IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Best smart TVs to consider: How to find the best TV for you

Buying a new TV is a big decision, but we have all the expertise you need to make the best TV purchase possible.
This year, get intentional about the TV you get and study up on what you want it to be (and do) before clicking the buy button.
This year, get intentional about the TV you get and study up on what you want it to be (and do) before clicking the buy button.Best Buy

If you’re looking to upgrade your current smart TV, we don’t blame you — in today’s smart TV market, there are always new and improved television displays to consider, pushing the humble TV to bigger, brighter and bolder pictures than ever before.

In a good sale — like on Black Friday, for instance — you can save hundreds on a quality screen, but you won’t get the most bang for your buck unless you know what it is you’re looking for, and what you should expect from a modern smart TV. Below, we broke down the most important TV specifications, including the difference between OLED and QLED screens, how 4K and HDR work together for a better, more detailed picture, and everything that today’s smart TVs can do that older models can’t.

It’s important to know your budget, as smart TVs can cost as little as a few hundred dollars or as much as a few thousand — but whatever your ideal price point, there’s a smart TV and TV brand that should fit your needs.

Best TV screen size for your space

Smart TVs come in all shapes and sizes, and the best screen size will depend on the size of the room that will be housing it, as well as how far away you plan on sitting.

“The general rule of thumb for optimal viewing distance should be 1.5 times the screen size [in inches], but because most people probably don't move their couch, I personally would just go for as large a screen size as your budget/space can allow,” said Vincent Teoh, a TV technologist who runs the HDTVTest YouTube channel. “For example, assuming a viewing distance of 10 feet away [or 120 inches], I would not go smaller than a 75-inch screen, and will even stretch to 85 inches if feasible.”

For smaller screens, you should just make sure you can sit a correspondingly closer distance. Keep in mind, too, that big viewing parties (for things like sports matches and family movies) could benefit from larger screens to ensure visibility around the room.

TCL 40-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV

A fine and common size for many typical living rooms, here's an example of a solid 40-inch TV.

LG C2 55-Inch OLED TV

One of the best all-round TVs for those wanting the full OLED experience, this TV from LG has a fantastic webOS platform, incredible picture quality and HDMI 2.1 support. It uses the a9 Gen 5 processor, which is able to generate images worthy of this excellent 4K OLED panel. This is the best 55-inch screen you’ll get for the price.

Samsung QN85B Neo QLED 4K Smart Tizen TV

An excellent mid-range Samsung TV, this QLED model uses Mini LED technology for crisp, bright, high-contrast images. The sleek Tizen smart platform, comprehensive color coverage and 60W Dolby Atmos speakers are a true treat for a home television.

Resolution: Do you need a 4K or 8K TV, or is 1080p good enough?

Resolution is effectively just the level of detail your TV screen is capable of, and it’s determined by the number of pixels packed into a single screen. A small, low-pixel screen is capable of limited detail, whereas a larger, high-pixel screen will let you see a lot more visual information when watching TV shows or films.

4K is increasingly the standard for new TVs and is available at a number of screen sizes — ‘4K’ refers to the roughly 4,000 pixels you’ll find in a single row across the screen, for a total of eight million pixels overall. 4K TVs generally have a host of other beneficial picture qualities thrown in, too, such as HDR — high dynamic range — for richer colors or support for Dolby Atmos (an improved audio standard).

TVs that are 40 inches or larger are generally 4K (and should be), while smaller displays generally make do with 720p (720 pixels measured vertically) or 1080p (1080 pixels measured vertically). That’s because, on smaller screens, pixels are crammed so close together that there’s little point making them 4K — you won’t really be able to notice the extra detail at a normal viewing distance.

If you have a larger space and don’t mind spending extra money, you may want to consider an 8K TV. 8K screens have roughly 8,000 pixels horizontally, four times as many pixels as a 4K panel. You won’t really find any 8K TV shows, but these TVs are able to “upscale” video content to essentially invent more pixels and give the appearance of greater detail. It’s certainly a luxury technology, though, and you can get an equivalent 4K TV for much less cash.

Samsung 65-Inch QN900B Neo QLED 8K TV

If you want a crisp 8K resolution, this Samsung flagship is what you’re after. With Mini LED lighting, 90W multi-channel speakers and a breathlessly elegant all-screen design, this is the high-resolution screen for the high-budget buyer.

TCL 75-Inch 6-Series Mini LED QLED 8K TV

TCL’s 8K model costs a little less than Samsung’s flagship, but still comes with plenty of premium technologies such as Mini LED lighting and QLED contrast for a standout picture.

Sony Bravia A80K 55-Inch 4K OLED Google TV

Sony has a strong reputation for its picture processing and motion control, making it a great option for action-packed movies, sports matches and everything in between. You’ll get a crisp 4K picture on an OLED panel with incredible color and brightness control, alongside an upgraded Google TV platform.

LED, OLED, QLED and Mini LED: Which panel type is right for you?

Every TV has some way of emitting light to you, the viewer. Most TVs do this by using a backlight, a built-in array of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that shine light through the panel, creating images that you can see. Sometimes they use side lighting instead, which uses LEDs built into the side of the panel — this is a little cheaper, but it makes for less consistent brightness across the screen.

QLED builds on this same concept but adds in an additional quantum dot layer, which improves color and contrast. Most Samsung TVs use some kind of QLED technology, with some classified as Neo QLED, which refers to the brand’s most impressive high-end models that use upgraded LEDs for heightened brightness and color impact.

Other LED TVs are classified as Mini LED, which means that the light-emitting diodes are especially small (generally under 0.2mm in diameter), vastly increasing the number of diodes in a singular TV and making for far superior brightness control.

OLED is another kettle of fish entirely. OLED (or organic LED) doesn’t use a backlight at all. Instead, these panels are self-emitting, meaning that individual pixels can be turned on and off in a host of different hues and shades for incredibly rich colors. The ability to turn pixels off entirely also ensures deep blacks and bright highlights in contrast to each other.

Most TV brands offer a mix of different panel types, but generally speaking, Samsung and TCL offer QLED and Mini LED, while LG, Panasonic and Sony push OLED for their premium screens. So how are you meant to choose?

Generally, cheaper models will be LED by default. You can get a relatively affordable QLED these days, too, and it can be a good bet for those with smaller budgets or those looking for a good all-around, mid-range television. Cinephiles will want an OLED screen because of the excellent picture, but a Neo QLED or Mini LED model will have higher brightness, making for better daytime viewing — OLED is a little dim in comparison and works best in dark viewing conditions.

LG G2 OLED 65-Inch TV

This step-up OLED TV has everything you need in a modern TV: a sleek interface, breathtaking picture quality and 20% increased brightness over LG’s other OLED models, according to the brand. With the G2, the future of OLED certainly looks bright.

TCL 55-Inch 6-Series Mini LED TV

Mini LED lighting on a mid-range TV? That’s what TCL has done with this 55-inch 6-Series model, which uses a premium backlight for incredible contrast and brightness. Even if it won’t be quite as refined a picture as some higher-end models, it has a capable Google TV platform and 4K resolution, making it a good choice overall.

Samsung 65-Inch Q80B QLED 4K Smart TV

This mid-range QLED TV uses a full-array backlight, meaning you’ll get consistent brightness across this capable, high-contrast screen. It’s a solid all-rounder that ditches the most premium technologies but offers a great picture and specification regardless.

Vizio 55-Inch OLED 4K UHD Smart TV

If you're ready to spring for an OLED TV but can't quite afford the offerings from LG and Sony, Vizio's OLED TV offers many of the benefits for a lower price. You still get those deep, perfect blacks at the sacrifice of some brightness, color accuracy and the focused gaming features from the other brands.

Roku, Google, Fire TV: Which smart TV platform is best?

Another thing worth considering is the software that comes backed into your smart TV. This smart TV platform is effectively your portal to accessing different streaming services, apps and TV functions, and each platform has its own pros and cons.

Many of the best TVs use first-party software — Samsung TVs largely use a Samsung-made OS called Tizen, whereas LG TVs use the webOS platform; both are great options with a similar horizontal layout on the homepage and equivalent app support, as well as voice recognition options for navigating the OS hands-free. LG’s platform is slightly sleeker (with one of the best TV remotes out there), but Samsung’s TV Plus service also allows you to watch heaps of TV channels for free.

Some TV makers, like Hisense and TCL, use a variety of third-party platforms, meaning you might get Roku, Google TV or something else entirely depending on the model. Roku is famed for its usability, with a customizable tile-icon layout and a fetching purple design and unique screensaver, along with good support for streaming services and an excellent search function.

Google TV (an upgrade to Android TV) offers good connectivity with Android devices, smart navigation and Google Assistant, and it’s found on plenty of Sony TVs. The Amazon Fire TV is known for featuring Fire TV streaming devices, which are generally quite good, but the televisions that feature Fire TV out of the box tend to be a bit lacking in performance (it’s a better bet to get a fancy TV and plug in a Fire TV streaming stick if you don’t like the interface).

Regardless, it’s good to check that an OS supports the apps you’re most likely to use, such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Apple TV Plus or wherever it is you like to get your content. Teoh noted that Android/Google TV “remains in the lead in terms of app support.”

TCL 55-inch 5-Series 4K Roku TV

Roku is one of the most user-friendly platforms out there, and TCL makes good use of it in this mid-range 4K TV. You’ll get crisp resolution, Dolby Vision HDR and a Quantum Dot layer for enhanced contrast all for a very reasonable price.

Samsung 43-Inch The Frame

Samsung’s webOS platform is sleek and intuitive, with a dedicated Art Mode that lets you showcase classic artworks — or just your own photographs and images — while customisable frames (hence the name) allow this screen to blend in seamlessly with your decor. This 43-inch model can be hung in portrait mode, too.

Insignia 32-inch Class F20 HD Smart TV

This relatively affordable HD TV is a great budget buy, with Amazon’s fast Fire TV platform and excellent app support. However, keep in mind you won’t get the full benefit of any 4K shows and films.

Other things to consider before buying a new smart TV

Ideally, your brand new TV will have everything you need baked in — but that isn’t always the case. If you aren’t a fan of the built-in OS, then a streaming stick or box can be an easy fix; you can get Roku streamers for only $30, or higher-end options like the Apple TV 4K for around $180.

“One of the most important considerations when buying a TV is the intended use case,” Teoh added. “If it's to play games with next-gen consoles such as the PS5 or Xbox Series X, you should aim for a TV with good HDMI 2.1 support (e.g. LG and Samsung TVs) for 4K and 120Hz gameplay. And if you watch a lot of news with banners or use the TV as a PC monitor, perhaps OLED isn't a good idea due to increased risk of permanent burn-in.”

Otherwise, audio will be your main concern. Most smart TVs come with a basic 10-20W volume output, with premium models often packing in anywhere from 40W to 160W, and all with varying levels of audio quality. If you find the sound a bit lacking, then a dedicated soundbar or speaker system should take care of the problem.

Why trust Select?

Select writer Henry St Leger has spent years reviewing all kinds of consumer gadgets, from TVs and projectors to smart speakers and VR. He was previously the home cinema editor at TechRadar and has bylines at T3, MacFormat and Digital Camera World — he specializes in guiding shoppers towards the devices that pack the biggest punch for the price.

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.

  • Vincent Teoh is a leading TV expert who runs the YouTube channel HDTVTest.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.