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.
The best TVs feature everything you need in a modern smart TV, packing in 4K resolution, colorful HDR, and the all-round feature set to make for truly impressive sets. The best TVs these days should be good bets for next-gen gaming consoles too, with HDMI 2.1 support and VRR becoming the norm on higher-end screens.
That said, however, if you want to save some money any other day of the year, many of the best TVs from last year are still on sale, and are selling for a decent amount less than when they initially launched. Once a TV’s successor has launched, of course, there’s no telling how long stock will last for the older model, so it might be smart to nab one while you still have the chance.
Our TV buying guide picks below represent the absolute pinnacle of what's possible in the best smart TVs today – but we've also highlighted a number of flatscreen TVs that provide incredible value for your money. Combined, you've got a list of the best televisions at any budget.
- Looking for some great shows to watch on your TV? Here's a list of -
- Best Netflix shows
- Best Apple TV shows
- Best Amazon Prime shows
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
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 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 PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox 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
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
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
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
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 OSN, 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.
- WebOS vs Roku vs Tizen: every smart TV platform explained
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.
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 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.
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
- Want better audio? Check out our guide to the best soundbars available.
- Once you've decided on a panel, make sure you read our guide on how to set up your TV to make sure you're getting the most out of it.
- Are you looking for the best universal remote for your new home theater setup?
- Need something to watch on your new TV? check out our list of best TV streaming services.
- Looking more premium? Check out the best OLED TVs available now.