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Best TVs

Updated October 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 88 Models Considered
  • 16 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 97 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best TVs

    Last Updated October 2018

    The TV is the center of many households – where family members gather to spend time together and unwind. Whether your tastes veer toward obscure foreign films or reality shows, a quality TV will help bring them to life in your living room.

    Now comes the hard part: which TV should you buy? Selecting the right set can seem daunting, particularly if you're not especially tech savvy.

    If you want to learn more about TVs and how to find the best one to fit your needs, read on. If you’re ready to buy a new TV, see our top picks in the matrix above.

    Some TVs can be mounted on the wall, so you don't have to worry about a bulky TV table or storage unit taking up space in your living room.

    Types of TVs

    LCD

    Liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs feature a matrix of tiny colored cells that display the images on the screen. Because they don't emit light on their own, LCDs require backlighting, which is provided by lamps set in the back of the TV.

    • Pros

    LCD TVs use backlighting, which is superior to edge lighting. If you manage to find an LCD TV, there are some bargains to be had.

    • Cons

    LCD TVs utilize old technology – LED models do the same thing better – plus they're much bulkier than other types of TVs.

    LED

    Light-emitting diode (LED) TVs use the same matrix of LCD cells as LCD TVs, but they light the LCD screen using compact LEDs. These LEDs may only sit at the edge of the screen, but the best LED TVs feature full-array backlighting or quantum dot technology.

    • Pros

    LED TVs can display very vivid pictures, even in bright rooms. They tend to be much more affordable than OLED models. They're also very slim and energy efficient.

    • Cons

    The pixels on LED TVs can't go completely black, meaning the contrast isn't as impressive as on OLED options. There may also be some imperfections when displaying rapid motion.

    Some of the newest LED TVs use quantum dot technology to light up the screen, resulting in a brighter picture and better contrast.

    OLED

    Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV screens contain an organic carbon-based film between two conductors, which lights up when a current passes through it. This means every pixel of the screen is lit independently, giving total color control.

    • Pros

    Since every pixel of an OLED screen emits its own light, each one can be turned off individually, meaning OLED TVs can display true black for impressive contrast. OLED screens also tend to have a faster refresh rate, so you don't get blur or imperfections when watching fast motion, such as sports.

    • Cons

    The peak brightness of OLED TVs is lower than that of LED TVs, plus they tend to be quite expensive.

    If you choose a TV with HDR, bear in mind that there isn’t a huge amount of HDR programming available now, although that’s likely to change soon.

    TV features to consider

    Resolution

    The resolution of a TV refers to the number of pixels it displays. The more pixels a TV can display, the higher the resolution and the sharper the picture. Most TVs sold today have either HD or UHD resolution.

    Let's find out what those mean.

    • HD TVs have a resolution of either 1920 x 1080p or 1280 x 720p (often expressed as 1080p and 720p, respectively). The former are still quite common today, but 720p sets are quickly becoming outdated, as the picture quality isn't as good as that on higher-definition models.

    • UHD TVs (4K) have a resolution of 3840 x 2160p. The benefit of UHD TVs is that smaller objects appear sharper even on very large screens, and the overall picture is clearer and more lifelike.

    Size

    From compact 20-inch models to 85-inch behemoths, TVs come in a wide range of sizes. We'd recommend considering a range of factors when deciding what size TV you require, including what room you intend to place it in, the size of the room, the distance from which you'll be viewing the TV, and how often you'll be watching it.

    • Screen size: If you're buying a main TV for the living room, you'll probably want a larger screen than you would if you were buying for the bedroom or another room where it will get less use.

    • Room size: The size of the room is also an important factor. A giant TV can swamp a compact room, drawing attention away from the décor and any interesting design features.

    • Viewing distance: It's recommended that the distance you sit away from the screen be about three times the height a standard high-definition (HD) TV and around one and a half times the height of an ultra-high-definition (UHD) TV. If your chosen TV is too large for the room, you won't have enough space to position your seating the right distance from the screen.

    • TV size: We'd also recommend that you think about how much you'll watch the TV in general. If you only watch a few hours a week, it might not be worth splurging on a huge set.

    HDR

    High dynamic range (HDR) is a feature that many UHD TVs offer. Essentially, it means that a TV set can deliver more levels of contrast, more colors, and increased brightness, offering a far superior picture quality.

    The trouble is that there isn’t a single standard for HDR at present. Some TVs are compatible with a type of HDR known as "Ultra HD Premium," while others are compatible with Dolby Vision HDR or Technicolor Advanced HDR.

    Dolby Vision seems to be the market leader right now (and arguably the most impressive to look at), so it makes sense to opt for a Dolby Vision-compatible TV, but this could change in the future.

    Smart features

    In the past, smart TVs were in a category all their own, but today the vast majority of new TVs have a range of smart features.

    Most are WiFi compatible and can link straight to your favorite streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.

    RELATED: The cord-cutter's secret weapon

    Some newer models are also compatible with Alexa or Google Home, so you can use voice commands to switch them on, change channels, set a recording schedule, and so on.

    EXPERT TIP

    Even high-end TVs tend to have inconsistent sound quality. If sound matters to you, consider buying a soundbar to go with your new set.


    Esther  | Technology, Product Review Researcher

    TV prices

    You can spend a little or a lot on a TV, from $200 to $5,000, depending on what you want from it. Here's what you should expect to get for your money.

    • Inexpensive: You can find some surprisingly decent HD TVs for under $200, with sizes up to around 45 inches. These TVs tend to come from lesser-known brands and can't compete with the giants on picture quality. However, you can find a few small sets from premium brands at lower prices.

    • Mid-range: In the $200 to $500 price range, you start to find many UHD options, including some from premium brands. You can even find some 55- to 65-inch models from lesser-known brands. Most feature LED rather than OLED screens.

    • Expensive: If you want a large LED 4K TV, you'll find what you're looking for in the $500 to $1,000 price range. You can even find large sets (65 inches and more) from premium manufacturers.

    • Premium: Those looking for the latest, largest UHD OLED TVs will have to venture into the $1,000 to $5,000 price range. It might be a lot to pay, but you're getting an exceptional TV with technology that will stay relevant for years to come.

    Due to advances in technology, LCD TVs are now rare, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sometimes find one at a bargain price – as long as you don't mind the bulkier size.

    Tips

    • Think about what kind of connection ports you need on your TV. If you opt for a 4K TV, make sure its ports support HDMI 2.0, which will allow it to accommodate other Ultra HD sources in the future.

    • Make sure your chosen spot is big enough for your TV. If it might be a tight squeeze, measure the space before ordering a set, and remember to look at the full dimensions of the set and not just the screen measurement. There are several inches of frame to factor in, too.

    • Pick a TV that's easy to use. TVs are getting more complex, but a smart TV interface should help, not hinder, you. If you feel like you need to take an in-depth training course to find the app you want, look for a model that's easier to use.

    • Consider where the wires will go. Wires running in and out of your TV can end up looking very messy, especially if you have a range of connected devices, such as a Blu-ray player and game console. Some TVs have special channels for the wires to keep things looking tidy.

    The size of a TV screen is measured diagonally, not horizontally.

    FAQ

    Q. What do I need to know about TV refresh rates?

    A. TV refresh rates are measured in hertz (Hz) and express the amount of times per second the image is refreshed on the screen. All you really need to know about refresh rates is that a higher one is preferable. Although 60 Hz is standard, it can produce some blur when there's a lot of fast motion on the screen, such as when watching sports or fast-paced fight scenes. Ideally, we'd recommend a TV with a minimum refresh rate of 120 Hz.

    Q. Can I buy a 3D TV?

    A. At one point, 3D TV seemed to be the next up-and-coming trend. Several manufacturers started selling 3D TVs in the 2010s, but they've now all dropped their 3D models due to lack of consumer interest.

    Q. Is there anything I should consider if I play a lot of console games on my TV?

    A. When you're gaming, fast response times are key, therefore you should look for a TV with a low input lag. Input lag is the time difference between you inputting a command (for instance, pressing a button on your controller) and the resulting action appearing on the screen. An input lag of less than 20 to 30 milliseconds is ideal for gaming.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Bob
      Writer
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      Editor
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      Web Producer
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      Eliza
      Production Manager
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      Melissa
      Senior Editor
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