A feast for the eyes: three top 4K TVs tested

Be it Netflix, Sky Q or the latest blu-ray player, wherever you get your UHD content from you'll need one of the latest 4K TVs - we see if three of the best are worth their salt.

21st November 2017
A feast for the eyes: three top 4K TVs tested

If you’re in the market for a new TV and can afford to splurge on the best, we’ve picked three from the leading flagship ranges that balance out price and performance most convincingly. Two are OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays – a newer technology that’s doesn’t need a backlight, and so provides more accurate colours – while Samsung has been perfecting the traditional LCD, which is typically brighter and more efficient. Both are capable of superb performances, but which comes out on top?

Sony Bravia KD-55A1

Sony Bravia KD-55A1

TV screen type: 4K HDR OLED

Screen size: 55 inch

Dimensions (h x w x d): 711 x 1,228 x 339mm

HDMI inputs: 4

HDR formats supported: HDR10 (HLG & Dolby Vision via firmware update)

If you want the best TV picture going this year, the Sony Bravia A1 has to be in with a shot. It’s Sony’s first stab at 4K OLED technology, but you’d never know it, thanks to a supremely sharp, detailed picture and natural colour palette. It boasts all the inky blacks and outstanding contrast that OLED technology offers, meaning it’s great with HDR material, and motion handling is impressive too.

Even its sound is innovative, produced by (discreetly) vibrating the screen to create a solid, direct performance that’ll delay the need for a soundbar.

One thing to consider – its standless design looks impressive but is not the easiest to accommodate. You’ll need a lengthy TV rack to fit the full width of the screen.

£3,000, sony.co.uk

LG OLED55B7

LG OLED55B7

TV screen type: 4K HDR LCD

Screen size: 55 inch

Dimensions (h x w x d): 789 x 1,226 x 304mm

HDMI inputs: 4

HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG

LG knows how to do OLED. It stuck with the technology when no one else did, and has since supplied panels to its competitors who want in on the action. That’s presumably how it’s able to offer a television this good for £1,000 less than Sony’s Bravia KD-55A1.

The performance compared to the A1 is undeniably close, offering a picture just as crisp, with equally impressive contrast. Its colour handling isn’t quite as insightful, nor its motion as precise, but it’s kinder with standard-definition content and upscales with less noise.

As for sound, this telly won’t let you down, thanks to a spacious and dynamic performance that belies its slim design. You’re more future-proofed for HDR here too, with the B7 supporting HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG out of the box.

£2,000, lg.com/uk

Samsung QE55Q7F

Samsung QE55Q7F

TV screen type: 4K HDR OLED

Screen size: 55 inch

Dimensions (h x w x d): 764 x 1,229 x 254mm

HDMI inputs: 4

HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Advanced HDR by Technicolor, Dolby Vision

While OLED has been the big TV news of 2017, Samsung is sticking with trusty LCD, re-branding its flagship range to the ever-so-OLED-sounding QLED, in the process.

One of the biggest benefits here is the brightness of the screen – its LED backlighting puts more punch behind colours, and makes whites more impactful. Even though its blacks don’t go as deep as OLED, the brilliance of its highlights makes up for it.

This means 4K HDR content looks superb, with more vibrancy than you’ll see on OLED. It’s not as natural, but it’s warmer and more dynamic.

It doesn’t scrimp on detail either, with a sharp, clean picture that’s hard to fault. Viewing angles are a little tighter than OLED though, so the closer you sit to centre, the better.

£2,000, samsung.com

Verdict

If you’re having trouble picking which one will pick out a winner, you’re not alone. This talented trio has to be one of the most competent line-ups of top-range tellies that we’ve seen in a while – choose any one of them and you’ll most likely be very happy indeed.

For the brightest, most vibrant picture, the Samsung Q7 is the one to beat. It’s a different balance from the more natural-looking OLEDs, but no less compelling – just be sure to bag the centre seat on the sofa to enjoy the best performance.

That’s less of a worry with the two OLED sets, which are closer in ability than their prices would suggest. While the Sony A1 does pip the LG B7 for overall picture and sound quality, the B7’s much cheaper price tag is hard to ignore. The smart money is best spent here. 

 


Follow Science Focus on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and Google+