LG vs Samsung vs Sony TVs: Which is Best?
Last updated on September, 9, 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 Q70AA QLED 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:
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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1. The Best Budget TV on the Planet Right Now:
Save: $302.00 (22%)
For a few years now, Samsung has completely blurred the distinction between high-end and budget televisions. With their new line of QLED 4K televisions, the distinction gets even murkier. But that’s the only thing hard to see with these ridiculously affordable TVs. Two backlight processes — one cool and one warm — and adaptive picture technology work together to give you the best look for what you’re watching and where you’re watching it. Compatibility with all HDR formats, including HDR 10, HDR 10+, and HLG, gives the picture in these TVs an astonishing range of depth, from high-end Hollywood box office hits and dazzling CGI fantasies to live sports.
20-watt speakers put out plenty of sound and adjust automatically to fill the size of your room, and the Q-Symphony feature syncs the TV speakers with your sound bar, so you don’t have those annoying out-of-phase moments.
Voice setup and control is next-level, as well: Bixby, Alexa, and Google Assistant are built-in. Connect to the Internet with Wi-Fi or make a hard-wired connection. It’s super easy to share your computer or phone screen, and even to have a multi-view, so you can watch your favorite show and video chat with mom.
Connect a keyboard and mouse with the built-in Bluetooth, and let the TV automatically detect what system you’ve plugged in and configure itself accordingly. Lag, tearing, and stuttering won’t bug you, because they’ll be smoothed out with Samsung’s FreeSync — and you can easily check FPS or input lag, or change the aspect ratio from 21:9 to 32:9 with the Game Bar. Plug in your new PS5, and you’ve got a gaming station that will keep you riveted for hours.
2. The Most Beautiful TV:
Save: $202.00 (10%)
Samsung’s The Frame mounts flush on your wall, indistinguishable from a real work of art. Get the picture? To accomplish this, Samsung took all of the processors, connectors, and other electronics and housed them in a compact stand-alone box, the One Connect. A single fiber-optic cable connects the One Connect with the panel itself, eliminating cable clutter and letting your eye focus entirely on the screen.
The 2021 model has a screen that is nearly half the thickness of last year’s model. With its thin frame (customizable with optional frame designs you snap on magnetically — so long, miter saw), no one will be able to tell the difference between your TV and your art collection.
You can put the TV in Art Mode and use it to display any of the 1,400 works of art from the world’s top museums, which are available with a modest subscription from the Samsung Art Store. Twenty pieces are included for free, or you can upload your own.
The Frame has 6GB of storage, which can handle over 1000 extremely high-resolution pictures from your own collection. You can even set the size and color of the matte surrounding the work. The 43” model can be mounted vertically in portrait mode to display vertically-oriented art — great for commercial installations.
When you want to just watch TV, you’ve got a fantastic Samsung QLED 4K screen, dialed in with all the high dynamic range formats, including HDR10+ and HLG. The streamlined remote (with ambient light solar cell or USB recharging, no removable batteries to replace) lets you access the Tizen operating system for exceptionally responsive navigation.
The refresh rate on The Frame is 120Hz, which means low-lag, smooth action gaming. One of the ports is HDMI 2.1-compatible, which makes it easy to plug in the newest consoles and get the best game experience available.
You’ll be amazed at how well The Frame blends in with the rest of the art in your home. Except that now you’ll have Rembrandts, Ruebens, and so many more dazzling works to enjoy — when you’re not being transported by the first-rate television viewing experience.
3. The Best Bang For Your Buck TV:
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:
Screen Sizes Available: 75"
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.
5. The Best TV for Both Picture and Sound Quality (Out of the Box):
Save: $601.99 (19%)
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.
6. The Best Sounding TV (Out of the Box):
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.
7. The Best Is-This-Real-Life 8K TV:
Screen Sizes Available: 65”
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.
8. The Best TV for No-Gap Wall Mounting:
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.