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What is a smart TV, and which are the best?

A smart TV can improve your viewing experience and simplify your life, too. Ditch the screen you've been using for one of the best smart TVs for your home or office.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Emery Wright

Technology is always evolving, especially for the top TVs on the market. It seems like everything is "smart" these days, but what does that really mean? Smart TVs employ the Internet for far greater capabilities than your old-school television, and a smart TV can be an invaluable addition to your smart home.

But before you invest in a new device, you need to research the best smart TVs -- and that's where we can help. We scoured the market and compared prices and features to find the very best smart TVs for your home or office.

Our top picks come from brands including TCL, Hisense, LG, Samsung, Sony. Check out the best smart TVs according to ZDNET experts below.

Also: 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Excellent display
  • Vivid colors
  • Fantastic resolution
cons
  • Needs some adjustments
  • Performs best with higher-quality content
More Details

Tech SpecsSize options: 55, 65, and 75 inches | Refresh rate: 120 Hz | Resolution: 4K

The TCL 6-Series Roku TV is not only the best smart TV overall but also the most affordable on our list. It comes in a trio of sizes, so the price varies -- but no matter, what you can certainly appreciate the built-in access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Skype, Spotify, and YouTube. There is voice control to keep things simple, plus an excellent design with top technology. The mini-QLED display offers a fantastic 4K HDR picture, plus connectivity is great with WiFi, USB, and HDMI connections. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Crystal-clear display
  • Anti-glare
  • Excellent contrast
cons
  • Not ideal for side viewing
  • Bugs reported
More Details

Tech Specs: Size options: 55, 65, and 75 inches | Display: QLED | Resolution: 4K | Refresh rate: 120 Hz

The Hisense U8H not only includes browser access but also YouTube, Google, and Alexa, all built-in and ready to go. Multiple connectivity options are available with Bluetooth, WiFi, and HDMI connections to keep you plugged in without trouble. Available in three different sizes, the 4K QLED display means a bright, vivid picture with better contrast. Choose from Game Mode Pro or FilmMaker Mode -- either way, the U8H shines as a budget smart TV. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Excellent response time
  • Vibrant colors
  • Perfect for side viewing
cons
  • Pricey
  • Limited brightness
More Details

Tech Specs: Size options: 55, 65, 77, and 93 inches | Display: OLED | Resolution: 4K  | Refresh rate: 120 Hz 

The LG OLED C1 Series 4K Smart TV comes in a series of larger sizes, starting at 55 inches as the smallest, with a 4K OLED display and 120 Hz refresh rate. Swap to Filmmaker Mode to keep things interesting, or stick to the basics. Either way, there are HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision technologies for premium viewing. Once you connect to the Internet, enjoy access to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Hulu, and YouTube. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Different color frames
  • Several sizes available
  • Sleek, unobtrusive design
cons
  • Setup can be confusing
  • Restricted apps
More Details

Tech Specs: Size options: 32, 43, 50, 55, 65, 75, and 85 inches | Display: QLED | Resolution: 4K | Refresh rate: 120 Hz 

For a more modern approach, check out the Samsung Frame. It is available in a ton of sizes, from small to large, with a 4K QLED display and Quantum Dot technology. The matte display deters reflections, allowing you to place it anywhere without fear of glare. Netflix comes built-in for easy access, as well as Google Assistant and Alexa. Be sure to check out Art Mode, which uses beautiful artwork to serve as a backdrop in your space.  

Deal alert: Samsung's The Frame TV just dropped to less than $1000 on Amazon

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Superior picture
  • OLED technology
  • Deep blacks
cons
  • Expensive
  • Average brightness
More Details

Tech Specs: Size options: 55, 65, and 83 inches | Display: OLED | Resolution: 4K | Refresh rate: 120 Hz 

When you have a little more to spend, the Sony A90J is our favorite smart TV splurge. It uses an exclusive cognitive processor XR to significantly improve contrast, as well as special technologies that enhance picture and color. That means you receive a display unlike any other, offering a brilliant picture that really brings your images to life. Built-in, you will find all your favorite streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+, YouTube, and Apple TV.

What is the best smart TV?

When it comes to the best smart TV, the cheapest smart TV is also the best. The TCL 6-Series Roku TV has every popular service you need to start streaming right away, and the mini-QLED display promises fantastic viewing at an excellent value. 

To see how it stacks up, here is an overview of the best smart TVs. 

Best smart TV

Cost

Size options

Display

TCL 6-Series Roku TV

$648

55, 65, 75 inches

mini-QLED

Hisense U8H

$700

55, 65, 75 inches

QLED

LG OLED C1 Series 4K Smart TV

$1,497

55, 65, 77, 93 inches

OLED

Samsung Frame

$998

32, 43, 50, 55, 65, 75, 85 inches

QLED

Sony A90J

$1,798

55, 65, 83 inches

OLED

Which is the right smart TV for you?

To help you find the best smart TV for your needs, these are our expert suggestions.

Choose this best smart TV...

If you want...

TCL 6-Series Roku TV

The latest technology at a great price

Hisense U8H

The best budget option

LG OLED C1 Series 4K Smart TV

To connect to your PlayStation or Xbox

Samsung Frame

A smart TV that displays art when not in use

Sony A90J

The most high-end smart TV

How did we choose these best smart TVs?

We consider multiple factors when forming our list for the best smart TVs.

  • Quality: We consider image quality, as well as factors like resolution, refresh rate, and sound to ensure an overall stellar performance.
  • Features: Some smart TVs also incorporate Bluetooth connectivity and voice assistants into their design. You may even connect it to your smart home hub.
  • Cost: Budget is always at the forefront, so we choose the best smart TVs that accommodate a variety of budgets.

What is a smart TV?

A smart TV is one that includes web-based features and built-in streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon. It has the ability to connect to the Internet without the need for any additional equipment. 

Do all smart TVs include Alexa and Google?

It depends on the model. While some TVs include Alexa, you can also buy an Amazon Fire TV that has Alexa already built-in and ready to go. Some TVs may incorporate multiple types of smart technology, including both Google and Alexa.  

How much do smart TVs cost?

Smart TVs can range in cost significantly, depending on factors like size and technology. The best smart TVs range in price from about $650 to more than $1,700, depending on the option you choose.

Are there alternative smart TVs worth considering?

In our search for the best smart TVs, we also found these great options that almost made our list. 

If you are looking for a specific size, check out our picks for the best 50-inch TVs, best 65-inch TVs, and best 85-inch TVs.

Editorial standards

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