We've all read "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," right? There's something to be learned from those bowls of porridge about a thing being "just right" — and when it comes to 4K TVs, 55 inches is one of the most popular sizes around the world for a reason. Not too big and not too small, 55-inch TVs feel luxuriously large without entirely dominating the room.
If you just want the best 55-inch 4K TV you can buy, go with the LG CX OLED(available at Amazon). Between the array of 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 TVs we tested, ranked in order:
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The LG CX series of OLED 4K/HDR smart TVs is our pick for the overall best 55-inch TV money can buy.
In true OLED fashion, the LG CX features the signature perfect black levels we’ve come to expect from this premium technology. Stellar contrast is the primary reason that TVs like this look so good, but you can also expect gorgeous, vivid color reproduction and excellent motion handling. In fact, the CX’s native 120 Hz refresh rate makes it a great option for sports fans and gamers alike—you can expect clear, judder-free motion pretty much across the board. The TV's sleek, ultra-thin design is worthy of praise, too—the CX is sure to class up whatever room it happens to occupy.
The LG CX is equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports (the newest HDMI standard) and supports Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and eARC. In addition, the CX comes with LG's excellent webOS smart platform pre-installed, which is fast, dependable, and easy to navigate.
For anyone expecting top-notch brightness from their top-notch TV investment, a word of caution: Although the LG CX features some of the best contrast money can buy, its peak brightness levels don’t come close to those we’ve measured on high-end, LED TVs, particularly those outfitted with quantum dots.
The 55-inch TCL 6-Series (also available in 65- and 75-inch variants) is one of the most value-packed TVs of the year, thanks to a robust offering of features and picture quality that punches 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 folks 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 Quantum Data 780A signal generator, and more Blu-rays than we can keep track of. For software, we use CalMan Ultimate, 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 TVs
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 more rife 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, albeit on the surface they work similarly. 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, Wide Color Gamut, and High Dynamic Range.
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 four times the brightness and 30% more color production than non-HDR TVs, at least. Current HDR formats are HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
60 Hz/120 Hz: These numbers refer to what is called a "refresh rate," with Hz (hertz) meaning "times per second." So if a TV's refresh rate is 60 Hz, this means it re-scans and updates for picture information 60 times per second; with 120 Hz, it's 120 times per second. Currently, TVs only come in 60 or 120 Hz. 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 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 struck with light. 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 ever 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, eARC compatibility, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support, a native refresh rate of 120 Hz, 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 120 FPS. 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 55-inch LG BX (also available in a 65-inch variant) is one of the most affordable OLED TV series released in 2020, which makes it a great pickup for folks who don’t mind paying a premium for stunning, top-of-the-line TV technology, but nevertheless don’t want to spend the extra dough to land a better-performing TV, like the LG CX.
The BX is a 4K TV with HDR support including Dolby Vision. Since it’s an OLED TV, you can expect perfect black levels and dazzling, voluminous color. Like the CX OLED, the BX also comes with LG's webOS smart platform pre-installed. The software is user-friendly, responsive, and should satisfy AV enthusiasts and novices alike.
For some folks—gamers in particular—the main draw of the BX will be its special features; the TV is equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports, supports FreeSync/G-Sync, and features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz. Simply put, the BX is one of the most affordable ways to secure a TV that will get the most out of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, even if its price tag doesn’t seem very affordable at first glance.
Because OLED TVs don’t get as bright as quantum dot LED TVs—and because the LG BX isn’t as bright as higher-end OLED TVs like the LG CX—folks with relatively bright living rooms might want to give brighter TVs a closer look. The LG BX isn’t exactly a dim TV, but it’s not as bright as you might expect given its price tag.
Here’s the bottom line: The LG BX isn’t a budget-friendly TV, but it is one of the most affordable ways to secure incredible OLED performance and future-proof features.
Vizio’s first OLED TV successfully blends the high-end picture quality we’ve come to expect from OLED TVs with the value-forward philosophies that helped give way to Vizio’s recent rise in popularity. It’s one of the most affordable ways to secure an OLED TV.
The Vizio OLED is packed with features fit for next-generation gaming, including HDMI 2.1 support (with eARC passthrough), VRR, and ALLM. Like all of the OLED TVs we’ve tested in recent years, the Vizio OLED also features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz. This refresh rate, combined with the TV’s HDMI 2.1 support, means that the Vizio OLED will be capable of 4K gaming at 120 FPS.
And then, of course, there’s the Vizio OLED’s picture, which is unsurprisingly stunning. Due to the self-emissive nature of each pixel in an organic LED display, the Vizio OLED is capable of perfect black levels and rich, accurate colors. Although it doesn’t get nearly as bright as high-end quantum dot TVs, it’s about as bright as its direct competitor, the LG BX.
If you’re hoping to make your next TV an OLED, the Vizio OLED is the most affordable way to do so while still getting the latest, state-of-the-art TV tech. Simply put, when you factor in its performance chops and its next-gen gaming features, the Vizio OLED is one of the most value-packed TVs on the market.
The 55-inch Samsung Q90T (also available in 65-, 75-, and 85-inch variants) is one of the brightest TVs we’ve tested this year, making it a great pick for people with bright living rooms—or folks who see themselves gaming during the daytime. Picture quality is top-notch, too; the Q90T is capable of bright, vibrant colors and respectable black levels, in part because of quantum dots (microscopic dots that enhance a TV's colors and overall brightness level).
As far as gaming features go, the Q90T has you covered: four HDMI ports (including one HDMI 2.1 port and eARC passthrough support), VRR (FreeSync), and ALLM are all accounted for. The TV also features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz, which is a great feature to hang your hat on if you're a gamer or a sports fan. The Q90T's built-in, Tizen-based smart platform isn't our favorite, but it offers a fair amount of flexibility for folks who don't want to invest in a streaming device—though we recommend that you do if you don't end up buying a Roku TV.
Because the Q90T is one of Samsung’s flagship TVs, the price is a bit steep compared to most TVs in its performance class. That said, if you don’t mind paying a premium, it’s a great fit for all uses—including next-generation console gaming.
The 55-inch Sony A8H offers the industry-leading picture quality we expect from OLED TVs. Perfect black levels, rich, accurate color production, and super-smooth motion handling are the highlights here, with an Android-based smart platform whose robust app selection makes up for its lackluster user interface.
The A8H also gets quite bright for a contemporary OLED TV, climbing as high as 700-750 nits while receiving an HDR signal. Unfortunately, given the state of the industry, the Sony A8H falls short in the all-important category of hardware and features. It doesn't come equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports and gaming features like VRR and ALLM are absent.
If you’re not an avid gamer—or if you simply don’t care about your next TV being as future-proof as possible—the Sony A8H is a stunning, top-tier TV that will serve as an impressive home theater centerpiece for several years to come.
If you’re shopping for a searingly bright picture above all else, and you're on a tight budget, the 55-inch Hisense H9G might fit the bill. Although it lacks some of the features we’ve come to expect from competitive TVs in its price bracket, its quantum dot-powered picture is ridiculously bright, quite colorful, and looks good no matter the content type. Plus, it also arrives with a built-in Android smart platform that offers plenty of flexibility.
The H9G’s price tag is lower than most quantum dot TVs that get close to its level of brightness, but there’s a tradeoff: The H9G doesn’t come with eARC support, nor does it offer VRR and ALLM, which makes it a less-than-ideal choice for those with next-generation gaming consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X and additional AV equipment. The TCL 6-Series, for example, is significantly lower in cost and does support eARC, VRR, and ALLM, but doesn’t quite get as bright as the H9G.
Take a good look at the H9G if you’re hunting for a bargain on a big, bright QLED TV but don’t mind missing out on eARC and/or next-gen gaming features.
The Hisense H8G is a dependable mid-range TV best suited for people who want the brightest possible picture for an even more affordable price than the Hisense H9. It’s a fine alternative to our Best Value pick, the TCL 6-Series (though we still find the 6-Series to be a better overall TV for the money).
The H8G’s quantum dots are its best asset; its picture is brighter and more colorful than just about everything else in its price range. That said, its native refresh rate is only 60 Hz (as opposed to the 6-Series’ 120 Hz) and the H8G also lacks features like VRR, ALLM, and eARC.
For folks with bright living rooms, the H8G is a fantastic option, as it gets bright enough to accommodate for such rooms but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. In general, it’s a great-looking TV with a flexible smart platform. If you’re concerned about not having features like VRR and ALLM, however, you might be better off with the TCL 6-Series.
The Samsung Q60T (also available in 43-, 50-, 58-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models) is a mid-range quantum dot TV with a good amount of value due to its relatively affordable price tag.
With the 55-inch Q60T, you’re getting exceptional contrast, superb color production, and Samsung’s built-in Tizen smart platform, all for a competitive price. All told, we were impressed with the Q60T’s overall performance despite the fact that it doesn’t get as bright as some of the mid-range quantum dot TVs we’ve tested in the last year.
On that note, folks who are shopping for a QLED TV on a budget might want to take a look at the Vizio M Series Quantum and the latest TCL 6-Series, both of which feature quantum-dot panels that get brighter than the Q60T.
If you’re a staunch Samsung supporter, however, you’ll find a great deal of upside in the Q60T—it’s a great TV for those of us on a budget.
The 55-inch 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 Triluminous 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 60 Hz, 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 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.
While not nearly as bright and colorful as the rest of the mid-range and high-end QLED TVs we reviewed this year, the TCL 5-Series is nevertheless brighter and more colorful than most of the slightly cheaper, entry-level TVs that occupy the same store shelf.
Its motion handling and viewing angles aren’t particularly impressive, and it won’t net you any up-and-coming features like VRR and ALLM, but the 5-Series is a better performer than you might expect given its price. Plus, being a Roku TV, it features a terrific, easy-to-use smart platform built right in.
If you’re looking for a bargain but you want to avoid scraping the bottom of the barrel for the cheapest possible TV, the TCL 5-Series is worth the minor price hike over the lowest-tier options. It's an especially great TV for folks who are upgrading to 4K for the first time.
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.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.