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The best TV brands in 2021

How to use your Samsung TV
(Image credit: Samsung)

Every TV shopper wonders: what are the best TV brands? When you're on the hunt for a great TV, knowing which manufacturers offer the best TVs can save you some anxiety as you scroll through Amazon listings or browse the aisles of your local Best Buy. So we've boiled down our experience of reviewing dozens of TVs to help you know which brand is right for you.

The brand of TV you pick will determine more than just the name on the box, or the logo on the TV. Each brand has it's own identity, from unique software to differing strengths and weaknesses in TV  performance. From exclusive features and technologies to overall performance and recurring problems, here's how brand-name fits in when you're weighing which TV you want to buy.

Latest TV News (updated Sept. 7)

• Samsung unveiled new Neo QLED, The Frame and The Terrace 4K TVs, including a massive 98-inch Neo QLED
Amazon might be launching its own Fire TV models next month
• The affordable LG B1 OLED TV just made a surprise US debut

We review dozens of TVs every year, with hours of lab testing for every TV we review, and quality time spent with each set watching shows, playing games, and checking out every facet and feature of each TV.

To answer the question, most TV brands are pretty great, but we definitely have our favorites, and our favorite TVs from each manufacturer.

In this guide, we highlight every major name in the TV world, as well as their current top models, to help you find the right brand as you shop for your next 4K smart TV.

The best TV brands: Why does the brand matter?

With so many 4K TVs on the market boasting smart capabilities and listing features like HDR support and gaming modes, it's easy to think that all TVs are pretty much the same. After reviewing dozens of TVs, we can safely say that's far from true.

Perhaps the single biggest aspect of current smart TVs that manufacturers determine is what software the TV runs on. Major manufacturers may use their own proprietary software, such as Samsung's Tizen operating system, or LG's webOS. Others may rely on third-party software, such as Android TV or Roku TV.

These smart TV software options do more than provide a pretty interface as you choose between Netflix and HBO Max. Rather, they serve as the operating system for your smart TV, and can influence what apps you have available, what smart home features you can use, and even how you interact with the TV thanks to voice control from the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Display technology is another big differentiator, as companies like Samsung and LG pour enormous amounts of money into new display panels, higher resolutions and new twists on delivering color, brightness and contract.

Finally, the TV brand will also help you determine what sort of price range you'll be working with and what level of quality you can expect. Brands like Samsung, LG and Sony deliver top-notch quality across the board, but often at premium prices. Brands like TCL, Hisense and Vizio will sell for lower prices, while still providing great quality, if not as many fancy features.

Which TV brands are best?

There are more than a dozen brands of TV on the market, each offering different models and price points. For this guide, we've focused on the top brands, the names that are worth keeping an eye out for as you shop, and have narrowed things down to these seven: LG, TCL, Samsung, Sony, Hisense, Vizio and Amazon Fire TV. 

Each of these top TV brands also has at least one TV that we can point to as a favorite, with models showing up on our lists of the best TVs and getting better-than-average ratings in our reviews.

LG Electronics: The OLED Leader

LG's brand is well known, well respected and has earned a place on our list of the best TVs year after year for one reason above all others: OLED. With OLED displays offering a clear best-in-class alternative to less expensive LCD panels, LG's position as the top OLED maker in the world overshadows everything else about their TVs. If you want the best picture quality, you want an OLED TV. And for the leader in OLED TVs, LG is the brand we recommend.

But there are plenty of other reasons to get an LG set, even if it's not an OLED model. Overall, the LG has a well-earned reputation for high-quality designs and great picture quality, whether it's on mid-range systems like LG Nanocell or LG QNED TVs, or budget-friendly models, like LG UHD models, which use basic LCD panels. LG's webOS smart TV software is also easy to use, offers most of the apps and features anyone could ask for, and combines with the motion-controlled LG Magic Remote to provide one of the most intuitive navigation experiences you'll find on a premium smart TV.

The best LG TVs | LG 2021 TV lineup 

Our favorite LG TV: LG CX OLED
LG CX OLED
Our favorite LG TV

The LG CX OLED is our favorite 4K smart TV, and the best TV we've reviewed, with an amazing display, built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support, and a ton of other smart features. Dolby Vision HDR looks great on the OLED screen and Dolby Atmos sound offers great audio quality.

TCL: The value champ

If there's a brand that gives you the most for your money, it's TCL. A relative newcomer in the North American market, TCL has exploded into one of the largest TV brands, and for good reason. TCL TVs offer premium technologies such as mini-LED and QLED at budget-friendly prices, include gamer-friendly features like THX Certified Game Mode, and deliver performance that is well above average for prices that are among the most affordable. There's even an 8K TV – the TCL 6-Series 8K Roku TV (R648) – if you want to be an early adopter without spending a ton.

TCL also offers the best Roku TVs on the market. Thanks to a tight partnership between TCL and Roku, you will get the best version of Roku TV, from the intuitive interface to advanced voice interaction. You'll see a lot of Roku TVs from different brands in the budget section of the TV aisle, but by and large, they don't offer what you'll get with a TCL TV.

The best TCL TVs

Our favorite TCL TV: TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635)
TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635)
Our favorite TCL TV

The TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) is one of the best values in the TV world, with QLED for brighter colors and mini-LED backlight for better contrast and HDR performance. With Roku TV providing an easy-to-use interface with all of your favorite apps, it's also got Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, delivering quality that matches more premium competitors for a killer price. There's even an affordable 8K model, the TCL 6-Series 8K Roku TV (R648).

Samsung: A little bit of everything

Samsung is the elephant in the room when it comes to TVs, with a huge selection of 4K and 8K Smart TVs, and is the long-established leader in quantum dot technology, even as it faces more competition on the QLED front. Samsung TVs use the proprietary Tizen Smart TV platform, which offers a great ecosystem of apps, along with some of the richest smart features you'll find: you get unique offerings for everything from smart home control to fitness-oriented features, plus support for video chat and productivity that other TVs simply can't match.

Samsung is also dedicated to reimagining what the TV looks like and how it fits into our lives. From The Frame, an artwork-inspired TV that hangs on the wall, to The Sero, a TV that rotates to display mobile content vertically, Samsung's Lifestyle TV collection delivers some of the most unique TVs on the market.

Samsung TVs also have their quirks, like opting for the Samsung-led HDR10+ format instead of the more popular Dolby Vision HDR format, but these are minor issues compared to the quality Samsung offers.

The best Samsung TVs | Samsung 2021 TV lineup

Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV
Our favorite Samsung TV

The Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV combines quantum-dot enhancement with mini-LED backlighting for one of the best looking TVs we've ever seen. Pairing this with clever smart functions and features like a solar-powered remote control and brilliant gaming capabilities, the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV is one of the best 4K TVs you can buy.

Sony: Premium quality at premium prices

In the TV world, Sony is the equivalent of old money – they've been making high-end TVs since the late ’60s, and that experience shows in the highly polished Bravia TVs they sell, and the excellent performance those TVs provide. 

Sony also delivers some of the best sound you'll get on any TV, thanks to technologies like Acoustic Surface Audio+, which uses the glass of an OLED TV panel to create dialogue and sound effects, making for incredible realism.

Sony TVs use Android TV and Google TV software to meet all of your smart TV needs. The Google app ecosystem is enormous, and the Android platform offers deeper smart home integration and better voice interaction than any other Smart TV software. 

Pretty much the only problem we have with Sony's superb TVs is the price, which consistently runs more premium than the competition.

The best OLED TVs | Sony 2021 TV lineup

Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED
Our favorite Sony TV

If you want the best picture quality and sound you can get, the Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED is hard to beat. Combining a gorgeous 4K picture and impeccable color with advanced smart capabilities thanks to Google TV and Sony's exclusive Bravia Core streaming service, it's one of the best TVs you can buy.

Hisense: A budget-friendly competitor

A company once best known for making appliances like air conditioners has become a pretty great TV maker, and one of the best affordable TV brands on the market. We've been routinely impressed by the quality Hisense TVs offer, and definitely recommend giving them a look.

Depending on the model, Hisense offers both Roku and Android TV options, giving you the choice of two of the best smart TV platforms available. Hisense has also embraced technologies like QLED to pack more of a punch and provide better color and brightness than you would normally expect from TVs in this price range.

The best TVs under $1000 | The best TVs under $500

Hisense U8G Android TV (65U8G)
Our favorite Hisense TV

The Hisense U8G Android TV is our favorite Hisense TV, and one of the best Android TVs on the market. With a quantum-dot-enhanced display and built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant, it's a full-featured smart TV that sells for under $1,000 without sacrificing quality.

Vizio: A value-friendly up-and-comer

Another so-called budget TV brand that's making waves is Vizio. Vizio's first forays into the smart TV market were hampered by missing features sacrificed in the name of affordability, and a limited smart TV experience. But the most recent Vizio TVs have raised the bar considerably, offering great features and expanded smart TV capabilities. But what Vizio delivers consistently is quality, and that's best seen in the Vizio OLED TV, currently one of the best-value buys in the TV world.

The only caveat around Vizio TVs is that Vizio's SmartCast platform does have some limitations you won't encounter on most smart TVs. App selection is limited, with the expectation that you will use the TV's built in Chromecast and AirPlay compatibility to cast other apps to the TV from your phone or tablet.

The best TVs under $1000 | The best OLED TVs

Vizio OLED TV (OLED55-H1)
Our favorite Vizio TV

The Vizio OLED TV is the most affordable OLED TV on the market, and the first to offer a less-premium alternative to offerings from LG and Sony to shoppers in the United States. Selling for hundreds of dollars less than the competition, the Vizio OLED packs plenty of smart features alongside the 4K OLED display, and delivers the sort of premium picture quality that normally costs much more.

Amazon Fire TV: The sure-fire sales TV

If you've paid any attention during sales events in the last year, you’ll undoubtedly have seen Amazon Fire TV edition smart TVs selling for a song. Thanks to low prices, Amazon's smart TVs are big bestsellers, even if the Fire TV platform is less prominent than other smart TV operating systems. If you're an Amazon die hard, you'll love the interface, which prominently highlights content from Amazon Prime and Amazon-affiliated services, such as IMDb TV. You will definitely appreciate Amazon Alexa being baked into the system, complete with easy integration with all of the Amazon Echo smart speakers in your home.

There are two brands making Amazon Fire TVs, made by Toshiba and Best Buy's store brand Insignia. Both brands offer pretty solid performance and build quality, but they do have their strengths and weaknesses.

Our only real problem with Amazon's smart TVs is the tendency to advertise a bit aggressively; you'll never forget that it's an Amazon TV, and that Amazon has something it thinks you want to buy.

The best TVs under $500 | Toshiba Fire TV vs Insignia Fire TV

Toshiba C350 Fire TV
Our favorite Amazon Fire TV

Of all the bargain-priced Amazon-powered smart TVs, the Toshiba C350 Fire TV (2021 model) is our favorite, thanks to solid performance and killer responsiveness for gamers. With 4K resolution and Dolby Vision support, as well as baked-in Amazon Alexa and a wide selection of apps, it's a decent choice for anyone wanting an affordable smart TV, with plenty of bonuses for Amazon fans.

Finding the right TV for you

While selecting a TV brand goes a long way toward helping you choose a great TV, there's more to it than picking a manufacturer. We recommend finding the TV size that is best for your home, determining what features you must have and which you can live without, and then getting the best model that meets your criteria.

We think smart TVs are the way to go in today's world of streaming shows and movies, and we strongly recommend getting a TV with 4K resolution – anything less will be a disappointment, and 8K TVs are a waste of money (for now). Features like HDR support and additional HDMI ports are worth paying a little more for, but don't forget to think about other details, like how you want to mount the TV, or what apps are most important for you.

Finally, all of our TV reviews include in-depth testing, hands-on experience and close examination of everything from the design of a TV to the smart TV software and remote control.

Here's the best of our TV buying advice:

If you've narrowed down your TV shopping by brand, price range or screen size, check out our picks for the best TVs in each.

Best TVs | Best 4K TVs | Best smart TVs for streaming | Best TVs for gaming

The best TVs under $1000 | The best TVs under $500

Best Samsung TVs | Best TCL TVs | Best LG TVs | Best Roku TVs | Best OLED TVs | Best QLED TVs | Best 8K TVs

The smallest smart TVs | Best 43-inch TVs | Best 50-inch TVs | Best 55-inch TVs | Best 65-inch TVs | Best 70-inch TVs | Best 75-inch TVs | Best 85-inch TVs

And don't forget to watch out for the latest TV reviews.

Brian Westover
Brian Westover is an Editor at Tom's Guide, covering everything from TVs to the latest PCs. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.