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Best TV 2021: our top 10 smart TVs

One of the best TVs with central stand, showing blue flower
(Image credit: Sony)

Looking for the best TV to buy this year? Look no further – as we’ve brought together the definitive list of the best TVs available to buy today, from QLED and OLED TVs to new Mini LED contenders, all of which are smart TVs with great on-board streaming services.

While every TV technology brings something different to the table, they're all designed to make TVs look better by offering better contrast, better light control, and vibrant colors. To that end, each is well-worth your consideration and can really elevate your TV watching experience. 

While many of the TVs listed below are on the more expensive side – unfortunately, the most premium screens often have price tags that match – there are a few cheaper options you can consider. Our best cheap TV deals page has a whole bunch of them, but we'd steer you toward the TCL 6-Series with Mini LED or Hisense H8G Quantum, both of which offer spectacular performance for the price.

The picks you'll find below represent the absolute pinnacle of what's possible in the best smart TVs today – 4K resolution, colorful HDR, and robust feature sets plus support for HDMI 2.1 and VRR for the latest game consoles and PCs.

Best TV

The best TV is the Samsung QN900A, pictured with colorful display in front of chair and sofa

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K

A stunning 8K TV that sets a new benchmark when it comes to high-end televisions

Specifications
Screen size: 65-inch, 75-inch, 85-inch
Resolution: 8K
Panel Type: Neo QLED / Mini LED
Smart TV: Tizen
HDR: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Awesome picture quality+Standard-setting HDR
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision support-Limited 8K content

8K might feel a bit like overkill to some, but there's no doubt in our mind that the Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K TV has ushered in a new era of flatscreen television technology. Samsung's Mini LED-sporting QN900A Neo QLED 8K TV offers stunning picture quality, exceptional color and brightness, terrific sound and outstanding blacks – all in a package that's unmatched in terms of design.

For the uninitiated, Samsung's 'Quantum' Mini LEDs are 1/40th the thickness of a regular LED, meaning thousands of smaller LEDs can be packed together in a much tighter fashion, allowing for far more accurate dimming zones and black levels that are practically indistinguishable from an OLED.

As the LEDs are far smaller, they're able to achieve far more precision and less blooming, so the act of seeing bright areas of the screen unnaturally bleed over into darker spots should be greatly reduced or not evident at all. And because it takes advantage of Samsung's Multi-Intelligence AI upscaling, the QN900A is consistently able to produce images that looked better than their source. 

Not only does the Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K TV offer the latest HDMI 2.1 and eARC features, it's also ideal for gamers who've recently invested in a next-gen console or beastly gaming PC thanks to support for 4K/120fps or 8K/60fps gameplay via HDMI 2.1, Game Motion Plus and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro.

It's the flagship 8K TV to beat in 2021.

Read the full review: Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K TV

The LG G1 is one of the best TVs this year, shown here hanging like a painting on wall

(Image credit: LG)

LG's picture-on-wall design is gorgeous... but expensive

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel Type: OLED evo
Smart TV: webOS
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding contrast+Impressively thin design
Reasons to avoid
-No stand included-Sound system struggles with bass

After a flatscreen TV that's a bit more stylish? The LG G1 OLED is a knockout television that builds on the sleek design of last year's Gallery Series OLED and somehow makes it better.

The real hero here is LG's new OLED evo technology, which updates the panel structure to eke out even more brightness – without increasing blooming effects or, we're told, the chance of burn-in. The LG G1 looks to be a real revolution for the OLED TV maker, then, and certainly offers an upgrade over the cheaper LG C1 OLED – unlike last year, when the CX and GX models were worlds apart in price but effectively offered the same picture performance.

It's an expensive set, and the Dolby Atmos sound system isn't the best for bass – something that will effect all the other LG OLEDs in this guide. But the breathtakingly slim design makes it a real centerpiece television, with the contrast and color benefits of OLED pushed to new, lighting-enhanced heights. The new a9 Gen 4 AI processor is even more capable of smartly upscaling and processing onscreen objects, too, with motion processing in particular getting an upgrade.

Watch out though: the G1 is really designed to be wall-mounted, and it won't come with a TV stand or feet out of the box. You can buy a floorstanding Gallery Stand alongside, or find a third-party solution for placing on a counter, though.

Read more: LG G1 OLED TV review

LG C1 OLED TV in stylish living room

(Image credit: LG)

3. LG C1 Series OLED TV

New for 2021, the LG C1 OLED is the king of flagship 4K TVs

Specifications
Screen size: 48-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: OLED
Smart TV: webOS
HDR: HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful 4K/HDR picture+Four HDMI 2.1 ports+WebOS is fantastic
Reasons to avoid
-Reflective glass surface-No HDR10+

LG has made a number of small tweaks to last year’s CX model: It’s now using LG’s Alpha a9 Gen. 4 processor for better upscaling and virtual surround sound audio, and with four separate HDMI 2.1 ports, it’s ready for the PS5Xbox Series XXbox Series S, and whatever next-gen consoles can throw at it. 

Gamers will also appreciate the new Game Optimiser menu that gives you the option to quickly adjust brightness, contrast and VRR on the fly.

The LG C1 isn’t flawless, as we did encounter issues around how the new Alpha a9 Gen. 4 upscales faces, and how reflective the all-glass screen is in the daylight, but the issues are few and far between.

There are, of course, higher resolution flatscreen TVs out there right now like the Samsung QN900A, which offers 8K resolution, and the new LG G1 Gallery Series that uses the coveted OLED evo panels that offer better brightness. However, we feel that the LG C1 OLED offers a near-unbeatable blend of price and performance and should be high up on your list of the best televisions TVs to buy in 2021 and beyond.

Read the full review: LG C1 OLED

Sony Bravia X90J showing white feather

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony Bravia X90J

A vibrant picture, great upscaling, and two HDMI 2.1 ports from this excellent mid-ranger

Specifications
Screen size: 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel Type: LCD
Smart TV: Android TV
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Best-in-class image quality+Impressive upscaling+Full-bodied sound
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+-Slight screen glare-Limited viewing angles

There's little doubt in our mind that, for gamers, the new Sony X90J is one of the best  televisions out there.

It has excellent image quality, thanks in part to a new Cognitive XR processor rolled out to Sony's top 2021 sets, making for excellent upscaling and contrast control. The X90J also sports the new Google TV smart platform, for easy setup and broad app support as well as the perks of Google Cast from Android devices. There's Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio packed in too.

When it comes to gaming, the X90J has a 120Hz panel with 4K resolution and two full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports for your Xbox Series X and PS5, with VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode, for sub-10ms lag) to really up your gaming experience. Just be sure to head into the picture settings and switch on 'Enhanced format' for your selected HDMI port, otherwise you won't get the benefit of its 2.1 specification.

There are still a few lingering issues, including middling off-axis viewing and struggles with direct daylight – and the X90J will no doubt be beaten by the capabilities of its step-up X95J model for a small uptick in cost. Still, the Sony X90J succeeds in delivering stellar performance for a reasonable price. 

Read the full review: Sony X90J 4K TV

The Sony A8H shows purple cavern on long counter

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony A8H OLED

Sony's affordable OLED from 2020 sits right below the new LG OLED models

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel Type: OLED
Smart TV: Android TV
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous, refined picture+Good sound quality+Ultra-wide viewing angles
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+ support-Sometimes fiddly operating system-Android TV can frustrate

By combining Sony’s premium OLED picture performance with a powerful and direct sound system, the Sony A8H OLED TV manages to be a compelling TV option for serious home cinema fans.

It carries Sony’s top-line X1 Ultimate processor, Sony’s Pixel Contrast Booster (for more intense image highlights), and a new OLED version of the X-Motion Clarity feature Sony initially developed for its FALD LCD smart TVs. 

On the audio side, meanwhile, Sony’s customary Acoustic Surface Audio system (where the TV’s screen is actually ‘excited’ into producing sound) is joined by a two-subwoofer bass system, and an Acoustic Auto Calibration system that can optimize the TV’s sound to your room with just a couple of quick test pulses.

The results are nothing short of gorgeous. While this set could be beaten by a Sony A80J successor, it's currently the best TV to buy in the Sony range.

Read the full review: Sony A8H OLED TV

This TCL TV shows a colorful pattern while on wooden media unit

(Image credit: TCL)

6. TCL 6-Series with Mini LED

A beacon of hope for budget TV buyers

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel Type: QLED
Smart TV: Roku TV
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Mini LED backlighting+Quantum dot color
Reasons to avoid
-Middling peak brightness-Poor motion handling

When we discovered that the TCL 6-Series 2020 QLED (R635) would use Mini LED, we were shocked. That’s because, just a year prior, that same technology came to the high-end 8-Series and cost hundreds of dollars more than the ultra-affordable 6-Series.

It's not the end-all, be-all LED-LCD we were dreaming it would be due to its limited brightness and poor motion handling, but it truly is an exceptional value and one that we'd recommend to nearly everyone.

The 6-Series is brighter than before, more colorful and doesn’t have a single hint of haloing or light bleed. It’s designed in a new way to hide your cables and it’s the first TV to come with THX Certified Game Mode for 1440p/120Hz gaming.

It's not exactly the flatscreen TV we'd recommend to next-gen-ready gamers looking for a perfect companion for the Xbox Series X or PS5 that can push 4K at 120fps, but if you're buying a TV to binge Netflix, stream Hulu or, well, basically just enjoy your viewing experience, this is the best smart TV (and certainly the best TCL TV) that we'd recommend for you.

Read the full review: TCL 6-Series 2020 QLED with Mini LED (R635)

One of the best TVs from Vizio hangs on wall in front of family

(Image credit: Vizio)

7. Vizio P-Series Quantum X

This is Vizio’s best and brightest smart TV

Specifications
Screen size: 65-inch, 75-inch, 85-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel Type: Quantum LED
Smart TV: SmartCast
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Quantum dot technology+3,000-nit peak brightness
Reasons to avoid
-Poor upscaling and slight blooming-SmartCast can get hung up

The Vizio P-Series Quantum X is a consistently impressive LED-LCD smart TV that combines the brightness of a QLED and some of the best black levels this side of an OLED. 

Offering over 2,000 nits of peak brightness, it lights up any home cinema and cuts through ambient lighting to become one of the best TVs for brightly lit living rooms – and thanks to a recent firmware update, it's now a great match-up for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 4K/120hz support, auto-low latency mode and responsive 13ms lag time with 4K/60 games. 

That said, it's not without its faults. TVs this bright are bound to have some blooming, which can be noticed when you’ve got white text on a black background, and its upscaling – while much better than previous years – still isn’t at the same level of LG, Samsung or Sony TVs. SmartCast, similarly, is a lot better than it’s been in past years thanks to the addition of Apple TV PlusDisney Plus and Peacock, but it’s still frustratingly slow at times.

If you truly have deep pockets and want the best image quality out there, then it’s still worth going for LG's OLED or Samsung's QLED TVs. In the absence of the sufficient funds, though, the $1,599 Vizio P-Series Quantum X P75QX-H1 is clearly an excellent option for those that want quantum dot tech in one of the best TVs, at Vizio-level prices.

Read the full review: Vizio P-Series Quantum X (2021)

One of the best TVs from Vizio shows pink flowers against black background

(Image credit: Vizio)

8. Vizio OLED TV

An affordable new OLED with a few caveats

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel technology: OLED
Smart TV: SmartCast
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support+More affordable than LG OLED
Reasons to avoid
-Not as bright as other OLEDs-Upscaling could be better

Last year's Vizio OLED TV 2020 – officially called the H1 – is a cheaper alternative to the more premium screens that LG and Sony have been producing for the past few years. For folks who don’t want to spend a fortune, the Vizio OLED has most of the same key features and it offers largely similar performance as other OLEDs for hundreds of dollars less.

That price, in case you’re wondering, is $1,299.99 for the 55-inch OLED55-H1 and $1,999 for 65-inch OLED65-H1, though the former can be found on sale for under $1,000 at times. Compare that to the LG CX OLED, which starts at $1,699 for a 55-inch and shoots up to $2,499 for the 65-inch model, and it’s easy to see why so many of us are so excited about this newcomer to the OLED space.

Of course, as an OLED screen, the Vizio OLED has both some big advantages (and a few flaws) worth pointing out up front. In the former category we have exceptional black levels and extremely thin chassis, the other benefits of OLED being the exceptional contrast and wider viewing angles that most folks can appreciate. The downside is that OLEDs in general aren’t as bright as their LED-LCD counterparts, and Vizio’s OLED in particular is dimmer than most.

Compounding the problems of this flatscreen TV is Vizio’s SmartCast platform, which is missing a few key apps and can be a bit slow after startup. We also feel that the upscaling on the Vizio OLED isn’t as strong as LG or Sony’s upscaling algorithms as we spotted a heavy grain on HD sources on more than one occasion.

What you’re left with, after you consider all the details, is a good budget OLED that excels at 4K HDR content and stumbles slightly with HD upscaling.

Read the full review: Vizio OLED 4K TV review

Couple on sofa watches couple on park bench on Samsung TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

9. Samsung QN90A Neo QLED

Thinner, brighter and bolder… but it comes with a few caveats

Specifications
Screen size: 49-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, 85-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel Type: QLED
Smart TV: Tizen
HDR: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Full array backlight+4K Quantum image processor+High peak brightness
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision-Not the prettiest QLED

The Samsung QN90A is one of the first 4K screens in 2021 to use the company’s hyped-up Neo QLED panels that sport a higher count of light emitting diodes per square inch than previous generations. The result is a brighter TV than before, if that’s even possible with Samsung, and one that can display a deeply satisfying array of colors. 

All Neo QLED TVs sport the higher-end Neo Quantum Processor 4K that uses a neural network to analyze images for better HD upscaling and Motion Xcelerator Turbo+ for better motion handling – all of which has really paid off for Samsung’s flagship screen. 

That said, there are a few looming issues this year that we can’t ignore, like the slight wobble of the pedestal stand, or the surprisingly lackluster sound quality that doesn’t befit a flagship 4K TV. There’s also no support for Dolby Vision still, which means you’re stuck with HDR10 on Netflix and HDR10+ elsewhere.

That's not a deal-breaker, but it does lower Samsung's 2021 flagship QLED TV to the number seven spot on our best TV list.

Read the full review: Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV

Hisense H8G placed on a counter next to ornaments

(Image credit: Hisense)

10. Hisense H8G Quantum

The Hisense H8G Quantum is a 4K wonder at a low price

Specifications
Screen size: 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel Type: Quantum LED
Smart TV: Android TV
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Bright, colorful at a budget price+Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR
Reasons to avoid
-Design is a bit bland-Android TV can run a bit slow

The Hisense H8G Quantum Series is a great choice for those looking to spend little and get a lot from their smart TV.

At just $700 for the 65-inch version of the Hisense H8G – after a massive price drop from its original RRP – it’s outstanding value. You're not having to make do with a sub-standard set, though, as the apps are easy to find and use, Google Assistant support is well-implemented, and the technical specs rival much pricier models. Motion is brilliantly smooth, too, with great performance across HD and 4K video despite a drop in brightness compared to competing QLED models.

You won't get quite the quality experience of many others in this list, and the design of this set isn't very inspiring. For the price, though, the Hisense H8G Quantum Series certainly delivers.

Read the full review: Hisense H8G Quantum Series

Buying advice

What TV technology is best? Which is the best LCD TV? Which screen size is best for your living room? What's the difference between LCD and LED TVs?

The answers aren't always obvious. In fact, buying a new TV can be stressful even for the tech-savvy – as there are so many brands, so many features, so many screen sizes, colors, technologies and flavors to choose from.

So which one is right for you, your family and your living space? In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a new smart TV.

What is a smart TV?

A smart TV is essentially any television with internet capability, meaning it can load up streaming apps and services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

Different TV manufacturers have their own proprietary smart TV platforms, though, which vary in usability, speed, quality of search, and what kind of app support is available. Some might be missing Disney Plus, for example, or have a more streamlined layout – while others might have superior voice search, for those planning on barking commands rather than clicking them.

We've taken all this into account when picking our list of the best smart TVs above, though, so you can be sure you're getting an optimum experience with your purchase.

Panasonic HZ2000 TV wall-mounted above media unit

(Image credit: Pansonic)

Do the best TVs need 4K resolution?

4K resolution, at least the way most TV companies define it, is 3840 x 2160 pixels, or 2160p. To put that in perspective, a Full HD 1080p image is only 1920 x 1080. 4K screens have about 8 million pixels, which is around four times what a 1080p set can display. 

You find any less than 4K resolution on this best TV guide, though you might see the odd 8K TV, which packs in 33 million pixels instead for even greater detail – usually at an even greater price.

What types of TV are there?

There are a lot of different screen types out there, all working in different ways to produce the same results. Each technology has its own unique strengths and weaknesses so here are some basics to consider:

LED TV: Direct LED
These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This enables localised dimming – meaning immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively – and greatly improves contrast. LED TVs are also more power efficient and capable of a wider colour gamut than CCFL sets. Because of the extreme cost of mounting these arrays of LEDs, cheaper TVs usually use Edge-Lit LED screens over Direct or Full-Array LED screens.

LED TV: Edge LED
With these TVs, LEDs of the backlight are mounted along the edges of the panel. This arrangement enables radically slender displays and offers superior contrast levels to CCFL, but can't achieve the same picture quality as directly lit LED sets. However, they do come in far cheaper which is why most LED TVs out there now use this technology.

OLED TV
The backlighting on OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets is achieved by passing an electric current through an emissive, electroluminescent film. This technique produces far better colours and higher contrast and also enables screens to be extremely thin and flexible. This is the holy grail display technology and LG, Sony, Philips and Panasonic have all adopted it in their flagship sets.

Quantum Dot
Quantum Dot is Samsung's big play in the LED TV space. With it, the brand claims that it's able to produce more colorful pictures than LG and Sony while offering even brighter panels. LG's Super UHD TVs all use a variation of Quantum Dot called Nano Cell, and Hisense makes a number of Quantum Dot TVs for the US and China.

TV in front of garden window

How big should your TV be?

People tend to pick the size of their flat TV based on the amount of space they have for it, this isn't necessarily wise. Flat TVs take up much less space than you might think, so your new TV may end up a foot or two further away from your viewing position, making the picture appear smaller.

Also, with hi-def, you can have a bigger screen and the same viewing distance without worrying about seeing blemishes inherent to the source. A 4K TV's lack of noise means that the ideal distance to sit from the screen is three to four times the height of the TV.

How many HDMI sockets do you need?

For a living room TV you should be looking for a minimum of 3 HDMI inputs. If you want to attach a set-top box as well as games consoles etc, those HDMI ports will fill up fast.

Should you wall-mount one of the best TVs?

First off, you'll need to consult a construction expert to check that the wall in question is strong enough to support a flatscreen. Then find out if the set you want is designed to be wall-mounted and, if so, ask if the relevant bracket is included in the basic package or as an optional extra.

Do you need a separate sound system?

If you're not planning on connecting to a separate soundbar or surround sound system, You might want to think more carefully about your set's audio performance. Look for a screen that can go as loud as you'll need without distortion or cabinet rattle. Consider how dialogue sounds and how much low-end rumble the bass is capable of.

Conversely, it's pointless paying out more cash for exceptional built-in speakers if you already have a decent home theater system.

Other buying guides to check out