The 9 Best TVs of 2021

There's never been a better time to buy a new TV

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The Rundown
"The new Tizen operating system features Samsung's Bixby and Amazon Alexa virtual assistants built-in."
"Uses cutting-edge technology to give you unparalleled picture quality."
"The 43-inch screen gives you great 4K resolution, and with HDR support, you'll get impressive detailing."
"The Q800T has a six speaker array that utilizes object tracking sound technology for virtual 3D and surround sound audio."
"The back of the TV has built-in channels and clips for easy cable management to keep your setup looking neat and organized."
"This TV features support for AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate technology to synch your TV and console."
Best for Streaming:
Samsung 50" Q60T at Amazon
"The Samsung Q60T is an excellent, mid-range option for anyone who has finally cut the cord with their cable or satellite provider."
Best Large Screen:
Sony X950H 85-Inch TV at Amazon
"The 85-inch screen uses Sony's Triluminos display technology to produce great 4K resolution and over 1 billion colors"
Best for Small Spaces:
TCL 32S327 at Amazon
"You can connect the TV to your Amazon Echo Show or Google Home smart speaker for hands-free voice controls."

The best TVs can come from one of the big name brands like LG, Samsung, or Sony as well as smaller brands like TCL. Each brand offers different combinations of entertainment options, screen resolution, and extra features to suit almost every kind of home theater. If you're looking for excellent picture quality, you may want to choose one of Sony or LG's OLED televisions, which use individually lit pixels and organic substrates to create stunning 4K resolution and colors. For customers wanting to stay on the cutting-edge of home entertainment, you can now invest in 8K resolution televisions. These models offer four times the resolution of 4K and 16 times that of 1080p full HD models; while these models can be exceptionally expensive, the cost is a worthy investment for anyone wanting to future-proof their home theater. 

Console gamers can now buy TVs that support variable refresh rate technology like Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync for smoother playback and a more immersive experience. Virtual surround sound as well as Bluetooth connectivity for home audio equipment allow you to have room-filling audio with or without extra soundbars and subwoofers. Many new TVs feature suites of preloaded, popular apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ to let you get started streaming your favorite shows and movies right out of the box; they also feature voice-enabled remotes or compatibility with third party smart speakers for hands-free voice controls over your new TV and its connected devices. We've gathered up our top picks below and broke down their features to help you decide which is the perfect upgrade for you.

What to Look for in a TV

Resolution

A display's resolution is one of the most important factors in determining picture quality. It indicates the total number of pixels a television or monitor is capable of displaying at once, and the density of pixels is incredibly important for determining how sharp or clear an image looks. An FHD/1080p display, for instance, boasts a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, for a total of 2,073,600, while a 4K set can, appropriately, display four times as many.

HDR

A TV with High Dynamic Range has access to a great range of not only colors but contrast as well, meaning it can potentially display more color-accurate images as well as deeper blacks and brighter highlights, to create a more vivid and realistic picture. Most mid-tier TVs support HDR, but it's worth double checking, especially with less expensive sets.

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate determines the number of frames a device is capable of displaying per second. Generally, the more frames, the smoother and more fluid motion and action looks on screen. This is largely a consideration for gamers, but anyone can benefit from a higher frame rate when viewing motion-intensive content like sports or action films.

So whether you're looking to invest in the best of the best when it comes to TVs, or need a cheaper option for your dorm room, check out our top picks below to see which is right for you.

Best Overall: Samsung Q80T 75-Inch QLED 4K UHD TV

What We Like
  • AMD FreeSync

  • Updated OS and processor

  • Adaptive picture and audio

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • No composite inputs

Samsung's new Q80T line of televisions are some of the best TVs available on the market. With screen sizes ranging from 49 to 85 inches, they'll be able to fit into just about any room from dorms and apartments to home theaters and rec rooms. The upgraded QLED panel uses intelligent, direct backlighting with various local dimming zones and dual LED lighting for enhanced contrast, detailing, and intense color. It's built with an improved, Quantum 4K processor that uses artificial intelligence to analyze movies and shows scene-by-scene for optimal upscaling and picture quality. The new Tizen operating system features Samsung's Bixby and Amazon Alexa virtual assistants built-in, and it is compatible with Google Assistant so you can choose your favorite hands-free control system. 

Movie buffs and music lovers will enjoy the adaptive picture and sound settings; the TV has eco sensors that monitor your room's ambient lighting and sound and automatically adjust the image and audio for better viewing and listening. It also uses object tracking sound to produce virtual 3D audio without extra equipment and the active voice amplifier boosts dialogue so you never miss a line of your favorite movies and shows. Console gamers can take advantage of the AMD FreeSync support, allowing for ultra low-latency input and better on-screen motion for a more immersive gaming experience. This new line of Samsung televisions supports multi-view; you can stream shows and movies or watch broadcast programming while simultaneously mirroring your smartphone or tablet screen. This is perfect for staying up-to-date with sports scores, stock activity, and news headlines.

Best OLED: LG OLED55GXPUA GX Series 55" 4K UHD TV

What We Like
  • Excellent picture quality

  • Nvidia G-Sync

  • Gallery inspired design

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Burn-in possible

The GX series from LG is the brand's latest model of OLED television. It uses cutting-edge technology to give you unparalleled picture quality. Each pixel is individually lit, allowing your new TV to achieve the deepest richest colors possible, bringing everything from nature documentaries to the newest action films to life. It's built with a third-generation a9 processor, which uses artificial intelligence to optimize both picture and sound for the very best cinematic experience you can get in a home theater. The voice-enabled remote gives you access to Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls so you can turn on connected devices or search for something to watch with just a word. 

Bluetooth connectivity allows you to set up wireless audio equipment, which is perfect for living rooms where space is at a premium and wired connections can cause problems. Console gamers can take advantage of the GX's integrated Nvidia G-Sync technology. This automatically detects when you're playing a game and reduces input lag as well as screen stuttering and tearing that can otherwise ruin a great time. The TV's design takes inspiration from high-end art galleries with its bezel-free screen for an edge-to-edge picture and flush or recessed-mounting options to seamlessly blend into your home theater or living room decor.

Best Budget: TCL 43S425 43-Inch 4K UHD Roku TV

What We Like
  • Under $250

  • 4K

  • Voice controls

What We Don't Like
  • No Bluetooth

For anyone looking to buy their first 4K television or upgrade their home theater while sticking to a modest budget, the TCL 43S425 is an excellent option, one of the best TVs available at this price point. It retails for under $250, so it will fit all but the tightest of electronics budgets. It runs on the Roku platform, giving you instant access to thousands of apps, shows, movies, and songs without the need for an external streaming device. The Roku hub menu is streamlined and simplified to let you quickly and easily access game consoles, apps, cable and satellite boxes, and even over-air antennas without having to memorize HDMI input locations or navigate confusing menus. 

The Roku app can turn your smartphone or tablet into a voice-enabled remote for easier searching and browsing; you can also connect the TV to an external smart speaker like the Google Home or Amazon Echo for expanded voice controls. The 43-inch screen gives you great 4K resolution, and with HDR support, you'll get impressive detailing and contrast to make images look even more lifelike. This TCL model has three HDMI inputs and a USB port as well as RF and composite connections so you can easily set up a custom home theater.

Best 8K: Samsung QN65Q800TAFXZA 65-Inch 8K TV

What We Like
  • Four times the resolution of 4K UHD

  • Object tracking sound

  • Multi-view

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • No 8K content available yet

Tech savvy customers who want to future-proof their home theaters should check out the Samsung Q800T. This new model from Samsung is the best TV featuring bleeding-edge 8K resolution images; that's four times the resolution of 4K UHD and 16 times that of 1080p. Combined with an AI-assisted Quantum 8K processor, you'll get awesome picture quality even if you're watching older, non-8K or non-4K content. The QLED panel has multiple contrast control zones to create deep, inky blacks for enhanced contrast and detailing as well as built-in eco sensors that monitor your room's ambient light and sound to automatically optimize settings for the best viewing experience possible at home. The Q800T has a six speaker array that utilizes object tracking sound technology for virtual 3D and surround sound audio without an expensive or bulky audio configuration. It also has an active voice amplifier that boosts dialogue in shows, movies, and games so you never miss a line. 

A dedicated game mode supports AMD FreeSync for smooth, lag-free gaming and automatically adjusts refresh rates and picture settings for great graphics. The voice-enabled remote features Bixby and Alexa built in and works with Google Home for hands-free controls over your TV right out of the box; you can also connect the Q800T to the Samsung SmartThings app to use the remote to control other smart devices in your home network. The new Tizen operating system has preloaded apps for instant streaming of your favorite shows and movies, as well as the ability to mirror your mobile device's screen while simultaneously watching broadcast or streamed programming.

Best 55-Inch: Samsung UN55TU8000FXZA 55-Inch Crystal UHD TV

What We Like
  • Integrated cable management

  • Automatic game mode

  • Preloaded apps

What We Don't Like
  • No built-in Chromecast

  • Only 2 HDMI ports

Televisions with 55-inch screens are some of the best TVs for living rooms and home theaters, and the Samsung TU8000 is one of the top 55-inch options available. It features an all-new Crystal UHD display and Crystal 4K processor to give you crisp, clean 4K resolution and a great color range at almost any viewing angle. It uses the new Tizen operating system to give you access to preloaded apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube for streaming right out of the box. The voice-enabled remote has Bixby and Alexa built-in and is compatible with Google Assistant so you can choose your favorite hands-free control system. 

The back of the TV has built-in channels and clips for easy cable management to keep your setup looking neat and organized. The screen features an extremely narrow bezel to give you an edge-to-edge picture for a more immersive viewing experience. Integrated Bluetooth connectivity lets you wirelessly set up sound bars, speakers, and subwoofers for a custom audio configuration. Gamers will enjoy the dedicated game mode that automatically detects when you start up your console and instantly adjusts the refresh rate and picture settings for low latency gaming. With the ambient mode, you can turn your TU8000 into a piece of art or home decor when not in use.

Best for Gaming: Samsung QN85Q70TAFXZA 85-Inch 4K Smart TV

What We Like
  • AMD FreeSync support

  • Adaptive pic/sound

  • 120Hz refresh rate

What We Don't Like
  • No Nvidia G-Sync support

  • Pricey

If you've managed to get your hands on the new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, you'll want to also pick up the Samsung Q70T to complete your gaming space upgrade. This TV features support for AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate technology to synch your TV and console to prevent annoying screen tearing and stuttering; and with a native refresh rate of 120Hz, motion blur is virtually nonexistent. The QLED screen uses dual LED panels to create warm and cool colors simultaneously for a wider color range and better contrast. The updated processor uses artificial intelligence to produce stunning 4K resolution and upscale 1080p content so even older games look amazing. The Q70T has built-in eco sensors to monitor your room's ambient light and sound and automatically adjust screen brightness and volume to suit almost any environment. And with the multi-view feature, you can cast your smartphone or tablet screen onto your TV while gaming to pull up walkthrough videos when you're stuck on a boss or check out news and premier trailers without needing to switch inputs.

Best for Streaming: Samsung 50" Q60T QLED 4K UHD Smart TV with Alexa

What We Like
  • Updated operating system

  • Free live TV

  • Plenty of inputs

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey at larger sizes

  • Limited Bluetooth connectivity

The Samsung Q60T is an excellent, mid-range option for anyone who has finally cut the cord with their cable or satellite provider and moved exclusively to streaming. The all-new Tizen operating system gives you access to built-in voice controls via Bixby or Alexa, and the simplified home menu keeps all your favorite apps in one place for easy access. The TV features a suite of popular, preloaded apps like Netflix and Hulu as well as free, live TV channels via SamsungTV Plus, powered by PlutoTV; you get access to dozens of live news, sports, and entertainment channels to round out your streaming options. The QLED screen produces excellent 4K resolution, and like it's top-tier cousins, uses dual LED panels to produce a wider color range for more true-to-life images. The Q60T has plenty of inputs for game consoles, Blu-Ray players, and even home audio equipment via Bluetooth or HDMI ARC for the ultimate home theater setup.

Best Large Screen: Sony X950H 85-Inch 4K UHD TV

What We Like
  • Variable refresh rate support

  • Apple HomeKit support

  • Great picture quality

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you have a finished basement or large living room you're thinking of turning into a home theater, you'll need a large screen TV to transform the space, and the Sony X950H delivers everything you need to entertain friends and family. The 85-inch screen uses Sony's Triluminos display technology to produce great 4K resolution and over 1 billion colors for picture quality that rivals their OLED models. With HDMI 2.1 inputs, you get support for varial refresh rate technologies like AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering while using your game consoles or Blu-Ray players. It uses the AndroidTV operating system, giving you Google Assistant voice controls built-in and a suite of preloaded apps like Spotify and Disney+ so you can start streaming right out of the box. It also supports Apple HomeKit so you can use Siri for controlling your new TV and connected devices or search for new shows and movies to watch.

Best for Small Spaces: TCL 32S327 32-Inch 1080p Smart TV

What We Like
  • Wall mountable

  • Smart speaker support

  • Good picture quality

What We Don't Like
  • Not 4K

  • No Bluetooth

If your living room is on the small side, or you're looking for a TV for your dorm room, the TCL 32S327 is an excellent option. The 32-inch screen is small enough to set up on a dresser, mantle or shelf if floor space is at a premium, or you can wall-mount it with a VESA compatible bracket. The Roku platform lets you download over 500,000 apps like Hulu, YouTube, or Twitch and keeps them all in one convenient place for easy access. You can connect the TV to your Amazon Echo Show or Google Home smart speaker for hands-free voice controls, or you can download the Roku app to your smartphone or tablet to turn your mobile devices into voice-enabled remotes. While this TV isn't capable of 4K, it still produces excellent 1080p full HD resolution so everything from movies on Prime Video to local news broadcasts look their best.

Final Verdict

The Samsung Q80T is one of the best televisions available on the market. It has eco sensors that automatically adjust screen brightness and volume to suit almost any environment as well as variable refresh rate technology support for smoother gaming and video playback. The LG GX is king of picture quality. It uses cutting-edge OLED tech to produce super-accurate colors and true-to-life detailing. The art-inspired design will elevate almost any living room or home theater decor by allowing flush or recessed wall mounting and using the gallery mode to display beautiful works of art when the TV isn't in use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size TV should I buy?

That all depends on the size of your room. Not only can a TV that is too large overwhelm your space, it may actually cause motion sickness as well. Conversely, if your TV is too small, it will make your living room feel like a cave and cause everyone to crowd around to see. 

To find the ideal TV size for your space, pick a spot to wall mount your new TV or place a dedicated stand, then measure the distance from there to your seating and divide that number in half. A distance of 10 feet (120 inches) means a 60-inch TV will be the best option for you. You can go a bit smaller or larger depending on the brand, features, and budget, but you'll want to stick pretty close to your ideal number.


Can I download apps to this TV?

As long as your new TV is capable of connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable, you can download apps to your TV. However, you might not have to. Many newer televisions come with suites of preloaded, popular apps like Netflix so you can start streaming your favorite shows and movies right away.


What's the difference between 4K and 1080p?

Short Answer: Pixels.


Long Answer: A screen's resolution refers to how many pixels it can have. A TV with 4K resolution has twice the pixels as one with 1080p HD. Having more pixels means you can have better detailing and color ranges, and even better contrast when the pixels are individually lit like in OLED screens or TVs with contrast zones. If you want to read more, you can check out our article that explains 4K resolution in-depth.

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.

The Ultimate TV Buying Guide

Shopping for the best TV for your bedroom, home theater, apartment, or dorm room can be a bit daunting with how many brands and features are available to choose from. Along with major manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Sony, there are models available from TCL, Hisense, and Insignia; each of these brands brings something different to the table in terms of smart features, picture and audio quality, and design. Televisions with smart features have become the absolute gold standard for home entertainment as more and more people choose to stream movies and shows and cut the cord with cable and satellite providers. Many televisions available have preloaded apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ so you can watch thousands of shows and movies right out of the box. Others simply allow you to download your favorite apps right to the TV to curate your own entertainment. 

Most manufacturers also feature hands-free voice controls in their televisions, either with voice-enabled remote controls or compatibility with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home; Roku-based TVs use dedicated apps to turn your smartphone or tablet into a voice-enabled remote. Other features available include 4K displays, HDR support, and virtual surround sound to create a more immersive, cinematic viewing experience in your own home. We're going to break down some of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a new TV to help you decide what is right for you. 

TCL 50-inch 50FS3850 Roku TV
TCL 50-inch 50FS3850 Roku TV. Image provided by TCL USA

Screen Resolution

TVs with integrated 4K resolution have become more mainstream, and cheaper, in recent years as the demand for high-quality content has continued to rise. Televisions that use 4K resolution give you four times the resolution of full 1080p HD models, creating more colors, enhanced contrast, and better detailing. Streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video have started offering a wide variety of content in 4K in order to take full advantage of the technology. If you still prefer to get your entertainment from cable, satellite, and over-air broadcast sources, you can still buy 1080p HD televisions. They tend to be much cheaper than their 4K counterparts because of the older technology, but since broadcast media hasn't quite caught up with the UHD trend, you don't have to worry about your new TV being obsolete in a few months or years. These models are great for anyone working with a limited budget or aren't keen on making the switch to 4K quite yet. As if this wasn't enough, some manufacturers have taken the leap into the future of home entertainment and started to offer 8K televisions. 

Models with 8K resolution give you four times that of 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 4K and 1080p. Refresh rates play a huge part in making your UHD picture look truly stunning; 4K televisions routinely use 60Hz refresh rates, or cycling the picture 60 times per second, to produce smooth motion and great detailing. For an 8K television to look its best, the television would need a built-in refresh rate of 120Hz (120 times per second) to eliminate motion blur and muddy details. There is also an extreme lack of 8K content outside of Japan, and even there, you need a special, dedicated satellite and costly equipment to get 8K channels. Televisions with 8K resolution are also extraordinarily expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars and placing them well out of reach of average consumers. While it's tempting to splurge on an 8K TV to future-proof your home theater, the lack of viable content and rapidly shifting technology makes a 4K model much more attractive as a choice.

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

Brands

When shopping for a new TV, one of the first things to consider is which brand you'd like. There are dozens of television manufacturers out there, each with different size classes, price points, and smart features available. Brands like TCL and Hisense deliver smart features and excellent picture quality with affordable options; perfect for anyone working with a limited budget. They use streaming platforms like Roku or the AndroidTV 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. Sony, Samsung, and LG offer high-end models which 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, built-in 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.

LG-QUANTUM-DOT-TV-900.jpg
LG Quantum Dot TV Example. Image provided by LG

Smart Features

Now that you've decided which brand you'd like and which picture resolution works best for you, it's time to focus on exactly which smart features you'd like. Streaming capabilities are an absolute must for anyone looking to cut the cord with cable and satellite providers. 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 rely on 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 anyone looking to put together a home theater, high end models 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 that lets you set up wireless audio equipment like soundbars, satellite speakers, and subwoofers for the ultimate surround sound audio configuration. For console gamers, a TV that features either AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G Sync technology is important. 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.

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