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 biggest electronics companies worldwide, and besides producing TVs, you can easily find Samsung phones, soundbars, monitors, home appliances, and other products. Even though they've started producing OLED mobile phones, they have yet to make any OLED TVs, but their QLED TVs are a great alternative for people who don't like the risk of permanent burn-in associated with OLEDs. The Quantum Dot layer on these QLEDs improves their color gamut, and most of their TVs use a VA panel, which normally have an excellent contrast ratio and mediocre viewing angles. In 2019, they added an 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer on the Samsung Q80/Q80R QLED, Samsung Q90/Q90R QLED, and the Samsung Q900/Q900R 8k QLED to improve their viewing angles at the cost of their native contrast.
Samsung has made improvements in terms of gaming performance for their TVs in the last few years. They normally have low input lag and their higher-end models have a 120Hz refresh rate with FreeSync variable refresh rate support to reduce screen tearing, which should please serious gamers. Samsung uses TizenOS as their smart interface, which is user-friendly and has a ton of apps available to download. Their TVs normally have great out-of-the-box color accuracy, but issues come up sometimes when you first get them, so Samsung releases regular updates to fix any issues. They've even introduced new features to their TVs after their release, like AirPlay, so you can update your TV and keep it future-proofed with the latest features, as long as the hardware supports it.
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's 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 is one of the oldest companies and most recognizable names in the world of consumer electronics, whether it's for their Walkmans, cameras, PlayStation, or TVs. These days, they mostly make mid to high-end TVs that are usually priced a bit higher than their competitors. That said, Sony TVs are very well-built and their quality control is among the best. They make use of all types of panels, and like LG, OLEDs sit at the top as their flagship models. Also, like many other manufacturers, they've released an 8k TV, although it's mainly targeted at enthusiasts.
Sony TVs are usually known to have excellent motion handling and color accuracy. They have a slightly higher input lag than LG or Samsung TVs, but it's generally low enough for casual gaming. One feature that Sony has yet to implement on any of their TVs is support for FreeSync variable refresh rate technology, which reduces screen tearing when gaming. For a number of years, Sony had their own TV operating system, but lately, most of them have been running on Android TV. This is great for users, as it allows them to have access to the enormous amount of apps from the Google Play Store as well as having the Google Assistant for voice control. On the whole, Sony TVs are incredibly versatile and they perform well in almost any type of content. We reviewed the Sony X800H recently, which is a good mid-range TV, and with the rest of the 2020 lineup being released, you'll most likely find great TVs like the Sony X900F or the Sony X950G at a reduced price.
See the best Sony TVs here.
Vizio is a growing American company that's relatively young compared to some of the other big-name companies, as it was founded in 2002. They went from making budget TVs to higher-end models to compete with Sony, LG, and Samsung, and the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019 is one of the better TVs on the market. Since TVs are Vizio's main product, they can really focus on improving them, but they've expanded into making soundbars and speakers.
Vizio favors using VA panels for their TVs, so naturally, they have better dark room performance at the cost of good viewing angles. As most of their TVs have outstanding contrast ratio and great overall picture quality, they're usually a good choice for watching movies, especially in dark rooms. Like Samsung, Vizio TVs use Quantum Dot technology, but they're not QLED TVs. Vizio TVs usually have a 'Low Latency' setting to deliver low input lag for gaming, but none of their TVs have any variable refresh rate technology, which might disappoint more serious gamers. Despite making great TVs, Vizio lags behind in terms of smart features. The SmartCast OS isn't very user-friendly as it feels laggy and it's not very smooth to use. It comes with a few pre-installed apps, and you can't download any more, but luckily, you can cast whatever you like from your phone. Their TVs also don't have digital assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant, but if you prefer a TV with great picture quality, you can't go wrong with a Vizio.
See the best Vizio TVs here.
TCL is a Chinese company that has been making TVs for just a few years. Although they make many types of products ranging from mobile phones to home appliances, it's their TVs that have garnered the most attention. Their Roku TVs became immensely popular due to their ease of use and affordable price, and their high-end models can compete with more established brands. Since joining the QLED Alliance with Samsung and Hisense, they have produced their first QLED TVs, the 8 Series, which also runs on Roku OS.
TCL usually makes TVs with VA panels, which are known to have a high contrast ratio but poor viewing angles. There are a few budget models that have a 1080p or 720p resolution, especially in the smaller sizes, but they generally stick to 4k. Nearly all of their TVs have low input lag for a good gaming experience, but advanced gaming features like FreeSync is noticeably lacking, and so far, only their flagship 8 Series TVs have a 120Hz refresh rate. Nonetheless, their TVs perform remarkably well for their price point, and with the speed at which they have improved over the last few years, their 2020 lineup looks promising.
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.
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.
05/15/2020: Minor updates to text for clarity.
11/20/2019: Replaced the Vizio P Series Quantum 2018 with the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019.
10/16/2019: Added Hisense.
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.