2016 Gift Guide: Your New Favorite HDTVs
HDTVs have been rapidly evolving over the past few years. Every year has seen some new must-have feature: LED, 3D, Smart TV, OLED, curved panel, 4K Ultra HD. This year, the must-have feature is HDR (High Dynamic Range). If you want the best possible picture, then your 4K HDTV absolutely must have HDR.
The good thing is, most 4K HDTVs released in 2016 by the major brands support HDR. Not surprisingly, there are two competing formats: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The net effect is minimal on the consumer because many HDR TVs are compatible with both and most content is HDR10, although Netflix does stream content in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
Here’s the skinny on your new favorite HDTVs of 2016:
LG B6 Series 4K HDR Smart OLED TVs
The LG OLED TVs are once again back on the list. If you can afford their sheer awesomeness, the 2016 B6 Series TVs are the best picture quality that (a lot of) money can buy. The C6 Series is the curved panel equivalent (and has 3D).
Check out Amazon for all the rave reviews, but better yet, you should go see one in person to understand why OLED delivers the best picture—no question. The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola loves them. If you love movies, the true perfect black is reason enough to buy one.
Street prices start around $2000 for the 55-inch and $3000 for the 65-inch.
- B6 Series (flat): 55″ (OLED55B6P) | 65″ (OLED65B6P) | Amazon
- C6 Series (curved): 55″ (OLED55C6P) | 65″ (OLED65C6P) | Amazon
- Pros: Amazing true black picture. Great for cinephiles. Curved panel has passive 3D (and two glasses).
- Cons: Only if you’re from the future. But seriously, the price tag.
Vizio SmartCast P-Series & M-Series 4K HDR LED Displays
With each passing year, it’s getting easier and easier to convince even the most impassioned TV aficionados to buy Vizio. Once the compromise choice of TV buyers, the latest Vizio TVs can justifiably be anyone’s first choice, hitting all the right notes in price, picture quality, features and design.
For 2016, Vizio improved upon its 1st gen 4k offerings with HDR (both Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10). It went the controversial-but-forward-thinking route of removing the OTA TV tuner and putting in a Chromecast (“Google Cast”), thus rendering it a “SmartCast Home Theater Display” (technically not a TV, hmph).
The stylishly premium P-Series has a fantastic picture for an LED TV. The step-down models, known as the M-Series, were one of my favorites from last year. The M-Series picture specs are not as stunning (half as many dimming zones, no Ultra Color Spectrum) but still very impressive for its price point.
Added bonus for both series: you get a fully functional 6-inch Android tablet/remote to navigate the Smart TV functions.
The P-Series displays start from $1000 for the 50-inch model, and the M-Series displays start from $800 for the 50-inch model. You can consistently find both series for less at Best Buy, Costco and Dell.
- P-Series: 50″ (P50-C1) | 55″ (P55-C1) | 65″ (P65-C1) | 75″ (P75-C1) | Best Buy
- M-Series: 50″ (M50-D1) | 55″ (M55-D0) | 65″ (M65-D0) | 75″ (M70-D3) | Best Buy
- Pros: Dolby Vision and HDR10 support. 120Hz refresh rate on 55-inch & above (P-Series) and 60-inch & above (M-Series). Local dimming.
- Cons: No TV tuner if you still watch over-the-air TV. And despite the razzle-dazzle of the tablet, you’ll still want a set-top box or two to play Amazon and iTunes videos.
TCL 5800 Series Roku 4K Smart LED TVs
Chinese brand TCL is where Vizio used to be—that is, the up-and-coming budget TV brand fighting to overcome the skepticism of TV snobs. TCL has wisely teamed up with Roku the last couple of years to produce a series of Smart TVs that integrate the best streaming platform on the market.
In 2016, the 5800 Series Roku TVs now feature 4K Ultra HD resolution, which is quickly becoming the standard. They don’t have HDR compatibility, which is actually the one feature that offers the highest picture benefit. However, the price is right for these TVs, and they also look decent, sporting thin bezels and modern stands.
The 55-inch model can typically be found for around $430 or less, and the 65-inch model for around $1000.
- 5800 Series Roku TV: 55″ (55US5800) | 65″ (65US5800) | Amazon
- Pros: Low price. Roku remote.
- Cons: 60Hz refresh rate. No HDR. No local dimming.
Samsung KU6300 Series 4K UHD HDR Smart LED TVs
If it’s a best TV roundup, Samsung will be somewhere on the list. But in 2016, you don’t have to buy Samsung to get the picture quality. However, if you’re a Samsung fan, there’s still no reason to turn away from them now because Samsung usually can’t be beat on PQ (picture quality)—unless you’re looking to buy OLED.
The middle-of-the-road KU6300 Series should satisfy a broad range of TV buyers for price, picture quality and features. The KU6500 Series is the curved panel equivalent. If you want to get the very best LED picture from Samsung, then step up to the premium KS8000 Series.
The Samsung design has become predictable over the years, but it’s still high quality. Take note, these TVs have a wide center stand that many manufacturers have moved away from in the last couple years.
Street prices start at around $400 for the 40-inch model and go up to $1700 for the 70-incher, but you can frequently find lower prices on Amazon, Best Buy, Costco and Dell. Always check Ben’s for the lowest price first!
- KU6300 Series (flat): 40″ (UN40KU6300) | 43″ (UN43KU6300) | 50″ (UN50KU6300) | 55″ (UN55KU6300) | 60″ (UN60KU6300) | 65″ (UN65KU6300) | 70″ (UN70KU6300) | Samsung Store
- KU6500 Series (curved): 49″ (UN49KU6500) | 55″ (UN55KU6500) | 65″ (UN65KU6500) | Samsung Store
- Pros: Samsung name for a decent price. Good for gamers (low input lag). HDR. Lots of sizes to choose from.
- Cons: Screen glare. PQ not on the level of premium Samsung or higher-end sets.
Sony BRAVIA XBR-X930D Series 4K HDR Smart LED HDTVs
And now for the fervent Sony fans. Sony still makes a mean TV and belongs on this list. Sony TVs are like Apple computers, though—you pay for the brand cachet and “aesthetic.” There’s a reason Steve Jobs admired Sony.
Like the best Sony TVs, the wafer-thin XBR-X930D Series will enhance the decor of your living room. It has a fantastic picture that only falls just short of the higher-priced LG OLED TVs (and a price tag that only falls just short). Also, the Android TV streaming platform adopted a couple years ago by Sony is way better than the native one Sony TVs used to have. It also has the Amazon Video app and built-in Google Cast, which performs exactly like a Chromecast.
The 55-inch model streets at around $1700, and the 65-inch model at around $2300.
- XBR-X930D Series: 55″ (XBR-55X930D) | 65″ (XBR-65X930D) | Amazon
- Pros: Superior picture quality. Local dimming. Android TV. HDR.
- Cons: Very expensive. Like, Apple expensive.