The Best TVs – The New York Times

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We’re currently testing the LG C2 OLED, Samsung S95B OLED, Sony X90K LCD, and Hisense U6H LCD. We expect to update our recommendations soon.
Our favorite TVs deliver superior picture quality for a reasonable price. Right now, our top recommendation is the Hisense U7G LCD TV, which is available in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch screen sizes. But if you want something with even better performance or an even more budget-friendly price—or if you need a smaller size or a TV that’s great for gaming—this article provides an overview of the top picks across all of our TV guides. We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing to find the best option for any space or budget, so read on to find the right TV for you.
The best TV shopping strategy is Goldilocks-style: Look for a TV that isn’t too cheap but isn’t loaded with frills you don’t need.
We use professional measurement equipment to judge a TV’s accuracy, and we evaluate TVs based on how real people actually use them.
TV tech is always evolving, so we look for TVs that have the specs to stay relevant for many years.
These TVs are our top picks from our various TV guides, which involved hundreds of hours of research and testing. They won’t let you down.
If you’re eager to buy a new TV but overwhelmed by all the jargon, check out our TV buying guide. The key thing to know about modern TVs is that shopping for a new one is less about avoiding a lemon and more about making sure you aren’t paying for features you don’t need or won’t use. But the good news is that even affordable TVs tend to look excellent if you just want the basics. So start by asking yourself a few questions: What kind of content are you going to watch? What’s the right screen size for the room? How much control do you have over competing light, such as from lamps and windows? If you’re not planning on playing video games or watching Blu-ray discs, you probably don’t need a TV with a 120 Hz refresh rate, which tends to raise the price. If you’re buying for a bedroom, you probably don’t need a huge screen. And if your intended room is especially bright, you may want to spring for a premium LCD TV since such models get a lot brighter than budget LCD TVs or OLED TVs. Knowing some of these basic points before you start shopping around can simplify the process and narrow down your viable options.
Why we like it: The Hisense U7G is a great-looking TV equipped with all the necessary technologies and features that any modern 4K LCD/LED TV needs in order to stand out. A full-array local-dimming backlight provides superb black levels and image contrast, while a 120 Hz refresh rate helps the U7G deliver better motion quality than many competitors. The U7G also handles high dynamic range (HDR) video with aplomb thanks to its high brightness and rich quantum-dot color. For serious gamers, Hisense has added all the HDMI 2.1 features necessary to take full advantage of the newest gaming consoles. Finally, the U7G features the Android TV streaming platform, which offers a wide variety of streaming services and a continually improving user interface. For what you’re paying, the total package boasts notable value.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Hisense’s video processing on the U7G isn’t up to the standards of Sony or Samsung, so you might notice upscaling artifacts or jagged edges in lower-resolution content such as DVDs and standard-definition cable. The viewing angle is only average, and this series comes only in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch screen sizes. If you don’t mind spending more for better video processing or if you need a different screen size than the U7G offers, consider the Samsung QN90A instead. The QN90A is available in both smaller (43, 50 inches) and larger (85, 98 inches) sizes compared with the Hisense U7G. The QN90A also outpaces the U7G when playing HDR content.
Available sizes: 55, 65, 75 inches
HDMI ports: four
Smart OS: Android TV
Resolution: 4K (3840×2160)
Screen type: LCD/LED
The Hisense U7G offers great image quality, superb gaming features, and the Android TV interface but has a narrower viewing angle and fewer screen sizes than some other TVs.
The Hisense U7G’s excellent performance, wealth of features, and approachable price make it our favorite LCD/LED TV.
Why we like it: The TCL 5-Series delivers a great-looking 4K picture, and it comes in 50-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch sizes to fit most rooms. It’s the company’s lowest-priced TV line to incorporate advanced LCD technologies such as a full-array local-dimming LED backlight for improved image contrast and quantum dots for richer color. Plus, it’s available with either the Roku or Google TV streaming platform built in, so you can choose the experience that you prefer.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The 5-Series’s panel has only a 60 Hz refresh rate, so motion isn’t as fluid as it can be on a 120 Hz panel, which offers faster pixel refresh and reduced motion blur. This also makes the 5-Series a worse choice for the latest gaming consoles compared with a 120 Hz TV. If the refresh rate is a dealbreaker for you, consider spending a little more on the TCL 6-Series, one of our favorite LCD/LED TVs. The 6-Series is a notable upgrade over the 5-Series, delivering not just a faster refresh rate but also better HDR performance.
Available sizes: 50, 55, 65, and 75 inches
HDMI ports: four
Smart OS: Roku or Google TV
Resolution: 4K (3840×2160)
Screen type: LCD/LED
The TCL 5-Series delivers a great-looking 4K image, the latest gaming features, and your choice of streaming platforms, but it doesn’t measure up to the best LCD and OLED TVs in brightness, contrast, and motion.
You save $100 (15%)
The TCL 5-Series delivers a great-looking 4K image, the latest gaming features, and your choice of streaming platforms, but it doesn’t measure up to the best LCD and OLED TVs in brightness, contrast, and motion.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $450.
The TCL 5-Series delivers a great-looking 4K image, the latest gaming features, and your choice of Google TV or Roku TV—for an affordable price.
Why we like it: The LG C1 offers superb image quality, is brighter than previous OLED TVs, supports the leading HDR and HDMI 2.1 standards, and has an extremely thin and attractive design. Its WebOS smart-TV platform is easy to use and supports all of the major video and audio streaming services. Videophiles will like that the C1 gives them more control over the image than competing OLED TVs, while the Filmmaker Mode makes it easy for anyone to get an accurate image.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The HDMI 2.1 ports on the C1 offer a bandwidth of 40 Gbps, instead of the full 48 Gbps bit rate. The sound quality of the LG C1 could be better, but that’s the case with every flat-panel TV. We expect most people will pair a TV in this price range with an AV receiver and surround-sound combo or at least a good soundbar.
Available sizes: 48, 55, 65, 77, 83 inches
HDMI ports: four
Smart OS: WebOS
Resolution: 4K (3840×2160)
Screen type: OLED
The LG C1 produces fantastic 4K HDR images and performs almost as well as higher-end OLED TVs for a significantly lower price.
LG’s C1 OLED TV offers superb image quality, a good streaming-TV platform, future-proof connection options, and a thin, attractive design.
Why we like it: The TCL 32S334 is a great small smart TV that you can quickly and easily set up and use in most any space. It offers good picture and sound quality, and the built-in Android TV smart-TV platform supports all the major streaming video and music services. We like Android TV’s customizable interface, and the remote is simple without being too simplistic, with helpful buttons and a microphone for voice search. Bluetooth audio output is available to send the TV’s audio wirelessly to headphones or speakers, and you can choose a wired or wireless network connection for streaming.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: None of the 32-inch TVs we’ve tested excel in the brightness department, and their LCD panels don’t incorporate any light-rejecting technology to help improve image contrast—so they aren’t a good choice for bright rooms. The 32S334’s viewing angles are average, and the 720p resolution is not ideal for up-close uses such as desktop work or gaming. If you need a 1080p resolution or prefer the Roku smart-TV platform, consider our runner-up pick, the TCL S327.
Available sizes: 32, 40 inches
HDMI ports: two
Smart OS: Android TV
Resolution: 720p (1366×768)
Screen type: LCD/LED
The 32S334 is a great all-in-one small TV, offering good performance, a robust smart-TV platform, and helpful features like voice search and Bluetooth audio output.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $176.
The TCL 32S334 Android TV is our favorite 32-inch TV because it looks and sounds good, it’s easy to use, and it has the best assortment of helpful features.
Why we like it: In addition to being our favorite overall performer for movies, the LG C1 OLED TV supports all the HDMI 2.1 features you could want for gaming, including 4K 120 Hz inputs, ALLM, VRR, and HGIG. In addition, it has one of the lowest input lags we’ve measured on a TV, its game mode offers accurate colors, and it has superior viewing angles and pixel-response times compared with LCD TVs. It supports AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync for PC gamers, too. Unlike almost every other HDMI 2.1 display out there, the C1 supports HDMI 2.1 on every HDMI input (it has four total), not just one or two.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Some people worry about burn-in when using an OLED TV as a gaming monitor, though we don’t think this is a major issue. The HDMI 2.1 ports on the C1 offer a bandwidth of 40 Gbps, while some gaming TVs offer a full 48 Gbps bit rate. With all the current gaming sources that are available, this should not be a concern.
Available sizes: 48, 55, 65, 77, and 83 inches
HDMI ports: four
Smart OS: WebOS
Resolution: 4K (3840×2160)
Screen type: OLED
The LG C1 provides low input lag and the most comprehensive set of gaming features, plus the best overall picture quality.
The LG C1’s comprehensive set of gaming features and excellent picture quality make it our pick for the best gaming TV.
Modern TVs are more complicated than ever before. If you’ve found yourself browsing one of our guides and felt stumped by some of the acronyms or tech specs, we’ve summarized the most common terms below:
LCD: LCD stands for liquid crystal display, and it’s the most common kind of television besides OLED (defined below). LCD TVs shine an LED backlight through a panel of liquid crystal, a malleable substance that reacts to electricity, opening or closing when jolted. In LCD TVs, the liquid crystal opens to allow the backlight through or closes to block it. The specific details of the opening/closing are dependent upon the arrangement of the pixels: The most common LCD arrangements are Vertical Alignment (VA) and In-Plane Switching (IPS), with the former tending to produce higher contrast and the latter tending to produce wider viewing angles. All so-called “LED” TVs are really LCD TVs, as are all current QLED and ULED TVs.
OLED: An organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, TV creates light inside each individual pixel without using a backlight and can dim each pixel individually all the way down to black, which LCD TVs can’t do. This tech gives an OLED TV an infinite contrast ratio and other benefits to help create an overall better-looking image, although at considerable additional cost. You can read more about OLED technology in this article.
Full-array local dimming backlight: This term refers to a TV technology in which the backlight is behind the LCD panel and has individual zones that can turn on and off depending on the content. Such TVs are usually larger and more expensive to build and design, and more zones cost more. However, TVs with full-array local dimming typically provide the best LCD picture quality by improving contrast ratios and shadow detail.
Mini-LEDs: Every LCD TV made today currently uses LEDs to produce the light that shines through the LCD panel. Most TVs use LED lights that pass through a diffuser to light up the entire LCD screen. Mini-LEDs, which some TVs use, are much smaller than traditional LEDs, so TV makers can install more of them and thus create more zones of local dimming, which means less blooming or halos around bright objects. Mini-LEDs are completely different from micro-LEDs, an available (though very expensive) technology that employs individual red, green, and blue LEDs to produce an image without needing an LCD panel at all.
Nits: Also called candelas per square meter (cd/m²), this unit of luminance measures how much light a TV can produce. Previously, TVs could output 200 to 300 nits, and standard dynamic range (SDR) content was graded and mastered with 100 nits as the standard. With high dynamic range (HDR), content is mastered with 1,000, 4,000, or 10,000 nits as the standard; so, the more nits an HDR TV can display, the more accurately it can display the highlights in HDR material without having to reduce the brightness of the highlights or clip them.
High dynamic range (HDR): High dynamic range lets a TV display much brighter highlights while retaining deep blacks, although only with special HDR content. Whereas standard dynamic range (SDR) content has a peak brightness of around 100 nits, high-end HDR sets can have highlights that exceed 1,500 nits. This feature drastically improves contrast ratios and provides a more dynamic image in which bright objects (the sun, fire, a photon torpedo) really jump off the screen. HDR10 is the standard format that all HDR-capable TVs support. HDR10 content contains metadata (or information about how the image should be presented) only for the movie as a whole, while the more advanced HDR10+ and Dolby Vision formats have metadata for each individual scene—so the TV can better optimize the image as it changes.
Wide color gamut: Ultra HD content has a wider color gamut than standard HDTV content; right now, most UHD content is mastered with the same DCI/P3 color gamut used in theatrical cinema (the ultimate goal is the even larger Rec. 2020 color gamut). This expanded color gamut allows a TV to display richer reds, blues, and greens than ever before. Some TVs use quantum-dot technology to produce this wider color gamut.
Quantum dots: Quantum dots are a color-enhancing technology primarily found in LCD TVs (though some 2022 OLED TVs now have them as well). Chiefly employed as a filter that’s painted onto a substrate, quantum dots are microscopic nano-crystals that, when struck with blue light, produce very vivid red or green light (depending upon the size of the crystal). Quantum dots are the primary technology that allows LCD TVs to produce the wide color gamut required to display HDR content properly, as they greatly increase the color saturation of red and green.
HDMI 2.1: HDMI 2.1, the most recent version of HDMI, adds support for 8K displays, automatic low-latency mode for improved gaming, eARC for better audio when you’re using Audio Return Channel, variable refresh rate for syncing the TV’s refresh rate to a gaming console to avoid stuttering, and dynamic metadata support. For more about HDMI 2.1, read our blog post.
HDCP 2.3: This is the most recent version of the copy-protection standard used over HDMI, though for now it’s most important that a TV supports HDCP 2.2. Without HDCP 2.2 support, a TV or other HDMI device (soundbar, receiver) cannot transmit or display Ultra HD images. All of our picks support HDCP 2.2.
Refresh rate: All digital displays (including TVs) have what’s called a refresh rate, measured in hertz (Hz), shorthand for cycles per second. A TV’s refresh rate refers to how quickly it displays new incoming video information on a nanosecond-to-nanosecond basis. While there are many possible refresh rates, most TVs come with either a 60 Hz refresh rate (meaning 60 screen refreshes per second) or a 120 Hz refresh rate (120 screen refreshes per second). Ideally, a TV will have the highest refresh rate possible, but there are diminishing returns for higher refresh rates during many types of content. A 120 Hz TV has advantages when watching 24p content or mitigating judder (definitions below), and tends to produce less input lag when playing video games, but it won’t provide advantages for most forms of cable TV or streaming content. In 2022, some manufacturers introduced 144 Hz TVs meant to appeal specifically to gamers, but the majority of TVs still have 60 or 120 Hz refresh rates.
24p: With few exceptions, movies in a theater display at 24 frames per second, abbreviated as 24p, which gives movies that “cinematic” look. All TVs now support 24p content, but some maintain that look better than others.
Judder: This term refers to a slightly jerky motion that can occur when 24p film content appears on a TV with a 60 Hz refresh rate. In such situations, to make 24 frames match up to the 60 Hz display, half of the frames appear two times and the other half appear three times. This display technique causes judder, which is most noticeable on panning shots. Some 120 Hz displays avoid this effect by repeating each film frame five times, while some 60 Hz panels run at 48 Hz to show each frame twice.
Motion smoothing: Motion smoothing, sometimes called MEMC (Motion Estimation/Motion Compensation), refers to a TV’s ability to intelligently create new frames to create smoother-looking or less juddery motion. Most modern TVs can artificially increase their refresh rates to smooth out fast or difficult sequences, but the efficacy of this motion smoothing is often dependent upon the TV’s native refresh rate. Motion smoothing is also the cause of the “soap opera effect,” where cinematic/24p content looks more like a daytime soap opera due to the insertion of unnecessary frames. The best TVs come with multiple motion smoothing presets, and some even allow the user to fine-tune the degree of judder reduction and frame interpolation employed. When used correctly, motion smoothing can make content like sports and nature documentaries look more realistic, but we prefer it be turned off for content like premium TV, movies, and video games.
Is your TV set up to look its best? Do you need a smart TV? What is HDR, and do you have the right gear to watch it? Check out some of our educational resources below:
Buying a new TV this year? Here’s what you need to know about OLED.
New Filmmaker Mode removes guesswork from TV setup
Simple tips for getting the best picture from your new TV
Are you really watching 4K on your new 4K TV? Check your sources.
What is an HDR TV? (And why some TVs don’t measure up.)
Everything you need to watch 4K HDR movies
How to clean a television
The best TV wall mount
How to set up an indoor TV antenna
If you have no idea where to start, this guide will walk you through the process of choosing and buying a TV, step by step.
If you want to hang your flat-panel TV on the wall, we recommend the Sanus VMPL50A-B1 or Sanus VLF728-B2, depending on how much motion you need in your mount.
The Samsung HW-Q900A is our favorite soundbar because of its excellent voice clarity, enveloping sound, and easy-to-accommodate design.
Here are the best options for anyone looking to drop their cable or satellite subscription that still wants to watch their favorite shows and events.
Wireless TV headphones let you watch TV or play games without disturbing others. We like Insignia’s NS-HAWHP2 for its comfort, ease of use, and minimal lag.
The Chromecast with Google TV has all the features we look for in a media streamer, and Google’s interface is the best at finding and organizing content.
Scientific standards for HDTV performance have been in place since 1990, and scientific standards for UHD TV performance have been in place since 2015. But what does it mean to have “scientific” standards for TVs? Essentially, it boils down to light and color production, two stimuli that can be easily measured.
For both SDR (standard dynamic range) and HDR (high dynamic range) content, there are designated light and color targets that a TV should hit. For example, we have behavioral targets for functions called gamma (for SDR video) and electro-optical transfer function (or EOTF, for HDR video), which specify how much light a TV should produce across a range of electrical stimulus levels. There are also targets for the hue, saturation, and brightness of a TV’s primary colors (red, green, and blue) and secondary colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow), depending on whether the SDR or HDR color spaces are being used for what you’re watching. A specific color temperature, designated in Kelvin, dictates how grayscale elements should look. Modern TVs should produce a white point that’s exactly 6500 K, roughly the flavor of unclouded daylight. Major deviations from any of these targets can ruin a TV’s image and obscure details.
When we measure TVs, we use a device called a signal generator to send test patterns to the screen, plus a meter (usually a tristimulus colorimeter) to measure the light and colors that the TV produces. We use Portrait Displays’ Calman software a program specifically designated for display measurement and calibration, to tabulate those measurements into easily readable charts and tables. With one scan, we can get a good estimate of how a TV’s picture quality compares to the scientific standards. Is its production of white light too red- or blue-tinted? Does it produce enough color for HDR content? Is it clipping off details on either end of the light spectrum?
These measurements aren’t the sole indicator of a good TV, and they are not the only thing we take into account when recommending TVs, but they make up a healthy portion of what we test. Our picks tend to excel at these tests, but they also need to be priced reasonably and not introduce any hardware, compatibility, or user-experience issues once they’re in your home.
A TV can be recycled into a number of components, including copper wiring, plastic, and glass, so you should never just throw it in a trash dumpster. A TV needs to be processed at a facility that’s equipped to disassemble it. Fortunately, most people should have several options for recycling their old TV.
Each state and county has different guidelines for recycling, so you should start by Googling your city’s television recycling options. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to leave your TV on the curb with your other recycling, but it may incur a fee (and if you’re renting, you should give your apartment manager or landlord notice about the upcoming expense). If curbside removal isn’t an option, try searching for nearby recycling centers and checking their websites. Most will list which electronics they accept—and some may even offer to help bring heavy TVs inside.
If you have a CRT (tube) TV smaller than 32 inches or an LCD or plasma TV smaller than 50 inches, your local Best Buy should be able to recycle it for you for a $30 fee. We recommend calling ahead first to check that your nearest location participates in the recycling program, however (this program isn’t available in Connecticut and Pennsylvania). Best Buy also offers a haul-away service for larger TVs, but this is considerably more expensive (around $200 at time of writing).
You can also check the EPA’s website, which lists electronics dropoff options by brand.
If recycling isn’t an option, you could sell or donate your old TV via services like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Additionally, check websites for (or call) the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army, who may allow you to simply drop off the TV. Just remember that if you go this route, you should factory reset the TV to ensure none of your personal data is accessible.
Lee Neikirk
Lee Neikirk is a senior staff writer reporting on TVs at Wirecutter. He has been testing and reviewing AV gear since 2012 and is an ISF-certified TV calibrator. When he’s not fussing over pixels, Lee is either jamming on a guitar, playing video games, or driving around endlessly trying to find beach parking.
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