Technology

The Best TVs In 2021, Whatever Your Budget

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TV technology is always making steady advances forward, but the best TVs of 2021 are something truly special. With brighter OLED displays, Mini-LEDs, and faster response times for gaming, the best TVs in 2021 are some of the best ever made, no matter what you want to watch or play.

In the market for the perfect gaming TV? The LG C1 is the TV for you, and it’s at an amazingly affordable price too. Want to watch Sunday afternoon sports in your living room while the kids play? The Samsung QN85A will ensure you never miss any action and don’t need to worry about glare from the windows.

You don’t need to spend thousands to get the best TV for you though. There are amazing TVs for just a few hundred dollars if you focus on what features and specs matter for what you want to watch or play. Here’s a selection of the the best TVs you can buy today.

The Best TV Overall

LG G1 OLED

LG – 65″ Class G1 Series OLED evo 4K UHD Smart webOS TV with Gallery Design

  • Type: OLED
  • Resolution: 4K
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG

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The LG G1 is the 2021 replacement of the already spectacular LG GX range of TVs and the new-generation model only builds on its successes. The G1 has the same infinite contrast ratio, rich coloring and fantastic response time as its predecessor, but it also enjoys LG’s new Evo panel, which is as much as 20% brighter and that makes a huge difference. One of the weaknesses of OLEDs is that though they can be turned off for the inkiest of blacks, they don’t get as bright as traditional and mini-LEDs. The LG G1 and its Evo panel change that, with enough brightness to enjoy this TV in brightly lit rooms and deliver even greater HDR pop in high-contrast scenes.

The LG G1 makes use of a brand new Alpha 9 Generation 4 processor for handling the upscaling and management of images on the screen, making them look their best based on the type of content you’re watching. It can even detect specific elements in a scene and enhance them with particular visual tweaks for a better looking picture.

With four HDMI 2.1 ports, a 120Hz refresh rate, and variable refresh rate support, this TV is more than ready for gaming on new-generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles. As an OLED, it also enjoys super fast response times and near zero input lag, so you’ll be able to enjoy your games at the fullest quality possible whilst also making them extra responsive.

Sound quality isn’t spectacular, but anyone buying this TV will no doubt have invested in a powerful sound system or soundbar to compliment it. Even so, the LG G1 is the best TV you can buy today, blowing almost everything else out of the water and even coming in at a competitive price.


The Best 8K TV

Samsung QN900A

Samsung – 75″ Class QN900A Series Neo QLED 8K UHD Smart Tizen TV

  • Type: QLED (Mini-LED)
  • Resolution: 8K
  • HDR: Quantum HDR 32x, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG

Where 4K is all the rage, 8K TVs are just starting to hit that sweet spot of affordable and accessible, with a variety of native resolution content to enjoy. There are many great 8K TVs to pick from in 2021, but the best 8K TV is the Samsung QN900A. The next generation advancement of the Q900TS, this TV utilizes the latest in display technologies: Samsung’s Mini-LEDs. These allow for much greater brightness and smarter local dimming for a more nuanced HDR image. It’s designed to rival OLED technology for its contrast, and though it doesn’t quite get there, it’s a vast improvement over traditional LED backlighting and doesn’t run the risk of burn-in, making the QN900A one of the best TVs you can buy today.

Along with its high resolution, this TV supports a wide range of HDR standards, and though lacking Dolby Vision, its peak brightness of over 1,600 nits means it can make bright elements in a scene really shine. Combined with its excellent out of the box color calibration, this TV looks as lifelike as it gets in 2021—especially at the larger sizes. While the 65-inch model is the most affordable, the 75-inch model is competitively priced, and there’s always an 85-inch option if you want the ultimate 8K TV experience.

All HDMI ports on this TV are HDMI 2.1, meaning that you’ll have access to all 8K local playback options as they become available in the next few years. That includes both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and any next-generation physical media options that arise for 8K. Low input lag, high refresh rates and fast response times make this display particularly good for gaming too.


The Best TV for sports

Samsung QN85A

Samsung – 65″ Class QN85A Series Neo QLED 4K UHD Smart Tizen TV

  • Type: QLED (Mini LED)
  • Resolution: 4K
  • HDR: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG

The best TV on this list, the LG G1, is an amazing TV for watching sports. As are most OLEDs, because their super fast pixel response times make them great at capturing action. But their lower brightness doesn’t make them great for viewing in brighter rooms, especially during daytime games. That’s where Samsung’s new generation of Mini-LED-powered QLED TVs come from and the best of those for watching sports is the Samsung QN85A.

With a super fast response time, all of the action looks crisp and accurate, letting you appreciate every move and play. The high brightness reaches well over 1,000 nits, meaning you won’t miss anything even in the brightest room, and when you want to watch some HDR movies in the evening, it really lets high contrast scenes pop. The anti-reflective surface is fantastic for alleviating any reflections from nearby windows too—just one more reason that this is one of the best TVs for watching sports in the daytime.

Wide viewing angles ensure that nobody misses out on the excellent contrast and coloring of this TV no matter where they’re sat. The onboard AI upscaling is decent too, so even watching lower resolution cable sports you’ll be able to fully appreciate the higher resolution picture of your Samsung QN85A TV.

If you want to do a little sports gaming in your downtime too, the support for variable refresh rate and 120Hz means you can make your games look buttery smooth. Low input lag makes them feel nice and responsive too, which is perfect for fast paced games of all sorts.


The Best TV For Gaming

LG C1 OLED

LG OLED55C1PUB Alexa Built-in C1 Series 55″ 4K Smart OLED TV (2021)

  • Type: OLED
  • Resolution: 4K
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG

Gaming has a unique set of demands compared to movies and TV. While all visual mediums benefit from great contrast, color clarity, and resolution, gaming needs a fast display. OLED displays offer some of the lowest input lag and response time. Couple that with a high refresh rate and great contrast in the LG G1 and you’re in for the ultimate gaming experience. It’s the little sibling of the flagship G1, and though it doesn’t have the same high brightness, it enjoys almost all other benefits of the best TV for 2021 at a lower price.

Better yet, the C1 comes packed to the gills with a variety of gaming-focused technologies. It supports variable refresh rate, both AMD Freesync and Nvidia G-Sync (great if you also want to connect it to a desktop gaming PC) and it has four HDMI 2.1 ports, so you can connect as many new-generation gaming consoles as you like. All of those ports support 120Hz, 4K gaming with excellent color clarity and a near infinite contrast ratio.

There are brighter TVs out there, so this one is best suited to gaming with the curtains drawn. However, like all OLED TVs, you also need to be aware of the ever present danger of burn-in, but that risk can be mitigated by the built-in display technologies on the LG C1, as well as ensuring that you don’t play games with static HUDs or other on-screen elements for hours on end.

If you have the budget, a bigger LG G1 might be worth considering, but it’s much more expensive and the C1 gets so close that its bang for buck rating is sky high. This is one of the best gaming TVs ever made and it’s available now at a steep discount.


The Best TV Under $1000

TCL 6-Series

TCL 55-inch 6-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR QLED Roku Smart TV – 55R635, 2021 Model

  • Type: QLED
  • Resolution: 4K
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG

A high-end TV, without the high-end price, the TCL 6-Series is the embodiment of the TCL brand, offering the kind of picture quality and performance that typically you’d only get on TVs with a much higher price tag. This 2021 version benefits from the same excellent picture quality and color clarity of its predecessors, but is enhanced with Mini-LED technology for a greater number of local dimming zones, plus an enhanced AiPQ Engine algorithm for greater upscaling and picture quality enhancement abilities.

The VA panel at the heart of this TV offers excellent native contrast ratio and a high brightness, guaranteeing dark blacks and bright whites. That also lets it take full advantage of the various HDR standards it supports in movies, TV shows and games.

It enjoys four HDMI ports, one with HDMI 2.1 speed and eARC support, making this a decent TV for gaming on new-generation consoles and running expansive A/V systems for enhanced sound over a single HDMI cable. It does support variable refresh rate technology and has a fast response time, but it lacks high refresh rate support, so this isn’t the best TV for gaming if that’s your main focus. It still looks good, it just can’t take full advantage of the power of new-generation consoles.

With full support for Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Homekit, the TCL 6-Series can slot right into an existing smart home setup and comes with intimate voice command support for more intuitive interaction and improved ease of use.


The Best TV Under $800

Hisense H9G

Hisense 55-Inch Class H9 Quantum Series Android 4K ULED Smart TV with Hand-Free Voice Control (55H9G, 2020 Model)

  • Type: ULED
  • Resolution: 4K
  • HDR: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

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The $800 mark is enough to get you a seriously good TV that will last you for many years to come. The Hisense H9G is such a TV, offering an expansive, gorgeous picture at 4K resolution, a high refresh rate, great HDR support and a low input lag for gaming. Better yet? it’s really a $1,000+ TV, but thanks to a recent discount, you can get it for well under $800.

A top of the line TV for Hisense when it released in 2020, the H9G offers just about every high-end feature you can find in a QLED TV. Its contrast ratio is outstanding for a TV of its type, hitting close to 7,000:1 in some tests—that is only improved further with local dimming, a full-array matrix that helps its monstrous brightness of well over 1,700 nits really pop small screen elements for a fantastically vibrant picture.

With strong black uniformity, this is a TV that looks truly fantastic in darkened rooms, but that brightness makes it more than capable of showing a great picture in brighter rooms too. Its sub 10ms response time and 120Hz refresh rate make it excellent for sports viewing and gaming, with a very low input lag helping to make players more competitive. It does lack variable refresh rate or any kind of syncing technology, which is unfortunate, but not the end of the world, especially if you’re gaming on older consoles.

With slightly narrower viewing angles than other high-end TVs at this price point, the H9G isn’t necessarily a TV for a wide living room, but if you plan to sit relatively centrally in front of it for games, TV, or movies, will look absolutely fantastic.


The Best TV Under $500

TCL 5-Series

  • Type: QLED
  • Resolution: 4K
  • HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG

TCL proves time and again that you can make a quality TV for a fraction of the cost of its competitors, and the 5-Series is one of the best examples of that yet. It combines a native 4K resolution with excellent HDR support, an impressively high contrast ratio and great clarity thanks to its QLED technology. It’s a fully featured TV at a bargain price.

The TCL 5-Series features surprisingly deep blacks for a QLED TV, with quantum dots aiding its vivid color gamut support. The excellent contrast ratio is great for movies, TV and games, and local dimming is robust and capable. That helps make the most of this TV’s admittedly limited brightness, but HDR content is not its strongest suit. Color accuracy out of the box is pretty solid, but if you want to improve it further with your own calibration, TCL released an application to make the process as painless as possible.

Refresh rate is stuck at 60Hz, so this won’t support high frame rate gaming the same as more gaming-focused TVs can, let alone the higher-end TCL 6-series. Input lag is impressively low, though, so you won’t find yourself at much of a competitive disadvantage, and high-speed local gaming feels fast and responsive.

Another neat feature of the 5-Series is its operating system. If you’re a Roku fan but have yet to upgrade to its 4K-supporting streaming stick, then with this TV you don’t have to. It comes pre-loaded with Roku OS, giving you access to all the 4K content you could want on your favorite streaming services—no separate streaming stick required, and no additional purchase necessary.

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LED vs Mini LED vs OLED vs QLED

While these monikers all sound similar, they all utilize different technologies to deliver a unique TV viewing experience and have their own benefits and drawbacks. LED backlighting technology is the most common and oldest of the three, and has been part and parcel of LCD televisions for over a decade. They’re the cheapest to produce and therefore tend to be found in more affordable TVs, but offer good colors and contrast ratios while not being susceptible to burn-in.

QLED technology still uses LEDs for backlighting an LCD panel, but inserts a layer of nano-particles between the LED and LCD layer which helps filter the light to make for more vibrant and realistic colors. It’s more of a marketing name than a distinct technology and is found in Samsung TVs, though other manufactures have begun to adopt it too.

Mini LEDs are 1/40 the size of traditional LEDs, letting manufacturers like Samsung and TCL pack many more inside their TVs. That allows for much improved brightness, but also more dimming zones, leading to much more nuanced HDR support.

Unlike LEDs, which offer more uniform backlighting, OLED TVs can adjust the luminance of individual pixels through a wide brightness range; it’s so good that it turns them off entirely to show true black in a scene. That means OLED offers much deeper blacks, making it the perfect technology for immersive movies that play with darkness to great effect. OLED TVs also offer much faster response times, making them great for competitive gaming.

OLED is more expensive, however, and is more susceptible to burn-in, where remnants of an image become permanently visible on the screen even when that content is no longer being displayed. Modern techniques can mitigate that, but it’s a downside worth considering when buying an OLED TV.

Which brand of TV is best?

All of the top TV brands produce excellent TVs and jockey for position for the best TV overall. Although this list of the best TVs is topped by LG at this time, that can change with new generations of televisions, the demands of buyers, and availability of new features.

In recent years, the best TV brands include Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Vizio, TCL, and Hisense.

Are LG TVs better than Samsung?

Both LG and Samsung produce excellent quality televisions, with options for 8K resolution models, OLED and LCD televisions, TVs built for gamers, and more budget-orientated sets. This gives those interested in all sorts of TVs, with all sorts of budgets, plenty of options.

That said, at this particular time, this best TV list considers the LG G1 to be the best television you can buy, for whatever you want to do. That may change in the future, and Samsung still offers many excellent TVs right now, especially those sporting its Mini LEDs, which can rival the contrast of OLED with much improved brightness, but if you want the best TV today, it’s an LG.

Which TV brand lasts the longest?

As long as you buy one of the recognized big name TV brands, the longevity of your TV is more dependent on the model and technology inside it than the brand. Most modern OLED TVs are rated for around 30,000 hours, which is enough to let you watch three hours of TV every day for over 27 years. LCD TVs can be rated for anywhere between 30,000 and 60,000 hours, so you’re certainly likely to buy a new TV before any of these sets finally stop working for good.

If you buy a brand that uses poor quality components or comes with a very limited warranty (most major manufacturers offer between one and three years, depending on the model) then you may find that your TV doesn’t last that long. Sticking to an established brand and focusing on the better models that company manufactures will guarantee that your TV lasts for many years to come.

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