TV Reviews & Best Buys for 2016
Today’s television market is very different from the one we faced in years past. Now, with high-resolution screens and all of the new technology, there are lots of things to consider when you go shopping for a new TV. For many buyers, this can make for an overwhelming experience and they often come away wondering whether they got value for money and if the performance of the TV will live up to their expectations.
Part of the idea behind this TV reviews site is to help buyers better understand their options and how different features can improve the experience (and whether or not they’re worth paying extra for). If you want to learn more about HD TVs and their features, you can read our buying guide or check out some of our other info pages. In addition to that, you can find informed and unbiased reviews that cover some of the most popular TVs on the current market. You’ll also find our top recommendations listed in our ‘Best Buys‘ section.
On this site, we cover TVs of all sizes and we review sets from every major category, covering everything from HD Ready models to sets that use the new Ultra HD standard. In addition to that, we also review sets that have features like Smart TV, 3D viewing and models with curved screens. Our mission is always to help you to find the very best TV you can for the budget you have available.
Types of High Definition (HD) Televisions
One of the ways we classify televisions on our site is to separate the different models based on screen resolution as this is a key consideration. That means that there is a section for models that are HD Ready (720p), one for Full HD (1080p) and another for 4k Ultra HD (2160p). Put simply, the greater the number of pixels the screen displays, the better the picture will be. So, a 4K Ultra HD TV has about 3 times as many pixels as a HD Ready model, and therefore offers a much better picture. Screen size however is also a key consideration as a smaller number of pixels might look fine on a 32 inch screen, but would look significantly worse spread over a 65 inch screen (more on this below). So, while screen resolution is a major factor when it comes to selecting a new television, there are also various other design elements and features that can make a significant difference to the quality of the viewing experience.
The size of the screen is probably one of the first things that people think about when they shop for a TV. In the current market, you have the smaller sets that start around 19-inches and then you have some of the bigger sets that can run up to about 70-inches. Obviously, most people are going to feel that bigger is better, but it all depends on your circumstances. Your budget will be one factor that helps to decide the size of television that you purchase, but for some situations, you may not need a really large screen, for example, if you plan to use the set in the kitchen or bedroom. While a larger screen may provide a better overall home cinema experience, you’ll find that compromising on things like resolution and refresh rate just to get a bigger screen can result in a less than optimal picture. Also, ideally, you need to take into account factors like how far away you’ll sit from the television as this can have a major impact on how crisp the images will look. You can find out more about picking the optimal size set for your room in our screen size guide here.
LED or OLED?
The television screen type can be further categorized as LED or OLED. The difference between OLED and LED has to do with how the screen is lit. With an LED screen, the image is lit using an LED backlight whereas with an OLED model, the pixels are actually self-illuminating. For the most part, OLED does provide a much better picture quality, but LED screens are still the most common option. The OLED screen is based on technology that is somewhat new and the sets tend to cost more than their LED counterparts do. You can find out more about screen lighting technology in our guide here.
When you buy a new HD TV, you have the option of selecting a basic model that you connect to a tuner or DVD player, but there are also a range of different features and functions that can be included to make the set more versatile, or to provide access to more content. Below we’ll explain some of the options you’re likely to encounter.
Smart TV – These are TVs that have internet connectivity to provide access to features like streaming content, catch-up programmes (from services like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 & Demand 5), On Demand viewing and more. Every smart TV is different and the list of features that any given model has will vary. There are various different systems such as those offered by Android and companies like Sky and Virgin Media.
3D Viewing – Watching movies on a 3D TV is considered the ultimate in immersive viewing experiences. It brings the content to life providing more depth and a feeling that the images are right there in front of you. Of course, you do need the compatible 3D glasses and you’ll also need a 3D source. However, there are some sets that use 2D to 3D processing software to turn standard content into 3D. Should you buy a 3D TV? Read our blog post here.
Curved Screens – A curved screen is designed to take advantage of the natural field of human vision. The wrap-around effect engages the viewer’s peripheral vision to give the image more depth and this provides an immersive experience that is similar to, but not quite, 3D. The one downside with these sets is that, while they do provide a better viewing experience for people that are in the primary viewing position, they usually offer a diminished experience for those who are viewing from the side of the set.
Media Players – The ability to use the TV as a media player has become a much more common feature. Most TVs now come with a USB port to allow you to play files from your computer such music & video and also to display photos. You can also plug in 3rd-party devices like the Roku Streaming Media Player and the Amazon Fire Stick which will allow you to access services like Amazon Instant Video and Netflix (effectively a form of plug-in Smart TV). Services like Apple TV and Sky’s NowTV can also be added which will enable you to access lots of streaming video content.
DVR (Digital Video Recorder) – TVs that come equipped with an internal DVR have also become fairly commonplace. They can be good for recording your favourite shows when you’re away from home, or for pausing a movie when you need to take a break. Most models that have a DVR will require the use of a USB drive as an external memory source. Alternatively, you can buy an external one pretty inexpensively these days, like the Humax model shown here.
What should you expect to spend?
Due to the wide range of options available, giving a price range for a TV can be somewhat difficult. With models that come in a range of different sizes, with the different screen resolutions and features to account for, the prices can vary significantly depending on what you are looking for. A 19-inch TV is obviously going to cost much less than one that has a large, 70-inch screen. In much the same way, lower resolution HD Ready models will usually cost less than sets that are Full HD. When you go a step further, a Full HD model is similarly going to cost less than one that is Ultra HD. Additionally, every feature that you add will likely make the set more expensive. A Smart TV is going to cost more than one that does not offer these functions, then if you add 3D, that is also likely to increase the price.
Just to provide an example, if you are shopping for a 19-inch HD Ready TV that has no additional features, you can probably find a good set in that range for about £100. When you go all the way to the other end of the spectrum, a 65-inch OLED with 4k resolution, Smart TV, 3D and a curved screen could easily cost £6,000. That is quite a difference, but you are talking about two TVs that are worlds apart in terms of quality and features. If money is no object, you could consider the very fine looking UE85S9STXXU from Samsung (pictured left) which will set you back a very reasonable £34,999. Or, if your Euromillions numbers come up, how about their 105 inch model priced at an eye-watering £64,844?
The bottom line when it comes to price, is that with so many different sizes, different screen qualities and a range of different features that can be included, the price is ultimately going to be dictated by the type and quality of television that you are looking for.
Compare prices and save £££s
For each TV that we review we also compare prices across a range of major online retailers including Amazon, Currys, PC World, Argos, John Lewis, Appliances Direct & ao.com to help you get the best deal. Be sure to check our pricing guide underneath each review. We update our prices at 5am every morning (well being honest, the website does it automatically, as that’s a little early in the day for us) so you’ll know that our prices are always up-to-date. Also, if there are any special offers available or discount/voucher codes we’ll highlight these too.
If you need help shopping for a TV, we aim to guide you through the process. We want to provide you with all the information that you need to make an informed decision. The info pages can help you to understand your options and you can check out our reviews to get a better idea of what is available, and the value of the different sets that are on the market. If you want to limit your search to TVs that have a certain resolution, then you can click on the tab for HD Ready, Full HD or 4k UHD. Additionally, you can shop by size and look for TVs with certain features. With each review, you get a description of the TV, the features that it has and some critique of the different aspects of the individual set. The models that tick all of our boxes will be listed as Top Recommendations in our best buy lists.
We hope that the information and reviews that we provide are helpful. Our goal is to make the shopping process easier and to help people find the best TV for their individual needs. Whether you want a small set for the bedroom, or a large screen TV with all of the premium features, we can help you find it.