The best 4K TVs available in 2020
What are the best 4K TVs money can buy in Australia?
With 8K TVs available to consumers, now is an even better time to buy a 4K TV. Why? Whatever widespread 8K dominance may enjoy is still somewhere off in the future, given the current lack of 8K content. But, today, there’s a wealth of stuff to watch on a 4K TV, whether it’s streaming 4K movies on Netflix or 4K TV shows on Stan and Prime Video, playing the best 4K games on Xbox One, or watching content via Ultra High Definition (4K) Blu-ray discs.
Whatever the 4K reason, there’s a 4K TV to match your brand preferences and budget for enjoying a wealth of movies, sports, gaming, and TV series.
Best 4K TV overall
Starts at $3,549
While you can drop more than $10K on the 77-inch LG C9, that amount more than halves for the 65-inch variant and costs less than a third for the 55-inch screen. The C9 is the best OLED 4K TV that boasts stunning picture quality, with second-to-none contrast and incredible black levels, atop a colour range that extends beyond one billion options. Sure, the C9 is a 2019 model 4K TV, but it’s still our pick of the best in 2020.
The C9’s impressive presentation is powered by an Alpha 9 Gen 2 Intelligent Processor, which is designed to enhance your 4K content experience across visual and audio. It achieves this by cleverly using AI analysis to optimise video and sound based on your viewing preferences.
In terms of High Dynamic Range (HDR), the C9 uses a combination of the proprietary Dolby Vision variant and HDR10, which means a more vibrant differentiation between darkest blacks and whitest whites in compatible content. Grey uniformity and wide viewing angles mean the C9 offers a 4K experience you’re unlikely to forget. Still, it’s a shame LG didn’t include HDR10+ support.
On the Dolby front, there’s also Dolby Atmos which, when paired with the right booming sound system, boosts aural fidelity to match the 4K eye candy. The cherry on top is the integrated Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support to make controlling all of this gorgeous entertainment even easier. The C9 is great for everyday playback of whatever content you throw at it, but the addition of Nvidia G-Sync support means it’s also a viable gaming option for PC gamers with Nvidia graphics cards.
Best 4K Samsung TV
Starts at $3,495
Here’s another entry in our 2020 picks that’s actually a 2019 model. Why? Last year doesn’t mean outdated, and the Samsung Q90R is a great mix of performance and, these days, cheaper price because of its intended replacement model, the Samsung Q95T. Whether you’re looking to critical reviews or user reviews, it’s clear that Samsung’s 2019 TVs are ticking the right boxes when compared to its 2020 refreshes.
If OLED screens are too dark for you – especially for people who are frustrated at screen reflections during the day in TV rooms they can’t sufficiently darken – QLED is the solution to what ails you, and the Q90R is a shining example of both screen brightness and accommodating a wide viewing angle so every front-of-tele seat is the best in the house.
Compared to preceding models, the Q90R also achieves impressive black levels during darker scenes, meaning that Samsung is able to step into OLED territory for those who fancy noticeable detail in their on-screen black levels. The straightforward and impressive sights and sounds of the Q90R are complemented by a single-cable solution for keeping a potential jungle of cables out of sight beneath the bottom of the bezel. The main detractor is on the HDR front: while it does support HDR10+ (unlike the LG C9), it’s lacking Dolby Vision.
Best 4K Sony TV
Starts at $5,199
There are two camps when it comes to 4K TVs: those who adore OLED screens, and those who love QLED panels. Both have their pros and cons but, as you can probably tell from this choice, the black levels of my heart are better complemented by OLED more so than the rare bright areas that benefit from QLED’s brightness. And the Sony A9G is an OLED contender that is nipping at the heels of the LG C9 victor for 2020.
Yes, it’s another 2019 4K set that’s enjoying a 2020 victory lap for Sony TV fans, but while it also lacks HDR10+ support, it’s slightly darker for HDR and non-HDR content, which can be an OLED challenge if you’re unable to darken your TV room. That said, the A9G goes toe to toe with the C9 on pretty much every other metric.
Get the room dark to mitigate those brightness issues, and you’re dealing with a 4K TV that has wide viewing angles and impressive visual performance. Where the A9G has the edge over its LG OLED counterpart, though, is for on-screen motion with a near-instant response time that translates to smooth playback. With decent out-of-the-box sound, too, those with an allegiance to Sony TVs will have that fealty rewarded in the A9G.
Best 4K LG TV
Starts at $2,995
If you want our pick of the best LG 4K TV, scroll back up and read about the LG C9. For a worthy runner-up, though, the LG CX is – surprise, surprise for this list – a 2020 model 4K TV that’s well worth considering if you want the newest of the new. Like the C9, this LG 4K TV is built to impress whether you’re into watching movies, bingeing TV series, yelling at sports, or getting your gaming fix.
Those who fancy UHD Blu-ray movies, for instance, will be particularly rewarded by near-perfect black levels, so long as you don’t have direct light on the screen disrupting things. For those who’ve clung onto their regular Blu-ray collection, the LG CX does an admirable job of automatically upscaling 1080p content with great results. The same is true of streaming 720p content, like older TV series, while all content playback makes great use of decent inbuilt speakers if you don’t want to pare your 4K tele with a home theatre setup.
Sports fans may notice a bit of a blur with faster-moving content, but the CX handles most sports admirably, while the wide viewing angle makes it a crowd-pleasing screen for game day. Speaking of games, the CX is almost as impressive with games than it is with its excellent UHD movie results, meaning you can even use this as a giant 4K monitor for PC gaming.
Best budget 4K TV
Hisense Series 8 50-inch
Starts at $845
When it comes to a budget 4K TV, there are some key brands to choose from, including Hisense, Kogan, Bauhn (exclusive to Aldi), and FFalcon. Our pick of the best budget 4K TV in 2020 is the Hisense Series 8. Stick to the 43-inch (43S8) or 50-inch (50S8) varieties to keep the cost under $1,000. Like most of the picks on this page, the 50S8 a 2019 model, but it’s still a great performer across the board for a range of viewing content.
The on-screen results aren’t as jaw-dropping as QLED or OLED panels and HDR is restricted to HDR10, but for a sub-$1K screen, it has impressive performance for most of your 4K TV needs.
If you’re looking to save more money, the FFalcon 50UF1 has a good-sized 50-inch option you can pick up for under $500 that’s best used for movies and TV shows and even has HDR10 support.
For around the same price point and for similar uses, you can also take a look at the Kogan 55-inch Series 9 UX9210. Inbuilt Android TV means it’s easy to find all of your favourite streaming apps, plus there’s built-in Chromecast and, impressively at this pricepoint, baked-in Dolby Vision HDR support.
If you don’t mind stretching that budget between $500 and $1,000, you can get your hands on the Bauhn 58-inch 4K TV. Impressively, this Bauhn 4K TV has a QLED panel, Google Assistant voice-powered remote, and even basic HDR.
What you need to know before buying 4K
What’s the deal with HDR? How do you tell if you already have a 4K TV? And what’s the difference between QLED, OLD and UHD? All that and more in our 4K FAQ.
What is a 4K TV?
A 4K TV refers to any Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV that has a resolution of 3840×2160 (2160p) pixels (horizontal x vertical). 4K TV sets have four times as many pixels as a Full HD (1080p) screen, which equates to close to 8.3 million pixels for 4K TVs.
How do I tell if my TV is 4K?
The easiest way is to check the model number online. You can find the model number on the back panel of the TV or in the settings menu (check for ‘Help’ or ‘About’ options). Checking the model number online for tech specs will let you know your TV’s maximum resolution.
Should I skip 4K and buy an 8K TV?
Not yet. In fact, likely not for a while. First-generation 8K TVs are impressive, but they’re also expensive and there’s an absence of native 8K content. At the moment, 8K TVs tend to specialise in upscaling existing lower-resolution content (including 4K content).
What’s the difference between QLED, OLED and UHD?
UHD stands for ‘Ultra High Definition’, which currently refers to 4K resolutions and above. QLED means ‘quantum dot light-emitting diode’ and is a type of screen technology that’s common to 4K TVs. OLED is ‘organic light-emitting diode’ and is also a common type of 4K screen technology.
Which is better: QLED or OLED?
While there’s often personal preference at play with the QLED vs OLED debate, there are some key differences. QLED is a variation of common LCD screen technology, whereas OLED is quite different. QLED is dependent on a backlight, whereas OLED has individual pixel illumination. This means OLED tends to have better contrast and black levels, but QLED tends to perform better in well-lit rooms and for HDR content. OLED TVs also have comparable quality across budgets, whereas QLED screens can vary greatly based on price. OLED screens are also prone to temporary or permanent image burn.
What is HDR?
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is another 4K TV buzz phrase that’s a visual-enhancement technology for compatible UHD screens. HDR isn’t better than 4K; HDR is part of what makes compatible 4K TVs look even better. Basically, it creates a more noticeable and lifelike contrast between the brightest and darkest parts of the screen. Currently, there are five HDR varieties: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision, and Advanced HDR. HDR10+ and Dolby Vision are the current standards.
Which 4K TV screen size is best?
The average distance people sit from a TV set is around three metres. Closer tends to be better with 4K TVs though in terms of higher-resolution immersion. Samsung recommends using viewing distance as the starting point (measured in inches), then dividing it by two to find your recommended TV size (measured diagonally). For example, if you sit roughly three metres (approximately 10 feet) away from your TV, that would equate to a 60-inch 4K TV.
If you opt for larger 65-inch or 75-inch (or bigger) 4K TVs, you should sit farther away from the screen for optimal playback.
Do I need a 4K UHD Blu-ray player to watch 4K content?
Yes and no. You need some kind of player that’s capable of playing 4K discs (which includes the Xbox One S and Xbox One X) to watch UHD Blu-ray discs. You don’t need a 4K UHD Blu-ray player to stream 4K content from the likes of Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube, though you may need a 4K-compatible account tier.
Do I need speakers for a 4K TV?
Need? No. Want? Most likely. Certain 4K TVs have decent speakers, but those pale in comparison to the sound you can get from a soundbar or home theatre system. If audio quality is important, bear in mind that thin-screen 4K TVs tend to have average speakers to preserve the thin form factor.
What’s the best way to try a 4K TV before you buy?
Visit a 4K TV store like JB Hi-Fi or Harvey Norman and take a look at the side-by-side comparisons of the screens in demo mode to find out which screen looks best to you. While these kinds of stores are a great place to start hunting for a 4K TV deal, bear in mind that 4K TVs in demo mode tend to have the brightness turned right up.
What is 4K upscaling?
Native 4K content looks best on a 4K TV, whether that’s streamed or in the highest possible quality found on 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. 4K upscaling is a technology in certain 4K TVs that takes non-4K content, like Full HD (1080p) or HD (720p) movies or TV shows, and intuitively boosts the image quality on the fly to create better-looking playback. It’s not going to look as good as native 4K content – even though the AI-upscaling results on the Nvidia Shield TV Pro are very impressive – but it will look better than its regular Full HD or HD form without upscaling.
When will Australia broadcast 4K content?
Even though 4K content has been around for years, Australian broadcasts still don’t transmit content in 4K quality. There have been trials in the past, but the only current option for 4K broadcast quality is to sign up to Foxtel’s dedicated 4K TV channel, which isn’t available in every area.
Got the speed to stream 4K?
Now that you’ve decided on a 4K television, you’re going to need a strong broadband connection to stream in UHD resolution. These are the fastest NBN Premium plans according to WhistleOut.