Almost all new TVs come equipped with a smart platform. Some manufacturers choose to use their own smart platforms, where others choose to integrate options like Android or Roku. No matter the case, the selection of apps is great, and most common apps are available on almost all platforms. Choosing the best smart TV is all based on your needs and personal preference of which smart OS you enjoy using the most.
We've tested more than 80 TVs in the past two years, and below are our recommendations for the best smart TVs you can buy. Also, check out our recommendations for the best Roku TVs, the best TVs, and the best 4k TVs.
The best smart TV with an OLED panel that we've tested is the LG CX. It's one of two entry-level OLEDs in LG's lineup, and it's available in a wide range of sizes. Like any OLED TV, it can individually turn off pixels, resulting in an infinite contrast ratio and perfect black uniformity, so it's a great choice for viewing in dark rooms. It uses LG's WebOS interface, which is easy-to-use and has a ton of apps available to download. You can also use the Magic Remote as a point-and-press remote, a bit like a computer mouse.
It delivers stunning picture quality and is packed with features. It displays an excellent color gamut for HDR content, has excellent gradient handling, and it has decent HDR peak brightness, enough to make some highlights pop, but it may not be enough for a true HDR experience. It also has outstanding reflection handling if you want to use it in a well-lit room. The viewing angles are great, and you won't lose image accuracy when viewing from the side. It upscales lower-resolution content without any issues, which is great for watching cable TV or DVDs. If you also want to use it for gaming, you should appreciate its near-instant response time, 120Hz panel, variable refresh rate (VRR) support, and low input lag.
Sadly, OLED TVs have the risk of permanent burn-in. This could be problematic if you constantly watch the same content with static elements, such as leaving it on the news all the time, but we don't expect this to be a problem for people who watch varied content. If you want to use it as a PC monitor, it displays chroma 4:4:4, and we tested the 48 inch model as a monitor, which you could read about here. Overall, if you want the best TV for streaming and want an OLED, go for this one.
The Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED is the best smart TV with an LED panel that we've tested. Unlike OLEDs, LED TVs don't have the risk of long-term permanent damage, so you can easily leave it on your favorite news channel or use it as a PC monitor without worrying about burn-in. It offers impressive overall performance and is also packed with features that most people should be pleased with. Samsung's Tizen OS is easy-to-use, and menu navigation is very smooth. Plus, there's a great selection of apps to choose from.
It has a VA panel with a great contrast ratio, so it displays deep blacks. Its contrast is lower than most VA panel TVs because it has Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology implemented, which is meant to improve the viewing angles at the cost of its contrast. It also has a decent full-array local dimming feature that improves the picture quality in dark scenes. For gamers, it has VRR support and a 120Hz panel with HDMI 2.1 support. It's also a great choice for daytime viewing in bright rooms because it has outstanding reflection handling and great peak brightness. It also gets bright enough to make highlights stand out in HDR.
Unfortunately, our unit has some uniformity issues with dirty screen effect in the center. This could get distracting during sports, but it also may vary between units. We tested the 55 inch model, but the 49 and 50 inch models are limited to a 60Hz panel, don't have VRR support, and lack the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, so it should have higher contrast and narrow viewing angles. That said, these shouldn't make a difference if you're just streaming your favorite shows, and all in all, this is the best smart TV we've tested with an LED panel.
The best smart TV for watching HDR content we've tested is the Sony X950H. It's well-suited for nearly any type of room setting. It has a high contrast ratio and a full-array local dimming feature, allowing it to produce deep blacks for a fantastic dark room viewing experience. It handles reflections exceptionally well and can overcome glare easily, providing good visibility in bright environments.
If you're looking for a good HDR experience, it can certainly deliver. It has an impressive color gamut to produce rich and vibrant colors, and it gets more than bright enough to make small specular highlights stand out. Its out-of-the-box color accuracy is excellent, and it has amazing gradient handling to minimize banding. It can remove judder from all sources, but it stutters a bit in low frame rate content like movies due to its fast response time. Its input lag is low enough to satisfy most gamers; however, it doesn't have any advanced gaming features like FreeSync to help reduce screen tearing.
Unfortunately, despite Sony's 'X-Wide Angle' technology, its viewing angles are mediocre, and the image can still look washed out if you move too far off-center. This is an Android TV, which means that you get access to the immense Google Play Store and use voice control through the Google Assistant. The interface is relatively easy-to-use and runs smoothly, but you may have to put up with the occasional ad or suggested content on the home screen. Overall, this is a great TV for watching HDR content, and it has tons of streaming services available to satisfy most people.
If you find the Sony X950H too expensive, then check out the Hisense H9G. It's also an Android TV, so you get pretty much the same smart interface and access to apps, but the menu navigation may feel a bit slower. That said, there are a couple of differences. It has a higher contrast ratio to produce deeper blacks, but it has narrower viewing angles because it doesn't have any viewing-angle technology. Sadly, its out-of-the-box color accuracy is mediocre, but this may vary between units. The H9G gets brighter in HDR; however, the Automatic Brightness Limiter is a bit more aggressive, so it doesn't get as bright when large areas of the screen are lit. On the upside, it has a lower input lag and faster response time.
Overall, the Sony and the Hisense are very similar, and choosing between them depends on what you think is more important to you. If you want better color accuracy and wider viewing angles, go with the Sony. Otherwise, the Hisense is a good alternative and will save you some money.
The Hisense H8G is the best smart TV in the budget category that we've tested. It's fairly well-built and looks nice in any setting. It offers good overall performance that most people should be happy with. The built-in Android TV is somewhat easy-to-use but may not feel the most smooth at times. It still has an excellent selection of apps available to download.
It uses a VA panel and has an excellent contrast ratio and decent black uniformity. Despite its budget price, it even has a full-array local dimming feature that performs fairly well. In bright rooms, it has decent reflection handling, and it gets bright enough to combat glare. It displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, but it doesn't get bright enough in that mode to truly bring out highlights. It's a bit limited on gaming features, but it has a good response time, a Black Frame Insertion feature, and a low input lag.
Sadly, it has some uniformity issues as there's a dirty screen effect in the center, which could get distracting during sports, but this may vary between units. It also has narrow viewing angles, but that's expected from a VA panel. Fortunately, it upscales lower-resolution content well, and it removes judder from native 24p sources. Overall, most people should be happy with it, making it the best TV for streaming available in the budget category.
If you're not a fan of Android TV and prefer Roku TV because it's easier to use and the menu navigation feels smoother, check out the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. It doesn't get as bright as the Hisense H8G, but it displays a much wider color gamut for HDR content. It has a remarkable contrast ratio and good black uniformity, and even though there's a bit of blooming around bright objects, its local dimming features perform fairly well overall. It has great out-of-the-box color accuracy, it upscales lower-resolution content well, and it removes 24p judder from any source, which is rare for a 60Hz TV. Sadly, highlights don't pop the way the creator intended with HDR content because it doesn't get very bright. If you also want to use it for gaming, it has a very good response time, incredibly low input lag, and a Black Frame Insertion feature.
Overall, the Hisense is the better choice if you're on a budget and want the best smart TV we've tested, but if you want Roku TV, check out the TCL.
In its most basic form, a smart TV is a television that is connected to the internet and provides web-related features. It can be a web browser, but its appeal usually comes from their ability to use online services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify. If you've ever used something like an Apple TV, a Roku, or a Chromecast, then you are already quite familiar with their capabilities as they're quite similar.
Unfortunately, though, while they offer the same features, they tend to be a bit slower and less stable. This has become less of an issue in recent years, but most TVs still don't quite match the speed and reliability of something like a Roku set-top box.
Not only does almost every TV include smart features today, but most of them are pretty good. LG's WebOS and TCL's Roku stand out for their quality, but most shoppers should be pleased by the features of any of them. If you're shopping for a TV, don't fret too much about their smart features since little of your time is going to be spent using them. Instead, focus on the picture quality or other features that complement your usage. You'll get much closer to finding your perfect TV that way.
01/08/2021: Moved the Samsung Q80T to its own 'Best LED' category; renamed the LG to 'Best OLED'.
12/11/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
10/14/2020: Replaced the LG NANO85 with the Hisense H9G; renamed the Sony X950H to 'Best for HDR'; replaced the TCL 6 Series 2020 with the 5 Series 2020.
08/13/2020: Added the LG NANO85.
07/14/2020: Replaced the LG B9 with the CX, the Samsung Q80R with the Q80T, the Sony X950G with the X950H, and the Hisense H9F with the H8G; removed the LG SM9500.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are the best TVs for streaming currently available with smart features. They are adapted to be valid for most people in each price range. Rating is based on our review, factoring in price, and feedback from our visitors.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of smart TVs. 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.