Looking for a new TV but don't know what to buy? Then you've come to the right place. 2016 saw the rise of 4K Ultra HD TVs and even introduced a new TV technology, HDR, or High Dynamic Range. Big screen events such as the 2016 Rio Olympics may have been and gone, but there's always a good time to upgrade your TV.
4K TVs may have taken centre stage this year, but there's still plenty of full HD screens being released if you're not ready to take the jump in resolution. 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, either with Freeview Play built-in or ones that are ideal to hook up to a set-top box, to enhance your living room experience.
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. It's popularity is beginning to increase now that prices are coming down, because they produce some of the best pictures available. 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. A lot of OLED TVs are curved, which claims to offer a more immersive experience, but it's all down to personal preference.
4K, often termed UHD or Ultra HD, refers to resolution rather than panel type. The "Full HD" standard delivers 1920 x 1080 pixels, whereas 4K delivers 3840 x 2160 pixels. Four times the resolution means a sharper picture potential and now there's more content available to watch, it's never been a better time to invest.
HDR or High Dynamic Range is a TV technology that aims to make the picture on screen more realistic to what we see in reality. It works by making the whites whiter and darks darker, and making all the colours in between more accurate. If you can get a 4K TV with HDR and some content to watch on it, you'll be getting the best possible TV experience currently available.
Freeview Play is Freeview’s catch-up TV service and appears on a rapidly increasing number of televisions. The most recent TVs from Panasonic, LG, Finlux and JVC sport Freeview Play and it gives users the ability to catch-up with their favourite shows by scrolling backwards through the electronic programme guide.
By clicking on shows on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and UKTV channels (which include Dave, Yesterday, Really and Drama), they open in each broadcaster’s respective app automatically, then play for you to enjoy. It makes catching up more simple.
Best 4K TV
Sony ZD9 4K TV
Sony's ZD9 TV arrived in the second half of 2016 with a seriously impressive spec and feature list. It's designed with HDR in mind and can go even brighter than the Samsung KS9500. Sony has crammed in a whole host of proprietary screen technologies to boost the overall performance, and they really do work.
We were blown away when we first switched it on and continued to be thoroughly impressed with its 4K HDR performance from Ultra HD Blu-rays. The True Cinema processing mode is particularly effective with sports and movies by reducing motion judder to an impressive degree.
SD and HD pictures are handled well too, making the ZD9 an incredibly good all-rounder. In fact, we loved the Sony ZD9 so much, it won the Pocket-lint Award for Best TV 2016.
Full review: Sony ZD9 4K TV
Samsung is more than happy to take the fight to Sony though, and the KS9500 represents one of the best 4K HDR TVs available today. It's a curved screen too, but if you'd rather have a flat screen and not sacrifice performance, you can take a look at the KS9000 series instead.
It has a generous selection of connections and runs on Samsung's Tizen-based platform, which means there's no backwards browsing that you'll get from Freeview Play. The Samsung's built-in EPG is one of the few areas it falls foul, so we'd recommend connecting a box such as the Humax FVP-4000T to get a seamless TV and catch-up experience.
The KS9500 is capable of producing one of the best pictures we've seen all year. If you can connect a 4K Blu-ray player or have Netflix or Amazon Video streaming, the 4K HDR picture is incredibly rewarding.
Full review: Samsung KS9500 review
Hisense 75M7900 4K TV
You may think a 65-inch is plenty big enough, but take one look at a 75-incher and you'll be making space in your front room in an instant. What makes this Hisense set even more appealing is its low price, considering what you get in return. You get 4K HDR, although it's fair to say the performance isn't quite on par with the likes of Samsung and LG because it can't go as bright, but then this is an incredibly cheap TV for the size.
It's a dab hand with full HD and SD content though, so you won't feel short changed when you stick on BBC One HD to watch Planet Earth II. The Hisense TV is also rather accomplished in the sound arena too, so you won't feel like you immediately need to go out and buy a soundbar or some speakers to connect.
It's good that Hisense has included HDR for such a low price, but if you haven't got any HDR content to view on it, instead having to rely on standard 4K, you'll be pleasantly rewarded.
Full review: Hisense 75M7900 4K TV
Panasonic's DX802 series represents great value for money. You get a few less features than the flagship DX900 set, but what you sacrifice in features you make up for in savings, and a unique design. It runs on Firefox OS, which is one of the more quirky systems we've come across and generally it functions well.
There's Freeview Play built-in too for easy access to catch-up TV and for most people should cover all their TV needs, Sky and Virgin are the only additions you may want to consider, but we don't feel they're necessary.
But what good is a TV if the picture isn't that good? Fortunately, the DX802 is an excellent performer. You're unlikely to notice the differences between this and its flagship sibling, as you're still presented with a stunning 4K picture. HDR performance is rather good too, delivering all the extra colour accuracy you'd want from the TV tech.
As an overall package the Panasonic TX-58DX802 is up there with the very best. Great design, stunning performance, a great TV service built-in and a soundbar included too. It's well worth considering.
Full review: Panasonic Viera TX-50DX802
Best OLED TV
LG OLED E6
We just mentioned that the Samsung KS9500 has one major rival in 2016 and it's this TV from LG. We think it represents the best pound-for-pound performance from a screen in 2016. Sure, it's not cheap, but you can get one for around the same price as the Samsung, making it the ideal competitor.
It's a 4K OLED HDR screen, so it packs in what many could consider holy trinity of TV technologies. It's all fitted inside an utterly gorgeous package that's as much a work of art as it is a TV.
It runs on LG's webOS interface, which is one of the best around, and includes built-in Freeview Play as well as access to the majority of catch-up and on-demand apps. Turn it on and start playing some 4K HDR content and we guarantee your jaw will hit the floor. The marriage of 4K HDR and OLED is one made in heaven and makes a seriously compelling case for choosing OLED over conventional LCD LED.
LG does have a more expensive OLED G6 model available, but the only real difference between the two is the G6 has a built-in soundbar for better audio. Otherwise the picture is by and large the same, and you'll probably get a better sound experience by connecting a soundbar or surround sound package.
The best TV available in 2016? The OLED E6 might just be that.
Price: from £2,999
Full review: LG OLED E6
LG OLED C6
Curved TVs were everywhere at one point, but manufacturers seemed to catch on that consumers wanted regular flat screens too. LG listened and made three ranges of flat-screen OLED screens, but there are still those that want the curved option. In steps the LG OLED C6.
It's a lot cheaper than the E6 and G6 series screens, but you still get 4K HDR, and a performance that's almost on par with its more expensive siblings. It supports Dolby Vision too for use with compatible sources - Netflix's Marco Polo for example - and in our experience, it performs much better than regular HDR10 that's found on most other HDR TVs.
Freeview Play is built-in, so you have access to an intuitive EPG with seven-day backwards and forwards scrolling to make it easy to catch-up on anything you've missed or schedule future recordings. Our only real quibble with the OLED C6 is the sound performance, which can easily be rectified by adding a soundbar, something we'd recommend anyway.
Full article: LG OLED C6 4K TV
Best full HD TV
There's still plenty of room in the market for full HD screens. You may not have any 4K content or be too interested in upgrading, or you may simply want a decent second set for the bedroom. Whatever the case may be, Samsung has you covered with this 48-inch beauty.
It will take full HD content from any source, be it Freeview HD, games console, Blu-ray player and deliver a bright, punchy picture that makes a solid case for remaining with 'regular' high definition.
To make things even better, it's been around for a while so it's become even more affordable.
For more information visit: www.freeview.co.uk, on Twitter @FreeviewTV and Facebook at facebook.com/freeview.