Best TVs 2018

Brian Westover ·
Editor
Updated

Update Dec. 11: Looking for holiday deals? Follow our Best TV deals and Best Smart 4K TV deals for the best sales from now to the New Year.

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 a lot less? The TCL Roku TV 55P607 is the best value-priced 4K TV around. 
 

News and Updates (December 2018)

  • Straight from the set of Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise is urging viewers to turn off motion smoothing, the culprit behind the soap opera effect. We've got the fix in our full guide to disabling the worst feature on smart TVs.
  • LG's got new OLED TVs coming at CES 2019, and they'll be powered by the new Alpha 9 (a9 Gen 2) processor, which promises truer-to-life images and improved color and depth.
  • The amazing rollable LG OLED TV from CES may not stay a prototype. New rumors suggest a consumer product coming in 2019, which LG will debut at CES this January.

Best Overall
LG E7 OLED (OLED65E7P)
The best 4K TV we've reviewed is the LG E7 OLED (OLED65E7P), one of LG's premium OLED displays. The TV boasts cinema-like viewing on its superb OLED panel, but also offers excellent sound quality and a great smart-TV experience.
View on LG
Best Value
TCL Roku TV 43S517
The TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4K TV offers a 43-inch 4K TV that's packed with premium features, excellent performance and a sweet bargain price.
View on Amazon
Best Under $1,000
TCL 6 Series 65-inch Roku TV
TCL's 6 Series Roku TV gives you a 65-inch 4K set with HDR support for a reasonable price. It's everything great about TCL's value-packed TVs, with the same clean Roku interafce, but with better backlighting and an elegant design.
View on Amazon

Recommended TV Deals

  • Samsung 4K/QLED TV Sale

    Still shopping for the right TV? For a limited time, Walmart is taking up to $400 off select Samsung 4K and Samsung 4K QLED TVs with prices starting at $427.99.

    $599 $427.99 @ Wal-Mart
Best Overall

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). The E7 also boasts built-in audio that sounds so good you may not need a separate soundbar for cinematic sound. From delicate vocals to raging action scenes, the sound quality was among the best we've heard on any TV, and even offers deeper immersion with Dolby Atmos sound.

But it goes beyond stellar picture quality and cinematic sound with an impressive "picture-on-glass" design that surrounds the display with translucent glass instead of the traditional black bezel. It also removes much of the bulk you'd expect to see on the backside of a TV. Finally, LG uses its own webOS software for smart-TV functionality. While its online offerings aren't quite as numerous as sets with Android TV or Roku TV built in, we love the snappy user interface and appreciated how easy it was to navigate the uncluttered menus.

The LG remote is also a winner, combining all the familiarity of a traditional TV remote with intuitive navigation controls, a clever clickable scroll wheel and even a gesture-based on-screen mouse.


Key SpecsScreen 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

Pros
  • Stunning OLED picture with broad 4K support
  • Great off-axis viewing
  • Full-throated sound system
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Less robust smart TV offerings than Android TV or Roku TV
$2699Amazon
Read the full review
Best Value
Great things can come in small (and affordable) packages. The TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4K TV is smaller than most TVs we recommend, but with a super affordable price, great picture and sound quality, and a slew of unexpectedly premium features, this 43-inch model is a screaming deal. (And you can find larger sizes at similarly affordable prices). We've reviewed plenty of inexpensive Roku TVs, but TCL's reputation for better-than-average quality and some genuinely exciting features – like Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos audio support, and integrated voice search – make this substantially better than most cheap sets we've seen. Key Specs — Screen Size: 43 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 60Hz; HDMI ports: 3; Size: 37.8 x 22.1 x 2.9 inches; Weight: 18.5 pounds
Pros
  • Great color reproduction and accuracy
  • Excellent HDR support with Dolby Vision
  • Better-than-average Roku experience with voice search
  • Dolby Atmos sound support
Cons
  • Inconsistent backlight
  • Limited port selection
$349.99Amazon
Read the full review
Best Under $1,000
The TCL 6 Series 65-inch Roku TV raises the bar for affordable 4K with excellent picture quality for a sub-$1,000 display, with rich color, smooth action, and excellent black levels for an LCD.
The refined brushed metal design looks better than many more premium sets, and with support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision, along with Roku TV with voice search, it’s easily the best TV you can get for this price. Key Specs — Screen Size: 65 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 60Hz; HDMI ports: 3; Size: 57.1 x 32.9 x 3 inches; Weight: 52.3 pounds
Pros
  • Great picture quality
  • Impressive backlight with 120 dimming zones
  • Roku's smart TV platform is reliably good
Cons
  • Off-angle viewing isn't perfect
  • No private listening headphone jack on remote
Amazon
Read the full review
Best Picture Quality
The Sony Bravia XBR-65A1E is a truly superior OLED TV with superb picture quality, impressive sound and robust Android TV features.
The 65-inch OLED panel delivers deep blacks, strikingly sharp pictures and excellent viewing angles. Even stacked against our favorite premium OLED, the XBR-65A1E provides better color, more brightness and great accuracy, especially with skin tones. The 4K set also includes support for Dolby Vision and other HDR formats to deliver better brightness and more colors. Sony also adds some of its own proprietary video processing, providing the secret sauce that lets the XBR-65A1E offer a better picture than LG's E7 OLED despite Sony using an OLED panel manufactured by LG. Equally impressive is the audio, which uses Sony's Acoustic Surface technology. By placing the speakers directly behind the OLED display and vibrating the glass itself to generate sound waves, Sony delivers dialogue as if it were coming straight out of an actor's mouth on-screen. This is paired with a hefty built-in subwoofer for a full, rich sound. Sony's use of Android TV also makes it one of the best smart TVs out there, with all of the major streaming apps, support for Google Chromecast and Sony's own PlayStation Vue streaming service. The TV also has Google Home functionality built in for voice search and smart-home control. 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
Pros
  • Excellent OLED picture with great viewing angles
  • Impressive built-in sound
  • Well-rounded smart-TV features
Cons
  • Odd leaning tabletop stand
  • Abysmal remote control
$3498Amazon
Read the full review
Best for Cord Cutters

The Vizio P-Series 65-Inch P65-F1 delivers affordable quality to match more expensive competitors and plenty of content options, making it our top pick for cord cutters.

The Vizio P-Series 65-Inch P65-F1 isn’t just a good TV, it’s one of the best Vizio has ever made, and cord cutters will love the combination of apps and content it offers.

Vizio’s smart TVs have been hobbled in recent years by funky smart functionality and the marked absence of a built-in tuner, but the Vizio P-Series 65-Inch P65-F1 corrects these missteps by bring back local apps and adding an integrated coaxial connection and tuner. Add to this solid picture quality and great sound, and the P-Series becomes a contender for any TV shopper.

But the real benefits come from the major flexibility offered by the built-in Chromecast, which opens up the TV to hundreds of apps, on top of the free over-the-air content an antenna brings. Add it all up and this TV looks like the best option for anyone who wants to ditch their cable or satellite subscription.


Key SpecsScreen Size: 65 inches | Screen Type: LCD | Refresh Rate: 120Hz | HDMI ports: 5 | Size: 57 x 32.7 x 2.7 inches | Weight: 54.3 pounds

Pros
  • Excellent picture quality
  • Local dimming with 100-zone backlighting
  • Antenna connection and tuner
Cons
  • Limited local app support
  • No voice assistant
$1198Wal-Mart
Read the full review
Best Entry-Level OLED
If you want an OLED display without paying thousands of dollars, the LG C7 gives you everything that’s great about OLED without the huge price tag.
With a gorgeous OLED display and sleek premium design, the LG 55-inch C7 OLED offers everything you want from a top-tier smart TV, like 4K resolution, HDR support, and flawless black levels. As the price drops on last year's models, the C7 becomes more affordable than ever, making it an easy pick as the best value for anyone looking to get an OLED display without loosing their shirt. 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
Pros
  • Excellent 4K OLED display
  • Support for multiple HDR formats
  • Superb smart TV features
  • Thoughtfully designed remote
Cons
  • Rear ports inaccessible when wall mounted
  • Good audio with Dolby Atmos support
Amazon
Read the full review
Best Smart TV
The Sony XBR-65X900E would be a pretty great TV on its own, but we really loved its smart TV features.
Thanks to a high-quality LCD display and surprisingly great audio, it's easy to recommend the Sony XBR-65X900E. But what we love most about it is Sony’s smart TV offering, an optimized version of Android TV that has an excellent interface, a wide number of apps, built-in Google Chromecast support and integration for Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Key Specs — Screen Size: 65 inches; Screen Type: LCD; Refresh Rate: 120 Hz; HDMI ports: 4; Size: 57 x 32.75 x 2.75 inches; Weight: 54 pounds
Pros
  • Clean design
  • Excellent performance
  • Bright backlight
  • Google Chromecast and Assistant built in
Cons
  • Awkwardly angled port placement
  • Mediocre audio
  • Clunky remote
  • Android TV has its flaws
  • Waiting for Dolby Vision support
Amazon
Read the full review
Best OLED Alternative

Samsung Q8FN QLED TV

The Samsung Q8FN QLED TV uses quantum dot technology and advanced filtering to provide some of the richest colors and deepest black levels you can find on an LCD TV.

If you want an excellent picture without the high price of an OLED TV, consider the Samsung Q8FN QLED TV. With quantum dot technology for brighter colors, local dimming for better backlight control and special filters for impressive black levels, Samsung’s QLED displays provide the best LCD-based option for great picture quality.

Combine this with Samsung's elegant design, polished smart TV platform and rich feature set, and it's easily one of the best TVs on the market today.

Key Specs — Screen Size: 65 inches | Screen Type: LCD | Refresh Rate: 120Hz | HDMI ports: 4 | Size: 57.1 x 32.6 x 2.3 inches | Weight: 58.4 pounds

$1199ABC Tv

How We Test TVs

Tom’s Guide has been testing and reviewing TVs since 2014. Since then, we've watched the TV landscape evolve from stand-alone devices that relied on cable or satellite for 1080p content to today's connected, immersive 4K smart TVs. We've watched prices fluctuate, dropping from astronomical to extremely affordable, and watched as cord-cutting has grown from a niche hobby to a viable alternative to expensive cable packages.

Throughout the year, we meet with the manufacturers and experts behind today's TVs, learning from product engineers and display technicians to understand what goes into a great display. We're briefed on the latest technical developments, from new HDR formats to voice assistants with AI. We've seen early demonstrations of technologies that enhance the viewing experience and gotten close looks at the latest advancements in display technology, all so that we can keep you up to date with what’s changing in the TV industry, and help you to know where things are heading.

But it's not all about the latest tech and fancy features. We also gather expert advice on finding the right model and features for you, whether it's determining the best TV size for your home, or helping you find the best TV for the best price.

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. We use these results to make numbers-based comparisons about color and display quality.

We 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. 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.

Quick Tips for TV Shoppers

TV buying 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 better picture quality with 4K resolution than you will with the older 1080p HD format, and 4K sets have replaced HDTVs as the standard for modern TVs.

Get the right size: 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 55-inch 4K TV and at least $900 for a 65-inch model.

Pay attention to refresh rate: The higher the refresh rate, the more realistic the motion or video should appear on-screen. While 60Hz is common, we recommend 120Hz rate or higher.

Pay the right price: You can spend thousands on a new TV, but it's often possible to find most of the features you want for under $500.


Additional Shopping Advice

As you shop for TVs and read reviews, you'll see that not all TVs use the same display technology. Most TVs use LCD display panels with LED backlighting. These TVs offer great brightness and can have superb color quality, but struggle with blacks and dark imagery. The best displays available today use OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diode. Using organic material to create individual light-emitting pixels, there's no need for a backlight, making for slimmer display panels that offer the deepest black levels available. Of the two, OLED is more expensive.

MORE: Buying a TV? Here Are 11 Things You Should Know

Many manufacturers are also offering enhanced versions of LCD technology under brand names like Samsung's QLED. These are still backlit LCD displays, but they use quantum-dot technology and local backlight dimming to narrow the gap in quality between LCD and OLED panels.

Another important feature if you want the best picture available is high dynamic range (HDR) support. This technology lets TVs deliver more colors, better contrast levels and increased brightness. There are different formats of HDR, with a basic standard called HDR10 and several competing premium formats, like Dolby Vision, HDR10 Plus and Technicolor Advanced HDR. Each format has its benefits, but you'll  see the full capability of each only when playing media that is supported by the display.

MORE: Smart TVs: Everything You Need to Know

Skip the curved TV sets, though. Flat screen TVs have remained the standard for premium home theater gear because they can be easily enjoyed by multiple viewers. With a curved panel, sharing the screen with other people is hampered by severely limited viewing angles. The bottom line is that curved TVs are mostly a marketing gimmick.

Finally, you will almost definitely be getting a smart TV, because nearly every TV on the market has both network connectivity and support for streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu. However, not all smart-TV platforms are created equal. Some of the larger manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, offer their own proprietary TV interfaces, while others opt for third-party solutions, like Roku and Android TV.


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 a 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 look 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.