After more than a year of COVID-related restrictions, many people are looking to make the most of their home entertainment space. This may entail upgrading your couch, rearranging your living room or tricking out your binge-watching setup for ultimate enjoyment — perhaps investing in aor upgrading to a bigger and better TV.
If you’re looking to enhance your TV-viewing experience, we’re here to help. There are a lot of TVs on the market, but generally speaking the best TV is the one that will fit your space and budget. Antelevision will give you the best picture quality, but it’s expensive and might not be available in the . That’s where this list comes in. I’ve gathered the best TVs I’ve reviewed at different prices, sizes and technologies — models with , , , , and more — based on my and side-by-side comparisons in CNET’s test lab (for the foreseeable future, ). My focus is on finding the best picture quality for the money, regardless of brand.
In my comparisons I look at things like, , brightness, and , and , as well as the number of HDMI ports. All of these TVs have great picture quality and while 4K resolution is nice, 4K TVs with Ultra HD are not necessary for an excellent viewing experience. The other critical factor is how well the television supports your service app (or apps) of choice, like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV and Disney Plus. This doesn’t necessarily mean a TV with smart features, but we do want to be sure that it works well with streaming devices (including gaming systems) that allow you to easily access your streaming service of choice. Here are my recommendations for the best TV to watch your favorite TV shows, movies and more, with the following notes to keep in mind:
- Unless noted otherwise, all of the prices you’ll see are for 65-inch models.
- Looking for a specific screen size? Check out: , , , and .
- Some of the TVs below came out in 2020. New 2021 models are now available and we’ve reviewed a handful so far. For the 2020 TVs on this list I’ve included a “2021 outlook” section with everything I know (so far) about the new models.
- If you’re worried that will have some great feature or picture quality enhancement you’ll miss out on if you buy a TV now, relax. TVs are generally a mature technology and our advice is that if you need a new TV now, .
- This list is updated periodically.
No TV I’ve ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The 2020 TCL 6-Series has even better image quality than its predecessor, thanks to mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming that helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. It’s also has gaming features that make it a solid choice for a gaming TV with a new THX mode that combines low input lag and high contrast. As if that’s not enough, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite.
Sizes: 55-, 65-, 75-inch.
2021 outlook: TCL says this TV will remain on sale through most of 2021. I don’t expect it to be replaced until at least the fall, and it might stick around the entire year. An 85-inch version will be released “in the coming months.” TCL will also sell an 8K version of the 6-Series, but I don’t think it will be worth the money.
Read our TCL 6-Series (2020 Roku TV) review.
What’s that you say? You just want the best TV and can afford whatever you want? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests, the LG G1 OLED TV is the best TV I’ve ever reviewed, with world-beating contrast, perfect wide viewing angle and excellent uniformity. This OLED TV beats the picture of the LG CX above, barely, and offers a slimmer, more wall-friendly design. If you can afford it, this is the TV to get.
Sizes: 55-, 65-, 77-inch.
Read the LG G1 series (2021) review.
Currently available for hundreds less than the G1 above, and with picture quality that’s almost as good, the CX from 2020 is a better choice overall for people who want a really nice OLED TV but don’t have money to burn. The G1 was slightly brighter in my measurements and has slightly better video processing, but it was really hard to tell the difference. The only real advantage to the G1 is that slim styling, but the CX is pretty slim itself.
Sizes: 48-, 55-, 65-, 77-inch.
2021 outlook: The new model, designated C1, is currently available for a few hundred more than the CX. I haven’t reviewed it yet. It adds a new 83-inch size, some minor new features and improved processing but I expect image quality to be largely the same as the CX.
Read our LG OLEDCX series review.
Looking for a high-end TV with spectacular image quality, but don’t want an OLED? The Samsung QN90A is your best bet. This TV uses QLED tech augmented by mini-LED, for a brighter image than any OLED TV. The spectacular contrast of OLED still won out in my side-by-side tests, but the QN90A QLED screen comes closer than ever. It’s also a bit cheaper than 2021 OLED TVs (but not cheaper than the 2020 CX) and available in a wider range of sizes.
Sizes: 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inch.
Read our Samsung QN90A series (2021) review.
Roku is our favorite platform for live TV streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and it’s even better baked into the TV. This TCL 4-Series can’t beat any of the models above on image quality — its 4K resolution and HDR performance don’t do much to help the picture — but it’s perfectly fine for most people, especially at this price.
Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inch. (The prices shown below are for the 43-inch size.)
Read our TCL 4-series Roku TV (2021) review.
Aside from the TCL 6-Series above, this is the best TV for the money we’ve reviewed. The TCL has a better picture and better smart HDTV system so it’s a superior TV overall, but it’s also more expensive. If you can’t afford the 6-Series, this Vizio is a very good choice.
Sizes: 50-, 55-, 65-inch.
2021 outlook: The successor to this TV is the MQ7-J series. It looks very similar on paper — the major difference is a new voice remote and a larger selection of sizes. It ships in July and initial list pricing is significantly higher than the 2020 version, ranging from $200 to $300 more depending on size.
Read our Vizio M7-Series Quantum (2020) review.
Vizio’s V-series is our favorite budget alternative to the TCL 4-Series Roku TV. We liked Roku’s smart TV system better (sound familiar?), but the V-series has some advantages, including a better remote with voice and more advanced picture settings. Picture quality between the two was basically the same, so if you don’t have a preference, it makes sense to get the cheapest one.
Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 58- 65-, 75-inch
Read the Vizio V-Series (2021) review.
Samsung is the TV brand that sells more TVs than anyone and one of the most popular is the Q60A series. Its sleek design stands out compared to the other TVs on this list — although the ultra-thin OLED models are even sleeker — it offers better features and image quality than budget models like the TCL 4-Series, and it comes in a vast array of sizes. The TVs above are all superior values but if you want a Samsung TV and can’t afford the QN90A, this is a great choice.
Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 60- 65-, 70- 75-, 85-inch.
Read our Samsung Q60A series (2021) review.
For sizes smaller than 55 inches, and for people who value smarts over image quality, these non-4K Roku TVs make a lot of sense. The picture is “good enough” and the built-in smarts are superb — just enough to watch the final season of “The Office” or “Friends” content. And the price is perfect for a kids’ room or secondary room where you don’t need a massive screen.
Sizes: 28-, 32-, 40-, 43-, 49-inch. (The price shown below is for the 40-inch size.)
2021 outlook: The newest version of the 3-Series has a “335” model number and is available in a 32-inch size now, but TCL says image quality is the same as the 325 reviewed here. My advice is to simply get the least expensive one.
Read our TCL S325 series (Roku TV) review.
Other stuff to know about buying a new TV in 2021
I’m pretty sure you’d be happy with any one of the TVs above, but a new set can be a big investment, so maybe you’re looking for a bit more information. Here’s a quick and dirty list.
- In my opinion, bigger is better. Big TVs are cheaper than ever and your money is best spent on large screen sizes rather than a slight upgrade in image quality.
- If you don’t like the built-in smart TV system, you can always add a streaming device from Roku, Amazon, Google or Apple. They’re generally cheap and easy to use — and receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs. See our picks of the best streaming devices here.
- The sound quality of most built-in speakers is terrible, so it’s worthwhile to pair your new set with a sound bar or other speaker system. Good ones start at around $100. See the best soundbars here.