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Home Theater & A/V

Best LED LCD TV

It's no secret that the most popular type of HDTV on the market today is the LED TV. Technically a misnomer born out of marketing and convenience, the term "LED TV" actually refers to an LCD TV that utilizes an LED backlight to display an image. LED TVs have attained their popularity due to their affordability, varied screen size options, as well as their low energy consumption and compatibility with all different types of content.

The latest innovation in this field is the widespread use of "Quantum Dot" technology. While this may sound like something out of a sci-fi TV series, quantum dots are quite real and are commonplace in higher-end LED TVs. The basic science underpinning quantum dots revolves around their behavior when excited by certain frequencies; LED TVs equipped with quantum dots utilize a blue LED backlight, which in turn "excites" quantum dots into emitting red and green tones. In a nutshell, these TVs can display brighter colors that appear more lifelike and saturated, translating into a more pleasing image overall. If you want to do more research, check out our HDTV buyer's guide.

You’ll find two distinct layouts that utilize LED backlighting: full array and edge-lit. Full-array backlighting positions the LED backlight directly behind the LCD panel. This is often combined with a feature known as "local dimming" in higher-spec models, which can selectively dim or switch off LEDs depending on the desired image to obtain deeper black levels where they are needed. Edge-lit LED backlighting moves the LEDs to the edges of the panel, instead relying on special light guides to illuminate the screen.

In our research, we've noted that full-array LED TVs with local dimming consistently outperform their edge-lit counterparts in screen uniformity, black level measurements, and contrast with both standard and HDR content. When combined with quantum dot technology, these LED TVs are capable of generating an outstanding picture while keeping the cost versus screen size at a reasonable level.

Vizio PX65-G1 65" Quantum 4K HDR TV

Vizio is doubling down on quantum dot technology for 2019, with most models in the company's lineup receiving this technology that other manufacturers reserve for their pricier sets. As such, the vaunted P-Series has now been split into two separate lines. The former P-Series (no suffix) is now the P-Series Quantum, adopting its name from last year's top-of-the-line model. The previous P-Series Quantum has now been designated the P-Series Quantum X, and is the new flagship of Vizio's TV lineup. In addition to several technical upgrades, Vizio now offers this model in 65-inch and 75-inch screen sizes.

The P-Series Quantum X shares its design with the model it replaces, with the same bezel-less appearance and minimalist appeal. It's a look that's been around for a few years, but still manages to look modern and unobtrusive at the same time. Connectivity is unchanged from last year: 5 HDMI ports, a single shared component/composite video input, one USB port, TOSLINK digital audio out, a single analog audio out, and an Ethernet port. Thankfully, the cable/antenna input remains, after being reintroduced for the 2018 model. HDMI 1 supports ARC (no eARC support yet), while HDMI 5 is a dedicated game input that drops HDR support in favor of lower input lag.

The major upgrades this time around are under the hood, so to speak. Last year's P-Series Quantum was easily one of the top performers in terms of outright picture quality, and we found nothing to fault with its class-leading black levels and amazing colors. Vizio has seen fit to upgrade the set anyway, doubling the backlight's local dimming zones from 192 to 384 on the 65-inch version. Thanks to its bright and effective backlight, the P-Series Quantum X is particularly adept with HDR content. The only drawback is the narrow viewing angle (like many LED LCD TVs) - despite the inclusion of an "Enhanced Viewing Angle" feature, the P-Series Quantum X is best viewed from straight ahead. In any case, this is one of the rare TVs with a picture that will look as good in your home as it does in the store.

Another carryover is SmartCast; it should be familiar for anyone who has used a Vizio smart TV from the last few years. Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, and many others come pre-loaded, eliminating the need to download additional apps. It's great that so many apps are included, since there is still no way to install additional apps. Instead, the P-Series Quantum X features built-in Chromecast, and any content not covered by the built-in apps can be streamed to the TV from your phone or computer. A recent firmware update adds Apple AirPlay as well, covering both ends of the mobile streaming spectrum. While the built-in smart TV interface itself is ultimately the limiting factor, we appreciate Vizio's attempts to find creative solutions to users who need more flexibility.

Despite the smart TV woes, we have no qualms about naming the P-Series Quantum X our best HDTV overall for 2019. Even though the company is a relative newcomer to quantum dot technology, Vizio's efforts pay off big time with a TV that can face off against the best and hold its own. The real draw is in the value quotient; all of the TVs that offer incrementally better picture quality cost hundreds, if not thousands more. The P-Series Quantum X is simply that good - the only question left is how Vizio will find a way to improve from here.

Samsung QN65Q70R 65" 4K Ultra HD Smart QLED TV

The sheer variety present in Samsung's current HDTV lineup is enough to confuse anyone but the most research-happy shopper: Is the RU8000 better than the Q60R? What is UHD TV, and how does it compare to QLED? More importantly, which one is the best option?

We'll start with the biggest difference that separates Samsung's TV lineup. All models in the "UHD TV" series are standard LED LCD TVs, similar to what's been around for a couple decades. Samsung's higher-end QLED series TVs add a quantum dot layer to the standard LED LCD TV components in order to significantly improve picture quality. We're huge fans of this latest advancement in TV technology, as it enables a visually pleasing effect where the colors seem to "pop" off the screen. Samsung's QLED 4K TV lineup starts with the entry-level Q60R and tops out with the flagship (and very expensive) Q90R; we've reviewed the latter and were impressed with its overall performance, design, and ability to integrate into a smart home network. There's also the oddball 32-inch Q50R model, but that TV is difficult to find, and the small screen limits its general appeal anyway. While there isn't a bad choice in the bunch, we found the Q70R to be the "sweet spot" of the lineup.

Crucially, the Q70R receives one major feature over its junior sibling: a full-array LED backlight with local dimming. This backlight arrangement is the common thread among all of the top-performing LED TVs on the market today, and allows the Q70R to excel in high-contrast performance as well as HDR. Compared to the step-up Q80R, however, it omits the "Ultra Viewing Angle" technology that promises more accurate off-angle colors. We feel that this is an acceptable compromise, especially as the inclusion of this technology comes at the expense of a slight reduction in contrast ratio. Unlike OLED TVs, there's no risk of burn-in with the Q70R, so it's particularly well-suited for applications that display static images for prolonged periods of time (news stations, sports, video games). Thanks to the ample light output, the Q70R will also work well in settings with lots of ambient or direct light.

As with all recent Samsung TVs, the Q70R also excels when it comes to flexibility. Inputs consist of 4 HDMI ports (#4 supports ARC), a cable/antenna input, and a pair of USB ports; in keeping with recent trends, older analog devices will need to go through a separate converter box or an AV receiver. The Q70R can be connected to the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and the built-in smart TV suite supports all of the most popular streaming apps with the option to add more as needed. Sound output to external devices can be done through the aforementioned ARC-compatible HDMI port, and a single optical audio output and a standard 3.5mm audio jack are provided as well. Unfortunately, eARC and HDMI 2.1 didn't make the cut, but those technologies are more in the interest of future-proofing at this time.

The biggest draw of the Q70R is its outstanding value proposition. While it's not the most affordable TV out there, attempting to find a superior performer in terms of picture quality will come with a considerable upcharge - sometimes to the tune of close to a thousand dollars. For most people in the market for a new TV, we feel that Samsung's Q70R is one of the best-rounded options on the market, with no glaring faults present in the entire package.

Sony XBR65X950G 65" 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

Sony's flagship X950G returns to claim its spot for 2019, boasting outstanding picture quality and an attractive design. In a twist, the company has also kept last year's X900F as a more affordable alternative, and insists that the new model exists to supplement the X900F in the model lineup, rather than replace it outright. In any case, we're recognizing the X950G for many of the same points that the X900F offered; that the new model is also an excellent value proposition is a pleasant surprise that rounds off one of the best HDTVs sold today.

After years of variations on design, Sony seems to have settled on a motif. The X950G appears outwardly identical to last year's X900F; save for a slightly redesigned stand, anyone would be forgiven for confusing the two. Either way, the X900F was a very attractive set to begin with, and the new X950G could do much worse than repurposing its design. Connectivity is nearly unchanged; 4 HDMI ports are present (HDMI 3 supports ARC/eARC), as are 3 USB inputs (USB 3 is a bottom-facing USB 3.0 port). Unfortunately, HDMI 2.1 didn't make the cut for features this year, so we'll have to wait for next year's model. Analog video connectivity relies on a 3.5mm breakout adapter for composite video only, as well as a single cable/antenna input. The X950G also offers a remote IR input, which is convenient for custom installations. Audio is supported via the aforementioned HDMI ARC/eARC port, as well as a TOSLINK audio output and a single 3.5mm analog audio jack. Finally, a LAN/Ethernet port is present in case you prefer to hard-wire your TV to your network.

Picture quality is largely unchanged from the X900F, and we have no complaints. Black levels are impressive, and the X950G is one of the most color-accurate TVs on sale today - even out of the box. Image processing capabilities are class-leading thanks to the X1 Ultimate processor shared with Sony's ultra high-end Master Series lineup, and the X950G can smoothly display 24p content even if the feed is 60p or 60i. On the other hand, some detractors remain due to technical limitations. The local dimming feature works very well to deliver deep blacks without blooming or crushing details, but OLED TVs perform better still in this regard. As well, viewing angles remain relatively narrow due to the inherent nature of VA LCD panels; the 75-inch and 85-inch models avoid this shortcoming by including Sony's X-Wide Angle technology, but the price goes through the roof for the larger displays. While it's hard to justify an upgrade if you already own the X900F, anyone upgrading from a 2017 or older TV will be hard-pressed to find an LED LCD TV with a picture that looks as good.

One area where the X950G is a noticeable improvement over the X900F is its smart TV interface. Android TV returns, but the new model sees refinements to its core system to allow smoother operation overall. The sheer abundance and variety of apps is unchanged, and the X950G comes pre-loaded with all of the favorites, including Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and Vudu. The remote also includes a built-in mic for voice control; because the X950G natively runs Android, the mic can also be used for Google Assistant. As far as smart TV interfaces go, the X950G gets our nod for one of the best TVs for streaming content.

The X950G does carry a pricing premium over its direct competitors, but the extra money buys noticeable picture quality improvements through Sony's renowned image processing capabilities. We can even go out on a limb and say that the X950G represents good value for money; while it's certainly not cheap, it avoids the eye-watering prices that OLED TVs and Samsung's flagship QLED sets demand. The X950G also remedies one of the only common complaints about the X900F - the sluggish Android TV interface has been refined, and now operates without a hitch. It's hard to find faults with the Sony X950G, which is why it's one of our top picks for Best HDTVs.

TCL 65R625 65" 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart TV

TCL was one of the industry standouts last year with its flagship 6-Series, going toe-to-toe with some of the best performers on the market with a price tag that no other manufacturer could hope to match. For 2019, TCL continues to push the envelope even further by improving picture quality; what's more notable is that the R625 actually sees a price cut of several hundred dollars compared to its direct predecessor. Paired with its Roku interface, it's one of the most impressive HDTV options available in 2019.

The R625 has received several refinements to its design, with a slimmer bezel that fits in with modern design themes that favor minimalism. The stand has been redesigned as well, moving to the very edges of the TV. While the new location provides improved stability, it will require furniture wider than the TV itself if wall-mounting is not an option. The input selection has been expanded slightly, adding one more HDMI port to bring the total count to 4. HDMI 4 supports ARC; unfortunately, the R625 does not add HDMI 2.1 or eARC. As before, analog video connectivity is limited to composite video via a 3.5mm jack (requires a breakout cable to function) and a cable/antenna input. Component video is not supported, so you'll need a converter for legacy devices. If your setup does not include an ARC-capable audio device, the R625 includes a TOSLINK digital audio output as well as a standard 3.5mm audio output jack.

One of the primary reasons that made 2018's R617 so attractive was its outstanding picture quality, even without considering the price. The R625 aims to build on last year's model; in addition to the full-array local dimming LED backlight, the R625 adds the same quantum dot technology found on many high-end LED LCD TVs. The benefits of the quantum dot layer are difficult to describe in words - the colors appear saturated and lifelike, and seem to "jump" off the screen. Combined with its superb black levels and bright backlight, the R625 delivers a picture that simply can't be matched in this price range. We suggest taking the money you save by choosing the R625 over a more expensive set and investing in a professional calibration for the best possible picture quality.

The R625 continues to utilize Roku for its smart TV interface, right down to the remote control. Not only does the inclusion of Roku endow the R625 with one of the most user-friendly streaming platforms on the market today, it also benefits from the frequent updates and neverending content library that comes with any add-on Roku device. The remote itself offers quick access buttons to launch Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and Roku's own channel; the built-in microphone enables voice control when it's preferable. Unlike last year, it seems TCL no longer offers an alternate model in the 6-Series lineup that omits voice control.

The R625 is one of the most impressive performers on the market even before factoring in price; if value is what you're after, the R625 can't be beat. The fact that the R625 costs less than its direct predecessor is nothing short of unbelievable. Combined with one of the best smart TV interface options on the market today, the R625 is a no-brainer for anyone shopping for a new TV regardless of budget.

Bestcovery Staff
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
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