July 12, 2024

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The 6 Best TVs For Watching Movies – Spring 2024: Reviews

4 min read

If you’re looking for a new TV for your home theater setup, there are a few things that you should pay attention to to get the best movie-watching experience possible. Four main criteria are considered when evaluating how good a TV is for watching movies.

Contrast Ratio

The contrast ratio is the ratio between the luminance of the brightest white and darkest black that a TV can produce. A higher contrast ratio means that the TV can display deeper blacks, improving the overall picture quality, especially when watching content in dark rooms. If your TV has a low contrast ratio, blacks will look grey when viewed in a dark room, breaking immersion when watching movies in a dark, home theater setting. Furthermore, TVs with great contrast ratios are better at emphasizing bright highlights in HDR, which is why OLEDs, which have a near-infinite contrast ratio due to their perfect blacks, typically offer the best overall HDR impact even though their HDR brightness is comparatively lower than LED TVs. LED TVs with local dimming naturally have better contrast ratios than LED TVs that don’t, as they can dim dark sections of the screen while separately boosting bright sections.

You can also read our in-depth article on contrast ratio and QLED vs OLED vs LED TVs.

HDR Peak Brightness

In recent years, one of the biggest advances in TV technology has been the development of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video formats. HDR enhances the picture quality in movies and shows by displaying a wider range of colors with brighter highlights than Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content. Peak brightness is probably one of the most important aspects of HDR. This is where high-end TVs have the biggest advantage, as HDR content uses their higher brightness capabilities to show lifelike highlights. If a TV has limited HDR peak brightness, it can’t properly display all the highlights the content is supposed to show. As stated earlier, having a high contrast ratio and a good local dimming feature is also important for delivering a good HDR experience because the TV can show bright and dark highlights without losing details.

If you’d like to know more, we have in-depth articles on HDR peak brightness and HDR vs SDR.

Image Processing

When looking at processing, three main factors are important: sharpness processing when upscaling a low-resolution signal, low-quality content smoothing, and HDR native gradient handling. A TV’s upscaling and sharpness processing is especially important if you’re watching low-resolution content from a physical player that doesn’t have its own upscaling features, like a cable box or an older DVD player. Good upscaling will accurately scale lower resolutions to the higher-resolution pixel count of the screen, maintaining fine details and delivering a sharp, clear image with no noticeable defects. Poor upscaling and sharpness processing will do a bad job of translating this detail, rendering the image blurry or overly sharp.

Low-quality content smoothing looks at how well a TV can process an image to smooth out rough areas of the content and reduce banding and macro-blocking caused by a low-bitrate signal. Although many believe streaming services are generally high-quality, they usually aren’t. Even if you have the highest tier available with your streaming platform, and even if it’s still sending a 4k signal, streaming services use compression algorithms to reduce the amount of bandwidth used. This results in noticeable compression artifacts, like black blocks in near-black scenes. A TV with better low-quality content smoothing will smooth out these artifacts, resulting in a cleaner image overall while preserving fine details.

Finally, good gradient handling is important for producing fine details, particularly in scenes with many different shades of similar color, like in HDR. Since detailed color is meant to be one of the benefits of HDR video, the test results are important for people interested in that kind of media. You can easily notice poor gradient handling as it takes the form of bands of color in shades of similar color when, normally, these shades should blend in and transition from one another perfectly. Banding can be caused by a few reasons, like a low-bitrate signal or a low bit depth, but a TV’s processing can also introduce banding.

You can check out our articles on upscaling sharpness processing and color gradients if you want to know more.

Color Accuracy

Having a color-accurate image matters when watching any content. Still, you’ll only notice minor inaccuracies if you’re a movie aficionado, as scenes that are supposed to be a certain tint might have a completely different one: blue-ish scenes looking green, or vice versa, is a common example. Problems with skin tone accuracy are another example. Most TVs have accurate enough colors out of the box that most people won’t see any difference. If you care about accurate color reproduction, you’ll want a TV with excellent out-of-the-box accuracy so you don’t have to spend too much time calibrating it. Since most TVs have near-perfect accuracy after calibration, it’s important to look at the pre-calibration results.

Look up our article on color accuracy for more information on this topic.

We’ve bought and tested more than 440 TVs, and below are our recommendations for the best TVs for movies you can buy. See our picks for the best OLED TVs, best smart TVs, and best 4k TVs, or vote on which ones you want us to buy and test. You could also consider one of the best home theater projectors instead of a TV. To learn more about the 2024 TV models, check out our 2024 TV lineup page.

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