What are the best TVs to best support Next-Gen? From LG to Samsung, passing through Sony and Panasonic, all the alternatives.
The wait for PS5 and Xbox Series X is growing week by week. It will take months to have Sony and Microsoft consoles in hand, which will pave the way for new qualitative heights in graphics. From Ray Tracing to true 4K, the potential for a revolution is all there, but to enjoy it at its best you need a suitable TV.
Many have focused on HDMI 2.1 for the choice of TV to be used with the new consoles but it is not easy to identify exactly the compatible models, thanks to a very flexible certification for this standard, which leaves room for variable interpretations between the different manufacturers, and communication from companies that is too often inaccurate and incomplete, which does not helps in the choice.
That’s why we decided to write this guide, which brings order to the chaos unleashed by HDMI 2.1 and offers different alternatives for all budgets, but with an eye for quality and for an all-round use of the TV. You won’t find cheap models, simply because they are not able to better manage the new consoles and HDR, but we will also try to provide alternatives with a balanced price.
The ideal size
How big does a TV have to be to get the best out of 4K? The answer to this question varies from case to case and depends on the viewer’s point of view. A 75-inch view from 10 meters becomes small but if observed closely it creates a real wall of images. There are several schools of thought on the subject, all valid, we relied on Panasonic’s advice to provide guidelines that can guide you towards the best possible choice.
The Japanese company, which has always been a guarantee of image quality, recommends three simple rules to get a more precise idea of the optimal viewing distance, divided according to the resolution of the content to be seen:
Standard definition (SD): screen diagonal x 3.5 = recommended viewing distance
High definition (HD): screen diagonal x 2.5 = recommended viewing distance
UHD 4K: screen diagonal x 1.5 = recommended viewing distance
Obviously it’s about indicative rules based on the definition of high quality content. A TV broadcast in SD has a lower bitrate than that of a DVD, just as an Ultra HD Blu-Ray offers a less compressed signal than simple streaming in 4K.
We specify this to make it clear that the perfect viewing distance is difficult to obtain, either because of the different quality of the contents, which make the formulas indicated above approximate, or because of the limits of the viewing environment. Not everyone has space for a large TV.
The advice is therefore very simple: buy the highest and largest picture quality TV you can afford, especially today that you can find large cuts at affordable prices.
HDMI 2.1 yes or HDMI 2.1 no?
The fever from HDMI 2.1 has hit gamers, everyone wants them but finding them is not easy. The reason is the flexible certification decided by the HDMI Forum, which allows manufacturers to insert only some of the features of the new standard and to reduce the available bandwidth based on the single TV model. The flexibility that optimizes production costs but which has caused great chaos. Today we are faced with cases such as Samsung, which despite having the HDMI 2.1 onboard its 2020 models does not indicate them in the datasheets, or as LG, which first confirmed the presence of full-band HDMI 2.1 on the OLED 2020 for then take a step back.
But you really need all the functions of HDMI 2.1 and full bandwidth? The answer to this question is less obvious than it seems, because it all depends on the budget you have available. Putting costs aside it is obvious that a TV with all the functions of the HDMI 2.1 is preferable, but compromises can be made that allow you to save a lot, perhaps by relying on a TV of 2019, many of which integrate all the functions that are needed to enjoy the new consoles to the fullest.
In the gaming field, and specifically with PS5 and Xbox Series X, the HDMI 2.1 are used to access high resolutions and refresh rates, VRR and Auto Low Latency Mode. Resolution and refresh rate are the most delicate issue to deal with, because if on the one hand being able to count on 4K at 120 Hz is greedy, on the other you have to see its access cost and above all what will be its real use. On the market today you can find televisions with support for VRR and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) but which stop at 4K at 60 Hz and are therefore capable of showing “only” 60 fps.
In the presence of budget limits, our advice is to prefer the quality of the panel and its dimensions in the presence of 120 Hz in 4K. We do not know which titles will break the barrier of 60 fps in 4K, a very difficult resolution to manage, and we believe that, with the passage of time and with the end of the cross-gen era, the developers will prefer the graphic quality at the high frame rate , leveling itself on the goal of 4K at 60 fps, already very ambitious.
Better 60 fps more or 10 inches more? In our opinion there is no game, size wins hands down, for the sense of involvement they can give. Obviously if you have no spending limits, the complete package is preferable, but if you remove the 4K at 120 Hz from the equation, the costs drop and you have access to a higher number of TVs.
Moving on to VRR, this is an acronym indicating the Variable Refresh Rate, the variable refresh rate, a technology similar to that on PC is called G-Sync in NVIDIA video cards and FreeSync in AMD ones. This synchronizes the refresh rate of the screen and the GPU, thus avoiding the onset of Tearing and Stuttering.
ALLM, on the other hand, is used to automatically activate Game Mode on the TV when a console is turned on. Resolution, VRR and ALLM are the advantages that compatible TVs bring to next-gen consoles, it’s up to you to understand which of these are indispensable in your case.
The best LG TVs to play
LG has now become synonymous with OLED, despite being still present in the LCD market with its NanoCell TVs. The use of IPS panels for these televisions makes us prefer other brands that use this technology, but as regards OLEDs and gaming we are faced with the most complete offer available today.
There are two choices to make in this case, either buy a 2019 model now, also saving a lot, or point to a 2020 series TV. LG B9, C9, E9 and W9 are part of the 2019 range and they all have full-band HDMI 2.1 at 48 Gbps, with VRR, ALLM and even G-Sync, to take advantage of the variable refresh rate on PCs with NVIDIA GPUs. The B9 can be purchased today, in its 55-inch variant, starting from just € 1000, according to the offers, while for the C9 it is usually needed around € 1300.
Our preference goes to the C9, more expensive but able to offer a superior viewing experience and greater versatility outside of gaming, thanks to the Alpha 9 Gen 2 image processor and the higher peak brightness. The C and E series do not make substantial quality improvements, so better to stay on these two models.
The 2020 range is made up of the BX, CX, GX and WX variants. GX and WX are models with a refined design and more expensive, better to stay on the BX and CX. All these TVs have HDMI 2.1 but not full band, we do not know how much data they are able to manage but there are no limits whatsoever despite the lower bandwidth.
Compared to the 2019 range, the possibility of conveying 4K at 120 Hz at 12 bit is lost, stopping at 4K 120 Hz at 10 bit: there are no video sources for the 12-bit audience and there are not even televisions capable of reproducing them, nothing is lost despite the lower band.
This year the differences are more important between the two models. The BX mounts in fact the Alpha 7 Gen 3 image processor, which involves lower motion management and limits the number of HDMI with support at 4K at 120 Hz with only two inputs, the other two stop at 4K at 60 Hz with depth 8-bit color. If you have more than two external sources to exploit HDR with, this becomes a major obstacle.
The CX instead can count on Alpha 9 Gen 3 image processor, which from the first reviews that appeared online seems to have greatly improved the management of motion and luminance with active HDR, also the 4 HDMI ports can carry all HDR and 4K / 120hz 10-bit.
In this case the prices go up, we can only supply the list prices because they have now arrived on the market. LG has not yet announced the starting price of the BX, that of the CX is € 1999 for the 55-inch model, but the 48-inch one is also available at € 1599.
So far we haven’t talked about size because the choice, in the case of 4K OLEDs, is very limited, in fact there are 48, 55, 65 and 77-inch panels. Going beyond the 55 inches, however, greatly increases the cost, so much so that even aiming at the range of last year, it is difficult to spend less than € 1700 for the 65-inch B9, except for special offers and remaining on reliable dealers.
The best Samsung TVs to play
Samsung has remained the only company to focus strongly on LCD technology with its QLED televisions, all with VA panel. To stay in a price range accessible to a wide audience, we decided to recommend only 4K models. Those 8K, resolution supported by the new consoles, but which we will hardly see at work in games, are the best LCDs on the market, thanks to the most advanced backlighting available today. The only problem is the price, which hardly drops below € 2000 for 55-inch models. Staying on 4K instead, Samsung today offers a TV park that fits all wallets, thanks to often very important discounts on list prices, and which make large cuts accessible to a wider audience. Too bad only for the absence of Dolby Vision, instead HDR10 + is available, very similar but also much less used. Also in this case you can choose two ways: aim for the 2019 models, which are in great discount during this period, or go to the 2020 range.
Those of 2019 that we have selected support 4K at 60 Hz, VRR and ALLM, with the exception, at least theoretical, of the Q90R. The top of the range in fact should have an HDMI port (the number 4) capable of carrying even 4K at 120 Hz, however we do not know whether with color compression or not. Until the new generation consoles are released, unfortunately we cannot be sure, external sources with HDMI 2.1 still do not exist and therefore checks cannot be made.
Those looking for a gigantic TV without spending a fortune, but maintaining a decent viewing quality, can focus on the 75-inch Q70R, equipped with Full Led backlight, HDR1000 certification and proposed today at around € 1600 based on the offers.
An excellent TV, especially for the quality-size ratio, is the 65-inch Q80R, which is often found at a discounted € 999 (the original list price was € 1999). It is a very interesting model because compared to the Q70R it offers a backlight with multiple control zones, the HDR1500 certification, one of the best anti-glare filters on the market, the same as the Q90R, and the Ultra Viewing Angle technology, which greatly increases the angles side view, narrower on the Q70R.
Then there is the former top of the Q90R range, which is now around € 1300 in the 55-inch variant. In this case, the backlight control areas go from around 50 on the Q80R to around 480, for a much finer management of the light.
There is no other HDR2000 certified TV in this price range tests in 2019 showed impressive numbers for the Q90R, which is capable of generating around 1700 peak nits in a 10% screen window.
As for the 2020 range, on the other hand, we find full compatibility of all QLED models with 4K at 120 Hz, VRR and ALLM, starting with the Q70T (only the 49-inch Q80T is excluded). The products have just arrived on the market, we have seen them several times live but we have not yet carried out extensive tests on the individual models.
This year it seems that Samsung has pushed more on the 8K, repositioning those of the 4K range. The Q80T in fact loses the anti-glare filter and Ultra Viewing Angle technology, as highlighted in the recent review made by HDTVTest.
For now the list prices remain high but the recommended models roughly follow those of 2019. For those looking for the best there are the Q95-Q90T (the first has an external connection box and a slightly higher peak brightness), with the Q95T proposed at a list price of € 2199 and the Q90T at € 1999, in the 55-inch variants. The Q80T instead costs 1499 € in the 55-inch model, while the Q70T costs about 1000 € for the 55-inch cut. In a few months the reduction in costs will also make the 2020 range more attractive, do not be in a hurry that Black Friday will give a good discount to these prices.
The best Sony TVs to play
Sony will be one of the protagonists of the next gen with PS5, curiously, however, almost all its flagship televisions support few of the specifications of the HDMI 2.1. A real shame, especially if you think that the best OLED models of the Japanese house only have the ALLM and do not even support VRR. As in the previous cases, you can opt for a TV from the 2019 range or one from 2020.
Given the absence of HDMI 2.1 functions better to focus on Sony OLEDs rather than on LCDs, which offer a great quality of general vision and one of the most refined designs around. The excellent AF8 can still be found at around € 1,500 in the 55-inch version, although it will be replaced by the new A8 in the coming months, while the top of the AG9 range will remain available for longer, but the cost is high, it starts in fact from around 2000 € for the 55 inch. The new 48-inch Sony A9 OLED is also on the way, but the price is not yet known.
If you exclude the 8K variants, still too expensive to be attractive, the only Sony LCD TV to support 4K at 120 Hz, VRR and ALLM is the XH90, whose price for Italy has not yet been officially communicated .
Sony’s strategy for 2020 TVs could be better cured on the HDMI 2.1 front, especially to take advantage of the synergy with the launch of PS5, but the fact remains that, especially in the case of OLEDs, the viewing quality remains very high and satisfying , both in gaming and in general with video content.
The best Panasonic televisions to play
Sony and Panasonic have always been pioneers in the representation of video content. Both have made loyalty to original content a mission, especially Panasonic, but they both forgot about gamers. In fact, even Panasonic does not implement any specific function for the game in its televisions of 2019, in those of 2020 only the ALLM is present, both support 4K up to 60 Hz.
The current situation is this but Panasonic could certify other functions in the coming months, as we have ascertained in our recent meeting with the company in London.
The OLED range of 2019 is one of the most successful ever, thanks to one practically perfect factory calibration and satisfying even for fine palates.
GZ960, GZ1000 and GZ1500 mainly differ in the pedestal, more modern and elegant in the GZ1000 and GZ1500, and in the presence in the GZ1500 of the integrated soundbar. These models can be found, in the 55-inch variant, at prices starting from € 1300 up to around € 1500.
Then there is theOLED of records, the GZ2000, very expensive (exceeding € 2000 for the 55 inch) but the only one capable of reaching a peak brightness of 1000 nits in a 10% window.
As in the case of Sony, these are high-quality products developed with the aim of providing the highest possible fidelity with video content. The functions for the game are lacking but they remain exceptional televisions, widening the context of use, and which can give a lot even paired with the new generation consoles.
The same can be said for the 2020 range, with the models HZ1000, HZ1500 and HZ2000. The first two are identical, with the exception of the soundbar integrated in the HZ1500, the third is the only one equipped with an HDR Master panel and incorporates the very high quality achieved by the GZ2000.
Compared to last year’s TVs in gaming, almost nothing changes, with the exception of ALLM. By expanding the fields of use, Panasonic has introduced the Filmmaker Mode, the Dolby Vision IQ and one new Black Frame Insertion technology, which improves the quality of moving images, interesting additions that do not revolutionize what has been seen in the past. Prices, however, have not yet been announced but the new TV range is expected in Italy next month.