Many new smart TVs have a voice-enabled remote with an integrated virtual assistant or a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Nest for expanded voice controls.
Brands like Samsung, LG, and Sony have taken the next step in home entertainment and have released TVs capable of 8K resolution; however, these models are costly, and limited 8K content is available.
What We Like
Excellent picture and sound
Apple HomeKit compatible
What We Don't Like
Limited screen sizes
Sony has also released a new line of televisions for 2021, including their latest Bravia XR OLED models. These televisions use cutting-edge OLED tech to create truly stunning images and true-to-life colors, contrast, and textures. The all-new processor is enhanced with artificial intelligence for better upscaling of non-4K content and better detailing for native 4K images. The Bravia XR uses Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology to turn the entire screen into a speaker for near-perfect audio and video syncing and better bass notes for more immersive cinematic experiences.
The Google TV platform gives you access to thousands of streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, and Spotify for entertainment options. With Chromecast and AirPlay 2, you can share your iOS or Android mobile device screen for more ways to view videos and pictures or listen to your favorite music. The voice-enabled remote works with Alexa or Google Assistant for hands-free controls, and you can also connect this TV to an Apple HomeKit device to use Siri for voice searches.
Size: 55 & 65 Inches | Panel Type: OLED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: Dolby Vision | Refresh Rate: 120Hz
What We Like
Plenty of inputs
What We Don't Like
Having a great TV doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune. The TCL 40S325 retails under $300, making it an excellent fit for even the smallest entertainment budgets. With the Roku platform, you get your favorite streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu preloaded. The streamlined home menu makes it easy to select apps, playback devices, game consoles, and even broadcast TV inputs without memorizing HDMI input locations or navigating confusing menus.
The 40-inch screen produces excellent 1080p resolution, so all your favorite shows and movies look amazing. The Roku app turns your smartphone or tablet into a voice-enabled remote for easier searching and browsing. You can connect your TV to your Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker for expanded voice controls. The TV has a headphone jack for private listening and gaming when you don't want to disturb others in your home, apartment, or dorm.
Size: 40 Inches | Panel Type: LED | Resolution: 1080p HD | HDR: N/A | Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Best Large Screen
Samsung UN85TU8000FXZA 85-Inch 4K UHD Crystal Display TV
What We Like
Updated processor and OS
Integrated cable management
What We Don't Like
No Chromecast support
If your living room is on the larger side, or you're looking to convert your finished basement into a home theater, you need a TV to fit, and the Samsung Crystal UHD 85-inch television is tailor-made for large-screen entertainment. It features an updated Crystal 4K processor and the new Tizen operating system, which uses HDR10+ technology to create stunning 4K resolution and color. It gives you access to all your favorite movies, shows, and next-gen apps to keep you on the cutting edge of home entertainment. The screen has an exceptionally narrow bezel to give you an edge-to-edge picture for a more immersive viewing experience at almost any angle. The back of the television features integrated cable management channels and clips to help keep your cords and cables organized and tangle-free for a clean-looking home theater setup.
The voice-enabled remote has Bixby and Alexa built-in and works with Google Assistant. With Bluetooth connectivity, you can wirelessly connect speakers, soundbars, and subwoofers for the ultimate home theater configuration. With Apple AirPlay2 and SmartCast, you can screen mirror your iOS and Android mobile devices. The Ambient Mode turns your new TV into a work of art or decor when not used to blend into the room's aesthetic or show off your favorite paintings and photos. The TU8000 has a V-Chip that allows parents to block inappropriate shows and movies from little ones, ensuring family-friendly entertainment. With a price tag under $2,000, the TU8000 is one of the more affordable large-format televisions available.
Size: 85 Inches | Panel Type: Crystal UHD LED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: HDR | Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Or Maybe These?
- I want a curved screen. The Samsung TU-8300's curved QLED screen works with HDR technology and an updated processor for crystal clear native 4K resolution andupscalingnon-4K content.
- What about 8K? Sony's 65-inch QN900A 8K TV gives you four times the resolution of 4K and 16 times that of 1080p HD.
- I have money to burn. The 11K Hisense 100L10E laser TV is the only choice for you. It uses cutting-edge laser projection technology to give you over one billion colors, excellent 4K resolution, HDR support, and ultra-smooth on-screen action.
What to Look For in a Smart TV
The best smart TVs are rapidly becoming the new gold standard for home entertainment. They let you download your favorite streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify to the TV to have thousands of shows, movies, and songs at your fingertips. A lot of smart televisions now have hands-free voice control capabilities as well. They use voice-enabled remotes, dedicated apps, or a connection to a third-party smart speaker to give you expanded controls over your TV and make it easier to find new things to watch or listen to. There are a few different options for voice controls; most TVs support Alexa and Google Home with voice-enabled remotes or smart speakers, while others, like Samsung, have proprietary voice assistants or use Siri via iOS devices.
Screen mirroring is another intelligent feature that more and more televisions are beginning to offer. This option lets you wirelessly connect your smartphone, tablet, or computer to your television and share what's on the screen to view photos or watch short home videos. Some newer Samsung televisions let you screen mirror your devices while simultaneously watching a movie or show, perfect for watching videos from friends and family or catching up with news updates. With so many smart features available, knowing what you may need for your home can be difficult.
The place to start when deciding on the best smart TV to buy is the brand. There are dozens of television manufacturers, each with different size classes, price points, and smart features available. If you're working with a budget, brands like TCL and Hisense are great brands with affordable options. They still offer quality streaming platforms like Roku or the Android TV operating system to give you access to thousands of apps and limited voice controls and connectivity options. Mid-range options are available from more prominent brands like Sony, Samsung, and Vizio. These models may have a higher price point but offer many more smart features.
Besides streaming and voice controls, you'll also get local dimming zones on the screen for enhanced scene-by-scene analysis of your favorite shows and movies for superior contrast, color volume, and detailing. Some may also use Dolby Atmos audio technology to produce virtual surround sound for a more immersive cinematic experience. High-end models from Sony, Samsung, and LG give you everything you could ever want in a smart TV. They offer larger screen sizes with more advanced picture technologies like QLED or OLED panels, AI-assisted rendering and upscaling, native voice controls, and ambient sound and light sensors that automatically change picture and sound settings to fit your environment. Knowing which brands offer what features in their televisions makes it easier to set a budget and narrow your options.
Now that you've decided which brand you'd like, it's time to focus on exactly which smart features you'd like to have. Streaming capabilities are necessary for customers looking to cut the cord with their cable and satellite providers. Fortunately, all modern smart TVs feature preloaded apps like Prime Video, Hulu, and YouTube or have advanced operating systems allowing you to download your favorites. If you want to start a smart home network or already have devices like an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you may want a TV that allows for hands-free voice controls. This lets you turn your TV on and off, choose apps, or change settings without fumbling with a confusing remote control. If you're always online, screen mirroring is an important feature that lets you cast your smartphone, tablet, or computer screen to your television for better viewing or simultaneous watching with your favorite movies and shows.
For customers looking to create a custom home theater, the best smart TVs feature ambient noise and light sensors that constantly monitor your environment and automatically adjust picture and sound settings to suit the room. They also feature Bluetooth connectivity for wireless audio equipment setup and custom home theater configurations. For die-hard console gamers, a TV with AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G Sync technology is necessary. These technologies automatically detect when you start playing a game, reducing input lag and motion blur while boosting color volume and contrast for buttery smooth action, beautiful visuals, and near real-time reactions to your controller inputs.
Smart features are lovely, but the user interface can make or break a home entertainment experience. Family movie nights or watch parties with friends can be instantly ruined by navigating confusing menus and clunky interfaces to access Netflix or Hulu. Roku-based televisions have a streamlined hub menu that puts all your divides, apps, and inputs in one convenient location. Each input is clearly labeled with what is connected so you can quickly and easily access your game console, Blu-Ray player, or cable box without remembering input names.
Televisions that use Android TV also have a clean, simple interface with clearly marked menu icons for browsing apps, accessing voice controls, or looking at recommended content. LG televisions use the webOS operating system and have an ultra-clean-looking interface. Apps are displayed in easy-to-recognize tiles for quick and easy access. Luckily, TV manufacturers have realized that an easy-to-use interface is essential as more people stream their movies and shows. Older TVs' clunky, confusing interfaces are gone, leading to more enjoyable home entertainment.
What size TV should I buy?
Contrary to what you may think, there is such a thing as a TV that is too big for your room. To find the perfect screen size, measure the distance from where your new TV will be placed to where you will be sitting and divide that by two. If your couch is 10 feet (120 inches) from the wall mount or TV stand, the best TV size for your room would be around 60 inches. You can go a bit bigger or smaller depending on the model and your budget, but it's a good idea to stay within that range.
Is an 8K TV worth buying?
At the moment, no. Not only are 8K televisions expensive, there is very little native 8K content available over cable, satellite, over-air broadcast, or even streaming. If you want to know more about these resolutions, check out our article about 8K and how it compares to 4K.
What apps can I use with my new TV?
Many new smart televisions have a suite of preloaded apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube so you can get started binge-watching your favorite shows, videos, and movies right out of the box. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you'll be able to download thousands of others like Disney+, Spotify, and PlutoTV to have access to free live TV, thousands of songs, and even more entertainment options.