Compared with buying a PC or a phone, you probably don't have to replace your TV very often. But when you finally do, it can seem like a whole new world of confusion. The latest jargon — 4K, 8K, HDR, HDMI 2.1, OLED, QLED, 120Hz, Smart LED, Ultra HD, the list goes on and on — is overwhelming, particularly for someone who hasn't shopped for a new television in five or 10 years.
I've been reviewing TVs since the days of rear projection and plasma, and I try to keep it as simple as possible. I concentrate on one concept: picture quality for the money.
The list below represents the best TVs I've reviewed in CNET's test lab, where I compare them side by side to see which ones are most worth buying. Here are my latest recommendations, with the following notes to keep in mind.
- Unless noted otherwise, all of the prices you'll see are for 65-inch models.
- Looking for a specific size? Check out: 32-inch TVs, 43-inch TVs, 55-inch TVs, 65-inch TVs and 75-inch TVs.
- Don't see what you're looking for below? Here are all of the TVs I've reviewed, with more coming soon.
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Best high-end TV for the money
LG OLEDB9P series
OLED TVs are the picture quality kings, but they're not cheap. The TVs' OLED displays use organic light-emitting diode technology to deliver a contrast ratio, viewing angles, and a wide color gamut that no LCD TV (or QLED TV) can match. All of LG's 2019 OLED models include the latest version of the HDMI standard: 2.1. That means their HDMI ports can handle 4K at 120fps, as well as two gamer-friendly extras: variable refresh rate and automatic low latency mode (aka auto game mode). As the least expensive OLED TV, the B9 is our favorite overall for high-end shoppers. It fell just a bit short of the C9 in image quality in our tests, but the differences are minuscule — and since it's less expensive than the C9, it's a better value.
Sizes: 55-, 65-, 77-inch. Read our LG OLEDB9P series review.
$1,897 at Amazon $1,897 at Walmart $1,900 at Best Buy
Read more: How to buy a TV
Best TV for the money, period
No TV I've ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The latest version of the TCL 6-Series has even better image quality than its predecessor, thanks to improved color, and its well-implemented full-array local dimming helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. As if that's not enough, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite.
Sizes: 55-, 65-inch. Read our TCL 6-Series (2019 Roku TV) review.
$750 at Amazon $750 at Walmart $750 at Best Buy
Read more: Best 65-inch TVs for 2020
The picture quality king, by a nose
LG OLEDC9P series
What's that you say? You just want the best, money no object? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests the C9 is the best TV I've ever reviewed, barely beating the B9 (above), although the B9 is a superior value — almost as good and much less expensive. But if that "barely" matters to you, the C9 might be worth the extra cash.
Sizes: 55-, 65-, 77-inch. Read our LG OLEDC9P series review.
$2,197 at Amazon $2,197 at Walmart $2,200 at Best Buy
Read more: Best TVs for gaming with low input lag
Best alternative to OLED
Vizio P-Series Quantum X
Can't afford an OLED TV? Still willing to pay extra — but not that much extra — for good color and outstanding image quality? The Vizio PX is our pick for you, with superb light output no OLED can match, top-notch local dimming and all the high-contrast, high dynamic range joy that comes with it. Its closest competitor is the TCL below — but this Vizio is the superior value.
Sizes: 65-, 75-inch. Read our Vizio P-Series Quantum X review.
$1,498 at Walmart $1,500 at B&H Photo-Video
Read more: Best 75-inch TVs for 2020
Best budget TV
Roku is our favorite platform for live TV streaming apps like Netflix, and it's even better baked into the TV. This TCL 4-Series can't beat any of the models above on image quality — its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don't do anything to help the picture — but it's perfectly fine for most people, especially at this price.
Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-inch. (The price shown below is for the 43-inch size.) Read our TCL S425 series (Roku TV) review.
$230 at Amazon $230 at Walmart $230 at Best Buy
Read more: HDR formats like Dolby Vision, HDR10, Technicolor and HLG explained
Best picture quality in a non-OLED
Speaking of top-of-the-line, this TCL features Mini-LED, a technology that isn't found on any other TV currently available. The result is superb contrast, brightness and high dynamic range that outdoes the Vizio PX by a nose, although it doesn't quite hit OLED levels. We still consider the PX a better OLED alternative, however, because its picture quality is almost as good and it costs a lot less, especially in the 75-inch size.
Sizes: 65-, 75-inch. Read our TCL 8-Series (2019 Roku TV) review.
$2,000 at Best Buy
Read more: How Samsung QLED and LG OLED, the two best TV technologies, compare in 2020
Best value in a premium-brand TV
Samsung Q70R series
Samsung's QLED TV is basically a fancy, smart LCD TV — don't confuse it with OLEDs. The Q70R has an excellent picture and plenty of Samsung design and features goodies for a price that's relatively affordable, albeit not exactly "budget." If you're not interested in a TCL or Vizio and don't want to splurge for an OLED, the Q70 is an excellent choice.
Sizes: 49-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 82-inch. Read our Samsung Q70 series (2019) review.
$933 at Amazon $1,198 at Walmart $1,400 at Best Buy
Second-best TV for the money
Vizio M8-Series Quantum
Aside from the TCL 6-Series above, no TV offers this much picture for this little cash. In my comparisons, the TCL won slightly in a couple of important areas, in particular HDR brightness and contrast and black levels. I'd also recommend the TCL to streaming-centric viewers because of its superior Roku smart HDTV system. And its color accuracy is superb. All of that said, the Vizio is still an excellent choice and sometimes available for less than the TCL — just make sure you're getting the M8, not the M7.
Sizes: 55-, 65-inch. Read our Vizio M-Series Quantum M8 series (2019) review.
$668 at Walmart $670 at Best Buy $670 at B&H Photo-Video
Best smaller budget smart TV
For sizes smaller than 55 inches, and for people who value smarts over image quality, these non-4K Roku TVs make the most sense. The picture is "good enough" and the built-in smarts are superb — just enough to watch the final season of "The Office" or "Friends" content. And the price is perfect for a kids' room or secondary room where you don't need a massive screen.
Sizes: 28-, 32-, 40-, 43-, 49-inch. (The price shown below is for the 40-inch size.) Read our TCL S325 series (Roku TV) review.
$128 at Amazon $129 at Walmart $130 at Best Buy
Other stuff to know about buying a new TV
I'm pretty sure you'd be happy with any one of the TVs above, but a new set can be a big investment, so maybe you're looking for a bit more information. Here's a quick and dirty list.
- Prices for 2019 TVs started hitting their lowest points around late November (for Black Friday) and will continue to go on sale through the spring.
- In spring 2020 new TV models will arrive, but since TVs are generally a mature technology, they won't be worth waiting for if you want a TV now.
- In my opinion, bigger is better. Big TVs are cheaper than ever, and your money is best spent on large screen sizes rather than a slight upgrade in image quality.
- If you don't like the built-in smart TV system, you can always add a media streamer. They're cheap and easy to use, and receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs. See our picks of the best media streamers.
- Most built-in speakers sound terrible, so it's worthwhile to pair your new set with a soundbar or other speaker system. Good ones start at around $100. See the best soundbars.
Looking for even more info? Here's everything to know about buying a new TV in 2020.
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Originally published last year. Updated periodically with new recommendations.
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