How long will your TV last? We can tell you

For years my parents refused to replace their TV. Despite a creeping ‘northern lights’ style green mist in one corner, not to mention an issue that caused the audio to cut out for five seconds every few minutes. Nope, instead they insisted on working the set until its legs finally gave way. And believe me, it didn’t make watching TV much fun – imagine the suspense caused by hearing Darth Vader say ‘Luke, I am your…’.

There are few tech products we work quite as hard as our tellies. But despite the hours of service they put in they are also one of the products we expect to last the longest. But we know that not every brand of TV can be trusted to go the distance.

TV reviews – the latest TVs tested

How long will your TV last?

As part of our annual reliability survey we asked nearly 7,000 people about their current and previous TVs. They told us if their TV had developed a fault and when it happened. This lets us compare different brands of TVs and see which ones are more likely to develop a fault.

You can see the results below. Click on the brand you are interested in to see results:

TV reliability – further analysis

Our data tells us that on average 81% of TVs should make it past the five year mark without developing a fault. That’s not particularly impressive. Especially when you look at the graph and realise the majority of faults happen in the first year. But there are better brands than others.

While 85% of TVs from Panasonic – our top performing brand – stayed fault free for five years just 57% of Technika TVs managed the same. That’s abysmal.

Technika is joined on the naughty step by Phillips and Toshiba. Proof that, with TVs at least, paying a little bit more money for a more respected brand will hopefully let your TV go a little longer before it breaks.

What can I do if my TV develops a fault?

If you’re faced with green mist, or crackly audio that means you miss the denouement of age-defining films, exercise your rights under the Sales of Goods Act. Read our guide to returning goods that develop a fault to find out how.

Tune in next week to find out how long your camera will last, and which photographic brand came out on top.

More on this

Which? Best Buy TVs– all the models that came out top
How to buy the best TV– low-cost network excels
Which? awards 2014 – discover whose won in all our categories

Categories: Televisions

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32 replies

  1. Bought a new 42″ LG Smart TVvery clever TV However it is so Smart even the technicians could’nt be bothered to install all the proper Gizmo’s and Gimmicks the TV has, it was left to me with a pile of Referance Books to try and sort the TV out. So 4/10 for that alone.

  2. Hi
    I have just read the “Tech roundup: TV reliability…” in your latest newsletter. The Best Buy 32″ Samsung TV model UE32H6400 is shown as being available at its cheapest price from 9 to 5 Supplies at £396-12. However, their web site shows that this price does not include VAT. When added the price becomes £475-34, plunging this TV 24 places down the best price list. Is this an error?

    1. agreed 100% such good tvs and mine shows no signs of dying even though it is now over 16 and half years old ! Worth paying the extra too in the long term

  3. Many years ago we bought an Hitachi set mainly because Which found that it was the best at the time for sound and as we have always watched almost any thing with classic music it fitted the bill admirably – and it produced a pretty good picture as well. It was still going strong at least 25 years later when we eventually went for a flat screen and we gave it away. What’s more the arial at the time was an old steel milk crate!. They used to make well in those days!

    1. Our first colour TV , a Phillips, was bought for the royal wedding in 1991. Sadly it was dumped, still going strong, as it had no inputs for digital conversion.The 7-year guarantee on the tube was money wasted- a lesson learned.

    2. Digital tuners, PVRs and DVD players can be routed to old tellys via the SCART socket on a VCR. I do this with the Tatung set I bought in 1988 and which is still going strong although these days relegated to the bedroom.

  4. I bought a MEDION TV advertised on the box “HD READY” from Aldi in May this year. When I set it up and switched it on the HD channels did not appear although the normal channels are fine. We have an excellent signal strength in our area and get a superb HD picture on our Samsung TV. After speaking to their helpdesk they agreed to collect it and have it fixed. It was returned several weeks later with the same problem! I phoned their helpdesk again and spoke at length to a man in Germany who agreed that it should be HD and agreed to take it back again. It was collected on 16th June and we are still waiting for it to be returned!

    1. Hi Peter,

      Wikipedia says:

      “The “HD ready” logo is awarded to television equipment capable of displaying High Definition (HD) pictures from an external source. However, it does not have to feature a digital tuner to decode an HD signal; devices with tuners were certified under a separate “HD TV” logo, which does not require a “HD ready” display device.”

      I beieive the above text is a European convention. A “full HD” TV can display pictures with 1080 “lines” but an HD ready one will only display 720 “lines”.

    2. Hi Derek,

      Thanks for your comments. However, after a long conversation with a man on their factory helpsdesk in Germany he agreed that it SHOULD display the HD channels and that they should fix it under the warranty. I’ll keep you posted when (IF) I ever get it back!!!

    3. If you want freeview or freesat HD channels it would have to be Freeview HD certified or Freesat HD. I would agree that it’s a bit of a con for a HD Ready TV not to have Freeview HD but that’s just the way it is. Best of luck getting them to change your whole TV though so it can receive HD channels.

    4. A TV that says HD ready doesn’t necessarily mean it will receive Freeview HD, that is something different. There are various versions of TV – HD Ready means the display will show 720p or 1080i, Full HD means it will show 1080p as well as 720p and 1080i, TVs with just Freeview will only receive Freeview channels (if you want to receive HD through these TVs then you will need a separate Freeview HD box, or Sky HD box) not Freeview HD channels, and TVs with Freeview HD will receive both Freeview HD and Freeview normal.

  5. Years ago, I bought a top of the range Sony. After less than 4 years, the tube exploded. A friend had a similar problem. I will never buy Sony again
    In 2006, I bought a Samsung LE26R7. It cost me an arm and a leg! It is still going strong. My next TV will be a Samsung but maybe with a few more bells and whistles!

  6. I bought a Grundig portable in 1992 and it is still working perfectly. Maybe they made them too good and it might explain why they don’t seem to be on sale anymore.

  7. A year ago a bought a new Samsung 65ES8000 to replace my 7 year old Sony 40X2000 the Sony is still going strong at my sister’s house and my Uncle also has the similar X2500 model, the Samsung at one year old is a heap, picture has dark vertical bars over it and the software is flakey to say the least. Samsung refuse to fix it, having already replaced the panel and there is no software support now.

    The engineer’s who replaced the panel say to me “Why did you buy a Samsung? They are rubbish!” It was obvious to me that they were well rehearsed at replacing panels and I have to concur with their opinion.

    So you can guess which make I’ll be going for next time. Oh the engineer’s said Panasonic are the best, I am sure they are right, but I have has so much Sony kit over the years – my 1970 TC-255 reel-to-reel tape recorder is still going strong, though somewhat irrelevant in these media server days!


    1. Strange our tv repair man recommended samsung after our super market brand went kaput within 3 yrs of purchase. The SS is just about 3 yrs old and we are not holding our breath very anxious about it.

  8. We have two 1986 Bang and Olufsen TVs, both working perfectly. They were a bit expensive at the time, but we intended them to last, and their styling is now slightly ‘retro’ in the best way.

    The ‘studio monitor’ picture quality and beautiful sound are an enduring pleasure and, of course, we can just plug our digital boxes etc into the SCART sockets. I hate to imagine how many ‘el cheapo’ sets we would otherwise have consumed by now and it will be a sad day when the temptation of a really large UHD screen becomes too strong. Our 1952 Kolster-Brandes set also still works, although that is another story…

    1. I also bought a bang & olufsen tv in 2000 which was an avant 32 inch although not a flat screen.
      As you say they are expensive tvs but I’ve had no problems for 14 years .

  9. Always had Panasonic, and latterly Sony TV’s and I have never had any faults with either, Sony have of late not been given the top marks from Which? but this time for the first time I did not go with best buy, and went for Sony which Which? did not rate top of the shop, however, I am absolutely totally taken with the set; it’s brilliant in every respect. From time to time I feel that Which? just seem to have downer on certain companies and countrys, like anything french they just do not give them any credit at all, EG; French cars Citroen and Peugeot, yet when I carry out my own little surveys of my own and ask French car owners, how satisfied with their French cars they are, they are all well pleased. Funny that anomaly!

  10. we have two flat screen TV’s both Panasonic and I cant speak only to say that they have been both first class and I would on buy Panasonic in the future never had a problem

  11. Have been a fan of Bang and Olufsen since the 1960s – including Hi-Fi audio ; Video Tape Recorder; and TV – I would add my admiration of their longevity , aesthetic appearance and
    of course clarity of sound and vision . However, new developments have induced me to
    ‘keep abreast of the times’ , and finding that B and O products do not fit my meagre budget,
    I have over the years bought brands ranging from :

    Panasonic : TVs (2) ; DVD/VCR (combi) (2) ; Sound Bar
    Toshiba : TV (with DVD player)
    Humax : PVR (Foxsat)

    Panasonic equipment I find , has proved excellent in reliability and performance – but my recent
    37 inch smart TV as compared with my previous 28 inch bulky set is sadly lacking in clarity
    and resonance (as expected). Hence I find that my Sound Bar is absolutely essential .

    My DVD/VCR combi despite its complications (for an octogenarian) , does everything which
    ‘it says on the tin ‘ bot in recording and play-back mode . Excellent .

    Ken D

  12. got a panasonic plasma tv donkeys ago(about 15 years or so) still going strong.wife wont let me get a new 4k tv till the plasma breaks down. :-(

  13. I bought a philips 50pfp5532 50″ plasma in 2005 during the flat screen craze. Paid a fortune on it, but still its outlasted every tv bought by anyone I know during that period. Still going strong and its on constantly. Tv and gaming. Well impressed. Defo go Philips again.

  14. I bought a philips 50pfp5532 50″ plasma in 2005 during the flat screen craze. Paid a fortune on it, but still its outlasted every tv bought by anyone I know during that period. Still going strong and its on constantly. Tv and gaming. Well impressed. Defo go Philips again.

  15. I purchased my 42″ Panasonic Plasma monitor end 1999 , and it has worked flawlessly since . I did turn the settings down from the default values , and this has no doubt prolonged the life . The tv is worked hard and is on for approx 14-16 hours daily but it did cost a hefty £ 3300 back in 1999 !

  16. My polaroid television is still going strong even though it was manufactured in 2007 Televisions are crazy reliable and the fact that mine got sucky reviews on Walmart just tells me i must have lucked out on getting a good quality tv that being said i use it alot so i am starting to save up for another one because I have used it a lot. So when it stops working i can get another one.

    FYI my mom had a sony tv from like 1997 and we just got rid of that i think 3 years ago because it didn’t have HDMI ports that was the only reason we got rid of it it still worked perfectly i was a big Rear Porjection television

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