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, a few of the traditional "budget" brands have dramatically increased in popularity in recent years and are a few of the best TV brands to choose from. Some of these brands have started releasing models that match or even outperform far more expensive models from the best TV brands. You can see a full list of models released in 2021 here.
From smart features to design, each brand has its own way of doing things. So how do they stack up? Keep reading to see our take on the best TV brands in the U.S. Also, see our recommendations for the best smart TVs, the best budget TVs, and the best 4k TVs.
LG is one of the biggest producers of consumer electronics worldwide, with its headquarters situated in Seoul, South Korea. Their history dates back to 1947, when a company named Lucky began producing plastic, and then a sister company called GoldStar entered the electronics industry in 1958. By 1983, Lucky and GoldStar merged and rebranded as LG in 1995. After producing flat-screen TVs in the early 2000s, they became pioneers in the OLED market with the release of the first consumer OLEDs in 2013. In 2021, LG Display is the exclusive manufacturer for OLED panels used in TVs, and they supply panels to most major TV manufacturers, including LG Electronics, Sony, and Vizio.
Since OLEDs all offer similar picture quality, LG's lineup includes models with different features and designs. In 2021, LG has released an even wider range of OLED TVs than previous years, from the entry-level A1 to the impressive 8k Z1. Some of their models use an upgraded brighter panel, known as the EVO panel, so we're starting to see more significant differences between their OLED models. LG isn't a one-trick pony though, they also release a wide range of LCDs every year, from the entry-level U series of LCDs to the high-end mini LED QNED series. LG is well-known for its impressive gaming features, and they were one of the first brands to support advanced gaming features like HDMI 2.1, variable refresh rates, and auto low latency mode. Their 2021 lineup is no different, and most of their TVs are great choices for console or PC gamers.
See the best LG TVs here.
For years, Samsung has been the biggest TV manufacturer in the world, selling the lion's share of TVs in the global market, alongside other consumer electronics like phones, monitors, and appliances. In recent years, its stranglehold has loosened with the rise of budget-friendly brands like TCL, Hisense, and Vizio. With LG's dominance in OLED TVs, Samsung had to find a way to compete. QLED TVs are Samsung's answer to the OLED, and they use quantum dot technology to deliver a wider color gamut and come without the risk of burn-in. In 2021, Samsung came out with Neo QLED TVs, which add Mini LED backlighting for greater control over local dimming zones. This allows the TV to produce extremely deep blacks, great for dark room viewing. The flagship Samsung QN90A QLED is one of the brightest TVs we've ever tested so glare shouldn't be an issue even in the brightest of rooms. There are reports of an upcoming Samsung TV that uses an LG OLED panel combined with Samsung's Quantum Dot tech, known as QD-OLED. We don't know if or when any TV with that technology will be available commercially though.
Samsung TVs aren't perfect, though. In 2021, Samsung began varying its panels more, introducing high-end models like the Samsung QN85A QLED and the Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED with ADS panels, which are similar to IPS. These TVs have low native contrast ratios that deliver grayish blacks, even though local dimming tries to improve the contrast. They also tend to suffer from noticeable blooming around bright objects, which is even more visible when viewing off-angle. Samsung TVs also don't support Dolby Vision, instead favoring Samsung's own HDR10+ format. While the difference between Dolby Vision and HDR10+ is minor, depending on which streaming service you prefer, the lack of Dolby Vision might be a big deal. On the plus side, Samsung does a great job with gaming features, as their models usually have quick response times, low input lag, and VRR support, and newer models come equipped with HDMI 2.1 for next-gen gaming.
See the best Samsung TVs here.
Sony used to be the largest manufacturer of TVs until Samsung overtook it in 2006, but it's still one of the most recognizable brands and holds a large share of the market for premium TVs. It's also known as a prominent media company, maker of video game consoles, cameras, headphones, and other electronics. Sony's TV lineup tends to feature fewer models than competitors like LG and Samsung, and its focus is typically on high-end TVs, with both LED and OLED options. Sony's flagship OLED in 2021 is the Sony A90J, which delivers exceptional picture quality in line with other OLEDs. It may not be the best choice for use in well-lit rooms because its brightness is just okay, but it still has outstanding reflection handling. We've yet to test all of Sony's 2021 models, but all except for the entry-level Sony X80J should come with HDMI 2.1 ports, and advanced features like VRR and ALLM are expected to come in an upcoming firmware update.
The mid-range Sony X90J from 2021 is still expected to receive those updates as well, and it features a fantastic contrast ratio thanks to its VA panel, as well as great local dimming and higher peak brightness. While it's a bit disappointing that the maker of the PS5 has yet to implement key gaming features for next-gen consoles on TVs, Sony is still quite reliable when it comes to picture quality, as well as motion smoothing. Sony TVs are generally known to have good color accuracy too, so if you don't want to calibrate your TV, you might be happy with a Sony. Also new in 2021 is the Google TV smart platform, which replaces Android TV but operates very similarly, albeit with a redesigned home page and a bit smoother performance overall.
See the best Sony TVs here.
Vizio is the only American manufacturer out of the best TV brands, as they were founded in 2002 and have their headquarters set up in California. They're a relatively small company and limit themselves to making TVs and soundbars at the moment. As of the launch of the 2022 models, which are set to be released in 2021, they will only be available in the United States, although they once sold TVs in Canada as well. We don't know if this change is permanent or temporary due to the pandemic. Vizio's lineup includes both LED and an OLED model. It delivers similar picture quality to LG's OLEDs, and it's sold at a lower cost. In terms of their LED options, they range from the premium Vizio P Series Quantum X 2021 to the entry-level 4k models like the Vizio V5 Series 2021. Their TVs usually have the same VA panel type, so that means they have a high contrast ratio; even their mid-range Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2021 has a local dimming feature, allowing it to produce deep blacks.
Sadly, the main downside to Vizio TVs is the bugs and issues with their Vizio SmartCast operating system. Although it can be easy to use, it feels laggy at times and could randomly crash. Also, you can't download any extra apps, so you only have access to the pre-installed ones; luckily, you still get most of the popular streaming apps, and you can cast anything you want from your phone. Vizio updated its smart interface this year with a wider selection of apps and built-in Google Chromecast capability. Their higher-end TVs also have VRR support, but once again, you may encounter bugs with that, so these TVs aren't exactly the best for gaming.
See the best Vizio TVs here.
TCL is a Chinese electronics company that was founded as TTK in 1981, initially producing audio cassettes. After changing their name to TCL in 1985, which is meant to stand for Telephone Communication Limited, they soon began making other electronics, like TVs, cellphones, and home appliances. They offer a good selection of models in their lineup, from higher-end Mini LED options like the TCL 8 Series 2019/Q825 QLED to entry-level, cheap models. They're one of the few companies left to make 1080p and 720p TVs, like the TCL 3 Series 2020, which is great if you don't want to spend too much on a 4k TV. Despite not being one of the better-known TV manufacturers, they helped revolutionize the market with the introduction of quantum dot TVs (QLED) TVs back in 2014, and they were the first manufacturer to produce Mini LED in 2019. TCL is one of only three TV manufacturers in the world with full vertical integration, so every component in their TVs is made by TCL, including the panel. This helps them to reduce costs and maintain full control over the manufacturing process.
Their main competitor is Hisense because they each make budget-friendly TVs that offer good value for their price. TCL has teamed up with Roku to include the operating system built-in with most of their TVs, and Roku is easy-to-use with a ton of apps available to download. In terms of picture quality, TCLs are generally a good option for watching movies in dark rooms. They all have VA panels with high contrast ratios, but only their QLEDs have local dimming features. Also, the TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED gets really bright, but as you go down the lineup, their TVs quickly become less bright, so they're not a great option for well-lit environments. TCLs may have some quality control problems like mediocre color accuracy and uniformity issues, but each of these may vary between units, so your experience may be different if you get a TCL.
See the best TCL TVs here.
Hisense is a Chinese electronics company that has only entered the US television market relatively recently. Hisense introduced its first TV in 1978 and has since expanded to other technologies and major appliances. Even though they're relatively new in North America, they've quickly grown in popularity, as their TVs deliver surprisingly good performance for the price. The Hisense U8G is one of our top recommended TVs, and the Hisense H8G is considered the best budget TV that we've tested. Hisense hasn't hesitated to release new TVs with unique solutions to old issues, like the dual-LCD U9DG. They've been a bit behind the other brands adopting some new technologies, as they've only recently started adding gaming features like VRR support. Hisense TVs often have narrow viewing angles, but they usually deliver great picture quality. They're known for their high peak brightness, at least decent local dimming, and fantastic contrast ratio. On the other hand, their TVs are also a bit less polished than the more expensive competitors, and there have been reports of strange bugs and glitches on their TVs.
Hisense is a main competitor of TCL, and even though you can't go wrong with either, Hisense is the safer bet if you need something with good brightness for a well-lit room. Sadly, their TVs usually don't have good out-of-the-box color accuracy and can have uniformity issues with dirty screen effect in the center, but since each of these varies between units, your experience may be different. One downside to Hisense is that their higher-end models, like the U8G or U9DG, aren't available in a wide range of sizes, but it's a great brand if you need the typical 55 or 65 inches. Like Sony, Hisense has traditionally used Android TV as its smart platform, although some lower-end models do have Roku TV instead. Although Sony transitioned to Google TV in 2021, Hisense is keeping Android TV, which seems to perform the same but may feel a bit laggier at times.
Jul 14, 2021: Updated text for clarity and confirmed top recommendations for each brand. No changes were made to our current picks.
Jun 14, 2021: Replaced the Hisense H9G with the Hisense U8G; updated text for clarity.
May 19, 2021: Replaced the LG CX with the LG C1; updated text for clarity.
Apr 23, 2021: Replaced the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED with the Samsung QN90A QLED. Replaced the Sony A8H OLED with the Sony A90J OLED.
Mar 25, 2021: Verified picks for accuracy, updated 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.