Editor's Choice Awards – Best TVs 2018
The best TV? Depends on what you need it for
Welcome to our second annual Editor’s Choice Awards.The Editor’s Choice Awards celebrate the best products of the year. They are the items we think stand head and shoulders above the rest. The criteria for being eligible are simple. It must be a product that has been reviewed by AVForums in the last 12 months and it must currently be available as part of the official product range from a manufacturer and not discontinued before the end of 2018.
This year we present the awards for TVs & Projectors, Home AV, Hi-Fi and Mobile. In this article, we select our favourite TVs of the year in ten categories.
Best Home Cinema TV 2018 – Panasonic TX-55FZ802B OLED TV
In comparisons, the Panasonic just has that more natural look to its colour reproduction and tone, it just feels more nuanced and real. Skin tones are especially good and the black levels and shadow detailing simply add a realistic depth to images. The BBC Dynasties documentary in Hybrid Log-Gamma looks stunning on the FZ802, with superb dynamic range and pop to the image. Grasses and plants look natural, yet colourful and the tiger's fur is superbly detailed with the colours and shadows adding depth and dynamics. Brightness is also consistent throughout with no signs of abrupt changes in scenes or ABL dimming down the image.
Overall, the FZ802 offers the most cinematic images we have seen from an OLED TV this year.
Best Budget TV 2018 – Hisense H50A6200UK LED LCD TV
However, where the A6200 really impresses is in its SDR image accuracy. This TV delivered some of the best out-of-the-box measurements that I have seen, regardless of price. Throw in a direct LED backlight, decent blacks, solid motion handling, and good picture processing, and you've got a great all-rounder.
The HDR performance is limited, and to a large extent, the A6200 is an HDR TV in name only. However, the HDR accuracy remains impressive, the tone mapping is fairly good, and you can still benefit from 4K. It's also worth remembering that most of the content you watch will still be SDR for the foreseeable future.
The Hisense A6200 is excellent, and we highly doubt you'll see a better budget 4K TV this year.
Best TV Under £1,500 2018 – LG OLED55B8SLC OLED TV
It offers superb image quality with stunning black levels, superb shadow detail retrieval and pixel accurate peak highlights in HDR. For movie fans, you get everything you need right now for critical film viewing as the director intended, with stunning SDR and cinematic HDR images on tap. That’s a lot of positives for the £1500 asking price.
What we can say is the LG B8 is a brilliant OLED TV that has all the plus points of the previous B7 model from 2017 and adds some picture refinements like Dynamic Tone Mapping with HDR movies and games, along with excellent panel uniformity and image quality that gets close to what the C8 offers.
Best LED LCD TV 2018 – Samsung QE65Q9FN LED LCD TV
Naturally, the Q9FN isn't perfect but no TV is, and whilst some might bemoan the lack of Dolby Vision support, the only real negative we can think of is that the optimum viewing angles are limited but that's normal for a VA panel. The local dimming is good at delivering deep blacks without blooming or haloing and the performance has also improved further as the year has progressed. In terms of HDR streaming, both Netflix and Amazon Video looked superb. The Netflix series Lost in Space was fantastic in HDR10 and the added dynamic range and vibrancy really brought the alien planet to life.
Moving on to a native 4K film like The Revenant and the level of detail is exceptional, whilst the colours look incredibly natural. The film's many bright snowbound sequences were handled particularly well by the Samsung, whilst the local dimming reproduced the night scene lit only by burning torches superbly well. This is another scene that would have reduced lesser LCD TVs to quivering wrecks.
It isn't cheap but flagship TVs never are, and there is no doubt in our minds that the Q9FN is the best LED LCD TV of 2018.
Best Smart TV Platform 2018 – LG WebOS
With the fantastic Magic Remote to help you navigate the system, the interface remains clean and easy to follow with a launcher bar that others have copied but failed to implement as well as LG have done with WebOS. We have reviewed a number of LG OLED TVs this year and also live with them at home and we have yet to find a TV user interface that can offer everything that WebOS is capable of in such a simple to follow and intuitive manner.
A TV interface must work for every member of the family, from the kids to granny, and LG makes that fun with such a fantastic user experience. Even after four years of evolution and small refinements, nothing else has yet replaced WebOS as the best Smart TV Platform.
Best TV Sound 2018 – Sony KD-55AF9 OLED TV Acoustic Surface+
The sound is delivered via the panel’s surface thanks to three actuators on the back of the screen and two subwoofers in the stand to create audio that actually comes from the screen surface. There is also a new feature that allows you to set up the Acoustic Surface to act as a centre speaker in a 5.1 sound system.
It really is effective in presenting voices and sounds from the centre of the screen, where they should be emanating from, and the effect is superb. The introduction of the centre speaker option where you make the TV the centre speaker of your home cinema system also seems, obvious, but there will be issues with voicing between different types of speakers. Perhaps Sony has something lined up to take full advantage of this technology? In terms of sound quality, it certainly competes well with its peers, even those with dedicated soundbar designs. There is a nice wide soundstage with excellent high-frequency detail without any sibilance from being too bright and, at the same time, it doesn’t sound muffled or distorted. Voices and dialogue are clean and precise coming from the screen, with a rich midrange and a decent, full bottom end.
It won’t compete with a dedicated soundbar or external surround system, but for most tasks, the sound quality on offer is amongst the best of the built-in systems on current, similarly priced OLED TVs.
Best TV Picture Processing 2018 – Philips 55OLED903 OLED TV
Sony for a long time ruled this particular roost when it comes to video processing and motion on TVs, but the last two flagship models have seen cutbacks in the processing on offer. On the other hand, Philips is now on to their 2nd generation of P5 and for videophiles that means excellent motion handling of 24fps material and 50i broadcast, along with superb upscaling of lower resolution images to the 4K Panel of the OLED903. If you don't need the B&W soundbar that is part of the 903 package, you can instead go with the OLED803 which drops the soundbar but has exactly the same image performance.
If you are not as fussy as us film fans and image purists, Philips also give you a full suite of video processing and image manipulation features. You can experiment with modes for sports motion and creating HDR-like images from SDR content, the list is endless. But for us, it is the excellent video processing, accurate 24fps motion and excellent scaling that stands out with the latest OLED+903 TV.
Best HDR TV 2018 – Samsung QE65Q900R 8K LED LCD TV
We were also knocked out with the HLG performance of the BBC series Dynasties on the iPlayer which looked so natural and realistic in its colour depth and dynamics. The detail was exquisite and we didn’t see any instances of the Q900R adding any unwanted sharpening or edge enhancement that looked aggressive or over the top. Image depth was also astounding thanks to the excellent local dimming and superb shadow details. Only now and again, in very tricky scenes, did we see any issues with the dimming hunting for the right level. The new firmware certainly did an excellent job making sure that everything looked balanced.
The Q900R manages to produce some stunning HDR images and, as such, is our favourite HDR TV of the year.
Best TV Innovation 2018 – Samsung QE65Q900R LED LCD TV
There will be many, like us, who initially question if we really need 8K TVs and if this is the right time for them to come to market. But with the 2020 Olympics in Japan launching the format to the world and the likelihood of even more 8K TVs being announced at CES 2019, perhaps Samsung's gamble will pay off with the Q900R.
What is not in doubt or being questioned is the technology developed to bring this 8K TV to market. There is a real lack of native 8K content to watch, indeed for the review we only had demo clips supplied on a USB key. However, knowing this will be an issue Samsung have developed their video processing algorithms for scaling content to the resolution as well as introducing AI and machine learning to further improve the performance of the video scaling and processing through future firmware updates.
So, whether we all need 8K or not, Samsung has made some impressive moves to introduce 8K TV to the UK and does so with a view to making it a high-quality experience with excellent scaling and processing of existing available content to take advantage of the sets now available.
Best Overall TV 2018 – LG OLED65C8PLA OLED TV
It looks gorgeous and it's well made, and the Alpine stand is not only attractive but also helps improve the sound quality. In fact, the C8 is one of the best-sounding TVs that we have reviewed in a while. The WebOS Smart TV platform is simply the best there is, with a fast, responsive and highly intuitive user interface. The Magic Remote is also brilliant and a joy to use, making navigating the smart features child's play.
As far as those features go, the C8 offers a comprehensive set of video streaming services including NOW TV, as well as just about every other feature we can think of, including highly sophisticated auto-calibration options. It supports every version of HDR except HDR10+, and it supports Dolby Atmos.
Of course, that's all window dressing if the picture isn't good. Thankfully, the C8 delivers an absolutely superb image in both SDR and HDR. The blacks are deep, the shadow detail is excellent and the video processing is impressive. The panel uniformity is fantastic and the greyscale and colour accuracy delivers reference measurements.
Overall, the LG C8 offers the complete package for those looking for a TV that ticks all the boxes and offers everything in one brilliant television.
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