Back to School: Picking the Best TV for Your Dorm
Come for the textbooks and meal plans, stay for these great TVs.
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Your classes are picked, you've polished up your favorite kicks, and you've got tons of textbooks to buy. But once all the back-to-school excitement dies down and you've settled into a routine, you're going to want a TV.
Whether you indulge in the occasional solo movie night or you're gearing up for a semester of non-stop gaming, a dorm without a TV is like a classroom without any desks—it works, but it ain't exactly comfortable.
Finding a TV for your home away from home doesn't need to be as painful as an 8AM physics lecture. Whether you're looking for affordability, style, or just a gigantic screen, these 10 options are high-quality and readily available.
Vizio's E Series might be the perfect dorm room accessory—after the venerable mini-fridge, of course. It's available in eight different screen sizes, with prices as low as $168 on Amazon.
Boasting solid picture quality and unbeatable prices, it's is a reliable choice for casual users who want the most bang for their buck, but aren't necessarily looking to specialize. And thanks to built-in WiFi functionality and apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, you won't need to run any ethernet cables or plug your laptop in to watch the latest episode of Orange is the New Black.
The only drawback? These TVs aren't super durable, so if your roommates tend to hurl controllers after a few too many Halo headshots, you may want to factor repair costs into your budget.
- Sizes: 24–70 inches, $168–$1,298 online
- Pros: Built-in apps, Full HD resolution
- Cons: Build quality reflects the low price
Available in just two sizes, Sony's R510C televisions definitely boast quality over quantity. Our lab tests revealed absolutely stellar out-of-the-box performance, complemented by a sleek, attractive design.
With prices starting around $400 for the 40-inch model, these Sony sets aren't the best budget choice, but with a little care they should last you and your roommates through multiple semesters of TV, movies, and games. The included game mode is a great choice for controller jockeys, and you also get built-in WiFi, a web browser, and apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Instant.
- Sizes: 40 & 48 inches, $402–$454 online
- Pros: Good build quality, great picture
- Cons: Pricier than the competition
Want to be the BMOC? Bring an OLED this year.
While they're on the expensive side, OLED TVs are the kings of picture quality thanks to their impossibly deep black levels and insane, whiz-bang colors. The only drawbacks? "On the expensive side" doesn't quite cover it, and the build quality is decidedly fragile.
If your dorm room is tiny or gets a ton of foot traffic, rule this one out. On the other hand, students with off-campus housing or even their own apartment shouldn't be afraid to spruce the place up with an OLED.
Going for $2,500 online, LG's EC9300 isn't cheap, but it's also on the larger size at 55 inches. And if you split the cost between your five roommates, that's potentially only $500 a person!
- Sizes: 55-inch only, $1,499-2,499 online
- Pros: Best in-class picture quality, beautiful curved design
- Cons: Expensive, fragile, ugly curved design
If you want a little more style with your screen, Seiki's retro TV is a great option. But while this TV apes the boxy look of the dusty tube in your grandma's basement, it's actually a modern 22-inch LCD panel dressed up to look old-school.
Don't expect to be blown away by the picture quality, but it'll work in a pinch. You'll get all the modern connection options, too, including three HDMI inputs and a coaxial for cable.
The coolest thing about this adorably retro TV, though? It has a handle, making it super easy to tote across campus to a buddy's dorm—all while drawing envious looks from your classmates and professors.
- Sizes: 22-inch only, $289 online
- Pros: Retro style, doubles as a computer monitor
- Cons: Bulky, and slightly lower quality than competing sets
Another great budget choice, Sharp's LE653U series comes in five sizes at five excellent prices. These TVs are slim and lightweight, yet quite durable, making them a great choice for both saving space and avoiding accidents.
Each TV boasts USB inputs for charging your phone, as well as HDMI inputs for all your modern devices. They're smart, too, including access to Netflix and a built-in web browser.
The LE653U TVs also utilize a cool "wallpaper" mode, allowing them to display an image or digital clock while they're off. So leave that Ramones poster at home and have your TV display it instead!
- Sizes: 32–55 inches, $247–$599 online
- Pros: Full HD resolution, minimalist design, Wallpaper mode
- Cons: Edge-LED backlight not great for dark rooms
You didn't think we'd leave out the 4K options, did you? Vizio's M Series TVs pack the same great picture quality as the E Series, but offer impressive 4K (UHD) resolution.
Thanks to the inclusion of a high frame rate HDMI input, the M Series TVs are an especially excellent choice for gamers. Using this port, PC, Xbox One, and PS4 users can get the best input lag performance around at 1080p and 60fps.
Finished with a more durable aluminum finish than the entry-level E Series, the M Series is about as affordable as quality 4K TVs get.
- Sizes: 43–80 inches, $569–$3,799 online
- Pros: 4K resolution, low input lag for gaming
- Cons: Wide-set feet make placement tricky
Another awesome choice for 4K enthusiasts, Samsung's U6950 series is a bit on the expensive side, but delivers an awesome 4K picture with one of the largest selections of 4K streaming apps available.
A razor-thin stand and compact, sturdy bezels mean this TV won't necessarily break the first time you tip it over, and a huge assortment of HDMI and USB ports means you can run pretty much every device in your dorm through the glorious high-def screen.
The only drawback is that the HU6950's super sharp display can cause input lag when used with most gaming devices, making it a sub-par choice for hardcore FPS enthusiasts.
- Sizes: 40–55 inches, $759–$1,298 online
- Pros: 4K resolution, tons of 4K streaming apps
- Cons: Potentially high input lag for gamers
If you just want a big screen and don't really care about the extra bells and whistles, LG's LF6000 series is a solid choice. Available in mostly bigger sizes, these TVs maintain surprisingly affordable price point while offering rich color, full-array backlighting, and wide viewing angles that the whole dorm can enjoy.
You won't get built-in apps or a browser, but it's nothing a Roku stick can't fix.
- Sizes: 50 & 55 inches, $564 & $649 online
- Pros: Full HD, good colors and viewing angles
- Cons: Totally bare-bones feature set
If style, smart features, or a big screen just aren't on the syllabus, never fear. Samsung's H4000 series delivers two relatively small TVs for equally tiny prices.
These Samsung options can easily double as PC monitors, but since they don't even offer Full-HD resolution, they aren't the best choice if browser real estate is your goal. On the other hand, the relatively frills-free approach and lower resolution makes the H4000 televisions a smart choice for gamers looking to complement older consoles like a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or Nintendo Wii.
- Sizes: 24 & 28 inches, $147 & $179 online
- Pros: Very affordable, space-saving sizes
- Cons: Poor build quality
Another affordable 4K option, the UB30s deliver UHD streaming, decent picture quality, and relatively low prices considering their super high-def resolution.
With the smallest size selling for just a little under $600, the UB30 series is a smart way to get in on the 4K resolution revolution without selling "misplaced" textbooks on the black market.
The UB30 TVs also deliver some fun features—like Wallpaper mode—and pictures that are enhanced by full-array backlighting. The only real drawback is the remote: It's the same size as your smartphone, but three times as fragile.
- Sizes: 43–65 inches, $549–$1,699 online
- Pros: 4K resolution and streaming capabilities
- Cons: The cheap remote may be damaged easily
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