Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
With so many brands available to consumers, it can be a bit daunting to shop for a new smart TV. Bigger brands like Samsung, Sony, and LG are known for having mid-range and high-end models with features like OLED screens, Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound audio, Bluetooth connectivity, and integrated virtual assistants. Many of these smart TVs also work with third party smart speakers like the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Nest Hub Max for expanded voice controls and better integration into smart home networks. If you're working with a smaller budget, TCL and Hisense offer entry-level smart TVs with essential features like suites of preloaded streaming apps, and plenty of HDMI inputs. More off-beat brands like Element and Phillips may not be as well-known to shoppers, but they still offer solid smart TVs at budget-friendly prices.
No matter which brand you choose, it's important to determine the best size screen for your space. You can do this by measuring the distance from your couch to where your TV will be wall mounted or on a stand and dividing that by two; a distance of 10 feet (120 inches) will mean that a 60-inch TV will be ideal. This is especially important when looking to buy a secondary TV for a bedroom or child's playroom where a too-large TV will overwhelm the space. Check out our top brand picks below to see which one could be your next TV.
SamsungSamsung Q900 8K Smart HDR QLED TV.SamsungBuy on Samsung
Since it started in 1938, Samsung has become one of the biggest and most trusted names in electronics, and their televisions continuously prove why they're at the top. Samsung offers a wide range of TVs at a variety of price points from basic entry-level smart TVs to high-end 8K models to future-proof your home theater. They're also the only brand to still offer a curved TV model for fans of the concept. Their latest line of Neo QLED televisions use improved mini-LED backlighting to create individually lit areas and colors that rival their OLED counterparts.
If you want an outdoor TV for your deck or patio, their Terrace model is a rugged model that can withstand anything from moisture to dust and even insects. For customers who are mindful of design, Samsung's Frame and Sero models feature gallery-inspired looks and sleek, sophisticated forms that will enhance almost any decor. Samsung's TVs support multiple voice assistants, including: Google Assistant, Alexa, and their proprietary Bixby. Their SamsungTV+ app comes pre-installed on almost all of their models to give you access to free, live sports, news, and entertainment. Their latest models also support variable refresh rate technology to prevent screen tearing and stuttering while gaming or streaming movies.The 9 Best TVs of 2021
Samsung includes their proprietary Bixby voice controls in all of their newest TV models. This means that you won't have to invest in a separate smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home to have hands-free voice controls for your television. - Taylor Clemons
SonyCourtesy of Best BuyBuy on Sony.com
Sony is another one of the Big Three in electronics, and their line of televisions are some of the best available to customers. Their latest Bravia XR OLED TVs as well as their Master Series LED models are optimized for use with the PlayStation 4 and new PlayStation 5 consoles, utilizing variable refresh rate technology to prevent screen tearing and stuttering for a smoother gaming experience. Their flagship models use Surface Acoustic Audio technology that turns the entire screen into a speaker for near-perfect audio and video syncing. With AirPlay 2 and Chromecast compatibility, you can share media from your Android or iOS mobile devices for more ways to enjoy music, movies, and photos with friends and family. Many of Sony's TVs come with stands that are capable of multiple configurations so you can set up soundbars and playback devices underneath the TV. They also feature integrated cable management channels to help keep your home theater or living room looking neat and organized.The 6 Best Sony TVs of 2021
LGLG Signature OLED W7P Series 4K Ultra HD Wallpaper TV.Image provided by Best BuyBuy on Lg.com
LG televisions have a reputation for being some of the most expensive on the market. Their high price tags are backed by some of the best tech available for home entertainment, like cutting-edge OLED screens, 8K resolution models, AI-enhanced upscaling, and adaptive picture and sound settings. Their GX OLED series boasts an art gallery-inspired design that allows for both flush and recessed wall mounting for a clean, modern aesthetic. LG's NanoCell line of 4K TVs are slightly less expensive, and are packed with features like integrated virtual assistants, suites of preloaded apps, and Dolby Vision HDR for crisp, clean detailing. If you're a console gamer who managed to get their hands on the new Xbox Series X, all of LG's televisions use VRR tech to sync your TV and console refresh rates to reduce screen tearing. Some models also have automatic game modes to reduce input latency and boost contrast.The 9 Best LG TVs of 2020
TCLTCL US5800 Series 4K Ultra HD Roku TV - Facing Left.Image provided by Amazon.comBuy on Tclusa.com
One of the newer competitors in the space but already one of the best TV brands, TCL has quickly grown to become the third-largest TV maker in the world. The reason for its skyrocketing popularity? Well, for one, its panels are a killer value. All are built using TCL's own internal and external components, so while it doesn't release a huge stack of new models every year, the company does cover a wide range of sizes and functionality with each refresh it does oversee.
All can be found at very affordable prices, too, while often approaching — or even exceeding — the levels of quality and performance you would otherwise get from a more prominent brand. The 4-Series, for example, is TCL's entry-level 4K television. That said, it still delivers solid Ultra HD picture quality for a low cost. The 6-Series, TCL's highest-end model, is available in sizes up to 75 inches and quite possibly delivers the best combination of performance, features, and value.
Another highlight of a TCL TV is the Roku TV smart platform, available on the 3-Series and up. It's not the flashiest interface, but its simplicity makes it intuitive and easy to use, with a content base that includes thousands of free streaming movies and channels. The free TCL mobile remote app is also one of the best of all the smart TV systems. With it, you can take full control over playback and advanced settings, and even send TV audio to your phone.The 6 Best TVs for Under $500 in 2021
The integrated Roku platform means that you have built-in smart features in your TCL television. You won't have to bother with purchasing external equipment in order to enjoy for favorite streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. - Taylor Clemons
HisenseBest Buy Buy on Hisense-usa.com
Another rapidly growing TV manufacturer is Hisense. Its selection isn't always as widely available as the big names, but the TVs are available in a variety of flavors, usually with affordable, mid-range prices.
Hisense TVs incorporate a mix of many top image technologies and capabilities, from 4K resolution to quantum dot color to full-array local dimming. They also have full smart TV functionality running either Android or Roku operating systems.
Besides expanding its roster, Hisense has, in recent years, acquired licenses to produce TVs for the long-running Sharp and Toshiba imprints, two of the best TV brands with established reputations. Therefore, it's safe to assume anything under those names was made by Hisense as well.The 8 Best Hisense TVs of 2021
PhilipsPhilips Roku TV Example.PhilipsBuy on Philips.com
Since its founding in 1927, Philips has become best-known for their lighting, audio, and healthcare equipment, but they also offer a range of great televisions. Their 5000 series is built on the Android TV operating system, with Google Assistant built-in for hands-free controls right out of the box. The 4000 series uses the Roku platform, and when paired with the mobile app or a smart speaker, you can still get access to virtual assistants to control your new TV and connected devices. Both models come in a variety of screen sizes ranging from as small as 24-inches to as large as 75-inches, letting you pick the size that best fits your space. Both also have 4K, 1080p, and 720p resolution options to suit your entertainment needs as well as Dolby Audio technology, HDMI ARC connections, and Bluetooth connectivity to stream content from your smartphone or tablet.
If you're an environmentally conscious or community-minded shopper, Philips has set up several initiatives to enact carbon-emission reducing manufacturing processes, create greener products, and improve sustainability. They also have a foundation which uses portions of sales to fund medical care and first aid education to at-risk communities, so you can help improve the lives of others as well as reduce your environmental impact when you purchase a new Philips television.The 6 Best Dorm and Small Apartment TVs of 2021
ElementBuy on Elementelectronics.com
Element is a relative newcomer to home entertainment. Established in 2007 and opening their Winnsboro, South Carolina factory in 2014, they offer four different models of televisions, including both smart and"dumb"TVs. With resolutions ranging from 720p to 4K UHD, you can find a model to suit your entertainment needs. Their 400 and 300 series models use the Roku platform, giving you access to preloaded apps, voice controls via the app or smart speaker, and text-to-speech accessibility options. The 200 series uses their proprietary Element Smart TV platform which allows you to customize your entertainment hub with your favorite apps.
The 100 series isn't internet-enabled, making it a perfect television for your kids' playroom or bedroom, letting you connect a DVD player, game console, or cable or satellite box to make sure your little ones don't get access to shows and movies that aren't age-appropriate. Their 400/500 series televisions are their flagship models, offering 4K resolution with HDR10 support, Dolby Audio, support for both Alexa and Google Assistant, and even the ability to stream content from Netflix or YouTube via your mobile device or laptop. These models also have an almost bezel-free screen to give you an edge-to-edge picture for a more cinematic and immersive viewing experience.The 4 Best Walmart TVs in 2021Final Verdict
If you're willing to spend a bit more to get the best of the best in televisions, any model from LG is going to be a great choice. They have a wide range of OLED and 4K UHD LED televisions packed to the brim with cool smart features, and even have a line of 8K models to help future-proof your home theater. If you're working with a budget, TCL is the way to go. Their entry-level televisions use the Roku platform to give you access to thousands of streaming services in a simplified hub menu. And the Roku app turns your mobile device into a voice-enabled remote.
About Our Trusted Experts
Taylor Clemons has been reviewing and writing about consumer electronics for over three years. She has also worked in e-commerce product management, so she has the knowledge of what makes a solid TV for home entertainment.Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best screen size for my living room/home theater/dorm room?
The best way to determine the perfect screen size is to figure out where you're going to wall-mount or have your TV stand and measure the distance to where you're going to sit, then divide that in half. For example: if you're going to sit 10 feet (120 inches) from your new television, the perfect size TV would be around 60-inches. You can go a bit bigger or smaller if you like, but having a TV that is too big can make the room feel crowded and even cause motion sickness. And a TV that is too small can be hard to see and make everyone crowd around, which is not ideal when you're trying to have a Super Bowl party or movie night.
What apps does the TV have?
Many TVs from different brands come with a suite of popular, preloaded apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. This allows you to jump right back into your favorite movies and shows without a tedious, lengthy setup process. With dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity, you'll be able to download a host of other apps like Spotify and PlutoTV to round out your entertainment options.
Do I need voice controls for my TV?
Voice controls can make searching for movies, music, and shows a breeze. If your new TV didn't come packaged with a voice-enabled remote, you may be able to use an app for your mobile devices or connect your TV to a third-party smart speaker like an Amazon Echo Show or Google Home. These features are perfect for anyone who has set up a smart home network around a smart speaker. However, voice controls are not essential, and you can opt out of using them if you don't think you'll ever need them.
The Ultimate TV Brand Buying Guide
When shopping for a new TV for your home theater, apartment, or dorm room can be a bit daunting with all of the manufacturers to choose from. From the best TV brands like LG, Sony, and Samsung to smaller names like TCL, Vizio, and Hisense, there is a plethora of models, price points, and size classes available. Each brand offers their own blend of screen resolutions and smart features to suit almost any home theater, dorm, or living room's entertainment needs; from full 1080p HD for those who still primarily use cable and satellite providers, 4K for cord-cutting streamers, and even 8K for customers who need to be on the bleeding edge of home entertainment technology. Samsung has stepped into the realm of smart home technology by including their proprietary virtual assistant, Samsung Bixby, in all of their new televisions alongside Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. LG dominates the picture quality category with their line of OLED TVs, using cutting-edge technology to provide the very best in color range and volume, contrast, and detailing.
TCL manufactures smart televisions using the Roku streaming app, giving you affordable options for your home theater, living room, or dorm and eliminating the need for extra equipment to access your favorite apps. Vizio seems content in providing customers with reliable mid-range smart televisions which utilize quantum dot technology to create stunning 4K resolution at affordable prices. Hisense televisions use either the AndroidTV operating system or Roku platform to give you access to your favorite streaming apps and hands-free voice controls; while Hisense may not be as popular as their competitors, but they're steadily growing as a company and continuing to provide low-priced, reliable smart televisions. So if brand loyalty is important to you when shopping for your new television or you're just looking for a great TV that fits your budget, there are plenty of models and brands to choose from. We'll break down some of the most important factors to consider when shopping to help you decide which is right for you.Vizio Smart TV with Internet Apps.Vizio
The resolution of your new television should depend on where you want to put the TV. If you want a secondary television for your bedroom, workshop, or kids' playroom, you don't need to spend a fortune on a fancy 4K model. There are plenty of 720p and 1080p HD TVs out there that still offer streaming capabilities so you can stay up to date on your favorite shows and movies while relaxing before you go to sleep, keeping the kids entertained, or working on hobby projects. The color ranges and detailing in these models aren't as great or sharp as their 4K counterparts, but the picture quality is still top-notch; and if you're using them as a secondary TV, you shouldn't mind as much since you're not watching it as often as your main smart TV.
In recent years, televisions with a natural 4K resolution have become more popular and mainstream, meaning they've also become more affordable. Both large manufacturers like LG, Sony, and Samsung as well as smaller brands like TCL and Hisense offer 4K TVs in a variety of sizes to suit almost any living room, dorm, or home theater. Televisions with 4K give you four times the pixels as 1080p HD, meaning you'll get more lifelike picture quality when watching your favorite shows and movies. Some brands like Sony, Samsung, and LG have taken the next step in home entertainment and started manufacturing 8K televisions. TVs with 8K give you four times the pixels as 4K and 16 times that of 1080p HD; as impressive as that sounds, the visual difference between 8K and 4K isn't nearly as dramatic as that between 1080p and 4K. These televisions tend to be extravagantly priced, often in the tens of thousands of dollars, putting them well out of reach of average customers. The lack of 8K content on streaming and broadcast services combined with the very high prices of these models means that the technology isn't quite worth investing in unless you have lots of cash to burn in order to future-proof your home theater.Sony KDL-W650D Series 1080p LED/LCD TV.Image courtesy of Amazon.com
Having a smart television is a must in today's home entertainment; they give you access to thousands of apps including Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and Disney+ so you can have your favorite shows and movies right at your fingertips. Some smart televisions are made with integrated streaming platforms like Roku or use AndroidTV or some other operating system that allows you to download apps right to the television. Most smart televisions also support hands-free voice controls via virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant; Samsung even has their own virtual assistant, Bixby, that they integrate into their new televisions. This lets you turn your TV on and off, choose apps, or change settings without fumbling with a confusing remote control making it an excellent option for customers who already have smart home networks up and running. Roku-enabled televisions use a dedicated app for smartphones and tablets to turn them into voice-enabled remotes.
A lot of televisions also support Chromecast or Apple AirPlay2 which allow you to mirror your tablet, smartphone, or computer screen to your television for more ways to view photos and videos with friends and family. For customers looking to upgrade their home theater or build the ultimate audio and video experience, some high-end televisions feature ambient sound and light sensors. These sensors monitor light and sound levels in your room and automatically adjust picture and audio settings for the best cinematic experience. They also feature Bluetooth connectivity that lets you set up wireless audio equipment like soundbars, satellite speakers, and subwoofers for the ultimate surround sound audio configuration. Console gamers will be happy to learn that there are televisions which use Nvidia G Sync or AMD FreeSync technology. These technologies automatically detect when you start playing a game and reduce input lag and motion blur while boosting color volume and contrast for buttery smooth action, beautiful visuals, and near real-time reactions to your controller inputs.LG 55EG9100 55-inch Curved Screen 3D OLED TV.Image provided by LG
Now that we've examined the brands available, screen resolutions, and smart features, it's time to talk about your budget. How much you're willing to spend on your next television determines which smart features, brands, and screen sizes will be available to you. If you're working with a limited budget of just a few hundred dollars, TCL and Hisense have excellent options for smart televisions which are priced considerably lower than their competitors. TCL offers affordable models in larger screen sizes, even 55- and 65-inch models are reasonably priced so you can replace an outdated TV or build your ideal home theater on the cheap.
If you're willing and able to spend a bit more to get the features you want, you can start to look at options available from bigger brands like Samsung and Sony. These brands offer 4K resolution, expanded smart features, and better connectivity options with prices to match. These kinds of televisions usually range from $300-400 at the lower end to close to $1,000 for bigger screen sizes and more smart capabilities. If money isn't a concern for you, and you're able to spend quite a bit in order to get the perfect television for your home theater, Sony, Samsung, and LG offer high-end models that utilize cutting-edge picture technology like OLED and QLED panels, object tracking sound or built-in virtual surround sound audio, and extra features like an ambient or gallery mode that turns your television into a piece of living room decor or art when not in use. These models can cost thousands of dollars, but give you everything you could ever want in a smart television. No matter what kind of budget you're working with, there is a TV out there to suit your needs.