Half a year after their introduction at CES in January, the notable new TVs of 2018 all pretty much on sale now. Their current prices, however, are as high as they'll ever be.
The good news is that prices will fall throughout the rest of the year. Your best bet is to wait until November, specifically Black Friday and later, when prices will be at their lowest, especially for the high-end models.
Of course there's no reason you can't ogle them now, and begin preparing for the glorious day when you can finally take one home without feeling like you paid too much. Ogle away!
Originally published April 22, 2018. Update, June 8: Adds review of Samsung Q8F series.
LG C8 series OLED TV
Price: $2,500 for 55-inch size
The outlook: The least expensive 2018 OLED TV (at least until the B8 arrives this summer), the C8 builds on the best-performing TV of 2017 by adding a fancy Alpha 9 processor said to improve image quality. We can't wait to test it.
The outlook: If history is any indication, this is basically a slightly sleeker version of the C8, with a strip of glass along the bottom. Unless you have an extra $1,000 and nowhere better to spend it, get the C8 instead.
The outlook: Speaking of OLED, Samsung is aiming squarely at LG's high-end TV tech with its own quantum-dot-infused technology called "QLED." The second-cheapest example is the Q7, which improves upon last year's version with a new Ambient mode (common to all 2018 QLED TVs) and a single "invisible" fiber-optic connection that now carries power too.
The outlook: Moving up in the QLED line to the Q8 actually loses you the Q7's invisible connection -- Samsung says some buyers wanted a QLED TV with traditional inputs built right into the TV, rather than in an external box -- but gains you something much better, at least in terms of video quality: full-array local dimming. And it works wonders. The Q8 is one of the best-performing LCD TVs we've ever tested, making it a superb OLED alternative, especially if you want a 75-inch size.
The outlook: Speaking of picture quality, the 2018 Q9 is Samsung's best effort of 2018, at least until its ridiculously expensive, MicroLED-powered 146-inch Wall ships in August. The Q9 could represent the cutting edge of LCD image quality, with more local dimming zones than the Q8 and all the other QLED fixings, including that invisible connection. Of course, it also costs more than an OLED.
The outlook: Speaking of OLED TVs, LG isn't the only one selling them. Sony's new-for-2018 A8F series joins the A1E from 2017, offering a straightforward, normal stand -- not the A1E's kickstand-and-lean-back look. The picture quality between the two is identical, however.
The outlook: The successor to one of our favorite LCD TVs of 2017, the X900F is even better. Improvements include a brighter picture, better video processing including a new Precision Clarity mode that boosts motion resolution, and Dolby Vision high dynamic range compatibility via a firmware update coming later in the year. It's one of the top contenders for best midpriced LCD TV of 2018 once it gets a price drop in the fall, but right now it's just too expensive.
The outlook: Sony's least expensive HDR-capable XBR TV for 2018 lacks the local dimming and picture quality pedigree of the X900F, but does include the superb Android TV operating system that works with Google Home, and full Google Assistant built in. And for huge-screen seekers, the 85-inch version is $4,500, matching Samsung's largest QLED TV in price and eclipsing its size by 3 inches.
Vizio P-series Quantum
Price: $2,200 for 65-inch size
Availability: Early summer
The outlook: Judging from its specifications the all-new Quantum will be Vizio's best-performing TV ever, good enough to challenge the likes of the Samsung Q9 and Sony X900F for best LCD TV of the year. Vizio claims a staggering 2,000 nits of brightness, 192 local dimming zones and quantum dot color. Aside from price, the only downside on paper is that it's only available in a 65-inch size.
The outlook: Losing the name "Quantum" means the standard P-Series doesn't get quantum dots, and with fewer dimming zones and lower brightness we don't expect the same image quality. But it should still be excellent for the price you'll pay.
The outlook: 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. There's no reason to think this 2018 version won't perform just as well, but this year the competition is tougher than ever (see also: TCL, two slides ahead).
The outlook: 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 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.
The outlook: It's early in the year, but the 6-Series is already shaping up to be the best value of 2018. We won't know for sure until we can compare it with a few others, particularly the Vizio M-Series, but that TV has its work cut out.
The TCL 6-Series offers truly excellent image quality that matches and in some ways beats the 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 outlook: The 5-Series is similar to the 6-Series, complete with Dolby Vision support and Roku goodness, but since it lacks local dimming it probably won't match the 6 in image quality. It does come in a wider range of sizes, however, from 43 to 65 inches.
Hisense H8E series
The outlook: The H8E is an intriguing set from a Chinese TV maker with full-array local dimming and HDR at what we assume will be a low price. No, there's no Dolby Vision or Roku smarts, but it does come in sizes from 43 through 65 inches, and is said to be compatible with Alexa.
The outlook: Here's a wild card: Hisense's best 2018 TV is the H10E, which only comes in a 75-inch size and offers not only quantum dot tech, but more than 1,000 zones of full-array local dimming. It also offers the Android TV operating system and compatibility with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
Reviews rolling out now, price drops later
We've already published full side-by-side comparison reviews of a few of these TVs, with coming up soon. Even if you wait until fall to pull the trigger, it's never too early to start your research.
Any questions in the meantime, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @dkatzmaier.