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 well-known in the TV industry. It has a large selection of models ranging from small 720p budget TVs, to an 8k premium TV that has recently hit the market. The picture quality of most Samsung models is great, and the TVs are equipped with very good smart features that are the result of Samsung's research for improvements in this area. Samsung's smart platform, Tizen OS, is among the best on the market. Each year, Samsung adds new innovative features in their TVs to improve performance and make them stand out. This year Samsung introduced the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, which improves viewing angles at the expense of lower contrast ratio. It was included in its highest end models, the Samsung Q90R, the Samsung Q80R, and the 8k Samsung Q900R. Another recent addition is the 'Ambient Mode' that transforms your TV into a work of art.
Usually, changes from the previous year are small, but this is not always the case. The QLED TVs were first introduced into the market in 2017 and deliver outstanding color. In 2018, they released the Samsung Q900R, the first 8k TV on the market, and offered support to nascent technologies like FreeSync VRR, low latency motion interpolation, and auto game mode in their high-end TV lineup. This year the "Ultra Viewing Angle' technology made its debut. At the same time, they like to make their existing customers happy by offering updates to their existing fleet. Last year they updated the firmware of many of their 2018 models to include support for those nascent technologies.
Samsung has TVs for every taste, every room size, and every wallet. The Samsung Q90R is the company's flagship, with impressive picture quality, outstanding HDR performance, and unparalleled gaming features and performance. In the mid-range category, the new Samsung RU8000 delivers an excellent gaming performance but sadly fails to match the overall performance of last year's NU8000. Both TVs come in a variety of sizes. In the budget category, Samsung offers the Samsung RU7100 in sizes ranging from 40" to an impressive 75". The RU7100, despite the budget price, still delivers decent overall picture quality and runs the same smart platform found on the more expensive models.
LG is one of the first TV manufacturers that produced OLED TVs. The emissive technology allows the TVs to switch off individual pixels, thus delivering perfect blacks and greatly enhancing picture quality. LG also produces a large number of LCD TVs, using mainly IPS panels that have wider viewing angles than VA panels at the expense of lower contrast ratio. LG's TVs at the lower end of the lineup are less expensive, but their performance isn't as good, so they don't regularly make it into our recommendations.
Compared to other brands, LG LED TVs have very low input lag and wider viewing angles thanks to their IPS panels, as explained before. These characteristics make them a good choice for use as a PC monitor. Unfortunately, the low contrast ratio hurts dark room performance as blacks tend to look more like gray. LG TVs run LG's WebOS, one of the best TV operating systems available. It's a smart TV platform that's fast, easy to use, and gives you access to one of the largest app collections where you'll definitely find what you want. LGs ship with one of the most advanced remotes that allow you to quickly navigate through the menus without any issues, and the latest remote models even include a pointer.
LG is famous for its top-tier OLED TVs. Their TV lineup, however, spans all budgets, starting from budget IPS TVs with wide viewing angles but poor dark room performance, all the way up to the expensive and also top performing OLED TVs with the remarkable picture quality. The LG TVs that deliver the absolute best quality are the 2019 OLED TVs. Thus far, we've tested the LG C9 and the E9, that have an outstanding picture quality, excellent motion handling, and low input lag to please gamers. In the upper mid-range category, we've tested the LG SM9500, which is a very good 4k LED IPS LCD TV with wide viewing angles and excellent low input lag, but, unfortunately, just decent dark room performance. The best budget TV from LG we've tested so far is the LG UM7300 with a good overall performance, wide viewing angles, and an outstanding low input lag.
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 in 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 is not 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 their models stay on the market for longer. 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 of 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.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best TV 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.