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Best TVs of 2018

Consumer Reports tests hundreds of televisions each year. These 4K sets rise to the top.

Family sitting in a living room watching TV.
Photo: LG

With holiday sales now underway and more movies and TV series being presented in 4K and high dynamic range (HDR), you may be getting ready to buy a new 4K TV. We've been testing 2018 TVs since the spring, so we're in a good position to highlight some of the top performers in Consumer Reports' TV ratings.

For the purposes of this article, we focused on 65-inch sets, but many of the TVs are available in 55-inch or smaller screen sizes, which cost less.


Go to Consumer Reports' 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.
 

Below, you'll find some of the best TVs of the year in several categories, including two sets that are battling it out for the top spot in our ratings. (There's also a pair of jumbo-sized TVs that are so close in the scoring it's hard to call one a clear winner.)

While many of the best TVs are pricey, we also picked out a great 65-inch 4K set that you can buy for less than $1,000. 

This year, consumers are choosing between two basic TV display technologies: LCDs—also called LED TVs due to the LED backlights that illuminate the screen—and OLED sets, where each pixel generates its own light.

There are far fewer OLED TVs on the market and they tend to be expensive. So far, only two brands—LG and Sony—make them. But the sets can deliver a truly stunning picture, in part because they do a great job of displaying the blackest parts of an image. The deepest shadows can really look black, as in real life, rather than gray. The TVs also have unlimited viewing angles, so the picture still looks great if you view it from the side of the room.

The huge majority of TVs being sold are LCD sets. You can find some highly rated LCD sets for less than $1,000, even in the largest screen sizes. (Premium LCDs can cost several times that.)

More on TVs

LCD-based sets generally can't deliver OLED-like blacks, but they get better every year, especially models that use full-array backlights, where the LEDs are spread across the entire rear panel instead of just along the edges. These models also include a feature called local dimming, which divides the backlights into zones that can be separately dimmed or illuminated, depending on the scene. This, too, can help improve black levels.

Most TVs, though, are edge-lit, meaning the LEDs are positioned on the sides of the screen. Some of them also include local dimming, though this feature tends to be less effective on these sets than with those that use full-array backlights. In general, LCD TVs tend to be brighter than OLEDs, making them a good choice in well-lit rooms.

Each year we test about 250 individual TVs, from major brands such as LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, as well as emerging TV companies such as Hisense and TCL. All of the sets in our ratings go through a battery of objective measurements and subjective evaluations designed to push them to their limits.


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In our ratings, you’ll see separate scores for high-definition picture quality, ultra high definition performance (for 4K models), viewing angle, motion blur, sound quality, and versatility. And we now have a separate score for high dynamic range, or HDR, performance. When done well, HDR can produce enhanced contrast—brighter whites and deeper blacks—and more vibrant, lifelike colors.

Like all the products that Consumer Reports tests, every TV we evaluate is purchased at retail. We don’t accept freebies or handpicked models from manufacturers, so every tested model is just like the one you might take home.

Best TV Overall

LG OLED65B8PUA, $2,600
As in past years, an LG OLED TV tops our ratings in 2018, though this year it pushes ahead by just a hair in our ratings. (See "Best TV, Part II" below for the runner-up.)

Though it's not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination, the 65-inch LG OLED65B8PUA is LG's least expensive OLED model for 2018, and it provides top-notch performance as shown in our scores. You get Excellent high-definition picture, Excellent UHD performance, and very effective HDR, something not true of all HDR-compatible TVs. (LG 4K TVs support several HDR formats used by content creators: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, and Advanced HDR by Technicolor.)

Like all OLED TVs, this model has an almost unlimited viewing angle, and the sound is also excellent. (As a bonus, it supports Dolby Atmos audio, which can give a soundtrack a three-dimensional effect.) LG's updated smart TV platform includes its own voice-enabled ThinQ artificial intelligence platform as well as built-in support for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa digital voice assistants.


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