If you're a cord-cutter shopping for a new TV, you may want to check out the best TVs with ATSC 3.0. This feature, also called NextGen TV, is a new broadcasting standard that promises a massive upgrade to over-the-air television. Promising 4K resolution and features like HDR and streaming for free channels, it's the biggest new feature you probably don't know about.
As NextGen TV rolls out across the country, it's facing one major limitation: Most TVs don't have the necessary hardware to view it! All current TVs include a built-in tuner for over-the-air content, but NextGen TV uses the newer ATSC 3.0 standard, and the first ATSC 3.0 tuners only started arriving in new TVs last year.
With ATSC 3.0 tuners currently built into only a handful of premium televisions, it's not a common feature, but as NextGen TV rolls out to more cities across the country, and more stations begin broadcasting with the new signal format, the inclusion of a NextGen TV tuner may wind up being one of the best premium features for cord cutting and 4K content.
We've rounded up every TV we've reviewed that has NextGen TV hardware built in.
What are the best TVs with ATSC 3.0?
Not every TV maker is putting ATSC 3.0 hardware into new TVs. In fact, among the best TV brands, the only ones offering TVs with the new ATC 3.0 tuners are LG, Samsung and Sony. While each TV maker has only a few ATSC 3.0 compatible models, they include some of the best TVs you can buy.
Our favorite is the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV, but it's hardly the only Samsung model. Samsung's entire 8K lineup also includes ATSC 3.0 tuners built-in.
The Sony A80J isn't just a superb OLED TV, it's also one of several models that Sony outfits with NextGen TV tuning gear. Other models include the Master Series Z9J 8K TVs, the Master Series A90J OLED TV and top Bravia LCD smart TVs, like the X95J and X90J.
LG gets two mentions on the list, one for its current LG G1 OLED TV, and a second for last year's LG GX OLED, which was one of the first models with ATSC 3.0 on the market. But the NextGenTV hardware isn't found on much else, aside from the LG Z1 8K OLED models.
ATSC 3.0 TV Black Friday deals
Black Friday deals are here early, and there's already a solid array of discounts available. While you won't find any ads touting ATSC 3.0 tuner technology, you will see plenty of deals on the premium sets that feature the new technology. Some or all of the TVs listed below will see sales prices drop as we approach the holidays, so keep an eye on our Black Friday TV deals page for all the latest sales.
The best TVs with ATSC 3.0 tuners
Our favorite TV with ATSC 3.0 hardware is the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV. Using a combination of Samsung's highly refined quantum dot technology with the tight control of mini-LED backlighting, the QN90A is one of the best TVs we've ever seen. 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.
A NextGen TV tuner is just one of the cutting edge technologies built into the Sony Bravia XR A80J. This 4K OLED TV has HDR, a 120 Hz refresh rate, Google TV software and Sony's own Bravia Core streaming service, 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.
The LG G1 OLED TV is the updated version of LG's superb Gallery GX OLED, boasting a premium 20 millimeter-thick design and sleek flush-to-the-wall mounting setup. A lot goes unchanged, like the impressive profile and built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner. The design is impeccable – enough to win best TV design in the 2021 Tom's Guide Awards. It's still the best 4K OLED TV made by LG, but as the first TV with LG's second-gen OLED evo technology, it falls short of some claimed performance improvements we were pretty excited for.
That said, the LG G1 OLED is still an impressive OLED set, and LG has even knocked the price down a bit, while updating almost everything else about the set. The slim OLED features more comfortable remote control, enhanced gaming features, and the latest version of webOS, all while delivering the same excellent picture quality and impeccable sound that we expect from LG's best OLED models. The LG G1 OLED TV stands as a reminder of just how far modern TV technology has come — we just hope it hasn’t plateaued.
Read our full LG G1 OLED TV review.
The LG GX OLED is the first model from the manufacturer to use the new Gallery design, a super-thin, wall mountable design that has a built-in recessed wall mount. This lets the 20-millimeter-thick TV hang flush against the wall, offering the sort of clean and unobtrusive installation that used to require cutting into the drywall and installing a custom cavity for the TV. Now, anyone can get the same ultra-premium installation without having to call a small team of professionals.
It's also the first TV we reviewed with a NextGen TV tuner for 4K over-the-air channels. The only real reason not to buy the LG GX OLED is that the same performance is available for less money on the LG CX OLED TV, due to the fact that both sets use the same 4K OLED panels and video processing hardware. But if you want the best looking OLED TV, the LG GX is worth the extra money, and deserves a place in your home theater.
Read our full LG GX OLED TV review.
What is NextGen TV?
NextGen TV is the marketing name for the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard, which combines traditional over-the-air broadcasting and improved digital signal encoding with internet connectivity, opening up all sorts of possibilities that were previously unimagined for free broadcast television. (Read our full article ATSC 3.0 explained: How NextGen TV delivers 4K HDR broadcasts for free to learn more.)
Highlights of the features promised by ATSC 3.0 include:
Better signal quality with less interference
Thanks to a move toward UHF signal, it's less prone to interference from obstructions, like buildings or trees, and adds orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), the same technology behind the latest Wi-Fi and mobile wireless technologies. It's a much more robust method for transmitting digital information, and the move will further bolster the signal quality with ATSC 3.0.
Higher resolution for over-the-air broadcast
With a bitrate of up to 57 Mbps – nearly three times as much as the older ATSC 1.0 standard – and support for H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2 codecs, the new standard can deliver much higher video quality, including HDR metadata. Broadcasts in 4K resolution are already possible, with potential for 8K broadcasts in the future.
Combines broadcast TV with broadband internet
This leverages the connected nature of smart TVs to have a dedicated return channel – an active stream of data back to the broadcaster – which makes the new broadcast system a two-way IP-based standard. That could allow broadcasters to pair their traditional content with streaming capabilities, allow for cloud DVR functions, video-on-demand and more targeted advertising.
Available on many more devices
Thanks to the more robust signal quality and the data-connected aspects of the new standard, it will offer better reception for portable and vehicle-bound TVs – two categories that have fallen off sharply since the more fragile digital TV of the ATSC 1.0 standard took effect. You could even get ATSC 3.0 on your phone, provided phone makers opt to add the necessary hardware.
The bottom line is that ATSC 3.0 is aptly named NextGen TV, because it brings several new capabilities and features to broadcast TV.
Do I need a NextGen TV tuner?
As of this writing, no. NextGen TV is still early in its rollout, and any stations you might be able to get with the new tuner you can get on the older ATSC 1.0 standard anyway.
But, if you want the potential to receive 4K signals over the air, or to take advantage of any of the proposed features that are likely to be implemented as NextGen TV rolls out, you will need a new tuner.
While the TVs listed above have ATC 3.0 tuners built in, there are also separate tuner boxes selling now or coming to market in the near future.
How we test TVs
In our TV test space, we submit every TV to a number of lab tests, using industry-standard equipment, such as a calibrated spectrophotometer, calibration software and a dedicated test pattern generator. We measure for several indicators of picture quality, but these are the main metrics used in all of our reviews:
Color gamut, which measures how much color a given TV can produce. Expressed as a percentage rating, most OLED TVs meet or exceed 100% of the Rec709 color space.
Color accuracy, which measures the average deviation from perfect accuracy, expressed as a number (Delta-E), with higher numbers indicating less accurate color.
Contrast, measuring the difference between the darkest darks and brightest brights that a TV can produce, which is expressed as a ratio.
Brightness, measuring the peak luminance of a panel or display. This measure is reported in nits, an industry term for candela per square meter (cd/m2).
Lag time is the interval between a signal, such as button press on a game console, and the subsequent change registering on-screen. Measured with a Leo Bodnar Video Signal Input Lag Tester, this is measured in milliseconds, and provides a good indicator of how well-suited a TV is to modern gaming.
We pair this lab testing with hands-on time, viewing video samples and movies to see how these numbers translate into real-world performance. With that information, we can tell you which TVs look best, sound best and offer the best viewing experience.
Finally, we also evaluate the smart TV software and menus, getting a feel for the navigation and functions of each TV. We look at everything from the remote control design to the voice interaction to let us meaningfully talk about the smart features and overall ease-of-use for a smart TV.
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.
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