TVs and streaming services have come a long way: just look at the innovations we've seen this year across the entertainment category. On the streaming front, binge-worthy TV series and movies debuted on Apple TV Plus, Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus and more. Thanks to the expanse of content and more live TV streaming, it’s more practical than ever to cut the cord.
As for TVs, we’ve seen OLED TVs and QLED TVs merge into an exciting new panel technology called QD-OLED. Not to mention, TVs are getting better with eco-friendly design upgrades, stronger smart features, competitive gaming settings and more value options. There's no shortage of products and services to celebrate in this year’s Tom’s Guide Awards when it comes to TVs and streaming.
And check out all the winners of the Tom's Guide Awards 2022.
Best TV: LG G2 OLED TV
The best TV that came across our bench this year is the LG G2 OLED TV, which features a redesigned, second-generation attempt at an OLED evo-branded panel. We’ll admit, evo fell short on expectations the first time around, but in the LG G2 TV, new heat dissipation technology helped the set become the brightest OLED TV we’ve seen. And brightness is just one part of its performance that impressed us — color accuracy, color gamut and lag times all excelled in testing.
Plus, this being one of LG's 'Gallery' series TVs, its design is also a selling point, with a minimalistic silver frame that gives it a near-bezel-less appearance. When mounted on the wall, this TV is no average piece of tech. There’s a level of aesthetic luxury that pairs perfectly with the elevated picture. Of course, it's also well equipped with ports, solid audio and a full-featured smart TV platform.
Best TV innovation
Best TV innovation: Samsung S95B OLED TV
Although it wasn’t the first QD-OLED to be announced, the Samsung S95B was one of the first QD-OLED TVs we got into our lab for testing that showed us the true power of the new TV technology. With better black levels and higher contrast than traditional LED-LCD TVs and higher overall brightness than some rival OLED screens, this first-gen QD-OLED from Samsung has shown us the bright future we have to look forward to as more QD-OLED screens roll out in the next few years. It might not have been the best overall TV in the last 12 months, but it’s definitely the most innovative. A nod also goes out to the Sony A95K QD-OLED, which we haven’t had a chance to test yet but successfully demonstrated the new hybrid technology in our first impressions.
Best value TV
Best value TV: Hisense U8H
It’s always hard to pick the best value TV. Each year there are three companies — TCL, Hisense and Vizio — that are each doing their best to make incredible-looking TVs available to the masses at a reasonable price. This year, however, we have to give the nod to the Hisense U8H. By introducing MiniLED, Dolby Atmos sound with built-in its 2.1.2 audio system, and a native 120Hz refresh rate to this price, the Hisense U8H is proving that you don’t need to overpay for the latest TV tech. And if you think it’s affordable now, just wait until Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around — this is going to be the TV to watch.
Best TV design
Best TV design: Samsung The Frame 2022
For years, Samsung’s The Frame was the go-to TV for designers because of its excellent build quality and interchangeable bezels that can match any style of decor. But for the 2022 version of The Frame, Samsung’s design team took everything one step further by adding an anti-reflective matte coating to the screen that does a tremendous job of reducing glare. Not only does the new version of The Frame look great, it now performs even better than previous years thanks to this simple — but incredibly effective — design improvement. It’s the most tempting Frame to date for both the art-loving crowd and the cinephiles who want the best performance from their TV.
Best gaming TV
Best gaming TV: Hisense U7G
HDMI 2.1 hasn’t been everything we had hoped it’d be — it’s been a mess of specs and features that some TVs support and others don’t. It feels less like a standard at this point and more like a guideline. Thankfully, however, there are a few TVs out there who are helping make HDMI 2.1 happen as it was intended — and the Hisense U7G is chief among them. Sporting a 120Hz native resolution, two HDMI 2.1 ports and low latency, this is a surprisingly affordable TV for gamers looking to get the most out of their new consoles.
Best TV remote
Best TV remote: Samsung Eco Remote
It’s rare to see real innovation in TV remotes. They’ve been nearly the same since the early 2000s and only saw a minor improvement once Bluetooth became necessary for voice assistants and universal search functions. But to build a TV that charges with both the sun and can harvest RF signals from your router to maintain that charge? Well, that’s nothing short of miraculous. We like the Samsung Eco Remote not because it revolutionizes how remotes work, but rather because it shows us a new way forward for battery technology inside remotes that could help to keep some 99 million discarded batteries out of landfills worldwide each year from Samsung TVs alone.
Best streaming device
Best streaming device: Roku Streaming Stick 4K
In the last year, Roku updated the best streaming device, and thankfully kept the throne. Yes, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K (released in Oct. 2021) is an update that we can rely on. Not only does it keep the moderately affordable $49 price tag, but it adds two very important features.
First is Dolby Vision, for improved HDR color quality (Atmos would be great too, Roku). Secondly, Roku added a long-range Wi-Fi receiver into the power cable. This has proved to be a fantastic addition in our recent testing, where the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max had stability issues with Sling — issues that disappeared when we switched to the Roku Streaming Stick 4K.
Best streaming service
Best streaming service: HBO Max
HBO Max's last year in streaming is a tale of two streaming services. HBO Max's second half of 2021 stood strong with its "day-and-date" movies, such as The Matrix Resurrections and Dune, giving people an easy way to stay at home and skip the theater's higher prices (and risk of catching Covid-19). Sadly, that plan ended with the start of 2022, as it ruffled too many feathers. But HBO Max also thrived throughout those months with its great original programming, such as Succession season 3, White Lotus and Station Eleven.
This year saw HBO Max deliver a stellar lineup of great shows, though, making sure it didn't suffer without those big-name movies. Righteous Gemstones season 2 proved its first season wasn't a fluke, and Euphoria season 2 practically dominated conversation every week (at least for those brave enough to watch). Then, Peacemaker and Our Flag Means Death delivered strong surprises before many returning favorites — Barry, Made For Love and Hacks — made sure we didn't cancel our accounts.
Best live TV streaming service
Best live TV streaming service: Sling TV
Cutting the cord can save a lot of money, considering how expensive cable is these days. But if you still want to access to various channels to watch your favorite shows, news and sports, you need a live TV streaming service — and Sling TV is our top pick.
Sling’s two base plans offer a decent number of channels at an affordable price. While YouTube TV, Hulu With Live TV and Fubo have more extensive lineups (including all of the broadcast networks), they’re also twice as expensive. An easy-to-use interface, an adequate 50 hours of cloud DVR space and the ability to add on extra channels when you need them (and cancel them when you don’t) provides even more value. We think it says something that Sling has been the cord-cutting choice for several TG staffers.
Best sports streaming service
Best sports streaming service: YouTube TV
Testing the live TV streaming services last year, we found a surprise in the details. Not all of these live TV providers are equally live. YouTube TV, in fact, had one of the shortest delays vs. cable there is, running only 20 to 30 seconds behind. Fubo TV was about 27 behind on average, and Sling TV's around 70 seconds behind. In the age of social media and online gambling, you want that gap as small as possible.
YouTube TV continues to beat Fubo because of its access to the TNT, TBS and truTV channels, which are crucial for NBA and MLB playoff games. Oh, and YouTube TV also has most local broadcast TV networks, and Sling's still missing ABC and CBS. Of course, anyone who wants regional sports networks needs to spend a lot more on DirecTV Stream's $90 tier, which we don't really recommend (though we can't blame folks who need to follow their teams).
Best streaming service original show
Best streaming service original show: Severance
The idea of work-life balance is taken to a thrilling, chilling extreme in Severance. The Apple TV Plus series is part Black Mirror episode, part workplace comedy, part horror spectacle. A group of workers at the monolithic corporation Lumon Industries undergo an experimental procedure that severs their work selves from the rest of their lives. Once a chip has been implanted in their brains, the “innies” work hard, play never. Their “outties” are on perpetual vacation.
Severance excels as a mystery box show, with viewers left guessing (and theorizing on Reddit) as each episode peels back a layer only to raise even more questions. But it’s our favorite show of the past year for more than the puzzles. We’re invested in the people, from Adam Scott’s sad-sack middle manager Mark and rebellious newcomer Helly (Britt Lower) to Irving (John Turturro) and his charming forbidden romance with Burt (Christopher Walken). We need Severance season 2 immediately.
Best streaming service original movie
Best streaming service original movie: The Suicide Squad
Ever since the original Suicide Squad movie, that name had been tarnished. And no matter who you blamed (the anti-Leto camp wants another Joker, and the film's defenders want Warner Bros. Film to #ReleaseTheAyerCut), we bet you saw the notion of a 2016 version being a tough sell. Fortunately, The Suicide Squad won fans left and right, as the James Gunn-directed film contained the same amount of well-channeled chaotic energy he brought to Guardians of the Galaxy.
While its opening act proved just how expendable its heroes are, The Suicide Squad made audiences love (or love to hate) a fantastic crew of weirdo wannabe villains. Marketed with its impossibly-large cast, The Suicide Squad wins because of what Gunn got out of Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, John Cena and the voice of Sylvester Stallone.
Best free streaming service
Best free streaming service: Freevee
When it comes to the best free streaming services, you really don’t need to make a choice like you might between a subscription to Netflix vs. HBO Max. They don’t cost anything after all! You can watch all of them and not pay a cent. But time, like money, is limited. If you want to stick to one, we recommend Freevee, Amazon’s recently renamed service (previously known as IMDb TV).
Freevee has a slightly more extensive (and interesting) movie collection than competitors like Peacock Free and Pluto TV. Some recent titles include The King of Staten Island, Dark Waters, Logan and Hotel Transylvania. The library also has great older TV shows, like Mad Men, and Freevee originals like Bosch: Legacy and Hollywood Houselift With Jeff Lewis.