Outdoor TVs are becoming more and more popular as a way to keep guests entertained or simply for the ultimate outdoor relaxation. Most TVs aren't designed to be exposed to the elements. There are TVs that have been engineered for the outdoors, but these are typically prohibitively expensive and not very good. The alternative is to buy an indoor TV, and install it in an enclosure designed to protect it from the elements. It is important when choosing such a TV that it has excellent reflection handling to minimize glare and that it can get bright enough to be clearly visible in the bright sun. It should also have wide viewing angles, as an outdoor patio is typically larger than a living room. Not many TVs meet the requirements for a good outdoor TV; below are our picks for the top three.
The LG SK9500 is the best TV for outdoor use that we have reviewed. It has wide viewing angles so you get the best picture even with a wide outdoor seating area. It is bright enough to overcome most glare and has excellent reflection handling. Motion looks smooth and crisp thanks to the fast response time. The TV's built-in speakers are decent, and they get quite loud so you won't necessarily need a more powerful soundbar.
The SK9500 excels in a bright setting, and dark room performance isn't great, but outdoors, the black uniformity and contrast won't be as noticeable if you are watching TV outside at night. This TV wasn't meant for outdoor installation, so it is important to properly protect it from the elements with a proper enclosure.
If you watch a lot of TV outdoors in the bright sun and don't have a wide seating area, get the Vizio P Series Quantum instead of the LG SK9500. The P Series Quantum is much brighter, easily able to overcome glare even in a very bright setting. It also has a glossy finish that is able to block most reflections.
Unfortunately, the Vizio P Series Quantum doesn't have the wide viewing angles of the IPS panels found in our other two picks. This TV is best enjoyed from directly in front. It does offer much better dark room performance, so if you watch TV outdoors late in the evening, you will have a better experience.
If our two top picks are out of your price range, the Sony X720E is the best budget outdoor TV we've tested. The X720E isn't as bright and has worse reflection handling than the LG SK9500, so it isn't as well equipped for overcoming glare. It has even wider viewing angles, great for a wide outdoor entertainment area.
Fast motion scenes look decent on the X720E, and it has good gray uniformity, great for watching sports in the afternoon. It also has excellent low input lag, great for gaming outdoors with a bunch of friends.
Like the LG SK9500, this TV wasn't intended for outdoor use, so it is important to have a proper enclosure for outdoor use.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best outdoor TVs to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper TV wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't 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 reviews of 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.