If you’re shopping around for a new TV, it can be hard to know where to start. There’s a medley of television displays for every budget and specification, including cheap LCD screens and massive 4K TVs with room-shaking speaker systems. So, it can be helpful to pick a TV brand to help you narrow down your options — especially if you’re combing through this year’s Black Friday TV deals.
This is a brief starter guide to the most prominent TV brands out there, packed with advice and guidance from tech experts to help you parse the differences between each one.
According to tech expert Whitson Gordon, senior manager of content marketing at Asus ROG, the brand is not as big a signifier of quality as you might expect. While there are budget-focused brands like Insignia, better-known names like Samsung, LG and Sony each have high-end and low-end models to choose from. Even Hisense, usually considered a budget TV brand, offers a range of premium displays, often on par with its competitors.
Technology journalist Henry St Leger stresses that “the most important question to ask yourself is what your ‘quality bar’ is.” Each brand may have cheap TVs with low specifications, which may be fine if you’re mainly after “a big screen on the cheap.” However, if you’d rather watch TV shows and films in a high resolution, with color-accurate images and detailed sound, “that changes the budget — and the TVs you should be looking at — quite a bit.”
To help you narrow your search for the TV brand that best suits your needs, Select consulted the experts to find out the categories in which each manufacturer excels — from picture quality and processing power to smart capability, audio, sleek design and best value for the price.
According to St Leger, LG makes the best quality movie screens. “Its OLED panels pack a punch — with excellent processing, deep blacks and vivid colors across the board — while the webOS smart platform is possibly the best in the business,” he explained. “Lower-than-average brightness means that [the OLED TVs are] best used for evening movies, though, rather than afternoon sports broadcasts.”
Best LG TV: LG C3 Series 65-Inch OLED
LG’s C Series OLED is widely regarded as one of the best TVs you can buy today, Gordon said, especially for gaming. It has HDMI 2.1 bandwidth, so it’s fully compatible with the Xbox Series X and PS5, and you can play 4K games up to 120Hz without any issues. Gordon added that it boasts perfect black levels that make the picture pop off the screen. This self-lighting OLED is an investment, but Gordon said its detailed picture, Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos compatibility is well worth the price if you can afford it. It’s great for living rooms, family rooms and larger bedrooms, the brand says — and the new LG C3 is slightly brighter than the previous year’s model and has wider audio format support.
Best Affordable LG TV: LG A2 Series 48-inch OLED
For those who can’t afford the C3, though, there’s an entry-level OLED model called the LG A2. It still packs in a 4K OLED panel, with the black levels, high contrast, and vivid color that entails — just with a cheaper processor, fewer performance-boosting features, and a more limited brightness than the C Series. The A2 came out in 2022, though, which makes this budget model even cheaper than new 2023 OLED displays — and you’ll still get the same winning webOS smart platform, excellent app support, good gaming functionality, and compatibility with smart home devices as with higher-end LG TVs.
Samsung is the best all-around TV brand, partially because of its huge TV range, St Leger said. “You can find Samsung TVs for $300 or $3,000, and all [are] generally good for the price,” he noted. “Samsung does excel particularly with bright TVs, especially for more expensive sets — it’s a good bet for daytime viewing especially — and offers far better built-in audio than you’ll find on most of its competitors. A good smart TV platform (Tizen OS) certainly helps, too.”
Best Samsung TV: Samsung 65-Inch Neo QLED QN90C
Samsung is known for its QLED panels, which use Quantum Dots for “fantastic color performance,” Gordon explained, adding that “Its blacks aren’t as deep as its OLED competition (namely spotted in TVs from LG and Sony), but it has a much brighter picture, making it ideal for rooms with a lot of sunlight streaming through.”
The QN90C model is new for 2023, packing in a 4K resolution and AI upscaling that helps non-4K content look closer to its high-res counterpart. This high-end TV packs in a Mini LED backlight, utilizing thousands of tiny LEDs to ensure precise and vivid brightness across the screen, all in a sleek exterior.
Best Samsung TV Design: Samsung 50-Inch The Frame Series
Samsung has also made a splash with unique TVs like The Frame, which acts as a TV when it’s on, and a framed artwork when it’s off. Like other smart art frames, it offers a small selection of paintings for free or access to 1,400 pieces of art from world-renowned institutions, such as the Louvre, the Prado and the Uffizi for a small monthly fee — though you can also upload your photographs and image files too. It’s been slowly improved over the years, with an anti-reflective matte finish, making the artwork look more like a canvas, and an ever-expanding range of metal and wood-like bezels, helping you customize the TV to your decor. Gordon personally owns The Frame and is a big fan. “I love having something other than a black slab to look at on my wall when the TV is off,” he said.
According to Gordon, Sony offers some of the most color-accurate TVs you can buy today, with a solid, smart TV interface (Google TV), good HDR performance and incredible processing power. St Leger agreed though he added that Sony TVs “can be a bit pricey at times.” Another plus is the excellent gaming specifications, which is unsurprising, perhaps, given the Sony PS5.
Best Sony TV: Sony 65-inch A80L 4K OLED TV
Sony makes some very sleek OLED TVs, with a great reputation for naturalistic picture processing and smooth motion for fast, action-packed scenes. OLED panels are known for their high-contrast images, as you can turn individual pixels off, meaning that colors (especially white highlights and light sources) pop against the screen. The A80L also uses Sony’s ‘actuator’ system, which vibrates the panel itself to emit sound — not necessarily a proper substitute for a plug-in sound system or soundbar, but still better than a lot of built-in audio out there.
Best Sony gaming TV: Sony 65-inch X90L 4K Google TV
Sony makes a lot more than just TVs, and anyone with a PS5 (or considering one) may want to check out the X90L. This mid-range LCD TV doesn’t pack in the OLED panel of the model above. However, it does still feature 4K resolution, HDR, a very high brightness, and a host of PS5-ready specifications — including Variable Refresh Rate (to reduce screen tearing), low input lag (for responsive gameplay), 120Hz frame rate (for smooth motion), and two HDMI 2.1 inputs (for transferring high-quality video from your console). Our tech experts noted that those specs work just as well for an Xbox, mind, and it should serve you just fine for TV shows and films alongside.
If you’re upset with the lack of budget-friendly options on this list, don’t worry: There’s a reason for that, Gordon said. While LG, Samsung and Sony all make superb high-end sets, their budget and mid-range sets are often outshined by up-and-comer TCL, which offers great picture quality for the price with a built-in Roku media player. “TCL TVs are generally best for the value, often providing premium specifications at lower-than-average prices,” St Leger added. “That means you can get high-end mini LED displays, or just a good mid-tier screen for everyday TV and games, for a decent amount less than the competition.”
Best TCL TV: TCL 75-Inch Q6 QLED TV
TCL has long had a love affair with QLED — the quantum dot filter technology that helps to boost contrast and color. This Q6 model does without Mini LED lighting, but its full array backlight means it can precisely control brightness output across the screen, highlighting the parts that matter in each scene. With Dolby Vision HDR, 4K resolution, the premium Atmos audio format, and a host of gaming features for PS5 and Xbox Series X, there’s plenty of high-end specification at a mid-range price, even if it makes do with a 60Hz panel instead of the smoother 120Hz models being shipped these days. TCL’s long-running 6 Series TVs were widely considered the best TV you can buy for the money for the last few years, says Gordon — while the Q6 isn’t a direct successor per se, it shows that TCL does deliver at this price.
Best budget TCL TV: TCL 50-inch S4 Google TV
If you’re not fussed about ‘Quantum’ images, the S Class TCL TV may suit you just fine. With a thoroughly feature-filled and app-heavy Google TV interface alongside a budget price point, it joins a long legacy of entry-level TCL TVs that does away with the bells and whistles to focus on the fundamentals. You’ll still get 4K and HDR at this price, just without premium HDR formats or local dimming — meaning contrast and brightness control are unlikely to impress. Still, the TCL S4 should offer good value for what you get.
Vizio sets may not always boast the extra features or high performance of their competitors, but if you’re watching movies on Blu-ray or through a separate streaming box, they’re great for the price, Gordon said. And where high-end specifications creep in, they’re often at a surprisingly good value proposition.
Best Vizio TV: VIZIO 75-inch Quantum Pro 4K QLED TV
Vizio’s Quantum Pro TV offers a lot for its mid-range price, packing in 4K resolution, QLED-level contrast, and an ultra-bright screen at a 50-inch, 65-inch or 75-inch size. For scale alone it gets some points, and low input lag and 120Hz motion means it’s a great choice for games. Just don’t expect quite the level of performance or sleek interface as some other screens in this guide.
Best affordable Vizio TV: VIZIO 40-inch D-Series
Sometimes a small, cheap TV is all you need. This low-cost 40-inch TV will fit easily on a shelf or counter, with a standard 1080p resolution that makes do without 4K or HDR. Vizio’s SmartCast platform also comes with Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay, making it easy to cast content from other devices. At the same time, support for voice assistants and Apple HomeKit means it can connect to a host of different smart home or smart speaker devices.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Whitson Gordon is a senior manager of content marketing at Asus ROG. Previously, he was the editor-in-chief of Lifehacker and a freelance tech journalist.
- Henry St. Leger is a freelance tech journalist. He was previously the home cinema editor at TechRadar and has bylines at T3, MacFormat and Digital Camera World.