We've put more than 500 hours of testing into evaluating more than 40 TVs over the past 12 months. We've evaluated the smart features, lab tested the displays and run the apps to find the best sets out there.
If you want the most jaw-dropping TV on the market, look no further than the 65-inch LG E7 OLED, our pick for the best overall 4K TV. Looking to spend less than $500? The TCL Roku 49S405 is the best value-priced 4K TV.
Credit: Tom's Guide
You can see all of our TV recommendations below that meet your needs and budget, whether you’re looking for a small set for the bedroom or a big-screen that has Chromecast capability built in.
We’ll also walk you through some quick buying tips, how we test TVs and recommend other gear that’s great to get with your new set.
TV News and Updates (March 2018)
Manufacturers update their products periodically to incorporate new technologies and improve upon existing features.
- TCL has announced that its highly anticipated TCL 6-Series TVs will be available for purchase starting May 1. The follow up to the excellent TCL Roku TV 55P607, the new 6 Series line brings premium features like full-array backlighting with local dimming and support for Dolby Vision HDR to mainstream shoppers. Specific prices have not yet been announced, but we expect prices similar to last year’s models.
- Samsung has pulled the wraps off it’s 2018 product lineup, with its premium Q-Series TVs getting updates that improve picture quality, hide cables, and make the smart TV experience a lot smarter. Samsung has also let details slip about its more exotic products, the 8K-ready Q9S and The Wall, the company’s enormous microLED modular display.
- If you want the premium OLED experience for an entry-level price, check out our new pick for affordable OLED TVs, the LG 55-inch C7 OLED, which has dropped below $1,700.
- For a more affordable smart TV, the TCL Roku 55-inch 55S405 boasts 4K resolution and HDR support for under $400, making it one of the best cheap 4K sets we've tested.
Best 4K TV Overall: LG E7 OLED (OLED65E7P)
If you're looking for a cinema-like experience, the 65-inch LG E7 OLED should be at the top of your list. This stunning TV offers fantastic picture quality, thanks to its 4K OLED display. In our testing we were impressed with the TV’s deep blacks, crisp images, and impressive brightness and color fidelity.
The E7 supports all major high dynamic range (HDR) formats, (Dolby Vision, Ultra HD Premium, and HDR10) and sounds so good you may not need a soundbar for excellent audio. But it goes beyond stellar picture quality and cinematic sound with an impressive “picture-on-glass” design and a rich selection of apps and services, making it an excellent smart TV, as well.
Key Specs — Screen Size: 65 inches; Screen Type: OLED; Refresh Rate: 120Hz; HDMI ports: 4; Size: 57.5 x 34.5 x 2.4 inches; Weight: 46.7 pounds
Best Value 4K TV: TCL Roku TV 55P607
For those on a budget, the TCL Roku TV 55P607 delivers a great overall value, with a 55-inch 4K display that delivers a punchier picture than other bargain 4K sets. It also offers robust HDR support with compatibility for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
While plenty of companies have embraced Roku’s smart-TV interface, the TCL 55P607 has the best version of it, complete with Roku’s excellent remote control with voice interaction and a headphone jack for private listening. If you want the best blend of smart TV functions for under a grand, the 55-inch TCL Roku TV 55P607 is the biggest and best around.
Key Specs — Screen Size: 55 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 120Hz; HDMI ports: 3; Size: 49 x 30.1 x 8.3 inches; Weight: 33.1 pounds
Best Entry-Level OLED: LG 55-inch C7 OLED (OLED55C7P)
You can’t beat the quality of an OLED display, but the LG C7 OLED offers top-tier picture quality for its most affordable price. Already one of the best 4K TVs on the market with great color, HDR support, and superb black levels and the excellent WebOS 3.5 smart TV interface, the C7 OLED is also selling for far below its original price. If you’ve been holding off on buying an OLED, this is the set to buy.
Key Specs — Screen Size: 55 inches; Screen Type: OLED; Refresh Rate: 120Hz; HDMI ports: 4; Size: 48.4 x 28 x 1.8 inches; Weight: 38.1 pounds
Best Under $1000: Vizio SmartCast E-Series E65-E0
The Vizio E-Series E65-E0 is a home theater display with superb quality for a sub-$1,000 display. You get Google Chromecast built in for wide-ranging smart functionality, along with HDR support. The only thing you don’t get at this affordable price is a TV tuner for over-the-air content.
Key Specs — Screen Size: 65 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 60Hz; HDMI ports: 4; Size: 57.59 x 35.78 x 10.87 inches; Weight: 57.3 pounds
Best Under $500: TCL Roku 49-inch 49S405
This TV delivers quite the bargain. For less than $500, you get a surprisingly good 4K (3840 x 2160-pixel) display, a healthy selection of ports, as well as the intuitive and feature-packed Roku interface. Plus, with the Roku app, you can use your smartphone as a remote control. While its design is nothing to write home about, the set punches above its weight in both picture quality and sound. Overall the TCL Roku 49S405 is great for those on a budget.
Key Specs — Screen Size: 49 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 60Hz; HDMI ports: 3; Size: 43.7 x 27.3 x 3.0 inches; Weight: 24.9 pounds
Best HDTV Under $300: Insignia NS-39DR510NA17
Credit: InsigniaThe 39-inch Insignia is one of the best HDTVs you can get for under $300, thanks to a combination of good viewing angles, decent color accuracy and bright backlight. It also has solid smarts, with Roku TV built in, giving you all of your online and streaming content through one easy-to-customize home screen.
Key Specs — Screen Size: 39 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 60Hz; HDMI ports: 3; Size: 34.7 x 20.5 x 2.6 inches; Weight: 16.8 pounds
Best Picture Quality: Sony Bravia OLED XBR-65A1E
Credit: SonyThe Sony Bravia XBR-65A1E is a truly superior OLED TV with impressive sound and robust Android TV features. The 65-inch OLED panel delivers deep blacks, strikingly sharp pictures and excellent viewing angles. The 4K set also includes support for Dolby Vision and other HDR formats to deliver better brightness and more colors. Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology is a unique approach to audio, which turns the glass of the display into a speaker, and is a significant improvement in television sound.
Key Specs — Screen Size: 65 inches; Screen Type: OLED; Refresh Rate: 120Hz;
HDMI ports: 4; Size: 62.5 x 7.8 x 39.2 inches; Weight: 108 pounds
Best OLED Alternative: Samsung Q7F QLED TV
Credit: Samsung The Samsung Q7F is a QLED display, which uses a quantum-dot layer to deliver enhanced colors and improved brightness, provides impressive 4K quality and off-axis viewing for considerably less than competing OLED models from LG and Sony. It even looks great from behind, thanks to a sleek and stylish design that’s made to look as good in the middle of the room as it does hanging up on the wall.
Key Specs — Screen Size: 65 inches; Screen Type: QLED; HDMI ports: 4; Size: 56.9 x 36.1 x 13.9 inches; Weight: 62.2 pounds
Quick TV Buying tips
TV shopping can be a flurry of obscure-sounding acronyms and confusing specs, which is why we have our in-depth buying guide and articles that explain everything from OLED technology to HDR content. Here are a few key details you should pay attention to on every TV you consider buying.
- 4K is the way to go: You’ll get much better picture quality with 4K resolution (sometimes called Ultra HD or UHD) than you will with the older 1080p HD format, and 4K is becoming more common and more affordable, available for hundreds rather than thousands of dollars. At this point, 4K TVs are quickly replacing HDTVs as the standard for modern TVs.
- Get the right size: Screen size is another major concern, and while there are specific guidelines to help you find the right size TV for your home, we recommend picking the largest screen size that will fit your home and budget. You can expect to pay about $500 for a lower-priced 50- to 55-inch 4K TV and at least $900 for a 65-inch model.
- Pay attention to refresh rate: The refresh rate indicates the number of times per second that a frame of video is flashed on the screen, measured in hertz (Hz) – the more pictures per second, the more realistic the motion or video should appear. While we recommend buying a set with 120 Hz rate or higher, double check the numbers to make sure you’re looking at the native (or actual) refresh rate of the TV.
- Pay the right price: While you can easily spend thousands of dollars on a 4K TV with a full slate of premium features – OLED or QLED displays, impressive sound options, HDR support and smart TV functions – it is possible to find most of the features you want for under $500. You can also score a better deal by buying at the right time of year. According to our sister site ShopSavvy, you can save a lot by buying that big screen during the Black Friday season that runs from November to early January, and smaller TVs get even more affordable during the June-August back-to-school season.
What Do Smart TVs Cost?
A good TV can be a worthwhile purchase even at high prices, but most 4K Smart TVs sell for $1,000 or more. Premium sets will frequently sell for several thousand, but entry level and budget-friendly models can be found for less than $500.
How We Test TVs
To evaluate TVs we use a combination of instrument-based testing and eyes-on viewing. Our dedicated lab staff tests displays using an Xrite i1 Pro colorimeter and SpectraCal’s CalMan ColorChecker software, allowing us to gather clear, objective data about brightness, color accuracy, color gamut and more. We also test for lag time using a Leo Bodnar HDMI input delay tester, which measures to the millisecond how long it takes for content to travel from the original source to displaying on the screen; this is valuable info for anyone who wants to game on their new TV. We use these results to make numbers-based comparisons about color and display quality.
All the numbers in the world don’t mean much if you haven’t actually watched the TV, so we also spend time with each set for more subjective evaluation. In our testing facility we compare sets side by side, using a variety of content sources and media formats, from newly released movies on 4K UHD Blu-ray to digital files on USB and upscaled 1080p content. We watch live over-the-air channels and stream video from several apps and services, looking for everything from color quality and on-screen detail to upscaling performance and backlight quality.
In our reviews, we combine these real-world findings with our lab test results to provide as clear a picture as possible of a given TV’s performance and viewing experience.
What Else You Should Get with Your TV
- Streaming Services: There are several streaming options ready to serve up all the shows and movies you can binge-watch. Many current TVs have major services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video baked in, with apps preinstalled. Some smart TVs also come with cable replacement apps built in, such as Sling TV and PlayStation Vue.
- Streaming Devices: If your TV doesn’t already offer these sort of smart features, you can easily add them with a separate streaming device, like a Roku Stick or Google Chromecast.
- HD Antenna: When it comes to free content, there’s still nothing quite as robust as the free local and network HDTV channels you can get with a simple antenna. Today’s HDTV antennas are affordable and effective, pulling in channels from miles away while stowing away out of sight, thanks to slim designs.
- Soundbar: You’ll also want to think about getting a soundbar. Most TVs are built to be slim, attracting shoppers with svelte designs that can be hung on a wall. The narrow confines looks slick for a gorgeous display, but they make for lackluster audio. A soundbar gives you big sound and booming bass without the tangle of wires and clutter of a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system.
- Universal remote control: You’ll need a way to command all these devices, along with whatever Blu-ray player, cable or satellite box and other devices you connect to your TV, but it seems like every device has its own remote control. Tame the clutter with a universal remote, which lets you condense these clickers into one handy device. Some even let you control your smart home gadgets.