We have evaluated scores of TVs using a variety of programming — from DVDs to HD, 4K to HDR — to find the best model for whatever delights you: be it for game day, movie night or a frag-fest. We have pushed every button, clicked through thousands of menus, and run hundreds of smart TV apps.
Looking for a big screen on a budget? Based on our extensive testing, your best bet is the Insignia Roku TV, which costs less than $500 but offers a great 4K picture, not to mention the full Roku experience.
Those looking for a stunning cinema experience — and are willing to splurge for it — should invest in the $5,000 LG 65EF9500. This OLED TV offers the most gorgeous picture we've ever seen in a 65-inch 4K set. In between is a wide range of sizes, prices and features.
Shoppers should take note that there will be excellent deals available heading toward April as TV manufacturers usher out the old models and replace them with new sets. Those who want the latest technology will also want to keep an eye out for forthcoming HDR sets bearing the Ultra HD Premium and Dolby Vision logos (see our New and Notable sets below).
Read on for all of our recommendations. (For details on our evaluation methodology, see How We Test TVs.)
This TV delivers quite the bargain. For less than $500, you get a surprisingly good 4K (3,840 x 2,160-pixel) display, a healthy selection of ports, as well as the intuitive and feature-packed Roku interface. Plus, with the Roku app, you can use your smartphone as a remote control. While its design and audio are nothing to write home about, overall the Insignia Roku (a Best Buy exclusive) is great for those on a budget.
A smart TV that's easy to use and costs just $300? The 40H4C's Roku interface trumps other smart TVs by using a simple yet handsome design, instead of something flashy and complex. It recognizes the mixed bag of content people are watching today. We could easily flip among a cable box, a Blu-ray player, Netflix and Hulu Plus (among the thousands of channels Roku offers), and other sources. On top of that, the Hisense 40H4C delivers surprisingly good image quality, with nuanced and pleasing color, impressive shadow detail and smooth motion-rendering despite having just a 60-Hz refresh rate.
You won’t find a better 65-inch 4K TV for the money. In additional to providing a detailed Ultra HD picture, the Vizio M65-C1 offers full-array LED backlighting for superior contrast. Other highlights include a remote with a built-in keyboard and easy access to apps like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Pandora. The smart TV interface looks a bit dated, but overall the M65-C1 delivers a big and boisterous picture that won’t break your budget.
Rarely does a technology come along that totally surpasses anything that has come before, but OLED is one of those technologies. LG's latest flat OLED delivers state-of-the-art Ultra HD 4K performance that reveals picture details other sets miss. The 65EF9500's stunning contrast, impressive brightness, and excellent viewing angles make it the ideal set for any room. Moreover, this LG TV is compatible with the latest high dynamic range (HDR) content and boasts one of the most attractive and easy to navigate smart TV interfaces. Rounding out its market-leading list of features, the LG 65EF9500 boasts a gorgeous design and smart remote that makes it easy to surf the Web or find your favorite programs.
As one of the first TVs to support high dynamic range (HDR), the Sony X930C offers better contrast and color than most 4K TVs. Even better, this set offers sweet sound, thanks to the large speakers that frame the display. Powered by Android TV, this set lets you quickly find content and apps. Although the design is beefy, the combination of sight and sound cannot be beat.
A potential sleeper hit this year may be Sony's 48-inch 48W65D. It's a standard HD model, rather than a 4K set, but it offers smart TV features and an excellent high-def picture. The set uses Android TV to pull in streaming services from Netflix to Vudu, and Sony's reputation for color fidelity promises to deliver a quality picture. At a preliminary price of $699, shoppers looking for a solid picture on a budget may find this 48-inch set hits the sweet spot.
Roku has made a name for itself by making it incredibly easy to access and enjoy multiple streaming video and music services. This year it will also make it easier to find 4K programming, with built-in Roku features in TCL's 4K TCL Roku TV models (in sizes up to 65-inches). TCL's UP130 will include voice search and a headphone jack in the remote for late-night listening. Owners will also be able to tap into the 4K Spotlight Channel, with a pre-selected offering of 4K movies, TV shows and videos from multiple sources.
The largest, and most expensive in Samsung's 2016 lineup of SUHD 4K TVs is the KS9800, which has a massive 78-inch curved display, and comes in at a princely $7,999. However, the features in this set will be available in the rest of Samsung's 2016 4K TVs. This includes Quantum Dot technology, which delivers crisper, cleaner, and brighter colors, and do so while drawing less power; a revamped interface and remote with voice search; and Samsung SmartThings smart home hub integration. In all, this will be one of the smarter smart TVs.
For viewers who want intuitive 4K sets but don’t feel like spending an arm and a leg for them, the Vizio SmartCast M-Series Ultra HD looks promising. Vizio’s latest line of 4K TVs starts at $850 for a 50-inch set, and ranges up to $4,000 for an 80-incher. In addition to full UHD resolution, each TV offers HDR and Dolby Vision support for excellent color depth, and an intuitive Android Tablet Remote, which lets users cast apps and content directly to the screen. Vizio advises customers to look out for these TVs “soon,” and they’ll likely be available both online and at brick-and-mortar retail stores.
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