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 there are a few of the best TV brands to choose from. Some of these new brands have started releasing models that match or even outperform far more expensive models from the best TV brands.
From smart features to design, each brand has its way of doing things. So how do they stack up? Continue 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, the best budget TVs, and the best 4k TVs.
LG is a South Korean company and one of the biggest producers of consumer electronics worldwide. They make a variety of products, including home appliances, phones, tablets, watches, and of course, televisions. They've been making large flat screen TVs since the start of the 21st century and revolutionized the market with the launch of OLED TVs in 2013. What sets OLEDs apart from typical LED displays is that they can individually turn off pixels, which results in perfect blacks, and there's no blooming around bright objects that you may notice on LEDs. Additionally, OLEDs have very wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate when viewing from the side, and these TVs are a great choice if you have a wide seating arrangement.
LG has a few different models in their OLED lineup, but since most OLEDs offer a very similar picture, the differences between each model usually have to do with their features and the TV's physical design. The entry-level LG BX OLED is extremely similar in terms of performance and features with the higher-end CX and LG GX OLED; the only differences are that the CX has a premium-looking center-mounted stand, while the GX doesn't come with one and is designed to sit flat against the wall. The major downside to OLEDs is the risk of permanent burn-in, which could be problematic if you constantly watch the same content with static elements, like the news, but we don't expect this to be an issue if you watch varied content. If that worries you, LG also has an LED lineup, but they don't perform as well as the competition because they mainly use IPS panels with a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray when viewed in the dark.
See the best LG TVs here.
Samsung is one of the best-known electronics companies worldwide, and they're not limited to just producing TVs. They also make smartphones, fridges, soundbars, and monitors. Their TVs are generally the main LED competitors to LG's OLED lineup as they don't have the risk of permanent burn-in. Their flagship QLED lineup, which uses quantum dot technology, has a wide range of models, from budget ones like the Samsung Q60/Q60T QLED to the 8k Samsung Q800T QLED. These quantum dot layers allow the TV to produce a wide range of colors for a great HDR experience. Samsung has a lower tier of TVs that don't carry the quantum dot layer, like the Samsung TU8000, so those models usually can't display a wide color gamut and don't get bright enough for HDR content.
Samsung makes most of their TVs with VA panels that can produce deep blacks. This panel type is also known to have poor viewing angles. However, Samsung has improved the viewing angles on their top-tier models using their 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer, like on the Q90/Q90T QLED. This TV also delivers a fantastic gaming experience as it has great response time, low input lag, and variable refresh rate (VRR) support. Like many recent high-end TVs, it has an HDMI 2.1 port, making it a good match for new gaming consoles like the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. Samsung has another lineup of TVs that's rather unique called Lifestyle TVs, but they're aimed at a very niche audience and are quite expensive, like Samsung The Frame 2020, Samsung The Sero, and Samsung The Terrace. Finally, while Samsung TVs are a little expensive compared to the rest of the market, they usually have a great build, and their Tizen OS is one of the most user-friendly platforms.
See the best Samsung TVs here.
Sony is one of the biggest international electronics companies, producing a variety of products, including TVs, game consoles, cameras, headphones, and others. The company, initially called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, started in 1946 with the production of tape recorders. They eventually changed their name to Sony in 1958 when they wanted to expand into North America. Since making their first TVs in the 1960s, they've earned a large share in the global TV market, competing with Samsung and LG. Although their lineup is generally smaller than the competition in terms of the number of models they release every year, they still make a variety of options with both OLEDs and LEDs. Their flagship OLEDs include the Sony A8H OLED and the 48 inch Sony A9S OLED, which provide fantastic picture quality in dark rooms thanks to their infinite contrast ratio.
In terms of their 4k LED options, the flagship Sony X950H offers great picture quality because of the VA panel's high contrast ratio. It has Sony's 'X-Wide Angle' technology, which aims to improve the viewing angles on a VA panel, but it doesn't work well, and the viewing angles are still mediocre. If you don't need that, the Sony X900H costs less and has better contrast, and the Sony X800H has an IPS panel if you need wide viewing angles. Despite Sony making the PS5, their TVs still lacked VRR support in 2020, but it's expected that more models should have more gaming features in 2021. Sony TVs are generally known for their excellent color accuracy as well, so if you care about accurate colors and don't want to get your TV calibrated, you should be happy with a Sony. Lastly, Sony uses Android TV as its smart platform, which has an excellent selection of apps available through the app store.
See the best Sony TVs here.
Compared to other TV manufacturers, Vizio is still in its baby steps; they started making TVs in 2002 and have a fairly limited lineup of other electronics as their main focus is on televisions. Vizio's options are best for those on a budget looking for top picture quality, especially if you watch a lot of movies or other native 4k content. Their LED lineup has a few models, ranging from the entry-level Vizio V Series 2020 to the flagship Vizio P Series Quantum X 2020, and they released their first OLED in 2020. The Vizio OLED is cheaper than rival options from LG and Sony, but it doesn't have as many gaming features. It's supposed to support VRR, but it doesn't work properly, the input lag is higher than LG TVs, and it doesn't properly display 4k @ 120Hz content. However, these shouldn't be an issue if you just want an OLED for watching your favorite movies.
Their LED models are made with VA panels, and they all have an outstanding native contrast ratio; the higher-end models have local dimming that further improve the black level even more, making them a great choice for dark room viewing. However, that also means they have narrow viewing angles, so they're not suggested for wide seating arrangements. Like the OLED, their higher-end LEDs also have trouble with VRR and 4k @ 120Hz, so they're not ideal for competitive gaming. They also have trouble upscaling lower-resolution content properly, like from cable boxes, so you should avoid these if you tend to watch a lot of cable TV. Also, the Vizio SmartCast allows you to cast anything you want from your phone, but you can't download any extra apps on it, and it can feel laggy at times.
See the best Vizio TVs here.
Founded in 1981, TCL is a relatively young company compared to some of the best TV brands, but they compete well with their competition. A Chinese company, they entered the TV market in 1992, and although it's become their main product, they also produce soundbars, headphones, and mobile phones. Their TV options are generally inexpensive, and they're one of the few companies that still make smaller, 720p and 1080p TVs, like the TCL 3 Series 2020. In 2014, they partnered with Roku as their smart platform, so most TCL TVs in 2020 have built-in Roku TV, which is easy-to-use and has a great selection of apps you can download. This is great if you don't want to spend extra on an external streaming box. They've also started to include Android TV with lower-end models to compete with Hisense in North America.
Although TCL makes AMOLED phones, they have yet to produce any OLED TVs, and instead, they stick with LED options. Their higher-end TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED and TCL 6 Series/R635 2020 QLED have a quantum dot layer, similar to the Samsung QLEDs, which allows them to produce a wide color gamut for HDR content. However, besides the 6 Series, TCL TVs don't get very bright and don't make highlights pop in HDR. Their options also have VA panels, so they have high contrast, and they perform best in dark rooms. However, this means they have narrow viewing angles, and they're not suggested for wide seating arrangements. Lastly, only their flagship 6 Series has extra gaming features like VRR support, but most of their models are good enough for casual gaming with a quick response time and low input lag. Overall, if you're on a budget and don't need something bright, you should be happy with a TCL.
See the best TCL TVs here.
Hisense is the major competitor of TCL when it comes to making budget and low-cost TVs. This Chinese company started by making radios in 1969 and soon began producing TVs a few years after. Now, they make a variety of electronics, including home appliances and air purifiers, and they're relatively new in the North American TV market. They acquired the rights to sell TVs in North America from Sharp in 2015, and since then, they've produced some really good 4k TVs, especially for their price. Their higher-end models, like the Hisense H8G and H9G, compete with some other premium models from other brands, and they don't cost much. Most of their TVs use Android TV as their smart operating system, but they also have a few models with built-in Roku to compete with TCL.
Their TVs are known to perform well in both bright and dark environments. They mainly use VA panels that have a high contrast ratio and full-array local dimming, allowing them to produce deep and inky blacks when viewed in the dark. The H9G and H8G both get bright and have at least decent reflection handling, so visibility shouldn't be an issue even in well-lit rooms. Unfortunately, their models don't have any viewing angle technology like Samsung or Sony, so it's best to avoid using them in wide seating arrangements. Also, Hisense lacks extra gaming features, and they have yet to include any VRR support in their TVs. Fans have HDR content should also enjoy Hisense TVs because both the H8G and H9G display a wide color gamut. Their entry-level models like the Hisense H6510G don't have these same features and performance, but that's expected for low-end models. If you need a good all-around TV without any gaming features, you'll likely find it with Hisense.
Feb 24, 2021: Updated text for clarity; no changes to recommendations.
Feb 05, 2021: Verified picks for accuracy, updated text for clarity.
Dec 11, 2020: Replaced the Vizio Quantum X 2020 with the Vizio OLED.
Oct 14, 2020: Replaced the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019 with the Quantum X 2020.
Sep 14, 2020: Replaced the picks for TCL and Hisense to reflect the 2020 models.
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.