Compared to a phone or a PC, you probably don’t have to replace your TV very often. When you finally do, however, it can seem like a whole new world of confusion. The latest terms and jargon —, , , , , , , the list goes on — are overwhelming, especially for someone who hasn’t shopped for a new television in five or 10 years.
I’ve been reviewing TVs since the days of and , and I try to keep it simple. I concentrate on one concept: picture quality for the money.
The list below represents the best TVs I’ve reviewed in CNET’s test lab, where I compare them side-by-side to see which ones are most worth buying. Here’s my latest recommendations, with the following notes to keep in mind.
OLED TVs are the picture quality kings, but they’re not cheap. They use organic light-emitting diodes to deliver contrast and viewing angles that no LCD (or QLED) TV can match. Even in mid-2019, this OLED TV from 2018 is still the one to buy. With image quality very close to the 2019 C9 (below) and a price that’s hundreds less, the B8 has aged beautifully. That said, look for a full review of the 2019 B9 soon.
Sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch
No TV I’ve ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. Another holdover from 2018, the 6 series is still widely available at closeout prices because the new 2019 version is coming soon. And it’s a steal. With full-array local dimming, its picture runs circles around just about any other TV at this price, and its Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite.
Sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
What’s that you say? You just want the best, money no object? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests the C9 is the best TV I’ve ever reviewed, barely beating the 2018 models like the B8 (above), but the B8 is a superior value — almost as good and much less expensive. This 2019 OLED TV also has all the HDMI 2.1 future-proofing that some high-end buyers, particularly gamers, desire.
Sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch
Aside from the TCL 6 series above, no TV offers this much picture for this little cash. In my comparisons the Vizio did show superior HDR color to the TCL, but the TCL won in other areas, in particular brightness. I’d still recommend the TCL to most buyers because of its superior Roku smart TV system, but the Vizio is still an excellent choice. Just make sure you’re getting the M8, not the M7. And stay tuned for upcoming reviews of Vizio’s other 2019 models.
Sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch
Roku is our favorite platform for streaming apps like Netflix, and it’s even better baked into the TV. Image quality on this TCL can’t beat any of the models above — its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don’t do anything to help the picture — but it’s perfectly fine for most people, especially at this price.
Sizes: 43-inch, 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
(The price shown below is for the 43-inch size.)
Samsung’s QLED TVs are basically fancy LCDs — don’t confuse them with OLEDs. The Q70R has an excellent picture and plenty of Samsung design and features goodies for a price that relatively affordable, albeit not exactly budget. If you’re not interested in a TCL or Vizio and don’t want to splurge for an OLED, the Q70 is an excellent choice.
Sizes: 49-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, 82-inch
For sizes smaller than 55 inches, and for people who value smarts over image quality, these non-4K Roku TVs make the most sense. The picture is “good enough” and the built-in smarts are superb. And the price is perfect for a kids’ room or secondary room where you don’t need a massive screen.
Sizes: 28-inch, 32-inch, 40-inch, 43-inch, 49-inch
(The price shown below is for the 32-inch size.)
Other stuff to know about buying a new TV
I’m pretty sure you’d be happy with any one of the TVs above, but a new set can be a big investment, so maybe you’re looking for a bit more information. Here’s a quick and dirty list.
- Prices for 2019 TVs will start hitting their lowest points around late November (Black Friday) and into the holiday season. Until then, many of the 2018 TVs will be better values.
- In my opinion, bigger is better. Big TVs are cheaper than ever, and your money is best spent on a large screen size rather than a slight upgrade in image quality.
- If you don’t like the built-in smart TV system, you can always add a media streamer. They’re cheap and easy to use, and receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs. See the best media streamers.
- Most TVs sound terrible, so it’s worthwhile to pair your new set with a sound bar or other speaker system. Good ones start at around $100. See the best sound bars.
Looking for even more info? Here’s everything to know (and more) about.