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With so many different brands and manufacturers, it can be a bit overwhelming to shop for a new TV for your living room or home theater. While it may be tempting to spring for the big, expensive LG or Sony, lesser known brands like TCL and Hisense are also worth a look. Not only are they more budget-friendly, they still offer all of the smart features and 4K resolution you've come to expect and rely on. If brand loyalty is important to you, it may be best to purchase a mid-range model that offers a balance between picture and audio quality, smart features, and screen size.
If you have deep pockets and want to future-proof your home theater, many large and small brands alike have top-tier options featuring OLED screens, virtual 3D surround sound, and even 8K resolution; though the extreme lack of 8K content and price tags in the tens of thousands are a compelling argument against early adoption of these models. Whether you're looking for a reliable, affordable upgrade or shopping for the latest and greatest in home entertainment, there is a brand and model out there to suit your needs. We'll break down some of the more popular brands to help you decide which is right for you.
As a long-standing, trusted name in electronics, it’s hard to go wrong with a TV from Samsung. No matter what size or features you’re looking for, there’s likely a Samsung TV for you. But unlike with dogs, you can teach an old TV new tricks. Constantly innovating and leading the way with fresh hardware and technology, Samsung is hard proof. Just look at its imposing 49-inch curved ultra-wide CRG9, or the TV-as-fine-art elegance of The Frame. They were even the first to bring an 8K resolution TV to the mainstream market with the Q900.
The high end of Samsung’s offerings is powered by the company’s QLED (or “quantum dot LED”) technology. Bright and vibrant in color, QLED screens like the Q90R rival the supposedly unparalleled picture quality of OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs, but with lower price tags and without the risk of permanently burned-in images.
In general, Samsung’s premium TVs sport a lot of impressive, emerging technologies, from advanced image processing tools to an excellent smart TV platform with a smooth interface and a wide app collection. Video game frequenter will appreciate the variable refresh rate functionality, which Samsung pioneered in the TV space in order to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering.
Samsung includes their proprietary Bixby voice controls in all of their newest TV models. This means that you won't have to invest in a separate smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Home to have hands-free voice controls for your television. - Taylor Clemons
You may have to pay a bit more for the Sony name and reputation, but there’s a visible level of quality you get from its Bravia TVs that can make it worthwhile. The company’s focus on picture quality is evident, especially at the top end of its lineup with Master series entries such as the A9G OLED TV.
Even its standard LED options, led by the Z9F, benefit from Sony’s powerful picture processing technologies, like the X1 Ultimate processor that upscales video at 1080p or any resolution to look almost as crisp and clear as true 4K content. There’s also an X-Motion Clarity feature that minimizes motion blur on fast action scenes, and X-Wide Angle to fix the poor viewing angle shortcomings that vertical alignment (VA) panels typically suffer from.
Sony TVs stand out in terms of its smart features, too. Its use of Google’s Android operating system gives the sets a media-streaming interface familiar to many users and access to the Google Play Store with its vast selection of apps. Voice commands and smart-home controls are available through built-in Google Assistant and compatibility with Amazon Alexa. The best part is you’ll find these features throughout Sony’s smart TV collection, including in affordable 4K options like the X750F.
LG makes the strongest impact today in the most premium levels of the TV market, having built the strongest lineup of OLED televisions available. OLED sets are undeniably pricier, especially at larger sizes, and image burn-in is a real (albeit faint) risk. But you can’t deny the quality of the picture, with its individually lit pixels allowing for perfect darks and an ostensibly infinite contrast ratio.
Its minimal input lag also makes it responsive for gaming, and its near-instantaneous pixel response time mitigates pesky motion blur. You’ll, of course, get this with LG’s most premium Signature OLED W9 series, but you’ll still enjoy basically the same stellar picture with its (relatively) less pricey OLEDs like the B9.
While LG’s lower-end models aren’t as compelling, many of them use in-plane switching (IPS) technology on their panels that give them an edge over the more common VA panels in terms of viewing angles and color reproduction. Plus, LG’s WebOS platform is one of the best smart TV platforms around, thanks to a fast, easy-to-navigate interface and a decent array of apps.
Higher-end models include a premium remote, which has a convenient pointer, scroll-wheel, and voice controls.
One of the newer competitors in the space, TCL has quickly grown to become the third-largest TV maker in the world. The reason for its skyrocketing popularity? Well, for one, its panels are a killer value. All are built using TCL's own internal and external components, so while it doesn't release a huge stack of new models every year, the company does cover a wide range of sizes and functionality with each refresh it does oversee.
All can be found at very affordable prices, too, while often approaching — or even exceeding — the levels of quality and performance you would otherwise get from a more prominent brand. The 4-Series, for example, is TCL’s entry-level 4K television. That said, it still delivers solid Ultra HD picture quality for a low cost. The 6-Series, TCL’s highest-end model, is available in sizes up to 75 inches and quite possibly delivers the best combination of performance, features, and value.
Another highlight of a TCL TV is the Roku TV smart platform, available on the 3-Series and up. It’s not the flashiest interface, but its simplicity makes it intuitive and easy to use, with a content base that includes thousands of free streaming movies and channels. The free TCL mobile remote app is also one of the best of all the smart TV systems. With it, you can take full control over playback and advanced settings, and even send TV audio to your phone.
The integrated Roku platform means that you have native smart features in your TCL television. You won't have to bother with purchasing external equipment in order to enjoy for favorite streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. - Taylor Clemons
While Vizio may not have the brand recognition that some of their competitors enjoy, they have established themselves as a reliable manufacturer with both budget-friendly and top-tier television models. Their V-Series televisions offer smart features and the 4K resolution that most people have come to expect from home entertainment while still being affordable. The M-Series is a mid-range option with more smart features and better picture quality, making them a solid choice for most living rooms and home theaters. Customers looking to invest a bit more cash in order to future-proof their home entertainment can choose between the premium P-Series or Vizio's newest line of OLED televisions.
P-Series models feature hundreds of local dimming zones to create exceptional blacks for enhanced contrast as well as ultra-bright screens so you can get a great picture in almost any environment. While LG has had an almost stranglehold on OLED technology for years, brands like Vizio are starting to develop their own models. OLED screens give you unparalleled color ranges for incredibly lifelike images; when coupled with high refresh rates and HDR support, you get consistently beautiful pictures when watching both the latest blockbuster movies and hottest TV shows as well as classics.
Another rapidly growing TV manufacturer is Hisense. Its selection isn’t always as widely available as the big names, but the TVs are available in a variety of flavors, usually with affordable, mid-range prices.
Hisense TVs incorporate a mix of many top image technologies and capabilities, from 4K resolution to quantum dot color to full-array local dimming. They also have full smart TV functionality running either Android or Roku operating systems.
Besides expanding its roster, Hisense has, in recent years, acquired licenses to produce TVs for the long-running Sharp and Toshiba brands. Therefore, it's safe to assume anything under those names was made by Hisense as well.
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.
When shopping for a new TV for your home theater, apartment, or dorm room can be a bit daunting with all of the brands to choose from. From well-known manufacturers like LG, Sony, and Samsung to smaller brands like TCL, Vizio, and Hisense, there is a plethora of models, price points, and size classes available. Each brand offers their own blend of screen resolutions and smart features to suit almost any home theater, dorm, or living room's entertainment needs; from full 1080p HD for those who still primarily use cable and satellite providers, 4K for cord-cutting streamers, and even 8K for customers who need to be on the bleeding edge of home entertainment technology. Samsung has stepped into the realm of smart home technology by including their proprietary virtual assistant, Samsung Bixby, in all of their new televisions alongside Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. LG dominates the picture quality category with their line of OLED TVs, using cutting-edge technology to provide the very best in color range and volume, contrast, and detailing.
TCL manufactures smart televisions using the Roku streaming app, giving you affordable options for your home theater, living room, or dorm and eliminating the need for extra equipment to access your favorite apps. Vizio seems content in providing customers with reliable mid-range smart televisions which utilize quantum dot technology to create stunning 4K resolution at affordable prices. Hisense televisions use either the AndroidTV operating system or Roku platform to give you access to your favorite streaming apps and hands-free voice controls; while Hisense may not be as popular as their competitors, but they're steadily growing as a company and continuing to provide low-priced, reliable smart televisions. So if brand loyalty is important to you when shopping for your new television or you're just looking for a great TV that fits your budget, there are plenty of models and brands to choose from. We'll break down some of the most important factors to consider when shopping to help you decide which is right for you.
The resolution of your new television should depend on where you want to put the TV. If you want a secondary television for your bedroom, workshop, or kids' playroom, you don't need to spend a fortune on a fancy 4K model. There are plenty of 720p and 1080p HD TVs out there that still offer streaming capabilities so you can stay up to date on your favorite shows and movies while relaxing before you go to sleep, keeping the kids entertained, or working on hobby projects. The color ranges and detailing in these models aren't as great or sharp as their 4K counterparts, but the picture quality is still top-notch; and if you're using them as a secondary TV, you shouldn't mind as much since you're not watching it as often as your main smart TV.
In recent years, televisions with native 4K resolution have become more popular and mainstream, meaning they've also become more affordable. Both large manufacturers like LG, Sony, and Samsung as well as smaller brands like TCL and Hisense offer 4K TVs in a variety of sizes to suit almost any living room, dorm, or home theater. Televisions with 4K give you four times the pixels as 1080p HD, meaning you'll get more lifelike picture quality when watching your favorite shows and movies. Some brands like Sony, Samsung, and LG have taken the next step in home entertainment and started manufacturing 8K televisions. TVs with 8K give you four times the pixels as 4K and 16 times that of 1080p HD; as impressive as that sounds, the visual difference between 8K and 4K isn't nearly as dramatic as that between 1080p and 4K. These televisions tend to be extravagantly priced, often in the tens of thousands of dollars, putting them well out of reach of average customers. The lack of 8K content on streaming and broadcast services combined with the very high prices of these models means that the technology isn't quite worth investing in unless you have lots of cash to burn in order to future-proof your home theater.
Having a smart television is a must in today's home entertainment; they give you access to thousands of apps including Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and Disney+ so you can have your favorite shows and movies right at your fingertips. Some smart televisions are made with integrated streaming platforms like Roku or use AndroidTV or some other operating system that allows you to download apps right to the television. Most smart televisions also support hands-free voice controls via virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant; Samsung even has their own virtual assistant, Bixby, that they integrate into their new televisions. This lets you turn your TV on and off, choose apps, or change settings without fumbling with a confusing remote control making it an excellent option for customers who already have smart home networks up and running. Roku-enabled televisions use a dedicated app for smartphones and tablets to turn them into voice-enabled remotes.
A lot of televisions also support Chromecast or Apple AirPlay2 which allow you to mirror your tablet, smartphone, or computer screen to your television for more ways to view photos and videos with friends and family. For customers looking to upgrade their home theater or build the ultimate audio and video experience, some high-end televisions feature ambient sound and light sensors. These sensors monitor light and sound levels in your room and automatically adjust picture and audio settings for the best cinematic experience. They also feature Bluetooth connectivity that lets you set up wireless audio equipment like soundbars, satellite speakers, and subwoofers for the ultimate surround sound audio configuration. Console gamers will be happy to learn that there are televisions which use Nvidia G Sync or AMD FreeSync technology. 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.
Now that we've examined the brands available, screen resolutions, and smart features, it's time to talk about your budget. How much you're willing to spend on your next television determines which smart features, brands, and screen sizes will be available to you. If you're working with a limited budget of just a few hundred dollars, TCL and Hisense have excellent options for smart televisions which are priced considerably lower than their competitors. TCL offers affordable models in larger screen sizes, even 55- and 65-inch models are reasonably priced so you can replace an outdated TV or build your ideal home theater on the cheap.
If you're willing and able to spend a bit more to get the features you want, you can start to look at options available from bigger brands like Samsung and Sony. These brands offer 4K resolution, expanded smart features, and better connectivity options with prices to match. These kinds of televisions usually range from $300-400 at the lower end to close to $1,000 for bigger screen sizes and more smart capabilities. If money isn't a concern for you, and you're able to spend quite a bit in order to get the perfect television for your home theater, Sony, Samsung, and LG offer high-end models that utilize cutting-edge picture technology like OLED and QLED panels, object tracking sound or native virtual surround sound audio, and extra features like an ambient or gallery mode that turns your television into a piece of living room decor or art when not in use. These models can cost thousands of dollars, but give you everything you could ever want in a smart television. No matter what kind of budget you're working with, there is a TV out there to suit your needs.