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. 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? 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.
Samsung is a massive international electronics company that was founded in South Korea in 1938. They produce a wide range of products mainly designed for everyday use, such as smartphones, monitors, soundbars, fridges, and TVs, among many other types of electronics. Their flagship QLED TVs are great alternatives to LG's OLEDs if you want to avoid the risk of permanent burn-in, and they generally get much brighter than OLEDs. Their 2020 lineup ranges from the high-end 8k Samsung Q800T QLED to the more budget-friendly Samsung TU7000, and as expected, their TVs have fewer features and don't perform as well as you go down their lineup. Their TVs mainly use VA panels, which are known for a high contrast ratio and narrow viewing angles, but their higher-end TVs, like the Samsung Q90T QLED, have an 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer added, improving the viewing angles at the cost of its contrast ratio.
Samsung TVs are known for excellent gaming performance, and the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED is one of the best gaming TVs we've tested. Their higher-end models have a 120Hz refresh rate and FreeSync variable refresh rate (VRR) support, which helps reduce screen tearing. Even their lower-end options, like the Samsung TU8000, have a really low input lag and fairly quick response time, which is great for more casual console gamers. Unfortunately, most of the Samsung TVs we've tested have some uniformity issues such as visible dirty screen effect, which could get distracting during sports, but this is something that varies between units. Lastly, Samsung's TizenOS smart platform is easy to use and has a ton of apps available to download, so you can find the app you prefer.
See the best Samsung TVs here.
LG is one of the world's biggest electronic producers, and they're headquartered in South Korea. Since 1958, they've produced all kinds of home appliances, including TVs, monitors, soundbars, phones, and refrigerators. LG was one of the first manufacturers to release large OLED TVs to the commercial market in 2012, and since then, OLED TVs have become their bread and butter. The entry-level LG BX OLED offers excellent picture quality with an infinite contrast ratio, perfect black uniformity, and wide viewing angles. Considering most OLEDs have similar picture quality, LG attempts to diversify their lineup by releasing models with unique designs, such as the LG GX OLED, which is extremely thin and meant to sit flush against a wall, and it doesn't come with a stand.
One downside to any OLED is the permanent burn-in risk that poses a threat if you constantly watch the same content with static elements, like the news. However, we don't expect it to be an issue if you watch varied content. LG also makes LED TVs, but they don't compete with other companies in terms of performance. Their LEDs usually have IPS panels resulting in low contrast in exchange for fairly wide viewing angles, and they don't get very bright either. Recently, their TVs have started to include gaming perks such as FreeSync support and low input lag, and you can even find VRR support on the mid-range LG NANO85, which is a nice touch. Overall, if you're in the market for an OLED, you can't go wrong with an LG, but if you want a classic LED TV, there are better options.
See the best LG TVs here.
Like Samsung and LG, Sony is a large international electronics producer. They manufacturer a diverse lineup of products, including headphones, Blu-ray players, cameras, gaming consoles, and of course, TVs. Sony was a pioneer with the growth of both LED and OLED TVs, and they still offer both panel types. Their OLEDs are a direct competitor to LG. The Sony A8H OLED delivers the same excellent picture quality as other OLEDs, but compared to the LG models, it lacks on gaming features such as FreeSync support and low input lag. Sony TVs are known for their excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, and even though this is something that may vary between units, you likely won't need to get your TV calibrated to enjoy accurate colors to their fullest.
Unfortunately, Sony TVs can be on the pricey side, and there are cheaper options that offer similar performance, such as some Hisense TVs. Despite having OLED models, Sony also makes great LED options, such as the Sony X950H. They generally get bright enough to combat glare and are good choices to use in well-lit environments. They mainly have VA panels that display deep blacks, but the Sony X800H has an IPS panel with wide viewing angles. These TVs don't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content and, for the most part, display wide color gamuts for HDR content. They have built-in Android TV as their smart platform, which offers a ton of apps available to download, but may not be the easiest to use at times. Sony TVs are reliable and perform well in any setting, and if you don't mind spending a bit more compared to the competition, you should be happy with it.
See the best Sony TVs here.
Vizio is a fairly new TV manufacturer, especially compared to some bigger, international companies like Samsung and LG. They started producing TVs in 2002 as their main product and quickly grew as one of the biggest TV producers in the United States. Up until 2018, most of their TVs lacked a tuner, so they technically weren't branded as TVs, but they've added tuners since then. Since TVs are their main product, they really put their focus on them, and even though they've started producing soundbars and speakers, their electronics lineup is not as diverse as some other companies. Vizio TVs offer great picture quality for a low-cost, and since most of them have VA panels, they have an excellent contrast ratio, but they've also started producing OLED TVs.
The higher-end Vizio TVs, like the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2020, are also known to get extremely bright, and they generally have great reflection handling, so they're an ideal choice if you watch in a bright room. HDR content also looks fantastic as their TVs get bright enough to bring out highlights, and they display an extremely wide color gamut. Like any TV company, their products aren't without issues. They have uniformity problems, narrow viewing angles, and the SmartCast operating system is very limited. It comes with a few pre-installed apps, but you can't install any extra apps, and the interface isn't smooth to navigate. Even though their models don't have gaming features like VRR support, they generally have a good response time and low input lag, ideal for more casual gamers. Overall, Vizio TVs offer great value for their price.
See the best Vizio TVs here.
TCL is an international electronics company whose headquarters are in China. Compared to Sony and Samsung, they're a relatively young company, having started in 1981, and they started making TVs in 1992. Their products include cellphones, soundbars, and headphones. Their TV lineup is very small - they've only released two TVs in 2020 in North America. They came out with their first QLED TVs in 2019 with the TCL 8 Series 2019/Q825 QLED, and they've since added QLED technology to the TCL 6 Series/R625 2019 and the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, which helps provide a wide color gamut. In the United States, they sell their TVs with built-in Roku TV, which is easy-to-use, and there's a great selection of apps you can download. They also have Android TV options in Europe in order to compete with Hisense. Their TVs mainly have VA panels, which are known for their excellent contrast ratio, but that comes at the cost of narrow viewing angles.
TCL is generally known as a budget company; however, the TCL 6 Series/S635 2020 may be a bit too expensive for those on a budget. If that's the case, look into the 5 Series, which is a good budget TV. The 6 Series is also very good, and it's packed with gaming features this year, such as a 120Hz refresh rate and VRR support. This is a significant improvement over their 2019 models, which were all limited to 60Hz and no VRR support, so it seems as if TCL is taking a more gamer-friendly approach to their high-end TVs. Unfortunately, their TVs are known for uniformity issues and mediocre out-of-the-box color accuracy, but these may vary between units. Regardless of these issues, most people should be happy with a TCL TV.
See the best TCL TVs here.
Like TCL, Hisense is another Chinese company that makes budget-friendly TVs. They make a wide variety of electronics, include phones, air conditioners, home appliances, and obviously TVs. In 2015, they teamed up with Sharp to sell TVs in North America, and today, they have a well-sized, budget-friendly lineup available in North America. Their biggest competitor is TCL, and their TVs sold in the United States either come with Android TV or Roku TV. The difference between each platform really comes down to user preference. Their higher-end TVs offer great performance for their price, and even though the Hisense H9G is too expensive to be considered a budget TV, it's one of the better LED TVs we've tested in 2020, and it's a better option than some more expensive TVs.
If you're truly on a budget, the Hisense H8G is good overall, and it's a good upgrade over its predecessor, the Hisense H8F. Their TVs generally lag behind on gaming features, and even though the H9G has a 120Hz panel, it doesn't accept 120Hz signals, which is disappointing. Still, their TVs offer good response time and low input lag for gaming. Picture quality is also good because their TVs normally have VA panels, which results in an excellent contrast ratio and, sadly, narrow viewing angles. They're a fairly good choice for bright-room viewing as their higher-end models get very bright, but as expected, their lower-end models aren't as bright. The H9G and H8G are marketed as QLED TVs, but their color gamuts aren't as wide as some other QLED TVs, like with Samsungs and TCLs. Lastly, Hisense TVs don't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content like Vizio TVs do, so they're a good choice if you still use a cable box. Overall, Hisense offers well-balanced TVs with good picture quality.
10/14/2020: Replaced the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019 with the Quantum X 2020.
09/14/2020: Replaced the picks for TCL and Hisense to reflect the 2020 models.
08/13/2020: Updated text for clarity.
07/14/2020: Replaced the picks for LG, Samsung, Hisense, and Sony to reflect their 2020 models.
11/20/2019: Replaced the Vizio P Series Quantum 2018 with the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019.
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.