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Best Dorm-Room TVs for Students 2022

Living in a college dorm room? Our TV experts recommend four TVs and one projector that make financial and spatial sense.

Best overall

Samsung Q60B 43″

  • Price: $477.99
  • Screen size: 43″
  • Display type: QLED
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Use as PC monitor: Yes
Best value

LG UG9000 43″

  • Price: $326.99
  • Screen size: 43″
  • Display type: LED
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Use as PC monitor: Yes
Best for limited space

Samsung Q60A 32″

  • Price: $447.99
  • Screen size: 32″
  • Display type: QLED
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Use as PC monitor: Yes
Best for limited space

TCL 3-Series Roku TV 40″

  • Price: $219.99
  • Screen size: 40″
  • Display type: LED
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Use as PC monitor: Yes
Most versatile

DBPOWER 8500L Projector

  • Price: $134.99
  • Screen size: 40″–240″
  • Brightness: 8500 lumens
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Use as PC monitor: Yes

Amazon.com prices (as of 8/17/22 5:14 p.m. MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Don’t settle for a tiny laptop or smartphone screen when you’re unwinding with shows and movies after a long day of classes. We recommend outfitting your dorm with Samsung Q60B because of its bright picture and loads of features. But there are plenty of great TVs out there that are affordable, even on a student budget.

Here are our top five student TV recommendations.

Group of friends watching tv together eating popcorn and drinking beer

Best dorm-room TVs for students

Compare and shop 4K TVs and HD TVs for students

Model Price* Screen size Display type Resolution Works as a PC monitor Get it
Best overall
Samsung Q60B
$477.99 43" QLED 4K w/ HDR View on Amazon
Best value
LG UG9000
$326.99 43" LED 4K w/ HDR View on Amazon
Best for limited space
Samsung Q60A
$447.99 32" QLED 4K w/ HDR View on Amazon
Best budget pick
TCL 3-Series Roku Smart TV
$219.99 40" LED 1080p View on Amazon
Most versatile
DBPOWER 8500L Mini Projector
$134.99 40"–240" N/A 1080p View on Amazon

Amazon.com prices (as of 8/17/22 5:14 p.m. MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Our picks for best overall (Samsung Q60B), best value (LG Q9), and best for limited space (Samsung Q60A) include brands that we haven’t featured before in this annually updated guide. That’s because we used to prioritize price over features.

This year, we increased our limit from $250 to $500 because, you know, inflation. Also, that price range means we can include newer TVs that, while smaller and more affordable, have 4K resolution and HDR.

But we know price matters to most college students, so three of our picks—the Samsung Q60A, TCL 40″ Roku Smart TV, and the DBPOWER 8500L projector—land in the $150–$327 range.

Best dorm-room TVs for students in-depth

Before we zoom in on our recommended dorm-room TVs, let’s briefly cover the criteria we used to make our picks.

  • Price: $150–$500
  • Size: A 24″–43″ TV will have optimal viewing distances of 4–6 feet. That’s about right for a dorm room.
  • Resolution: At least 1080p HD, but ideally 4K UHD with HDR.
  • PC monitor: If someone’s approving your expenses, you can justify combining your TV budget with part of your computer budget—and meet two needs with one device.

Following these reviews, we’ll discuss the reasons behind the criteria in the “What to look for” section.

Samsung Q60B (43″)—Best overall

Best overall
Price:
$477.99
Screen size:
43″
Display type:
QLED
Resolution:
4K w/ AI upscaling and HDR
Audio:
Dolby, OTS Lite, built-in 20W speakers
Ports:
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI (3), USB
PC compatible:
Yes

Pros

  • 4K resolution w/ AI upscaling and HDR
  • Samsung TV Plus (150+ channels) and supports many other TV apps
  • Alexa, Google Assistant, and Bixby compatibility
  • SolarCell remote
  • PC compatibility

Cons

  • No HDMI 2.1 bandwidth
  • No variable refresh rate

The Q60B is an entry-level Samsung smart TV, but it has a nice, bright picture and loads of features. Seriously, the Q60B is a lot of TV for less than $500.

Picture-wise, it has Samsung’s proprietary QLED technology with dual LED backlights, 4K UHD resolution with AI upscaling, and Quantum HDR for a bright, colorful, detailed image. And features like brightness detection, Game View (for extra-wide aspect ratios on sports and games), and Motion Xcelerator (for less motion blur on sports and games).

And on the audio tip, the Q60B has built-in 20W speakers with software enhancements like Object Tracking Sound Lite and QSymphony.

The TV also supports tons of streaming TV apps (Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Max™, Disney+, and more) and includes the 150-channel Samsung TV Plus FAST (free, ad-supported, streaming TV) service. And, with Multi-View, you can watch a show and browse your smartphone on the same screen.

Finally, the included SolarCell remote is simple, easy to use, integrates with multiple voice assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, and Bixby), and uses solar power (no batteries—yay).

If we had to complain about something, it’d be that there’s no HDMI 2.1 port or variable refresh rate, which would have been great for gamers with the latest consoles. But even without those features, your roommate will be stoked when you bring this bad boy home.

Pro tip: Some of these TVs come with free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) services which give you hundreds of free live channels. So you’ll also save money on programming.

LG UG9000 (43″)—Best value

Best value
Price:
$326.99
Screen size:
43″
Display type:
LED
Resolution:
4K w/ AI upscaling and HDR
Audio:
5.1.2 channel virtual surround, built-in 20W speakers
Ports:
HDMI (3), Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB, Wi-Fi
PC compatible:
Yes

Pros

  • 4K resolution w/ AI upscaling and HDR
  • 150+ live channels and support for many TV apps
  • AI Sound Pro for virtual 5.1.2 surround sound
  • Multiple voice assistants
  • PC monitor functionality

Cons

  • No HDMI 2.1 bandwidth
  • No variable refresh rate

LG makes fantastic smart TVs (I have a 55″ from 2015 that still runs like it’s new), even at entry-level. Like the Samsung Q60B, the LG UG9000 is a feature-rich TV worth more than its asking price of $327.

The UG9000 has 4K resolution with AI upscaling and Active HDR (HDR10, HLG) for a great picture. For audio, the UG9000 has built-in, two-channel, 20W speakers with their own form of AI upscaling, which converts the two-channel audio to 5.1.2 virtual surround sound.

The UG9000 supports many streaming TV apps—Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+, and more. The TV also includes LG Channels, a 300-channel FAST streaming service powered by Xumo.

While the UG9000 lacks gaming features like variable refresh rate or HDMI 2.1 bandwidth, it has a Game Optimizer, Auto Low Latency Mode, and Google STADIA cloud gaming support. (But shouldn’t you be studying instead? J/K. We support students blowing off steam with gaming breaks.)

Hands-free and smart home enthusiasts will also enjoy the UG9000’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay, and HomeKit compatibility.

So if you’re looking for a solid TV at a bargain price, the UG9000 will do you right.

Pro tip: Although many of these TVs support a ton of streaming TV services, you’ll need to subscribe to them separately. Our guides to the Best Live TV Streaming Services and Best Streaming TV Services tell you which ones are worth your cash.

Samsung Q60A (32″)—Best for limited space

Best for limited space
Price:
$447.99
Screen size:
32″
Display type:
QLED
Resolution:
4K resolution w/ AI upscaling and HDR
Audio:
Dolby, Dolby Digital Plus, built-in 20W speakers
Ports:
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI (one 2.1), USB, Ethernet (LAN)
PC compatible:
Yes

Pros

  • 4K resolution w/ AI upscaling and HDR
  • Samsung TV Plus (150+ channels) and supports many other TV apps
  • Alexa, Google Assistant, and Bixby compatibility
  • SolarCell remote
  • PC monitor functionality

Cons

  • High price (for last year’s model)
  • No HDMI 2.1 bandwidth

The Samsung Q60A precedes the Samsung Q60B, but they’re a lot alike, with many of the same features. Most of the Q60 B’s upgrades are tweaks instead of substantial improvements. The big difference here is that the Q60A comes in this 32″ size, which is right in the sweet spot for dorm-room TV.

It’s too bad, though, that the Q60A is only $30 cheaper than its successor. So we feel like the price could be lower, but the Q60A is still worth $448.

Best budget pick
Price:
$219.99
Screen size:
40″
Display type:
LED
Resolution:
1080p
Audio:
Built-in 5W speakers
Ports:
Wi-Fi, HDMI (3), USB, RF, Composite, Headphone Jack, optical audio out
PC compatible:
Yes

Pros

  • Low price
  • Excellent Roku operating system
  • Many TV apps
  • Built-in TV tuner for OTA content
  • PC monitor functionality

Cons

  • No 4K
  • No HDR
  • No HDMI 2.1 bandwidth
  • No Bluetooth
  • Weaker speakers

This 40″ TCL 3-Series Roku TV is quite affordable at only $220, and you get a lot for such a low price.

For example, the Roku Ultra alone costs $100. So, for only $120 more, you get a TV with the full Roku OS. That means you’ll have lots of free content on the Roku Channel, support for almost any streaming TV app, and the awesome Roku voice remote.

What you don’t get with the TCL 3-Series is a high-end picture. Resolution tops out at 1080p HD, and there’s no AI upscaling or HDR. The 3-Series also doesn’t include Bluetooth connectivity (which the Roku Ultra has).

We also feel like the built-in 5W speakers could be more powerful. But since the 3-Series is so affordable, you might have enough money for a soundbar. Just don’t bum out your Resident Advisor with noise complaints.

Pro tip: Don’t pay full price for the Roku Ultra. Don’t get us wrong—it’s totally worth it. But it’s also worthwhile to watch for sales, where the price can drop by $30–$35.

Most versatile
Price:
$134.99
Screen size:
40″–240″
Brightness:
8500 lumens
Resolution:
1080p
Audio:
Built-in 5W speakers
Ports:
Wi-Fi, VGA, USB, HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack
PC compatibility:
Yes

Pros

  • Low price
  • Portability
  • Huge screen sizes
  • PC monitor functionality

Cons

  • So-so speakers
  • No native voice control
  • No Bluetooth
  • No apps

A projector is a solid TV alternative for students—and an even better space-saving option than a small TV. You can use your dorm wall as a screen, point your projector at the ceiling to simulate the IMAX experience, or grab an extension cord for a movie under the stars.

Pro tip: We recommend a portable screen for outdoor projection. See Best Projectors: A Buyers Guide for screen recommendations and additional helpful hints.

The DBPOWER 8500L also has multiple connectivity options—you can connect to a cable box, laptop, console, or smartphone. You’ll need the appropriate cables, though, because the 8500L lacks Bluetooth capability. An HDMI cable will work for most devices, but keep an RCA audio/video cable and your phone’s USB charging cable nearby.

The 8500L also has a built-in 5W speaker, but you’ll probably need external speakers or a soundbar for big open spaces.

Despite its limitations, this mini projector is affordable, mobile, and offers a big-screen experience—perfect for a student ready to party.

Do you need cable TV for your dorm room?

If you can sign up for cable TV in your dorm room, enter your zip code below to see which TV providers are in your college town. Signing up early can help you beat the rush of move-in day.

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What to look for

If you’d like to shop for yourself, here are the key considerations when buying a smart TV for your college dorm room.

Price

Copy . . .Whether you’re a starving college student or flush with financial aid, we don’t recommend dropping a bunch of money right now. You can get a good TV for under $500. Then, when you graduate and get a job, buy yourself a nicer TV.

Screen size

We recommend TVs with 27″–43″ screens. Why? We’ve seen average dorm-room sizes reported as 100–230 square feet, so you have only so much space.1 2 At these room sizes, the optimal viewing distance is 4–6 feet away from your TV—perfect.

Pro tip: If you, by some stroke of luck, wind up with a dorm room larger than 130 square feet—and have more money to spend, check out our guide to the Best Smart TVs. In it, we recommend the Hisense U7G, which is a darned fine TV for only $600.

Display type

You’ll see many display types: LED, QLED, and OLED are the most common. Expect to see mostly LED (brighter images) and QLED (more colorful images) TVs at this price point ($500 and lower) and in these screen sizes (27″–43″).

Resolution

These days it’s easier to find 4K TVs priced below $500, but TVs smaller than 32″ tend to have 1080p (full HD) or even 720p (regular HD). That’s because, in those sizes, 4K is hardly noticeable.

HDR

HDR (high dynamic range) is all about contrast and detail. It helps you better perceive the light and dark parts of an image. Similar to 4K, HDR is more common in TVs nowadays—and it’s less perceptible with smaller screen sizes.

Refresh rate

Avid gamers and sports fans will care the most about this refresh rate, which measures how fast your picture updates. Expect TVs under $500 to have refresh rates of 60Hz, meaning the picture refreshes once every 60 seconds. Higher-quality TVs have around 120Hz, and the highest rate is 240Hz.

Sound quality

There are two things to consider regarding TV audio quality. The more expensive TVs in this price range have built-in speakers plus fancy, proprietary audio enhancement features like AI Sound Pro and Object Tracking Sound. The cheaper TVs tend to have only the speakers.

Pro tip: If you have the money, consider picking up a soundbar or surround sound system for better audio.

Final take

We feel like proud parents dropping our kids off at college—but you have to buy your own dorm-room TV. When you start shopping, remember the following:

  • The 43″ Samsung Q60B ($477.99) is our best overall recommendation. If you want a sweet, feature-rich TV for less than $500, get this one.
  • The 43″ LG UG9000 ($326.99) is an excellent value.
  • The 32″ Samsung Q60A ($447.99) is almost as good as the Q60B, but its smaller size makes it a better fit for small dorm rooms.
  • The 40″ TCL 3-Series Roku TV ($219.99) is a decent little TV for a killer price.
  • The DBPOWER 8500L Mini Projector ($134.99, but watch for Amazon coupons for up to $30 off) gives you 40″–240″ screen sizes, excellent portability, and saves you even more space.

Now run along to your <sob> future.

Best dorm-room TVs for students FAQ

Which TV brand should I get for my dorm or apartment?

While name-brand TVs like LG, Sony, and Samsung have a history of excellence, some cheaper rivals like TCL are reliable too. Don’t pay more just because a name is more familiar. Name-Brand TVs vs. Their Cheaper Rivals: What’s the Difference?

What TV size should I get for my dorm or apartment?

The best TV size for your dorm room (assuming a size of 100–230 square feet) is 24″–43″. To calculate the perfect TV size for your dorm room or apartment, check out our TV Viewing Distance Calculator.

What are smart TVs?

Smart TVs connect to the internet and run various (mostly streaming TV) apps. But if you have a “not-smart” TV with an HDMI port, you can still use a streaming device like the Roku Ultra or Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to run TV apps. To learn more, read 5 Best Smart TVs.

What is screen resolution?

Screen resolution refers to image clarity and the number of pixels in a screen. The more pixels, the clearer the image. 4K Ultra HD is the best available, with 1080p just behind. But for screens smaller than 40″, 720p works well unless you’re sitting really close to it. To learn more about screen resolution, see our TV Buying Guide.

What are refresh rates?

Refresh rate is how often the picture on your screen changes. The current standard is 60Hz, meaning the picture changes sixty times per second. If you love action movies, sports, or gaming, a higher refresh rate (they go up to 240Hz) is better. For more information on refresh rates, check out our TV Buying Guide.

Do college dorm rooms have cable?

Some college dorm rooms have cable, while others don’t. Check with your school’s housing department.

What is the average size of a college dorm room?

The average dorm-room size is 100–230 square feet.1 2

Methodology

At CableTV.com, our TV experts spend a combined hundreds of hours researching and, whenever possible, testing TVs and projectors like the ones we recommend here for students and dorm rooms. We compare them based on pricing, specs, features, performance, and more so that our readers can make informed buying decisions. To learn more about our process, visit our How We Rank page.

Endnotes

  1. StudentRoomStay.com, “How Big Should Your College Apartment Be?,” November 2021. Accessed August 17, 2022.
  2. StudentMajor.com, “How Big Is A College Dorm Room?,” May 2022. Accessed August 17, 2022.

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