This article was last updated by Digital Trends staff writer Nick Woodard on July 9, 2020.
OK, we admit it: Even though we’re just over halfway through 2020, it’s still early to declare the year’s best 8K TVs. Especially since we haven’t even had a chance to see most of them outside of an event like CES 2020 — hardly the best place to evaluate any new technology.
However, most of the 8K TVs on our list are newer versions of 8K models that we have tested, or they’re the 8K versions of 4K TVs that we have tested. Which is to say, this is actually a list of the 8K TVs we have every confidence will be the best of 2020 when they’re finally available for purchase. Could we be wrong? Sure, it’s a possibility. So for now, consider this our guide to the 8K TVs you should have on your short list and we’ll update it as soon as we can render our final verdicts.
The best 8K TVs for 2020 at a glance:
- The best 8K TV: LG Z9 8K OLED
- The 8K TV with the best design: Samsung Q950TS
- The best price on an 8K TV: Samsung Q800T 65-inch
- The best 8K TV value: TCL 8K Mini-LED Roku TV
Why you should buy it: OLED is still the leader when it comes to picture quality, and this is the only 8K OLED TV you can buy, which pretty much makes it a no-brainer as long as you have deep pockets.
Who it’s for: Those who want the very best 8K TV on the planet and have the means to pay the sky-high price.
Why we chose the LG ZX OLED TV:
If you’ve been following our TV coverage over the past few years, you know we’re simply gaga about OLED. When it comes to picture quality, viewing angles, and black levels, it’s simply the best type of TV display you can buy. Last year, we got a chance to review the $30,000, 88-inch 2019 LG Z9, which is very similar to the LG ZX. We declared it the “future of TV” and gave it a rare perfect 10 out of 10 score. So it makes sense that LG’s 8K ZX OLED TV series, which follows in the Z9’s footsteps will be the best 8K TV you can buy in 2020.
Because true 8K content is going to be hard to come by for the next year or two until the studio and streaming worlds catch up, an 8K TV must do an excellent job of upscaling 4K or Full HD content, otherwise you’re just wasting all of those pixels. The Z9 featured LG’s second-gen Alpha 9 8K upscaling, and when we did A/B comparisons between 4K and native 8K versions of the same content on our Z9 review TV, the visible differences were minimal. The ZX gets LG’s third-gen Alpha 9 8K upscaling, which we expect will be even better.
You may be wondering about Sony. After all, Sony’s A9G 4K OLED actually managed to eclipse LG’s C9 4K OLED despite having the exact same OLED panel made by LG Display. You can bet that when Sony creates its first 8K OLED TV, it will be a force to be reckoned with. But that won’t happen in 2020, as Sony’s only 8K models use the company’s LED-backlit panels. As such, it’s unlikely they’ll be a match for LG’s 8K OLED TVs.
Design-wise, the 88-inch version of the ZX series (which is also available as a 77-inch model) is also a stunner physically, with a polished aluminum stand that turns the TV into a sculpture worthy of a modern art display. The one downside: The stand and the display are integrated to the point where wall-mounting the panel portion separately is impossible.
Unfortunately, LG wasn’t able to bring the price of the 88-inch ZX down from 2019 (it’s still a heart-attack-inducing $30,000) but it is making a 77-inch model available for the slightly less frightening figure of $20,000. Though who’s kidding who? If you can afford a $20K TV, what’s another 10 grand?
Why you should buy it: It will probably have the best picture quality of any non-OLED 8K TV and it has a droolworthy design.
Who it’s for: Those who want an exceptional 85-inch 8K TV that can also be wall-mounted.
Why we chose the Samsung Q950TS:
While we haven’t had a chance to formally review Samsung’s gorgeous new Q950TS 8K QLED TV, we did get to see it in the flesh at CES 2020. It left an impression that’s still with us. Saying that a TV has a truly edge-to-edge display is one thing. Seeing it for yourself is quite another, which is why (for now) you’ll have to take our word for it: The Q950TS and its “Infinity Screen” must be seen to be appreciated.
Then there’s the Q950TS’s thickness, or lack thereof. At just 15mm (or just over half an inch) thick, it’s almost as thin as an OLED panel and shockingly thin for a QLED TV when you consider it still incorporates Samsung’s 32x full-array LED backlighting, something OLED panels don’t require. Hanging such a TV on your wall will be more like hanging a thin picture frame, but without the frame.
While not really what we’d call affordable, the 85-inch Q950TS costs $13,000 — considerably less than even the 77-inch LG ZX — and you can buy one right now. We still don’t know the pricing on its other sizes (65-inch, 75-inch) or when they’ll go on sale. Unlike the LG ZX, which is almost unchanged from the 2019 Z9, the Q950TS is an all-new model, making it difficult to predict its performance.
That said, we’re very familiar with Samsung’s 8K QLED efforts to date. Assuming the Q950TS is Samsung’s flagship, it will offer a noticeable step up from its previous range-topping Q900 (a reasonable assumption we think) and should be a gorgeous TV all around. It gets Samsung’s Adaptive Picture technology, which lets the TV adjust picture settings automatically as room lighting conditions change, something you’ll also find on TVs equipped with Dolby Vision IQ.
Beyond picture quality, we’re very curious to test Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound+, a feature Samsung says adds realism by letting you hear on-screen objects as they move about. Samsung has a history of staying away from Dolby Labs’ technologies, so we expect this is simply Samsung’s version of Dolby Atmos, in the same way that its support for HDR10+ is an alternative to Dolby Vision.
Why you should buy it: It packs all of the benefits of an 8K TV at a price that makes it accessible for more people.
Who it’s for: Those who want an 8K TV but don’t want a huge screen — or a huge price.
Why we chose the Samsung Q800T 65-inch:
If you love the idea of an 8K TV but find yourself getting queasy over 8K prices, Samsung’s Q800T 65-inch model might just be the 8K TV you’ve been waiting for. At $3,500, it still costs a good bit more than even the most expensive 4K TVs at this screen size, but it sets a new low benchmark for 8K pricing. We’ve seen Samsung promote small-screen 8K models before, like the 55-inch unit it showed at IFA 2019, but we think 55 inches is too small to appreciate the benefits of 8K. Sixty-five inches, on the other hand, is a great place to start.
The 65-inch Q800T might be way more affordable than the fancy Q950TS, but thanks to several shared technologies, its picture quality should be almost as good. The Q800T uses Samsung’s Quantum Processor 8K — the same chip it uses on the Q950TS — and it boasts the same Adaptive Picture feature.
Design-wise, the Q800T looks a lot like Samsung’s top-tier 4K TV, the Q90T, right down to the edge-to-screen ratio. However, behind the glass, you’re getting a considerably more sophisticated full-array LED backlight (24x versus 16x) and better HDR performance as well.
You’ll also get the full complement of Samsung’s audio features including Object Tracking Sound+, dialogue enhancement, and compatibility with Samsung’s latest line of soundbars.
Why you should buy it: TCL’s reputation for superb value combined with Mini-LED’s potential to match OLED’s black level performance makes this a very attractive 8K TV.
Who it’s for: Those who want a big-screen 8K TV for the best possible price.
Why we chose the TCL 8K Mini-LED Roku TV:
Of all the 8K TVs we’ve picked on this list, TCL’s yet-unreleased Mini-LED 8K TV is the biggest mystery. At the moment, all we have to go on is a sample TV that TCL showed off at CES 2020, and a few details that the company offered at the time. Nonetheless, it’s a tantalizing combo.
First off, TCL debut 8K TV will use the Roku TV operating system, as it has with all of its other smart TVs. We love Roku’s features and on-screen interface, and having it on an 8K TV will be awesome. Second, TCL will be using its second-generation Mini-LED backlight technology known as “Vidrian.” Mini-LED is already an exciting game-changer when it comes to delivering black levels from a QLED TV that are nearly identical to those of OLED. Vidrian Mini-LED is expected to improve viewing angles as well.
Finally, TCL has always managed to deliver TVs that perform well beyond what their price would suggest, and that’s a trend we expect the company will continue in 2020 with its first 8K TV. We don’t yet know what that price is, or which screen sizes will be available, but you can bet TCL will make a very compelling case when it formally announces the availability of this TV later this year.
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