If price isn’t a concern for you and you’re looking to buy a new TV, you’re in luck. After a few years of TV tech plateauing, the last two years have seen significant leaps forward in image quality and form factor. If I were in a Brewster’s Millions–type scenario, these are the TVs I would buy:
If You Regularly Slip $100 Bills Into People’s Hands for Better Service: LG Electronics OLED65G6P Flat 65-Inch 4K Smart OLED TV
LG is currently the only manufacturer making OLED (or Organic Light-Emitting Diode) TVs, which means that they are making the best TVs available. I could go on for a while about what makes OLEDs so neato, but the main thing to know is that OLEDs, unlike LEDs, don’t use a backlight — each pixel lights up on its own. Think of a regular LED TV as being an extremely complex Lite Brite — a pixel on the screen is turned a certain color, and then light is shot through it from behind to illuminate it. Even if you insert a black-colored peg, it’s still going to illuminate every so slightly from the light behind it. OLEDs, however, illuminate each pixel individually, no backlight needed. What this means in the real world is that dark colors are shockingly dark onscreen, because there’s simply no (or very little) light coming from them, while bright colors seem to pop that much more in contrast. The jump in quality from an LED screen to an OLED screen isn’t as jaw-dropping as when everyone moved from old-school SD to HDTVs, but it’s close.
The G6P also comes with a host of other features besides its remarkable screen. It’s incredibly thin — equivalent to the size of four credit cards. It comes with a built-in Harman Kardon sound bar that you won’t need to replace — it produces hefty bass and clear sound in both the mid- and high-range. (Though, of course, there are always higher-end audio options — if you plan go that route, choose the EF9500 OLED that comes without a sound bar instead.) And while 3-D TVs of the past were rightly treated as a gimmick, the G6P’s 3-D mode can be taken seriously. The combination of the high-contrast and high-detail resolution makes for a wildly better experience than the 3-D TVs of the late aughts and early 2010s. (You still have to wear those goofy glasses, though.)
If You Refuse to See Anything Not in IMAX: Samsung UN88JS9500 Curved 88-Inch 4K Smart LED TV
I’m not a huge fan of curved TVs — while they promise a more immersive experience with the screen expanding out into your peripheral vision, in my experience it usually just feels like watching, well, a curved screen. That said, at Samsung’s CES floor show this year, this was the TV everyone was gathered around, and there’s a good reason for that. At 88 inches, the screen seems to swallow you up, and Samsung’s HDR and local dimming are incredibly quick and responsive, meaning the color contrast is sharp, and the dark tones are nearly as good as what you get with an OLED. At this size, watching anything feels like watching something in 3-D, thanks to the subtle difference in depth around you. It also comes with a 3-D option, which I wasn’t able to try, but has gotten good marks. If you have your heart set on a curved TV, this is the set to get.
If You Dream of Owning Your Own IMAX: Sony VPL-VW350ES 4K Projector
Projectors come with a whole slew of caveats. You’re also going to need to get a projection screen. The lamps inside of them will burn out after a set number of hours (500 hours, and then a $499 replacement bulb in this projector’s case). And you’ll need to have a room with both a big enough wall and the ability to shut out external light to really take advantage of it. But if you can do all those things, you’re rewarded with a truly massive screen: This can project an image up to 120 inches. And that extra size does matter — small details that the human eye just can’t make out on even a 65-inch TV are suddenly very apparent on an 120-inch screen. The Sony VPL-VW350ES is actually the cheapest of the 4K projectors out there right now, but it’s been well-reviewed across the board for having the best image quality. While you may be waiting a while for more 4K content show off on your 120-inch screen, in the meantime, you’ll be getting the closest experience to going to the movie theater that you can have at home. The only downside is there’s no celebrity trivia before the film starts.