The 9 Best Smart TVs for Streaming in 2021

It's time to upgrade to a TV that can do it all

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The Rundown
The integrated speakers use Samsung's new SpaceFit Sound technology to create a custom virtual surround sound experience.
Best Budget:
TCL 40S325 at Amazon
The TCL 40S325 retails for under $200, making it a great fit for even the smallest of entertainment budgets.
With object tracking sound and the new Space Fit Sound tech, no matter the size or shape of your room, you'll get great sound.
Bravia XR supports variable refresh rate technology to sync your TV's refresh rate with the console's to reduce screen tearing.
The screen has an exceptionally narrow bezel to give you an edge-to-edge picture for a more immersive viewing experience.
The included 100-inch screen features ambient light rejecting technology to ensure superior color accuracy and contrast.
Alexa Skills to turn your TV into a true entertainment hub.
The next step in home entertainment.
If you work from home or use your desktop for gaming, you can use your TU8300 as a remote-access monitor.

Smart TVs have become ubiquitous with home entertainment, and as they have become more popular, they have also become much more affordable. Customers no longer have to drain their savings in order to get access to streaming services like Hulu, Spotify, and Netflix or 4K resolution. Even smaller brands like TCL have established themselves as the go-to choice for budget-friendly smart TVs; the Roku platform also uses a streamlined hub menu to make it faster and easier to access your favorite apps and playback devices from a single screen. Many new smart TVs come packaged with a voice-enabled remote that works with either an integrated virtual assistant or external smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Nest Hub Max for expanded voice controls. Samsung's latest Neo QLED line even has solar-powered remotes which eliminate the need to replace batteries and help make your home theater a bit more eco-friendly. 

Other smart TVs available work with virtual surround sound technology like Dolby Atmos for room-filling sound without the need to buy extra speakers or soundbars; though you can use HDMI ARC inputs or Bluetooth connectivity to set up satellite subwoofers for enhanced bass notes or a wireless home theater configuration. Brands like Samsung, LG, and Sony have taken the next step in home entertainment and have released TVs capable of 8K resolution; however, these models are incredibly expensive, and there is virtually zero native 8K content available yet. But if you want to stay on the bleeding edge of home entertainment, they're a worthy investment. We've rounded up our top picks below and broke down their features to help you decide which is right for your next smart TV.

Best Overall: Samsung QN55QN85AAFXZA 55-Inch Neo QLED 4K TV

What We Like
  • Adaptive picture and audio

  • AMD FreeSync compatible

  • OneConnect compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Some sizes still on pre-order

This is one of the newest televisions that Samsung revealed at CES 2021, and it offers a whole new suite of features to help elevate your home entertainment options. It uses an all-new mini-LED panel and Samsung's QLED technology to create individually lit pixels, a wide color gamut, and contrast that rivals that found in OLED TVs. The updated processor uses a neural network that learns as you watch for better upscaling of non-4K content and a consistently gorgeous picture. With the Tizen operating system, you'll get a suite of preloaded apps like Prime Video, Netflix, and SamsungTV+ which gives you access to live entertainment, news, and sports without an expensive cable or satellite subscription. 

The integrated speakers use Samsung's new SpaceFit Sound technology that works with eco sensors to create a custom virtual surround sound experience tailor-made for almost any room in your home. The voice-enabled remote works with Bixby, Alexa, and Google Assistant for hands-free controls. And the sleek, ultra-modern design and OneConnect compatibility lends a touch of sophisticated style to your home theater and gives you an ultra-clean-looking space.

Size: 55-85 Inches | Panel Type: Neo QLED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: Quantum HDR 24X | Refresh Rate: 120Hz

Best Budget: TCL 40S325 40-inch 1080p Smart TV

Size: |Panel Type: |Resolution: |HDR: |Refresh Rate:

What We Like
  • Under $200

  • Plenty of inputs

  • Voice controls

What We Don't Like
  • Not 4K

  • No Bluetooth

Having a great TV doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune. The TCL 40S325 retails for under $200, making it a great fit for even the smallest of entertainment budgets. With the Roku platform, you get your favorite streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu preloaded so you can start watching movies and shows right out of the box. The streamlined home menu makes it easy to select apps, playback devices, game consoles, and even broadcast TV inputs without having to memorize HDMI input locations or navigate confusing menus. 

The 40-inch screen produces great 1080p resolution so all your favorite shows and movies look amazing. The Roku app turns your smartphone or tablet into a voice-enabled remote for easier searching and browsing, or you can connect your TV to your Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker for expanded voice controls. The TV has a headphone jack for private listening and gaming when you don't want to disturb others in your home, apartment, or dorm.

Size: 40 Inches | Panel Type: LED | Resolution: 1080p HD | HDR: N/A | Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Best Splurge: Samsung QN655QN90AAFXZA Neo QLED 65-Inch 4K TV

What We Like
  • Stunning picture

  • Object tracking sound

  • Samsung Tap View

What We Don't Like
  • No Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos

If you're willing to spend a bit more in order to get the best of the best when it comes to smart TVs, Samsung's QN90A is a worthy investment. Like its sibling, the QN85A, it uses a new mini-LED panel and Samsung's QLED tech to create a picture that rivals OLED; it also uses a neural network processor for enhanced upscaling of non-4K content, contrast, and color ranges. It's compatible with Samsung's OneConnect box, which allows you to use a single cable to connect all of your game consoles and playback devices to your new TV for a super clean-looking home theater. 

The voice-enabled remote works with Bixby, Alexa, or Google Assistant for hands-free controls, or if you have a SmartThings hub, you can connect the TV to that to integrate the TV with your other Samsung smart devices. With object tracking sound and the new Space Fit Sound tech, no matter the size or shape of your living room or home theater, you'll get incredibly immersive, room-filling sound without the need to set up sound bars or other home audio equipment. The improved Multi-View function now lets you watch up to 4 videos at once, and if you have Samsung mobile devices, you simply tap it on your TV to instantly share your screen.

Size: 55-85 Inches | Panel Type: Neo QLED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: Quantum HDR 24X | Refresh Rate: 120Hz

Best OLED: Sony A90J Bravia XR OLED 65-Inch 4K TV

What We Like
  • VRR support

  • Excellent picture and sound

  • Apple HomeKit compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Limited screen sizes

Sony has also released a new line of televisions for 2021, including their latest Bravia XR OLED models. These televisions use cutting-edge OLED tech to create truly stunning images and true-to-life colors, contrast, and textures. The all-new processor is enhanced with artificial intelligence for better upscaling of non-4K content and better detailing for native 4K images. The Bravia XR uses Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology to turn the entire screen into a speaker for near-perfect audio and video syncing and better bass notes for more immersive cinematic experiences. 

The Google TV platform gives you access to thousands of streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, and Spotify for tons of entertainment options; and with Chromecast and AirPlay 2, you can share your iOS or Android mobile device screen for more ways to view videos and pictures or listen to your favorite music. The voice-enabled remote works with Alexa or Google Assistant for hands-free controls, and you can also connect this TV to an Apple HomeKit device to use Siri for voice searches. If you've managed to get your hands on the new PlayStation 5, the Bravia XR supports variable refresh rate technology to sync your TV's refresh rate with the console's to reduce screen tearing and stuttering that can ruin a gaming session.

Size: 55 & 65 Inches | Panel Type: OLED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: Dolby Vision | Refresh Rate: 120Hz

Best Large Screen: Samsung UN85TU8000FXZA 85-Inch TV

What We Like
  • Updated processor and OS

  • Integrated cable management

  • Under $2,000

What We Don't Like
  • Very heavy

  • No Chromecast support

If your living room is on the larger side, or you're looking to convert your finished basement into a home theater, you need a TV to fit and the Samsung Crystal UHD 85-inch television is tailor-made for large screen entertainment. It features an updated Crystal 4K processor and the new Tizen operating system which uses HDR10+ technology to create stunning 4K resolution and color as well as giving you access to all your favorite movies and shows as well as next-gen apps to keep you on the cutting edge of home entertainment. The screen has an exceptionally narrow bezel to give you an edge-to-edge picture for a more immersive viewing experience at almost any angle. The back of the television features integrated cable management channels and clips to help keep your cords and cables organized and tangle-free for a clean-looking home theater setup. 

The voice-enabled remote has Bixby and Alexa built in and works with Google Assistant so you can use your favorite virtual assistant with your new TV without an external smart speaker. With Bluetooth connectivity, you can wirelessly connect speakers, soundbars, and subwoofers for the ultimate home theater configuration, and with Apple AirPlay2 and SmartCast, you can screen mirror your iOS and Android mobile devices. The Ambient Mode turns your new TV into a work of art or piece of decor when not in use to blend into the room's aesthetic or show off your favorite paintings and photos. The TU8000 has a V-Chip that allows parents to block inappropriate shows and movies from little ones, ensuring family-friendly entertainment. With a price tag under $2,000, the TU8000 is one of the more affordable large-format televisions available.

Size: 85 Inches | Panel Type: Crystal UHD LED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: HDR | Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Best Laser TV: Hisense L10 Series 100-inch 4K UHD Laser TV

Hisense L10 Series 100-inch 4K UHD Laser TV
What We Like
  • Cutting-edge technology

  • Harman Kardon sound system

  • Alexa built in

What We Don't Like
  • Painfully expensive

  • No Google Assistant support

If money is truly no object in your quest to have the absolute best-of-the-best when it comes to home entertainment, the Hisense 100L10E laser TV is the only choice for you. It uses cutting-edge laser projection technology to give you over one billion colors, excellent 4K resolution, HDR support, and ultra-smooth on-screen action. The projection unit has an ultra-short throw distance of just 8 inches, meaning you won't have to worry about anyone walking in front of the lens and ruining movie night or needing a huge room for optimal focus. The included 100-inch screen features ambient light rejecting technology to ensure superior color accuracy and contrast. 

The laser lamp produces 3,000 lumens of brightness, meaning you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies in even bright rooms, and with a lifetime rating of up to 25,000 hours, you won't have to worry about changing the lamp bulb in the middle of your watch party. The remote features Alexa voice controls built in as well as quick-access buttons for Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video for easier streaming and searching. The projection unit features an integrated 40-watt Harman Kardon soundbar and includes a 60-watt subwoofer for room-filling sound without a complicated audio setup. Bluetooth connectivity means you can wirelessly connect extra speakers if you want them or stream content from your compatible laptop or mobile devices.

Size: 100 Inches | Panel Type: Laser Projection | Resolution: 4K | HDR: HDR | Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Best for Alexa Users: Insignia NS-65DF710NA21 65-Inch 4k Fire TV

What We Like
  • Alexa Skills

  • Auto updates

  • Under $550

What We Don't Like
  • No Bluetooth

  • No screen mirroring

The Insignia 65-Inch Fire TV is the perfect smart TV for anyone who uses Alexa as their go-to virtual assistant. The voice-enabled remote has Alexa built-in for voice commands over your new TV and its connected devices; and if you connect the TV to an external smart speaker like an Echo Dot or Echo Show, you can get truly hands-free control. With the Fire TV platform, you get instant access to apps like Prime Video and Netflix so you can get started binge-watching the latest shows right out of the box. Integrated Wi-Fi connectivity not only lets you download other streaming apps to customize your entertainment options, it also lets you download Alexa Skills to turn your TV into a true entertainment hub as well as automatically update your TV to keep up with the latest apps and firmware. 

When you're done streaming the latest episodes of Great British Bake Off, you can switch to the integrated digital TV tuner for local, over-air channels or plug your game console and playback devices into one of the three HDMI inputs to watch cable or satellite channels, fire up your new PS5, or watch a Blu-Ray. The screen gives you stunning 4K resolution and the speakers use DTS Studio Sound technology to give you a more cinematic experience whether you're watching the latest action film or an old classic TV show.

Size: 65 Inches | Panel Type: LED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: N/A | Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Best 8K: Samsung QN65QN900AFXZA 65-Inch 8K Neo QLED TV

What We Like
  • VRR support

  • Solar-powered remote

  • Neural network processor

What We Don't Like
  • Extremely expensive

  • No native 8K content yet

Samsung has taken the next step in home entertainment with their new QN900A 8K television. This TV gives you four times the resolution of 4K and 16 times that of 1080p HD. While there isn't any native 8K content available to stream or watch via broadcast media, the improved processor uses a neural network for better upscaling of non-8K content so you can still take full advantage of your new TV; and if you've managed to get a hold of a PS5 or Xbox Series X, these consoles are capable of 8K output and high refresh rates for an incredible gaming experience. 

The QLED panel features contrast zones and individually lit mini-LED bulbs that create OLED-level colors and details. With object tracking sound, you'll get virtual 3D surround sound audio without the hassle of setting up extra home audio equipment like soundbars and subwoofers. The virtually invisible bezel gives you an edge-to-edge picture for a more immersive viewing experience and better viewing angles. The remote is solar-powered to help make your home theater more eco-friendly and voice-enabled for hands-free controls.

Size: 65-85 Inches | Panel Type: Neo QLED | Resolution: 8K | HDR: Quantum HDR 48X | Refresh Rate: 120Hz

Best Curved: Samsung TU-8300 Curved 65-inch 4K TV

  • Remote PC access

  • Auto game mode

  • Screen mirroring

  • Requires special wall mount bracket

  • Limited HDMI inputs

While curved TVs didn't take off like manufacturers had hoped, Samsung still offers their TU8300 model for fans of the concept. The curved QLED screen works with HDR technology as well as an updated processor for crystal clear native 4K resolution and upscaling of non-4K content. The curvature of the TV is meant to reduce glare from overhead and environmental lighting and to preserve color volume and saturation at extreme viewing angles for a consistent cinematic experience. 

If you work from home or use your desktop for gaming, you can use your TU8300 as a remote-access monitor so you can review reports, work on spreadsheets, or play a few rounds of Fortnite from the comfort of your couch or bed when you need a change of pace. Console gamers can take advantage of the automatic game mode and auto low latency input mode which prevent screen tearing and stuttering for smoother playback. If you use a virtual assistant, you can use the voice-enabled remote or an external smart speaker for hands-free controls. And with AirPlay2 support as well as Tap View, you can easily share your iOS or Android mobile device screen for more ways to entertain family and friends.

Size: 55 & 65 Inches | Panel Type: Curved LED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: HDR | Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Final Verdict

The Samsung QN85A is one of the latest models from the brand, and is quickly proving why it's time to upgrade your home theater. It's updated QLED panel creates 4K resolution, detailing, and colors that rival OLED models, and the Space Fit Sound technology automatically calibrates the TV's audio to fill almost any living room with rich, clear sound. If you want to future-proof your home theater and have cash to burn, the Samsung QN900A is the perfect option for an 8K TV. You'll get four times the resolution of 4K, letting you take advantage of the latest generation of gaming consoles, even if streaming services haven't caught on to 8K yet.

About Our Trusted Experts

Taylor Clemons has been reviewing and writing about consumer electronics for over three years. She has also worked in e-commerce product management, so she has the knowledge of what makes a solid TV for home entertainment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size TV should I buy?

Contrary to what you may think, there is such a thing as a TV that is too big for your room. To find the perfect screen size, measure the distance from where your new TV will be placed to where you will be sitting and divide that by two. If your couch is 10 feet (120 inches) from the wall-mount or TV stand, the best TV size for your room would be around 60 inches. You can go a bit bigger or smaller depending on the model and your budget, but it's a good idea to stay within that range.


Is an 8K TV worth buying?

At the moment, no. Not only are 8K televisions mind-bogglingly expensive, there currently is no native 8K content available over cable, satellite, over-air broadcast, or even streaming and won't be for quite some time yet. If you want to know more about the differences between 8K and 4K resolutions, you can check out our article that explains each in-depth.


What apps can I use with my new TV?

Many new smart televisions have a suite of preloaded apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube so you can get started binge-watching your favorite shows, videos, and movies right out of the box. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you'll be able to download thousands of others like Disney+, Spotify, and PlutoTV to have access to free live TV, thousands of songs, and even more entertainment options.

What to Look For in a Smart TV

The best smart TVs are rapidly becoming the new gold standard for home entertainment. They let you download your favorite streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify right to the TV to have thousands of shows, movies, and songs at your fingertips. A lot of smart televisions now have hands-free voice control capabilities as well. They use voice-enabled remotes, dedicated apps, or a connection to a third-party smart speaker to give you expanded controls over your TV and make it easier to find new things to watch or listen to. There are a few different options for voice controls; most TVs support Alexa and Google Home with voice-enabled remotes or external smart speakers while others, like Samsung, have their own proprietary voice assistants or use Siri via iOS devices. 

Screen mirroring is another smart feature that more and more televisions are beginning to offer. This option lets you wirelessly connect your smartphone, tablet, or computer to your television and share what's on the screen in order to view photos or watch short home videos. Some newer Samsung televisions let you screen mirror your devices while simultaneously watching a movie or show; perfect for watching videos from friends and family or catching up with news updates. With so many smart features available, it can be difficult to know what you may need for your home. We'll break down some of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a smart TV to help you choose which one is right for you.

LG OLED G7P Signature Series 4K Ultra HD TV
LG OLED G7P Signature Series 4K Ultra HD TV. Image provided by Amazon

Brands

The place to start when deciding on the best smart TV to buy is the brand. There are dozens of television manufacturers out there, each with different size classes, price points, and smart features available. If you're working with a budget, brands like TCL and Hisense are great brands with affordable options. They still offer quality streaming platforms like Roku or the Android TV operating system to give you access to thousands of apps as well as limited voice controls and connectivity options. Mid-range options are available from larger brands like Sony, Samsung, and Vizio. These models may come with a higher price point, but they offer many more smart features. 

Besides streaming and voice controls, you'll also get local dimming zones in the screen for enhanced, scene-by-scene analysis of your favorite shows and movies for superior contrast, color volume, and detailing. Some may also use Dolby Atmos audio technology to produce virtual surround sound for a more immersive cinematic experience. High-end models from Sony, Samsung, and LG give you everything you could ever want in a smart TV. They offer larger screen sizes with more advanced picture technologies like QLED or OLED panels, AI-assisted rendering and upscaling, native voice controls, and ambient sound and light sensors that automatically change picture and sound settings to fit your environment. Knowing which brands offer what features in their televisions makes it easier to set a budget and narrow down your options.

Sony XBR-X900C Series 4K Ultra HD TV
Sony XBR-X900C Series 4K Ultra HD TV. Image provided by Sony Electronics

Smart Features

Now that you've decided which brand you'd like, it's time to focus on exactly which smart features you'd like to have. For customers looking to cut the cord with their cable and satellite providers, streaming capabilities are an absolute must. Fortunately, all modern smart TVs feature either preloaded apps like Prime Video, Hulu, and YouTube or have advanced operating systems that allow you to download your favorites. If you're looking to start a smart home network or already have smart home devices like an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you may want to get a TV that allows for hands-free voice controls. This lets you turn your TV on and off, choose apps, or change settings without fumbling with a confusing remote control. If you're always online, screen mirroring is an important feature that lets you cast your smartphone, tablet, or computer screen to your television for better viewing or simultaneous watching with your favorite movies and shows. 

For customers looking to put together a custom home theater, the best smart TVs feature ambient noise and light sensors that constantly monitor your environment and automatically adjust picture and sound settings to suit the room. They also feature Bluetooth connectivity for wireless audio equipment setup and custom home theater configurations. For die-hard console gamers, a TV that features either AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G Sync technology is a must. These technologies automatically detect when you start playing a game and reduce input lag and motion blur while boosting color volume and contrast for buttery smooth action, beautiful visuals, and near real-time reactions to your controller inputs.

TCL 28S3750 28-Inch Roku TV
TCL 28S3750 28-Inch Roku TV. Image provided by Amazon.com

User Interface

Smart features are wonderful, but the user interface can make or break a home entertainment experience. Family movie night or watch parties with friends can be instantly ruined by having to navigate confusing menus and clunky interfaces just to access Netflix or Hulu. Roku-based televisions have a streamlined hub menu that puts all of your divides, apps, and inputs in one convenient location. Each input is clearly labeled with what is connected to it so you can quickly and easily access your game console, Blu-Ray player, or cable box without needing to remember input names. 

Televisions that use Android TV also have a clean, simple interface with clearly marked menu icons for browsing apps, accessing voice controls, or looking at recommended content. LG televisions use the webOS operating system and have an ultra-clean looking interface. Apps are clearly displayed in easy to recognize tiles for quick and easy access. Luckily, TV manufacturers have realized that as more and more people choose to stream their movies and shows, an easy to use interface is important. The clunky, confusing interfaces from older TVs are all but gone, leading to more enjoyable home entertainment.

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