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What makes a TV the best gaming TV? You can plug a console (or a PC) into any TV, and you are good to go. Surely a great TV will also be a great gaming TV? Not necessarily, but technology is tending that way as more manufacturers wake up to the idea that our TV screen in our living space is not just a TV but a multifunctional device.
We need it to produce a top-notch gaming experience, cinema-quality films, play the radio, and whatever we want to stream. And we want it to look good. And maybe blend into the wallpaper, when we are not using it or show our holiday snaps.
But what features make a TV great for gaming opposed to being only a super TV?
The most desirable gaming features are:
Preset Gaming Mode
It’s not an essential feature, but it helps. The gaming mode can switch on automatically when the console is switched on in some models. Gaming mode switches off some of the picture processing, which sounds like a bad thing, but it means that there are less input lag and faster response time, which are both crucial in a fast-paced multiplayer game.
Low Input Lag
Input lag is the delay from you firing the gun, to the shot traveling on the screen. A TV screen with 15ms or less input lag is considered best for gaming, but on computer monitors, this is below 10ms. Does it make a difference? It depends on the games you play and the level you play.
Fast Response Time
Response time is about the pixels, the time it takes for a pixel to change color and display the moving action. Inadequate response time results in motion blur which is a stunning effect in a martial arts film, but not in gameplay.
Resolution is the number of pixels displayed on the screen. High resolution gives more detail and more vibrant colors. New consoles and games are giving their output at 4K to take advantage of new TV screens’ capabilities. If you are upgrading and you can afford it, then a gaming TV needs to be 4K. The latest premium screens give 8K resolution, but there are few games and consoles designed for this, and they are pricey.
Refresh Rate controls the number of frames per second displayed on the screen. A refresh rate of 144Hz gives an excellent gaming experience, but you get a satisfactory gaming experience at lower levels.
The screen size needs to be the right size for comfortable gameplay. The right size for you will depend on how far away from the screen you intend to be. A small space needs a smaller screen and if you play wirelessly in a big room, then a bigger screen is better.
Unless you have plenty of cash to splash, you will have a budget constraint. You need to get the best gaming TV in your price range. Bear in mind that as the screen size goes up in a TV range, so does the price, it’s worth considering a smaller screen in a quality range rather than a larger screen in a lower quality range.
Why Play Games on a TV?
Most consoles comfortably deliver the output to a TV screen, and often the consoles are used as a smart hub. The latest generation of consoles has been designed with 4K in mind with games to match. They will be more enjoyable to play with a 4K screen, and these are no longer a luxury product but are available at all price points.
The smart TVs will upscale your old games to show their best on the 4K screen with intelligent picture matching for natural color and realism.
Using the TV as a game screen means less clutter in increasingly crowded spaces and allows game playing in a comfortable living room. TV screens are enormous compared with monitors, and with 4K resolution, they make gameplaying more immersive than ever before, especially sports or multiplayer action games.
Top Buying Tips
When you set out to buy a gaming TV, there are some essential areas to consider.
Where are you going to put the TV?
The TV position in your room will determine how comfortable the screen is for you and others to view. If only one space is available for the TV, this may determine the size of the TV you choose to buy.
How much are you prepared to spend?
4K TVs are the most up to date, and consoles are producing content that needs 4K to appreciate its color, sound, and action. 4K TVs are still an expensive product, and the starting price point is around the $1,000 mark, but there are a few bargain no-frills models that are under $500.
Picture and Sound Quality
You appreciate games, films, and other videos because of their stunning visuals and superb music. You need a TV that will deliver the best quality visuals and excellent audio, all today’s technology aims to produce the best quality in both these areas.
Be clear on what features are a deal-breaker for you and which fall into the aspirational category. Assemble your list of gaming TVs that give you the features you must have and then use the desirable features to fine-tune your selection.
The price of any individual gaming TV will vary markedly depending on the time of the year and the retailer. It is possible to get a 4K screen for under $1,000, and we would describe this as low-cost. The entry-level price point is $1,000 to $2,000. The midrange models will cost $2,000 – $5,000 and the top of the range over $5000.
The 4K technology has been around for some time, and instead of being a high-end luxury product, you can get a fantastic gaming TV for either a dirt-cheap price or for about $1000 you can get a better TV that will provide some surprisingly high-end features.
Larger screens are now the norm as 4K resolution allows you to get quite close to the screen without suffering a loss of picture quality. TVs can be wall-mounted, saving space.
A TV screen is measured diagonally across the viewing area, ignoring any bezel or frame. This measurement does not apply only to square panels but large rectangular screens as well. The screen size is in inches, and the minimum recommended size for a living area (main screen) is 42 inches. Many 4K TVs can be as much as 85”.
The size of the screen is one factor in how comfortably close or far away from the screen you can be when watching a film or playing a game.
Positioning the TV
The basic rule is that the TV screen should be at your eye level when seated for the best viewing experience. This rule applies when wall mounting, but if you must put it above seated eye level, then you need to ensure it is tilted downwards.
How far away the TV should be from the viewer depends on the screen type and the screen size. You can sit closer to a 4K screen than a Full HD one — a full third closer, which makes quite a difference if you have a small living space.
There isn’t an exact calculation covering how far you should sit from the screen to its size. A rough guide is that for a 4K TV, you can sit between 1 to 1.5 times the screen measurement. To illustrate that – if you have a 48” screen, you want your seat to be between 4 feet and 6 feet away from the TV. With a Full HD TV of the same size, you would need to be sitting between 6 feet and 10 feet away. You would need a bigger room or a smaller screen to be at the optimal distance from the screen.
The picture quality is a result of the technology used to produce and display the images and the screen resolution. Your TV may have controls for you to adjust individual elements like contrast, color, and brightness.
Preset TV Modes
Your new TV is likely to have some preset modes included as standard. They are likely to be variations of standard and cinema – for viewing programs and films, dynamic (– quite harsh in color), sport, and game. The game mode is useful because it turns off most of the picture processing resulting in low lag and faster response time. Both these features are desirable if you are using your console for fast-paced action games.
A high rate of contrast between bright and dark areas gives a better picture. This contrast provides an ability to distinguish objects in dark scenes and the ability to identify details – blades of grass and eye color. The contrast control refers to the level of white in the picture. Excellent picture quality needs a TV with a high contrast ratio. This feature ensures the blacks are a deep black rather than a washed-out grey. The contrast control allows you to adjust the contrast to your preferences.
Contrast is for white and black, and the brightness control is for detail in darkness. In particular, the detail in dark areas. The crease in a pair of black trousers for example, or the monster that is lurking in the corner of a dark room.
Unlike the brightness control, this is all about the actual brightness of the picture. You might want to turn it down if you are sitting in a dark room to avoid straining your eyes. The backlight settings will not interfere with the contrast. This backlight equates to what we think of as brightness.
Brightness is in nits. Most games output bright pictures around the 1000 nit level, and the TV needs to match or exceed this. It is worth remembering that the whole screen is not that bright, it’s only the brilliant bits (like torches) that are bright in comparison to the scenery.
The aim is that the colors reproduced are closer to the natural hue as your eye would see them. The TV controls will allow you to warm up or cool down the color tones, but you may prefer to leave it at factory settings.
A sharp, clear picture sounds ideal, but go easy on the sharpness control, too far, and everything will look as if it is a comic image. There is a balance to be struck between seeing crisp edges and a picture that seems wrong.
A matte screen gives reduced reflections, and we no longer draw the curtains to remove the glare on the screen. The gaming TV may have a semigloss finish to disperse reflected light across the screen or some other way of handling light bouncing off the screen.
Images display shows on the screens as a series of still pictures or frames. The refresh rate is the number of frames that display per second (FPS). The panel needs to be capable of showing the frames generated by the game at the same rate. This rate allows smooth motion and keeps up with fast action scenes. The refresh rate is in Hz, but this is the same number as FPS. If the TV has a 144Hz refresh rate, then it will display 144 frames every second. A refresh rate of 144Hz will give an excellent gaming experience.
TV screens are thinner and slimmer than before – this leaves less room for speakers, and these are smaller. Despite that, the better TVs come with surround sound effects and other smart features designed to make the most of the speakers. The built-in speakers will range from 15 to 20 watts, and you want a high wattage speaker.
Speakers have three components – an electromagnetic coil, a permanent magnet, and a cone. The signal from the TV passes through the coil. The magnetic field then fluctuates in direction and moves the coil towards and away from the permanent magnet. This vibration is sound. The cone amplifies the vibrations and sends the soundwaves into the room where you hear them.
However fantastic the speakers, the best TVs are unlikely to produce superb quality audio as the slim profile does not allow the installation of high-quality speakers orientated in the right direction. With the addition of a quality soundbar or other audio system, you can obtain better audio quality. You may wish to pay less for the screen and use the saving to purchase a quality soundbar and enjoy the best of both worlds – fantastic picture quality and magnificent surround sound.
Types of TV Screens
Plasma is a redundant technology. The LCD screen has now evolved into an LED panel with the addition of backlighting.
LED lights are positioned behind the screen to provide light and dark areas to the picture. This arrangement is a step up from the old LCD screens, and they are called LED-backlit LCD TVs or LED TVs.
An OLED screen provides intense black and crisp, clear whites. The pixels turn themselves on and off without the need for backlighting. The color can be applied one pixel at a time. A potential problem with the OLED screen is permanent burn-in, where an image is burned onto the screen destroying the ability to display other images.
These can have OLED and 4K, but 4K is the technology that will make a curved screen a standard living room feature in the future.
HD ready screens display content with a resolution of 1280 x720. They cannot show the enhanced picture quality of Full HD content or 4K because the resolution is too low.
Full HD (1920 x 1080) will give five times the picture information than that presented by SD, resulting in a more detailed picture. With its sharper definition, this is ideal for Blue-ray DVDs, HD content and video games. Full HD will not show 4K content.
4K Ultra HD
3840 x2160 resolution gives four times the pixels and four times the sharpness. The pictures are more immersive and real. There is a lack of 4K content at present, but it is coming. This resolution works best on larger screens. You can sit closer to the screen without noticing pixilation because the pixel density is higher.
Additional filter layer inside an LED-backlit LCD TV, comprised of nanoscale semiconductors that produce red, green, or blue light. Sharp, bright cinema-quality – the only thing better is OLED. There are many brand names for TV’s that use quantum dot technology – QLED and ULED.
High Dynamic Range – HDR
The use of HDR technology gives pictures with a much more comprehensive light range than standard dynamic range pictures, approaching the appearance of the natural world. On a smaller screen, high-quality HDR will perform better but bear in mind that it places a high demand on the performance of the panel and may demand higher levels of brightness and contrast than a low-quality screen can deliver.
New movies and games are targeting a brightness level of 1000nits, but the TV screen may not be capable of showing this. The TV can deliver excellent quality pictures at lower levels of brightness than this but the image processing has to work harder.
Brightness – Movies, and games now target 1000 nits, and TV has to be capable of delivering that or HDR will not show to full effect.
TVs can deliver great HDR pictures without 1000 nits plus of brightness, but it will have to work harder.
The gaming console connection of the future is HDMI 2.1; many current gaming TVs do not provide this standard. Instead, they give the current standard HDMI 2.0 port. Most new TVs offer all the usual inputs and outputs; budget models have a few less HDMI and USB ports. However, it depends on how many plug-in connections you need to make as increasingly our devices connect wirelessly.
A poor remote-control is unlikely to be a deal-breaker when choosing a gaming TV. But the remote control is your means of communication with your TV, and with the increasing connectedness of things and the need for voice control, the humble remote may be a bonus or a cause to select another model.
New ranges of TV launch every year and incorporate the latest advances. The next thing on the horizon is 8K and VR or perhaps 3D. But you can get a great 4K gaming TV now and enjoy gaming at a more colorful, intense level on a bigger screen.
Samsung Q70 QLED TV – Entry-Level Samsung QLED TV
Price Point: Entry Level.
Summary of Gaming Features
There is an automatic recognition of a console and a switch to gaming mode – Auto Low-Latency Mode. The TV has 4k resolution and good upscaling to support older games that output to a lower resolution. For a TV it has an excellent input lag of 15ms. The picture quality and sound are adequate for gaming. The fully backlit LED screen gives zero risks of burn-in.
None of the Samsung models support Dolby Vision, but this model supports HDR and HDR10+. This model at the lower end of the Samsung QLED range gives you many excellent features using the technology used in the premium products.
You get a full backlit screen, which is better than an edge-lit screen. You get 50 lighting zones, which is at least 50% less than the higher-priced models, but the local dimming and the direct backlight give you an excellent picture at a budget price. In its accurate picture mode, it has a brightness of 800nits.
In HDR, you get good quality images, but if you have an artist’s eye, you will find them a little too bright and perhaps not as accurate as a more expensive screen. This budget screen has a semi-gloss coating as opposed to the reflection absorbing matte finish of the more expensive panels. But bear in mind that you won’t have two screens side by side, so no-one is likely to notice the difference.
The excellent picture processing upscales SD and HD content with ease, so all your older games will look great on this screen.
One downside is the VA screen – you need to sit within a 30°angle of the head-on position for optimum picture quality.
You get excellent picture quality with local dimming at a reasonable price.
None of the Samsung models support Dolby Atmos.
This TV is not ultra-slim but that means this gaming TV has excellent speakers. They face downwards, which can give some problems with the sound direction, but it comes with an enhanced intelligent sound mode that smooths out any audio issues for great sound.
There is a choice of five screen sizes – 49”, 55”,65”,75” and 82”, but the price increases with the screen size’ The two smaller screens are at the entry-level price, then you drift into the midrange.
This Samsung QLED TV is the budget option, so there is a lot of plastic in the construction, but it still has the almost bezel-free screen with the black border of the models further up the range.
The metal feet that support the screen are straightforward to slot in place, no screwdriver required. The feet are far apart, and you need a big stable surface to put the TV on.
It is disappointing that you don’t get the One Connect Box that is a useful feature in the other models. The connections are plentiful and arranged neatly on the rear of the screen to the right-hand side. The connections: built-in Apple Airplay 2, Wi-Fi, LAN port, Auto Cal Connector, Optical Digital Input. CI slot, terrestrial and satellite tuners, three USB ports and four HDMI.
Two controllers, a comprehensive remote and a cut down remote for daily use with built-in microphone for voice control and direct link buttons for Netflix, Amazon, and Rakuten.
Identical features to the others in the QLED range with an excellent choice of streaming channels. It comes with a Universal Guide – showing you what is available. AI analyses your viewing choices and starts to make recommendations – no individual login so that it will be a summary of all viewers’ preferences.
Easy to set up and can be used as a smart hub to connect to other devices. Inbuilt smart assistant – Bixby, compatible with all the other digital assistants out there.
It has an ambient mode when it uses minimal power and displays info like the news and weather, artwork, family photos, or blends into the scenery.
Samsung Q90 QLED TV – The Premium Gaming TV
Summary of Gaming Features
The Q90 supports full 4K games at a pleasing 60Hz refresh rate. An additional feature is the use of the AMD FreeSync Technology, which is the same as that used in PC monitors, this matches the screen refresh rate with the X Box graphics card. This superb feature results in smoother gameplay with little or no blurring. The input lag is low at 14ms.
Quantum Processor 4K is Samsung’s latest hardware, and it results in fantastic upscaling with brightness and sound for older games that you still want to play.
The intelligent sound system recognizes the game-playing mode and ensures that the sound keeps to the front of the room where you are focusing your attention.
All the screen sizes from the smallest to the largest will cost less than $5,000. The starting price is around $2,500. This gaming TV is a premium product with a mid-price range.
You get fantastic picture quality with bright, intense natural colors and rich deep blacks. The full array backlight with over 400 dimming zones gives consistent picture quality across all the screen sizes in this range.
You don’t get Dolby Vision, but you get HDR, HDR10+, and HLG and a refresh rate of 120HZ, together with an absolute peak brightness of 2000 nits.
This higher-quality Samsung gaming TV uses Ultra Viewing Angle Technology allowing you to view the screen from any angle with little or no distortion. This feature is achieved by additional layers on the panel acting to reduce light leakage and to produce an even dispersion of color.
Despite the slim profile, the chassis incorporates four stereo speakers. For better sound quality, there are also two subwoofers. The combination of speakers and subwoofers gives 4.2 channels at 60W for sound output. You get crisp, clear dialogue and can play your music loudly with no risk of clipping or distortion.
Despite the excellent sound quality, if you demand a higher standard, then you can add a soundbar as ARC (Audio Return Channel) is supported on one of the HDMI inputs. The stand has been thoughtfully redesigned to allow a soundbar to fit below the TV screen. If you have older speakers kicking around like composite video or analog, you will not be able to connect them.
A feature you may enjoy is Intelligent Sound Mode – the microphone on the remote control picks up the sound from the TV and the room. The sound settings are then AI adjusted depending on how noisy the place is and what the content you are watching. The sound is optimal for films, musicals, games, and sport.
Samsung TVs do not support Dolby Atmos, but the speakers will play Atmos formatted content. You can use a Dolby Atmos compatible soundbar if this is necessary to your satisfaction levels.
The back of the chassis has a textured surface and a stylish near-black metallic coating. The rear cover has a built-in groove to hide the cable connecting the TV to the One Box. The slim profile comes from the use of a One Connect Box to house all the processing hardware and A/V connection. There is one cable connecting the TV to the box, which makes for a clean wall hanging with minimal cable visibility.
It is easy to hang the TV on the wall as you have the necessary fixing holes. If you want the TV to be flush to the wall, then there is an optional “no-gap mount” that costs around $100.
The screen is bezel-free and is available in sizes 55”, 65”, 75” and 82”.
Included on the One Box are all the usual inputs: four HDMI, three USB, RF, Ethernet jack, CI slot, optical digital, autocalibration, Apple airplay, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
One well-designed slim remote control with voice control and some automatic buttons for Netflix and Prime, amongst others.
The home screen is well laid out with the ability to browse your Apps without spoiling the picture. It has a wide selection of Apps, including an exclusive deal with Apple TV, and the AI will rapidly build up a picture of your viewing habits to give tailored content selections. The most comprehensive collection of 4K streaming content is enjoyable with this TV. When you are not using your screen, you can enjoy the ambient mode – it merges into the scenery or displays the content of your choice like art.
This TV can be your central home hub as it will connect to all your smart devices as part of the Smart Things approach. You can control your connected devices without ever leaving the sofa. More things such as heating, fridges, and washing machines are becoming smart, but you will still have to get up to empty the washing machine.
The Q90 comes with a Bixby voice assistant, but if you prefer Google Home, Alexa, or even Siri, you can hook them up instead as they are compatible. You will need to add a smart speaker and pair it with the TV.
LG B9 OLED -The Cheapest OLED TV from LG
Summary of Gaming Features
This low-cost OLED TV has automatic recognition of game consoles (PlayStation and X Box). It is quick to set up for a gaming session.
It has 4K resolution and excellent picture quality, add to that a low 13ms of input lag, and you get smooth flowing gameplay.
It is an OLED TV where the individual pixels turn on and off, and there is always the risk of permanent burn-in if an area of the screen is too bright for an extended time.
Price Point: You get entry-level pricing for the smallest screen and then moving into the mid-range price levels as the screen size increases.
Excellent viewing angles as the light on the screen is not backlit but provided by individual pixels, each acting like a tiny light. This type of screen gives natural-looking colors and tones, excellent contrast, and brightness control. The fast refresh rates provide a smooth moving image.
This budget LG model uses older processing technology, so the picture quality does not match that of the premium models. It’s still a quality picture, and the screen does not suffer from excess reflected light.
You get 4K resolution with Dolby Vision HR as standard for any Ap that supports it. You don’t get the competing HDR10+ support given by a Samsung model.
The sound comes from 2.2channels, 40W Dolby Atmos speakers. The screen is flat instead of curved (more expensive models), so the sound is not funneled towards you. If you need or want better sound quality, you have the option to upgrade with a soundbar.
An OLED panel sits in a cheap casing – the budget savings come from the low-quality finish. You have a choice of three screen sizes: 55”, 65” and 77”.
The usual connection points are available – four HDMI (one with HDMI ARC for a soundbar), three USB, CI, Ethernet, antenna, and optical inputs. These sit on the sides and bottom edge of the frame and this can make a wall hanging difficult. Cable management is by bunching the cables together at the rear with the clip provided.
Although a budget model, it still comes with LG’s Magic Remote (batteries included) which allows precise IR navigation and is complete with an easy-to-use clicker wheel and buttons for Netflix and Prime. The Home button instantly brings up the main menu, or you can use the hold to speak the microphone to give voice commands.
The Web OS smart TV platform provides an excellent interface for you to access broadcast and online material. This gaming TV will work with both Google and Alexa.
Sony Bravia X950G
Since 2017 Sony has worked on improving the usefulness of its TVs as gaming TVs. The X590G has an excellent response time – almost instantaneous. It benefits from improved input lag at 21.2ms, but this is a little higher than the ideal of 15ms or less.
Sony X Motion Clarity provides smooth action with a combination of black frame insertion and backlight boosting. The black frame is confined to the object in motion rather than the whole screen and is surprisingly effective in upscaling lower than 4K output to the screen.
The second upgrade to the processing is the X1 Ultimate Processor paired with a Reality Creation engine. The TV stores stock images of scenery so it can use these to improve input images for producing quality images on upscaling.
Price Point: The smaller two screens are at entry-level prices, but the two larger screens are in the mid-range price point.
This VA panel has 4K resolution, with the expected picture quality of natural color, deep blacks, and brightness. The full array panel with local dimming gives a boost to the contrast (black and white) and diminishes unwanted blooming effects.
This gaming TV benefits from an upgraded X1 Ultimate Processor and Reality Creation engine to tweak and present images with the highest degree of realistic detail. Also, the AI is selective in applying peak brightness to the pictures in the most appropriate areas.
The TV supports content produced by IMAX Enhanced, HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision.
Netflix Calibration Mode is a feature generally reserved for the most expensive products, but Sony has included it in this relatively inexpensive model. It adjusts all the picture quality to show you Netflix content as accurately as initially filmed.
Sony calls its speaker arrangement Acoustic Multi-Audio, it is designed to make it appear as if the sound is coming from the center of the screen. When you turn up the volume, the power differential between the tweeters and the woofers causes audio distortion.
There is no denying that the sound quality of this TV is weak, but there are plenty of options for connecting a soundbar and better speakers.
The X950G comes in a choice of 55”, 65”,75” and 85” screens. It comes with a large stand that is easy to install; the legs are reversible and are hollow to allow cables to fit inside. The screen has a thin bezel and a neat slim frame.
The inputs sit down the side and bottom of the screen, and this arrangement can be an issue when wall mounting. The chassis has a slim profile and can be wall-mounted, is so desired. You get four HDMI ports, one of which is ready for ARC (that soundbar you need), two USB ports, ethernet, digital audio out, 3.5mm audio, and remote IR in.
The Sony remote has been redesigned to be quite long and slim with a classy brushed metal finish. You get the directional pad, numbered buttons, and playback controls as standard. The additional keys are a Google assistant button that can operate in two ways – permanently on awaiting your commands or press to engage. You also get two quick access buttons for google play and Netflix.
Google’s assistant is already set up, but you do get support for Amazon Prime and Alexa. Soon there will be a link-up with Apple Airplay giving you access to all your Apple content.
Vizio P Series Quantum 2019 – Budget QLED TV
The upscaling process is now better for non-native 4K content. There is a fifth HDMI port (most TVs have four) that is low latency 1080 resolution. The other ports also function for your console or PC, but this port drops the resolution and ups the response time.
Price Point: Entry-level pricing means you get a big screen for less than $2000.
The full array, backlight Quantum Dot technology, gives excellent picture quality for 4K, HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision content with a dazzling 2000 nits of peak brightness. The 65” screen boasts 300 local dimming zones that help to maintain natural color and a handy info button will let you check what the source material resolution is, in case you want to tweak some of the controls.
The sound quality is low, the weak 10W speakers will allow you to hear dialogue clearly but it won’t give you the full surround experience we have come to expect. You are going to want a soundbar, and Vizio produces two Dolby Amos quality soundbars priced around $500. The screen is at a bargain-basement price, so splashing out for a soundbar will give you an excellent sound and picture combinations at a lower price than a premium model.
One disadvantage of this TV is that Netflix does not support Dolby Amos on Vizio’s SmartCast, so you need either an X Box One or a compatible Blu-ray player to enjoy the best sound from Netflix.
There are only two size options for the screen – 65” and 75”. The frame is neat and the bezel thin, the legs are in keeping with the proportions of the screen and will need two people to install. The cutaway space at the back where the input cables go is for wall mounting neatness, but it looks cluttered when not wall mounted
Standard plastic remote control with shortcut buttons for popular streaming services like Netflix and prime. It still uses IR, but it is powerful enough to cope with a soundbar in the way of the sensor. Voice control has become standard in new TVs, but this remote control does not have that facility.
Vizio’s SmartCast is slow compared with the competition and offers a limited range of Apps. There is support for voice control for Alexa or Google assistants. If you have a smart speaker, you will be able to use voice control.
The built-in Chromecast allows you to stream audio or video content from an android or iOS device.
Hisense H9F – the low-cost ULED TV
The TV has a fast response time and an input lag of 16ms in gaming mode. It does not have an auto low-latency mode, so you switch gaming mode on when you want it. You can improve the motion appearance with optional Black Frame Insertion, and this will only happen at 120Hz, so there is noticeable repetition when using 60Hz input. The inputs will only take 60Hzeven though the screen can take 120Hz.
The picture quality is generally excellent, but while in the game mode, you will notice that the picture is slightly darker than watching films or other broadcasts.
Price Point. A pocket-friendly buy with both available screens coming well under $1000.
The picture quality is excellent across all source formats – 4K, HRD10, HLG, and Dolby Vision. An excellent range of natural-looking colors and deep blacks. It is a VA panel, and there are limited viewing angles before picture distortion.
There are some niggling issues with the picture quality in the dirty screen effect, which is only noticeable while watching sport. The local dimming does not handle small bright objects as well as other panels, but it does handle reflections.
Hisense refers to the screen as a ULED – which is a combination of a standard LED screen and quantum dot technology.
The sound quality is disappointingly weak, but the screen is cheap, and it’s worth pairing it with a soundbar. Then you get an excellent picture and superb sound at a bargain price. If your budget is tight and you can only afford the screen, the audio is adequate. It just doesn’t compare well with high-quality sound.
This low-cost gaming TV comes in two sizes – 55” and 65”. It’s an excellent design with a flat-screen and a unique stand that supports the TV with minimal wobble. There is a lot of plastic in the construction, but metal components have been used to provide rigidity and strength where necessary.
You can hang it on the wall or use the stand, but whatever option you use, you will have to sort out your style of cable management.
You get all the standard input connections: four HDMI (one supporting ARC), 2 USB, Digital optical audio out, analog audio out 3.5mm, Composite in, Cable/ant, and ethernet.
The remote control is the Hisense standard model. It has all the necessary buttons, and it does the job. It is not going to win any design awards, and it does not have any flashy features. There is a pinhole microphone in the center for communication with Google assistant. You must press and hold for a response. There are buttons for the standard streaming apps and you can stream files from your mobile devices.
It is a smart TV, and it runs Android TV, a little bit slow, but you get access to a large selection of apps and the interface is currently free of annoying adverts or any adverts. You can pair a smart speaker and use google assistants with more direct and immediate interaction.
TCL4 Series 2019 – a 4K TV under $500
For a dirt-cheap TV, the TCL4 series is a surprisingly good gaming TV. It has a low input lag of 12-13ms in gaming mode with a 60Hz refresh rate, fast response time, and minimal motion blur.
Price Point: The first four screen sizes are below $500, the fifth is $600, and the largest screen $1,600. If you need an inexpensive display for 4K gaming, the smaller screens are the way to go.
The screens will support 4K and are HDR10 compatible. It has no-frills quality with a small amount of motion judder (you would have to be very sensitive to see it) and minor issues with the bluing of greys and dirty screen appearance for sports games.
The screen has a semigloss finish that helps to limit direct reflections. It’s a VA panel, so there is no risk of burn-in, but it has lousy viewing angles. It’s not the brightest TV on the market at 300nits and no local dimming, but despite all this, the picture quality is better than adequate.
The sound quality is adequate but nothing to write home about, you can improve it with a soundbar if audio quality is essential to you. You will have plenty in the kitty to choose the very best soundbar.
The TCL4 series will never win a design award, but it’s not ugly. A plain black and six different screen sizes – 43”, 49”,50”, 55”, 65”, and 75”. The back has a cutout for the connections. The number of connections brings home the fact it is a cheap TV, and you only get three HDMI instead of the standard four, one USB instead of two, and only ethernet, composite/component input, and a coaxial jack. Before buying this screen, make sure it will meet your connection needs.
The remote provided is a Roku with a dedicated Netflix button and the standard controls but no additional functions.
The standard built-in Roku streaming software is uncomplicated to use.
LG NanoCell SM90 – Future-proofed HDMI 2.1 ports
The LG NanoCell SM90 has many features that make it a great gaming TV – a variable refresh rate, auto low latency mode, and a high frame rate. It has a pre-set game mode (automatic kick-in for Xbox) and, depending on the resolution, 14-16ms of input lag.
As you would expect from any halfway decent 4K TV, it has excellent upscaling of lower resolution content. It does have a bit of a delay in increasing and decreasing brightness levels, which can be distracting while playing but it is an excellent gaming TV with quality sound without the need for a soundbar.
If your console of choice is the PlayStation, you will have to choose game mode because PlayStation is not compatible with auto low latency mode.
This gaming TV benefits from HDMI 2.1 ports instead of the standard HDMI 2.0 ports, so it is ready for the next generation of gaming consoles.
Price Point: You can pick up the 65” for about $2,500, price varies on screen size.
The TV comes with an antireflective film covering the screen – don’t remove it. In general, if you find a transparent film on your TV screen when you unpack it unless it says explicitly – please remove – leave it alone.
This LCD TV has full-array local dimming with 48 dimming zones. This amount isn’t enough, and the picture suffers from poor blacks and an unattractive green tinge. But picture quality is relative. In the comfort of your home, you are not comparing two screens side by side. The picture quality is excellent, but if you want to find fault with some aspects, you can.
The alpha 7 video processor is powerful, and you can view the screen without picture distortion from wide angles. The IPS panel will comfortably show content from 4K, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, and Advanced HDR.
The picture quality may be mediocre for a 4K TV, but the sound quality is excellent for a TV thanks to the use of Sound AI cleaning up and improving the sound emitted through the 2.2 channel 40W speakers. There is support for Dolby Atmos.
Five screen sizes – 49”, 55”, 65”,75” and 85” should ensure there is a screen for any room size. It has a flat-screen with a slim bezel and a rounded back. It is sensitive to vibrations when on the stand and is best when wall-mounted. The socket panel is a bit of a mess with some ports pointing directly at the wall, so it needs some thought for cable management.
This gaming TV has four future-proofed HDMI 2.1 ports with HDPC 2.2 and eARC capability. It also boasts the standard three USB ports, CL, ethernet, optical HDMI with ARC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Airplay.
The Magic Remote is a Bluetooth Wi-Fi controller that is motion-sensitive so you can use it to point at the screen. It does not need a line of sight for the TV screen, but it does for other connected devices such as a game console as the menu accesses with IR communications. There is an in-built mic for voice control and quick access buttons for Netflix and Prime. You can adjust the sound quality with one-touch sound tuning on the remote.
The smart tv platform is Web OS 4.5 same as used in the top of the range LG C9. It comes with an AI preview pulling content from the streaming services to display on screen if the streaming service supports this feature.
It also has automatic recognition of third-party devices, not quite as smooth as Samsung, but it does the job. It is capable of voice control, and the Google Assistant and Alexa are integrated and available. It also features screen mirroring, which means you don’t have to pair your mobile device to Bluetooth to be able to cast content from, say your phone, to the TV screen.
Samsung RU8000 Series
The FreeSync variable refresh rate technology gives virtually tear free screens during gaming. This gaming TV has a fast response time of 11.3ms and minimal input lag at 13ms. The motion handling is excellent, and there is an optional Black Frame Insertion for further tweaking. There is a preset game mode except for the smallest 49” screen, which only has a 60Hz panel. The game mode must be selected as it is not automatic on recognizing a console.
Price Point: The 55” is around $800. The price ranges from $650 to $2,600, depending on screen size.
The screen is edge-lit rather than backlit and lacks local dimming zones. The picture quality is excellent, as you would expect from a 4K resolution screen. There is a wide range of colors, deep blacks, and excellent contrast giving good picture detail. It does not suffer from reflected light and has minimal dirty screen effect, but the highlights in HDR are not as bright as they could be. It’s a VA panel, so there is no burn-in risk, but the viewing angles are poor. Ideally, you would want to view the screen head-on.
The screen will support HRD10, HRD10+and HLG content.
The sound quality is nothing special but adequate, if you want better audio, you will want a soundbar.
The screen sizes are 49”,55”,65”,75”, and 82” with a flat panel, a plastic stand, and grooves, and clips for tidy cable management. It has a slight curve to the back, and you will need to use the supplied spacers if you intend to hang it on the wall.
The connections are standard: four HDMI, two USB, Digital optical audio out, Cable/antenna, ethernet Wi-Fi support and ARC on HDMI port 4
You get the standard Samsung remote with its quick access buttons and voice control.
This model comes with the Samsung smart hub with its simple interface giving you access to many apps and voice control (Bixby). You will see various adverts, but you also get automatic recognition of other Samsung devices and support for screen mirroring from smart devices.
LG UM7300 Series
It has an excellent low input lag of 10-11ms, which compares favorably with a 60Hz gaming monitor. It has a decent response time, minimal motion blurring and support of auto low latency mode. It does not support black frame insertion or variable refresh rates, but it is an excellent screen for gaming.
Price Point. A low cost to entry-level priced TV depending on the screen size.
This 4K IPS screen does not support HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, but it does show HDR10.
It is a budget 4K TV, and the picture quality is not superb, the blacks appear slightly greyish in a dark room, but the dirty screen effect is very slight. The semigloss finish to the screen diffuses reflections, and its limited contrast means you are better using this TV in a brightly lit room. It lacks local dimming, but although it suffers (like all IPS screens) from temporary image retention, it is not prone to permanent burn-in.
The larger screens from 50” have a VA panel rather than an IPS screen.
The sound quality is adequate but mediocre. You can improve the audio with a soundbar.
You have a choice of five different size screens (43”, 49”,50”, 55”, and 65”), and the TV has a decent functional design that is best when wall-mounted to avoid wobble. You need to work out your system of cable management.
You get a minimal three HDMI ports, two USB, digital optical audio out, component/composite, cable/antenna, and ethernet.
You get the LG remote with its virtual pointer system and voice control. Standard controls and a few automatic buttons for streaming services.
It comes with the Web OS interface in all the models but not all the advanced features. You get voice control, a great selection of apps, and casting from smart devices.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get great gaming TVs that will also allow you to watch broadcasts and streaming services. Many of the manufacturers invest the same technology in their lower-priced models as the high-end ones.
If you are beginning to move into the world of 4K gaming, then any of the above models will perform superbly.