Best TVs of 2019 - Editor's Choice Awards

2019 has been another excellent year for TVs

Welcome to our third annual Editor’s Choice Awards and in this article, we are covering TVs. The Editor’s Choice Awards celebrate the best TV products of the year. The criteria for being eligible are simple. It must be a TV that has been reviewed by AVForums in the last 12 months and it must currently be available as part of the official product range from a manufacturer and not discontinued before the end of 2019.

Best Home Cinema TV 2019 – Panasonic GZ2000 OLED TV

The Panasonic TX-55GZ2000B is the latest flagship Professional Edition 4K OLED TV from the manufacturer and boasts its new bespoke OLED panel which has been developed by the engineers so it dissipates heat more effectively which increases performance and brightness but also helps to prevent any issues with image retention or burn-in. The GZ2000 has also been developed with the help of a Hollywood colourist, resulting in a TV that delivers a highly accurate image that conforms to the industry standards right out of the box. It also supports all the latest HDR formats including HLG {Hybrid Log-Gamma), HLG Photo, HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. The GZ2000 also features built-in Dolby Atmos upward-firing speakers and three-channel soundbar.

SDR image quality is sublime on the Panasonic with superb colour accuracy and stunning dynamic range. Skin tones are lifelike and natural with plenty of detail within the shadows to give the image punch and depth. When compared to the Sony mastering monitor, the GZ2000 managed to look very similar in terms of image accuracy. Motion was also superb with no sign of induced judder that wasn't present in the source material. Moving to HDR content from streaming services and 4K Blu-ray, the GZ2000 again produced superb image quality. Overall, the Panasonic GZ2000 is an exceptionally good OLED TV with some of the most accurate images we have seen so far this year from any TV.

Best Budget Gaming TV 2019 – Samsung Q70R QLED LCD TV

The Samsung Q70R is a new mid-range LCD TV from Samsung which falls under their QLED umbrella. It uses a full array local dimming (FALD) backlight with 50 dimming zones and the local dimming is controlled by an advanced algorithm to keep blacks deep and reduce blooming effects. With HDR content, the Q70R is capable of 700 nits peak brightness as well as having dynamic tone mapping to assist with static metadata HDR10 content. It also has HDR10+ dynamic metadata capabilities but no Dolby Vision support. Out of the box accuracy is decent but could be better, however, the calibrated the results are close to reference level and this can be enjoyed, especially with SDR content. Motion is also very good and matches the best in 2019 so far.
Where the Q70R really shines is when it is used as a gaming TV with an excellent input lag of 13.7ms as well as a host of neat gaming features. These include the Game Enhancer, a Dynamic Black Equaliser which manipulates the image gamma to show enemies hiding in the shadows and Game Motion Plus which adds smoothing and interpolation (which also adds 10ms to the lag time). Along with most of the HDMI 2.1 features of VRR, ALLM and auto game switching, (even though the Q70R is an HDMI 2.0b TV), it is certainly a set gamers should really pay attention to.

Best Advanced Gaming TV 2019 – LG C9 OLED TV

We can already hear the gasps from the audience as we dare to suggest an OLED for use as a gaming TV. "What about the burn-in?" the internet trolls shout out loud. But in all seriousness, the use of an OLED in such a manner is actually a great idea, with stunning blacks and shadow detail along with excellent colour reproduction and dynamic range, we think the LG C9 is an excellent gaming set with a superb input lag of just 12.8ms. Plus, with image retention mitigation technology and better, more resistant panels, as long as you don't use the maximum vivid modes and full-on brightness with the same static images over many, many hours, there is no need to overly concern yourself with the issue.
Plus, we have four full HDMI 2.1 ports with 48Gbps and the ability to display higher frame rates up to 120Hz, eARC (enhanced audio return channel), dynamic metadata for HDR, auto low latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rates (VRR). The C9 has also had a recent firmware update to allow gaming with NVIDIA G-SYNC. So the LG C9 is also future-proofed for whatever gaming consoles and technologies come along in the next few years.

Best TV under £1500 2019 – Panasonic TX-55GZ950B

The Panasonic TX-55GZ950B is the entry-level screen in the company’s 2019 OLED line-up and comes with a whole host of features to make sure you get Hollywood to your home. The 2019 line-up consists of the GZ950 and GZ1000 which are identical apart from the stands while the GZ1500 adds a speaker bar, and all three are identical in terms of features and picture quality. It features the HCX Pro Intelligent Processor which is designed to deliver accurate images to the industry standards, so you can view content as the creator intended. Panasonic engineers have tuned the panel and the processor to deliver superb black levels with just above black details and a neutral white balance.

The image quality with SDR is sublime and cinematic with superb colour reproduction to Rec.709 and reference greyscale results. Motion is also excellent with superb upscaling of HD content to the panel's native 4K resolution. Overall, we think the GZ950 offers superb value for money when it comes to a quality OLED TV with excellent panel uniformity, video processing and accurate image quality in SDR and HDR. Movie fans will love the cinematic images it produces and while it might be lacking some features available on its peers, such as HDMI 2.1, it also produces one of the best images we have seen at the price point out of the box.

Best Premium OLED TV 2019 – Philips OLED+984 OLED TV

The Philips 65OLED984 is a flagship 4K HDR OLED TV with a custom-built Bowers & Wilkins sound system. The new model builds on the success of last year with a stylish European design and the third generation P5 processing engine. Philips sensibly supports all versions of high dynamic range with HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, plus there's also support for Dolby Atmos object-based audio.

The Philips OLED+ 984 is a superb flagship 4K HDR TV, and an exciting addition to the company's line-up. It looks gorgeous, with some lovely European styling, and the build quality is exceptional. The picture quality is state-of-the-art thanks to the inclusion of the 3rd gen P5 processor, and the TV supports every version of high dynamic range, as well as Dolby Atmos. If that wasn't enough, there's the latest version of the Android OS with built-in Google Assistant, although the 984 also works with Amazon Alexa. You also get 4-sided Ambilight and Philips's handy dual-sided remote control. However, the cherry on the cake is the amazing B&W speaker system that will completely change your perception of how a TV should sound.

Best Premium LED LCD TV 2019 – Samsung Q90R QLED LCD TV

The Q90R is the high-end 4K LCD QLED TV from Samsung for 2019. New for 2019 is the Ultra Viewing Angle technology, which improves the VA panel's off-axis viewing angles so colours and contrast remain consistent to a far wider viewing angle than other VA LCD panels. The new Ultra Black Elite (moth-eye) screen filter has also been designed to help with rejecting reflections and ambient light in such a way that it retains the contrast performance of the Q90R even in very bright rooms. Much of the advanced AI features we saw on the Q900R 8K have also made it into the Q90R 4K set. The Quantum AI Processor is now available in 4K and incorporates the AI machine learning upscaling which works in most picture modes (except with PC connections and some game mode settings).
The local dimming is very clever and another step up on previous models in being able to give a more consistent image, especially with shadow details and mid-tones. While the contrast is not as deep as the Q9FN, the Q90R is more subtle and accurate to the standards in its image attributes, especially in SDR modes. The Q90R provides extremely accurate images with SDR and HDR content with excellent peak brightness for those specular highlights and decent black levels and shadow details. It is the best all-round LCD TV Samsung has yet produced, with an excellent user interface, superb Smart TV system with every major app and catch-up service available, plus the ultra wide-viewing angle technology works incredibly well, as does the moth-eye filter, meaning reflections are well controlled and the off-axis viewing is excellent.

Best HDR LCD TV 2019 – Samsung Q90R QLED LCD TV

The Q90R is bright, colourful and an excellent HDR performer yet it does this with only using HDR10 static metadata, HDR10+ dynamic metadata and HLG broadcast HDR. There is no Dolby Vision present, but that doesn't take away the fact that the Samsung Q90R is one of the very few consumer TVs capable of actually producing HDR image brightness that doesn't require as much tone mapping as other TVs on the market. Coming in at around 1590 nits peak brightness on a 10% window and with excellent colour volume and saturation, it offers up a full-on HDR performance.

Out of the box, the PQ EOTF doesn't quite track the ST.2084 standard as it is slightly brighter in its presentation, but with four clicks down on the contrast this issue no longer applies and the set tracks the ST.2084 standard until it rolls off at around 1500 nits. It does automatically change its tone map with 4000 nit material to roll off a little bit more to keep the specular highlight details in that content. Overall, this produces one of the most compelling HDR images where specular highlight detail is retained and there is sufficient brightness to present 1000 nit content without any mapping. The improved blacks along with just above black shadow details and better viewing angles give the Q90R a real edge with HDR dynamic images and it certainly manages to outperform an OLED screen in this regard. As there is no such thing as the perfect TV, the end consumer needs to choose the technology that suits their needs and the Q90R certainly shows how dynamic and bright HDR content should be.

Best HDR OLED TV 2019 – Panasonic GZ2000 OLED TV

Panasonic really is on a roll this year, with their OLED TV range offering some of the most accurate images available on the market. The GZ2000 also offers the new custom professional OLED panel which increases HDR peak brightness. Add to this the pixel-level accuracy of a self-emissive technology like OLED where you can have a deep black pixel next to a full white one and you have some of the most dynamic images possible on a current TV. The custom panel adds that brightness to push the HDR experience.

The GZ2000 has the most dynamic HDR images we have seen from an OLED TV and while there are a couple of minor posterisation effects to iron out with brighter objects, like the sun in some scenes in certain content, the Panasonic is really pushing what an OLED TV is capable of with HDR. While it can't push the same brightness and specular highlight details as the Samsung Q90R, it does produce a stunning dynamic range with superb shadow detail retrieval and mid-tone punch that gives the whole image a real depth. Skin tones are superbly accurate along with most of the colour palette, and while colour volume is always low on an OLED TV, you wouldn't know that is the case when viewing the excellent image quality offered up by the Panasonic GZ2000.

Best Smart TV System 2019 – Samsung Tizen 

While the Tizen system has been around for a few years now, Samsung hasn't rested on its laurels and has continued to refine and add new features to its operating system and Smart TV offerings. LG might have once ruled with roost with WebOS but we feel that Samsung has actually moved ahead by continuing to update and advance the capabilities of their Smart system.

With every major catch-up service available, along with a host of the biggest VOD apps, including the new Apple TV and Apple TV+ apps, it remains one of the best featured and easy to use systems with double launcher bar windows to see available content and improved features. With streaming becoming a larger viewing platform for the majority of TV users, having almost every service available in one smart system, along with advanced content discovery technologies, puts Samsung ahead of the pack. 

Best TV Sound 2019 – Philips OLED+984 OLED TV

The Philips 65OLED984's big selling point is its custom-designed and built sound system, courtesy of Bowers & Wilkins. Last year's flagship OLED boasted a B&W sound solution, but the company was hampered by having to fit the drivers into an already established space. This time the engineers at B&W could start from scratch, and have clearly taken a no-compromise approach. The new sound system is based around a large separate speaker cabinet that uses a three-channel layout. This is a speaker rather than a soundbar because the 60W of amplification (20W per channel) is built into the TV itself.

Within the speaker there are three separated enclosures: each one is composed of thick-wall-section glass-fibre reinforced ABS and has internal bracing. The left and right enclosures have baffle-mounted tweeters at each end of the assembly to minimise cabinet diffraction. The centre enclosure has no internal tweeter, which is instead mounted on the main upright of the TV in its tweeter-on-top housing. The result of all this is the best-sounding TV we have ever heard. The three drivers work in perfect harmony, creating a front soundstage that has scale and deep bass extension. You can add a sub if you the need, but the 984 already has plenty of low-end presence. The overall sound delivers detail, realism, and some lovely textures. Dialogue is crystal clear, and the effects are placed across the front with precision.

Best TV Picture Processing 2019 – Philips 3rd-Generation P5 Processor

The 2019 OLED TVs from Philips include the 3rd generation P5 processor which now uses a dual-chip arrangement designed to add extra computational power to key intensive parts of the processing chain. The result is a doubling of the processing power that leads to a 30% increase in picture quality. The 3rd generation of P5 extends picture performance by improving noise reduction, sharpness, colour accuracy and contrast.

Philips excels at video processing, and the new 3rd generation P5 processor is particularly impressive. Of course, there are those that prefer their images ‘au naturale’ and without any processing, but if it is your bag then the 2019 OLEDs will delight you. The upscaling is exceptional, and the noise reduction is state-of-the-art. There are also features for boosting contrast, and squeezing every last detail from lower resolution content. You can even make SDR into HDR and also add brightness and change tone mapping with HDR10 content. The P5 is also incorporated into the Dolby Vision Bright mode. As image purists, we tend to move away from such processing, but the motion and upscaling performance are excellent so, even when not using all the processing tricks, the Philips TVs are great for all users. The P5 is certainly a powerful processor that offers the user choice and flexibility and is by far the best on the market at this moment in time.

Best TV Technology 2019 – CalMAN AutoCal Home

While not strictly an item we have reviewed as a standalone product, we do use AutoCal in every TV review and it offers superb access to learning calibration for AVForums readers and members. As such, we are making an exception by awarding an Editor's Choice Award to one product we haven't technically reviewed, but use for reviews. The introduction of AutoCal for Home has been a big step for Portrait Displays as it aims to lower the entry costs to enthusiast calibration.

AutoCal takes us back to a time where we all bought budget meters and software to learn calibration for ourselves. It is a great time-saving tool for professional calibrators, but with TV specific software costing just $149 for enthusiasts like AVForums members, it is also a powerful learning tool for those who want to do it themselves. With Panasonic and LG also adding in pattern generators within their TVs that interface with AutoCal to further cut the cost of entry to calibration, we feel it is only right to award CalMAN AutoCal our best TV Technology of 2019.

Best TV Innovation 2019 – Panasonic Custom Pro OLED Panel/GZ2000

Panasonic is another company winning lots of awards this year. They have tried to push the boundaries of what is possible, with an OLED Panel sourced at an early stage from LG Display followed by the addition of one their own custom R&D developments. The results are better heat sinks and cooling that dissipates heat away from the panel, allowing it to be brighter with HDR content. An offshoot of this is a lower possibility of image retention where heat can be a contributing factor. 

The results are an incredibly accurate TV with both SDR and HDR content, and peak brightness that is the best yet seen from an OLED panel. The panel uniformity is excellent at all stimulus points and the extra brightness expands the dynamic range of HDR to add more realism and peak white details. There are a few small points with brighter objects within a scene sometimes exhibiting posterization, but this is a small issue that we didn't feel impacted on its overall performance. We congratulate Panasonic in its efforts with the Custom Pro Panel and look forward to seeing how they capitalise on this success for next year!

Best Overall TV of 2019 – LG C9 OLED TV

There is no such thing as the perfect TV, with different technologies and models offering solutions to suit many different user needs. Plus, the choice this year has been exceptionally good for OLED and high-end LCD TVs, which makes the choice of which TV to buy very difficult. Both Panasonic and Philips have pushed forward with some exceptionally good OLED TVs that try hard to reach image accuracy with better HDR brightness and impact, which can be witnessed in the awards we have given out this year. But when it comes to picking one TV that offers almost every possible feature, excellent smart TV capabilities, future-proofing and superb sound and images, one TV kept topping our list.

The LG C9 offers a number of screen sizes to choose from and is priced attractively for the features and performance on offer. It is incredibly accurate out of the box and almost matches Panasonic in this regard for SDR and HDR image quality. It has a great sound system that, while it doesn't match the Philips B&W soundbars, can produce a nice weighty sound for TV and movies. The smart TV system is one of the very best using WebOS, which also has almost all the VOD apps you could possibly need, along with an excellent menu system and picture controls. And we are not finished yet, with a gaming input lag that is one of the fastest available on any TV (12.8ms), a host of gaming features for the future are also onboard along with HDMI 2.1 on all four HDMI inputs. The only item missing is HDR10+ compatibility, but it does have superb Dolby Vision playback along with HLG broadcast and HDR10 static metadata playback, with a superb Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro feature that gets the very best out of HDR10.

If we are talking about the best overall TV of 2019 it has been a much closer race this year, but once again LG takes the well-deserved crown with the C9 OLED TV.

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