Best TVs 2013: The best televisions available to buy today
So, you want to buy a new TV? Well, Pocket-lint has compiled a round-up of the best televisions of 2013, which includes the top sets we've reviewed in the year. We've covered 4K, LCD, LED, OLED and Plasma TVs and now present the best of the best to you.
From Sony and Samsung to Panasonic and Philips, there are plenty of options to choose from in the world of TVs. Our compilation of the eight best televisions covers the very best TVs from the top manufacturers, as well as a range of sizes, prices, functionality, features and picture quality. We tend to focus on the cutting edge end of the market when reviewing TVs and the list reflects this. There might be cheaper sets out there, but these are all members of the dream team.
And if you want more you can read all of Pocket-lint's up-to-the-minute TV coverage on our dedicated televisions hub at pocket-lint.com/televisions - be sure to check it out.
8. Philips 55PFL8008S 55-inch TV with Ambilight
To consider this television, you'll first need to ignore the 4K revolution. This is a 32mm-deep set with an edge-LED LCD panel and a slick exterior. Philip's Ambilight looks great, and there is a super sharp picture once tweaked via lots of advanced manual controls, but the sound is the big prize winner here. It rivals anything in its class.
Ambilight introduces coloured LED lights to the top and two side edges of the TV that project on to surrounding surfaces, giving the image illumination beyond the frame. That said, you'll still need to work to get the most out of the 8008S's picture quality. The edge-LED backlighting occasionally causes foggy white patches in darker, shadow areas, and they can cost the uniformity of the image, but there are several options within the menu that can alleviate this.
And any image quality caveats can be brushed aside because of the sound quality; it is second to none. Last but not least: there's room for improvement when it comes to the smart features, but we'll always take beautiful sound and picture over dozens of novelty smart features.
QUICK VERDICT: The Philips 55PFL8008S isn't the smartest flatscreen on the market, but it has a fully customisable picture control, super-sleek design, impeccable sound quality, and a peacock-feather-like display of colour from Ambilight that is just dazzling. It is a strong contender with a definite wow factor, though it is far from a perfect 55-inch offering, especially considering that lofty price tag.
FULL REVIEW: Philips 55PFL8008S 55-inch TV review
7. Panasonic TX-L47DT65 Smart 3D TV
The Panasonic TX-L47DT65 features a very-narrow bezel and distinctive V-necked pedestal stand. In terms of picture quality, it's impressive, despite sometimes struggling to deliver pure, dark black.
Specs include twin Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners, a multi-core processor, three HDMIs, component and AV sockets, Ethernet, three USBs (one of which is a speedy 3.0 offering), an SD card slot, and built-in Wi-Fi. The 3D is also of the “passive” variety, which means the glasses won't break the bank. There's a “My Home Screen” interface that dominates the user-experience, though you can personalise to suit your needs and wants.
As for sound, it's a bit above average. The set boasts a 10W woofer, but a soundbar or separate AV system is needed for anything beyond general use.
QUICK VERDICT: Panasonic brought its A-game to the LED space with the TX-L47DT65. Simply put: it is a very satisfying flatscreen, courtesy of an advanced, customisable interface and twin tuners. The picture performance isn't necessarily jaw-dropping, but it's still one of Panasonic’s best and most functional LED TVs of the year. Hands down.
FULL REVIEW: Panasonic TX-L47DT65 Smart 3D TV review
6. Sony Bravia 55-inch KDL-55HX853 LED TV
The Sony KDL-55HX853 does not disappoint on the display front, and the company's Motionflow XR800Hz technology has been employed to smooth out the visuals. This combines decent picture quality with good uniformity of picture from an edge-LED set.
The real attraction of this set is full connectivity, including Skype and catch-up services. There are multiple ways that the HX853 can obtain media. Aside from USB, it has access to the networked Homestream system, which enables sync with a Mac or PC for real-time playback, and there are plenty of built-in apps. The other access point is "Home". It includes many apps and services available from Sony Entertainment Network.
As for sound, there's a soundbar mounted to the set's quirky "monolith" design. It creates the sensation that sound is being pushed from the TV's base, but that can be overcome with some adjustments and volume.
QUICK VERDICT: The Sony KDL-55HX853 offers wonderful image quality, despite some mild corner filtration and visible edge-LED backlighting in super dark scenes. The slanted design and lag in Sony Entertainment Network's online portal might not appeal to everyone, but this set is still a large-screen treat at a fair price. It's full of decent processing tech and manages to balance out performance to price while still coming out on top. Long story short: this is a great LED TV for the price.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Bravia 55-inch KDL-55HX853 LED TV review
5. Sony KDL-40W905A smart 3D TV
The Sony KDL-40W905A offers brilliant image quality with clarity that's truly sensational, all thanks to Sony’s Reality Creation processor. It's also the first Sony TV to incorporate Triluminos LED edge lighting, enhancing colour fidelity and providing a wider colour gamut from X.V.Color.
This is the smallest set in Sony’s W9 range, and it comes with two pairs of shuttering 3D glasses. As for the design of the W9, it's unconventional due to its distinctive aluminium bezel and green-glinting diamond-cut edge.
Specs include four HDMIs (one with ARC), three USBs, SCART and component, stereo phono in, an optical digital audio output and Ethernet. There is a choice of either Freeview HD or DVB-S2 satellite tuner, built-in Wi-Fi, a standard clicker and a second, simplified remote control that incorporates an NFC chip. There's also a wide range of video file support including MKV.
The image quality and colour fidelity are certainly vibrant, but the 3D performance is just as strong thanks to bright Full HD 3D clarity. The only "cons" worth mentioning include a lack of a second usable tuner. There are limited apps and on-demand content too.
QUICK VERDICT: The Sony KDL-40W905A is an LED TV with superior colour performance and motion resolution, and a design that’s just brilliant. The emerald green diamond-cut bezel gives this set a distinct look and helps it to stand out from the narrow bezel competition. While Sony's online portal hasn't improve much, the NFC and Miracast functionality certainly shine. Consider this a smart TV for connoisseurs.
FULL REVIEW: Sony KDL-40W905A smart 3D TV review
4. Samsung UE55F8000 LCD TV
The Samsung UE55F8000 is one of the most advanced Full HD LED TVs you can buy today, and the inclusion of a quad-core processor places it among Samsung’s most powerful displays.
The set looks beautiful with narrow bezel and an illuminated logo. It’s minimalism to the max. Specs include four HDMIs, component and Scart, plus Ethernet LAN, three USBs, built-in Wi-Fi, twin Freeview HD and Freesat tuners (the latter requiring an LNB splitter), and two remote handsets (one regular IR remote and a Bluetooth touchpad with integrated microphone).
The design may be spectacular in every sense, including a polished user interface, but there are some downsides. Picture presets don’t really show off what this TV could do, and gesture control is a little gimmicky and novelty-like. As for the image quality, you're looking at outstanding picture performance, though the black level is not as profound as you might hope.
QUICK VERDICT: The Samsung UE55F8000 is a front-runner in the LED TV space because of its aesthetic design, feature functionality and sharp and vibrant imagery. The voice and gesture controls aren't the most wow-worthy aspects, but the Smart portal offers everything you could possibly want as far as streaming media goes, and the dual tuners certainly make second screening fun.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung UE55F8000 LCD TV review
3. Panasonic TX-P60ZT65B 60-inch Plasma TV
It's safe to say there will be no 4K plasmas, and all TVs from now on will use either OLED or LCD. So, as far as Panasonic plasmas go, the picture quality of the TX-P60ZT65B is as good as it gets. The overall design is wonderful, and the smart TV features are pretty awesome too.
Specs include three HDMI inputs, three USB sockets, an aerial input for Freeview and a pair of satellite-type connectors for the dual Freesat tuners. A pair of remotes (one standard and another with a touch surface for scrolling around the menus) rounds off the list. The touchscreen remote also enables the voice control system, which we thought was a rather hopeless feature.
Other not-so great aspects to this television include really loud fans and... banner ads. Seriously. Thankfully, you can switch these off under Settings.
QUICK VERDICT: The Panasonic ZT65 is the gold standard of plasma TVs. It has a wonderful design, vivid picture quality, and a really intuitive smart portal. Aside from some fan noise, this television exemplifies why plasma TVs surpass most everything else on the market right now. Unfortunately, like many of the top televisions of 2013, the price is costly. That said, TVs of this quality are rare indeed.
FULL REVIEW: Panasonic TX-P60ZT65B 60-inch Plasma TV review
2. Panasonic TX-L65WT600 Smart Viera 4K TV
The Panasonic TX-L65WT600 is the only 4K television available that can currently claim to be future-proof when it comes to nascent 4K UHD broadcast standards. It offers HDMI 2.0 connectivity and DisplayPort 1.2a, allowing it to display 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution at 50 or 60Hz for UK PAL or US NTSC viewing.
Aside from future-proofed Ultra HD high frame rate support via HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPoint 1.2a, this set offers striking native 4K image quality, impressive 1080p upscaling, and a responsive My Home Screen user interface. Specs include four HDMI ports, Scart and component/composite inputs via adaptors, three USB sockets, Ethernet, an SD card reader, optical digital output, DisplayPort 1.2 input, integrated Wi-Fi, multiple tuners (twin Freeview HD or paired Freesat HD), and much more.
While the TX-L65WT600 has a sensational-looking 4K screen with no visible image structure, there is an underwhelming audio performance, limited catch-up services and relatively poor off-axis viewing. As for the 3D mode, it does a solid enough job at upscaling.
QUICK VERDICT: The Panasonic TX-L65WT600 is a next-generation 4K Ultra HD TV that offers future-proofing straight from the box, meaning you can feel safe knowing your money was well spent and that this set will hold its own even against the newcomers of the next few years. You'll need deep pockets to cover the asking price, but this stunning television is a great choice for 4K early adopters who don't want to get left behind. And that's all because of its high frame rate fluidity via DisplayPort, superior connected performance, and gorgeous design.
FULL REVIEW: Panasonic TX-L65WT600 Smart Viera 4K TV review
1. Sony KD-65X9005A 65-inch 4K TV
The Sony KD-65X9005A provides incredible definition for the price, although it might be a bit too steep for many people. Thankfully though, that high price tag pays for a fantastic set design and image quality, unbeatable 3D performance, and great sound and internet connectivity.
Specs include four HDMI inputs, three USBs, SCART, component/composite video, Ethernet and a digital optical audio output. Wi-Fi is built in and there are a choice of tuners (satellite DVB-S2 or Freeview HD) and two remote controls (Sony TV remote and another one with an embedded NFC chip embedded for instant sharing to a compatible smartphone) .
With native 4K, the image quality is mighty and best experienced when close up. Ultra HD offers four times the resolution of today’s Full HD. That’s a breath-taking 3840 x 2160 pixels compared to 1920 x 1080. As for audio, wow. The magnetic fluid speaker system - including 2 x 12.5 amp and 2 x 20W rear-placed woofers - delivers an amazing audio experience.
This television only missed the mark in a few areas, and those include: no dual tuners, no support for 60Hz 4K (only supports 30Hz), and no HDMI 2.0 standard (it's on the horizon but 1.4 is only available now).
It was also the winner in television category of the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2013.
QUICK VERDICT: The Sony KD-65X9005A is the best large-screen TV you can buy right now, because it ushers in a new era of UHD TV. The 4K upscaled Blu-ray is beautiful, and we think the full-resolution Passive 3D could convert even the harshest of dimensional critics. Most interestingly though, this television doesn't even need native 4K to impress. It sets new standards both in terms of raw picture performance and design.
FULL REVIEW: Sony KD-65X9005A 65-inch 4K TV review