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. 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 way of doing things. So how do they stack up? Continue to find out our take on the best brands for smart TVs in the U.S. Also, see our recommendations for the best smart TVs, the best budget TVs, and the best 4k TVs.
Samsung is one of the best-known electronics companies worldwide, and they're not limited to just producing TVs. They also make smartphones, fridges, soundbars, and monitors, among many other types of products. Their TVs are generally the main LED competitor to LG's OLED lineup as they don't have the risk of permanent burn-in. They attempted to make OLED TVs in 2013, but they've since shifted their focus on LED displays, and in particular quantum dot TVs, which are marketed as QLEDs. Their QLED lineup has a wide range of models, and they're often available in many sizes, from the budget-friendly Samsung Q60/Q60T QLED to the 8k Samsung Q800T QLED. These QLED panels help the TV produce a wide color gamut for HDR content, and their higher-end models get bright enough to deliver a satisfying HDR experience. However, their entry-level models, such as the Samsung TU8000, can't display a wide color gamut and are a major stepdown from the QLED series.
Samsung's TVs tend to have VA panels, which normally provide a high contrast ratio, but at the cost of narrow viewing angles. However, the Korean company has implemented the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology on some of the higher-end models, providing wide viewing angles, and even though the contrast is affected, they still display deep blacks. Their higher-end models also have great gaming performance thanks to the variable refresh rate (VRR) support and low input lag, but some of their TVs have a somewhat slow response time. They've also come out with a Lifestyle lineup, which are uniquely-designed TVs aimed at different uses, such as the Samsung The Terrace for outdoor use, but these models can get pricey for not that much difference versus a standard TV. All in all, Samsung makes good LED TVs that most people should be satisfied with.
See the best Samsung TVs here.
LG is one of the world's biggest electronic producers, headquartered in South Korea. Since 1958, they've produced all kinds of home appliances, including TVs, monitors, soundbars, phones, and refrigerators. LG was one of the first manufacturers to release large OLED TVs to the commercial market in 2012, and since then, OLED TVs have become their bread and butter. The entry-level LG BX OLED offers excellent picture quality with an infinite contrast ratio, perfect black uniformity, and wide viewing angles. Considering most OLEDs have similar picture quality, LG attempts to diversify their lineup by releasing models with unique designs, such as the LG GX OLED, which is extremely thin and meant to sit flush against a wall, and it doesn't come with a stand.
One downside to any OLED is the permanent burn-in risk that poses a threat if you constantly watch the same content with static elements, like the news. However, we don't expect it to be an issue if you watch varied content. LG also makes LED TVs, but they don't compete with other companies in terms of performance. Their LEDs usually have IPS panels resulting in low contrast in exchange for fairly wide viewing angles, and they don't get very bright either. Recently, their TVs have started to include gaming perks such as FreeSync support and low input lag, and you can even find VRR support on the mid-range LG NANO85, which is a nice touch. Overall, if you're in the market for an OLED, you can't go wrong with an LG, but if you want a classic LED TV, there are better options.
See the best LG TVs here.
Like Samsung and LG, Sony is a large international electronics producer. They manufacturer a diverse lineup of products, including headphones, Blu-ray players, cameras, gaming consoles, and of course, TVs. Sony was a pioneer with the growth of both LED and OLED TVs, and they still offer both panel types. Their OLEDs are a direct competitor to LG. The Sony A8H OLED delivers the same excellent picture quality as other OLEDs, but compared to the LG models, it lacks gaming features such as FreeSync support and low input lag. Sony TVs are known for their excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, and even though this is something that may vary between units, you likely won't need to get your TV calibrated to enjoy accurate colors to their fullest.
Unfortunately, Sony TVs can be on the pricey side, and there are cheaper options that offer similar performance, such as some Hisense TVs. Despite having OLED models, Sony also makes great LED options, such as the Sony X950H. They generally get bright enough to combat glare and are good choices to use in well-lit environments. They mainly have VA panels that display deep blacks, but the Sony X800H has an IPS panel with wide viewing angles. These TVs don't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content and, for the most part, display wide color gamuts for HDR content. They have built-in Android TV as their smart platform, which offers a ton of apps available to download, but may not be the easiest to use at times. Sony TVs are reliable and perform well in any setting, and if you don't mind spending a bit more compared to the competition, you should be happy with it.
See the best Sony TVs here.
Vizio is a relatively new TV company in comparison to some of the other tech giants, as they only starting making TVs in 2002. They aren't as diversified in terms of what they make as other companies, and they mainly focus their efforts on TVs, but they do have soundbars as well. Vizio's TVs tend to be more budget-friendly options, and even though their premium TVs may be too expensive for those on a strict budget, they offer good performance for their value. Vizio released their first OLED in 2020, which is a bit cheaper than the competition and offers the same stunning picture quality. However, it's not as good for gaming as other OLEDs, like the LG BX OLED, as the VRR support doesn't properly work, and the input lag is higher than some other TVs. Still, if gaming features aren't important to you, you should be satisfied with this TV.
Vizio also has a reliable LED lineup, and their TVs are known to get bright and deliver a great HDR experience, such as the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2020. Their VA panels generally have incredible contrast ratios, but that means they have narrow viewing angles, and Vizio has yet to release any technology to improve the viewing angles. However, their TVs usually have uniformity issues, mediocre color accuracy, and they don't do a good job at upscaling 480p and 720p content. The Vizio SmartCast operating system can also feel laggy and crash at times, and they don't have an app store, so you can't download any extra apps besides the ones that come pre-installed. If you're in the hunt for great picture quality with 1080p or 4k content and don't want to spend too much money, Vizio TVs are normally a safe bet for that use.
See the best Vizio TVs here.
TCL is an international electronics company whose headquarters are in China. Compared to Sony and Samsung, they're a relatively young company, having started in 1981, and they started making TVs in 1992. Their products include cellphones, soundbars, and headphones. Their TV lineup is very small - they've only released two TVs in 2020 in North America. They came out with their first QLED TVs in 2019 with the TCL 8 Series 2019/Q825 QLED, and they've since added QLED technology to the TCL 6 Series/R625 2019 and the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, which helps provide a wide color gamut. In the United States, they sell their TVs with built-in Roku TV, which is easy-to-use, and there's a great selection of apps you can download. They also have Android TV options in Europe to compete with Hisense. Their TVs mainly have VA panels, which are known for their excellent contrast ratio, but that comes at the cost of narrow viewing angles.
TCL is generally known as a budget company; however, the TCL 6 Series/S635 2020 may be a bit too expensive for those on a budget. If that's the case, look into the 5 Series, which is a good budget TV. The 6 Series is also very good, and it's packed with gaming features this year, such as a 120Hz refresh rate and VRR support. This is a significant improvement over their 2019 models, which were all limited to 60Hz and no VRR support, so it seems as if TCL is taking a more gamer-friendly approach to their high-end TVs. Unfortunately, their TVs are known for uniformity issues and mediocre out-of-the-box color accuracy, but these may vary between units. Regardless of these issues, most people should be happy with a TCL TV.
See the best TCL TVs here.
Like TCL, Hisense is another Chinese company that makes budget-friendly TVs. They make a wide variety of electronics, include phones, air conditioners, home appliances, and TVs. In 2015, they teamed up with Sharp to sell TVs in North America, and today, they have a well-sized, budget-friendly lineup available in North America. Their biggest competitor is TCL, and their TVs sold in the United States either come with Android TV or Roku TV. The difference between each platform comes down to user preference. Their higher-end TVs offer great performance for their price, and even though the Hisense H9G is too expensive to be considered a budget TV, it's one of the better LED TVs we've tested, and it's a better option than some more expensive TVs.
If you're truly on a budget, the Hisense H8G is good overall, and it's a good upgrade over its predecessor, the Hisense H8F. Their TVs generally lag on gaming features, and even though the H9G has a 120Hz panel, it doesn't accept 120Hz signals, which is disappointing. Still, their TVs offer good response time and low input lag for gaming. Picture quality is also good because their TVs normally have VA panels, which results in an excellent contrast ratio and, sadly, narrow viewing angles. They're a fairly good choice for bright-room viewing as their higher-end models get very bright, but as expected, their lower-end models aren't as bright. The H9G and H8G are marketed as QLED TVs, but their color gamuts aren't as wide as some other QLED TVs, like Samsung and TCL. Lastly, Hisense TVs don't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content like Vizio TVs do, so they're a good choice if you still use a cable box. Overall, Hisense offers well-balanced TVs with good picture quality.
11/12/2020: Replaced the Vizio Quantum X 2020 with the Vizio OLED.
10/14/2020: Replaced the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019 with the Quantum X 2020.
09/14/2020: Replaced the picks for TCL and Hisense to reflect the 2020 models.
07/14/2020: Replaced the picks for LG, Samsung, Hisense, and Sony to reflect their 2020 models.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best brands for smart TVs and the best TVs available for most people in each price range, from the 6 biggest TV brands to buy 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.