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Taken in Reviewed Testing Lab

The Best TVs of 2021

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With its top-shelf performance and incredible array of future-facing features, the LG C1 is one of the best TVs of the year and one of the best TVs we've ever tested, period. Read More

Pros

  • Incredible contrast and color
  • Impressive array of features
  • Elegant design

Cons

  • Not a good fit for particularly bright rooms

The TCL 6-Series is one of the most value-packed TVs, offering a bright, colorful picture, a built-in smart platform, and a host of gaming-centric features. Read More

Pros

  • Quantum-dot brightness and color
  • Built-in Roku
  • Great choice for next-gen gaming

Cons

  • Garden-variety design
  • Lackluster internal speakers

The Samsung QN90A is an impressive blend of top-shelf performance and world-class features. Read More

Pros

  • Searing brightness
  • Rich color saturation
  • Beautiful design

Cons

  • Occasional LED bloom in high contrast scenes

The TCL 5-Series is a dependable TV across all types of content, though it's not as bright as one might expect given its inclusion of quantum dots. Still, the TV's sensational price and built-in Roku smart platform will satisfy most bargain hunters. Read More

Pros

  • Dependable performance
  • Built-in Roku smart platform
  • Sensational value

Cons

  • Doesn't get very bright
  • Limited viewing angles

The Sony A90J OLED is one of the brightest, most accurate OLED TVs we've ever tested. If you can swallow the cost, it'll serve you well for years to come. Read More

Pros

  • Incredible contrast and color
  • HDMI 2.1-specified features
  • Zippy, flexible smart platform

Cons

  • Brighter than last year, but still dim compared to LCD/LED TVs
  • LG C1

  • TCL 6-Series with Roku

  • Samsung QN90A

  • TCL 5-Series with Roku

  • How We Tested TVs

  • What You Should Know About Buying a Television

  • Other TVs We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

No matter how you use your TV—whether it's for TV shows, movies, or gaming—you want 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 a smart interface that’s fast and intuitive.

If you just want to buy the top TV we've ever tested, check out the LG C1 (available at Amazon for $1,796.99). 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. It also features cutting-edge hardware that will keep it at the top of its class for years to come. If you don't want to shell out that kind of cash, don't worry: We've got great picks for every budget.

These are the best TVs we tested:

  • LG C1
  • TCL 6-Series with Roku
  • Samsung QN90A
  • TCL 5-Series with Roku
  • Sony A90J
  • LG G1
  • Hisense U8G
  • Vizio OLED
  • Samsung QN85A
  • Samsung Q80A
  • TCL 5-Series with Google TV
  • LG A1
  • Samsung Q60A
  • Sony X800H
  • Samsung AU8000
  • Amazon Fire TV Omni

The LG C1 OLED TV displaying 4K/HDR content
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The LG C1 series combines the unbelievable performance of an OLED with an array of exciting features.

Best Overall
LG C1

The LG C1 (available in 48-, 55-, 65-, and 77-inch models) 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 top 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—from TV shows to Blu-rays—you can expect rich, true-to-life color.

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.

Between its incredible performance, its wide array of features, and its 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 and 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.

Pros

  • Incredible contrast and color

  • Impressive array of features

  • Elegant design

Cons

  • Not a good fit for particularly bright rooms

TCL 6-Series (2020)
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The 2020 TCL 6-Series offers a taste of quantum dot performance for a price most people can justify.

Best Value
TCL 6-Series with Roku

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 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 120Hz refresh rate (up to 1440p at 120Hz) 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.

Pros

  • Quantum-dot brightness and color

  • Built-in Roku

  • Great choice for next-gen gaming

Cons

  • Garden-variety design

  • Lackluster internal speakers

The Samsung QN90A QLED TV displaying 4K/HDR content
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Samsung QN90A is one of the brightest LED TVs we’ve reviewed this year.

Best For Bright Rooms
Samsung QN90A

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 one of the year’s best options. It combines the impressive performance we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s flagship TVs with an incredible toolbox of extra features and enhancements.

The QN90A is outfitted with Samsung’s Neo QLED display technology, which marries quantum dots with mini-LED backlights. Quantum dots make for a brighter, more color-rich picture, while the TV’s abundance of mini-LEDs allows for better-than-average black levels and tight contrast control. The end result is one of the best pictures we’ve seen all year, especially when it comes to HDR content.

But the QN90A’s dazzling display is only half of its appeal, as it’s packed to the brim with hardware and software enhancements. The TV’s 120Hz refresh rate—combined with its HDMI 2.1 support—make it a great choice for avid gamers. It supports both Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate, two features 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—a feature introduced in a handful of Samsung TVs in 2021.

The QN90A offers a host of extras not related to gaming, 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 the best Samsung TV in 2021, and while it’s not exactly budget-friendly, its excellent performance and future-facing features make it a great option for shoppers seeking a luxury TV experience.

Pros

  • Searing brightness

  • Rich color saturation

  • Beautiful design

Cons

  • Occasional LED bloom in high contrast scenes

The TCL 5-Series displaying HD content
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The TCL 5-Series offers dependable performance and a fantastic smart platform for a price most folks will appreciate.

Best Under $500
TCL 5-Series with Roku

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. 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 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.

Editor's Note

Due to a number of factors, including current supply chain issues, the TCL 5-Series has recently gone up in price. It’s still a great pick, but if you need something more affordable we recommend looking at the lower-tier TCL 4-Series.

Pros

  • Dependable performance

  • Built-in Roku smart platform

  • Sensational value

Cons

  • Doesn't get very bright

  • Limited viewing angles

How We Tested TVs

Credit: Reviewed

Our lab is outfitted with much of the same equipment you would find at a factory that manufactures and calibrates televisions.

The Testers

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.

A TV tester measuring a TV's contrast
Credit: Reviewed / Chris Snow

We measure things like peak brightness, black level, hue, and so on.

The Tests

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 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 TVs We Tested

Product image of Sony XR-65A90J
Sony A90J

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 (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.

Pros

  • Incredible contrast and color

  • HDMI 2.1-specified features

  • Zippy, flexible smart platform

Cons

  • Brighter than last year, but still dim compared to LCD/LED TVs

Product image of LG OLED65G1PUA
LG G1

The LG G1 (available in 55, 65, and 77 inches) is the crown jewel of LG’s consumer-facing OLED TV lineup for 2021, offering slightly better performance than the LG C1, though at a significantly higher price point. It’s not an ideal fit for most people—even many folks shopping in a higher price bracket—but it’s an incredible TV stuffed with an incredible amount of features.

Being an OLED TV, the LG G1 sports perfect black levels and an incredible level of picture detail. It’s one of the few LG OLED TVs that uses the company’s “OLED “evo” panel technology, which allows the G1 to get slightly brighter than the LG C1. The OLED evo panel is also marginally better at saturating HDR color than the C1. That said, only the keenest of eyes will recognize the difference in picture quality between the G1 and the C1.

In terms of features, the G1 offers everything but the kitchen sink. With a 120Hz refresh rate, HDMI 2.1, G-Sync/FreeSync, Auto Low Latency Mode, and various game optimization settings, the G1 is one of the best TVs available for gamers. It also comes with the sixth iteration of LG’s webOS smart platform, which we find fast and flexible enough for most users.

The “G” in G1 stands for “Gallery,” and LG’s Gallery OLED series carries that name because it’s designed to hang on a wall like a piece of art. If you don’t want to wall-mount your next TV, you’ll need to shell out extra for 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, and one that performs marginally better than the LG C1. The added cost, however, is anything but marginal—especially once you factor in the G1’s separately sold stand. For this reason, the G1 isn’t at the top of our ranking. If you decide to go all-in on the G1, however, you’ll be investing in one of the best TVs money can buy—and it’ll stay that way for years to come.

Editor's Note

As of May, 2021, the most reliable place to find the LG G1 in stock is via LG's online store. According to LG, new inventory is being added regularly.

Pros

  • Top-tier picture quality

  • Speedy processing

  • Beautiful design

Cons

  • Overkill for many shoppers

Product image of Hisense 65U8G
Hisense U8G

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.

Pros

  • Incredibly bright

  • Excellent color

  • Future-facing features

Cons

  • Light bloom during off-angle viewing

  • So-so smart platform

Product image of Vizio OLED55-H1
Vizio OLED

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.

Available in 55- and 65-inch models, 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 120Hz. This refresh rate, combined with the TV’s HDMI 2.1 support, means that the Vizio OLED will be capable of 4K gaming at 120fps.

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.

Pros

  • Sensational contrast and color

  • HDMI 2.1 support

  • Great value

Cons

  • Doesn't get as bright as the competition

  • Smart platform lacks flexibility

Product image of Samsung QN55QN85AAFXZA
Samsung QN85A

The Samsung QN85A (available in 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models) 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.

Pros

  • Gets incredibly bright

  • Packed with extra features

Cons

  • Abysmal black levels

Product image of Samsung QN55Q80AAFXZA
Samsung Q80A

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.

Pros

  • Sleek design

  • Terrific extras

  • Bright, colorful picture

Cons

  • Disappointing black levels

Product image of TCL 65S546
TCL 5-Series with Google TV

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, thanks to well-above-average performance; a zippy, friendly smart platform; and some critical gaming-related features.

We love last year’s TCL 5-Series with Roku for its dependable performance (backed by quantum dot-color) and its sensational built-in Roku smart platform. The 5-Series with Google TV replaces Roku with the same smart platform you’ll find in the newest Chromecast devices, and although Google’s software isn’t quite as easy to use as Roku, the 5-Series with Google 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, but it nevertheless 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 strive to 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 it has a habit of displaying 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.

Pros

  • Bright enough for HDR to shine

  • Flexible, easy-to-use smart features

  • ALLM and VRR included

Cons

  • So-so color production

  • Narrow viewing angles

  • Limited to 60Hz

Product image of LG OLED48A1PUA
LG A1

The LG A1 (available in 48-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch models) 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.

Pros

  • Perfect black levels

  • Reliable, easy-to-use smart platform

  • Attractive design

Cons

  • Relatively dim 60Hz panel

  • No HDMI 2.1 or VRR

  • Color has slight blue-shift

Product image of Samsung QN55Q60AAFXZA
Samsung Q60A

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.

Pros

  • Good picture quality

  • Sleek design

  • Plenty of features

Cons

  • No HDMI 2.1 features

  • Only 60Hz refresh rate

Product image of Sony XBR-65X800H
Sony X800H

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 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.

Pros

  • Gets very, very bright

  • Accurate color

  • Dependable viewing angles

Cons

  • Shallow black levels

Product image of Samsung UN65AU8000FXZA
Samsung AU8000

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly 4K smart TV, it’s worth checking out the Samsung AU8000, one of Samsung’s more affordable options this year. 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 into the TV’s software.

While we appreciate the AU8000’s fetching design and its impressive black levels, other areas of the TV’s performance left us wanting more. For instance, the AU8000 supports HDR, but its panel doesn’t get bright enough for the format to look more visually appealing than SDR content. In addition, while the AU8000 supports Auto Low Latency Mode, there are no other gaming features in tow and its refresh rate is limited to 60Hz.

Still, if all you’re looking for is a well-designed, budget-friendly smart TV from a reputable brand, you could certainly do worse than the AU8000. It’s an especially good pick for folks who are upgrading to 4K resolution for the first time.

Pros

  • Excellent black levels

  • Attractive design

  • Reliable smart platform

Cons

  • Not bright enough for HDR

  • No local dimming

  • Motion judder

Product image of Amazon 4K65M600A
Amazon Fire TV Omni

The Amazon Fire TV Omni (available in 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch models) 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.

Pros

  • Alexa integration works well

  • Easy to setup

  • Fire TV offers a wealth of content

Cons

  • Not bright enough for HDR

  • Limited gaming features

  • Quirky software

Meet the testers

Michael Desjardin

Michael Desjardin

Senior Staff Writer

@Reviewed

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.

See all of Michael Desjardin's reviews
Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor, Home Theater

@Koanshark

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.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews

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