For those who like to dream about what their living room might look like in the near future, CES is full of inspiration. When it comes to TVs in particular, CES is reliably jam-packed with next-gen technologies that don’t hold much promise for showing up on store shelves the same year. This year’s show was a little different, though: Samsung promised that all of the futuristic tech it showed off will be marketed in 2018, and we have it on good authority that at least two major manufacturers will put out 8K TVs this year. In fact, we expect to see four of our six best TVs from CES 2018 available for purchase before we ring in 2019, and you will definitely be able to afford one of them.
Sony’s 85-inch 8K HDR TV with X1 Ultimate Processor
While Sony wanted the focus to be its brand-new X1 Ultimate Processor, it’s the display the impressive new processing chip was powering that got all of the attention. It takes an almost inconceivable amount of power to produce 8K content in HDR at 60 frames per second — and that’s impressive enough — but the X1 Ultimate can do all of that and push the LED/LCD display up to a max brightness of 10,000 nits. That’s nearly five times brighter than any current commercially produced TV. Sony was clearly flexing its muscle, and people took notice. The display was the toast of the show to many, and for Digital Trends, the X1 Ultimate processor was an easy pick for our Best Tech of CES 2018 award in the video category.
Sony A8F OLED
At CES 2015, Sony rolled out its first-ever OLED TV, the Bravia A1E. A masterpiece of design, the A1E takes on a unique form factor, sitting directly on any entertainment cabinet or platform. While that fancy design may look very cool, it lacks practicality for many users, and adds cost. To address those issues and make an OLED TV with broader appeal, Sony produced the A8F OLED and brought it to CES to show off. With a more traditional stand and a much thinner profile, the TV is more approachable to everyone, whether stand-mounting or wall-mounting is the plan. As a bonus, the A8F is also expected to be less expensive than the A1E flagship, which will place Sony’s OLEDs in more direct competition with LG in 2018.
LG Roll-up OLED
What really needs to be said about an OLED TV that rolls up like a newspaper? Not much! But we’ll take the time to point out that LG didn’t just make a rollable OLED to prove that it could. Rather, the company showed some very practical applications for the soon-to-be-a-TV, including changing aspect ratios, three different screen sizes, and the ability to completely disappear from sight. But if the 65-inch 4K roll-up OLED LG had on display behind closed doors (see video above) doesn’t impress you, perhaps something in a Wallpaper OLED might be more your style.
LG W8 “Wallpaper” OLED TV
At first glance, the W8 might appear to be a carbon copy of last year’s groundbreaking W7 OLED TV from LG, but there is something new here, and it’s hiding under the hood, so to speak. LG designed an all-new processor for its top-tier 2018 TVs — called the a9 (pronounced Alpha nine) — and it provides significantly cleaner picture quality from low bit-rate sources. Though the 4K resolution you get from 4K video through streaming services like Netflix might look good at first blush, look a little closer and you’ll see a lot of color banding in scenes where there are large patches of uniform color shades. This is due to a lack of information coming down the line, and until now, this issue hasn’t been addressed very well. LG’s new a9 chip makes short work of cleaning up those color bands and produces a noticeably sharper, smoother picture no matter the source. Plus, the Wallpaper design is just damn cool. Who doesn’t want a TV that looks like a poster and is held to the wall with magnets?
Samsung ‘The Wall’ 146-inch MicroLED TV
The sheer size of Samsung’s 146-inch, wall-gobbling 4K TV is impressive enough, but it’s the brand-new TV tech touted by Samsung that we consider most important. Like OLED, MicroLED is an emissive display — meaning the individual pixels make their own light and can produce perfect blacks and exceptional contrast. But MicroLED has a leg up on OLED since it can get much brighter and is immune to any screen burn-in problems (not that we’ve seen many with normal use of an OLED TV). While some see MicroLED as a shot across OLED’s bow, we see it as a promising new direction for television in general. “The Wall,” as Samsung calls it, is also a modular TV, meaning that it can be scaled up (you want it bigger?) and, hopefully soon, scaled down to suit the needs of the consumer. MicroLED has a long way to go before it will dethrone OLED, but it is exciting to see such a stunning display that doesn’t rely on organic LED compounds.
TCL 6-Series 4K HDR TV with Dolby Vision and Roku OS
TCL came out of nowhere last year and surprised the TV reviewing community with it’s P-Series TV, a $650 55-inch 4K HDR TV with Dolby Vision that performed like a $2,000 TV. TCL is running with that success in 2018 with the new 6-Series, a line of TVs in 55- and 65-inch sizes that promise even better performance than last year’s P-series. To pull it off, TCL built even more backlighting zones into this TV, going from 72 to 92 zones in the 55-inch model (even more in the 65–inch model) for more exacting backlight control, leading to better brightness and contrast. Let’s not forget, too, that TCL’s 6-Series TVs will run on the excellent Roku TV operating system, making streaming TV a snap, even for beginners. Unless there’s some earth-shattering revelation between now and April, this will be the best value in televisions for the year. No wonder TCL is the fastest-growing TV brand in the the U.S.
- Trends With Benefits podcast: Our favorite tech from CES 2018
- Sony’s blinding 85-inch 8K TV made us squint, while its OLED made us smile
- MicroLED is the new hotness in TVs. But OLED isn’t going anywhere
- Affordable excellence makes the TCL 6-series the TV to buy in 2018
- Totally tubular tech: 20 of the coolest products at CES 2018