The Best 4K TVs of 2014
Five of the best Ultra HD 4K TVs currently on the market
It may be a recent technology but there are already a fairly large number of 4K Ultra HD TVs on the market and prices are dropping dramatically, so it won’t be long until they reach ‘mainstream’ levels.
In fact, you can already buy into 4K from an established brand for well under £800, so the chances are that by the time it comes to sizing up your next TV purchase, an Ultra HD telly will be in the reckoning.
We admit there’s not much 4K content you can watch on one, right now, but there are services available - with more on the way - and the processing chips inside the TVs are so good now that you’re not losing out when watching sub Ultra HD resolutions. Which is quite something when you consider a 4K TV has four times the resolution of your old fashioned Full HD set.
To take account of the ever growing number of models being released, we’ll keep this article up-to-date but, for now, we bring you five of the best 4K TVs currently available.
Nobody has embraced the 4K TV market quite as fervently as Samsung and the results have been highly impressive, right across the board. The HU7500 is available in four screen sizes – 48-, 55-, 65- and 75-inch – and prices start around the £1,600 mark. OK, that’s quite a lot of money still but it gets you a gorgeous looking TV with a super-sleek base stand and enough connectivity options to keep anyone satisfied. What’s more, to take in to account the evolving standards in the 4K world, the HU7500 is compatible with Samsung’s upgradable One Connect Box, ensuring a degree of future-proofing few can match.
It’s not just the looks and connectivity options that impress either. The HU7500 delivers in just about every other department too, boasting fantastic picture quality courtesy of a super LED dimming system which creates deep blacks that marry with superb colour accuracy. Whether you’re watching one of your old DVDs or some actual 4K content, via the built-in Netflix app, the quality of the video processing means you’re sure to be happy. Samsung might be big on the idea of pushing curved screens as the must-have look, but the HU7500 proves they know how to play it straight, too, with great effect, and the Smart TV Platform is simply awesome!
You can pick up a Philips 7800 series TV for less than a thousand pounds, in the 42-inch screen size, but we’d recommend going a little larger, if possible, to get more out of those extra pixels. There is also a 49” model on offer but, go on, treat yourself to the 55-inch version which can be had for an extremely competitive £1,500. But just because it has a relatively low price-point, that doesn’t mean it’s lacking on the design and features front, although it does miss out on the latest 4K decoding and connectivity options so that’s something to consider. Philips concentrates most of its Smart TV efforts on providing a good range of streaming services and controlling this TV is made nice and simple by the dual-sided remote which features a full QWERTY keyboard on the reverse side.
We really like Philips’ Ambilight technology too, which creates a nifty backlighting system helping to enhance the contrast performance of the PUS7809, as well as looking extremely cool into the bargain. The 55PUS7809 reviewed provided extremely natural looking colours with smooth motion handling and generous viewing angles. High definition pictures, in particular, were a joy to behold and of course our 4K test material looked spectacular. This TV is also a great choice for 3D fans with its passive technology providing bright, flicker free images bursting with depth. As we said at the top, this one is a bit of a punt in terms of Ultra HD but priced as it is, this is a competitor to many flagship 1080p TVs out there.
UPDATE: The PUS7809 is no longer a 4K punt, thanks to the just announced 880 Media Player with H265 (HEVC) support which can be added to 7809 TVs to provide 4K streaming services and the Android L operating system.The TX-50AX802 was a fine return to form from Panasonic after a slight first miss-step in the 4K market. The AX802 almost certainly has the heaviest engineering we’ve seen in an Ultra HD TV but the design is still elegant with a narrow frame stand providing a minimalist look. This TV has the latest HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 compatibility so it’s a flexible proposition, going forwards, and the Smart TV feature-set is amongst the best out there although the – missing for minor technical reasons – Netflix 4K Ultra HD streaming app is a bit of a pity. Panasonic promises they’ll put that to rights with the upcoming AX902. UPDATE: Panasonic has announced a software update to the AX800 Series that will bring 4K Netflix streaming and we’ll confirm here when that happens. The new Smart remote control makes navigating around the many services a breeze, however, and it’s complemented by one of the swishest conventional remotes we’ve seen in many a year.
Where most Panasonic LED/LCD TVs have struggled in the past, the AX802 does not. This TV boasts both great native contrast levels and a really effective LED dimming system to further boost the impact of pictures. When you add that to some of the most accurate colour performance in the business, you can see why we really liked this Panasonic. The AX802 comes in three flavours with screen sizes ranging from 50-inches up to 65”- via a 58-inch version – with prices starting around the £1,600 mark, at present. We can’t wait to see what Panasonic have in store with the AX900 series but, for now, this one merits serious consideration if you’re looking to hop aboard the 4K train.
No other manufacturer has quite so much at stake with 4K as Sony, so perhaps it’s fitting that the latest X9005 is probably our favourite Ultra HD TV, so far. Some won’t like the new wedge shape design, which is thicker than most, but it’s there for a purpose and utilised to house superior speaker electronics. More obvious evidence that Sony is pushing on with improving audio performance in the TV sector comes from the large speakers either side of the screen. Again, these will divide opinion but you can’t argue with the results as the 65X9005B sounded almost as good as it looked. Like most TVs these days, the X9005 has a wealth of video streaming apps and Sony is placing a great deal of effort into making content discovery at the heart of its Smart TV platform and the TV SideView app is a particular highlight there.
Naturally, it’s the pictures we’re more interested in and the flagship Sony 4K offering delivered in spades here. Whatever you choose to watch the X9005 produces breath-taking images, thanks to some of the best video processing on the market and a fantastic local dimming system which enhances the already impressive dynamic range. Spinning up a decent Blu-ray, or accessing the 4K Netflix service, will obviously give you the best results with the former looking virtually Ultra HD standard and the latter like no other video streaming you’ve seen before. The 65-inch X9005B currently retails for around £3.400, whilst the 55-inch is just under £2,500 so they’re aren’t inexpensive but if you want the best you have to be prepared to pay for it. We’ve yet to announce our TV of 2014 but this is a definite frontrunner!
It started as a trickle but the floodgates are beginning to open and there’s seemingly no escape from the trend for curved screen TVs. While we can’t claim to be blown away by the effect, so far, we’ve certainly had no complaints with it in practice and the quality of the HU8500 is such that you’ll be blown away regardless. There’s no denying that as a piece of AV furniture, the contoured looks of the UE65HU8500 make it an absolute stunner, too, and the designer looks are carried over in to the new Smart Touch remote which blends voice, gesture and touch controls to great effect. As ever, Samsung’s Smart TV platform is a hugely comprehensive offering, with access to all the major UK catch-up services as well as just about every major streaming service out there – including 4K Netflix.
There’s almost nothing you could fault in terms of the HU8500’s picture quality. Deep blacks, great screen uniformity, top quality picture processing and supremely faithful colour fidelity are just some of the qualities the HU8500 brings to the table and, every so often, the curve will give just a hint of providing a greater sense of depth to images. The quality of the 3D images were also superb with brightness, depth and pop-out aplenty. The designer looks of the 65-inch HU8500 come at a cost however, with an asking price just shy of £4k, while the 55-incher will set you back anywhere between £2,100 - £2,500, at present. For that money you do get the assurance of the upgradable One Connect box included in the bundle, though, which gives the price a greater sense of realism. If you like them big, curvy and cutting-edge, there is currently no better choice than the Samsung HU8500.
As with all our buyers guides, we'll be keeping this one bang up-to-date as new models are released onto the market and we've had a chance to test them. In the current climate, this will be one very busy guide so stay tuned.
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