The FIFA World Cup 2018 is almost upon us, and fans all over the world are getting psyched. But only a select few will be lucky enough to attend the games live in person from Russia.
The vast majority of soccer -- er, football -- fans will be watching from home, on TV. And if you're a fan whose TV doesn't quite seem worthy of this massive, once-every-four-year event, maybe you're considering a new one.
Here are some of CNET's favorites. None of them are designed specifically for soccer, but instead they're our all-around picks for a bunch of different price levels. That said, if you want a single criteria for what makes a TV more soccer-worthy, it's this: get one that's as big as you can afford.
The TCL 6 series offers truly excellent image quality that matches and in some ways beats Sony and Samsung TVs that cost more than twice as much. As those TVs get cheaper later in the year, they could get more appealing, but I doubt they'll ever beat this TCL's bang for the buck.
The successor to one of our favorite LCD TVs of 2017, the X900F is even better. It's not quite as good in a dark room as the TCL, but it does have a brighter picture and better video processing including a new Precision Clarity mode that boosts motion resolution. That means it might look a bit better than the TCL with soccer and other action sports, but don't expect a huge improvement. And of course, it's a lot more expensive.
Brighter and with better motion processing than even the Sony, Samsung's Q8 could be even better for persnickety soccer fans. And its great performance with gaming, including best-in-class input lag, could even help with your FIFA (video) game. The downside? It's really expensive.
The Q9 is Samsung's best effort of 2018, at least until its ridiculously expensive, MicroLED-powered 146-inch Wall ships in August. Although we haven't reviewed it yet, we expect the Q9 to represent the cutting edge of LCD image quality, with an even brighter image than the Q8 and similar video processing prowess. That could make it one of the bets TVs for soccer, but unfortunately it costs as much as a 2018 OLED (see the next slide).
Simply put, the C8 is the best TV we've ever tested. Its picture quality puts other sets to shame overall, although it isn't as bright or as adept with motion as the Samsungs or the Sony from the previous three slides. Its picture does look better from off-angle, however, so a whole roomful of your friends can bask in the OLED glory.
Sony's OLED TV is the same price as the LG C8, but it's a 2017 model instead of 2018. No matter -- its image quality is almost as good, and you might appreciate that the sounds, including all that great cheering from the crowd, come from the screen itself.
After the last two slides perhaps you're thinking: "I really want an OLED for soccer, but holy crap they're really expensive." Does this help? The B7A is from 2017 but delivers image quality that's nearly as good as the 2018 LG C8, and it costs $1,000 less. That's why we recommend buying this one instead.
Welcome back to the world of TVs priced for affordability, soccer fan. The M-series has won CNET's Editors' Choice award for mainstream-priced TVs two years running, thanks to great picture quality for the money. We haven't reviewed this 2018 version yet, but there's no reason to think it won't perform just as well. This year, however, competition is much more fierce (see also: the TCL 6 series from earlier).
Here's another 2018 TV we haven't reviewed yet, but expect to like. Last year we called the E-series "a big, affordable TV with a focus on picture quality" but only lauded the 60-inch and larger sizes because they were the only ones with local dimming. For 2018, Vizio made sure that technology is available in every E, from 43 up to 76 inches, added Dolby Vision to the mix of features, and kept the price rock-bottom. It shapes up to again be one of the best budget TVs, period.
So what's a decent TV that's even more affordable than the E series? TCL's 495 has 4K resolution (not that it matters for the World Cup) and, more importantly, all the streaming and app goodness of Roku. For soccer fans, that includes the Fox Sports app, as well as the live streaming services that carry Fox.
Take everything great we said about the TCL S405 in the last slide, subtract 4K resolution and you've got the S305, which also comes in smaller sizes (down to 28 inches). If you've got a tight budget but still want a new TV for the World Cup, perhaps for the bedroom or kitchen so you don't miss a second of the action, it's the cheapest on this list.