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 85 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 OLED. 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. The viewing angles are great, and you won't lose image accuracy when viewing from the side. 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 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 without worrying about burn-in. It offers impressive overall performance and is also packed with features that should please most people. Samsung's Tizen OS is easy-to-use, menu navigation is very smooth, and 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. It's also a great choice for daytime viewing in bright rooms because it has outstanding reflection handling and great peak brightness. Additionally, it gets bright enough to make highlights stand out in HDR. For gamers, it has VRR support and a 120Hz panel with HDMI 2.1 support.
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 they 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.
Of the TVs we've tested, the Hisense H9G is the best TV for streaming 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.
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 inky blacks that are great for watching in the dark. It also has a 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're looking for color accuracy, and you'd rather not have to calibrate your TV, check out the Sony X950H. Its contrast ratio is not as high as the Hisense H9G, and it's more expensive, but it has excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, so you don't necessarily need to calibrate it to get the most out of your TV. It also has amazing HDR brightness, so it can make HDR content pop as it should, and a wide color gamut. Like the Hisense, it's also an Android TV, so the interface is essentially the same. It also has okay viewing angles, considering it's a VA panel, thanks to Sony's added 'X-Wide Angle' layer. Gamers should also appreciate the fast response time and low input lag, although they're not as good as on the Hisense. Unfortunately, it doesn't support VRR either.
If you want a TV with an incredible contrast ratio that can deliver a satisfying HDR experience, you can't go wrong with the Hisense, but if color accuracy is important to you, the Sony is a great alternative.
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, upscales lower-resolution content well, and removes 24p judder from any source, which is rare for a 60Hz TV. Sadly, highlights don't pop in HDR because it doesn't get very bright. If you also want to use it for gaming, it has a very good response time and incredibly low input lag.
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.
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.