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 turn off pixels individually, resulting in an infinite contrast ratio and perfect black uniformity, so it's a great choice for dark room viewing. 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. 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, like leaving it on the news all the time, but we don't expect this to be a problem for people who watch varied content. Lastly, it upscales lower-resolution content without any issues, which is great for watching cable TV or DVDs. Overall, if you want the best TV for streaming and want an OLED, go for this one.
The best smart TV that we've tested with an LED panel is the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. Although it's a 2020 model, you can still easily find it available in 2021, and considering it's still better than its predecessor, the Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED, it's worth getting this TV. The main advantage of having an LED TV over an OLED is that it doesn't risk permanent burn-in, so you can easily leave it on your favorite news channel all day without damaging the screen.
It's a great overall TV that comes with Samsung's Tizen OS as its smart platform. It's easy-to-use, and there are a ton of apps available to download. The remote has quick-access buttons to popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and there's a built-in microphone for voice control as well. In terms of picture quality, this TV performs well in both dark and well-lit rooms. It gets bright enough to combat glare and has fantastic reflection handling. It also has a great native contrast ratio with a decent local dimming feature that helps it display deep blacks.
Sadly, it's not the best for HDR gaming because its HDR brightness and local dimming are worse in 'Game Mode' than outside of it. This shouldn't be an issue if you're just streaming HDR content, but there are better options available if you want to game in this video format. On the plus side, the 55 inch and larger models of this TV have fairly wide viewing angles thanks to Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle'. Overall, it's the best smart TV we've tested with an LED panel.
Of the TVs we've tested, the Hisense H9G is the best smart TV for watching HDR content. It's the flagship TV in Hisense's 2020 lineup, and it delivers excellent picture quality in an affordable package. It runs on Android TV, which is a bit less intuitive than some competing smart platforms but offers greater customizability and a very wide selection of apps. It's a well-built model with a sleek and modern design that should fit well into any setup.
When it comes to HDR, this is an excellent choice. It displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, and its contrast ratio is fantastic, delivering deep blacks that are great for watching in the dark. It also has a great full-array local dimming feature to further improve black levels. The TV can get very bright, enough to make highlights in HDR content pop. On top of that, it supports HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision, so it has all of the most common HDR formats covered.
Unfortunately, since it uses a VA panel, it has narrow viewing angles that make the image look washed out from the side. It's also not the best choice if you're a big gamer since it doesn't have VRR support and, despite having a 120Hz panel, it has issues supporting a 120Hz signal in any resolution. On the upside, though, it does have a low input lag and an amazing response time that results in clear motion in fast-moving content. All in all, this is among the best smart TVs we've tested when it comes to HDR, and most people should be satisfied with it.
If you don't plan on getting your TV calibrated, but you still want something with great color accuracy, then check out the Sony X950H, which also runs on Android TV. It has a lower native contrast ratio than the Hisense H9G because it has Sony's 'X-Wide Angle' technology, which aims to improve the viewing angles, but not by much. Still, the X950H is great for HDR content thanks to its good full-array local dimming feature, excellent HDR brightness, and wide color gamut. It has excellent black uniformity, but you may notice some blooming around bright objects in dark scenes. Sadly, despite having a 120Hz panel, it doesn't support any VRR for gaming, but that shouldn't be an issue if you're just streaming content.
If you're looking for the best TV for streaming HDR content, then you can't go wrong with the Hisense, but if you want more accurate colors, go for the Sony.
The best smart TV that we've tested in the budget category is the Hisense H8G. It sits below the Hisense H9G in their 2020 lineup, and even though it doesn't perform as well overall, it still offers very good performance for most usages that should please most people. It also has Android TV as its smart platform, which has a ton of apps you can download through the Google Play Store, but you may find there's a learning curve before you get used to its interface.
It performs equally as well in dark rooms as it does in bright rooms. Its VA panel has an excellent native contrast ratio, and the full-array local dimming feature does a decent job at improving the black level. Black uniformity on our unit is also decent, but this is something that can vary between units. As for its luminosity, it gets bright enough to combat glare and has decent reflection handling, which is good if you want to use it in a fairly well-lit room. It supports most common formats of HDR, including Dolby Vision and HDR10+, and with its okay brightness and wide color gamut, it delivers a good HDR experience.
Sadly, it has narrow viewing angles, so it's not suggested for a wide seating arrangement. It also lacks any gaming features like VRR support and is limited to a 60Hz panel. On the upside, it still has a good response time and low input lag if you want to use it for casual gaming. All in all, if you're on a budget, this is the best smart TV that we've tested.
If you prefer something with built-in Roku TV, which is easier to use than Android TV, then look into the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED. Although it doesn't get as bright in HDR as the Hisense H8G, it displays a wider color gamut and has improved contrast, so it still has good HDR performance. It also has a decent local dimming feature that improves the contrast, which is a nice touch to a budget-friendly TV. Sadly, it's not the best choice if you have a bright room because its reflection handling is only decent, and it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare. Fortunately, it upscales lower-resolution content, like from cable TV, without any issues, and it removes 24p judder from any source, which is rare for a 60Hz panel.
If you want the best TV for streaming in the budget category, you can't go wrong with the Hisense, but if you're a fan of Roku, then consider the TCL.
Apr 21, 2021: Updated text for clarity; added the Sony A90J, Samsung QN90A, and Samsung Q70A to Notable Mentions.
Mar 26, 2021: Verified picks for accuracy; added the Vizio M7 Series Quantum to Notable Mentions.
Feb 26, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks and updated text for clarity.
Feb 05, 2021: Swapped the Hisense H9G with the Sony X950H as main and alternate picks to reflect other recommendations; renamed the X950H to 'Alternative with Better Color Accuracy'.
Jan 08, 2021: Moved the Samsung Q80T to its own 'Best LED' category; renamed the LG to 'Best OLED'.
Dec 11, 2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
Oct 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.
Aug 13, 2020: Added the LG NANO85.
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 like 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.
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.