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June 17, 2022  |  Electronics

LG TVs vs. Samsung vs. Sony: We asked an AV expert if there’s a clear winner

Which popular TV brand is best?

There are tons of models to search through when looking for a new TV. One great place to start is with a tried-and-true manufacturer. Opting for a brand that pushes the envelope every year to deliver the best-performing hardware at competitive prices means you’ll get something satisfying, no matter the price range.

Of the numerous brands on today’s market, LG, Samsung, and Sony stand out for exactly that. And while they’re all great companies to buy from, they each have their pros and cons. We consulted our in-house tech expert Jaime Vazquez to see which of these brands is best.

Picking the best TV brand

Vazquez offered some keen insights on selecting TVs. “TVs are like cars, in the sense that 30 years ago, you really had to look for a quality car. Now, any given car that you buy is of much higher quality than it used to be, even if it's supposedly a ‘bad car,’ so it’s hard to really go wrong,” he explained.

“That's kind of how I feel about TVs,” he continued, “If you're into picture quality and you want the best available, go for OLED. But if you end up with an LCD, you will still get a fantastic experience and still be able to enjoy 4K content.” Even further, some LCD models have their own pros compared to OLEDs.

Jaime went on to advise, “Be careful about model numbers. Larger brands will assign a special model number of a common TV for a specific retailer to prevent price comparisons.” In other words, it’s as important as ever to do your homework and make sure you know what products you’re looking at. For example, Jaime explained, “LG has their C9. If you buy it at Best Buy, it's the C9W. That means that you can't go to Costco and say, ‘Hey, Best Buy has the C9 for $500 less,’ to try for a price match. They’ll say that it’s not the C9, but the C9W.”

Jaime also cautioned against feeling pressured to get a low-cost TV during buying holidays. “Manufacturers will come up with a model around Black Friday that's super cheap. But it's not a great TV. It's just one that they discount deeply because somebody would go see a 4K TV for $500 and think, ‘I want that.’ And then somebody will get one without HDR support and with only one HDMI input.”

LG TVs

LG Electronics has manufactured some of the most highly regarded TVs for years. It’s always made great electronics, but it’s recently gotten a lot of press due to the immense success of its OLED lineup. Its C series of OLED TVs, culminating in the current C2, has been praised as the best multiple years in a row.

In fact, LG’s recent OLED dominance goes a little deeper than that. LG Electronics is a subsidiary of the larger LG Corporation. Another subsidiary, LG Display, manufactures 100% of the OLED display panels used in consumer TVs worldwide. In that light, it makes perfect sense why LG has a leg up on the rest of the industry from that specific angle.

According to Vazquez, people who like to watch sports and play video games will be happiest with LG TVs.

LG TV pros

  • Its OLED family is excellent: LG kick-started the OLED craze. Its current offerings continue to get great reviews from trained experts and everyday consumers. LG OLEDs excel when it comes to motion handling, upscaling of 1080p content, removing judder from films, advanced gaming features, refresh rates, and more. Since they use self-illuminated pixels instead of a traditional LCD backlight, they have an almost infinite contrast ratio and can deliver perfect black levels.
  • Variety of entry-level options: You don’t have to go all the way to the high end to find a great LG TV. Low-cost options such as the LG UQ9000 deliver good performance and have few drawbacks, despite their price.
  • Some models have great viewing angles: A common complaint with LCD TVs is that the image tends to degrade when viewed at an angle. This is due to the vertical alignment or VA panel technology that most use. LG offers some affordable models that use in-plane switching instead. TVs with IPS panels are great for watching shows and sports with large groups.

LG TV cons

  • OLED TVs aren’t cheap: You’ll have to make a decent investment to get that kind of advanced technology.
  • Less-than-perfect HDR performance: LG LCD TVs aren’t known for wide color gamuts and its OLEDs are somewhat lacking in brightness. Since those two specifications are important for displaying high dynamic range content, you should look elsewhere for the absolute best home theater performance.

Best LG TVs

LG C2 OLED

LG C2 OLED

The latest in LG’s most popular family delivers a higher brightness than its predecessor, which minimizes OLED’s biggest weakness.

Sold by Amazon

LG C1 OLED

LG C1 OLED

It’s last year’s model and not as bright, but it’s also a much better deal than the newer one.

Sold by Amazon

LG UP8000

LG UP8000

If you want to watch sitcoms or sports with friends, this IPS panel TV is the perfect budget-friendly choice.

Sold by Amazon

LG UQ9000

LG UQ9000

This is a great all-around option that doesn’t cost a fortune, but it also doesn’t have a ton of high-end features.

Sold by Amazon

Samsung TVs

Samsung made waves a few years ago when it popularized QLED technology, its name for quantum dot filtration. QLED is a novel approach to color filters that involves shining light on special microscopic particles embedded in a thin layer on the TV. When lit, the particles reproduce a color based on their size. QLED technology results in wider color gamut coverage than normal. Since then, many companies have followed in Samsung’s footsteps and added quantum dot layers to their TVs.

Samsung TV pros

  • Great HDR performance: As long as the content uses the HDR10 HDR10+ protocol, Samsung TVs do a great job of displaying it. This is due to the high brightness levels of its LCD panels and its use of quantum dot filtration for increased color coverage.
  • Advanced gaming features: Samsung was one of the first manufacturers to pack its midrange and better TVs with powerful gaming features such as variable refresh rate technology. Samsung TVs remain great choices for console and even PC gaming.
  • Good selection of affordable options: If you don’t want to spend a fortune but still want something that looks and feels like a quality piece of equipment, consider a Samsung. This is why Vazquez made it clear that Samsung is the best premium brand for those on a limited budget.

Samsung TV cons

  • Only one OLED model: The Samsung S95B is the first TV to add quantum dot filtration to an OLED TV. It’s a great TV in almost every respect. The only knock against it is that not everyone finds the image quality to match up with the high price.
  • No Dolby Vision HDR support: Since it’s the only HDR standard that competes with HDR10+ in terms of scene-by-scene dynamic contrast, the lack of Dolby Vision isn’t ideal for the perfect home theater.

Best Samsung TVs

Samsung S95B

Samsung S95B

It’s the world’s first quantum dot-filtered OLED TV, and it delivers one of the boldest and most consistent images possible.

Sold by Amazon

Samsung QN90B

Samsung QN90B

A powerful local dimming algorithm paired with a cutting-edge miniature LED backlighting array make this one of the best options for HDR content or bright rooms.

Sold by Amazon

Samsung Q80B

Samsung Q80B

It offers premium design and engineering on a par with the rest of Samsung’s offerings, but at a midrange price.

Sold by Amazon

Samsung AU8000

Samsung AU8000

This TV is dependable, good-looking, and affordable. There’s not much more to it. But there’s also not anything wrong with it, as long as you know what to expect.

Sold by Amazon

Sony TVs

Sony is one of the biggest names in electronics, so it’s no surprise that it’s responsible for some of the best TVs. Sony is one of the few companies to release OLED TVs in the US, and it does so using panels made by LG Display (just like everybody else does). Sony also offers several mid- and upper-mid-range LCDs with powerful backlights and gaming features. In terms of performance and features, there are few gripes with most Sony releases.

Due to their consistently high performance and a vast array of features, Vazquez advised dedicated movie lovers to consider a Sony TV first.

Sony TV pros

  • Wide variety of models: No matter the size, brightness, color coverage, or even resolution you need, Sony likely has something for you.
  • Above-average peak brightness: Even Sony’s OLED models get remarkably bright, and brightness is traditionally a major OLED drawback.
  • Impressive feature sets: Dolby vision? Check. High refresh rates? You bet. Low input latency? Absolutely. Premium 8K versions? Even that. Sony offers an extensive list of features, especially if you’re willing to invest. From time to time, it even releases novel technologies such as in-screen speakers that use object-based motion to increase audio realism. If you want something high-end and top of the line, get a Sony. 

Sony TV cons

  • Price: People claim that Sony products are expensive because the Sony name is on them. The concept even has its own name: “The Sony Tax.” In reality, Sony spends an incredible amount on research, development, licensing, and manufacturing of its high-end electronics. So, while Sony TVs are some of the most expensive, the reason for that is they’re also among the best.
  • Poor entry-level selection: Sony doesn’t prioritize making affordable TVs. In fact, it doesn’t even make any TVs you could reasonably consider cheap.

Best Sony TVs

Sony A90J

Sony A90J

It has the color coverage and perfect contrast of an OLED, but peak brightness and HDR performance that rival a high-end LCD. Many say it looks even better than LG’s flagship offering.

Sold by Amazon

Sony X90J

Sony X90J

It’s not the absolute peak of Sony’s LCD lineup, but it performs better than the more expensive X95J since it lacks the latter’s enhanced viewing angle layer.

Sold by Amazon

Sony X85J

Sony X85J

This one outperforms most TVs that are close to its midrange price.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get an LG, Samsung, or Sony TV?

Anyone who wants to watch TV in a very bright room, or is looking for a powerful TV at midrange prices, should look at Samsung. If sports and video games are more your thing, or if your movie night always takes place in the dark, consider an LG. Finally, those who demand peak performance and versatile, nearly perfect engineering should get a Sony TV.

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.