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What is a Smart TV, and Which Ones are the Best?

Android TV vs. Google TV

What is a Smart TV, and Which Ones are the Best?

Key Points

  • A smartTV is a device that performs many of the functions of a computer. It can have a touchscreen, voice activation, internet access, and an operating system capable of running applications to play games or stream video.
  • The LG C2 was voted the best overall Smart TV.
  • If budget is a concern, the Amazon Fire TV may be for you.

It’s easy to think that smart TVs have been around forever. Long gone are the days of TV guides and flipping through channels, desperate to find something to watch. Smart TVs only started to make their way to consumers in 2007, but since then, their impact on the television world has been huge. 

As apps and streaming services have become more popular and changed the way we consume television, smart TVs have spoiled us by putting anything we could ever want to watch right at our fingertips. And, while you can make any TV “smart,” thanks to products like Roku and Amazon’s Fire Stick, there are still excellent options for smart TVs on the market. 

After weeks of testing, let’s take a look at our favorite smart TVs that you can buy today: 

What is a Smart TV? 

Before jumping into the best televisions, it will help to quickly ground you in what a smart TV is. The most basic definition for any smart TV is one that connects to the internet and supports downloadable applications for streaming services. We’re well past the days of HDTV antennas or the infamous “bunny ears” that we see from “old” movies and TV shows. 

Smart TVs are very much what you expect from your tablets and smartphones, with the opportunity to connect to the internet and stream from the likes of Netflix, Paramount+, Disney+, and more. They are also home to voice assistant services like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa so you can control the television without touching a remote. 

There are a lot of great smart televisions out there from all price points, but the LG C2 is the current king of the hill.

For just about every use, whether movies, TV shows, sports, or gaming, it excels with a gorgeous OLED panel that has fantastic viewing angles, near-perfect blacks, and arguably the best brightness levels at this price point. 

Four separate HDMI 2.1 ports make the C2 an ideal companion for current-generation gaming consoles, as does the incredibly low input lag. Watching movies in “Home Cinema” mode is immersive, thanks to both Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos for a complete home theater experience.

The webOS smart interface has been refreshed for 2022 and it’s good, if not great. You’ll have access to your favorite streaming services and you can set up separate accounts for different members of the family. Voice assistance support Google, Amazon, and Apple are all part of the WebOS system for complete voice control with the LG C2

You can pick up the LG C2 on Amazon here.

Best Smart TV
TCL 65-Inch 6-Series R635
$1,185.92
  • Dolby Vision HDR
  • 3840 x 2160 panel resolution
  • Quantum Dot Technology (better brightness and wider color volume)
  • Up to 240 localized zones for a striking contrast
  • Roku Smart TV
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02/03/2024 10:12 am GMT

The TCL 6-Series has been regarded as the best value in 4K televisions for a few years running, and for good reason. Between Roku’s outstanding smart TV system and TCL’s value pricing, the 6-Series is tough to beat. 

Integration with Roku means the TCL has just about every streaming service on the planet available for download. That totals up to more than 700,000 shows and movies at your disposal for watching anytime. All you have to do is download the app to the Roku home screen, log in with your account, and you’re watching the latest season of Cobra Kai on Netflix in less than two minutes. 

The 4K QLED display panel offers excellent contrast, color, and detail, thanks to Dolby Vision HDR. Mini-LED technology adds the strongest brightness at this price point and the same for viewing angles. THX-certified game mode means you have strong gaming credibility with the TCL and, with four HDMI inputs, you can hook up every console on the market today. 

Grab the TCL 6-Series on Amazon here.

Best QLED
SAMSUNG QN90B 65-Inch Class Neo QLED 4K
$1,477.99
  • Samsung’s ultra-precise Quantum Mini LEDs
  • Quantum HDR 32X
  • Neo Quantum Processor 4K uses AI-based deep learning to analyze content and optimize it to full 4K
  • Anti-glare
  • Ultra viewing angle
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02/03/2024 12:13 am GMT

For the best in smart TV gaming, the Samsung QN90B is tough to beat. Available in display sizes ranging from 43 to 85 inches, there’s something here for everyone and every room in the house. 

As soon as you can connect a PlayStation or Xbox console, the Samsung immediately detects the connection and switches into Game Mode. The screen now shows you information about HDR, frame rate, and more. There’s even support to switch aspect ratios from 21:9 or 32:9 if you want to emulate playing on a monitor. 

On top of the already impressive gaming features, support for NVIDIA’s G-Sync, AMD’s FreeSync Premium Pro, and variable refresh rate (VRR) all add credibility to the Samsung QN90B as a strong gaming television.  

Beyond television, Samsung’s smart interface “Smart Hub” gives you quick access to all of the movies, shows, games, and music you could want. 

You can find it on Amazon here.

Best Budget-Friendly
Amazon Fire TV 55-Inch Omni Series 4K UHD Smart TV
$389.98
  • Stunning 4K Ultra HD quality with brighter colors.
  • Scroll, launch, and control content with Alexa
  • Watch movies and TV episodes from popular networks
  • Support for HD, HDR 10, HLG, and Dolby Digital Plus
  • Play games, listen to music, or watch live TV anytime
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02/03/2024 06:52 am GMT

Competition for the best budget-friendly smart TV is fierce, but the best smart interface in the budget category belongs to the Amazon Fire TV. For the price, you get a strong 4K Ultra HD display complete with HDR 10 and HLG for the clearest picture below a $500-600 price point. 

The best aspect of the Fire TV is its hands-free compatibility, thanks to built-in microphones. This enables you to turn the TV on and off as well as find and launch content without having to touch a remote. 

Amazon’s Fire TV interface is very visual with a fantastic interface that quickly helps you locate and choose nearly one million movies and TV episodes. All of your favorite streaming services come together in one place so you can see new episodes and releases. 

Three HDMI inputs support video game consoles and an HDMI eARC port allows for adding a soundbar or full-scale audio equipment for improved sound. 

Get yours on Amazon here.

Best Overall
SAMSUNG 65-Inch QLED 8K QN900B Series
  • Infinity Screen with a near-invisible bezel
  • Quantum Matrix Technology Pro
  • 8K processor uses 20 neural networks to deliver an immersive picture yet
  • Quantum HDR 64X technology
  • Dolby Atmos
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The price tag isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you want the best 8K smart TV on the market today, the Samsung QN900B is the smart TV to beat. Not only will you future-proof yourself against the next decade of television, but you’ll have everything you need as far as smart TV capability. 

Amazon Alexa, Google Voice Assistant, and Samsung Bixby are all compatible with voice control. The Smart Hub interface is very user-intuitive, making it easy to not only add your favorite streaming services but also to navigate quickly, thanks to the 8K processor. 

Of course, for the price, you want a display that really shines, and the infinity screen on the QN900B will do that and more. QLED 8K technology offers some of the best details you’ll find on a home television today with more than a billion lifelike colors at its disposal. Upscaling also benefits all of your poor 4K and 1080p content so it looks as good as ever on the Samsung display. 

Pick up yours on Amazon here.

VIZIO 43-Inch V-Series 4K UHD LED Smart TV with Voice Remote, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Alexa Compatibility, V435-J01, 2022 Model
$199.99
  • 4K Ultra HD - Over 8 million pixels for breathtaking detail. 4 times the resolution of 1080p!
  • Dolby Vision Bright Mode - You’ll see even more lifelike accuracy, color saturation, black detail, and brightness in Dolby Vision Bright picture mode, thanks to color pixel tuning that ramps up...
  • Full Array Backlight - LEDs are evenly distributed across the screen's backlight for superior light uniformity and picture performance.
  • IQ Active Processor - Delivers superior picture processing, including a powerful and intelligent 4K upscaling engine that enhances your favorite HD entertainment in spectacular 4K quality.
  • Active Pixel Tuning - Intelligent pixel-level brightness adjustments that tune contrast levels frame by frame in over 2000 zones of the screen for superior visual contrast.
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02/02/2024 11:07 am GMT

It’s a battle between the Vizio V-Series and the Roku 4-Series for the best small TV, but thanks to its better remote, the 43” Vizio V-Series wins the day. Vizio’s smart interface, aka Vizio Smartcast, is well laid-out, and instead of the tile-like appearance of Roku, it opts for a more visually appealing look that’s instantly familiar to smartphone users familiar with app icons. 

Download the Vizio app to your smartphone and it instantly becomes a remote with the ability to control every facet of your television and then some. 

When you’re ready to watch a movie, a 4K Ultra 8 and Dolby Vision display provides strong colors, good black detail, and impressive brightness. Added support for HDR10/10+ ups the price to feature value. 

One big benefit over TCL models in this price range is that the Vizio is smart home-ready for Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Home. 

Grab the Vizio V-Series on Amazon here.

If you want a step above the popular QLED screen without making the pricey jump to 8K, OLED smart TVs are the best choice. OLED or organic light-emitting diode is best seen and felt on the LG G2.

Available in 55 to 83 inches in size, it’s hard to describe the picture as anything but incredible. Everything from the contrast to color to Dolby Cinema mode makes the G2 a sight to behold with movies and TV shows. LG’s brightness booster max tech gets you the brightest possible picture ever found on an OLED television panel. 

LG’s Game Optimizer includes NVIDIA G-Sync, AMD Freesync, and VRR for a gaming experience that makes use of every pixel in the best possible way. 

With webOS22, you get a super user-friendly smart TV experience that makes it easy to find and start watching any movie or TV show you can think of, as long as it’s on a streaming service. 

Check it out on Amazon here.

Best Aesthetics
SAMSUNG 55-Inch Class Frame TV
$1,197.99
  • View and share personal art in ART MODE
  • QLED 4K TV with 100% Color Volume
  • Anti-reflection and matte display limits distraction
  • Hang the TV flush against a wall
  • Smart TV with Alexa built-in 
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02/03/2024 02:23 am GMT

When you want to give up on all of the acronyms like QLED, OLED, 4K, 8K, and more, look to Samsung's The Frame as the best smart TV around. 

This smart TV is something different entirely as it can display hundreds of works of art when it’s not in use as a 4K television. Want to change the wood frame to better match the decor of your home? You can do that, and you can also add the no-gap wall mount so it’s flush against your wall. This is absolutely one of the most unique smart TVs ever made available to consumers. 

Of course, you still get some fancy smart TV features with The Frame, including built-in support for Amazon Alexa and TIZEN smart TV. Your favorite streaming apps are one click away so you can get all of the joy of Netflix when you’re watching, and then display your own copy of the Mona Lisa when you’re not. 

Get your Samsung The Frame on Amazon here.

What to Know Before Buying a Smart TV

Before you buy any smart TV, there are a few things you should consider. The first and most important is which operating system do you want to use.

Roku is undoubtedly the most popular in today’s smart TV world, but Amazon’s Fire TV, Samsung Smart Hub, and Vizio’s Smartcast all have their pluses and minuses. Of course, you can’t discount Google TV either, though not yet on TV models we’d consider “best of” in any particular category. 

Roku and Amazon are going to offer the most programming, with anywhere between 700,000 and one million shows and movies available. Ultimately, it will come down to interface and user experience. Do you enjoy one user experience over another? Roku is often thought of as the most basic of the bunch, with its heavy emphasis on its tile-based home screen, whereas Amazon, Vizio, and Samsung are more visual. 

The second thing to consider is what type of features you want. Is gaming your primary use for television? If so, choose a smart TV that includes HDMI 2.1 inputs, VRR, NVIDIA G-Sync, etc. 

Separately, do you prefer QLED or OLED? Prices can vary wildly between these two, so if you want to go less expensive but still great, QLED is the better choice. That said, if you want the best quality and future-proofing, OLED is the way to go, but you’ll have to accept some sticker shock. 

Man holding smart tv remote
Smart TVs are here to stay and will offer you the best viewing experience all from the comfort of your couch.

Using a Smart TV: What it’s Like

Using any smart TV, regardless of the operating system, is just pure joy. Any smart TV, no matter the quality, is such a far cry from TVs ten years ago, never mind two or three decades old. 

After testing these TVs over the course of a few weeks and testing all of them with Netflix and Cobra Kai, it’s easy to say that the LG C2 is the best overall winner. A superb combination of picture quality, features, and webOS as an interface makes it an easy choice. 

However, as a whole, Roku remains the best interface overall for smart TV. It’s okay to sacrifice a fancy layout and instead focus on quickly searching, downloading, and launching apps, for which Roku is best in class. 

Gaming excels on many of these TVs, but the LG C2 and Samsung QN90B are excellent, in particular.

Final Thoughts

After putting all of these smart TVs through their paces, it was clear that the LG C2 is the best smart TV on the market today. It simply offers the best picture, price, and smart system that you can purchase right now.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best smart TV?

The LG C2 is the best smart TV on the market today. In a space with lots of competition, it excels with a great picture, strong viewing angles, and excellent gaming capabilities. 

What is a smart TV?

Generally speaking, a smart TV is a television that can connect to the internet and stream from various services like Netflix and Disney+. It can also offer voice assistance, be a hub for smart home technology, and enable casting from a smartphone or tablet. 

What is the best smart TV operating system?

This is definitely a subjective topic, but there is a good reason why Roku controls around 50% of the smart TV/streaming market. Its interface strips away fancy menus and gives you exactly what you need on a simple home screen. 

Is OLED worth the extra money?

Yes, but only if you want to spend some extra money. QLED is already pretty great but OLED adds better colors for more detail. 

When should I look to purchase an 8K smart TV?

Only if you have to have the absolute best smart TV on the market. Otherwise, wait for streaming services to start offering shows in 8K, which likely won’t happen en masse for at least a few more years. 

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