Eletiofe The 9 Best TVs (and Helpful Buying Tips)

The 9 Best TVs (and Helpful Buying Tips)

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Saving up for a new screen? To help you navigate the dozens of seemingly identical TV models from Samsung, LG, Vizio, TCL, Sony, and other manufacturers, we’ve watched hundreds of hours of content on them and picked a few of our favorites. We’ve got you covered, with everything from the best budget TV to the absolute best set you can buy if money is no object—and a few excellent choices in between.

We also believe you should invest in a good soundbar and TV streaming stick. TVs now come with wonderful displays, but they’re terrible at sound and running apps. Be sure to check out our many other buying guides.

Unless labeled otherwise, every TV we link to is 55 inches. There are often larger and smaller sizes available on the retailer’s site, but this is a very good size for most living rooms. It’s worth noting that all of these models have a 4K Ultra HD pixel resolution (and some even 8K), because there aren’t a lot of good reasons to buy a standard HDTV anymore, or many for sale.

Updated October 2020: We’ve updated prices and descriptions, and added the 2020 TCL 5- and 6-Series, and the Sony A8H OLED.

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  • TCL flat screen TV

    Photograph: TCL

    The Best Overall

    TCL 6-Series (2020)

    Most of us don’t have gargantuan budgets for a new TV, but we do want to buy one that will last. For that, our favorite TV at the moment is the 2020 TCL 6-Series (9/10, WIRED Recommends). Just like last year’s model, it’s a beautiful 4K TV that marries advanced technology like quantum dots (great for bright colors) and local dimming (for deeper blacks) with a built-in Roku interface.

    TCL is known for competitive pricing, and the latest 6-Series is no exception, providing the image quality we’d expect from LG and Samsung models that cost nearly double the price. It even has Dolby Vision support, our favorite high-dynamic-range format, which provides exceptionally vivid colors.

    Still, it’s the included Micro-LED backlighting that is the star of this year’s show, providing exceptional contrast and nearly none of that annoying “halo” effect when you look at bright objects on dark backgrounds.

  • Photograph: TCL

    Best TV Under $500

    TCL 5 Series (50-inch, 2020)

    TCL’s partnership with Roku has made its TVs quite popular—and they deserve the praise. The 6-Series offers the most perks, but the 2020 5-Series 4K TV with HDR is the top entry-level TV we recommend.

    Unlike the previous model, which was edge-lit, the new 5-Series gets full-array local dimming, which means it has deeper contrast than many TVs. It’s usable for gaming and looks better than the HD set you might have right now. It comes with Roku built in, which means the remote is easy to use, and it streams right out of the box. We recommend the 50-inch model because it’s the best bang for your buck, but TCL does sell other sizes.

  • Photograph: Vizio

    Other Good TVs Under $700

    Other Mid-Range TVs

    • The Hisense H9G ($700) is a great TV for the money, with great local dimming and a bright, quantum dot-enabled display. The one downside is the Android TV interface, which we just don’t like as much as the TCL’s Roku interface. Otherwise, it’s a great-looking option.

    • The Vizio M-Series Quantum 50-Inch ($400) also looks good, though we have not been able to try it yet. Vizio usually makes some of the best affordable TVs around, and we have no reason to believe it isn’t one of the best. We just don’t know for sure. Vizio has also improved its Smartcast interface this year, which makes casting tabs from laptops and cell phones that much easier. Expect great contrast, thanks to Vizio’s excellent local dimming technology. For now they’re a bit tough to find, but if you see one on sale, it’s worth a peek!

    • The Sony X800H this year ($698) is one of the prettiest TVs you can buy for the money thanks in part to its image processing and onboard X1 chip. Below $1,000, the processing is a huge part of what makes one TV better than another and Sony has long had some of the best in the industry. Even without local dimming, the display looks bright and vibrant, and doesn’t bleed too much during dark scenes. It also has a game mode that works well with PlayStations (though it won’t do the full 4K, 120 Hz refresh rate of the Playstation 5).

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