We've all read "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," right? There's something to be learned from those hot and cold bowls of porridge about a thing being "just right." When it comes to TVs, 55 inches is one of the most popular screen sizes around the world for a reason—and the size we review most often. Not too big and not too small, 55-inch TVs feel luxuriously large without entirely dominating your living room.
If you just want the best 55-inch 4K TV money can buy, go with the LG C2 OLED(available at Amazon for $1,596.99). With its excellent contrast, rich features, and next-gen gaming support, you really can't go wrong. That said, if you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on the best TV money can buy, we totally understand. That’s why we’ve tested great TVs in every price bracket—we’re sure you’ll find something that fits your budget.
These are the best TVs we've tested:
TCL 6-Series with Roku
TCL 5-Series with Roku
TCL 5-Series with Google TV
Amazon Fire TV Omni
The LG C2 OLED (available in sizes from 42 to 83 inches) is the successor to our favorite TV of 2021, the LG C1. While not radically different from the C1, the C2 nevertheless improves on an already-fantastic formula. It’s our current pick for the best TV you can buy right now.
The main ingredient of this successful formula are the C2’s self-lit pixels. Unlike traditional LED TVs, OLED displays are capable of adjusting their brightness on a pixel-by-pixel basis, even turning pixels off. This allows for perfect black levels, which is why OLED TVs feature unparalleled contrast.
Anchored by perfect black levels, the C2 delivers exceptionally bright highlights for its class. It features LG’s OLED evo display technology, a blend of software and hardware enhancements that were only available in the company’s tippy-top Gallery model last year. OLED evo succeeds at what it sets out to do: improve brightness and color volume. In HDR, the TV is capable of producing specular highlights in the 700- to 800-nit range, and it covers about 97% of the HDR color space (DCI-P3). SDR content (like most cable broadcasts and streaming titles) also look spectacular on the C2, though not as bright.
Cinephiles and A/V enthusiasts will appreciate the C2’s Dolby Vision support. If you’re a gamer, the C2 is one of the best TVs you can buy this year. All four of the C2’s inputs are full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1, meaning they support 4K gaming at 120 hertz (Hz). The C2 also supports both Auto Low Latency (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), with AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync along for the ride, too. Like the C1, the C2 is equipped with LG’s Game Optimizer settings menu, which toggles the TV’s various VRR options, relays frame rate information, and allows for easy tweaks to the TV’s picture while gaming.
It’s not a perfect TV, however. LG TVs quietly stopped supporting DTS audio in 2020, so if you own Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks and you’re planning on connecting a Blu-ray player directly to the TV, you won’t be getting the full DTS experience. LG’s smart platform, webOS, can also be a chore to use, as it’s chock-full of sponsored content and often slows down during navigation. If you spring for the C2, we recommend pairing it with an external streaming device so that you don’t have to rely solely on the TV’s smart features.
The LG C2 is the newest addition to a long line of winning OLED TVs from LG. It’s pricier than most TVs, but the price is justified by its world-class performance and impressive, all-encompassing list of features.
Packed with a robust array of features and picture quality that punches well above its weight, the 2020 TCL 6-Series (available in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch variants) is an easy Best Value pick. The 6-Series performs better than just about every TV in its price range, making it perfect for folks looking to maximize their dollar.
The TCL 6-Series produces a bright, colorful 4K picture for both SDR and HDR content, thanks in part to the TV’s quantum dots. Our lab testing consistently clocked the 6-Series at around 800-900 nits of brightness while receiving an HDR signal. This makes it a great option for rooms with a fair amount of ambient light. The inclusion of quantum dots also makes for rich, well-saturated colors, particularly for HDR content.
Being a Roku TV, the TCL 6-Series comes equipped with our favorite streaming platform right out of the box. Its software is sleek, easy to use, and offers access to a vast library of apps.
The TCL 6-Series isn’t as impressive as the top TVs on our list. Still, its performance and features are highly commendable given its price tag. In short, it’s one of the best deals in the industry at the moment.
If you’re looking for a top-shelf TV that blends cutting-edge features with a powerfully bright picture, the Samsung QN90B is one of the year’s best options. It’s our current pick for the best TV for bright-room viewing.
The QN90B features the second generation of Samsung’s Neo QLED technology, which blends the contrast-enhancing power of mini-LEDs with the bright, color-boosting qualities of quantum dots. The result is a dazzlingly bright, colorful picture that excels at reining in its luminance during dark scenes.
In fact, the QN90B delivers one of the brightest pictures we’ve ever seen, showcasing HDR content better than just about every LCD/LED TV on the market.
Casual and avid gamers are sure to appreciate the QN90B’s gaming prowess. All four of the QN90B’s HDMI 2.1 ports support 4K gaming at 120Hz. The QN90B also supports Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which ensures low-latency gaming free of visual artifacts like screen tearing. FreeSync Premium Pro and G-Sync are both accounted for, should you choose to use them.
Unfortunately, like all Samsung TVs, the QN90B does not support Dolby Vision (though it does support HDR10 and HDR10+). In addition, the QN90B sometimes falls victim to minor light bloom, particularly when viewed from an off-axis position.
Still, if a bright picture and premium features are what you’re looking for, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option this year than the Samsung QN90B.
The TCL 5-Series isn’t the most robust 4K TV on the shelf. But what it lacks in performance, it makes up for in value. This is a budget-friendly quantum dot TV with commendable picture quality that won’t break the bank.
It’s not nearly as bright and colorful as the other mid-range and high-end QLED TVs we reviewed recently. However, the TCL 5-Series is nevertheless brighter and more colorful than most of the entry-level TVs it shares a store shelf with. And at this price point, it’s a steal of a deal that most bargain shoppers will appreciate.
Its motion handling and viewing angles aren’t particularly impressive, and you won’t find up-and-coming features like variable refresh rate and auto low-latency mode. But the 5-Series is a great performer for its price. Plus, as a Roku TV, a terrific, easy-to-use smart platform is built right in.
If you’re looking for a bargain without scraping the bottom of the barrel, the TCL 5-Series is worth the minor price hike over the cheapest options. It's especially great for folks who are upgrading to their first 4K TV.
The Samsung S95B is one of the first TVs to combine the perfect black levels of an OLED display with the color- and brightness-boosting qualities of quantum dots. Commonly referred to as QD-OLED technology, the S95B showcases its advantages brilliantly.
For years, one of the main criticisms of OLED TV technology was that it was incapable of getting anywhere near as bright as an LED TV—particularly an LED TV with quantum dots. And although the S95B still doesn’t get as bright as a TV like the Samsung QN90B, it’s nevertheless the brightest OLED we’ve tested to date.
Coupled with OLED’s perfect black levels, the S95B’s added brightness has an incredibly powerful impact on HDR content, be it a movie, a video game, or otherwise. Specular highlights pop off the screen, adding an astonishing level of depth. But perhaps the most significant improvement brought to the table by quantum dots is their effect on the S95B’s color reproduction. In particular, reds and greens look stunning on the S95B.
Being a Samsung TV, the S95B does not support Dolby Vision (though HDR10 and HDR10+ support are included). Samsung’s Tizen-based smart platform is a bit laggy and difficult to navigate this year, too, which will incentivize pairing the S95B with an external streaming device. Picture purists who don’t intend on hiring a professional calibrator might want to check out the LG C2, as that OLED TV’s out-of-the-box picture is closer in line with reference standards.
However, if you’ve been waiting for an OLED TV that’s better suited for bright room viewing than almost every other OLED TV on the market, the S95B is an excellent (albeit pricey) choice. Despite its lack of Dolby Vision and its cumbersome smart platform, the Samsung S95B is a total game-changer.
The LG C1 (available in 48-, 55-, 65-, and 77-inch models) is a stunning OLED TV. Its array of future-facing features will help maintain its value for several years to come. The LG C1 was our pick for the best TV you can buy before its successor, the LG C2.
OLED TVs are known for incredible contrast, and the LG C1 is no exception. It pairs a perfect black level with stellar highlights. Its sustained peak brightness of around 700 to 800 nits in HDR makes it one of the brightest OLED TVs we’ve ever seen.
The C1’s color performance is top-level, too. It features 100% SDR color saturation (Rec.709) and 97% HDR color saturation (DCI-P3). That means that whether you’re watching TV shows or Blu-rays, you can expect rich, true-to-life color.
The C1 comes with the sixth iteration of LG’s webOS smart platform pre-installed. While it’s not our favorite smart software, most folks will find it meets their needs. It’s zippy, easy to navigate, and offers a broad app selection via LG’s Content Store.
The incredible performance, wide array of features, and elegant design means the LG C1 is still one of the best TVs you can buy, even a year after its release.
If you don’t mind splashing out on an ultra-premium TV, the Sony A90J is one of the best OLED TVs we’ve ever tested, and one of the best TVs we’ve ever tested, period.
OLED naturally offers picture-perfect black levels. The A90J augments that with excellent highlights for an OLED. It regularly reaches 700 to 800 nits in HDR, with highlights getting much brighter than that in short bursts.
The added brightness elevates the TV’s colors, which are both voluminous and accurate. In fact, the A90J’s HDR color palette covers about 98% of the expanded DCI-P3 color space when the TV is in its “Custom” picture mode.
This Sony is also packed to the gills with features. It includes the Google TV smart platform, replacing Android TV. It has eARC compatibility and support for Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. It has a native refresh rate of 120Hz. Its Center Speaker mode lets you use the A90J’s built-in speakers as the center channel of a surround sound setup.
If you have the means and want an incredible out-of-the-box TV experience, the A90J is one of the best you’ll find. Having been on the market for over a year now, the A90J is currently on sale, making it a great time to pick one up.
Incredible contrast and color
HDMI 2.1-specified features
Zippy, flexible smart platform
Brighter than last year, but still dim compared to LCD/LED TVs
The LG G1 (available in 55, 65, and 77 inches) is an amazing TV stuffed with an incredible amount of features. The G1 was significantly more expensive than the LG C1 upon release, but these days, the gap in their price tag has shrunk considerably. We still feel that the C2 and the C1 are a better fit for most people, but the G1 is nevertheless a fantastic option.
As an OLED TV, the G1 sports perfect black levels and incredible picture detail. It uses LG’s OLED evo technology to achieve slightly greater brightness than the LG C1. (This year, OLED evo technology has made its way into the LG C2, the C1’s successor).
The OLED evo panel is also marginally better at saturating HDR color than the C1. That said, only the keenest eyes will notice the quality difference between the two.
Feature-wise, the G1 offers everything but the kitchen sink. With a 120Hz refresh rate, HDMI 2.1, G-Sync/FreeSync, Auto Low Latency Mode and more, the G1 is one of the best TVs for gamers. It also comes with LG’s webOS smart platform, which is fast and flexible enough for most users.
The “G” in G1 stands for “Gallery”. LG designed their Gallery OLED to hang on a wall like a piece of art. If you don’t want to wall-mount your next TV, you’ll need the G1’s stand, which is sold separately.
There’s no denying that the LG G1 is one of the best TVs we’ve ever seen. However, it’s only a marginal improvement over the C1, and the newer C2 is our overall pick for the best TV you can buy. Still, if you go all-in on this TV, you’ll be getting one of the best, and you’ll be getting it at a significant discount.
If you’re shopping for a top-shelf TV with a bright, colorful picture, the Samsung QN90A (available in 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models) is still one of the best options. It combines the impressive performance we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s flagship TVs with an incredible toolbox of features and enhancements. Before the release of the Samsung QN90B, the QN90A was our pick for the best TV for bright-room viewing.
The QN90A is outfitted with Samsung’s Neo QLED display technology, which marries quantum dots with mini-LED backlights. Quantum dots create a brighter, more color-rich picture. Meanwhile, the mini-LEDs offer above-average black levels and tight contrast control. The end result is one of the best pictures we’ve seen all year, especially for HDR content.
Beyond the dazzling display, it’s packed to the brim with hardware and software enhancements. The 120Hz refresh rate—combined with HDMI 2.1 support—make it a great choice for avid gamers. It supports both Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate, both widely considered essential for next-generation gaming. The QN90A also puts all of its gaming-related settings in an easy-to-access menu called Game Bar. Gamers should take note, however, that the QN90A only offers one HDMI port that supports 4K gaming at 120Hz. If you want more flexibility in this department, you’ll have to spend up on the newer QN90B.
The QN90A offers a host of other extras, too, from Multi View (which allows users to watch more than one source at a time) to the Samsung Health ecosystem. And while the QN90A’s Tizen-based smart platform isn’t our favorite, it’s easy to use and offers enough flexibility for most users.
All told, the Samsung QN90A is still one of the best Samsung TVs you can buy. While it’s not exactly budget-friendly, its current sale price makes it a great deal.
The U8G is one of the best TVs Hisense has ever released. It blends top-shelf performance and future-facing features at a far friendlier price than most of its direct competitors. If you’re in the market for a premium TV but blush at some of the prices, the U8G might be the perfect compromise.
In our lab tests, the U8G dazzled us. It’s one of the brightest TVs we’ve ever tested, and its out-of-the-box color accuracy is incredible. SDR content (cable TV and most streaming) looks terrific on the U8G. But HDR content like 4K Blu-rays and movies mastered for Dolby Vision) is its bread and butter.
Simply put, if you want your next TV to showcase all that HDR has to offer, the U8G is one of your best options, even a year after its release.
Unfortunately, the U8G’s Android-based smart platform isn’t our favorite. The user interface is hard to navigate, and a bit rough around the edges. However, you can easily solve this by connecting an external streaming device to an HDMI port.
The U8G’s local dimming is also not as refined as some of the competition, like Samsung’s QN90A and QN90B. That means it may not be the best choice for cinephiles or picture purists who’d prefer a balanced picture over intense HDR performance.
Still, the Hisense U8G rivals some of the best LED TVs we’ve seen in recent years, at a significantly lower cost than most of its competition. If you’re after a future-facing TV for a terrific price, it’s hard to beat the U8G.
The Samsung Q80A is a mid-range TV with the look and feel of a luxury set. It’s great for gamers (or folks who just want a bright TV). But the Q80A’s panel type produces very shallow black levels. This makes it a not-so-great choice for people who watch Blu-rays or stream content in dimmer settings.
Setting aside the subpar contrast, the Samsung Q80A does get good marks in other performance areas. Its quantum dot display creates a colorful, well-saturated picture, and it can sustain 500+ nits of brightness in HDR. That makes newer content (like 4K Blu-rays and certain streaming content) really shine.
If you’re after features, the Q80A delivers in spades. You’ll find Tizen Smart TV, HDMI 2.1 support, FreeSync (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode, Samsung Game Bar, Multi View, Samsung Health, and support for Q-Symphony soundbars.
One advantage of the Samsung Q80A’s panel type is that it delivers extra-wide horizontal viewing angles, making it great for group viewings. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the TV’s contrast. You’ll also get a fair amount of light bloom when bright picture elements clash with dark.
All told, it’s easy to recommend the Samsung Q80A to gamers and bright TV enthusiasts. It’s much harder to recommend as a home theater centerpiece. With black levels this shallow, cinephiles are better off springing for the Samsung QN90A, whose panel type delivers a picture that’s better suited for movie night.
The TCL 5-Series with Google TV (available in 50-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch sizes) is one of the best mid-range TVs money can buy. It offers well-above-average performance, a zippy, friendly smart platform, and some critical gaming-related features.
The newer 5-Series replaces Roku with the same smart platform used in the newest Chromecast devices. And while Google’s software isn’t quite as easy to use as Roku, this TV makes up for it with terrific performance for the price.
This iteration of the 5-Series isn’t as bright as something like the TCL 6-Series. Still, it gets bright enough to make HDR content pop, particularly in dark environments. The 5-Series also supports Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate—two sought-after gaming features that can limit input lag and frame rate-related artifacts.
The 5-Series isn’t a world-class TV. Its out-of-the-box color calibration is lacking, even in the TV’s most accurate picture mode. Its viewing angles are quite narrow, and frequently displays fast-paced content with a subtle-but-distracting judder.
Still, there aren’t very many TVs in this price range that offer as much as the 5-Series. It’s a great pick for shoppers on a budget who still want a little “oomph” with their new TV.
The LG A1 (available in 48-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch models) is one of LG’s most affordable OLED TVs. It’s aimed squarely at the crowd that wants to experience this impressive display technology without spending too much for the privilege.
While most OLED TVs are a marvel to look at, several unique factors make the A1 worth considering. Thanks to its self-lit pixels, the A1 features the perfect, inky black levels that make OLED TVs stand out.
Its color production is also terrific. The A1 covers 100% of the SDR color gamut (Rec.709) and 96% of the extra-wide HDR color gamut (DCI-P3). Everything you watch on this TV will look crisp, detailed, and brimming with life.
Unfortunately, the A1 struggles to get much brighter than 400 to 500 nits. That makes HDR content feel lackluster compared to other options in the price range.
OLED TVs are famously much dimmer than traditional LED TVs. But the A1 is dimmer than nearly every other OLED we’ve seen in the last few years. The LG C1, can climb as high as 750 nits in HDR, for example.
Unlike the C1, the A1 also lacks in the features department. It doesn’t support HDMI 2.1. It’s also limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, so 4K gaming at 120Hz is out of the question.
The A1 does support Auto Low Latency Mode. Unfortunately, it lacks Variable Refresh Rate, one of the most sought-after features among gaming enthusiasts. Of course, if you aren’t a gamer, you might prefer the A1 since you won’t be paying for features you won’t use.
The LG A1 is impressive in a handful of ways that only OLED TVs can achieve. Its panel is thinner than most smartphones. Its black levels are perfect. And its viewing angles are among the most accommodating on the market today.
But the LG C1 isn’t that much more expensive than the A1, especially now that the C1 is on sale almost everywhere. For most folks shopping in this class, the C1’s high-level performance and laundry list of features make it a more appealing option.
The Samsung Q60B (available in eight total sizes ranging from 43 to 85 inches) is the most affordable Samsung TV this year to feature quantum dots, and while it’s not nearly as impressive as Samsung’s more premium offerings, it’s nevertheless a fine choice for casual viewing.
The Q60B’s best asset is its brightness. While it doesn’t get bright enough for HDR content to really pop, it’s bright enough in both SDR and HDR to perform effectively in well-lit environments. The inclusion of quantum dots certainly helps.
We also really appreciate the Q60B’s sleek design. The panel is narrow (and uniformly so), with slim, L-shaped feet that don’t call attention to themselves. Setting it up is a cinch, too; the TV’s feet slot right into the panel and remain firmly in place without the need for screws.
As far as features go, however, the Q60B is somewhat lacking. While pricier TVs support both Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), the Q60B only supports ALLM. This means it’ll automatically optimize an input for gaming whenever a console is detected, but it doesn’t offer the ability to match your output device's frame rate.
The Q60B also features a native refresh rate of only 60Hz and lacks high-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 support, so 4K gaming at 120Hz is out of the question.
If all you’re looking for is a sleek, dependable TV that’ll hold its own in a relatively bright room, the Q60B is a great option. Folks who are seeking a more cinematic HDR experience or next-gen gaming features, however, would be better off spending a bit more on a more premium option.
If you want the quantum dot experience without paying for a luxury option, the Samsung Q60A is a great choice. Just make sure you understand its limitations ahead of time.
The Q60A’s panel is outfitted with quantum dots and Samsung’s dual-LED backlight technology. The latter doesn’t offer the high-level contrast control of Samsung’s mini-LED backlight. But while it won’t stack up to higher-end Samsungs, it gets the job done.
We measured deep black levels and better-than-average brightness for a mid-range LED TV (around 400 to 500 nits in HDR). The Q60A isn’t as colorful as some of Samsung’s more premium quantum dot-equipped offerings. Still, it’s capable of about 90% HDR color saturation. That makes it a great pick for cinephiles on a budget.
In addition to decent performance, it’s got a sleek design and a fair number of features. Most of this year’s flashy Samsung features are exclusive to their higher-end models. But the Q60A does include the Samsung Health suite, Ambient Mode, and support for Q-Symphony soundbars. You’re also getting the newest version of Samsung’s Tizen-based smart platform.
The Q60A does offer Auto Low Latency Mode, but that’s about it for gaming enhancements. You’re not getting Variable Refresh Rate or support for 120fps. That makes it less than ideal for serious gamers.
If you want great 4K/HDR performance, or slick next-generation gaming, there are better options out there. But if you just need a good-looking TV with a sleek design and a handful of nifty features, the Samsung Q60A is a good choice.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly 4K smart TV, it’s worth checking out the affordable Samsung AU8000. It’s available in a wide range of sizes (43, 50, 55, 65, 75, and 85 inches), and comes with Samsung Smart Hub built right in.
We appreciate the AU8000’s fetching design and its impressive black levels. But other aspects of the TV’s performance left us wanting more.
For instance, the AU8000 supports HDR, but its panel doesn’t get bright enough for HDR content to really stand out. Although the AU8000 supports Auto Low Latency Mode, there are no other gaming features in sight, and its refresh rate is limited to 60Hz.
Still, if you just want a well-designed, budget-friendly smart option from a reputable TV brand, you could certainly do worse than the AU8000. It’s an especially good pick for folks who are upgrading to their first 4K TV.
The TCL 4-Series may very well be the quintessential entry-level 4K TV. With screen sizes ranging from a respectable 43 inches up to a massive 85 inches, the 4-Series is nothing if not flexible.
You can even choose your smart platform. This series is available in Roku TV, Android TV, and Google TV variants. (We recommend a Roku TV model for the best experience).
As the natural (and numeric) step up from the 3-Series, the 4-Series boasts immediate picture quality advantages. It adds 4K resolution, as well as HDR compatibility.
This makes it a great choice if you’ve been craving an upgrade to 4K crispness, but hesitate to shell out for something fancy. Its built-in Roku software is intuitive and simple, bringing you access to all the streaming services you can shake a (streaming) stick at.
The 4-Series’ strong points are balanced by some drawbacks. It has great black levels, but at the expense of overall brightness. Even for an HDR TV, it isn’t very bright, and that lack of brightness extends to limited color saturation.
Good backlight uniformity makes it a stalwart choice for movie night. But between the reflective glass in front of the panel and its lack of brightness, it’s a somewhat poor choice for a brighter viewing environment. However, if your living room or den is light-controllable, this shouldn’t be a major issue.
There are cases where the 4-Series simply lacks the chops to get the job done. It won’t do justice to HDR content. And its 60Hz refresh rate might feel a bit limiting when paired with a game console capable of 120fps gaming.
Still, for basic everyday use, this is a great way to upgrade to 4K resolution without paying for features or specs you won’t use. There’s one last potential issue to bear in mind. On the largest sizes, the dimness and narrower viewing angles may be more pronounced.
It does everything you’d want a smart TV to do, but can also talk with your Ring Video Doorbell, Echo speakers, and more. While the Omni succeeds at being an Alexa device, it doesn’t quite cut it as a dependable mid-range TV.
The 55-inch version also doesn’t support Dolby Vision or Auto Low Latency Mode. If you want the best possible performance out of the Fire TV Omni, for movie night and for gaming, you’ll need one of the two biggest sizes.
However, even with the bigger models, the HDR HDR is underwhelming. Our 65-inch Omni TV didn’t climb higher than 330 nits, which isn’t bright enough for HDR to truly shine.
Still, as an Alexa device, the Omni is poised to please folks who use the voice-activated assistant every day. The TV’s far-field microphones (which can be toggled off via a physical switch on the TV) do a bang-up job catching “hey, Alexa” voice commands. The Omni’s Alexa-related functions weren’t all available at the time of our review. But it promises to streamline everything from controlling audio to viewing a live feed from your doorbell.
For gamers, cinephiles, or anyone who cares about performance, the Omni is probably not a good fit. For Alexa acolytes, however, it’ll likely be a nifty living room companion.
Reviewed has been testing TVs for over a decade. Our current Home Theater expert is Michael Desjardin. Michael is a Senior Staff Writer and an eight-year veteran of the Reviewed tech team. A film enthusiast and TV expert, he takes picture quality seriously, but also understands that not every TV is a good fit for everyone.
It'd be an understatement to say that we're serious about TV testing. Our Cambridge laboratory has much of the same equipment factories use to manufacture and calibrate televisions.
Our hardware includes a Konica Minolta CS-200 tristimulus color meter and a LS-100 luminance meter. We have a Leo Bodnar input lag tester, and a Murideo Seven 8K signal generator for testing 8K TV features. We also have more Blu-rays than we can keep track of.
Our testing process has been honed over many years. We gather enough esoteric data to satisfy curious video engineers, while also focusing on the average person's viewing experience.
We measure factors like peak brightness, and black level. We test hue and saturation for primary and secondary digital colors. We check the accuracy of the TV's electro-optical transfer function—you get the idea.
We weigh our performance tests based on how the human eye prioritizes vision. The human visual system processes brightness better than color. So we weigh brightness first, then move on to colorimetry, and so on.
Beyond the technical tests, we also spend a lot of time just using each TV. We stream video, connect a Blu-ray player to watch movies, and use the smart features. We also check out the ports, remote, and on-set buttons. We evaluate anything and everything that might be relevant to the daily experience of using the TV.
What You Should Know About Buying a Television
While everyone has different eyes, our vision generally functions the same way. We prioritize dynamic information and bright, compelling colors over subtler hues and resolution (sharpness). We focus on those priorities when we’re testing.
We consider a TV “good” when we forget that we're watching a TV. We don't see pixels creating mixes of red, green, and blue to simulate colors. Rather, we see the real world, lit and colored as it is, in fluid motion.
Broken down, you want a TV that can get very bright and dark without obscuring details. You want accurate colors (per various color standards set by the International Telecommunication Union). You want proper bit-mapping and the right codecs and decoders for video processing. You also want it to properly play the various types of content thrown at it without judder, or blurring.
Individual specs like pixel count or brightness measurements don’t automatically indicate quality, just like intense speed doesn’t automatically make a good car.
What TV Terms Do I Need To Know?
TV terminology is rife with subterfuge and tomfoolery, but understanding TV specs is important when you’re shopping. Here are the key bits of jargon you'll want to know while browsing:
LED/LCD: This refers to Light Emitting Diodes and Liquid Crystal Display. “Liquid crystal” is a semi-solid substance that morphs in reaction to tiny electrical volts and allows light to pass through. LCD displays have been around for decades. But they need to be lit, somehow.
An LED TV still has a liquid crystal display, but it also uses LEDs as backlights. This uses less power than older kinds of LCD displays, while producing a clearer, more colorful image.
OLED: This means Organic Light Emitting Diode. This is a different technology than LED/LCD. OLED TVs combine the backlight and crystal array into one unit, using sub-pixel strata that produce light and color individually. OLED TVs have a shorter lifespan than LED/LCDs, but offer wider viewing angles, sharper contrast, and more accurate colors.
4K/UHD: Usually 4K refers to resolution—specifically, 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. This is the current standard/mainstream resolution for most TVs. UHD means Ultra High Definition, which refers to a suite of picture improvements. 4K resolution is one of them, and so is Wide Color Gamut, which can display many more shades than HD TVs.
High Dynamic Range: Like "UHD," High Dynamic Range (or HDR) refers to both a type of TV and a type of content. HDR expands on the typical range of brightness (luminance) and color that a TV will produce.
HDR TVs are newer and usually a bit more expensive, but can have many times the brightness and 30% more color production than non-HDR TVs. Current top HDR formats include HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.
60Hz/120Hz: These numbers refer to the "refresh rate," or how often a TV updates its picture. It’s measured in “Hertz,” which means “times per second.”
If a TV's refresh rate is 60Hz, this means it re-scans and updates for picture information 60 times per second. Likewise, 120Hz updates 120 times per second. Currently, TVs only come in 60 or 120Hz. A higher refresh rate is always better, but not always necessary.
Smart TV: The term "smart TV" has evolved over the years, but it just means that the TV connects to the internet with a built-in ethernet or WiFi connection.
Smart TVs these days primarily offer streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video on your TV. Some smart TVs have browsers, calendars, or even Roku or Android functions.
Quantum Dots: Quantum dots are used in LED/LCD TVs only. These are microscopic nanocrystals that produce intensely colored light when illuminated. Quantum dots can vastly improve the red and green saturation of a TV, helping LED/LCD TVs match the color spectrum of OLED.
Local Dimming: OLED panels look great because each pixel can operate independently. LED/LCD TVs can imitate this functioning via a process called local dimming. Localized clusters of LEDs dim or boost brightness depending on what’s on the screen. This can vastly improve the performance and worth of a TV if done well.
What Is A TV Series?
You may notice the TVs listed in this roundup don't follow the traditional naming convention you might see when shopping. That's because we don’t nominate a single TV. Instead, we nominate the entire range of sizes within a "series."
Typically these TVs are the same model, just in different sizes. While the price and dimensions differ, the performance should be identical. We focus on the series to offer you more flexibility. But it's also the most accurate, useful way to discuss televisions.
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.