Best 4K TVs 2019: Our top picks for budget, HDR and UHD

A round-up of the best 4K OLED, QLED, and LED TVs you can buy for sports, games, movies and on a budget.
  • LG C9

    Best Overall 4K TV

    4.5 out of 5 overall
  • Panasonic TH-65GZ1000U

    Best for Movies

    4 out of 5 overall
  • Sony Z9F

    Best for Sports

    4 out of 5 overall
  • Samsung Q75R

    Best for Gaming

    4 out of 5 overall
  • Hisense 65R5

    Best 4K on a Budget

    3.75 out of 5 overall

This guide was produced by Reviews AU freelancer Nathan Lawrence. 

What are the best 4K TVs money can buy in Australia?

With 8K TVs available to consumers (albeit with a hefty price tag), now is an even better time to look at buying a 4K TV. Whatever widespread 8K dominance may happen is well off in the future, given the lack of 8K content (today and planned), but today there’s a wealth of stuff to watch on a 4K TV.

Let’s break down the best Ultra High Definition (UHD) picks across overall, movies, sports, gaming, and budget categories.

Best 4K TV overall: LG C9

It’s easy to think that ‘best overall’ equates to ‘most expensive’. While you can drop around $10K on the 77-inch version of the LG C9, that amount halves for the 65-inch variant and costs 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.

All of this 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. 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.

Runner-up: Samsung Q90R

For those who favour high-light viewing that’s packed with features, or just prefer QLED over OLED, the Samsung Q90R is well worth checking out (and it’s the best QLED 4K TV and Samsung 4K TV).

Best 4K TV for Movies: Panasonic TH-65GZ1000U

If you love movies and can watch them in a darkened room, OLED is absolutely the way to go. You can go all out on the Panasonic TH-65GZ2000U and its professional-edition OLED screen, or you can save thousands on the TH-65GZ1000U that’s almost as impressive. The reason we’re talking exclusively about Panasonic here is the company’s uniquely close relationship with Hollywood to create the best 4K TVs for showcasing movies.

This relationship stretches to the point where Panasonic has had the TH-65GZ1000U colour-tuned by a Hollywood colourist whose credentials include 300, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Wonder Woman. You get all the perks of an OLED screen on top of the pledge of picture quality that’s in line with what directors intend.

If HDR is important to you, consider this the best HDR 4K TV on the market by combining the two top standards: HDR10+ and Dolby Vision (alongside more conventional formats). There’s also Dolby Atmos support but, unlike other 4K TV sets, the TH-65GZ1000U boasts a front-firing Blade Speaker to deliver immersive sound out of the box.

Runner-up: Sony A9F

For a similarly impressive combination of stunning picture and satisfying audio, the Sony A9F is a worthy alternative for movie buffs.

Best 4K TV for Sports: Sony Z9F

There are key considerations for watching sports on a 4K TV. A wide viewing angle. A low response time to eliminate the blurring effect around players and balls. And, ideally, you want something that can make sports look great at any time of day. Because of this, OLED isn’t the best choice for daytime matches (unless you can darken the room).

Thanks to an LED screen, the Sony Z9F is the right choice for watching sports at any time of day. On top of this, the screen packs both X-Wide Angle technology and vivid real-world colour recreation for lifelike presentation of glorious sporting moments (and everything else). One of the other important technology inclusions for sports is X-Motion Clarity. It works behind the scenes to keep fast-paced action free of distracting blurs, which is perfect for keeping track of the action.

The other big selling point as far as sports is concerned is that Sony 4K TVs have a fantastic reputation for image upscaling. While certain sports are now available in UHD resolutions, the Sony Z9F upscales everything that falls short of 4K with beautiful results. We also like that this 4K TV also offers Android TV control and HDR.

Runner-up:  LG 65SM9450PTA

The LG 65SM9450PTA is built with sports fans in mind with wide viewing angles, vibrant colours and incredibly smooth on-screen motion.

Best 4K TV for Gaming: Samsung Q75R

Traditionally, TVs weren’t designed with gaming in mind in terms of controller input delays and blurry on-screen during faster movements. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with the Samsung Q75R, which also happens to offer a solid price-to-performance ratio.

At the top of the gaming considerations is how it handles lots of movement really well for smooth on-screen action. The input delay is incredibly low, too, which doesn’t just feel better in terms of responsiveness, it also offers a competitive edge for online gaming. Part of this lower input latency is FreeSync technology, which also keeps games free of ghosting movement and jagged images.

This is particularly important for Xbox One gamers (the console supports FreeSync), as well as PC gamers keen to play on TV rather than monitor (for those gamers with an AMD video card). The ultra-bright screen also means that gaming looks great at any time of day. There’s also an automatic equaliser to dynamically improve visibility during low-light in-game scenes.

Naturally, Q75R owners also benefit from the kind of behind-the-screen technologies that help many non-interactive entertainment pop, too. Great black levels for enhanced detail. Crisp images. And AI upscaling for non-4K gaming.

Runner-up:  LG C9

Though not ideal during direct-light gaming, the LG C9 is a great gaming alternative (not to mention a fantastic all-rounder).

Best Budget 4K TV: Hisense 65R5

For the most part, buying a great 4K TV means budgeting thousands of dollars. Hisense bucks that trend with its 65R5 offering, which you can score for just under $1K if you shop around. Incidentally, that price bracket is for a 65-inch LED screen, instead of the smaller versions you might expect at this price point. What the 65R5 lacks in the bells and whistles of more expensive sets, it more than makes up for in dollars-to-performance.

Impressive contrast means greater detail between light and dark areas on the screen, with solid colour recreation for vibrant video playback. Games and sports are catered to with dedicated playback modes and commendable motion interpolation to keep the action clear. For those interested in more traditional TV viewing, you’ll find Netflix, Stan and YouTube are accessible out of the box, with a speedy and user-friendly interface.

For additional content, you can cast pictures and videos to the 4K TV set by installing the Hisense RemoteNow app. This app also lets you check out real-time program information and customise channels. The 65R5 even boasts decent internal speakers if you’re looking to save money on the home theatre budget, too.

Runner-up:  LG B8

Though not ideal during direct-light gaming, the LG C9 is a great gaming alternative (not to mention a fantastic all-rounder).

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.

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’s HDR?

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is another 4K TV buzz phrase that’s a visual-enhancement technology for compatible UHD screens. 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.

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.

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 Ultra High Definition. These are the most popular NBN 50 plans according to WhistleOut’s broadband comparison engine.