1080p TVs are no longer the norm and are becoming hard to find. Almost every new model that comes to the market is a 4k one, even for budget models (see our 4k vs. 1080p TV comparison). Generally, even when watching 1080p content, most 4k TVs have better overall picture quality, so unless there's a very specific reason you're looking for a 1080p model, upgrading to a 4k model may be more worth it.
That said, we've tested more than 70 TVs in the last two years, and below are our recommendations for the best 1080p TVs you can buy. See also our recommendations for the best cheap TVs and the best TVs under $300.
The best 1080p TV that we've tested is the TCL 3 Series 2019. This simple Roku TV comes in various sizes. However, note that there are two 32 inch variants: the 32S325 is 720p, while the 32S327 has a 1080p resolution. It's best suited for dark to moderately-lit rooms as it has a high contrast ratio to produce deep blacks but doesn't get very bright, so it may struggle to overcome glare in a well-lit room.
The response time is good, which results in only a short blur trail behind fast-moving objects, and there's minimal stutter in low frame rate content despite its quick response time. It has an exceptionally low input lag to provide a responsive gaming experience, but there's no VRR support to reduce screen tearing. Unfortunately, it can't display a wide color gamut and doesn't support HDR.
It isn't a great choice for wide seating areas or while walking around the room as the image deteriorates quickly when viewing from the side, which is typical for a VA panel TV. On the upside, its Roku interface is user-friendly and gives you access to a large number of streaming channels and apps. Overall, if you need a secondary TV, this is an adequate choice.
If you tend to walk around doing chores while watching TV, then you should consider a TV with wider viewing angles, such as the Samsung N5300. Unlike the TCL 3 Series 2019, this TV uses an IPS panel with great viewing angles, so images remain accurate when viewed from the side. It gets brighter to combat glare, but visibility may still be an issue in brightly-lit rooms. Its Tizen OS platform also offers a great number of apps, and its interface feels smoother and more responsive than the TCL's. Unfortunately, it isn't a good choice for gaming as its response time is a bit slow, and it has a very high input lag.
Overall, go with the TCL if you want a TV that's better suited for dark rooms or if you plan on gaming. However, if viewing angles are important to you, then go with the Samsung.
The best 1080p TV for watching sports in the cheap category is the Hisense 40H4F. This 40 inch TV is a decent choice for watching sports as it has an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, allowing you to keep an eye on the game while you go about your work or chores. It also comes in a 32 inch size; however, that model has a 720p resolution. It doesn't get very bright, so it performs best in a moderately-lit room.
Fast-moving scenes look reasonably clear thanks to its decent response time. It has a 60Hz refresh rate and low input lag, but sadly, no VRR support to reduce screen tearing when gaming. There's some noticeable dirty screen effect on our unit, which can be distracting when watching sports, but uniformity can vary due to manufacturing tolerances, so your experience may be different. As is expected for a TV in this price range, it doesn't support HDR.
The internal speakers aren't the best as they lack low-bass to produce that rumbling, thumping sound. However, they get very loud and don't distort much at high volume levels. The Roku interface is easy to use, runs smoothly, and has plenty of apps available for download. So, if you're on a very tight budget or just want a cheap TV for a secondary room, this is worth considering.
Nov 13, 2020: Replaced the LG LJ5500 with the Hisense H4F.
Jul 14, 2020: Replaced the Vizio D Series with The Frame 2020; removed the TCL D100.
Our recommendation above is what we think is currently the best 1080p TVs to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper TV wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't really worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no TVs that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our 1080p 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.