No matter how you use your TV, you want it to be the best you can buy. But what makes a TV the best of the best? Every year, TV makers add new bells and whistles that promise the latest and greatest in picture quality. But while the buzzwords may change, the basics of a good TV usually remain the same: inky black levels, brilliant colors, excellent motion and contrast, and a smart interface that’s both fast and intuitive.
If you just want to buy the best TV we've ever tested, check out the 2019 LG C9(available at Amazon). This top-of-the-line LG OLED features stunning contrast, 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range and Dolby Vision specifications, and LG's friendly webOS smart platform. However, if you don't want to shell out that kind of cash, we don't blame you. Luckily we've got great picks for every budget below.
These are the best TVs we tested, ranked in order:
Vizio P-Series Quantum X
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LG's C9 OLED 4K/HDR smart TV is incredible in almost every way. For the last few years, LG has released a suite of super-premium OLED TVs, and starting with the C7 OLEDs in 2017 they've been our favorite TVs every year for very good reason.
If you haven't heard, OLED panels are kind of the bee's knees for the avid TV watcher. Each pixel turns "on" and "off" automatically, meaning when OLED TVs display black, they display actual black. Likewise, when they display a color, it emits from the pixel directly, giving it a more pure and unfiltered appearance than traditional LED/LCD TVs. LG has been the leader in OLED TV production for several years, and the 2019 C9 is a brilliant example of its prowess—it's among the most affordable in the lineup, but still has all the same awesome OLED picture quality.
The C9 series (which is available in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch sizes) delivers a justifiable price tag alongside all the same excellent OLED picture quality, 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range and Dolby Vision specifications, LG's friendly webOS smart platform, and more. It's stuffed full of great features and a geeky array of calibration options for the AV nerds out there. Check out our full review of the LG C9 series for more information.
The 2020 TCL 6-Series (available in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch variants) is one of the most value-packed TVs of the year, thanks to a robust offering of features and a picture 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 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.
60 Hz/120 Hz: 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 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 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 TVs We Tested
The LG CX (available in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch variants) isn’t the best OLED TV you can buy, but it’s an OLED TV nevertheless, which means it’s currently one of the best TVs money can buy.
In true OLED fashion, the LG CX features the signature near-perfect black levels that 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 production 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 occupies.
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, non-OLED TVs, particularly those outfitted with quantum dots. If you need ultra brightness to match your bright room, check out one of the LED TVs on our list.
The LG BX (available in 55- and 65-inch variants) 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 whose HDR support meets the Dolby Vision standard. Since it’s an OLED TV, you can expect perfect black levels and dazzling, voluminous color. 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.
In order to go toe-to-toe with its direct OLED competitors (as well as budget-friendly, LED HDR sets), Sony's A9F Master Series needed to set itself apart from the pack. And, for the most part, it succeeds—the A9F is a visually striking, top-tier television with the HDR chops to nip at LG's heels.
What it doesn't do, however, is justify its price point for anyone outside of a very slim niche. You can read more about everything the A9F OLED offers in our full review, but it's worth knowing that performance quality isn't what kept it from the top of this list. Instead, it's a combination of the high price point and some more particular aesthetics-based flaws.
That said, this is still an amazing TV, and you're getting an ultra-premium layout from top to bottom. We just don't think it performs so beyond the LG C9 that it's worth paying the added premium. But if you've got the dough, it bats at some premium fences in a way that outshines some of LG's OLED offerings.
Available in 65- and 75-inch sizes only, this is arguably the best Vizio TV we've tested. Outfitted with full-array local dimming, quantum dots, and a sleek, understated design, the P Series Quantum X looks better than any LED/LCD TV has a right to.
From its searing highlights to its brilliant hues, the P Series Quantum X is a top-shelf TV with the picture to prove it. Given its ability to get really freakin' bright, it's a particularly good option for folks who long for the performance of an OLED but remain skeptical about an OLED display's relatively limited peak brightness.
Samsung's high-end TV offerings tend to be very good TVs, and the Samsung Q90R is no different. This top-tier QLED TV (available in 65-, 75-, and 82-inch models) is an impressive, versatile TV for cinephiles, sports fans, gamers, and everyone in between.
Being a Samsung-engineered quantum dot TV, you can expect sizzling brightness and rich, finely-tuned colors—we measured peak brightness levels that eclipsed 1,000 nits. Plus, since the Q90R features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz and a suite of motion enhancements, its motion handling is superb. It’s a great pickup for sports fans and gamers.
That said, because this a top-tier TV with a posh design, the Samsung Q90R’s price point might make some folks consider more approachable alternatives.
If you’re looking for a premium TV that harnesses the power of quantum dots but haven’t found what you’re looking for from Samsung or Vizio, why not take a look at the TCL 8-Series?
This QLED TV is available in two sizes: 65” and 75”. It aced nearly all of our performance tests and wowed us in action, demonstrating quantum dots’ ability to produce bright pictures with extra-vivid color. One of the reasons the 8-Series is such a stellar performer is the inclusion of TCL’s “mini-LED” technology, which allows for tight contrast control second only to OLED TVs. The TV’s excellent motion handling and built-in Roku software also make it a versatile pick.
The only real hang-ups are the 8-Series’ chunky design and its limited viewing angles (the latter of which isn’t as big of an issue as it is on the TCL 6-Series, but still might deter some folks). In addition, while the price tag reflects the TV’s performance, bargain hunters might feel more comfortable either going with a more affordable, mid-range TV, and folks hunting for top-tier performance might be better off springing for something with a better design and picture.
One of Sony's best 2019 models, the X950G isn't perfect, but for what you're paying you're getting a lot of really awesome specs and features.
If you're not concerned about its demonstrably narrow viewing angles and slightly disappointing color production, you're looking at a great TV that holds up well in brightly lit rooms. For the most part, the X950G performs as well as it should, given its price tag.
While you can check out our full review of the Sony X950G for more information, the thing to know about the X950G is that it's a good all-rounder. Performance isn't the X950G's only selling point: at this price, you're getting the Android smart TV platform and a slick, modern design, too. It's not the best value nor the best performer, but it straddles the line between a huge price tag and outright cheapness, giving you a posh-feeling TV without such staggering prices.
The Samsung Q60T (available in 43-, 50-, 55-, 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 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 Sony X800H (available in six screen sizes ranging from 43 inches to 85 inches) 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.
These additional TV models—most of them older—might be a bit harder to track down. Nevertheless, we’ve included them here just in case you’re still on the fence.
It might be a bit difficult to track down the LG C8 as it's a 2018 release, but those who find one will probably be thrilled by its performance. This 4K OLED TV delivers the high-level performance we've come to expect from LG's OLED TVs: exceptional contrast, incredible color production, and the built-in webOS smart platform. It's an excellent choice if you're interested in newer formats like HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. Get the LG C8 from Amazon
The Samsung Q80R, released in 2019, delivers searingly bright highlights, a 120 Hz native refresh rate, and produces vivid, well-saturated colors. It's an appealing alternative for shoppers who're seeking a premium picture but don’t want to splash out on a higher-end TV. Get the Samsung Q80R from Amazon
The 2019 Vizio P-Series Quantum is a fantastic QLED TV that makes a strong case for itself in the all-important category of premium-but-not-too-premium TVs. It features quantum dots, a native 120 Hz refresh rate, full-array local dimming, and a performance report card that’s chock-full of good grades. It's a great choice for shoppers who want a premium TV but who might not want to commit to the price of an OLED TV or a better performing QLED TV. Get the Vizio P-Series Quantum from Amazon
While the 2019 TCL 6-Series is not quite as impressive as its 2020 successor, it's still a great TV for the money, offering a taste of quantum dot power and a built-in Roku platform for an affordable price. Unlike the 2020 model, this 6-Series does not come with various software and hardware enhancements aimed at gamers (like VRR and ALLM), but if all you're looking for is a terrific picture at a good price, the 2019 6-Series is definitely worth a look. Get the TCL 6-Series from Amazon
The Samsung TU8000 won't turn any heads, but it marries middle-of-the-road performance with an affordable price, so it should satisfy shoppers who are looking to upgrade to a 4K HDR TV but don't need a bevy of special features. If you insist on the Samsung brand and you don't want to spend too much on your next TV, you'd be hard pressed to find a better option this year. Get the Samsung TU8000 from Amazon
The TCL 4-Series was one of the most affordable 4K HDR TVs of 2019, and you can still find it available at major retailers. Although its performance isn't remarkable, the 4-Series gets the job done for a ridiculously low price tag. Available in six screen sizes, you're getting 4K resolution, HDR10 compatibility, and a smooth, easy-to-use Roku smart platform. Get the TCL 4-Series from Amazon
The LG E8 might be two years old, but it's still an excellent TV that provides OLED's usual inky blacks, crisp highlights, rich colors, and flawless viewing angles. You're getting 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range support, the webOS smart platform, and a sleek, futuristic design. Get the LG E8 from Amazon
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.