1. Philips 55POS9002
Ambilight meets OLED, but this Philips is so much more than a one-trick pony.
With LG now selling its OLED panels to any TV manufacturer wanting to buy them (so, practically everyone that isn’t Samsung), each company needs to do something a little different to stand out from the crowd.
It turns out differentiation doesn’t come much more striking than Ambilight.
The Philips-exclusive tech uses strips of LEDs around the TV edge, enhancing the onscreen action with a colourful light show on the wall around the telly. It’s awesome, and combining it with OLED picture quality is predictably magnificent.
What’s really remarkable, though, is that if you took Ambilight away, the Philips 55POS9002 would still be one of the very best TVs around right now.
- Truly glorious HDR
- Ambilight is as awesome as ever
- Sounds pretty good
- Standard dynamic range (SDR) content is nicely balanced
- A poor selection of apps
- Can be beaten for subtlety and motion processing
2. Samsung QE65Q9FN
2017 was not a stellar year for Samsung, then, but rather than join the ever-expanding OLED army, the Korean giant is sticking to its guns. It maintains that when it starts producing self-emissive quantum dots, QLED will smash OLED.
But self-emissive quantum dots are still a long way off, and the edge LED backlights of last year’s QLEDs definitely held the TVs back a bit.
The short-term solution? A direct LED backlight that allows the set to go astonishingly bright without sacrificing black depth in other parts of the image, and that is so well controlled it’s almost as if the quantum dots are self-emissive.
That backlight is only available on the top model in Samsung’s QLED range, the Q9FN (not to be confused with the N-less Q9F, which is the 2017 version), the 65in version of which we’re testing here. And yet this flagship QLED comes in significantly cheaper than the equivalent LG OLED, the £4500 OLED65C8.
3. LG OLED55C7V
5. Samsung UE40MU6400
When it comes to choosing a TV size, the terms “bigger” and “better” generally come to mind.
A few years ago, that would’ve seen you splashing out on a 40in set with all the trimmings, but the recent boom in 55in and 65in TVs has meant smaller screens have generally been downgraded to ‘second TV’ status.
That’s no more obvious than the fact that all flagship now sets start from around 49in and above. If you want smaller, it’s the midrange that is now your friend. And lower midrange at that.
However, while the Samsung UE40MU6400 may well give up a few of the top-range specs to hit its sub £500 price point, it also means an affordable 4K performance that may prove hard to top.
6. Sony KD-55A1
Remember the kid at school that was just good at stuff? Sailed through their exams without worry, made every sports team starting line-up and was annoyingly likeable with it? That kid is the Sony KD-55A1.
While many of its peers have been getting to grips with 4K OLED for a couple of years, this is Sony’s first punt at the technology.
But if you were expecting its debut to come with some first-time nerves, think again. This set makes 4K OLED look easy.
7. LG Signature W7 OLED TV
The new benchmark in TV design – and picture quality
It doesn’t happen nearly as regularly as you might imagine, but every once in a while something truly, breathtakingly awesome and original comes along to shake up a stagnating section of gadget land. LG’s ‘Wallpaper’ W7 TV is one such thing.
This is a TV that’s just 2.57mm thick, bendable and that clings to your wall with magnets.
It. Is. Astonishing.
But we already knew the design was amazing, having previously seen it at two separate events. Now, though, I’ve been able to put it through a proper test.
Before getting into the meat of the review, though, some housekeeping: due to the installation requirements of the W7 (it has to be wall-mounted), LG is not making review samples available as it usually would. Instead, the company invited me to review the TV in a hotel in San Francisco.
Clearly, this isn’t the ideal way to test a telly – I had about 5 hours with it rather than the couple of days I would usually take and I wasn’t able to test the built-in tuners – but I did have my own test materials, sources and tools and there was no interference from LG, so I do feel qualified to deliver a verdict. You might disagree, and that’s fine – just ignore the star rating and treat this piece as a really thorough and detailed hands-on. I’m sure you’ll still enjoy it.
Got all that? Then let me tell you that to my mind this breathtaking bit of design also delivers the best picture quality you can currently buy.
That isn’t to say there aren’t caveats, the key one being that you can get the same picture quality for much less by buying one of LG’s other 2017 OLEDs.
But if you did that you wouldn’t get a telly that looks like the W7 – and has I mentioned that it looks rather nice?
- Genuinely stunning design
- All-around fabulous picture performance
- Lovely to use
- Packed full of apps and features
- Sounds good by TV standards
- But doesn’t sound great compared to a proper soundbar
- Speaker section will be useless to some and is hard to hide
- You can get the same picture quality for a lot less money
8. Samsung UE55MU8000
The phrase ‘mid-range’ can stir up feelings of being forced to compromise, which our lizard brains usually aren’t too happy about.
But you can tell your inner reptilian that it doesn’t need the status symbol of a flagship QLED or OLED TV because the Samsung UE55MU8000 exists.
Sitting one range down from Samsung’s premium QLED TV range, this 4K HDR set delivers a lot of the same benefits as its flagship running mate, but at a much more reasonable cost.
It’s time to find out how good mid-range TVs have become in 2017…
- Sharp, detailed picture
- Vibrant, but believable colour palette
- Excellent smart TV offering
- Easy to navigate and set up
- Viewing angles are tight
- Sound lacks dynamics