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. 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 C1 OLED(available at Amazon for $1,196.99). With its array of future-facing features and mind-blowing OLED picture quality, 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 55-inch TVs we tested:
Amazon Fire TV Omni
Amazon Fire TV 4-Series
The LG C1 is a stunning OLED TV with an array of future-facing features that will help maintain its value for several years to come. It’s easy to see why it’s our pick for the best 55-inch TV you can buy right now.
OLED TVs are known for their incredible contrast, and the LG C1 is no exception. It pairs a perfect black level with stellar highlights, offering a sustained peak brightness of around 700 to 800 nits in HDR, making it one of the brightest OLED TVs we’ve ever seen. When it comes to color, the C1 is a top-level performer, too; it features 100% SDR color saturation (Rec.709) and 97% HDR color saturation (DCI-P3). That means no matter what you’re watching, you can expect rich, true-to-life color. From cable TV to Blu-rays, the C1 makes TVs and movies look their best.
The LG C1 is equipped with four HDMI 2.1 inputs that all support 4K resolution at 120fps, which makes it a great choice for gamers who own (or plan on owning) an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. In fact, the LG C1 is stuffed with gaming-centric features, like Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and FreeSync/G-Sync support, and a suite of picture enhancements that can be found in the TV’s Game Optimizer menu.
The C1 also comes with the sixth iteration of LG’s webOS smart platform pre-installed, and while it’s not our favorite smart software going right now, most folks will find it suitable to their needs; it’s zippy, easy to navigate, and offers a broad selection of apps via LG’s Content Store.
Although the LG G1 and the Sony A90J are better-performing TVs by the thinnest of margins, we believe that, for most folks, the slight difference in picture quality isn’t worth the added cost.
With its incredible performance, wide array of features, and elegant design, the LG C1 is the best TV you can buy right now. True A/V enthusiasts might be tempted by the LG G1 or the Sony A90J’s slightly superior picture quality, but if you want the best ride for your money, the C1 offers a nearly identical experience for a considerably friendlier price.
The 55-inch TCL 6-Series is one of the most value-packed TVs of the year, thanks to a robust offering of features and picture quality that punch well above its weight. All told, the 6-Series performs better than just about every TV in its price range, making it a great pick for anyone looking to maximize their dollar.
The TCL 6-Series produces a bright, colorful 4K picture during both SDR and HDR content, thanks in part to the TV’s quantum dots. In our lab, we consistently clocked the 6-Series at around 800-900 nits of brightness while receiving an HDR signal. This makes the 6-Series a fantastic option for folks whose living rooms receive a fair amount of ambient light. The inclusion of quantum dots also makes for rich, well-saturated colors, particularly during HDR content.
Gamers will be thrilled with the 6-Series’ native 120 Hz refresh rate (up to 1440p at 120 Hz) as well as the addition of something called THX Certified Game Mode, a suite of enhancements that includes VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) support and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) to adjust to the different frame rate of gaming 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 quite as impressive as the top TVs on our list, but 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.
Reviewed has been testing TVs since some of its current employees were in middle school. While many proud TV testers have come and gone through Reviewed's labs, the current Home Theater team consists of Michael Desjardin and Lee Neikirk. Michael is a senior staff writer and a six-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.
As Reviewed's Home Theater Editor, Lee doesn't do as much testing these days. However, he designed the company's current TV testing methodology after receiving calibration certification from the Imaging Science Foundation.
It'd be an understatement to say that we're serious about TV testing. The lab in our Cambridge location is outfitted with much of the same equipment you'd find at a factory that manufactures and calibrates television.
On the hardware side, we've got things like a Konica Minolta CS-200 tristimulus color meter, an LS-100 luminance meter, a Leo Bodnar input lag tester, a Murideo Seven 8K signal generator, and more Blu-rays than we can keep track of. For software, we use Portrait Displays’ Calman Ultimate color calibration software, the industry-standard in taking display measurements and calibrating screens to specifications.
Our testing process is equally complicated and has been honed over many years to gather data that is marginal enough to satisfy curious video engineers, but also relevant to the average person's viewing experience. We measure things like peak brightness, black level, hue and saturation for primary and secondary digital colors, the accuracy of the TV's electro-optical transfer function—you get the idea, it's complicated.
Weighting for our performance tests is based on how the human eye prioritizes vision, which means we put "brightness" data (monochromatic eye based on light sensitivity) higher than colorimetry, which is also scaled by the eye's sensitivity, and so on.
Outside of the strictly technical tests, we also spend a lot of time just watching and using each TV, getting a feel for the at-home experience of doing things like dialing up streaming video service, connecting a Blu-ray player and watching movies, using the smart features, and checking out the TV's ports, remote, and on-set buttons—anything and everything that might be relevant.
What You Should Know About Buying a 55-Inch Television
While everyone has different eyes, generally, our vision all functions the same way: we prioritize dynamic information and bright, compelling colors over subtler hues and resolution (sharpness). Generally, a TV can be considered a good TV when we forget that we're watching a TV. We don't see pixels creating mixes of red, green, and blue to simulate colors; we see the real world, lit and colored as it is, in fluid motion.
In simpler terms, this means a TV that can get very bright and dark without obscuring details; produces accurate colors (compared to various color standards designated by the International Telecommunication Union); possesses proper bit-mapping and the right codecs and decoders for video processing; and can properly play the various types of content thrown at it without judder, blurring, and so on.
Note that specs alone (pixel count, measured brightness) aren't automatic indicators of quality, much like intense speed is not automatically an indicator of a good car.
What TV Terms Do I Need To Know?
When it comes to knowing what you're paying for, almost no category is rifer with subterfuge and tomfoolery than TVs. While knowing the specs of the TV you're shopping for is only half the battle, it's the bigger half. Here are the key bits of jargon you'll want to know while browsing:
LED/LCD: This refers to Light Emitting Diode and Liquid Crystal Display. LEDs are the backlights used in LCD TVs, also sometimes called a LED TV for this reason. The LED backlight shines through a layer of a semi-solid substance called "liquid crystal," so named for its ability to morph in reaction to tiny electrical volts and allow light to pass through.
OLED: This means Organic Light Emitting Diode. This is an altogether different panel technology than LED/LCD. Rather than an LED backlight element shining through an LCD panel element, OLED TVs essentially combine the backlight and crystal array, using sub-pixel strata that produce light and color individually.
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, and actually refers to a suite of picture improvements like 4K resolution and 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 that 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 what is called a "refresh rate," with Hz (hertz) representing "times per second." So if a TV's refresh rate is 60Hz, this means it re-scans and updates for picture information 60 times per second; with 120Hz, it's 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 a lot over the years, but all it really means is that the TV connects to the internet. Most smart TVs these days are just a way to watch 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. All smart TVs have ethernet or WiFi built-in.
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 be used to vastly improve the red and green saturation of a TV, and are one way that LED/LCD TVs can 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, where localized clusters of LEDs dim or boost depending on whether the screen needs to be darker or brighter, sometimes vastly improving their performance and worth.
What Is a TV Series?
You may notice the TVs listed in this roundup don't follow the traditional naming convention you might see in a store or online. That's because rather than nominating a single size of TV (such as the LG OLED65C8PUA, aka the 65-inch LG C8 series OLED), we nominate the entire range of sizes within a "series."
Typically these TVs are identical in performance but differ in price and size. We do this in order to offer you more flexibility in your decision, but also because it's the most accurate representation available.
Other 55-Inch TVs We Tested
If quality is what you’re after and you don’t mind splashing out on a high-end TV, the Sony A90J is not only one of the best OLED TVs we’ve ever tested, but one of the best TVs we’ve tested, period.
The A90J blends the picture-perfect black levels of an OLED with some of the brightest highlights we’ve ever seen for this impressive display technology. In HDR, the A90J regularly climbs as high as 700 to 800 nits, with specular highlights getting much brighter than that in short bursts. The added brightness also elevates the TV’s colors, which are equal parts 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.
The Sony A90J is also packed to the gills with features and enhancements, including the Google TV smart platform (which replaces Android TV), eARC compatibility, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support, a native refresh rate of 120Hz, and Center Speaker mode, which allows users to use the A90J’s internal speakers as the center channel of a surround sound setup.
Crucially, two of the A90J’s HDMI 2.1-specified ports offer Variable Refresh Rate, Auto Low Latency Mode, and support 4K content at 120fps. If you own (or plan on owning) a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, these features are essential if you’re hoping to get the most out of the newest generation of gaming consoles.
If there’s one major criticism you can level at this remarkable TV, it’s that its cost is much higher than most TVs. Even among other high-end TVs in its own category, the Sony A90J sticks out as one of the priciest. Still, if you have the means and you’re searching for a TV with incredible out-of-the-box performance, the A90J is one of the best you’ll find on shelves today.
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 Hisense U8G is one of the best TVs Hisense has ever released, offering a blend of top-shelf performance and future-facing features for a far friendlier price than most of its direct competitors. If you’re in the market for a premium TV but blush at the price of something like the Samsung QN90A, the U8G might be the perfect compromise.
From a hardware standpoint, the U8G is a heavyweight. It’s equipped with full-array local dimming, quantum dots, and HDMI 2.1 ports. It also supports 4K/120fps gaming, Auto Low Latency Mode, and Variable Refresh Rate, which means it’s a great pickup for folks who own (or plan on buying) an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5.
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 content) looks terrific on the U8G, but HDR content (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 the best ways to go about doing that.
Unfortunately, the U8G’s Android-based smart platform, while flexible in its app selection, isn’t our favorite. The user interface is a bit hard to navigate and, overall, rather rough around the edges. Still, you can solve this problem by dedicating one of the U8G’s ports to an external streaming device. The U8G’s local dimming is also not as refined as some of the competition (such as the aforementioned Samsung QN90A), so it may not be the best choice for cinephiles and picture purists who would prefer a balanced picture over intense HDR performance.
But all told, the Hisense U8G still rivals some of the best LED TVs we’ve seen in recent years, and manages to do so at a significantly lower cost. If you’re looking for a future-facing TV for a terrific price, it’s hard to beat the U8G.
The Samsung QN85A is a second-tier flagship that packs many of the same hardware and software features you’ll find in the Samsung QN90A, but there are some crucial differences between the two.
Like the QN90A, the QN85A features Samsung’s Neo QLED display technology, which combines quantum dots with mini-LEDs. The quantum dots allow for incredibly bright highlights and rich color, while the mini-LED backlights give the QN85A tight control over its contrast zones. Unfortunately, while the QN85A boasts some serious brightness (well over 1,000 nits in HDR), its black levels are very shallow, creating a washed-out look during dark scenes and flattening detail overall. We suspect that the TV’s panel type is the culprit.
Still, there’s quite a bit to appreciate here, if you’re able to get past the QN85A’s disappointing black levels. While its panel may not be the best for movie night, it offers great off-axis viewing, meaning it looks similarly good from anywhere in the room, so it works well with a crowd. One (but not all) of the TV’s HDMI ports offers HDMI 2.1-specified features, including 4K/120fps support and FreeSync, making it a good choice for gamers. Samsung’s new Game Bar feature is nice to have in tow, too, as it puts useful gaming-related information and settings into one easy-to-access menu.
Overall, we recommend the Samsung QN85A to anyone who’s looking for a bright, well-designed smart TV with a focus on gaming, but we don’t recommend it for A/V enthusiasts and cinephiles who value picture quality. It’s an impressive TV in many respects, but its worse-than-average black level is a significant strike against it.
The Samsung Q80A is a mid-range TV with the look and feel of a luxury set. It’s a great option for gamers (or for folks who are just looking for 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 and stream content in a dim or dark setting.
The good news is that, setting aside the subpar contrast, the Samsung Q80A gets good marks in other performance areas. Its quantum dot display creates a colorful, well-saturated picture, and it’s capable of sustaining 500+ nits of brightness in HDR, so newer content (like 4K Blu-rays and certain streaming content) will really shine.
If features are what you’re after, the Q80A has those in spades: 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.
The best thing you can say about the Samsung Q80A’s panel type is that it delivers extra-wide horizontal viewing angles, making it a great option for group viewings. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the TV’s contrast. Additionally, a fair amount of light bloom is noticeable when bright picture elements clash with dark.
All told, it’s easy to recommend Samsung Q80A to gamers and bright TV enthusiasts, but there’s a harder case to be made for its use 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 LG A1 is LG’s most affordable OLED TV of the year, and it’s aimed squarely at the crowd that wants to invest in this impressive display technology without spending too much for that privilege. While pretty much every OLED TV is a marvel to look at, there are a few sticking points about the A1 that are worth considering.
Thanks to its self-lit pixels, the A1 features the unmistakable visual trademark of every OLED display: perfect, inky black levels. 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, making HDR content feel a bit lacking when compared to some of the other options in its price range. OLED TVs are well known to be much dimmer than traditional LED TVs, but the A1 is dimmer than just about every OLED we’ve seen in the last few years, including the Vizio OLED. The LG OLED that’s a step up from the A1, the LG C1, is capable of climbing as high as 750 nits in HDR, for example
Unlike the LG C1, the A1 is also lacking in the features department. It doesn’t support HDMI 2.1 and is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, so 4K gaming at 120fps is out of the question. And while it supports Auto Low Latency Mode, the A1 doesn’t come with Variable Refresh Rate, one of the most valued and 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, and we suspect that for most folks shopping in this class, it will prove to be the more attractive option given its high-level performance and laundry list of features.
If you’re looking for a taste of the quantum dot experience but don’t want to pay top dollar for a luxury option, the Samsung Q60A is a great choice, as long as 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—which is exceptionally showcased on Samsung’s QN90A—but 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). And while the Q60A isn’t as colorful as some of Samsung’s more premium quantum dot-equipped offerings, it’s still capable of about 90% HDR color saturation, which makes it a great pick for cinephiles on a budget.
In addition to its decent performance, it’s got a sleek design and a fair number of features. Most of this year’s flashy Samsung-related TV features can only be found in the company’s higher-end models, but there are still a few to be found in the Q60A, including 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 as far as gaming enhancements go, that’s about all there is; you’re not getting Variable Refresh Rate or support for 120fps, which makes it a less-than-ideal choice for serious gamers.
If you want a better-performing 4K/HDR TV, or a TV that’s better-equipped to handle next-generation gaming, there are better options out there. That said, if all you need is a good-looking TV with a sleek design and a handful of nifty features, the Samsung Q60A is a good choice.
The Sony X800H is a solid mid-range TV with accurate color, impressive brightness, and dependable viewing angles. It’s a great option if you’re a diehard Sony fan, but if you’re just looking to maximize your dollar, there are better-performing TVs in this price range.
Thanks to Sony’s Triluminos technology, the X800H produces rich, accurate color and offers Dolby Vision support, making it a terrific mid-range option for cinephiles. It also gets quite bright for a TV at this price, so if you’re planning on putting your new TV in a brightly lit room, the Sony X800H is worth a look.
Unfortunately, the X800H gets so bright that its black levels remain relatively shallow. In addition, the X800H’s native refresh rate is 60Hz, so it’s not exactly the ideal choice for hardcore gamers.
There are better-performing TVs that offer similar peak brightness levels and comparable color production, but that’s not to say that the Sony X800H isn’t worth consideration. Just keep its limitations in mind.
The Amazon Fire TV Omni is a mid-range 4K smart TV with an emphasis on smart features. Specifically, the Omni is designed to live alongside an ecosystem of Alexa-powered smart home devices. Essentially, it does everything you’d want a smart TV to do, but it 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 the mustard as a dependable mid-range TV.
Only the 65- and 75-inch versions of the Fire TV Omni feature Dolby Vision support and Auto Low Latency Mode, so if you’re looking to get the best possible performance out of the series lineup—for movie night and for gaming—you’ll have to opt for one of the two biggest sizes. However, even if you opt for one of these models, don’t expect above-average HDR—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 (some of which weren’t yet available at the time of our review) promise to streamline everything from controlling audio to viewing a live feed from your doorbell.
For gamers, cinephiles, or anyone who just wants a performance-forward mid-range TV, the Omni is probably not a good fit. For Alexa acolytes, however, it’ll likely be a nifty living room companion.
If you’re looking for an affordable, entry-level 4K TV with a bit of a twist, the 55-inch Amazon Fire TV 4-Series is an interesting candidate.
The Fire TV 4-Series makes Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, the star of the show. By talking into the microphone-equipped remote, users can ask Alexa to find content, to change the TV’s settings, or to jump from one app to another. The 4-Series is also compatible with other Alexa-powered smart home products, like Echo speakers, Ring Doorbells, and more, making it a good candidate for those focused on a streamlined, Alexa-powered smart home.
But when it comes to picture quality and extra features, the Fire TV 4-Series is an entry-level experience through and through. The TV supports HDR, but viewers are unlikely to notice a difference in picture quality while HDR content is playing on account of the 4-Series' lack of brightness. The 4-Series also struggles to maintain its picture quality when viewed from the side, which could hamper group viewings. To be fair, however, most TVs in this price range also struggle with off-angle viewing, so avoiding this outcome will likely involve spending up on a mid-range TV.
That said, if all you’re looking for is a dependable, 4K upgrade at an affordable price, the Fire TV 4-Series is a decent, value-forward pick. The picture is mostly fine across all types of content, so long as you don’t expect a bright, dazzling experience. Folks who already use Alexa on a daily basis will likely appreciate the 4-Series even more.
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.