Best Smart TVs
Smart TVs That Make You Say Wow
If you’re in the market for a new TV, the number of options can seem overwhelming. You know you want a smart TV to stream your favorite shows, but which brand? What type of display? Should you spring for OLED?
Don’t worry—we’ve done all the hard work for you. Below, we’ve gathered the best smart TVs out right now. Just relax, pick your favorite, and enjoy.
Best Smart TV Specs and Features Comparison
Data current as of 10/27/18. Pricing and features subject to change.
The Best Smart TVs of 2019
Let’s take a look at each TV in detail and find out if one is right for you.
Samsung is really crushing it lately with its QLED line of TVs, and the Q9FN series is the pinnacle, in our opinion.
This smart TV mixes an amazing screen with a gorgeous, thin design that works with any living room decor. It’s also a perfect TV for mounting on your wall, thanks to an even depth from top to bottom. Add in Samsung’s killer operating system, and you’ve got a winner.
It doesn’t come cheap, but if you want the best all-around combo of picture, size, design, and software, this is the TV to beat.
If you want the best picture quality without spending five figures on a TV, this is it. The LG C8-series will blow you away with the contrast between its bright, vivid whites and deep, inky blacks.
Performance is fast, and navigating through the interface is quick and relatively painless, though getting it set up and tweaking the options isn’t as simple as it could be.
The other potential hang-up that keeps this TV from being our top pick overall is the design. It’s unbelievably thin at the top, but that means all the internals are crammed into a thick section at the base of the TV.
It’s not the end of the world, but it is a little polarizing, at least in our experience.
If you want a smart TV with breathtaking picture quality, a unique and clever kickstand design, and excellent built-in audio, look no further.
Sony’s OLED panels are right up there with LG these days, and the audio experience of this set really completes the package. While it won’t replace your Dolby Atmos surround sound system, it will get the job done and then some, without you spending even more money on a soundbar.
As for the cons, there really aren’t any. The picture is just a hair worse than LG’s OLEDs, in our opinion. But again, that’s us intensely nitpicking. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the top three picks.
Under $1,000, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better TV than TCL. These surprisingly great-looking smart TVs offer a ton of value at a very reasonable price.
The screen is “only” standard LED, but while it won’t stand up to the high-end OLED and QLED panels on Samsung, LG, and Sony smart TVs, it does a great job at a much cheaper price. It also has plenty of HDMI ports for connecting devices like Blu-ray players.
TCL smart TVs use the Roku TV platform, so you’ve got all the apps and other benefits of Roku built in. The TV also packs plenty of ports into an attractive design with slim bezels that’ll look great in both college dorms and family living rooms. The caveat: there have been some complaints of screen issues and poor quality control on some of these TVs. Just keep an eye out and be open to an exchange if you have any issues.
If you need a great budget-minded smart TV, this 40″ TCL is it.
What this TV lacks in resolution and size, it more than makes up for in value and usability. This model is also available in larger sizes if you need something bigger.
The biggest issue here is the lack of 4K and HDR support, but at less than $300, it’s not a bad tradeoff. The 1080p screen is still sharp and clear, and the design is minimal and modern. It also features built-in Roku TV, which is one of our favorite streaming platforms.
What to Look for in a Smart TV
Not quite sure what specs or features you need? Don’t worry. Here’s a rundown of what to keep an eye out for.
The screen is obviously the most important part of any TV, and smart TVs are no exception. There are three aspects of your TV screen you should consider in particular.
How big do you need your TV to be? Keep in mind bigger isn’t always better—if you’re in a bedroom or smaller living room, a more compact TV may actually be better.
That’s because every TV has an optimal viewing distance based on screen size, angle, and room size. For the average living room, we’d say 55″–65″ is ideal.
There are two basic types of smart TV displays: LED and OLED.
LED (light-emitting diode) is your standard LCD display illuminated by LED lights, either from behind or the sides.
OLED (organic light-emitting diode) is a newer display type where each pixel lights up individually rather than using a backlight.
Generally, OLED TVs produce a better picture than LED TVs. Because each individual pixel can turn on and off, there’s a better contrast ratio, which gives the picture a stunning depth. Newer LED technology is catching up, though.
These days, there are two resolutions to consider: 1080p Full HD and 4K Ultra HD. And really, unless you’re shopping under about $500, you should look for 4K.
The amount of 4K content will continue to increase over the next few years, and we think most users would regret not getting the more future-proof option.
Refresh rate is how quickly the picture on your screen updates, measured in Hertz (HZ). Look for a refresh rate of at least 60 Hz (one refresh per second), and preferably 120 or 240 HZ.
Higher refresh rates are better for displaying quick action like sports. Above 240 Hz, there’s little noticeable improvement, though—at least with current technology.
HDR stands for high dynamic range, and it’s a screen technology that helps increase the contrast between light and dark parts of an image. It’s one of the few television features that truly lives up to the hype. And fortunately, most TVs above five or six hundred dollars have it.
Built-in speakers on smart TVs can be lacking. This is especially true if you’re used to external audio like a sound bar or surround sound system. Don’t expect much from your TV’s internal speakers—for the best experience, plan on picking up at least a basic sound bar.
Need to know more? Check out our in-depth guide on how to choose the right TV.
Roll the Credits . . .
. . . Because that’s a wrap, folks. Now you’ve got all the knowledge and know-how needed to choose the best smart TV for you.
Do you have a smart TV you love? Let us know in the comments.
FAQ about Smart TVs
How is a smart TV different from a streaming device?
Smart TVs are essentially TVs with Wi-Fi and a streaming device built in. You can technically add a streaming box or stick to any TV and make it a “smart TV,” though it’s less convenient and more expensive to do so. Most new TVs produced today are smart TVs.
Can I get local channels on my smart TV?
Of course! A smart TV can make use of a cable subscription or antenna to get local channels, just like any other TV.
If you need help finding a cable service to get access to local channels, just enter your zip code below.
Do smart TVs require updates?
Smart TV manufacturers often provide software updates to add new features, fix bugs, or improve the experience of using your TV. You’re not required to update the software, of course, but it’s usually recommended.