If you're planning on buying a new TV soon, chances are it's a flat screen. Modern flat screens have gotten thinner and bigger, and many are designed to look like pieces of art when wall-mounted. There are still some curved TVs available, but they are slowly disappearing from the market.
We've tested more than 70 TVs in the last two years, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best flat screen TVs available. Make sure to check out our recommendations for the best TVs, the best 4k TVs, and the best smart TVs.
The best flat screen TV that we've tested is the LG CX. It's an excellent model with an OLED panel that can individually turn off pixels, resulting in an infinite contrast ratio and perfect black uniformity. It's available in many sizes, including a 48 inch model that we tested as a monitor. It has a clean design that fits easily into most settings, and the build quality is outstanding. Images remain accurate when viewed from the side thanks to its wide viewing angles, making it a great choice for wide seating arrangements.
Motion handling is superb as it has a near-instantaneous response time, a Black Frame Insertion feature, and a 120Hz refresh rate. Gamers should appreciate its low input lag, and it has both FreeSync support and G-SYNC compatibility to reduce screen tearing when gaming. On top of that, it has HDMI 2.1 ports, making it a nearly perfect match for gaming consoles like the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. It has an excellent wide color gamut and gets bright enough to deliver a decent HDR experience.
Unfortunately, there are risks of permanent burn-in with OLED panels, which happens when static content remains on the screen for a long time, such as a channel logo or a game's interface. It shouldn't be an issue for most people, though, and some features can help mitigate the risks. On the upside, it has impressive out-of-the-box color accuracy, so you may not need to calibrate it to get accurate color reproduction. All in all, this is an excellent all-around option that should please most people, making it the best flat screen TV we've tested.
If you want to avoid the risk of long-term burn-in associated with OLEDs, then look into the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. It doesn't display perfect blacks like the LG CX OLED, but it gets much brighter, making it a better choice for use in bright rooms. It has a great contrast ratio and fairly wide viewing angles thanks to its 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, and its full-array local dimming feature helps improve any blacks. It displays a great wide color gamut for HDR and has good brightness in that mode, making highlights pop. It has an excellent response time, incredibly low input lag, VRR support, and a Black Frame Insertion feature for gaming. Sadly, it has some uniformity issues with dirty screen effect in the center, but this may vary between units. On the upside, it displays proper 4:4:4 with all common resolutions, which is great if you want to use it as a computer monitor.
The LG is the best flat screen TV we've tested, but if you prefer an LED option to avoid permanent burn-in, look into the Samsung.
The best flat screen TV for watching HDR content that we've tested is the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2020. It's an impressive model that delivers stunning picture quality for nearly every type of content and one of the brightest TVs we've tested. It has an outstanding contrast ratio that's enhanced by full-array local dimming, producing deep blacks for a great dark room viewing experience. It has excellent reflection handling and fights glare easily, so you shouldn't have any visibility issues, even in the brightest environments.
It has an exceptional DCI P3 coverage, the color space used in most HDR content, allowing it to produce rich and vibrant colors. As mentioned, it gets extremely bright, with some scenes reaching well above 2000 cd/m². Fast-moving scenes look clear thanks to its quick response time and Black Frame Insertion feature, and it can interpolate low frame rate content up to 120fps to make motion appear more fluid, also known as the 'Soap Opera' effect.
For gaming, it has a very low input lag as well as FreeSync support to reduce screen tearing. Also, it has two HDMI 2.1 ports so that you can take advantage of all the new features on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The main downside is its poor viewing angles, which isn't ideal for wide seating areas as the image looks washed out when viewed from the side. Vizio's SmartCast platform is fairly easy to use, but it has a limited number of apps since there's no app store. Nonetheless, if you're looking for the best HDR experience, this one is worth checking out.
If you want something cheaper, look into the Hisense. It doesn't display as wide of a color gamut as the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2020, but HDR content still looks great. The Hisense gets bright enough to make highlights pop, it has remarkable black uniformity, the contrast ratio is outstanding, and the full-array local dimming feature significantly deepens any blacks. It upscales lower-resolution content without any issues and interpolates motion up to 120fps, known as the 'Soap Opera Effect.' It doesn't have VRR support for gaming, but it has low input lag and excellent response time, and because its backlight flickers at such a high frequency, you likely won't notice image duplication. It also has narrow viewing angles, but that's expected from a VA panel. The built-in Android TV isn't the most user-friendly, but it has a ton of apps available to download.
If you watch a lot of HDR content, you can't go wrong with the Vizio, but if you prefer something cheaper to save some money, look into the Hisense.
The best flat screen TV in the budget category that we've tested is the Hisense H8G. It's a higher-end model in Hisense's lineup and offers very good performance for a low price. It competes with some higher-end TVs in terms of picture quality, but it has a limited HDR experience.
With a VA panel, it displays deep blacks, and it has decent black uniformity. If you watch movies in dark rooms, you should be happy to know it has an okay-performing full-array dimming feature that helps deepen any blacks. If you watch TV in bright rooms, it gets bright enough to combat glare, and it has decent reflection handling. It's also a great choice for gaming as even though it's limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, it has a quick response time and a very low input lag, ideal for any type of gamer. It upscales lower-resolution content well, and it removes judder from 24p sources like native apps or Blu-ray players.
Unfortunately, even though it displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, it doesn't get bright enough to bring out highlights, so HDR content doesn't look all that different from SDR content. It also has narrow viewing angles, which is expected from a VA panel. On the upside, it uses Android TV as its smart OS, which has a ton of apps available, but it isn't the easiest to use at times. Overall, this is the best flat screen TV in the budget category we've tested.
If you prefer a TV with built-in Roku TV, which is easier to use and has smoother navigation than Android TV, then the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is a good alternative. It doesn't get as bright as the Hisense H8G, so highlights in HDR don't pop how they should. However, the TCL has a much better contrast ratio and displays a much wider color gamut for HDR content. It has great out-of-the-box color accuracy, and it upscales lower-resolution content well. Unfortunately, it has narrow viewing angles and a noticeable dirty screen in the center, but this may vary between units. Despite being limited to a 60Hz refresh rate and no VRR support, it's great for gaming because it has incredibly low input lag and quick response time. Lastly, it removes 24p judder from any source, which is rare for a 60Hz TV.
The Hisense gets brighter, and it's the best flat screen TV we've tested in the budget category, but if you prefer a Roku option, then the TCL is a good choice.
12/15/2020: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.
10/16/2020: Removed the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2019 and moved the Samsung Q80T in its place; replaced the Sony X950H with the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2020 and added the Hisense H9G; replaced the TCL 6 Series 2019 with the 5 Series 2020.
08/19/2020: Replaced the LG B9 OLED with the LG CX OLED and replaced the Sony X950G with the Sony X950H.
06/25/2020: Replaced the Hisense H9F with the Hisense H8G.
06/16/2020: Replaced the Samsung Q70R with the Q80T; replaced the Hisense H8F with the TCL 6 Series; updated notable mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best flat screen TVs available to buy for most people in each price range.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of flat screen 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.