The Best High-End and Bargain TVs Right Now

Skip to story Vizio's 120-inch Reference Series TV is almost here, and it's likely to come with a very un-Vizio-like price tag.Vizio's 120-inch Reference Series TV is almost here, and it's likely to come with a very un-Vizio-like price tag. Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Right now is possibly the best time in history to buy a new television. Huge, high-end 1080p TVs are going for $1,000 or less. You can get an OLED set for less than $2,500. From the major manufacturers, there will probably be more 4K TVs this year than HDTVs, and many of them will be priced to move. No matter what kind of cash you’re willing to spend, you can get a good set.

We typically get our first peek at all the new televisions at the very beginning of the year, but those same sets don’t arrive in stores until late spring. The time is now: Over the last two weeks, several top manufacturers have released pricing and availability details for their 2015 sets. And things are looking good. Across the board, industrial design is moving forward: Super-thin bezels, brushed aluminum, and elegant stands are everywhere. And everyone seems to have put gimmicks in the back seat and focused their efforts on the most important thing: Picture quality.

We surveyed the 2015 lineups of all the major manufacturers. Each of the big-name vendors has its own specialty, and those specialties often change a bit depending on the tiers of sets you’re looking at. So for each television brand, we’ve highlighted not only the top-tier sets that are really pushing display tech forward, but also the bargain choices that best demonstrate the desirable qualities of the pricer models.

We’ll start with LG, which has the most jaw-dropping lineup from top to bottom.


LG

The Specialty: OLED is LG’s strong suit. The company’s OLEDs are the best-looking TVs since sliced bread.

The High-End Showpiece: For now, take your pick between the 77-inch EG9700 ($25,000) and the 65-inch model of the same set ($12,000). They’re LG’s top-of-the-line 4K OLEDs, offering the ultimate combination of sharpness and contrast of any TV that currently exists. Space movies, in particular, should look amazing. You can save a few bones by opting for the 65-inch EG9600 ($9,000) or the 55-inch EG9600 ($5,500).

This television, it costs $25,000.This television, it costs $25,000. LG

The Best Bargain: It’s hard to consider $2,200 a bargain for a 55-inch TV, but when we’re talking about an OLED TV, all reasonable ideas about money are out of the question. LG’s EC9300 was released last year for around $3,500, and now its price is approaching half that. It’s a 1080p TV, but with 4K content still scarce and OLED’s jaw-dropping picture quality at any resolution, you won’t care.

What’s Coming Later This Year: More OLEDs, including the company’s first non-curved OLED panel. There’s also a OLED TV that transforms from flat to curved (and back again) at the click of a remote, but that might cost even more than that $25,000 jawn.


Samsung

The Specialty: High-end LCDs with wide color gamut meant to rival the look of OLED for less. But not much less—at least not yet.

The 65-inch Samsung JS9500, which costs $6,000, backs up its 4K resolution with an elegant design and quantum-dot color enhancement.The 65-inch Samsung JS9500, which costs $6,000, backs up its 4K resolution with an elegant design and quantum-dot color enhancement. Samsung

The High-End Showpiece: The brushed-aluminum and curvy SUHD JS9500 is a beautiful piece of design, and it backs those fetching aesthetics up with 4K resolution, a full-array backlight system with local dimming, HDR-like contrast enhancements, and “nano-crystal technology” (basically, quantum dots) to make those colors pop. These sets start at $6,000 for a 65-incher and ramp up to a heartbreaking $23,000 for an 88-inch model. They sure do look almost as good as OLED, but the price is a wash.

The Best Bargain: Nobody’s making plasma TVs anymore, but it’s not because of picture quality. To discerning eyeballs, plasma sets produce a better overall picture than LCD, thanks to superior black levels, viewing angles, and motion handling. If you really want to kick it old-school, pick up Samsung’s 64-inch H5000 plasma for just $1,300. It doesn’t have any smart features or fancy doo-dads, but your set-top streamer already supplies those anyway.

What’s (Maybe) Coming Later This Year: Lord knows if it’ll actually come out, but the Yves Behar-designed S9W set is appropriately mounted on a pedestal like the fancy TV princess it is. It’s an 82-incher with a 21:9 aspect ratio—not exactly pragmatic, but plenty pretty. Pretty also describes the penny it’ll cost if it’s ever released.


Sony

The Specialty: High dynamic range and impossibly thin sets.

The High-End Showpiece: The $8,000 XBR-75X940C is another LCD TV meant to rival the color, contrast, and cool factor of OLED, and this one throws in some powerful integrated speakers. It creates its high-contrast sorcery with a full-array backlight system and local dimming, and although Sony is still calling its color-boosting technology “Triluminos,” the company says it has steered away from quantum dots in this year’s TVs. Whatever it’s using, Sony’s colors look lovely—in company-controlled demos, at least.

We hope the crazy-slim 900- and 910-series sets will be cheap, but they probably won't be.We hope the crazy-slim 900- and 910-series sets will be cheap, but they probably won’t be. Sony

The Best Bargain: Last year’s 55-inch X850B Ultra HD set came out of the gates priced at $3,000. Now it’s on sale at half that price. And if you’re interested in a 1080p set, Sony has some new options with Android TV and Chromecast features baked right in. Those start at $1,000 for the 50-inch W800C and roll up to $3,000 for the 75-inch W850C.

What’s Coming Soon: We don’t yet know how much the prosciutto-thin X900 and X910 4K TVs will cost when they come out this summer, but it’s safe to say they’ll start at around $3,000 for the 55-inch X900. It’s also safe to say that you have never seen a TV as thin as this. At 0.2 inches thick, it is closer to the thickness of a dime (0.05 inches) than the diameter (0.7 inches) of one. Think about that.


Vizio

The Specialty: Very good picture quality and features for a crazy-good price.

The High-End Showpiece: Vizio normally saves its highest-end announcements for later in the year, and there’s a new top-tier set on the way. It’s the company first Reference Series lineup, which features a 65-incher and a mammoth 120-inch set. Both sets are primed for Dolby Vision-mastered HDR content, which uses a brighter backlight system and 384 zones of blackness-enhancing local dimming to take dynamic range and contrast into the stratosphere. No pricing or release date has been announced, but Vizio promises the sets will be out this year. The 120-incher is sure to cost a very un-Vizio-like fortune.

The Best Bargain: You can pick any Vizio TV as a bargain. Bargains are the company’s schtick. But a few stand out, old and new. There’s a brand-new 4K TV, the 55-inch M Series, for just $1,000. And with the new announcements in the M Series, the higher-end P Series sets also got a price cut. You can get a 65-inch 4K set for $1,800, a 60-inch 4K set for $1,500, and a 50-incher for just $800.

The new 55-inch M-Series TV gives you 4K, full-array LEDs, and local dimming for just $1,000.The new 55-inch M-Series TV gives you 4K, full-array LEDs, and local dimming for just $1,000. Vizio

What’s Coming Later This Year: There should be new P Series sets announced in the fall, and the Reference Series TVs should also be available at that time.


Everybody Else

It’s been a big few weeks for TV announcements, but some of the big guns—Panasonic and Sharp, for instance—still haven’t released pricing and availability info. Once they present their early-2015 TV plans, we’ll update this page with more picks.

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