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The best TV brands in 2021

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

Whenever we start talking about great TVs and TV shopping, the question inevitably comes up: what are the best TV brands? Whether you're scrolling through Amazon or browsing the aisles of your local Best Buy, it's a question that's on the mind of anyone looking for their next great TV.

The brand of TV you choose will determine far more than the logo on your new set. Different TV brands have their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as emphasizing different features and offering their own interface and user experience. And that's all on top of the usual concerns about performance, such as picture and sound quality, color accuracy, contrast and brightness, and everything else that has to be considered when shopping for a new TV.

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.

One of the defining features of any TV is the manufacturer, and this is due to a number of factors. The maker of a TV determines major aspects of the product design and quality, from what software the TV runs to how it looks in your living room.

But some brands are better than others at specific features, whether it is display technology, sound quality, smart TV software, or overall value for the price.

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.

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 Insignia 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 list 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

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.View Deal

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

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).View Deal

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

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.View Deal

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

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.View Deal

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

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.View Deal

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

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.View Deal

Insignia 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.

And the best of these Amazon powered-TVs are made by Insignia, Best Buy's in-house brand. While Insignia is not the only name you'll see touting Amazon Fire TV software, it is the one to look for, offering better performance and build quality than other Amazon-based competitors.

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

Our favorite Insignia Fire TV

The bargain priced Insignia 4K Fire TV Edition (2020 model) is a smart TV for people who want the convenience of Alexa and streaming services in a single package. With 4K resolution, HDR support with Dolby Vision and a huge library of apps and content, the real selling point of the Insignia Fire TV isn't any one feature, but the total package of smart capabilities that are offered in this ultra-affordable TV.View Deal

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:

And check out the best TVs by size:

Best 43-inch TVs | Best 55-inch TVs | Best 65-inch TVs | Best 70-inch TVs | Best 85-inch TVs 

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.