get as close as possible to creative intent.
- Panasonic MZ200 (2023): 55, 65 and 77in | From £2,700
- Panasonic LZ2000 (2022): 65 and 77in | From £2,200
- Panasonic MX950 (2023): 55 and 65in | From £1,599
READ NEXT: Panasonic TV model numbers explained
Chinese manufacturer TCL overtook LG as the second-biggest TV brand globally in 2022 and is gradually increasing its presence in the UK market. It positions itself as an affordable alternative to big-name players like Sony, LG and Samsung and prices its TVs accordingly, typically undercutting the competition by a significant margin.
Its focus is on LCD TVs, with its flagship C-series lineup featuring options for various different budgets. The most premium entry in the series, the C845, uses a Mini LED backlight technology and a quantum dot filter, while the C745 incorporates a direct-lit panel. Next-gen gaming support is high on the manufacturer’s agenda, with both of those models offering a pair of HDMI 2.1 ports that support key gaming features like ALLM, VRR and 4K@120Hz.
TCL has previously partnered with Roku TV and uses its operating system on some of its cheaper models, while its more expensive options are running Google TV this year. It also has an existing relationship with Onkyo and includes the Japanese audio company’s sound systems in some of its pricier television sets.
- TCL C845 (2023): 55, 65, 75in and 85in | From £849
- TCL C745 (2023): 55, 65 and 75in | From £649
- TCL RC630K: 43, 50, 55 and 65in | From £279
READ NEXT: TCL TV model numbers explained