Best TVs 2014: The best televisions available to buy today
Looking for a new TV but don't know what to buy? Then you've come to the right place. In 2014 there are all sorts of big events that warrant a big screen experience, from the FIFA World Cup to Le Tour making this the perfect time to get yourself a new TV to enjoy all the action.
Over recent months we've seen all formats and resolutions from all the big name manufacturers. If you're baffled when it comes to LCD vs OLED or Full HD vs 4K then, fear not, despite there being enough acronyms to melt minds we condense the basics to make that buying decision even easier.
Here's a range of TVs to consider, perfect to hook-up to your YouView box and enjoy the World Cup in all its glory.
LCD or liquid crystal display is the most common panel these days and is a great solution.
LED is something of a misnomer, as these TVs are still an LCD panel but with LED (light emitting diode) lights to dynamically illuminate the picture. That means more pronounced dynamic range; less illuminated blacks will look deeper, while highlights will be more pronounced. LED-backlit TVs are either lit from the edges or, in fewer (and more expensive) cases, by an entire rear panel array.
OLED, which stands for organic light emitting diode, is a format that's been doing the rounds for a number of years but hasn't really been popular at a large scale because it's so expensive. OLED uses less power and is considerably thinner than other panel technologies, and it also doesn't have to be produced as a flat panel. Some OLED TVs are curved, bowed by design for an all-encompassing view, including LG's flexible 77-inch panel that will allow you to physically adjust the curvature.
Plasma is an older technology but one still respected for its ability to deliver natural picture quality ideal for movie lovers. It's also as good as dead as manufacturers are in the process of ceasing production.
4K, sometimes termed UHD or Ultra HD, refers to resolution rather than panel type. The current "Full HD" standard delivers 1920 x 1080 pixels, whereas 4K delivers 3840 x 2160 pixels. Four times the resolution means a sharper picture potential but as there's little native 4K content available it's one of those future-proofing technologies.
Best budget screen (under £500):
The Samsung UE40H6400 is an alluring 40-inch LCD telly. It combines a sharp, contrasty high definition image with a well stocked Smart Hub and selection of apps and catch-up services and related apps.
There are some other caveats, however, such as BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 absent at the time of writing (confirmed to arrive at a later date), an entry-level refresh rate not lending itself well to 3D and a panel that can't quite deliver pitch blacks.
But the thing that will largely make the H6400 appeal is its price point. If you're after a Smart TV at a fair price and couldn't give a hoot about 3D then this Samsung scores well.
Full review: Samsung H6400 review
Sony KDL-40W605 W6 Series
The Sony KDL-40W605 offers great value for money, but it does so whilst maintaining a great quality display. Everything you play through this 40-inch full HD TV will look impressive.
You get a range of compelling smart TV features, such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix, but compromises have been made on the build. The other downside is the sound performance: you'd be better spending some of the money you save on a system to boost your audio.
It might be little on the flimsy side, but you get a lot of TV for your money.
Best big screen (under £1000):
It's difficult not to be a little in awe of the Sony W8. From the KDL-50W829's contemporary design to its astonishingly accomplished picture, the screen barely puts a pixel wrong. The brand's new One-Flick search and recommendation tools are extremely powerful too.
Our only real moans are the slow user interface and "smart" additions such as Twitter which, in the case of the latter, doesn't really seem like a necessary telly feature. Still, that's easily turned off.
Once you've got the W8 set up just as you want it it's a cracker for whatever you throw at it: sport, gaming, movies and broadcast. For a 50-inch 1080p internet connected TV priced at under £1,000 the Sony W8 outperforms its price tag and then some.
Full review: Sony W8 review
LG 42LB670V WebOS TV
LG is thinking differently about TV and WebOS is all about bringing a smarter smart interface to the fore. WebOS is an interface designed to bring all those channels most important to you - and not just broadcast - to the front of the selection process.
So if you use Netflix a lot but are bored of the snail's pace of access from conventional methods, then having it up front next to Freeview, YouView or any other relevant channels, including internet options such as YouTube, puts WebOS ahead of its rivals.
All the app tiles can be moved allowing users to personalise their menu for instant access to what's wanted. It's the first real example of a smart TV actually being smart. It makes holding Skype chats, using the built-in camera, a simple process even while still watching TV in a separate window.
We're currently in the process of reviewing the LG 42LB670V and will bring you the highs and lows in full once it's been through the Pocket-lint reviews process.
Full article: LG WebOS TV hands-on
Best 4K TV:
The Panasonic TX-L65WT600 is the first next-generation 4K Ultra HD TV that offers future-proofing straight from the box. And that makes it among the best 4K TVs out there.
Geek-out moment: it was the first 4K TV to offer HDMI 2.0, which means support for higher frame rates at 4K resolution. And although this port remained untested (there's no matching source component at present), its high frame rate fluidity via DisplayPort is a sight to behold. We've literally never seen anything like it before.
The main downer from this otherwise stunning set is its so-so audio performance and, of course, you'll need deep pockets to cover the asking price. But with its superior connected performance and gorgeous designer looks, as that price tag falls the WT600 is well worth a look if you're wanting to jump onto the 4K party.
Full review: Panasonic WT600 review
Sony 65X900B 65-inch 4K TV
Sony is at the forefront of 4K. It's latest offering, available now, works with the newest HEVC codec so users can stream Netflix in 4K right now.
This TV set continues to push the standards of raw picture performance and design, and perhaps the most surprising thing is it doesn't need native 4K to impress. The 4K upscaling is beautiful and colour reproduction is subtle yet vibrant. The 4K does make it future proof but even with a 1080p feed that's available now the picture is perfect.
The sound on this TV is better than any other on the market thanks to three built in front-firing speakers. There's also an optional wireless subwoofer to add another 100W of bass, not that it's really needed.
If you want to get 4K for under £4K then the Sony 65X900B is a bona fide 65-inches of Ultra HD wonderment.
Full review: Coming soon
Best show-off TV:
When we first caught a glimpse of the Philips Elevation at a trade show in Germany back in 2013 we were immediately in awe. It might not offer the 4K resolution of some of its peers, and it's not cheap either, but it's got one special party trick: Philips Ambilight.
Ambilight introduces coloured LED lights to edges of the TV that project on to surrounding surfaces, giving the image illumination beyond the frame. It may sound gimmicky, but after living with Ambilight TVs before - and the Elevation is the first to feature four-sides of LED lights - we've come to love the technology. It's a real show-off centrepiece for any home.
Even better, if you're a football fan, the Ambilight can project your team colours across the walls.
Full article: Philips Elevation first impressions
Samsung EA65HU8500 Curved 4K TV
If you're looking for everything, and we mean everything, then Samsung's curved 4K smart TV - the EA65HU8500 is where you need to be.
The curve has an instant impact: it brings a refreshing design, which is exquisite in its own right, but also delivers draw-dropping picture quality. It's packed full of detail thanks to the Ultra High Definition panel, but the curve also helps to focus all that pixel perfect action on the viewer.
The Samsung Curved UHD TV has to be seen to be believed, but it really is an impressive TV, the perfect centrepiece for your living room.
Full review: Coming soon
LG 55EA980W Curved OLED
As much a design statement as an entertainment piece, the LG 55EA980W offers a curved OLED display with beautiful visuals. Measuring 55 inches, this OLED TV offers the sort of immersive experience you get from the curved Samsung, but bringing with it some serious panache when dealing with colours.
It's not 4K, however, and that might be something of a barrier to those early adopters looking for the latest tech, but there's a real strength in design: the screen appears to float, it's unbelievably skinny and practically bezel free.
If looking good is what it's all about, then look to the LG 55EA980W.
Best plasma TV:
The Panasonic ZT65 is the gold standard of TV. We won't see a better modern plasma than the P60ZT65 any time soon, because it's Panasonic's swan song and made to order.
If you're a movie buff and plasma is a must then the ZT65 has everything going for it: beautiful design, stunning picture quality, and a really usable and well thought-out smart portal.
It's not 4K, though, so future-proofing in resolution terms isn't on the agenda. But otherwise this Panasonic has reminded us why plasma TVs are often superior to everything else on the market. TVs of this quality don't come along all that often.
Full review: Panasonic ZT65 review
Samsung PS46F8500 46-inch plasma
This Samsung full HD plasma TV is available in a range of sizes, the smallest being rather affrordable, thanks to it being a slightly older set. With plasma becoming something of a rarity, this is one model that proves that plasma still has a place, offering wonderful visuals, with impressive brightness and contrast aiding great 3D delivery.
It also has an interesting design and packs in all the high-end features you'd expect, from the pop-up camera to the smart functions offered in the Samsung interface and a speaker performance that's better than many skinny TVs.
For more information visit: www.youview.com, on Twitter @YouView and Facebook at facebook.com/youview.