Reference Library – Mobile Phones – Sony
New TVs from leading brands are beginning to fill the store shelves, and 2017 models are being sold at bargain prices to make room. With big discounts on old models, this could be your last chance to buy them. TVs both big and small from leading brands including Samsung, LG, Sony and Panasonic are having their prices slashed – some by over 50%.
Whether you’re after a modest 40-inch set or a mammoth 65-inch one, there’s a bargain-priced TV to suit you if you can live without having the latest model. But are all these temptingly priced TVs worth owning? We’ve found a selection that have hit their lowest price or thereabouts, and you can see in our reviews which are brilliant bargains and which best avoided.
Great bargains on 40 to 49-inch TVs
The focus may be firmly on TVs 55 inches and above, but there are still some good smaller TVs to be had. Our reviews reveal all the key details.
Panasonic TX-40EX700B – GBP414 from John Lewis
- 40-inch LCD TV
- Launched at GBP670
If you were hoping to spend closer to GBP400 than GBP500 and you don’t mind losing a few inches, then the Panasonic TX-40EX700B, with its striking curved base, looks to be a good option. It’s small, but it’s still smart.
You’ll get access to streaming apps that make the most of the 4K HDR screen and it has Freeview Play, too. Freeview Play lets you scroll back through the previous week’s TV to watch what you’ve missed, without using catch-up apps. We’re big fans.
Sony KD43XE8005 – GBP579 from John Lewis
- 43-inch LCD TV
- Launched at GBP1,000
Despite being almost half its launch price, the 4K 43XE8005 is still at the more expensive end of 43-inch TVs. It has HDR and YouView, which lets you watch shows you’ve missed from within the electronic programme guide without opening any extra catch-up apps.
But is that enough to justify a price that’s only slightly less than the bigger Samsung 7 Series? If the picture is stellar at all resolutions and the sound is balanced, then this Sony would be a 43-inch TV we can recommend, which is unfortunately a rarity these days. Does it cut the mustard?
Samsung UE49MU7000 – GBP618 from ao.com
- 49-inch LCD TV
- Launched at GBP1,050
This 4K TV is part of Samsung’s 7 Series. It’s a mid-range TV with HDR10, so it should make the most of UHD Blu-rays and 4K HDR streams from Amazon Video and Netflix. It’s mid-range, but it should be that bit more special than the basic 6 Series.
One place this is evident is the design. The thicker black bezels on the 6 Series are shaved down and are silver for a much sleeker overall look. Design is one thing, but its picture and sound quality matter most.
Hot deals on 50 to 55-inch TVs
Falling prices and the ever-increasing amount of 4K content means manufacturers are pushing bigger TVs that are better at displaying ultra-high-resolution content. Many high-end TVs don’t come in sizes smaller than 55 inches, so in this bracket you should see the best models a manufacturer can muster.
But bigger doesn’t always mean better.
Panasonic TX-55EZ952B – GBP1,579 from John Lewis
- 55-inch OLED TV
- Launched at GBP2,800
With more than a grand knocked of its price since launch, this top-of-the-range Panasonic TV is now at its cheapest ever price. It’s an OLED, which means there’s no backlight. In picture quality terms that should translate to better contrast and better motion-handling.
Why? Because each bulb creating the image can be turned on and off individually, offering greater control over what parts of the screen are lit. LCD TVs use backlights, which create larger areas of light and have less contrast control as a result.
OLED doesn’t automatically equal Best Buy, though. The benefits the display offers won’t fix poor sound or unnatural colours. Did Panasonic’s first OLED live up to the promise of the technology?
Samsung UE55MU7070 – GBP719 from Currys
- 55-inch LCD TV
- Launched at GBP1,400
One year on from its launch in 2017, this 7 Series is almost half price. It’s a 4K set from Samsung that also supports HDR10, the current industry standard. To take advantage of the screen, you’ll probably want a subscription to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
This is where most 4K HDR content can be found.
4K is only one piece of the puzzle. The vast majority of the TV we watch is in SD or HD, and a Best Buy needs to be just as good at displaying those resolutions. See if this TV is great at displaying all resolutions in our Samsung UE55MU7070 review.
LG OLED55B7V – GBP1,399 from John Lewis & Currys
- 55-inch OLED TV
- Launched at GBP3,000
Although Sony and Panasonic now have their own OLED TVs, it was LG that started the trend.
It now releases five OLED ranges each year. The B7 is the entry level OLED set from 2017, but it’s high-end if you take into account the LG’s LCD TVs that all sit below it. Being OLED means the TV should have superior contrast than LCD displays because OLEDs have more control over what parts of the screen are lit.
LG 55UJ634V – GBP479 from Currys
- 55-inch LCD TV
- Launched at GBP900
This price of this TV may not have fallen off a cliff, but it was relatively cheap to start with. Despite its low price, you’re still getting a 4K TV with HDR10 support and the same webOS smart platform that you’d find in LG’s GBP8,000 Signature OLED.
Its thicker black bezels aren’t quite as stylish as the brushed metal, barely-there bezels found on LCD TVs further up the range. But that’s not the end of the world if it can match them when it comes to image quality, too. Is this 55-inch TV the bargain of the year, or have corners been cut to get the price so low?
Is it worth spending more on a 2018 TV?
The 2018 55-inch LG C8 OLED costs twice as much as the equivalent C7 from last year. Is it really worth double the price?
The truth is that TVs drop in price significantly in the year following their release. The C7 is just one example of an eye-wateringly pricey TV that looks a lot more affordable 12 months on. In fact, our research has found that TVs first reach their cheapest point around eight months after launch.
But then you’ve got information on the new TVs on the horizon to tempt you. The difference between 2017 and 2018 TVs isn’t huge, but there are some interesting advancements.
2018 TVs are still 4K, but they support more HDR formats. The C7 supported one at launch (HDR10), but the C8 supports four.
As more HDR content is mastered with a specific format in mind it may, and should, look better on a compatible TV.
2018 TVs are smarter, too. Voice search has improved significantly to the point that you can search for specific shows on LG, Samsung and Sony TVs rather than needing to use on-screen keyboards. At the end of the day the choice is yours.
But if you feel you won’t benefit from these sorts of advancements, it could certainly make sense to look for a saving on a slightly older set.
- ^ the top five TVs we’ve tested (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Panasonic TX-40EX700B review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Sony KD43XE8005 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Samsung UE49MU7000 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Panasonic TX-55EX952B review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Samsung UE55MU7070 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ LG OLED55B7V review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ LG 55UJ634V review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Best TV deals for 2018 (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ buying the best TV for 2018 (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Panasonic (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Samsung (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Sony (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ all our 2018 TV reviews (www.which.co.uk)
Nine of 2018’s new sound bar models ranging from under GBP150 all the way up to GBP900 have been into our audio testing lab, with Panasonic, LG, Samsung and Sony all going under the microscope. 2018 started slowly for the sound bar market, but as we get to the halfway point, all the big manufacturers have now launched most of their most important products. We’ve taken nine of the newest through our brand-new test programme to see whether they’re worthy of a place in your living room.
Sony: Budget sound bar models on test
The first two Sony sound bars we’ve tested this year are the firm’s cheapest models. Despite their low price, they aren’t short on features. At GBP150, the Sony HT-SF150 is a basic all-in-one model that comes without a subwoofer.
It has Bluetooth connectivity, so you’ll be able to connect your phone to play music, and also features virtual surround sound in an attempt to make big-budget blockbusters feel more immersive. Read our full Sony HT-SF150 review to see what we thought.
The Sony HT-SF200 costs just GBP20 more than the HT-SF150 and includes a built-in subwoofer. This means you’ll get the extra bass without the extra clutter of a separate subwoofer unit.
Again, there’s virtual surround sound, Bluetooth connectivity and HDMI, meaning it ticks all the boxes for a modest yet capable home cinema setup. Our full Sony HT-SF200 review reveals whether it offers enough.
Panasonic sound bars: The basics for under GBP200
We’ve tested the Panasonic SC-HTB200, which is identical to the SC-HTB208 model aside from colour (the ‘208’ model is ‘charcoal’ instead of black). It has a chunky design and a built-in subwoofer, along with Bluetooth and HDMI connectivity, all for under GBP150 – if it lives up to its billing, it could be an excellent budget choice.
Also in the lab is the SC-HTB258, which is similar to the HTB200 but comes with a separate, wireless subwoofer that you can place anywhere you want. All you need is a power source, and you can add bass to your home cinema without trailing an audio cable across the room. We’ve found wireless subwoofers can add a lot to the quality of a sound bar and can often be worth the premium over all-in-one models, and our full Panasonic SC-HTB258 review explains whether that’s the case here.
Samsung HW-N400: Feature-packed for GBP400
Samsung is pitching this sound bar as the perfect companion for your other Samsung gadgets, including TVs and Blu-ray players.
If you have a compatible 2017 or newer Samsung TV, you’ll be able to control the sound bar and all its settings using your TV’s remote. It includes Bluetooth, HDMI and Optical inputs and also features HDMI ARC, which should make the setup process simpler and require fewer cables. Read our full Samsung HW-N400 review for more.
LG: A chance for redemption
Last year’s LG SJ3 was awarded a Don’t Buy award due to very poor audio performance.
Based on feedback, LG redesigned this model to improve performance. According to our expert listening panel, the new model is noticeably better than its predecessor, but is it ready to make the step up? Find out in our LG SJ3 review.
Elsewhere, Which? Has looked at LG’s three higher-end models, brand new for 2018. There’s the GBP399 SK6 that goes toe-to-toe with the Samsung HW-N400, the GBP599 SK8 and the GBP899 SK9Y.
All three models feature smart capabilities including Google Chromecast support and Google Assistant functions. They don’t have built-in mics, but if you have a Google Assistant device such as one of LG’s ThinQ speakers or a Google Home, you’ll be able to bark commands to play music from your sound bar.
While the SK6 just supports virtual surround sound, the SK8 and SK9Y step it up a notch, supporting Dolby Atmos audio, which bounces sound off your ceiling to give a more immersive, ‘object-based’ audio experience. We’ve found this feature to be hit-and-miss on sound bars in the past, but it’s improving all the time.
The two higher-end models also support 4K passthrough, meaning you can connect 4K Sky or Blu-ray boxes directly to the sound bar and then pass the picture all the way through to your TV, making setup even simpler. Read our reviews of the LG SK6, SK8 and SK9Y.
Which?’s new sound bar test: A tougher challenge
For 2018-model sound bars, Which? has introduced a new listening test to push the sound bars to their limits. This includes new clips from the latest blockbuster films, popular TV shows and high-quality music samples, and we now provide individual star ratings for movie, speech, music and Dolby Atmos content, so you can be sure that whatever you’ll be listening to or watching most often is well served by the sound bar you choose.
The panel is still formed of five audio industry experts, who each provide their own individual pros and cons for each sound bar.
In 2017 there were 125 individual data points taken into account for sound bar reviews. This has increased to 151 for 2018. We’ve also updated our technical assessments, so sound bars are awarded for having a wider range of relevant connections and features, including HDMI ARC, wi-fi and Chromecast support.
Ready to choose a new sound bar?
- ^ top-rated sound bars (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Sony HT-SF150 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Sony HT-SF200 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Panasonic SC-HTB200 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Panasonic SC-HTB258 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Samsung HW-N400 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ LG SJ3 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ LG SK6 (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ SK8 (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ SK9Y (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ sound bar reviews (www.which.co.uk)
A great pair of headphones will keep you company with crystal-clear music while you’re away from home, but which models are well suited to a day at the beach? We’ve taken a look at headphones from big-name brands including Sony, Audio-Technica and Bose to help you pick the perfect holiday headphones for you. The headphones listed below might be on your shortlist if you’re picking a pair to travel with, but make sure you check our expert reviews before splashing out.
Noise-cancelling headphones for the plane
Sony WH-H900N h.ear on 2 Wireless NC (GBP199)
These wireless, noise-cancelling Sony headphones will block out irritating noises on the plane, and they could prove useful on the daily commute when you’re back at home. A free-to-download smartphone app pairs with the headphones, allowing you to adjust the sound from your mobile depending on the genre you listen to the most. It has NFC support, and it means you can tap the headphones against an NFC-enabled smartphone to speed up the process of establishing a Bluetooth connection.
Sony’s wireless headphones come with a feature called ‘quick attention’, which lowers volume and allows you to hear ambient sound if you hold your hand over the ear cup. For more details, check our Sony WH-H900N h.ear on 2 Wireless NC review.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT (GBP114)
Here are some wireless, in-ear headphones to consider. These Bluetooth headphones from Audio-Technica wrap around your neck and offer noise-cancelling features that aim to hide background noise.
A remote is built into the strap, which means you can answer phone calls without reaching into your pocket. The same controls can also be used to skip tracks and adjust volume. How many hours of listening will you get from these headphones on a single charge?
Bose QuietComfort 25 (GBP170)
These on-ear headphones use active noise cancelling technology to block out the outside world, leaving you to enjoy your music without distraction. They come in two variations: one with an inline remote for iPads and iPhones, and another designed for Samsung devices. Despite a chunky design these Bose headphones are lighter than they look, weighing in at around 220g.
Waterproof headphones for the poolside
Kitsound Outrun (GBP25)
The in-ear, wireless Kitsound Outruns have a curved design that wraps around your ear to keep the buds in place. On top of that they’re water resistant, which means they should survive a splash of water if you’re poolside or at the beach.
These affordable Bluetooth headphones come with a built-in microphone, so you can stay connected easily while you’re on the move. To see if these headphones are worth packing for your next trip, see our Kitsound Outrun review.
Bose Soundsport Free (GBP180)
These Bose headphones don’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for some wireless headphones to travel with for years to come, they might be on your radar. With an IPX4 rating, the Bose SoundSport Free headphones are sweat and weather-resistant.
The lightweight in-ear headphones ship with a case that doubles as a charger and are also bundled with StayHear+ sport ear tips aimed at fitness fanatics. Controls on the earbud let you play and pause tracks, take phone calls and activate a voice assistant (Google Assistant on Android and Siri on iOS). Is it worth paying close to GBP200 for these in-ear headphones?
Monster iSport Achieve BT (GBP60)
Monster’s headphones are built with sports in mind, designed to stay in your ears even while you’re running. Of course, even if you don’t plan to jog while you’re on holiday, the water-resistant materials used will keep the buds protected at the beach. Physical music controls and a microphone are included with these Bluetooth headphones, which wrap around your ear to keep them in position.
The best cheap headphones
If you’re picking up some headphones that you plan to take on holiday, you probably don’t want to spend big on premium over-ear models and would rather go for an affordable pair of headphones you don’t mind stuffing into your bag.
When testing headphones in our lab, we pay close attention to the things that matter most: sound quality, comfort and durability. As our rigorous lab tests have proved countless times, price isn’t always a clear indicator of quality.
- ^ Best Buy headphones (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Sony WH-H900N h.ear on 2 Wireless NC review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Bose QuietComfort 25 review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Kitsound Outrun review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Bose Soundsport Free review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Monster iSport Achieve BT review (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ top five best cheap headphones for 2018 (www.which.co.uk)