So the time has come to replace your TV. That dusty old screen in the corner of the room is no longer the cutting-edge attention-grabber it once was. Hi-Def is old hat, replaced by vibrant 4K UHD (Ultra High Definition) and HDR (High Dynamic Range). Compared to what you see in store, your telly pictures look dull and fuzzy. You need to upgrade.
Thankfully, things have moved on apace when it comes to price, performance, and design. Read on, and we’ll help guide you to your next perfect smart TV and the best Black Friday deals on offer right now.
Do you really need 4K? – and what about 8K?
All smart TVs larger than 40-inches are 4K (if it’s not, give it a wide berth). That means they have a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. This is quite a jump from the 1920 x 1080 pixels of Full HD TVs and can equate to quite a lot more picture information.
4K is widely available on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and even BBC iPlayer. You will also get 4K from the latest PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games consoles and UHD Blu-ray discs.
There are some high-end screens, mainly from Samsung and LG, that boast 8K resolution. These have four times the number of pixels than 4K, but that doesn’t translate to pictures that are four times sharper. That’s because there’s no content available in 8K, and it won’t be coming anytime soon. Our advice is to spend your budget where you’ll see the benefit.
Do bigger TVs mean better quality?
In short, yes. A larger screen will allow you to better see the extra resolution offered by 4K content from the likes of Netflix and Prime Video. Movies become more cinematic on a larger screen, big budget TVs shows are more engaging.
When upgrading, it makes sense to get a larger screen than the model you’re replacing. Design changes have seen the bezels which surround panels shrink to almost nothing, which means the space once occupied by a 43-incher will now accommodate a 50-inch model.
So how big should your next smart TV be?
A common complaint from new buyers is: ‘Our new TV is good, we just wish we’d gone for a bigger size.’ My rule of thumb is to decide on a size, then buy the next one up (provided it’ll fit in the space you have).
Different TV types: What’s the difference between LED, QLED and OLED?
While all TVs look much the same, the technologies behind their pictures can vary greatly, and all have their own pros and cons.
The most common smart type for TVs is LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). All cheap flatscreen TVs are LCD based, and many premium ones too. An LCD screen needs a backlight to work, which comes in the form of tiny LED bulbs; placed at the edge of the screen, making the set very slim, or arranged uniformly behind it, in which case the TV cabinet is a little deeper.
LED LCDs are typically bright and colour rich and are well suited to daylight viewing.
Backlight technologies continue to evolve. The latest variation is Mini LED, which makes for higher brightness and greater contrast. You’ll find Mini LED used in LG QNED TVs and Samsung Neo QLEDs, both of which combine it with Quantum Dot colour wizardry.
QLED (Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diode) may sound a bit like OLED, but it’s actually an LCD variant championed by Samsung. All QLED screens use Quantum Dot technology for improved colour vibrancy and brightness.
OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) screens are different from their LED-based rivals because they have self-lit pixels and do not need a backlight. They’re typically slimmer, and because every pixel is controllable, they offer supremely good contrast, with perfect blacks and shadow detail. This makes them a big hit with film fans.
How to choose a new TV this Black Friday
When shortlisting sets, consider design, smart platform and panel technology.
Does the TV look the part? Do you have a preference when it comes to colour (tough, they’re nearly all black) or stand (pedestal or feet)?
Do you mainly watch TV with the lights on? An LED or QLED set will work best for you. If you like to dim the light for movie night, an OLED will be more cinematic.
Does it offer access to all the main catch-up TV channels (BBC iPlayer, ITVHub, All 4, My5) via Freeview Play, or have an equivalent selection?
Do you like the look of the smart platform? Does it offer the streaming services you want? Netflix and Prime Video are ubiquitous, but Disney+, Now and Apple TV+ not so much.
Do you also want to integrate it with your Amazon Alexa smart speakers or Google Assistant?
What are the best TV deals this Black Friday?
There’s plenty of TV temptation in this year’s Black Friday sales. Here are some of the hottest buys, including smart TV models tried, tested and approved by RadioTimes.com.
LG C1 55-inch 4K OLED TV |
£1,699 £1,185 (save £514 or 30%) – great for gamers
What’s the deal: This 55-inch LG C1 4K OLED TV is on sale at Very for £1,185, saving yourself £514.
Why we chose it: Awarded four out of five stars in our LG C1 TV review, we were particularly impressed with this premium model’s 4K picture quality. In this category, it scored the full five out of five stars. In fact, we deemed it a “winner” if you’re trying to balance performance and cost. It isn’t cheap, but it’s one of the best TVs out there for next-gen gamers using an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. It’s also a great choice for a next-level home cinema system, thanks to LG’s new Alpha 9 picture processor.
TCL RP620 55-inch 4K LED TV |
£449 £349 (save £100 or 22%) – great value even before Black Friday discounts
What’s the deal: The 55-inch TCL RP620 4K HDR LED TV is seeing a £100 discount at Currys.
Why we chose it: This is another model that we’ve recently had our hands on. It’s a 4K smart TV that comes with the Roku streaming operating system built-in. New to Roku? There are about 53 million Roku devices in action worldwide. It includes apps like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, AppleTV+, NOW, and BT Sport. So, there’s really no need to add any other media players.
In our TCL RP620 TV review, it scored four out of five stars and we particularly praised its “stonking value”. It boasts impressive picture performance with 4K Dolby Vision content. In other words, if you grab a discount on this already good value set, you’re winning this Black Friday.
Philips 58PUS8506 58-inch 4K LED TV |
£899 £679 (save £220 or 25%) – great for busy households
What’s the deal: The 58-inch Philips 58PUS8506 4K LED TV with Ambilight is on offer for £679 – a saving of £220.
Why we chose it: The Philips PUS8506 series is a really solid choice for most buyers. It’s not a flagship, but it delivers great value for money (even before the discount), a good picture and also features Philips’ Ambilight on three sides. Ambilight brings your viewing experience to life through LEDs which project coloured light onto the wall behind. This model is a great option if you’re asking a lot of your TV. In other words, it’s a decent all-rounder that should keep busy families with sports fans, casual gamers and boxset bingers pretty happy.
Panasonic JZ1000 55-inch 4K OLED TV |
£1,399 £1,299 (save £100 or 7%) – great for film fans
What’s the deal: John Lewis has shaved 7% off this Panasonic model.
Why we chose it: The Panasonic 55-inch JZ1000 4K OLED TV is available from John Lewis for £1,299 – a saving of £100. We’ve selected this model as it’s made with movie buffs in mind. If you’re buying a new TV to watch your favourite films, this model will deliver brilliant brightness and contrast and 4K imagery.
Samsung Q80 75-inch 4K QLED TV |
£1,799 £1,499 (save £300 or 17%) – great for wide viewing angles
What’s the deal: A 17% discount on this recent Samsung Q80 TV model.
Why we chose it: Samsung is always one of the most popular TV brands come Black Friday, and during the rest of the year for that matter. If you’re a sports fan, this TV is a good choice due to its wide viewing angles. This model also has a quick response time, so it may also suit some gamers. It’s not the best for contrast, so if it’s films you had in mind, try the Panasonic JZ1000 55-inch 4K OLED TV.
Read more on Black Friday
Looking for more offers? Don’t miss our dedicated guides to finding genuine deals from the UK’s biggest retailers.
About the expert: Steve May is a home entertainment technology specialist who contributes to a variety of popular UK websites and publications, including Radio Times, Home Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews, T3, Tech Advisor, TechRadar, The Luxe Review and Boat International. In his spare time, Steve is a comic book aficionado with a predilection for heavy metal music. When he grows up he wants to be Batman.