TV Buying Guide

TV Buying Guide

TV technology has advanced to the point where even cheap TVs can look really good. Most new TVs can display all the latest content types—skip to the relevant sections below for a full explanation of what 4K/Ultra HD (UHD) and high dynamic range (HDR) mean, and why they might matter to you. Whether your space is small or large, or whether you’re looking for the most performance for the money, something that fits into your decor, or the best possible picture, we’ve got picks for you.

Our pick

Sony X950G

Sony X950G

The best LCD/LED TV

The Sony X950G TV offers wonderful image quality and a good user interface in a wide variety of sizes.

Buying Options

$1,200* from Best Buy
$1,000 from Abt
Buy from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,100.

Read more about the best LCD/LED TV

A high-end LCD/LED TV is meant for the person who wants better TV performance than the average budget TV delivers, but who doesn’t feel the need to spend a premium to get the absolute best: an OLED TV. A high-end LCD/LED TV can deliver a picture that looks almost as good for less money and in a wider variety of screen sizes. LCD/LED TVs can also get much brighter than OLED TVs, so they’re a better fit for a very bright viewing environment, such as a living room with lots of windows.

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Budget pick

TCL 5-Series

TCL 5-Series

Best 4K TV on a budget

TCL’s 5-Series TV runs the easy-to-use Roku OS, and its great contrast ratio helps the picture look good with SD and HD sources.

Buying Options

$410* from Amazon
$610 from Staples

*At the time of publishing, the price was $350.

Read more about the best budget 4K TV

If you just want good TV performance at an affordable price, get a midrange LCD TV (commonly referred to as an LED TV) like our budget 4K TV pick. You can find many mediocre TVs at this price, but after rigorous testing, we’ve discovered that the best among them produce image quality directly comparable to that of TVs costing hundreds of dollars more. Although these TVs sometimes lack local dimming, which makes blacks onscreen appear darker and whites appear brighter, our picks have a high native contrast ratio that’s better than that of many budget sets.

Our pick

LG C9

LG C9

Best possible image quality

The LG C9 produces fantastic 4K HDR images and performs as well as higher-end OLED TVs for a significantly lower price.

Buying Options

$2,200* from Best Buy
(65-inch)
$2,197 from Amazon
(65-inch)

May be out of stock

$2,497 from Abt

May be out of stock

*At the time of publishing, the price was $2,197.

Read more about the best OLED TV.

If you’re looking for the best possible image quality regardless of price, get an OLED TV. Compared with LCD TVs, the image quality on OLEDs looks startlingly realistic. OLED TVs also look good from every angle, whereas LCD TVs tend to show distorted colors when viewed from the sides. But with prices starting at about $1,800 for a 55-inch model, for now OLED TVs are an investment better suited for videophiles than for casual viewers.

Our pick

TCL Roku TV (32-inch)

TCL Roku TV (32-inch)

For smaller rooms

TCL’s 32-inch Roku TV lacks 4K and HDR, but that doesn’t matter as much on a small screen. It has great streaming options and more HDMI ports than other small TVs.

Buying Options

$130* from Amazon
$130 from Best Buy
$130 from Target

*At the time of publishing, the price was $128.

Read more about the best small TV.

If you want a small TV for a bedroom or a tiny apartment, a cheap LCD TV should do the job. Our pick has a built-in, user-friendly Roku interface, and all the connectivity you’re likely to need at an affordable price. Like every other small TV, it doesn’t support the latest content standards, such as 4K and HDR, and it lacks local dimming. But that isn’t really a big problem since you likely won’t notice the decrease in image quality on a TV smaller than 32 inches.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Sony X950G

Sony X950G

The best LCD/LED TV

The Sony X950G TV offers wonderful image quality and a good user interface in a wide variety of sizes.

Buying Options

$1,200* from Best Buy
$1,000 from Abt
Buy from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,100.

Budget pick

TCL 5-Series

TCL 5-Series

Best 4K TV on a budget

TCL’s 5-Series TV runs the easy-to-use Roku OS, and its great contrast ratio helps the picture look good with SD and HD sources.

Buying Options

$410* from Amazon
$610 from Staples

*At the time of publishing, the price was $350.

Our pick

LG C9

LG C9

Best possible image quality

The LG C9 produces fantastic 4K HDR images and performs as well as higher-end OLED TVs for a significantly lower price.

Buying Options

$2,200* from Best Buy
(65-inch)
$2,197 from Amazon
(65-inch)

May be out of stock

$2,497 from Abt

May be out of stock

*At the time of publishing, the price was $2,197.

Our pick

TCL Roku TV (32-inch)

TCL Roku TV (32-inch)

For smaller rooms

TCL’s 32-inch Roku TV lacks 4K and HDR, but that doesn’t matter as much on a small screen. It has great streaming options and more HDMI ports than other small TVs.

Buying Options

$130* from Amazon
$130 from Best Buy
$130 from Target

*At the time of publishing, the price was $128.

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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