$950 at Best Buy TCL 6-Series Roku TV Best overall smart TV $950 at Best Buy Price alerts on for TCL 6-Series Roku TV $330 at Walmart TCL 4-Series Best budget smart TV $330 at Walmart Price alerts on for TCL 4-Series $1,600 at Best Buy LG OLED C2 Best high-end smart TV $1,600 at Best Buy Price alerts on for LG OLED C2 $799 at Amazon Hisense U8H Google TV Second best overall smart TV $799 at Amazon Price alerts on for Hisense U8H Google TV $309 at B&H Photo-Video Vizio V-Series Best budget smart TV for picture quality $309 at B&H Photo-Video Price alerts on for Vizio V-Series NEW! CNET Shopping Extension Get the lowest price on everything Add CNET Shopping $600 at Best Buy Roku Plus Series Best midpriced smart TV runner-up $600 at Best Buy Price alerts on for Roku Plus Series $1,598 at Walmart Samsung QN90B Best high-end smart TV that’s not an OLED $1,598 at Walmart Price alerts on for Samsung QN90B $900 at Best Buy Samsung Q60B Best design in a midprice smart TV $900 at Best Buy Price alerts on for Samsung Q60B $808 at Best Buy Vizio MQX Best alternative smart TV for tighter budgets $808 at Best Buy Price alerts on for Vizio MQX Show more (4 items)
If you’ve been looking to buy a new smart TV but you feel overwhelmed by all the options and the jargon, then you’ve come to the right place. These days, most new TVs come equipped with smart capabilities. This allows you to access your favorite streaming services, like Netflix and Disney Plus. And unlike TVs of the past, you won’t even need to get a dedicated streaming device like a Roku. However, it can be hard to distinguish what separates a good smart TV from the best smart TVs out there, so we’re here to help.
While our reviews take smart TV systems into account, we think that picture quality for the money is usually more important when purchasing a new TV. That’s because you can always “replace” the TV’s built-in system with a good streaming device, most of which cost less than $50. The exception is for budget TVs, where the price of the streaming device could make up a significant percentage of the cost — for this list, unlike our main best TVs list — we weighted the importance of the smart TV system higher for budget models we had reviewed.
Our list below is generally arranged in order of which TVs provide the best picture for the money, but we also note how much we like (or dislike) the built-in smart TV system.
What is the best smart TV right now?
The TCL 6-Series Roku TV sits at the top of our list of best TVs and smart TVs for a number of reasons. It offers superb picture quality, an affordable price tag and Roku, the best smart TV system. It also includes gaming features like 4K/120Hz input and variable refresh rate that can get the most out of consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. When a friend asks me what TV to buy from 55 to 85 inches, and money is still an object, I tell them to get the TCL 6-Series.
There are plenty of other excellent choices out there, however, so even though the 6-Series is my current favorite for most people, it might not be right for your preferences or budget.
Best smart TVs in 2023
TCL 6-Series Roku TV
Best overall smart TV
For the last five years the TCL 6-Series has been our favorite TV for the money, and the 2022 version — also known as the R655 series — is no exception. This TV has an excellent image thanks to mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming that helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. It improves upon the previous R635 series with more gaming extras and a new center-mount stand that you can elevate to make room for a soundbar, although the new 85-inch size has standard legs. And finally, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite.
Read more $950 at Best Buy You’re receiving price alerts for TCL 6-Series Roku TV
Best budget smart TV
Sizes 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inchTV Technology LEDSmart TV Yes (Roku TV)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 3
The picture quality of the TCL 4-Series Roku TV was only a slight step behind the Vizio V-Series (below) in our 2023 budget TV test, but we liked its Roku smart TV system better than Vizio’s SmartCast, so the TCL gets the top spot on this list. The 4-Series lacks the Dolby Vision, Bluetooth connectivity and AMD FreeSync with a variable refresh rate, all of which the Vizio offers, but in our book superior smart TV streaming is more important at the budget level.
Read more $330 at Walmart$270 at Amazon$270 at Best Buy
LG OLED C2
Best high-end smart TV
The C2 represents the pinnacle of picture quality at a price that’s admittedly high, but not too crazy. It beats any non-OLED TV on this list, including the Samsung QN90B below, with its perfect black levels, unbeatable contrast and superb off-angle viewing. It also has superb gaming features, making it the perfect companion to an Xbox Series X or S, PlayStation 5 or both. The C2 comes in a wide variety of sizes as well, although the bigger models are really expensive.
Read more $1,600 at Best Buy$1,597 at B&H Photo-Video$1,940 at Macys.com
Hisense U8H Google TV
Second best overall smart TV
Among midpriced models we liked the TCL 6-Series just a little better in our side-by-side comparison, but this Hisense is a strong contender. Its excellent image quality is anchored by best-in-class brightness that improves its bright-room picture quality and makes HDR TV movies, shows and games really pop. It’s actually brighter than the TCL with better contrast, but the TCL’s slightly more accurate image gave it the edge overall. The Hisense uses Google TV instead of Roku, and unlike the TCL, the U8H includes an ATSC 3.0 tuner. Frankly, you can’t go wrong with either one.
Read more $799 at Amazon$799 at Walmart$900 at Best Buy
Best budget smart TV for picture quality
Sizes 43-, 50-, 55-, 58- 65-, 70-, 75-inchTV Technology LEDSmart TV Yes (Tizen)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 4
When we compared the best budget TVs, the picture quality of Vizio V-Series clearly emerged as the leader of the pack. The Vizio offered the most balanced and accurate picture during our comparisons, and it comes with some useful extras such as Dolby Vision support, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth compatibility and variable refresh rate for potentially smoother gaming.
Read more $309 at B&H Photo-Video You’re receiving price alerts for Vizio V-Series
Roku Plus Series
Best midpriced smart TV runner-up
Sizes 55-, 65-, 75-inchTV Technology LED with local dimmingSmart TV Yes (Roku)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 4
Competition among TVs in the middle pricing band is heating up, and the Plus Series is the latest entrant in 2023. Unlike the TCL Roku TVs higher on this list, this one is all Roku, with no other brands on board. It adds a couple of step-up extras, including QLED and full-array local dimming, which help deliver a better picture than the TCL 4-Series, for example. It’s not as impressive as the Vizio MQX, though, since it lacks 120Hz for gaming and worse picture quality overall. If you value those extras, then the Vizio is worth saving for, but if not the Roku Plus Series is a very good value.
Read more $600 at Best Buy You’re receiving price alerts for Roku Plus Series
Best high-end smart TV that’s not an OLED
Sizes 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inchTV Technology QLED with Mini-LEDSmart TV Yes (Tizen)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 4
Looking for a high-end TV with spectacular image quality, but don’t want an OLED? The Samsung QN90B is your best bet. This TV uses QLED TV tech augmented by mini-LED for a brighter image than any OLED TV. The spectacular contrast of OLED still won out in our side-by-side tests, but the QN90B QLED screen comes closer than ever.
Read more $1,598 at Walmart$1,598 at Amazon$1,598 at Crutchfield
Best design in a midprice smart TV
Samsung is the brand that sells more TVs than anyone, and one of its most popular is the Q60 series. Its sleek QLED screen design stands out compared with the other TVs on this list — even though the ultrathin OLED models are sleeker — and it offers better features, image quality and more sizes than models like the TCL 4-Series and Sony X80K. The TVs listed in this article are all superior values, but if you want a Samsung TV and can’t afford the QN90A, this is a great choice.
Read more $900 at Best Buy$798 at B&H Photo-Video$948 at Amazon
Best alternative smart TV for tighter budgets
Sizes 50-, 65-, 75-inchTV Technology LED with local dimmingSmart TV Yes (SmartCast)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 4
The Vizio MQX is one of the least expensive TVs to feature full-array local dimming, which lets it reproduce TV shows, movies and games with enough contrast and pop to do HDR justice. The MQX has fewer dimming zones than more expensive TVs like the TCL 6-Series and Hisense U8H, but it offers 16 zones on the 50-inch, 30 on the 65-inch and 42 on the 75-inch, which is more than enough for excellent overall picture quality, with bright highlights, dark black levels, punchy contrast and accurate color.
Read more $808 at Best Buy$849 at Sam’s Club You’re receiving price alerts for Vizio MQX
How CNET tests smart TVs
Our TV reviews follow a rigorous, unbiased evaluation process honed over nearly two decades of TV reviews. Our primary TV test lab has specialized equipment for measuring light and color, including a Konica Minolta CS-2000 spectroradiometer, a Murideo Sig-G 4K HDR signal generator and an AVPro Connect 8×8 4K HDR distribution matrix. We use Portrait Displays CalMan Ultimate software to evaluate every TV we review. In every CNET TV review, three or more similar TVs are compared side by side in various lighting conditions playing different media, including movies, TV shows and games, across a variety of test categories, from color to video processing to gaming to HDR. Our reviews also account for design, features, smart TV performance, HDMI input and gaming compatibility, and other factors.
One important aspect of image quality we test is overall brightness. Here’s how it compares in nits across select TVs listed above.
Light output in nits
|TV||Brightest mode (HDR)||Accurate mode (HDR)||Brightest mode (SDR)||Accurate mode (SDR)|
|Roku TV Plus (65-inch)||514||455||579||404|
Check out our explainer on how we test TVs for more details.
How to choose a TV
With all of the TVs available today, and all of the technical terms and jargon associated with television technology, it can be tough to figure out what’s important. Here’s a quick guide to help cut through the confusion.
Price: TVs range in price from $100 to more than $2,000. Smaller screens are cheaper, well-known brands are more expensive and spending more money can also get you better image quality. Most entry-level TVs have a good enough picture for most people, but TVs last a long time, so it might be worth spending more to get a better picture. It’s also best to shop for a TV in the fall, when prices are lower.
Screen size: Bigger is better in our book. We recommend a size of at least 43 inches for a bedroom TV and at least 55 inches for a living room or main TV — and 65 inches or larger is best. More than any other “feature,” stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money. One of the most common post-TV-purchase complaints we’ve heard is from people who didn’t go big enough. And we almost never hear people complain that their TV is too large.
Capability: Among entry-level TVs the most important feature is what kind of smart TV system the TV uses. Among midrange models, look for a feature including full-array local dimming, mini-LED and 120Hz refresh rate, which (unlike some other extras) do help improve the picture in our experience. And among high-end TVs, OLED technology is your best bet.
For more TV buying advice check out our guide on how to buy a TV.
Smart TV FAQs
We’ll post the answers to commonly asked TV questions below. If you have any others, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@dkatzmaier), or by clicking the little envelope icon on my CNET profile page.
What’s the best smart TV system for streaming?
At CNET our favorite is Roku for its simplicity, while Google TV is our runner-up for its impressive integration with other Google services such as Google Photos and YouTube TV. Samsung TV’s system is our third choice, with Amazon Fire TV and LG left as some of our least favorite options.
What about Amazon Fire smart TVs?
Amazon makes a full range of smart TVs that run on its Fire operating system. The Fire TV platform is not one of our favorites because ads are featured so prominently throughout. We just don’t appreciate the TV becoming a giant rotating billboard for content or ads when in screensaver mode. In addition, we’ve found other TVs tend to have better picture quality than most Fire TVs.
Do smart TVs come with Alexa and Google?
Many smart TVs come with some kind of voice assistant. All Amazon Fire TVs come with Alexa built in, while Sony, TCL and Hisense TVs that run on Google’s operating system offer Google Assistant. Many new Samsung and LG TVs come with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in as well. Roku TVs and Vizio TVs, meanwhile, respond to voice commands but don’t work with Alexa or Google Assistant.
How big a TV should I get?
In our opinion bigger is better, and your money is best spent on large screen sizes rather than a slight upgrade in image quality. The answer also depends on room size and seating distance: If you have a big room and sit farther away, you’ll want a bigger TV. The answer also depends on room size and seating distance.
How do I get the best TV sound?
Most TVs sound terrible because their thin cabinets don’t have room for decent-size speakers or bass. If you want to get good sound you should buy an external audio system. Even an inexpensive soundbar will deliver much better audio quality than a TV’s built-in speakers. The Roku Streambar is a good example of a device that integrates a streaming system with a soundbar into one product.