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 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. Also see our recommendations for the best smart TVs and the best 4k TVs.
Samsung is one of the best TV brands as well as one of the biggest consumer electronics companies in the world, with products ranging from mobile phones to home appliances and beyond. Although they're well-known for making phones with excellent OLED screens, Samsung's top tier model TVs are QLEDs, which were first introduced back in 2017. These TVs still use VA panels, but have a Quantum Dot layer that improves its color gamut. Although VA panels generally have an incredible contrast ratio, their viewing angles are poor, causing images to appear washed out when viewed from the side. Consequently, Samsung aimed to fix this issue by introducing their new 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology in their top 2019 models, such as the Samsung Q80/Q80R QLED, Samsung Q90/Q90R QLED, and the Samsung Q900R, which is an 8k TV.
Samsung TVs are generally known to have a great picture quality with very saturated colors and deep blacks. Their input latency have improved significantly over the last few years to be almost on par with monitors, and many models now support FreeSync variable refresh rate, which reduces screen tearing when gaming. Their upscaling technology is superb at making lower resolution content nearly identical to native 4k, and their Tizen OS is user-friendly, with a large number of apps available through the app store. Lastly, while we expect most TVs to work properly right out of the box, issues do crop up sometimes, and Samsung makes regular updates to fix any performance issues, as well as to bring new features such as AirPlay, as long as the TV's hardware can support it. This is great for keeping the TV running smoothly and for future proofing, as new technology is introduced to the market on an almost yearly basis.
See the best Samsung TVs here.
LG is one of the first manufacturers that produced OLED TVs, which revolutionized picture quality. OLED TVs can deliver perfect blacks thanks to their emissive technology that switches off individual pixels. The almost infinite contrast ratio enhances picture quality in a dark room, creating an exceptional movie-watching experience from your TV. LG, however, also produces LCD TVs, mostly using IPS panels that deliver wider viewing angles at the expense of lower contrast ratio. This means that those TVs aren't usually the best choice for dark room viewing, but will do a great job if you often watch TV from the side as the image remains accurate for wider angles. The lower end of LG's lineup consists of less expensive models that can't get very bright and are usually chosen in our recommendations when wide viewing angles is a priority.
Performance-wise, most LG TVs have a fast response time and very low input lag, which is great for gamers. The latest OLED models also provide support for the HDMI Forum variable refresh rate technology for nearly tear-free gaming experiences and support HDMI 2.1; this makes them future-ready. Most LG TVs run the latest version of LG WebOS that is very easy to use and smooth to operate. It gives you access to an abundance of apps that'll cover any need. The higher-end TVs come with an advanced remote control that allows you to navigate the menus with ease or even give voice commands to your TV. Finally, it's worth noting that the IPS panel TVs from LG make great PC monitors as they usually display chroma 4:4:4 properly and don't experience uniformity issues on the sides when you sit up close, thanks to their wide viewing angles.
See the best LG TVs here.
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, making them one of the best TV brands.
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.
See the best Sony TVs here.
Vizio is a US-based company, and despite being one of the youngest members of the North American TV market, it has established itself as one of the best TV brands. It doesn't have as rich a lineup as other brands and usually, their TVs are more budget-oriented. In 2018, however, Vizio released two models that outperformed many of the more expensive models in our tests: the Vizio P Series 2018 and the Vizio P Series Quantum 2018. In 2019, they rebranded their lineup using the 'Quantum' term in more of its models, denoting the use of quantum dot technology. Despite the initial confusion this caused to consumers, most of the new models had similar performance to the 2018 TVs.
Vizio TVs typically have a less versatile operating system, and their smart interface isn't as advanced as the one found in the competition. The Chromecast built-in allows you to cast to your TV from pretty much any mobile device. Their latest models have a more polished look, but they still put their focus on casting. The limited number of apps and the inability to add more can be frustrating to customers, especially as new apps are added to the online stores all the time. Vizio also doesn't perform well when it comes to upscaling lower resolution content when compared side-by-side with other brands. This can be an issue if you regularly watch lower resolution content. One of Vizio's weaknesses is its unpredictable availability, although this has improved over the last year. However, their competitive price, the great dark room performance, and the low input lag have made Vizio one of the best brands in the TV market.
See the best Vizio TVs here.
In only a short few years, TCL seems to have emerged out of obscurity and taken the world by storm, with their affordable Roku TVs that offer great price-to-performance value. Although they have initially offered only budget models, they have now expanded to enthusiast-level offerings and to other products as well, such as headphones, soundbars, and home appliances. While there have been a number of complaints about their quality control, this issue seems to be improving quickly.
As mentioned, TCL TVs tend to be more budget-oriented, though their 6 Series can stand toe-to-toe with models from more seasoned manufacturers such as Samsung and LG. They have recently joined the QLED Alliance along with Samsung and Hisense, and introduced their newest 8 Series QLED TVs that also run on Roku OS, which is user-friendly and has a vast amount of apps available. Their TVs usually use VA panels with a high contrast ratio, but at the cost of poor viewing angles and low peak brightness. That said, their new QLED TVs look promising and are a great addition to the already competitive high-end market.
See the best TCL TVs here.
Although Hisense has been in the consumer electronics market since 1969, its presence in the US is less than a decade old. They don't limit their production to TVs, but instead span a wide range of consumer electronics like refrigerators or dehumidifiers. They release a variety of new models every year which used to be more budget-oriented. Recently, they've started releasing higher-end models that have outperformed models from well-known brands like LG, Samsung, or Sony.
When compared to the competition, Hisense TVs offer a combination of good picture quality and good Smart OS using a mix of Android and Roku in their models. When compared to Vizio TVs, they generally have better smart features, but their top performer, the Hisense H9F, can't reach the performance of the Vizio's top model, the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019. Comparing to TCL TVs, the latest Hisense TV models have better overall performance and run the Android TV 8.0 OS versus the Roku platform found on the TCLs.
The best Hisense TV we've tested so far is Hisense H9F. It has impressive picture quality and remarkable peak brightness. It delivers deep blacks in a dark room and has great reflection handling. It also has excellent motion handling and a very low input lag, which is great for gamers. It uses the Android TV 8.0 smart interface, which is easy to use and gives you access to Google's Play Store with a massive selection of apps. Unfortunately, as a VA panel TV, it suffers from poor viewing angles and the image degrades at an angle. Like many budget models, these TVs have more noticeable uniformity issues that might bother sports fans.
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 5 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.
01/17/2019: Made small changes to text for clarity.
11/20/2019: Replaced the Vizio P Series Quantum 2018 with the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019, and changed some text for clarity.
10/16/2019: Added Hisense, updated the picks, and changed some text for clarity.