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The best smart TVs for streaming in 2021

Included in this guide:

Samsung Neo QLED 4K TV
(Image credit: Samsung)

The best smart TVs for streaming get you equipped for today's TV landscape, where the latest hit show is as likely to premiere on Netflix and HBO Max as it is to come from a major network. Shows, movies, sports and news are all part of today's rich streaming landscape, but if you don't have a smart TV or a streaming device, you're missing out on today's best TVs. And the best smart TVs for streaming give you everything you need to get every show you want.

Some of our favorite smart TVs boast unusual features like exclusive streaming services and broader app selection than others, but all of our favorite TVs offer plenty of smart features and all of the major streaming outlets, making it easy to get a TV that meets your needs.

After hours of testing and dozens of reviews, these are the best smart TVs for streaming.

What are the best smart TVs for streaming?

When it comes to finding a great smart TV, all of our favorites have the basics covered. You need a TV with internet connectivity, generally with Wi-Fi built in, access to apps, from big name favorites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to free streaming services and niche apps that help you find exactly what you want.

Our favorite smart TVs for streaming include the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV, offering Neo QLED, which has a killer combination of QLED color and mini-LED backlight. Pair that with a stylish design, rich smart features and fantastic sound, and it's easily the best 4K TV we've reviewed this year.

The LG C1 OLED is a close second, with fantastic performance and killer gaming chops. It's a little on the pricey side, but you'll be thrilled with the quality of this TV on every level.

But for great value we love the TCL 6-Series Roku TV R635. It combines the solid Roku smart TV interface with premium display technology and stellar performance for much less than competing premium sets. If you want the best 4K smart TV for less money, this is it.

The best smart TVs for streaming in 2021

Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV review

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV

The new QLED leader

Specifications
Available Screen Sizes: 55, 65, 75, 85 inches
Screen Type: QLED
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
HDMI ports: 4 HDMI (1 HDMI 2.1)
Size: 56.9 x 32.6 x 1 inches
Weight: 53.8 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful, thin design+Neo QLED delivers incredible brightness+Impressive anti-glare abilities+New solar-chargeable remote
Reasons to avoid
-Visible blooming at times-Just one HDMI 2.1 port-No Dolby Vision support

The Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV combines Samsung's highly refined quantum dot technology with the tight control of mini-LED backlighting, resulting in one of the best TV displays you'll ever see. Brilliant color and unmatched brightness make for superb performance, and Samsung pairs that with a bounty of smart TV functions and genuinely intelligent features, like a solar-powered remote control that eliminates the need to swap out batteries – delivering eco-friendly design and unbeaten convenience at the same time.

The whole thing is packed into a gorgeous 1-inch-thick design that contains a huge array of smart features, potent Dolby Atmos sound and some of the best performance we've ever seen. HDMI 2.1 connectivity comes standard, along with gamer-friendly features and impressive 12.6-millisecond lag time for an unparalleled gaming experience. It's the best TV we've seen this year, and the winner of the 2021 Tom's Guide Award for Best TV, and a second award as the best gaming TV of the year.

Read our full Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV review.

LG C1 OLED TV

(Image credit: LG)

2. Best OLED TV: LG C1 OLED

A killer OLED and the best gaming TV you can get

Specifications
Available Screen Sizes: 48, 55, 65, 77, 83 inches
Screen Type: OLED
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
HDMI ports: 4 HDMI 2.1 (1 eARC)
Size: 48.3 x 27.8 x 1.8 inches
Weight: 41.7 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic picture quality that demonstrates why OLED is superior+Future-proof HDMI 2.1 connectivity+Best-in-class gaming performance with additional gaming features
Reasons to avoid
-LG's webOS is missing some apps-Sound quality is good – after some tweaking

The LG C1 OLED is a fantastic value among premium TVs, offering an amazing OLED display, a full complement of HDMI 2.1 ports, and the best gaming performance and features you can get. The display offers rich picture quality with impeccable contrast and sharpness, superb HDR support and gaming performance that beats everything else we've seen. Combine all of that with a stunning design and better-than-average sound, and you've got one of the best TVs you can buy.

LG's webOS faces stiffer competition on app selection and features, but smart options, like your choice of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants, AI-driven sports alerts, and gaming features like the game optimizer menu and support for Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Cloud keep it in the mix for the best smart TVs. All in all, it delivers incredible quality and solid value for the admittedly premium price, making it one of the best TVs we've seen all year.

Read our full LG C1 OLED TV review

TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635)

(Image credit: TCL)

3. TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635)

The best smart TV value on the market

Specifications
Available Screen Sizes: 55, 65, 75 inches
Screen Type: QLED
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
Ports: 4 HDMI, 1 USB
Size: 48.3 x 28.1 x 2.8 inches
Weight: 41.9 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Excellent QLED and mini-LED display+Great gaming performance+Roku TV offers a huge app selection and easy interface+Improved Roku remote
Reasons to avoid
-Sound is a little weak-Roku is missing some of the latest apps

The TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) offers tremendous value for its budget-friendly price, with superb picture quality and a great smart TV experience for much less than the competition. As TCL's best mainstream smart TV, the R635 ups the ante with mini-LED backlighting in addition to QLED. The result is impressive color and brightness, with some of the best HDR performance we've seen on anything this side of an OLED display.

But TCL keeps delivering more, like THX Certified Game Mode, which makes the 6-Series one of the best gaming TVs available, for consoles like the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. From the design's smart touches, like cable management in the stand, to the always-solid Roku TV platform, the TCL 6-Series R635 is the best smart TV value, no contest.

Read our full TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review.

Best smart TVs for streaming: Sony Bravia A80J OLEDEditor's Choice

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Best Sony OLED: Sony Bravia XR A80J

An excellent OLED with next-gen tech

Specifications
Available Screen Sizes: 55, 65, 77 inches
Screen Type: OLED
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
HDMI ports: 4 (2 HDMI 2.1)
Size: 57.1 x 33 x 2.1 inches
Weight: 49.2 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding picture, audio quality+Lots of dynamic and smart features that really work+Powerful Google TV interface
Reasons to avoid
-Dynamic adjustments needed for best picture-Not all HDMI ports support HDMI 2.1-Bravia Core streaming service doesn’t dazzle

The Sony Bravia XR A80J is one of the best streaming TVs out there, thanks to Google TV streaming and Sony's own Bravia Core service. And it's absolutely packed with futuristic technologies: this 4K OLED TV has HDR, a 120 Hz refresh rate, ATSC 3.0 tuner, Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology… the list goes on. Sure, not everyone will need everything here, but it's nice to have the option.

Just as importantly, it also excels at the basics — contrast is superb, colors are rich and varied, viewing angles are impressive and it handles upscaling well. Sound is also excellent and Google TV is a big upgrade on the older Android TV. Against that, the XR A80J requires a little more tweaking in order to look its best; it's fine out of the box, but to really reach its full potential, you'll want to play around with various modes. It's not the cheapest and other sets beat it purely based on picture quality, but as an all-round package the A80J is a great choice.

Read our full Sony Bravia XR A80J review.

TCL 5-Series Google TV (S546)Editor's Choice

(Image credit: TCL)

5. TCL 5-Series Google TV (S546)

A killer QLED value with Google TV

Specifications
Available Screen Sizes: 5, 55, 65, 75 inches
Screen Type: QLED
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
HDMI ports: 3 HDMI (1 eARC)
Size: 57 x 32.7 x 3 inches
Weight: 70.1 pounds
Reasons to buy
+QLED display with local dimming for excellent HDR performance+Great color quality and smooth motion+Google TV is a serious upgrade from Roku+Affordably priced
Reasons to avoid
-Limited viewing angles-Audio is good, but not great

The TCL 5-Series Google TV (S546) wowed us with its combination of smart TV features, solid performance and great  value for your dollar. Building on the foundation of the already-good 5-Series, the move to Google TV gives the affordable 4K smart TV a more premium smart TV platform, one that offers personalized and customizable suggestions, a huge assortment of smart features, and deep Google Assistant integration that makes it a viable center for the entire home of connected gadgets.

But it also offers a step up in other aspects of the TV. From color quality to lag times, the 5-Series Google TV is a more polished version of the 5-Series TV, delivering an excellent QLED 4K display, a slick remote control, and a surprisingly wide array of gaming features for a 60Hz TV. For a smart TV that sells for under $1,000 for most size options, it's easily one of the best TVs on the market.

Read our full TCL 5-Series Google TV (S546) review. 

Hisense U8G Android TV (65U8G) review

(Image credit: Hisense)

6. Hisense U8G Android TV

A great value for an Android TV

Specifications
Available Screen Sizes: 55, 65 inches
Screen Type: LCD with Quantum dot
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
HDMI ports: 4 (2 HDMI 2.1, 2 HDMI 2.0)
Size: 57.1 x 33.1 x 4.1 inches
Weight: 53.4 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Very bright+Excellent sharpness, color and contrast+Low lag time
Reasons to avoid
-Overactive motion smoothing-Mediocre viewing angles

The Hisense U8G Android TV is our favorite Hisense model, and one of the best Android TVs around. With a quantum dot-enhanced display for rich color and integrated Chromecast and Google Assistant, it's a full-featured smart TV that offers great quality for a reasonable price. With support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, it also offers the best HDR format support you can find, along with Dolby Atmos sound. It has built-in voice control with room-listening microphones, effectively letting you use the TV as a smart speaker, and offering the sort of smart home integration and control that would normally cost much more.

In our review, we were especially impressed by the U8G's brightness, which exceeds 700 nits of peak brightness and combines with the better-than-average HDR support for great performance that brings out highlights and shadows. With few complaints and lots of great perks, the Hisense U8G Android TV is easily our new favorite Hisense model.

Read our full Hisense U8G Android TV (65U8G) review.

Toshiba C350 Fire TV review

(Image credit: Toshiba)

6. Toshiba C350 Fire TV (2021 model)

The best Amazon Fire TV

Specifications
Available Screen Sizes: 43, 50, 55 inches
Screen Type: LCD
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
HDR support: Dolby Vision, HDR10
HDMI ports: 4 HDMI (1 ARC)
Size: 37.9 x 22.0 x 2.9 inches
Weight: 15.0 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Responsive Fire TV+Good color in standard mode+Low lag time
Reasons to avoid
-Flat HDR-Inconsistent backlighting

The Toshiba C350 Fire TV is the 2021 addition to the small family of Amazon-powered smart TVs, offering good features and decent performance for its extremely affordable price. It's a decent example of the Fire TV template, combining good-enough 4K picture quality, impressively short lag times, and Amazon's great Fire TV smart features, like built-in Alexa voice control, a pretty big app store and (of course) an interface that puts Amazon's Prime Video service front and center. With even the largest 55-inch model selling for less than $500 (and likely much less during sales events), it's one of the smartest affordable TVs you can get.

The C350 doesn’t come with the latest bells and whistles, such as HDMI 2.1 or Dolby Atmos support, but it does Dolby Vision and HDR10 — though not very well. But with excellent color accuracy, low lag time and a good looking design, it's still a solid TV for the price, and better than many Fire TV models we've seen in the past.

Read our full Toshiba C350 Fire TV review.

What makes a smart TV good for streaming?

When it comes to smart TVs there are plenty of factors to consider, but a great streaming TV has a few key characteristics. Let's start with the operating system.

Software: The modern smart TV is essentially a computer, and that means dealing with software. For smart TVs this means the operating system, which serves as the main interface for all of your menus and content, and then a broad selection of apps that let you customize your experience.

Apps: Operating systems and apps vary a bit from one brand to the next, but you can count on most TVs offering similar support for a fairly similar lineup of apps. Popular services like Netflix and Hulu get support pretty much across the board, while other services, like HBO Max and Apple TV have made it to most TVs, but some are slower than others. Once you start looking at more specialized apps, however, it can be very hot or miss as you consider different smart TV systems. When in doubt, look up whether the app in question is supported for the TV you're considering before you make the decision to buy.

Some brands, such as Vizio's SmartCast platform, may have a limited selection of local apps, but allow the use of missing apps through built in Google Chromecast or Apple AirPlay. In these situations, you may still be able to enjoy the content and services you want, but you'll need to decide whether it's worth jumping through some extra hoops to do so.

Picture modes: For those who really want to optimize the streaming experience, you'll want to know about picture modes. Several brands, including LG, Samsung and Vizio all offer Filmmaker Mode, which eliminates motion smoothing (the so-called Soap Opera effect) and presents movies and shows pretty much untouched, preserving the filmmaker's original intentions.

Other brands, like Sony and TCL, have opted to skip that specific mode, though you can turn off unwanted motion smoothing and color correction manually on the sets. And Sony offers a Netflix Calibrated mode, a picture mode developed in partnership with Netflix to display all of the shows and movies from the big name streamer at optimal settings.

Voice interaction: Other streaming friendly features include voice search to quickly find exactly what you want without getting bogged down in on-screen keyboards. This voice interaction will often include voice controls for functions like opening specific apps or adjusting volume, but voice search is generally the most useful application for TVs.

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 TV brands | Best Samsung TVs | Best TCL TVs | Best LG TVs | Best Roku TVs | Best Google TVs | Best OLED TVs | Best QLED TVs | Best 8K TVs | Best HDMI 2.1 TV | Best TVs with ATSC 3.0 | Best TVs with Chromecast

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.

Don't forget your network

Finally, the thing that might have the biggest impact on your streaming performance might not be your TV at all. If you haven't upgraded your router in the last year or two, chances are high that you're not using current equipment, whether it's a basic Wireless AC router or the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard.

And while you're at it, you also want to make sure you've got one of the best cable modems and check out our guide What internet speed do I need? to make sure that you've got a broadband plan that can handle all of your streaming needs. And we've also got a handy guide to the best Wi-Fi setup for streaming that can help you make the most of your wireless signal, so you never get stuck buffering or watching at low resolution.

Check out all of our home networking coverage:

Best Wi-Fi routers | Best mesh routers | Best Wi-Fi 6 routers | Best Wi-Fi extenders | Best powerline extenders | Best cable modems

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.
  • Casey-90
    This TCL 40-inch TV offers a great solution for most casual home setups. We have put it in our closet like armoire that had been previously accommodating a fifteen year old standard definition 42" plasma TV. That old plasma had been handed down from our family room a few years ago when we upgraded. The problem was, it required we keep an extra cable box setup in our bedroom at a cost of $11/month. Since we infrequently use the bedroom TV it did not make financial sense to keep the cable setup and as a result we sacrificed a usable TV. This TV was a reasonable investment whose upfront cost would offset the cable box setup in a little over a year. We also now have Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Music and many broadcast channels from the internal antenna jack and all the app channels we care to add on (ESPN, News, etc).
    The installation was simple and required nothing but another device with an internet connection to verify connections/logins (I used my iPhone). The remote control is simple to use and the TV's interface is simple to navigate. For a simple home setup, this TV is perfect; with its nice HD picture, simple interface, reasonable price and internal speakers. This was well worth the purchase for our needs and I would recommend this TV for all but those looking to use it as part of some glorious theater setup.
    Reply