Welcome to our latest annual Editor’s Choice awards. The awards celebrate the best products of the year and 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 2020.
We have had an unusual year when it comes to review schedules in 2020, but that hasn't stopped us covering the vast majority of new TVs. As always our choices for the awards have taken a great deal of thought and consideration as the quality of images and features on today's TVs are all superb. Filmmaker Mode has finally brought the industry together when it comes to image accuracy out of the box, and some of the winners in this year's awards are perfect examples of that. So let's go through our choices for 2020.
Best Home Cinema TV - Panasonic HZ2000
For a number of years now Panasonic has been using the 'Hollywood to Home' strap-line for its OLED TVs and for once the marketing is borne out in the performance of the TVs. The HZ2000 is the second version of its professional custom OLED panel, which has been engineered to produce more brightness and dissipate heat. This increases the image quality and HDR performance, while combating image retention issues.
The result is an OLED TV with class leading peak brightness and superb just above black detail retrieval, resulting in one of the best SDR and HDR images we have seen this year. Added to the picture mode line-up this year is Filmmaker Mode, which creates out of the box accuracy without the need for calibration. The HZ2000 is the best movie watching experience you can currently have in the home with stunning image depth and class leading colour accuracy. Detail levels are also superb with excellent 24fps motion and rounding off a fantastic cinematic performance is the front firing soundbar and upwards firing Atmos speakers tuned by Technics.
Best Living Room TV - LG GX
A living room TV must perform all the likely tasks required within a modern set up, from cutting edge HDR movie watching, to compelling sports coverage with excellent motion and usage with the next-gen gaming consoles.
Design is also a key attribute for a living room TV and the LG GX is designed to be the centre piece of any room with an all in one chassis and a wall mount for flush fitting.
New features this year include Filmmaker Mode and Dolby Vision IQ along with the usual Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG HDR formats. There is Dolby Atmos immersive audio support along with WebOS, which is still the best AV centric smart TV system, offering apps with full Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, such as Disney+, Prime Video and Netflix.
The GX is also a formidable gaming TV with four HDMI 2.1 (40Gbps) ports supporting G-sync, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), 10-bit 4K/120 support and an input lag of just 12.9ms.
With all those features, excellent picture quality and a stunning design for flush wall mounting, the LG GX is our choice for Living Room TV of 2020.
Best Value Gaming TV - Samsung Q80T
2020 has been a challenging year for us all, but as a gamer, it has also seen the next generation of games consoles launched to much fanfare.
To take advantage of the new consoles you will need a TV with decent gaming features, and if possible, HDMI 2.1 compatibility. Another downside is new technology usually means high-end pricing, but that is where the Samsung Q80T is a game changer.
Currently available for around £900 at the time of our awards in November 2020, the Samsung Q80T offers up great all-round performance for a normal living room TV, but adds in very good SDR and HDR images, excellent 5:5 pulldown for 24fps movies, and one HDMI 2.1 (40Gbps) input that supports AMD FreeSync and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), along with ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and an input lag of 11ms (with or without HDR), making it a great option for gamers. HDMI 3 also supports eARC for uncompressed immersive audio playback with suitably equipped sources and soundbars. The Q80T is a great value gaming TV for 2020.
Best Advanced Gaming TV - LG CX
With 2020 seeing the launch of the new next-gen consoles, there has been only one TV manufacturer on the market who can offer more than just one HDMI 2.1 input for those who want both consoles and more, and that is LG.
The LG C9 was the winner of this award last year, and while the CX only offers 40Gbps compared to the outgoing C9, this is not an issue with the new generation of gaming machines.
The CX has four HDMI 2.1 (40Gbps) inputs offering support for future gaming with VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and an HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) setting under the Dynamic Tone Mapping sub-menu in the Game mode. The LG CX is also one of the first TVs to be G-Sync validated by NVIDIA. We measured the input lag using our Murideo Seven Generator in 1080/2160p 60Hz at 13ms (inc HDR) and at 1080/120 (inc HDR) at 6ms. This year also saw the introduction of a 48-inch CX model which should also appeal to gamers due to the size being ideal for gaming desks and units. The LG CX is clearly the most advanced gaming TV of 2020.
Best Value TV - TCL 65C815
Good value for money and decent performance are usually hard to find in the value end of the TV market, but we have seen a number of good quality TVs from Hisense and TCL this year.
TCL in particular introduced the C815 model we reviewed earlier in the year, which is a 65-inch VA edge lit QLED LCD with a host of higher end features and Android Smart TV.
It doesn't offer anything bleeding edge or new for its £750 price tag (when reviewed back in September), but it does offer huge screen real estate, decent living room picture performance, along with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ dynamic HDR formats. Plus, it also features a very good Onkyo soundbar, support for Dolby Atmos decoding and the Android TV (9.0) smart TV system. Plus, as it is edge-lit, the design is thin and the build quality is decent. We were really surprised with the value on offer from TCL and as such the C815 wins our best value TV of 2020.
Best Luxury TV - Philips OLED+935
The Philips OLED+935 is a premium luxury TV and, as such, the design has a European flair with the use of exotic materials, like the Scottish leather on the back of the newly designed remote control or the Kvadrat material which is used as speaker cloth over the Bowers & Wilkins speaker bar.
It offers this luxury at the same time as excellent sound quality from the soundbar and accurate picture quality.
While any design will always be subjective, I personally think that the OLED+935 is a stunning TV with the soundbar so well integrated within the design of the panel. The use of unusual materials, like the Kvadrat covering the soundbar, makes it stand out from the crowd and gives it a European design language. Making a black rectangle look different and stylish is a hard task, but Philips pulls it off with the 935.
Performance is also first class with superb image accuracy, motion and detail, while the Bowers & Wilkins soundbar is sublime. We also have, for the first time, four-sided Ambilight with its excellent ISF bias light mode. Plus, all this doesn't have an extortionate price tag either, which makes it a TV you really need to add to the demo list.
Best 8K TV - Samsung Q950TS
The Samsung Q950TS is the company's flagship 8K QLED TV for 2020. It boasts a host of AI-enhanced picture processing that takes full advantage of the panel's 8K resolution, while also adding new features to boost the peak brightness and improve the power efficiency. In terms of the audio capabilities, eight drivers and object-tracking processing help create a more immersive sonic experience.
This 8K TV delivers exceptional images with SDR content, thanks to state-of-the-art processing and incredibly precise local dimming. Regardless of the source material, the images will be bright, detailed and accurate, with deep blacks, improved shadow detail and no noticeable blooming – even on challenging material. Of course, the better the source, the better the results, and with a high quality native 4K disc the upscaling is often breathtaking.
HDR is also a revelation with that peak brightness and advanced local dimming producing compelling, bright and vivid images. Overall, you get what you pay for, and the Samsung Q950TS is an awesome TV that applies state-of-the-art technology to every aspect of your TV experience. It delivers SDR images that can hold their own against the best OLED TVs, uses upscaling that makes full use of the 8K panel, and produces HDR images that impress with their detail, accuracy and overall impact. There is no other LCD TV that comes close, and, as a result, this is an easy winner.
Best HDR TV - Panasonic HZ2000
Great HDR picture performance is not only about how bright an image can go in the specular highlights, but how well it also handles the blacks and shadow details. Our eyes are more used to picking out details within the darker end of the spectrum than within incredibly bright images, so being able to balance out both of these extremes is the key to producing the best overall HDR experience, and the Panasonic HZ2000 does just that.
Thanks to the self emissive nature of OLED, allowing every single pixel to be on or off, and the exceptional engineering from Panasonic with their professional custom OLED panel, the HZ2000 genuinely offers the best and most consistent high dynamic range images we have seen this year. LCD has the potential to produce exceptionally bright highlights, but has to use zones to create the black levels which can rob the image of dynamic range and add in artefacts such as bloom. The performance of the HZ2000 manages to use the per pixel switching to its advantage and also up the normal peak brightness of OLED to create a more dynamic image. Plus, the small issues we saw last year with the GZ2000 have been ironed out, leaving us with a truly exceptional TV for accuracy and HDR. It is a worthy winner.
Best Smart TV System - LG WebOS
It may have been around for a long time, but it certainly hasn't become long in the tooth. LG's WebOS smart TV system has seen many upgrades over the years, and this year also saw a few issues with Freeview Play catch up apps not being immediately available. There is also growing competition with Samsung's Tizen continually nipping at the heals of WebOS, but the old stalwart carries on impressing us.
As AV fans, the main attraction of the WebOS system is its speed, flexibility and stability. This is also married with the ability to watch apps in 4K HDR and specifically Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Both formats have now become the de-facto standard on most of the major apps, like Disney+ and Netflix in particular. This has to be the reason, as AV fans, we are continually drawn to the impressive WebOS smart system, which picks up our award for best Smart TV system.
Best TV Sound - Sony A8 (Acoustic Surface Audio)
TV sound quality has been a real struggle for all of the major brands, thanks to the decreasing real estate for speaker drivers in today's OLED and thin LCD TVs. This has meant there is a steady increase in the popularity of separate off-board soundbars and manufacturers adding in such items to their designs.
However, Sony started down a different path a few years ago, and Acoustic Surface Audio continues to impress us.
The solution seems easy enough, but Sony really has advanced the concept of using the screen on the A8 OLED as the speaker. Thanks to two actuators behind the panel and twin subwoofers, the audio performance is excellent for a TV with precise dialogue placement on the screen, mixed with a nice wide sound field for music and effects. Having sound coming directly from the screen you are watching makes it feel more immediate and precise and we would love to see a full on surround system voiced to match the screen in the future from Sony. How cool would that be? For now, the Acoustic Surface Audio wins our 2020 award for best TV sound.
Best Luxury TV Sound - Philips OLED+935 (Bowers & Wilkins)
The result of a few years of R&D and previous TV speaker bar adaptations, we land at the latest evolution of a Philips TV with a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, and it is fabulous!
Not only is the Philips OLED+935 a great looking TV, it also excels with its picture and sound performance, and the Bowers & Wilkins speaker bar is exceptionally good.
The sound quality on offer with music and movies is excellent and a massive step up on the 934 from last year. The redesigned enclosure along with better drivers and the tweeter on top design brings a much improved sonic experience. Music sounds far better than many dedicated soundbars with excellent separation and stunningly clear vocals mixed with convincing instruments. It also sounds brilliant with movies, with a real dynamic range and weight, mixed with a warm melodic mid-range and treble you associate with the brand’s speakers. The design is also first class with the tweeter on top signalling that this is indeed a Bowers & Wilkins speaker.
Best TV Picture Processing - Philips 4th Gen P5 with AI+ Chip
The 4th Generation of the Philips P5 processor builds on the success of previous versions and adds in more AI+ processing to help with upscaling and sharpening.
While many of the things the P5 is capable of go against the ideals of the videophile and purist, there is no doubting the power and precision of what it is doing to create its images.
It clearly favours those who watch in standard and vivid picture modes and who want smooth images, but that doesn't mean it can't help Philips TVs also look their best with upscaling and motion for picture accuracy. It continues to be a powerful processor and it can do a whole host of interesting tasks for those looking for a brighter and sharper image, without going too far towards the fake picture end of the scale. And with excellent upscaling and motion processing with Movie and Pure Cinema settings making sure we have the correct pulldown for 24fps movies, it also helps with accuracy for the purists out there.
Best TV of 2020 - Panasonic HZ2000
When compiling awards it is incredibly difficult to always find the exact product for each category, as so many TVs offer exceptional performance these days. And best TV of the year is always the most tricky of them all to decide. Should it be the best all-rounder that has many excellent attributes across smart TV, picture quality and sound, as well as being value for money? Or should it be the best picture quality bar none? This year, picture quality was the winner.
Without sounding like a broken record, the HZ2000 is an exceptionally good TV and it has outstanding picture quality in both SDR and HDR. Yes, it is also an exceptionally expensive TV and you can get very close to its performance for less. But that really misses the point for me. The performance is exceptional thanks to expensive R&D and Panasonic's engineers doing what they can to get the absolute best from existing OLED technology, without affecting other performance parameters, like adding more heat, so you get more image retention. Their solutions include heat management and dissipation which combats any likelihood of retention, while also increasing the peak brightness. But, as we explained in the HDR awards, it's also not all about the peak highlights as we see more in the darker reaches of the image, and again the HZ2000 excels here, with the best just above black performance and stability on any current TV. The HZ2000 is a cinematic delight and clearly the best TV for picture performance this year.
So congratulations to all our winners and well done Panasonic for producing what we consider to be the best TV of 2020.