Shopping for a new TV can be challenging; with so many different models out there, it can be hard to know where to start. To further complicate things, new brands have dramatically increased in popularity in recent years, and some of these new brands have started releasing models that match or even outperform far more expensive models from the established brands.
From smart features to design, each brand has its own way of doing things. So how do they stack up? Read on to find out our take on the best brands for smart TVs in the U.S. See also our recommendations for the best smart TVs and the best 4k TVs.
Samsung is a well-known brand in the TV industry. It offers a large selection of models, from budget TVs to premium 8k models. Samsung is known for the impressive picture quality of its models and their very good smart features. These improvements are the result of Samsung's research in this area, and Tizen OS, Samsung's smart platform, is one of the best currently on the market. This year, Samsung introduced the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, which improves viewing angles at the expense of lower contrast ratio. It's included in its highest-end models, the Samsung Q90R, the Samsung Q80R, and the 8k Samsung Q900R. Also, another recent addition is the 'Ambient Mode' which displays artwork on your screen.
Although changes are usually small from one year to the next, this isn't always the case. In 2017, Samsung debuted QLED TVs, which deliver outstanding color. In 2018, they released the first 8k TV, the Samsung Q900R, and added nascent technologies like FreeSync VRR, low latency motion interpolation, and auto game mode in their high-end TV lineup. This year they introduced the "Ultra Viewing Angle' technology. However, Samsung wants to keep its existing customers happy by offering some of these updates to its current set of models through firmware updates, when possible. Last year, they updated the firmware of many of their 2018 models to include support for those nascent technologies.
Samsung has a very diverse line of TVs to help you cover your needs. There are TVs for every taste and every wallet. The company's flagship is the Q90R, which delivers impressive picture quality, exceptional HDR performance, and unique gaming features and performance. Just under the QLED lineup, we find the new Samsung RU8000 with excellent gaming performance. Unfortunately, it doesn't match last year's Samsung NU8000's performance, as it's less bright and lacks a local dimming feature. For those looking for a TV in the budget category, Samsung offers the Samsung RU7100. It's available in sizes ranging from 40" to an impressive 75" to fit any room. This TV, despite the budget price, still delivers decent overall picture quality and runs the same smart platform found on the more expensive models, but lacks the more advanced features found on higher-end models like judder removal.
LG is well-known for its OLED TVs, as it's one of the first TV manufacturers to produce them. The picture quality of most OLED TVs is very similar due to the emissive technology that allows the TVs to switch off individual pixels, thus delivering perfect blacks. This nearly infinite contrast ratio helps create outstanding picture quality, especially in a dark room. LG, however, also produces a large number of LCD TVs, mainly using IPS panels. IPS panels deliver wider viewing angles than VA panels, but at the same time, they lack a high contrast ratio, which makes blacks look like gray in a dark room. The lower end of LG's TV lineup consists of less expensive TVs that usually can't deliver high brightness and don't regularly make it into our recommendations, except for their wide viewing angle feature.
In general, LG LED TVs have very low input lag and wider viewing angles than other brands, thanks to their IPS panels. These features make them an excellent choice for use as PC monitors. Unfortunately, in a dark room, blacks tend to look like gray due to the low contrast ratio. The smart interface of LG TVs is LG's WebOS, which is fast and easy to use while giving you access to one of the largest app collections available. It's one of the best TV operating systems we've tested so far. Most of the higher-end LGs come along with one of the most advanced remotes. It allows you to navigate through the menus without any issues, and the latest remote models even include a pointer.
LG's top-tier OLED TVs are the company's flagship. LG's TV lineup, however, spans the entire spectrum of budgets, from budget TVs with wide viewing angles up to the top-performing OLED TVs with remarkable picture quality. In 2019, we've tested the LG B9 OLED, the LG C9 OLED, and the LG E9 OLED. All have an exceptional picture quality, outstanding motion handling, and remarkably low input lag to please gamers. They're also more future-proof TVs than their 2018 counterparts, as they offer support for HDMI 2.1 and HDMI Forum Variable refresh rate for a nearly tear-free gaming experience. From the top tier models, apart from the OLEDs, we've distinguished the LG SM9500, which is a very good 4k LED IPS LCD TV with wide viewing angles and excellent low input lag. Unfortunately, the dark room performance is just decent due to the low contrast ratio. The best budget TV from LG we've tested so far is the LG UM7300. It has good overall performance, wide viewing angles, and an outstanding low input lag to lease gamers.
In 1960, Sony came out with their first transistor TV. Ever since, they became one of the biggest TV manufacturers, always being at the edge of technology. In 2018, they consolidated their product lines and made it simpler for consumers to choose a TV. Sony spans the entire market and has a product for every need, from the very basic 4k entry-level TV to the most technologically advanced OLED TVs for TV enthusiasts.
Sony places a higher priority on quality and picture accuracy when compared to other manufacturers. All TVs in their lineup are well-built, have good motion handling, and great upscaling of lower resolution content. Sony has been upgrading most of its TVs to Android TV 8.0. This, apart from giving you access to the Google Play Store with a multitude of apps, works much faster than its predecessor, Android 7.0, and solves one of Sony's greatest flaws: OS responsiveness.
Sony's 2018 lineup and the new 2019 lineup only contain 4k TVs, and very few models were available in sizes smaller than 55", depicting the trend for larger TV models. Nevertheless, Sony's lineup has TVs to cover everyone's needs. Sony's flagship is the Sony A9G OLED that, apart from the outstanding picture quality, also delivers HDR experience which is as close as you can get to the creators' intent. If, however, you don't want to avoid the risk of burn-in that is inherent in all OLEDs, you can choose Sony's best LED/LCD TV, the Sony Z9F, that delivers excellent performance in almost any use, including wider viewing angles thanks to the new 'X-Wide Angle' layer. This new technology is also incorporated in the larger variants of the new Sony X950G. This is a great TV that's available in very large sizes up to 85" and will keep most people happy with its performance. Finally, from the lower end of Sony's lineup, the entry-level Sony X750F stands out as an IPS TV with wide viewing angles and decent picture quality. This recommendation will continue to be updated as we test more TVs from the current lineup.
Vizio is a US-based TV brand and one of the youngest members of the North American TV market. Their lineup isn't as rich compared to other brands, and their TVs have historically been more budget-oriented. In 2018, however, Vizio released the Vizio P Series 2018 and the Vizio P Series Quantum, which outperformed many of the more expensive models from other brands in our tests. The Vizio P Series Quantum 2018 is still one of the best LED/LCD TVs we've tested so far. In 2019, they released more models that use the 'Quantum' term, denoting the use of quantum dot technology, but can be confusing to consumers; for example, the Vizio P Series Quantum 2019 is the successor of the Vizio P Series 2018 and the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019 is the successor of the Vizio P Series Quantum 2018.
When compared to the competition, Vizio TVs typically have a less versatile operating system, and their smart interface isn't as advanced. Their latest models have a more polished look, but they still put their focus on casting. Most Vizio TVs have a limited number of apps in their interface and you can't add any more. To counteract that, the TVs allow you to easily stream content to the TV from almost any mobile device or tablet. Upscaling lower resolution content has been a weakness of Vizio TVs when compared to other brands, but this shouldn't be an issue for most people. Vizio TVs are unpredictable regarding their availability. Sometimes they can be hard to find, and other times older models are available long after they have been replaced. Nonetheless, their competitive price, great dark room performance, and low input lag for gaming have made Vizio a major player in the TV market.
The Vizio lineup includes models ranging from budget TVs like the Vizio V Series 2019 up to the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019. From 2019, we've tested the Vizio V Series 2019, the Vizio M Series Quantum 2019, the Vizio P Series Quantum 2019, and the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019. The best Vizio we've tested thus far remains the Vizio P Series Quantum 2018, which slightly outperforms its successor. The P Series Quantum 2018 is a remarkable TV, only available in 65". It's one of the brightest TVs on the market with great picture quality and excellent dark room performance. It has impressive motion handling, and it's very responsive thanks to its low input lag. The Vizio P Series Quantum 2019 has very similar performance to the Vizio P Series 2018, but the Vizio M Series Quantum 2019 we've tested is a notable upgrade from last year M Series 2018 as it delivers a great overall performance. Finally, the Vizio V Series 2019 we've tested doesn't perform as well as last year's model that it replaces, so the best budget Vizio TV remains the Vizio E Series 2018, which delivers excellent dark room performance, has a low input lag, and is more suitable for a dim room as it can't get too bright.
TCL is another young player in the TV industry. They're one of the few remaining TV manufacturers that make everything themselves. In recent years, TCL has been releasing only a few models per year in North America and its models were only available in the US. They've only recently entered the Canadian TV market. The models available to Canadians are the same as the ones in the US, and any minor differences are due to content licensing.
Compared to the competition, TCL offers the cheapest TVs. They usually release only a few models per year compared to other brands, but they tend to keep their models available on the market for longer periods. TCL TVs have been recognized for the Roku TV smart interface that is installed on all its models. Although it's not the fastest nor the fanciest interface, the Roku TV smart interface is easy to use and gives you access to a very large collection of apps and streaming channels. The TCLs usually have a high native contrast ratio and will do well in a dark room. They can't get as bright as the competition, and the viewing angles are usually slightly worse.
TCL models span a wide range of sizes from 28" to 75", and are usually targeting the less expensive market segments. The TCL 6 Series (TCL R617/615/613) is the best TV from the brand that we've reviewed so far. It's a great TV that gets very bright, has very good picture quality, has deep blacks in a dark room, good motion handling, and very low input lag to please gamers. Unfortunately, the viewing angles are bad, but this is expected on a VA panel TV. The TCL 5 Series (TCL S517/515) is the only other TCL we've tested this year. Just like the 6 Series, it's a 4k TV, but the TCL S517 can't get as bright and doesn't support local dimming to deliver the same good dark room performance. It has a low input lag and a wide color gamut, which is rare for a TV in this price range. Given its price, it's a good choice for gamers. The TCL 4 Series S425 is, along with the TCL 3 Series S325, the lower end model of the lineup. They deliver decent picture quality and they are good budget TVs that can serve you for specific purposes.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best brands for smart TVs and the best TVs available to buy for most people in each price range, from the 5 biggest TV brands in the U.S.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our TV reviews. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no TV is perfect, most TVs are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.