You’ve come to the correct place if you’re seeking the best 4K TV money can buy in 2021. To help you choose the perfect 4K TV for your home setup, we’ve compiled a list of the best 4K TVs to suit a variety of budgets and use cases, including 4K OLED, 4K QLED, and LED displays from LG, Samsung, and Sony.
However, not all 4K televisions are created equal, and some are superior to others. We’ll compare components like Dolby Vision and Atmos capabilities, HDR color spectrum, and panel technology, as well as the price, specs, and features of each TV.
Naturally, many of these displays are still expensive – OLED TVs in particular – but they still pale in comparison to the already available eye-watery expensive 8K TVs.
If cost is a concern, we’ve included some low-cost 4K TV models, such as the TCL 6-Series, to give you the most options. We recommend coming back to this page every few months to check what’s new, as we’re always on the search for the best 4K TV models.
Best 4K TV
1. LG C1 OLED Series
The LG C1 isn’t perfect; we had difficulties with how the new Alpha a9 Gen. 4 upscales faces and how reflective the all-glass screen is in direct sunlight, but these are minor flaws.
Of course, higher-resolution TVs are currently available, such as the LG Z1 OLED, which has an 8K resolution, and the LG G1 Gallery Series, which employs the coveted OLED Evo panels for improved brightness. However, we believe that the LG C1 OLED delivers the finest value for money and should be near the top of your shopping list for TVs to buy in 2021 and beyond.
The LG C1 OLED is part of LG’s 2021 TV range, which also includes the LG A1 OLED, LG G1 OLED, and LG Z1 OLED, as well as new QNED TVs such as the QNED99, QNED95, QNED90, and QNED85. The LG C1 is the most affordable OLED in the collection, and it features the latest Alpha a9 Gen.
4 processor (the A1 OLED will be cheaper but uses the a7 processor). The LG C1 OLED costs the same as the LG CX OLED did when it was first released last year, however, the latter is now cheaper than the LG C1 is widely available. Because the CPU is the only substantial difference between the two, if you can locate one, it’s probably worth picking up last year’s model at a steep discount.
It may seem stupid to discuss how a TV looks on the outside — after all, the picture is what matters most – but you can’t deny how attractive the LG C1 OLED is in terms of design. The front of the TV is pure minimalism, with barely a millimeter or two between the picture and the display’s edge and a long silver stand holding it upright.
The screen would be the only thing visible if you mounted it, but it still looks wonderful on its (very big) stand. The C1 has a low center of gravity thanks to its increased weight, which stops the TV from swaying.
You can see the razor-thin OLED screen by rotating the TV to the side; it’s thinner than your smartphone and looks a lot nicer, too. The TV is a little thicker near the bottom, near where the stand screws in, to house the components and speakers, although even that area isn’t much larger than typical full array LED-LCD TVs. The one significant flaw in the C1’s design is the front-facing all-glass display, which is quite reflective.
It’s simple to catch a glare in a modestly lit space with streams of light pouring in. Sure, the glare goes away while you’re watching anything bright and colorful on the screen, but if you can’t close the blinds, any night or space scenario will have a glare.
The rest of the design, however, receives full marks save for that one blemish. The C1 offers four full-spec HDMI 2.1 connectors with 4K at 144Hz compatibility, as well as three USB ports, an RF tuner, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and optical digital audio output. Last but not least, one of the HDMI ports supports eARC/ARC, which is ideal for people who don’t want to use more than one remote with their AVR or speaker.
When it comes to remote controls, the LG C1 OLED has the LG Magic Remote, which is Bluetooth-enabled and includes a built-in microphone for voice searches. The remote is comfortable to hold and operates on two AA batteries. The UI can be manipulated using Wii-style motion controls or the directional pad, or the four quick launch buttons down at the bottom can be used to access the most popular programs.
If you’ve used an LG TV in the last decade, you’ll be familiar with the C1 OLED’s operating system: WebOS. WebOS has long been a favorite of LG TVs because of its ability to add new channels as they become available and its support from a variety of partners.
Simply said, WebOS supports all of the above simultaneously with a snappy UI and extensive customization system because it has no allegiances to Google, Amazon, or Apple.
The only significant difference this year is a greater emphasis on the ThinQ AI home screen, which you’ll see every time you click the home button. You’ll find your most frequently used apps as well as any ThinQ AI-connected devices here.
When it comes to apps, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu, Sling TV, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus, and Apple TV are all present and accounted for. You have fewer options for music streaming, but you can still use Spotify, Plex, Pandora, Amazon Music, and other services. Apple Music is now available on Apple TV as well.
The OLED Evo panel boosts brightness by incorporating a new lighting element inside the self-emissive pixels. The LG C1 OLED lacks this feature, although we discovered that it isn’t particularly dark. The reflected glare did eat into the inky black levels, but we found that the screen’s brightness more than compensated for the ambient light.
The C1 can achieve this because it has a built-in light sensor that analyzes ambient light levels and adjusts the picture accordingly.
When the TV detects that there is more light in the room, it increases the screen brightness. That peak brightness isn’t quite as high as, say, the new Samsung QN900A QLED’s peak luminance, but it’s getting close to the 1,000-nit threshold that competing LED-LCD TVs aim for.
When it comes to contrast and brightness, the C1 OLED supports most major HDR formats, including HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG, with the exclusion of HDR10+. That last point indicates that while Amazon Prime episodes won’t be able to reach their full potential, Dolby Vision material will be available on Netflix, Vudu, and Disney services.
The only aspect of picture quality that may be enhanced is the way the Alpha a9 Gen 4 processor handles faces, which results in a reddish tinge and graininess. When watching series like The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime, you’ll see a hint of redness in the hosts’ faces, while faces in HD footage upscaled to 4K can have visible grain. LG is aware of this, as it is a main priority for the Alpha a9 Gen 4 processor, but there is still more work to be done in this area.
Fortunately, the CPU performs a fantastic job at upscaling. Despite being streamed in HD, films from the mid-2000s look like they were shot and distributed in 4K, as does content from an HD OTA antenna – which is a true engineering marvel. Speaking of engineering, the new gaming features on this year’s C-Series OLED are worth mentioning, as that’s where the majority of the innovation is this year.
To begin with, there’s the new Game Optimiser option, which lets you quickly adjust the White Stabilizer, Black Stabilizer, and VRR. When the OLED detects an incoming game signal over any of the four HDMI 2.1 connections, it supports ALLM, as well as a Prevent Input Delay feature that reduces input latency to under 10ms.
Of course, not every game will run at 4K/120Hz right now only a few will run at 1440p/120Hz or 1080p/120Hz – but those that do will be appreciated. However, Forza Horizon 4 is one of the select handful, and the game looks fantastic on the C1 OLED. Taking cars out on backcountry roads feels slick and responsive, with visual fidelity preserved.
To summarize, the LG C1 OLED is capable enough to please both camps in the visual domain and is well worth the investment from an LED-LCD TV if you’re a gamer-turned-cinephile or vice versa.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the LG C1 is completely configurable and ideal for calibration. If you enjoy tinkering with picture settings, the C1 offers extensive white point balancing and specific color calibration choices. If that sounds too difficult, we discovered that using the default Calibrated settings with a neutral color tone rather than warm makes the TV appear fantastic.
The LG C1 OLED doesn’t just have picture enhancements up its sleeve this year; it also has an AI Sound upscaling feature that converts basic stereo audio tracks into virtual 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos sound with a decent amount of verticality, making the LG C1 OLED sound a lot better than your standard TV speakers.
2. Sony A90J OLED Series
Sony hasn’t been shy about charging a premium for its new A90J 4K HDR OLED TV, and the 55-inch model more than lives up to the billi
ng. Picture quality is about as good as it gets from 4K screens right now, regardless of source. The XR-55A90J excels in every important area – motion control, contrast, edge definition, detail levels, you name it – and leaves a lasting impression. It’s also a capable upscale for those times when you’re forced to watch sub-4K content.
When it comes to sound quality, the Sony A90J OLED is a cut above the competition. Using the entire screen as a speaker is still novel and effective, and combining it with two conventional bass drivers means the XR-55A90J sounds fuller, more direct, and just plain better than any other option without an off-board sound system.
When viewed from the front, the Sony A90J OLED delivers exactly what you want and expect from a high-end television: minimal bezel intrusion and a large amount of screen.
The Sony A90J is an intriguing case because, in addition to being wall-mountable, it has feet that may be used in a variety of settings. They can either leave the bottom of the screen flush with the surface it’s standing on (though this will require a wide surface, as the feet are actually beyond the frame’s edges), or they can raise the screen high enough to fit a soundbar beneath it.
It’s OLED business as usual from the side, which means the Sony is an astonishingly thin 6mm deep, but only for a short time. Because it needs to keep its electronics, speaker drivers, and other bits and pieces somewhere, it’s a little over 4cm the rest of the time.
It’s not a bloater, and it’ll look good on the wall – but both LG (with its ‘Gallery’ series of OLED TVs) and Samsung (with its equally new Neo QLED MiniLED option) will sell you a screen that sits far flusher against a wall.
The Sony is well-specified on the inside to justify its high price. In terms of inputs and outputs, you certainly get your money’s worth: four HDMI inputs (two of which support HDMI 2.1), three USB ports, an Ethernet port, binding posts for two TV tuners, and even composite video inputs should be enough to satisfy even the most demanding user. Naturally, there is Wi-Fi access as well.
4K/120Hz, ALLM, and 48Gbps-enabled HDMI ports are the most capable, and one of them can also handle eARC. VRR, on the other hand, is not currently supported.
Sony’s PS5 games system does not currently support VRR, however, the Xbox Series X console does. Any avid Xbox gamers are likely to flock toward LG’s OLED TV lineup, where comprehensive HDMI 2.1 compatibility has been the norm for quite some time.
Sony isn’t alone among TV manufacturers in refusing to support every major HDR standard, albeit we notice the absence of HDR10+ less than the absence of Dolby Vision on some new Samsung TVs. (Of course, Philips and Panasonic don’t force you to select).
The image is handled by Sony’s new XR processor, which combines the AI capabilities of the outgoing X1 processor with “cognitive intelligence,” according to Sony. So you get machine-learning algorithms that improve picture performance, as well as more in-depth scene analysis across several zones based on image contrast, color, detail, depth, and all other image components (at least in principle). Of course, the goal is to create the most realistic and believable visuals possible.
Sony is sticking with its Acoustic Surface Audio+ setup in terms of audio. This technique, which is backed by two rear-firing low-frequency drivers, uses actuators to turn the whole surface of the screen into a speaker. It’s a fantastic setup, and Sony is excited about it.
If you wish to utilize your TV as the center channel of a surround-sound setup, the A90J has speaker connectors on the back panel.
Will anyone be disappointed by Sony’s decision to use Google TV instead of Android TV as its smart interface? The A90J’s Google TV implementation allows for a more responsive and logical experience — it’s overall friendlier and more helpful.
Sony has integrated its Bravia Core movie-streaming service into the Google TV interface, in addition to the required Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and Apple TV streaming service apps (and a few more).
It’s a fantastic feature, with a ton of stuff to choose from and the option to stream in ultra-high definition if your internet connection allows it — there’s even some IMAX Enhanced content accessible.
There isn’t a single aspect of photography that the A90J doesn’t excel at. By OLED TV standards, it’s incredibly bright (LG has pulled off a similar trick with their ‘Evo’ OLED panel – and as we all know, LG supplies raw OLED panels to any other TV manufacturer that wants them).
In each situation, the Sony A90J captures incredible detail. The color pallet it uses is diverse, complex, and undeniably natural. The A90J’s black tones are deep and lustrous in the traditional OLED way, but they’re also just packed with detail – when combined with the crisp, similarly detailed white tones, contrasts are about as wide and convincing as you’ll see from an OLED panel.
Even the most difficult passages are handled with aplomb. Throughout the first third of the film, Christopher Plummer’s J. Paul Getty wears a traditional hunting tweed, and the A90J maintains a firm grasp on the tight, high-contrast pattern – even while it’s moving.
Sony excels at handling any type of on-screen motion. Slow pans, fast movement, whatever – the Sony handles it all and portrays it without any shimmer, hesitation, ghosting, or any of the other vices that less adept TVs are prone to. This isn’t the first time Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ has wowed us, and it doesn’t appear to be the last.
It has one of the best sound systems built into the television, which means it’s about the most convincing, articulate, and believable-sounding television available.
Much of this is because the entire screen contributes, which means that visuals and sounds are much more intimately wedded than with other systems. When it comes to dialogue, the direct style of the audio delivery greatly aids the cinematic mood of the presentation.
The A90J is a very punchy and genuinely dynamic performance by television audio system standards. Thanks to the two rear-firing motors, it can produce real low-frequency impact, which even the most explosion-happy blockbuster will struggle to match.
However, the Sony A90J’s audio quality (although remarkable by today’s standards) pales in comparison to its visual quality. Whereas a good TV usually needs a half-decent soundbar, the Sony A90J OLED demands a truly excellent one.
3. TCL QLED 6-Series with MiniLED (R635)
The older TCL 6-Series 2020 QLED (R635) is still an excellent value, despite being succeeded by a brand-new 8K TV model, the TCL 6-Series 8K TV (R648), and a new 6-Series model for 2021 (R646).
The TCL 6-Series R635 is a 4K Roku TV that starts at $650 and features Mini LED — a technology used in TVs costing three times as much – as well as a Quantum Dot filter for more bright colors.
What’s the result? The 6-Series is brighter and more vivid than before, with no haloing or light bleed to speak of. It’s the first TV with THX Certified Game Mode for 1440p/120Hz gaming, and it’s designed in a revolutionary way to disguise your cords.
The 6-Series is remarkable in that, despite its low price, it includes features that would normally be found on TVs costing twice as much, making it an exceptional value.
In terms of performance, the TCL 6-Series R635 is comparable to the full-array Samsung Q80T QLED TV and LG Nano 90, all of which feature quantum dot versions for improved color accuracy, but the 6-Series R635 is $300 to $650 less expensive and uses the Roku TV.
Leave it to TCL to out-TCL itself, of course. The TCL 6-Series R646 is a newer version of the TV that was introduced in 2021. It has all of the same characteristics as its predecessor, but it also includes superior local dimming for less blooming, two HDMI 2.1 ports for 4K/120Hz gaming, and a Google TV instead of Roku if you prefer a more current interface.
Although the performance is unlikely to be superior to last year’s model, if the prices are comparable, it’s worth considering the new model. The TCL 6-Series has a lot going for it in terms of style, but it’s not quite an art piece like Samsung’s The Frame. That may seem like a cheap shot, but the 6-Series R635 is a big screen for an LED-LCD, and it can’t compete with an OLED’s ultra-slim profile.
Despite not being ultra-slim, the TV’s practically bezel-less design is quite adaptable. The TV’s legs can be put close together to fit on a smaller table or stand, or they can be attached to the TV’s exterior corners for further stability. This year’s innovation to the legs is the ability to weave cables through the legs themselves, resulting in a less cluttered space devoid of wires.
You’ll find a good selection of ports if you spin it around. There’s ethernet, four HDMI 2.0b connections, one of which supports eARC, and an AV In connector that accepts the conventional composite (Red-White-Yellow RCA) input, as well as USB and optical audio.
Of course, they aren’t HDMI 2.1 ports, so they won’t support 4K/120Hz or 8K streams, but 4K/60 or 1440p/120 is still conceivable. The remote that comes with the TV looks a lot like the Roku remotes that came with previous versions, but it does the job.
The only significant difference is that there’s now a button for Disney Plus, which is probably preferable for most people than the ESPN+ option that was previously available. The TCL 6-Series R635 employs Roku TV, an egalitarian smart TV platform with a fair and strong search engine and most of the mainstreaming apps, as it has in past years.
The search feature is crucial, especially if you’ve ever used an Apple TV or an Amazon Fire TV, both of which would like you to utilize their auxiliary streaming services over any third-party ones. Because Roku has no affiliations to a major streaming provider – aside from a nebulous agreement to include FandangoNow on the OS’s home page – it doesn’t force you to go in a path you don’t want to go.
Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, and Amazon are all supported by Roku TV, as are lesser-known channels like Pluto. tv, tube, Crackle, and others. The TCL 6-Series’ performance has improved significantly this year, most notably in terms of black levels, contrast, and the lack of haloing that was seen in earlier generations.
All thanks to the revolutionary Mini LED backlight system, which employs thousands of LEDs rather than hundreds to provide near-perfect black levels alongside dazzling highlights.
The one disadvantage we’ve seen is that the peak brightness is slightly lower than comparable QLED TVs that don’t use Mini LED, such as the Samsung Q80T or Q90T, Vizio P-Series Quantum X, or even TCL’s 8-Series, which we recorded at over 1,300 nits peak brightness last year.
As a result, the 6-Series is more equivalent to OLED in terms of brightness and contrast, but it also benefits from the use of quantum dots, which, like last year, means you’ll get a Wide Color Gamut that looks fantastic. We used a variety of content to put the TCL 6-Series through its paces, from Night on Earth (which is available in Dolby Vision, no less) to local news to test how the TV upscaled HD video to fill the 4K screen.
Because there is still a scarcity of 4K/HDR content, the 6-Series continues to rely significantly on its AiPQ Engine to convert HD to 4K. It accomplishes this through the use of three algorithms: one for color, one for clarity, and one for contrast, and the results appear to be better than last year.
TCL has five preset image settings, each of which may be further modified in the areas of color, contrast, and so on, for those who want to be very serious about fine-tuning the picture of the TV. Because it introduced motion artifacts while watching films like Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, we’ve gravitated to the Normal image setting with much of the motion processing technologies turned off for our testing.
The AiPQ Engine’s one major flaw is that, regardless of setting, we’ve discovered that the processor can over-process areas of extreme brightness, turning them white.
We noticed this in shows like Netflix’s Down to Earth, when the clouds lost their roughness, and in brilliant white buildings. All of the Mini LEDs in a given location may be turning on when just a few should, effectively increasing the brightness of the scene while obscuring fine details in the image.
The 6-Series with Mini LED is a double-edged sword for gamers. On the one hand, it has a 120Hz refresh rate and a variable refresh rate.
The resolution is limited to 1440p at 120 frames per second, and the TV does not support proprietary GPU technologies such as Nvidia G-Sync and AMD Freesync. 1440p/120fps is preferable to 1080p/60, but it would be wonderful if TCL adopted HDMI 2.1 to get the full benefits of the spec.
4. Sony X90J 4K TV
The Sony X90J is nearly everything a mid-range 4K LED-LCD TV should be. Few TVs can match it in terms of picture quality and feature set for the money, putting it at the top of its class for mid-range models.
But, to be honest, we were expecting this. For all of the same reasons, Sony’s X900H/XH90 was one of the best TVs of last year, and now Sony has improved it even more with its new Cognitive Processor XR, which offers incredible upscaling and contrast control.
It’s a native 120Hz TV with two full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports for the Xbox Series X and PS5, Variable Refresh Rate, and Auto Low Latency Mode, as well as a full array panel with local dimming for better black levels. It’s simple to set up, and the TV runs on Google’s new TV platform, which prioritizes recommended content.
Although there are some issues with setting up a new console on the TV – as well as some issues with how the TV appears in broad daylight in a bright room and off-axis viewing – the Sony X90J succeeds in delivering a stellar performance at a reasonable price.
The Sony X90J isn’t as slim as the company’s OLED TV lineup because it’s a full array LED-LCD TV with local dimming, but it’s certainly not unattractive. The TV’s front has a thin bezel and two thin legs, though it doesn’t have the edge-to-edge picture that some other 4K TVs do. The legs themselves are simple to slide into place near the TV’s outer edge and do an excellent job of stabilizing the screen.
The Sony X90J’s screen isn’t the thinnest on the market, but it makes good use of the extra space. A full array panel with local dimming and a rock-solid sound system with two sound positioning tweeters on the sides of the TV and down-firing woofers are included inside the TV.
You’ll find four HDMI ports (two of which support 4K/120 and one is eARC compatible), as well as ethernet, digital optical audio out, auxiliary, and an RF tuner if you turn it all the way around to the back. There are two USB ports as well.
While we wish all four ports were HDMI 2.1 compatible, having two ports allows you to connect both a PS5 and an Xbox Series X for dual 4K/120Hz gaming. However, simply plugging it into HDMI port 4 isn’t enough; you’ll need to go into the settings -> Channel & Inputs -> External Inputs -> HDMI signal format -> HDMI 4 -> Enhanced format.
There’s a second option that states Enhanced format (Dolby Vision) but don’t choose it because it inhibits the TV from outputting at 120Hz, and there doesn’t appear to be a method to allow the TV to take both 4K/120Hz and Dolby Vision signals at the same time right now.
Finally, the Sony X90J comes with the most recent voice remote, which includes a built-in microphone as well as four shortcut buttons for Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and Disney Plus.
The remote feels excellent in your hand, and it’s not simple to misplace due to its size. Normally, at this point in a Sony TV review, we’d be discussing Android TV, but this year we’ll be discussing Google TV instead. That’s because, after nearly a decade of Android TV as Google’s smart TV platform, Google TV has arrived to take over – and we’re delighted it has.
Google TV is more flashy, vivid, and active than Android TV, which is why we appreciate it so much. It pulls content recommendations from every service you use (and a few you don’t) and puts them up and center on the home screen if you check in with your Google account while setting up the TV.
By logging into your Google account, the Chromecast’s primary screen will be filled with relevant and recommended material. If you’ve used Android TV before, this will all appear very familiar, but for the unfamiliar, it’s a veritable feast of content culled from many sources.
For example, among other comedies and sci-fi flicks, we have Captain America: The First Avenger and Parks and Recreation on our home screen (most likely because we binge-watched the Marvel movies in order).
You’ll find Netflix-style rows of content organized together by genre, a row of recommended YouTube videos, and lastly trending shows and movies if you scroll down a little further from your recommended content row.
You’ll also find rows of hand-selected movies and series organized in interesting ways (such as Oscar-winning flicks) that are fun to browse while seeking something to watch.
When you find anything you want to watch, you can either start viewing it right away or save it to your Watch List so you can find it later.
A thumbs up/down method is also used by Google TV to assist you to improve the recommendations it provides. Last but not least, there’s a somewhat decent built-in search option that can show you multiple methods to stream a specific movie or show, but it’s nothing near as powerful as Roku’s.
In terms of app choices, you have a lot of options here, including all of the major services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.) as well as a service called Bravia Core that no one else has. Simply by purchasing an X90J before February 23, 2024, you will receive 10 movie credits redeemable against a selection of at least 300 films.
The whole of Sony Picture Entertainment’s filmography is represented, including Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It’s something no other TV has at this moment, and since it’s practically free to trial, you should take advantage of it while you still can.
Overall, we think Google TV is a terrific addition to Sony’s TV sets this year, and it helps the X90J compete with Samsung and LG’s similarly excellent smart TV platforms.
Colors and highlights are extremely stunning here, as you’d imagine. The TV performs an excellent job of upscaling HD content to 4K, and native 4K HDR content – particularly those shot in Dolby Vision – looks stunning. That’s hardly surprising, given we felt the same way about the Sony X900H, the X90J’s predecessor.
So, what has changed in terms of picture quality? The new Cognitive Processor XR, which offers greater depth to select situations – especially older HD video – and better contrast management, is the major upgrade this year. First, let’s look at the Cognitive Processor XR.
What it does differently is that it can break down a scene into numerous segments before determining the focal point. If the processor notices a bright neon sign, it learns to increase the sign’s brightness and clarity. It works to improve a person’s skin tone and any tiny characteristics such as hair or wrinkles if it recognizes them. This happens in real-time, frame by frame, behind the scenes.
5. Samsung QN85A QLED TV
The QN85A Neo QLED is thin enough to hang on a wall and looks great. It can handle both black and white tones well enough to make contrasts explode off the screen.
It can produce vibrant colors, confidently draw edges, and has a very broad viewing angle. It has one of the greatest smart TV interfaces on the market. It’s also capable of supporting all of your next-gen gaming console’s innovative features (as long as you only own one of them).
And it does all of this without asking for any nonsense money in return. Oh, we get that £1499 for a 55 screen isn’t everyone’s idea of a bargain, but we also understand that you get what you pay for with devices like this – and the Samsung QN85A is excellent value for money.
The QN85A isn’t ideal; its sound isn’t great, it can’t reliably upscale low-resolution movies, and it occasionally has a ‘moment’ when the on-screen motion is very taxing. However, when seen as a whole, especially with the price/screen-size ratio in mind, the QN85A scores far higher in the ‘positive’ column than in the ‘negative’ column.
Are you anticipating a departure from the norm in terms of Samsung design, a ripping up of the rulebook? Hopefully not, since you’ll be disappointed if you are.
In terms of design, the Samsung QE55QN85A follows all of the rules. It’s a large screen with a narrow bezel, standing on a single (and very substantial) foot with plenty of areas beneath the screen for a soundbar. If you put it next to a bunch of other new TVs, it’ll be difficult to tell them apart.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing; a television’s design isn’t designed to call attention to itself. The 55-inch QN85A measures 706 x 1227 x 27mm, with only a little silver bezel separating the screen from the rest of the device. Look at that last number again: the QN85A is consistently 27mm deep, making it significantly more wall-hangable than the vast majority of new televisions.
Four HDMI inputs are located on the back panel. One of them is eARC-enabled, while the other handles every next-gen console-friendly HDMI 2.1 standard, including FreeSync Premium Pro, ALLM, VRR, 4K/120Hz, and everything else.
A couple of USB ports, an Ethernet port, and aerial binding posts for the two integrated TV tuners are among the alternative inputs. The physical ins and outs are completed by a digital optical output. Bluetooth 5.2 and dual-band wi-fi are used for wireless connectivity.
The QE55QN85A is a Mini LED screen, or ‘Neo QLED,’ as Samsung’s marketing department calls it. While the QN85A has the same number of dimming zones (a little over 500) as the 55-inch version of the range-topping QN95A, its peak brightness is a mere 1,500 nits, whereas the QN95A can summon close to 2,000. ‘1,500’ is still a big number in this context, and one for which many OLED TV owners would gladly give a kidney.
It’s Samsung business as usual when it comes to HDR compatibility, which means HLG and HDR10+ but no Dolby Vision. Samsung can go on and on about why its TVs don’t need Dolby Vision, but the truth is that most consumers – especially those who are spending a significant amount of money on a new television – expect every major specification box to be checked.
The lack of Dolby Vision will no doubt irritate some, especially since it is both Netflix and Apple TV’s preferred HDR format.
It’s always amazing how quickly groundbreaking new technologies are adopted. Consider Mini LED TVs, which were only introduced to Samsung, LG, and Philips TV lines in 2021 – but we’ve gone from marveling at how LCD-based screen technology can produce such deep and detailed black tones and breathtakingly well-controlled illumination to simply expecting it. In conclusion, the QN85A does not let you down.
The Samsung excels on all fronts, showing a 4K HDR feed of Black Panther through Amazon Prime Video. The QN85A is almost stunningly good at judging the screen’s black levels.
The Samsung’s numerous tiny and precisely controlled dimming zones ensure exact backlighting, and the screen’s ability to deliver deep, rich and wide-ranging black tones make for an absorbing viewing experience. So there’s no haloing around a small piece of jewelry glinting in an otherwise dark background, no blooming of the brighter region — just a believable light in the darkness.
The QN85A is bright enough, even if it can’t match the peak brightness of its more expensive QN95A sister. And the white tones it produces are just as nuanced, detailed, and crisp as the black counterparts — resulting in a wide range of contrasts. The QN85A’s vast and believable color palette is also demonstrated in the same clip.
Of course, you may spend as much time as you like fine-tuning the QN85A’s color response, but everyone else can enjoy the brilliance and almost endless diversity of color performance that the ‘adaptive picture’ intelligent picture mode provides. There’s plenty of room for the screen’s processor to look at skin tone and texture here, and it’s always poised and expressive.
The edge definition is consistent and reliable, and the depth of field is always compelling. In the hands of less adept screens, the CGI parts of a film like this can often take on an artificial cast, but the QN85A is versatile enough to make these transitions nearly seamless.
The movie’s unrelenting, quick action raises a few eyebrows, and on the rare moments when the screen appears to be struggling to maintain control of on-screen movement, it just serves to highlight how authoritative the Samsung is otherwise.
The Samsung IPS panel has a reasonable viewing angle range and a little more reflection than is desirable (not quite so good). However, if you take care with your positioning – both of the screen and your position in relation to it – the picture quality will be excellent.
When you downscale to Full HD, the QN85A proves to be a capable upscale, even when testing programming like the BBC One HD coverage of Wimbledon.
While Samsung’s motion issues become more obvious, it remains one of the better performers for the money. Yes, the overall image softens, and some of the nuance and variation formerly accessible from the color palette is lost, but the QN85A never fails to entertain.