Q: I have a Pioneer Elite plasma TV, and even though it's working fine, I am doing research now so as not to be blindsided when it dies. I love its bright colors and sharp contrast and want a top-of-the-line viewing experience. What are the very best TVs you can buy?
A: I can tell that you have a taste for the best, because the Pioneer plasmas were the finest TVs of their day. I hope it lasts you a good long time, but here is your answer, which will help other shoppers looking for a premium TV.
The very best TVs would be LG OLED TVs, Sony OLED TVs and Samsung's Q9 series of QLED (Quantum Dot LED/LCD display) TVs. The Sonys use a panel made by LG, but with Sony's proprietary video processing technology. The Sonys have received higher ratings than the LG models, but at a notably higher price.
Meanwhile, Samsung's best QLED TVs come as close to OLED as anything I have seen, especially the Q9, which has incredible detail and color and very deep blacks for a non-OLED TV. With the Q9 there is also no risk of the burn-in that some owners of OLED have experienced, so if such things concern you, then the Q9 would be your choice.
I'd put the TCL 6 Series on your shopping list, as well. While the 6 Series may not deliver quite the state-of-the-art picture quality as the very top-of-the-line TVs I mentioned, it still delivers a first-rate, high-end viewing experience. CNET expressed it well when it said, "The TCL 6 Series has an insanely good picture for the money."
The difference in price between the 6 Series and competitors is staggering. For example, TCL recently introduced a 75-inch version of the 6 Series, sold exclusively at Best Buy. A 75-inch Samsung Q8 sells for $3,299 and the Q9 is $4,499. A 77-inch LG OLED will run about $7,000, and a 77-inch Sony, $8,000. The 75-inch TCL 6 Series sells for $1,799.
If you are an uncompromising videophile, you will probably (and should) go for a Q9 or OLED and spend the extra money. People like you are the reason they make such televisions. But for the rest of the crowd where "insanely good" is enough to satisfy, the TCL 6 Series gives you a chance to experience viewing pleasure normally reserved for those who own the very best televisions.
This is a good opportunity to give a shoutout to Samsung in general. Samsung has been doing great things lately for those who want the best, and its MicroLED display technology was the most impressive thing I saw at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. For now, MicroLED is extremely expensive — think midsized-car expensive — and available only in very large sizes for custom installations. Once MicroLED can be incorporated in a television that can be sold in a box at an affordable price, it could well be game over for other display technologies.
Samsung also has done a great job leveraging its purchase of audio giant Harman International. At the electronics show, the company demonstrated an outstanding Samsung-Harman/Kardon soundbar with Dolby Atmos. The soundbar delivered theater-quality sound with immersive surround effects, and it effortlessly and automatically switched between playback modes for movies, news program or sports.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.