The time of Ultra HD or 4K is now. This latest step in high-definition is no longer something for the rich and privileged, it's coming from all sides, making your TV viewing better than ever before.
There's a huge amount of choice and plenty of confusion: you'll see UHD, Ultra HD and 4K all used to describe this new level of detail that TVs can offer, as well as talk about HDR - high dynamic range - just to make things more confusing.
So read on while we demystify the world of Ultra HD television and help you pick the right TV for you, presenting some of the best TVs currently on the market.
As we move from 2016 into 2017, there's a number of 2016 models on the market with falling prices, which are well worth buying. But as 2017's new TVs come through - brighter, thinner, more powerful - we'll be updating this list to include everything important.
- What is HDR, what TVs support HDR, and what HDR content can I watch?
- Tips and tricks to buying a 4K TV, all you need to know to help make a purchase decision
Quick fire TV jargon buster
One of the confusing things about televisions is the jargon that goes along with them. Here's a very brief run-down of the important things to look out for:
- HDR - high dynamic range, to bring the latest colour and contrast, also called HDR 10
- Dolby Vision - an alternative form of HDR
- Ultra HD/UHD/4K - the 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution.
- OLED - Organic LED, where the light is emitted from each pixel, meaning deep blacks, vibrant colours and amazingly thin designs.
- Direct LED - where the illumination source is directly behind the display, meaning deep blacks, but thicker designs.
- Edge LED - where the illumination source is in the edges and channeled across the rear of the display, result in thin designs, but with out the illumination control of direct LED or OLED panels.
Our top recommendation...
If money is no object and you want the best out there when it comes to watching 4K content on your TV then it's hard to beat the Sony ZD9. It's the company's top of the range model and offers things like Dolby Vision. For those really looking to push the budget, you can opt for the 100-inch model that will cost a cool £60,000.
1. Sony Bravia ZD9
The Sony Bravia ZD9 is one of the newest TVs on this list, sitting as a flagship Sony TV for 2016, as well as remaining in the flagship position in 2017, for the time being at least. The ZD9 aims to be the greatest HDR TV out there, offering wonderful detail and brightness, with huge contrast from the direct lit LED panel that out performs just about every other TV out there. It's also sensitively designed, with cable management built into the rear and the stand, so it always looks tidy.
The ZD9 is an award winning TV, capable in all areas, sitting on the Android TV platform and offering a full range of connected features. Sony has also said that it's due to be updated to support the latest Dolby Vision and HLG formats. The ZD9 is available in three sizes, the 100-inch model is comically priced at £60,000, but the smaller 65 and 75-inch models are more reasonably priced.
Read our full review: Sony ZD9 4K TV review
The best of the rest...
There are more options out there that a considerably more affordable and a lot more manageable in terms of screen size. Here are some other brilliant TVs to consider.
2. Samsung KJS9500
The Samsung KS9500 (KS9800 in the US) sits at the top of Samsung's offering, pushing the curved TVs that Samsung has now become known for. The KS9500 pumps up the brightness, delivering HDR with a punch, with the advantage of offering direct LED illumination for detailed handling across colour and brightness with excellent local dimming. Some might not like that curve, but this is where Samsung is putting all its efforts and seeing its best results. It offers bags of connectivity, intuitive navigation and control and surprisingly good sound.
The Samsung KS9500 is a worthy flagship and an excellent television, offering excellent HDR handling, colour vibrancy and upscaling and conversion to make all your content look good, although it is expensive: those looking for the same design in edge-lit tech will want the cheaper KS9000, if you're in the market for a curved TV.
Read our full review: Samsung KS9500 SUHD TV review
3. Sony XD9405
Buy the 75-inch Sony 75XD9405 for £3,999 from JohnLewis.com
Sony has pitched its top TV skills into this one model, offering direct LED illumination, but only at a 75-inch size, meaning that this wonderful TV is only for those with big space and big budget. That said, the XD94 combines excellent performance with plenty of connectivity and the intuitive Android TV interface. This is topped off with a YouView EPG for a complete selection of UK catch-up services.
Overall performance is fantastic, with real punch in HDR delivery and excellent all-round performance. The XD9405 goes big on everything, so costs you big bucks. It it costs too much, check out the similar-design, but smaller X9305 instead.
Read our full review: Sony XD9405 4K TV review
4. LG OLED E6
LG had a full line-up of OLED televisions in 2016 and it was the only mainstream manufacturer to offer them - although Sony and Panasonic join the OLED party in 2017. They are stunning, both in terms of design and performance, setting themselves aside from the various other LED TVs that dominate this list. While the flagship is the Signature G6, it's the second-tier TV that's likely to be of interest: it's cheaper, but offers much the same technology. The picture on glass design means the display is impressively thin, but it sits on a 40W soundbar. Not only that, but the LG OLED TVs also offer Dolby Vision, a premium take on HDR that you won't currently find offered elsewhere.
Deep, deep blacks, wonderful design and vibrant colours are fused into a TV that offers one of the nicest user interfaces around in webOS. Not only that, but the E6 also offers the intuitive Freeview Play EPG for the UK, making it fully connected, fully featured and a staggering performer.
Read our full review: LG OLED E6 review
5. Panasonic Viera DX902
Panasonic's flagship TV for 2016 the DX902 (called the DX900 in other regions) benefits from direct LED illumination, with the potential to offer some of the deepest blacks you'll find on an LED TV. The colours are wonderfully vibrant and thanks to HDR, the excellent contrast will give you some draw-dropping visuals. The DX902 offers plenty of connectivity, with 4K HDR streaming from Netflix and Amazon if you have a subscription; in the UK it also offers Freeview Play in the UK.
The performance of the DX902 is excellent, but it falls behind some rivals like Samsung and LG when it comes to the user interface, which could be a little slicker. This is a big TV and it excels at big performances.
Read our full review: Panasonic Viera DX902 4K TV review
6. Samsung KS7000
The Samsung KS7000 delivers its biggest punch when you look at the price. This is a fully-loaded 4K HDR television and a great performer, offering a Quantum Dot display, dripping in colour with loads of contrast. Its edge LED system is bettered by some of the direct illumination alternatives, but at double the price, the smart buyers will favour the KS7000.
Excellent performance for the money, the user interface is fluid and easy to use, offering 4K HDR streaming from it's own apps and the convenience of a separate connections box. The stand is a little inflexible, but for those wanting to wall-mount, the KS7000 is an excellent choice for those after a flat TV. Smart TV for smart money.
Read our full review: Samsung KS7000 SUHD TV review
7. Sony XD93
Buy the 65-inch Sony KD-65XD9305 for £1,929 from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the 55-inch Sony KD-55XD9305 for £1,249 from JohnLewis.com
With a design and spec sheet that looks like the XD9405 also on the list, Sony's XD9305 is a slight step down from the XD94. The big difference is that it uses edge illumination rather than direct. While that means it can offer an amazing thin design and all the connected goodness you'd want from a top-tier 4K HDR television, it's not quite as adept at handling HDR content in high contrast situations. That might leave a small hole for perfectionists when it comes to movie viewing, but that hole may well be filled by the spare cash you'll have once you've paid for it.
Excellent performance in many areas, the XD9305 does show that direct LED illumination is the better technology for handling some of the more difficult scenes, but when you're sitting watching Eastenders or 4K Premier League football, that won't matter at all.
Read our full review: Sony XD9305 4K TV review