The Best TVs of 2021
Last updated on February 3, 2021
The envelope please...
Remember the huge leap forward from flip-phones to iPhones in 2007? Well, it’s the same all over again, but this time with smart TVs… and the new ones are game-changers.
Two big differences: 1) Unlike smartphones, TVs have come down in price, and drastically so, making today’s amazing new TV technology affordable for all, and 2) Of the many TV manufacturers out there, three clearly rise above: LG, Sony, and Samsung. (“The Big Three.”). They set the bar for the best TVs out there with smart TV technology, picture quality, slim and beautiful design... across some seriously impressive screen sizes.
Each brand offers models that excel in certain areas (e.g. “this one’s best in a bright room” or “this one sounds best right out of the box”), but bottom line? Though it’s pretty hard to buy anything short of a wonderful TV from one of the Big Three, you can still hone your choice based on your own personal taste, your particular room, and what you like to watch. And that’s what this is all about: our experts picking the best of the best – by category.
(Psssst… before diving in, you can get up to speed with our new “TV Buying Guide.” It’s very consumer-friendly and offers a fair lay of the land.)
Here Are Our Picks for the Best TVs of 2021:
The Best Budget TV:
Samsung TU8000 4K UHD Smart TV
The Most Beautiful TV:
Samsung The Frame QLED 4K UHD Smart TV
The Best Bang for Your Buck TV:
LG OLED CX 4K UHD HDR Smart TV
The Best TVs for Sunny/Bright Rooms:
Sony Z8H BRAVIA 8K UHD HDR TV
The Best TVs for Sunny/Bright Rooms:
Samsung Q90T QLED 4K UHD Smart TV
The Best TV for Both Picture and Sound Quality:
Sony A8H BRAVIA OLED 4K UHD HDR TV
The Best Sounding TV:
Sony XBRX950H BRAVIA 4K Ultra HD HDR Smart TV
The Best "Is-This-Real-Life" TV:
Samsung 8K Q900TS QLED 8K UHD Smart TV
The Best TV for Wall Mounting:
LG Gallery 4K UHD HDR Smart TV
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Regular Price: $1,599.99
Save: $103.00 (6%)
1. The Best Budget TV on the Planet Right Now:
The Samsung TU8000 4K UHD Smart TV
So you want a quality bedroom TV for visiting in-laws at a great price. Or you just want to play Battlefield V on a screen size big enough to handle the entire Western Front. Or you want to impress clients with a state-of-the-art flatscreen in the office conference room. All good reasons to check out Samsung's TU8000 series, a line of fully featured 4k / UHD TVs that do it all (in six sizes) – and at a price that’s “fell-off-the-truck” low. (Check it out. And keep in mind, this is Samsung – not Vizio. Big difference.)
Samsung gets more out of backlit LED / LCD picture technology than anyone, and though this model isn’t QLED, Samsung’s 4k / UHD processor keeps even the fastest moving content from tearing and stuttering. Color is rich, and vibrant, blacks are excellent, and the TU8000 comes ready to connect to your Alexa-enabled devices… so you can change channels, lower the volume and more by simply asking.
Universal Guide is an all-new feature, recommending new things to watch with a curated list of content from broadcast and streaming channels based on your viewing history.
Just for gamers: excellent low input lag, auto low latency, and motion interpolation in gaming mode. With new Auto Game Mode, the TV automatically notices when you’ve switched to a game system and makes all the necessary performance changes behind the scenes.
2. The Most Beautiful TV:
Samsung The Frame QLED 4K UHD Smart TV
Save: $102.00 (5%)
Samsung’s Frame TV doesn’t just resemble real framed artwork, it’s virtually indistinguishable from real framed artwork. To do it, the Frame TV uses sensors to detect ambient light, and then automatically adjusts the display to reflect what real art would look like under the same conditions. The result is persuasive – so much so that textures appear tactile, fooling even seasoned artists from across the room. Bottom line: this isn’t a gimmick – this is next level stuff.
You can choose one of three layout options: Shadow Box, Modern or No Matte. From there, choose any fine art you’d like to display, or your own art, or photos if you prefer. Samsung even offers an art easel as an optional way to display your TV, and you can swap out the charcoal gray frame bezel it comes with for white, black, or a light brown or dark brown wood finish. A large range of screen sizes makes it easy to find a Frame TV that will fit right in with your gallery wall of existing artwork or be the star of the show if you choose. The end effect is totally convincing.
for technical prowess, the Frame TV now features
Samsung’s QLED panel technology which offers a deeper, more vibrant High
Dynamic Range (HDR) picture. (QLED is short for “Quantum Dot LED” – not
the same as OLED.) And like everything in this price range, the Frame
TV is loaded with smart features, including a quad-core processor for
apps, games, web browsing, mobile-to-TV mirroring and voice control via
Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Samsung’s own “Bixby”voice helper.
Samsung’s No Gap Wall Mount (which ships with the TV) sits almost flush to the wall, hugging it just like a frame. (Our installation experts say customers love this.) Even with the wall mount, the TV does allow for slight tilting (downward, top to bottom, and 6° left or right) for optimal viewing. Meaning: you can center your Renoir during parties, and then tilt the Knicks game towards your favorite chair when everyone’s gone. LED Samsung TVs come with a separate media box, so all of you DIYers out there can easily mount The Frame to the wall. Your TV, sound bar, etc., all plug into the media box, leaving you with a clean setup. For more info (like where do the wires go?) check our blog post on the Frame TV right here.
3. The Best Bang For Your Buck TV:
LG OLED CX 4K UHD HDR Smart TV
Save: $803.00 (29%)
There’s no debating the best picture quality: it’s OLED. (See our TV Buying Guide, re: LED vs. OLED.) The only drawback: OLEDs are pricey. Or, they were pricey. The good news is that prices on OLEDs has finally started to normalize and LG is delivering one of the best pictures we've seen, at an affordable price point, and looks great from any angle. Enter LG's “C” series OLED 4K, UHD / HDR Smart TV that, according to Consumer Reports, is “among the best TVs we’ve tested so far… with an excellent high-definition picture, excellent UHD performance, and excellent sound.” And we agree.
The LG CX series, delivers superior contrast and off-viewing angles, improved image processor, and a slim design packed with features. LG's apps for Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus and Vudu all support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It has Apple TV and supports Apple AirPlay2 for easy screen mirroring from your smartphone or laptop, and LG's TVs are still the only devices that let you use both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. If you're not into voice control, The remote tracks the motion of your hand the scroll wheel is also great for moving through apps. LG’s CX is, without question, the best picture vs. money compromise, or the “best-bang-for-your-buck.”
4. The Best TV for Sunny / Bright Rooms:
The Sony Z8H
Save: $2,501.99 (36%)
The press loved Sony’s X900E series TVs (2017's models), with one caveat: some found it too dim overall. So Sony did some re-tooling, and their new MASTER series = the results. The biggest change: Sony incorporated their X1 Ultimate Picture Processor and added a new picture technology to ensure an incredible, vibrant view of the action from every angle in the room.
All Sony Z8H TVs come with Google’s Voice Assistant built-in, as well as the Android Smart TV app. If Alexa’s more your type, she’ll work with the Z8H, too. Simply connect any Alexa-enabled device to your TV, and you’ll be changing channels, adjusting the volume, and more with simple voice commands in no time.
The biggest reason we chose the Z8H for “best in a bright room": Sony’s X-tended Dynamic Range PRO technology, which delivers up to 12x’s the contrast of most LED TVs. When watching a film like The Dark Knight, everything was significantly brighter, sharper and more vivid, making it an ideal choice for Florida rooms, sunny rooms, operating rooms – any bright room really. The 85-inch screen size will blow your mind. The Z8H is beautifully narrow to keep your focus on what’s on screen, and the discreet feet are a great upgrade over one of our complaints with last year’s model (the Z9F). Everyone in the room is guaranteed to have a great view of the action, thanks to Sony’s wide angle technology.
5. The Best TV for Sunny / Bright Rooms:
The Samsung Q Series QLED TVs
Save: $902.00 (33%)
8K may be here to stay, but Samsung hasn’t given up on how great 4K can be. Ultra Viewing Angle is particularly newsworthy, given it fixes the one drawback associated with all-things LCD: poor viewing angles. In short: an LCD TV is great if you’re sitting directly in front of it… but off to the side, not so much. Samsung solves that issue with the Q90R, which now affords viewing angles in excess of 60 degrees – while maintaining vivid color and contrast. The image quality is brilliant and bright across all screen sizes.
To be clear, Samsung’s QLED technology requires LED back-lighting, versus OLED technology where every single pixel emits its own light. So though QLED can never truly equal OLED, the Q90R series is still worth a look. It costs less than similarly featured OLED TVs, it’s gorgeous, (Samsung’s “One Connect Box” houses and hides power and port connections) and with or without an OLED nearby for comparison, the picture is full-bodied and incredibly bright – with remarkable detail.
Samsung’s Bixby 2.0 voice control platform comes built-in with a robust AI. But if you prefer Alexa and/or Google Assistant, the Q90T line works with both.Samsung’s own “Smart Things” platform let’s you control any number of smart devices via the remote, or by voice. If you're not big on voice control, Samsung’s old-school approach with old-fashioned / uncomplicated remotes will make your day. Kudos to Samsung for not resting on their laurels.
6. The Best TV for Both Picture and Sound Quality (Out of the Box):
Sony brings the magic with the A8H.
Save: $801.99 (26%)
Sony’s Master Series A8H gets high marks from us, just as last year’s model did. No doubt: this is a magnificent television and not all that different from last year’s version. (“If it ain’t broke…”) Everything remains best-in-class, or what you’d expect from an ultra-premium OLED TV. And yes, it’s pricey, but if you like watching TV and you appreciate great production values, it’s hard to beat the A8H. The best image quality out there.
Onboard: Sony’s powerful Picture Processor X1™ Ultimate, which is insanely good at detecting and enhancing even the smallest details – adding brightness, contrast and natural color where needed. On a more molecular level, Sony’s Pixel Contrast Booster™ reveals even the finest details or textures.
The A8H also over-achieves when it comes to flat-panel sound with something Sony calls “Acoustic Surface Audio+™” – two speakers and two subwoofers built-in behind the screen that deliver remarkably clear, crisp audio. Some use the A8H as the center speaker in a home theater set-up, and others like it because it does what a sound bar does – but it’s invisible. Really, it’s hard to believe anything so thin can sound so good, but it does. (If you’re near one of out stores, come in and hear for yourself!)
We gave ourselves one rule: we wouldn’t say any one TV is “the” best TV of all. But if pressed and asked “which TV would we take home for ourselves?,” it might just be this one for the great OLED picture and sound. No, the Sony A8H can’t morph into a gorgeous framed painting or photo like Samsung’s Frame TV, and no, it can’t match LG’s knock-your-socks-off no-gap mounted Gallery TV, but in every other respect… Sony’s A8H rocks.
7. The Best Sounding TV (Out of the Box):
The Sony XBRX950H. A TV only Sony could build.
Save: $401.99 (20%)
The X950H is not your everyday 4K / Ultra HD / Smart TV, not by a long shot. It doesn’t take long in front of this TV to once again be reminded: no one innovates like Sony. For one, it’s a monster – the 65-inch version is thicker than most other flatscreens and weighs a little over 100 pounds with its feet attached. But there’s good reason: Sony filled it with quality speakers, including three on each side: an 18mm tweeter, an 80mm magnetic fluid midrange and an 80mm subwoofer. The result: audio every bit as good as most sound bars, but neatly hidden away.
As for picture quality, Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor is considered the industry’s best, and Sony improves on LCD viewing angles with a VA panel and X-Wide Angle technology. Color and detail are exceptional, and the X950H does everything any good, fully featured smart TV will do – and then some. True, the X950H isn’t equal to Sony’s highest-end OLED TVs, but it’s still miles ahead of other LCDs at the same price point.
IMAX Enhanced Mode, the X950H replicates the high-quality color and clarity of IMAX content. In Netflix Calibrated Mode, the X950H faithfully reproduces Netflix original content with the same studio quality as the Netflix studio master. To top it off, this TV works with both Alexa and Google Assistant. For more, hit our product page for a full list of specs and capabilities.
8. The Best Is-This-Real-Life 8K TV:
The Samsung Q900TS
Save: $2,502.00 (45%)
8K may seem like future tech, but with dramatic improvements in the Q900T, that future is now. More than just a pretty picture, though, the Q900T sports the brains needed to perform better than 8K ever has before. New processors run the colors, panel, backlighting, and more, resulting in superior, never-seen-before kind of performance.
Even 4K, when watching a 1080p HD Blu-ray, must artificially generate about 75% of the image. If you’re worried about what that means for 8K, Samsung has it handled. All-new AI driven upscaling makes this TV better prepared to make everything look stupendous.
There’s nothing more frustrating than when your “smart” TV feels dumb. Next-gen smart functions help things run smoother than ever and bring the latest capability in apps and features, powered by Tizen.
If you’re worried about expected changes in the industry, such as ATSC 3.0 or the ability to keep up with next gen gaming consoles, fear not. The Q900T is jam packed with everything you need to be ready for any content for years to come. Certified by the 8K Association, capable of 240Hz refresh rate, and Ultra Viewing Angle are just a sampling of what this TV has to offer.
9. The Best TV for No-Gap Wall Mounting:
The LG Gallery 4K UHD HDR Smart TV
Save: $1,203.00 (34%)
The Gallery line of OLED TVs from LG may not have décor-conscious magnetic frames you can add-on – because there’s nowhere to put it. With virtually no gap from wall to screen, the Gallery models are some of the slimmest TVs we’ve ever seen. The included wall-mount ensures the TV stays flush without having to recess anything into the wall.
The only thing we aren’t so crazy about: since the TV is designed for wall mounting, it does not come with a stand or feet for desktop applications. They have to be purchased separately. In fairness, though, that’s the whole point of this TV. It is meant to be mounted, and everything about the design is geared for a seamless, flush, wall-mounted experience, and man does it look good! Don't miss the 77-inch screen size. It's totally worth it!
With incredible picture quality and a beautiful glass-on-wall design, LG has really hit big with this one. This TV packs every bit of capability and performance as the other LG OLED models. LG has been in the OLED game longer than anyone else, and that experience shows.
One more thing...
Once you pick out your TV, a last word of advice: buy it from a trusted dealer. And the more experience and longer the track record, the better. A good dealer will take care of you in the event anything happens.
Speaking of trusted dealers…
World Wide Stereo is home to some 90+ industry-leading audio/video professionals who love what they do, and talking about it,too. We opened our doors in 1979, gained a small yet diehard following, won a slew of national awards for everything from killer car audio installations to customer service, grew the business online… and today we enjoy a faithful following of like-minded TV-watching, music-listening, gear-loving defenders of fun for the whole family. Our only rule: no one leaves unhappy. We’re brutally honest when it comes to this stuff. Want to know if something is as good as advertised? Even if you're shopping somewhere else? Call us or stop by one of our showrooms — we’ll give it to you straight. We love what we do, and we love sharing that love.
With us, you get our guarantee, which includes perks like free shipping, 60-day returns, and support even years after the sale — always. Hence our rule: "no one leaves unhappy." Ever.