2014 Best of Year Television Awards

This year was all about OLED and 4K, but there are incredible TVs at every price point.

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As we expected, 2014 was a watershed year for televisions. Plasma technology, beloved by home theater enthusiasts everywhere, finally succumbed to its terminal illness (poor sales). But from its ashes rose the new and more powerful OLED technology, and this was the year when OLED TVs became a real presence in the high-end market.

The other major theme of 2014 was 4K (or Ultra HD). Four times sharper than Full-HD 1080p, 4K brings a new level of realism to TV viewing. The cost of this new technology has dropped sharply, and it’s now possible to get a great 4K TV for as little as $999.

Here's the short version: TVs are getting bigger, cheaper, and better. It’s difficult to know exactly when to time your purchase for maximum value, but rest assured that our Best of Year winners have survived trial by fire in our labs. These are the best of the best, and we hope you find one that works for you.


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Best Television of the Year

LG 55EA9800

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LG 55EA9800

The curved LG EA9800 is a true world-beater, delivering performance that's unrivaled by any other display on the market—all 4K sets included. Best of all, the price tag has been slashed almost $8,000 since its release in late 2013, making it easier than ever to get your hands on these inky black levels and vibrant colors. (Est. price: $2,699–$3,299, 55")

Read our full review of the LG 55EA9800.

Runner-up: LG 55EA8800

Equally beautiful whether it's on or off, the LG EA8800 wraps incredible picture quality in a gallery-ready frame that conceals an earth-shaking audio system. Pretty as a picture, indeed. (Est. price: $4,499, 55")

Read our full review of the LG 55EA8800.

Best OLED Television

LG 55EA9800

Runner-up: LG 55EA8800

In the TV dojo, there are four central pillars of picture quality. UHD TVs only improve on their rivals in one of those: resolution, aka sharpness. Black belts like the EA9800 Curved OLED and EA8800 Gallery OLED, meanwhile, go above and beyond. Even though they're as thin as a pencil, these OLED displays nevertheless deliver shadows as dark as a moonless night, highlights so bright you'll need sunglasses, and color purity that would make van Gogh blush.

Read our full review of the LG 55EA9800 (Est. price: $2,699–$3,299, 55").
Read our full review of the LG 55EA8800 (Est. price: $4,499, 55").

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Best 4K Television

Sony X950 Series

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Sony XBR-65X950B

Most 4K TVs today cost more than they're worth, but the Sony X950B's price is totally justified. This masterfully designed 4K TV exceeds expectations, boasting premium full-array backlighting and next-generation color gamut that makes older TVs look like black and white in comparison. (Est. price: $4,749–$24,999, 65"–85")

Read our full review of the Sony XBR-65X950B.

Runner-up: Vizio P Series

The P Series delivers excellent picture quality at an unrivaled price point. Great 4K for $999 is the definition of a "no-brainer." (Est. price: $999–$2,499, 50"–70")

Read our full review of the Vizio P652ui-B2.

Best Value 4K Television

Vizio P Series

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Vizio P652ui-B2

Vizio's P Series is proof that you can have your cake and eat it, too. By eschewing design flourishes and unnecessary extras like 3D capability and web browsing, the P Series delivers cutting-edge 4K performance and high-end hardware upgrades without the next-generation price tag.

Enhancements like full-array backlighting with local dimming and high-velocity HDMI help the P Series compete toe-to-toe with much pricier 4K sets. Available at unbelievably low prices, the P Series is made-to-order for buyers who want steak, but don't need the sizzle. (Est. price: $999–$1349, 50"–55")

Read our full review of the Vizio P652ui-B2.

Runner-up: Samsung HU6950 Series

The HU6950 crams Samsung's excellent Smart Hub and great 4K picture quality into a more affordable package than the usual UHD options. Its razor-sharp stand and slim panel create a fresh, modern take on the traditional flat-panel look. (Est. price: $899–$1,399, 40"–55")

Read our full review of the Samsung UN40HU6950.


Best Plasma Television

Samsung F8500 Series

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Samsung PN60F8500

With Panasonic, Samsung, and LG officially shuttering their plasma businesses, it's getting harder and harder to track down a high-quality plasma TV. Fortunately for cinephiles everywhere, Samsung extended production of the excellent F8500 series into 2014. As plasmas go, this is one of the best ever made.

Plasmas deliver better black levels, viewing angles, and colors than LED TVs. The F8500 is a testament to that quality—and unlike most plasmas, it's bright enough to watch in well-lit environments. This might be your last chance to get one of the better TVs of the last decade. (Est. price: $1,199–$2,499, 51"–64")

Read our full review of the Samsung PN60F8500.


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LG webOS [Image Credit: LG]

Best Smart TV Platform

LG webOS

Smart TVs are nothing new. In fact, most of them feel outdated five minutes after you set them up. Sluggish processing and hamstrung interfaces have long marred internet-connected TVs—until webOS arrived, that is. LG's blisteringly fast, beautifully simple platform puts the "smart" back in "smart TV," integrating a highly-responsive architecture with bright, attractive colors. With webOS, you can jump between apps, games, web browsing, and cable at smartphone speeds.

Best of all, webOS is available to buyers at all price levels. You can find it on tons of LG TVs, from the high-end EC9300 OLED, to the mid-range UB8500 4K, and even the affordable LB6300 LED.

Read our in-depth look at LG webOS.


Best Innovation in Television

Microsoft Xbox One OneGuide

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Microsoft Xbox One OneGuide [Image Credit: Microsoft]

Many people lament the poor design of their cable or satellite interface, but until recently, what other choice did you have? Some smart TV makers have stepped up to the plate with integrated channel guides, but this year Microsoft rose to the challenge with the best solution yet: the Xbox One OneGuide.

OneGuide offers the best cable integration yet, supplanting your old set-top box with a clean, modern look. HDMI pass-through is where it outshines most smart TVs, allowing the Xbox to do the legwork of arranging and presenting your cable content. This makes for snappier response times and a more cohesive layout, and leaves the TV free to focus on presenting a great picture. (Est. price: $449)

Our in-depth article on the Microsoft Xbox One OneGuide is coming soon.


Best Design in Television

LG 55EA8800

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LG 55EA8800 [Image Credit: LG]

When OLED was first introduced, its organic, rich colors drew endless comparisons to paint on a canvas. The EA8800 takes that idea literally—LG wrapped this thin, flat OLED panel in a picture frame, encouraging you to hang it on your wall. Thanks to OLED's awesome power, this TV really is a work of art.

It takes a little work to install, but the EA8800 is much more than just a pretty picture. The elegant frame houses 100 watts of speaker power, filling the room with booming sound worthy of the TV's jaw-dropping images. This TV raises the bar for television design. It practically belongs in a museum. (Est. price: $4,499)

Read our full review of the LG 55EA8800.


Best LCD Television

Sony X950 Series

Runner-up: Vizio P Series

It's no surprise that the year's best LCD TVs are also the best 4K TVs, but there's actually more to it than that. While many UHD sets would be average performers without the resolution boost, Sony's X950B and Vizio's P Series would still be knockouts. Thanks to a hardware advantage called full-array backlighting with local dimming, these TVs mimic the extraordinary qualities OLED and plasma, putting them head and shoulders above the rest of the LED TV pack.

Read our full review of the Sony XBR-65X950B (Est. price: $4,749–$24,999, 65"–85").
Read our full review of the Vizio P652ui-B2 (Est. price: $999–$2,499, 50"–70").


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Best Mid-Range LCD Television

Vizio P Series

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Vizio P652ui-B2

Long story short, these stellar TVs give you premium 4K performance without the premium 4K price tag. (Est. price: $999–$2,199, 50"–65")

Read our full review of the Vizio P652ui-B2.

Runner-up: Sony W800B Series

If you're not ready to hop on the 4K bandwagon, Sony's W800B delivers high-end Full-HD performance that's perfect for today's content. The W800B is perfectly calibrated for movie lovers straight out of the box, and offers a suite of great extras like smart features and 3D functionality. (Est. price: $999–$1,299, 50"–55")

Read our full review of the Sony KDL-55W800B.


Best Value LCD Television

Samsung UN40HU6950

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Samsung UN40HU6950

This 40-inch TV tackles two tasks with equal aplomb: It can serve as a smaller 4K TV for consumers with limited space, or as a huge 4K monitor to blow up your desktop. Toss in Samsung's upgradeable Smart Hub platform and great performance and you've done some serious future-proofing. (Est. price: $899, 40")

Read our full review of the Samsung UN40HU6950.

Runner-up: Vizio P502ui-B1

The 50-inch P Series wields performance on par with some of this year's best TVs, and promises great extras at an unbeatable price. (Est. price: $999, 50")

Read our full review of its sister model, the Vizio P652ui-B2.


Best Television Under $500

Vizio E480i-B2

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Vizio E480i-B2

The 48-inch E Series is the perfect value buy for budget shoppers. Equipped with some of the same great hardware upgrades as the company's P Series, this TV makes picture quality a top priority. It skips a lot of the frills you'd find on competing models, but does include useful blue-chip apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Thanks to its full-array backlight with local dimming, this TV is capable of contrast performance and black levels on par with some of last year's plasmas. It's also a great choice for dedicated gamers, as minimal background processing means there's very little input lag. (Est. price: $499, 48")

Read our full review of the Vizio E480i-B2.

Runner-up: Sony KDL-40W600B

Though it's an entry-level model, the W600B still delivers the same picture quality as many high-end Sony models. Movie buffs, take note: This TV adheres to the same standards preferred by directors and cinematographers, so all you have to do is push a few buttons and enjoy. (Est. price: $479, 40")

Read our full review of the Sony KDL-40W600B.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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