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 Q900/Q900R 8k QLED, which is an 8k TV.
Samsung TVs are generally known to have a great picture quality with very accurate out-of-the-box colors, even with their entry-level models. Their input latency has 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 its 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 are 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 LED 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.
Sony has been a household name for several decades now and they produce some of the best TVs on the market today. Although their TVs tend to be more expensive than other brands, their build quality and performance are usually well above average. Like LG, Sony makes TVs with different types of panels. IPS panels are mostly used in their lower-tier models, while VA and OLED panels are used in their mid-range and high-end models. Their OLED panels are manufactured by LG. Sony has also entered the 8k TV market, though the price tag of a TV such as the Sony Z9G remains out of reach for most.
In general, Sony TVs have better color accuracy, motion handling, and upscaling technology than its competitors. For the last few years, Sony has embraced the Android TV operating system rather than using their in-house OS. While Android TV has received a fair amount of criticism, it has gotten a lot better lately and runs smoothly for the most part. With Android, Sony can also leverage the immense library of apps from the Google Play Store, as well as the convenience of the Google Assistant. Overall, although you'd be paying more for a Sony TV, chances are that you will get something that's well-built; and with the release of their 2020 models, older ones like the X900F or the X950G can be found at a good price.
See the best Sony TVs here.
Vizio is a US-based company that was founded in 2002. For several years, they were known for making decent budget TVs, but they have recently released high-end models like the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019, which is on-par with flagship models from major brands like Samsung, LG, and Sony. They have also started making soundbars, but they haven't been as successful as their TVs.
Like Samsung, Vizio tends to use VA panels for the majority of their TVs, which are known to have high contrast ratios but bad viewing angles, and Vizio TVs are no exception. They also make TVs that include Quantum Dot technology; however, they're not part of the QLED Alliance. Although most of their TVs have incredibly low input lag, they have yet to include support for variable refresh rate technology on any of them. While Vizio has shown that their hardware can compete with more established brands, their SmartCast operating system isn't as refined and the interface tends to feel laggy. Also, it doesn't have a wide selection of apps, but their TVs are cast capable, so you can cast content from your mobile devices. Lastly, Vizio has some catching up to do when it comes to voice control, as even their flagship model doesn't have integration with digital assistants like Google Assistant or Alexa.
See the best Vizio TVs here.
In only a few short 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 other products as well, such as headphones, soundbars, and home appliances. While there have been some 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 top-of-the-line TCL 8 Series 2019/Q825 QLED is an excellent TV that offers excellent performance for its relatively low price point, though the R625 tends to represent better overall value.
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 and 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, both of which have a huge selection of apps and perform better overall than Vizio's SmartCast system. Compared to Vizio's top model, the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019, Hisense's top-of-the-line Hisense H9F doesn't perform quite as well but is generally available for quite a bit cheaper. 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, which is more robust and customizable but may not be as easy to use for everyone.
The best Hisense TV we've tested so far is their highest-end model, the Hisense H9F. This great TV is among the best TVs we've tested, and despite its relatively low price, it can give some much more expensive options from the likes of Sony or Samsung a real run for their money. It handles HDR content beautifully thanks to its impressively high peak brightness and very wide color gamut. Its extremely fast response time and optional black frame insertion feature insure that motion looks crisp with minor trails, and it has outstanding low input lag as well, making it an excellent choice for gamers. Unfortunately, as it tends to be the case with most budget options, there are some noticeable uniformity issues that can cause vignetting during brighter scenes, as well as distracting dirty screen effect which can be quite noticeable when watching sports.
03/18/2020: 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.
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.