Televisions have come a long way from the first models that came out nearly 100 years ago. Now we can get a 70” 4k screen and it will have more color definition and brightness than we know what to do with. We are still trying to push the boundaries of screens and even find new uses for them. In terms of entertainment, the television might now be sharing some of its space with smartphones, computers, and other electronics. Yet there is nothing like watching a movie on your large-screen TV on the couch to unwind after a long day. Television, in some form, will always be a staple of homes for decades to come.
Yet with more complexity often comes more choices, and not all TVs are built the same. Some are simply superior to similarly-priced models, and others might be good but might not be the best fit for you. And since your TV will cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars as well as be in your home for years, choosing one is an important decision.
Yet most people aren’t experts in picking a television, having to do so only a few times in a decade. Therefore, to help you make the best choice, here is everything you need to know and some of our top recommendations:
What to Look for in a Modern Television
We have some great recommendations for you, but what is good for one family will not be good for another. With that in mind, we want to give you some baselines and things to think about before getting into it:
Screen Size: How big of a television do you want and need for your household? Is the TV meant to be the main household set or a secondary one for a basement, den, bedroom, or other room? These are the questions you need to ask first, as the screen size is the first thing you should narrow down your TV selections by.
Part of the calculation should depend on the size of the room in question, and how far you will be away from it. You don’t want a TV that’s too large to be too much for you, but you still want a quality experience. Consider the Lechner Distance, which is an interesting way of determining how large your TV needs to be or how close your couch needs to be to the set.
When considering the screen size, you should know that the larger the television, the higher the price. Even if televisions are virtually identical in all other ways, a few more inches can easily mean another few hundred dollars on the price tag. Consider your budget and balance the screen size appropriately.
One last note: many if not all of the televisions we recommend are available in several screen sizes. Just because a model you’re looking at might be too big or large for your home doesn’t mean you should give up on it. Do a quick search to see if it’s available in a more acceptable size elsewhere. Most online retailers will even have links or dropdown menus to other sizes on the page.
Resolution: Once upon a time the high standard would have been a 1080p television set. That time has long since passed, and a TV with that or even 1440p as the default or best resolution has long since passed. When shopping for a new TV, look for a 4k set. Otherwise, you will be disappointed if not now then in a few short years.
We are also to come to the point where 8k televisions might be available and come to the consumer market. Depending on when you are reading this, there might be some already available. However, seeing as 4k hasn’t caught on as the full standard just yet and is still the maximum many programs and channels will broadcast at, a 4k tv will be the best choice for most households. Let other people test out the new technology at a premium in this instance.
Note that keeping in mind both screen size and the resolution together is extremely important. You might not get as much out of a small TV that has a 4k resolution. It will look great, but you might not be able to appreciate the fine details as much as you would like. Similarly, a huge TV that is only 1080p resolution will look awful by today’s standards, and you will likely be able to see the pixels if you look closely enough.
Aspect Ratio: Alongside the resolution, take a quick note of the aspect ratio. While the 4:3 ratio is very much out of style and will not work with most content made today, the standard today is 16:9 and that will be just fine for most people. Enthusiasts might be interested in an ultrawide screen for a more cinematic experience (most films are made in a 1.85 aspect ratio, slightly larger than the modern television screen). However, note that a default aspect ratio that does not meet the content will result in parts being cut out, black bars on your screen on the sides, or a stretched or condensed image.
Brightness, Contrast, and Overall Picture Quality: Resolution is key to providing a good picture, yes, but it is only one part of the equation. You will want to also consider how the picture looks. This generally comes down to maximum brightness, contrast, and a few other settings.
HDR is the best standard you should be looking for. With it, colors will pop out more and the picture will have more contrast, all the while providing more slight differences in color and brightness.
Now many of these things can be adjusted in the settings. Never worry about a TV being too bright or the contrast being too high. These things can be turned down. Even features such as HDR can be turned off if you don’t like them or your content doesn’t support them (often this can be an issue when gaming). What you want is the greatest range, and your preferences to fall within that range.
LCD, LED LCD, or OLED?: Along with screen size, one of the most important choices you will make is what type of TV you will be working with. We encourage you to look more into the topic, but in short LED LCD televisions are effectively the standard today, and can range from huge supersets to the most basic models on the market. They use light-emitting diodes to light up an LCD screen. However, consider the range of backlighting options within the realm of LED LCD TVs.
OLED TVs are something completely different and provide a vastly superior picture. There’s no backlight and instead, organic LEDs are used for each pixel to create amazing contrast. To understand the effect, look at a display of fireworks or a night’s sky on an OLED screen if you get the opportunity. However, not everything is perfect about them. For starters, they are incredibly expensive, with the cheaper options still costing thousands of dollars. Additionally, they are still newer in terms of the technology, and we don’t know exactly how long they’ll last.
If a television isn’t one of the above two options, it’s either highly experimental and you should avoid it unless you know exactly what you are looking for, or it is far too old for you to buy new. We don’t use vacuum tube televisions anymore for a reason. The same goes for other technologies.
Refresh Rate: The higher the refresh rate, the smoother everything will look on the screen. Look for at least a 60 Hz refresh rate and ideally a 120Hz rate or higher. If you are a gamer, then you might want to push this up higher on your list of priorities.
Smart Features: Practically every TV made and sold today is a smart television, but not every TV is equally smart. Some have more ports, better connection capabilities, and more built-in features that make using them easier. Additionally, there may be things to avoid such as built-in ads. Most televisions will be able to connect to peripherals and download apps of some sort for easy streaming. But in terms of ease of use and potential annoyance, the differences could be great. Check to see if it has everything you want.
Sound: In general, buying a TV for the sound is like buying a car for the windshield wipers. It might be a necessary component, but it should be an afterthought as you can likely replace it later. Sound quality hasn’t improved much from TVs by default, and thinner screens have actually led to worse sound quality over time. In general, we recommend buying a sound bar or sound system in addition to your TV, if you don’t have one already.
Ports: The number of ports and types of ports your (presumably) smart TV will have might seem like a small thing to talk about, but if you have a highly connected living room and hate dealing with switching out wires, it could be a dealmaker or dealbreaker for you.
A modern TV should have at least several HDMI ports to work with, several USB ports, ideally an ethernet port for a fast internet connection, and an optical audio port.
Placement of ports is important as well. Most can go on the back and likely should be there, but for quick switching out of devices it can be very helpful to have a HDMI and USB port on the side of the TV (or at least on the edge of the back).
Price: Everything that goes into the TV affects the price, but the screen size is perhaps the biggest indicator, unless a huge screen has poor picture quality (or vice versa). You don’t want the cheapest TV. It will disappoint you and you’ll hardly ever want to use it, making it a waste. However, there is usually a sweet spot that you can rely on where a television won’t break the bank while still having most modern features.
A lot of picking out a TV will be a balancing act, and there might not be a TV that has absolutely everything you are looking for at the price point you are looking for. This is all ultimately up to you, and perhaps what deals you can find. Just because a model is on clearance or sale doesn’t mean it is a bad TV. It just might mean that it is one year away from the cutting edge. And that’s perfectly fine.
The 7 Best TVs for 2022:
Now that we’ve gone over everything you should be thinking about regarding your TV, here are some targeted recommendations. After all, you don’t want the seventh best, you want the absolute best for your needs. Take a look at the categories that fit your needs the most, then work from there.
1. Best All-Around TV: TCL 6-Series Roku TV
While there might not be such a thing as a perfect all-around TV for the average household (what is an average household, anyway), we think that the TCL 6-Series Roku TV will be a great choice. You may worry about not getting the absolute best, but the truth is that you only need the mid to high end features if you are an enthusiast or want to be on the cutting edge. After a certain point, you are getting heavy diminishing returns for the money you are spending. The TCL 6-Series Roku TV is before that point.
People will also enjoy its smart features, with Google TV, hands-free Google Assistant, and Google Cast. Whatever device or peripheral you want to stream from, this TV has you covered.
You can expect a great contrast ratio from the television, as well as high top brightness settings in SDR settings. However, that doesn’t mean that HDR content looks bad. In fact, it will look great and the television will showcase a wide range of colors. In general, peak screen brightness peaks at just short of 1200 nits, and the contrast isn’t top of the field but it’s still excellent for a main TV in your household. Combine that with a nice design that has the ports in an easy to access location, and you will see why
A low response time makes it a good TV for gaming, and the same goes for with 120Hz refresh rate. However, in terms of extra gaming features, there aren’t too many. An adaptive picture mode helps to make whatever is on the screen look its best, though this can be turned off if you want the true experience of the content.
We recommend the TCL 6-Series Roku TV if:
- You are getting a TV for a friend or family member and they haven’t expressed their preferences all that much (or it’s a surprise).
- You want a solid TV that will be able to see your household through the next five years and still look great.
- You want a TV that has few if any dealbreakers, and is a great value for what you are getting.
2. Best High-End TV: Samsung Neo QN90B
Sometimes you want the best TV you can show off on game day or movie night, and you want something to last you for years to come. In either case, we think that the Samsung Neo QN90B will be an amazing choice if you’re interested in it. It uses Quantum HDR32X to provide the most vivid picture (and it has several HDR formats to pick from), and the TV also has the advantage of looking great from practically every angle. This is one you can use to watch things with the extended family, when you need to bring out the spare chairs.
It also has great 3D default sound (though we still recommend a separate sound system). A 120Hz refresh rate will keep the picture fresh, and the TV will enhance every picture the best it can, whether 4K or not. Other things such as four 2.1 HDMI ports coming in handy, as are the gaming features. Smart features include screen mirroring and some free TV options, and you can make it so that you have several different programs or views appear at once.
Note that the Samsung Neo QN90B will not be cheap, with a 2022 model costing about $5000 for an 85” screen as of this writing. And in most cases, if you’re going to pay for a high-end TV, then in most cases you will want the largest screen that you can fit. That might be the cost of a cheap used car, and you can’t drive the Neo QN90B to our knowledge, but to some people the astounding picture quality and modern features can be worth it. If getting the absolute latest model isn’t as important to you, you can get the QN90A for a significantly lower price and not too much performance dropoff.
We recommend the Samsung Neo QN90B if:
- You want the best picture possible and you want there to be no compromises.
- You do not mind spending a small fortune on an amazing TV.
- You want all the bells and whistles on your TV, and a few other instruments for good measure.
3. Best Budget TV: Hisense U6G
Whether you need just a simple TV for a guest room or the bedroom, or don’t have much money to spend on a TV while still wanting something great, we have you covered. In these cases the Hisense U6G will be a great pick for you, as you can get at least a 55” model of this TV for less than $500.
It might not have the best picture quality out of this list, but it will be more than enough to showcase shows, films, and games and have a great time. You will also certainly want to buy a sound bar or separate sound system (the default sound on the TV will not be acceptable to most), and the remote is not the greatest, but both of these are solvable problems.
Other features include Android TV which you might find more useful as time goes on, and support for HDR 10+, which is something of a minimum requirement for us at this point. Consistently might be an issue in terms of picture quality, but it is still far better than similarly-priced competition, and the screen will be bright enough for most.
We recommend the Hisense U6G if:
You are looking for a secondary TV for a bedroom, basement, or the kitchen.
You do not watch TV too often but would like one for when you have guests over or for special events.
You do not have a huge budget to work with but still want a TV that will last you for some time.
4. Best OLED TV: LG G2 OLED
Did you read about OLED TVs and want one despite the major blow to your bank account? Perhaps you had an OLED or spent time with one in the past and can never go back? In either case, we found the best OLED TV on the market to be the LG G2 OLED.
Naturally, the picture quality on the LG G2 OLED is gorgeous, and just about whatever you show on it will pop right off the screen wow your guests that haven’t seen something like it before.
Even in terms of max brightness, the LG G2 OLED can reach nearly 600 nits. This is quite above average when it comes to OLED TVs, and will be more than enough for most situations given all of the other advantages of the TVs. Other features include AI-boosted sound, helpful cord management design, and 4 HDMI ports which we hope will be enough for your main peripherals.
However, being an OLED TV, the LG G2 will also be incredibly expensive, costing at least $2000 as of this writing regardless of screen size. And with a picture this great, you will want to make it the centerpiece of your living room. That usually means a reasonably-sized screen. Nonetheless, there is practically nothing like it, and we recommend going to the store to look at a sample of this TV (or at least an OLED TV) before taking the plunge.
We recommend the LG G2 OLED if:
- You are willing to pay the great price of this television for one of the best pictures available on the market.
- You know you want an OLED TV, and you want one that has proven itself.
- You want to be the host for all the big viewing events for the next half-decade, given how much the TV impresses viewers.
5. Best TV for Gaming: Sony X90J
Some people hardly use their TV for programming anymore, and instead mostly use it as a screen for their gaming console. These people will be most interested in the Sony X90J, which is not only a great all-around TV but one with features gamers will love.
Being a Sony TV, you might imagine it would pair well with the PS5. You would be right. The TV has game optimizing features with the console which can activate automatically. The television also has great sound for a TV as standard, working great with games and programs alike. Combine this with sensors that detect the lighting conditions in the area and adjust the brightness and other settings on the television accordingly, and you can have a TV that is able to consistently maintain optimal gaming conditions. It has 2 HDMI 2.1 inputs (a bit too few for our preference, but effective), low input lag and a quick response time, all important for gaming. It will upscale content to 4k to keep things looking fresh, though you will want to be directly in front of the screen. The viewing angle is not too impressive here.
In short, this is highly intelligent television that is simply the best choice for gaming that isn’t a top-end TV that will cost thousands of dollars. If all you do is game, start looking here.
We recommend the Sony X90J if:
- You may potentially use the TV as an extra (or main) monitor for your computer.
- You spend more time gaming on your TV than watching shows or movies, especially on a PS5.
- You want a generally great TV that has extra settings and options for gamers.
6. Best Outdoor TV: SunBrite Veranda 3 Series Outdoor Smart TV
The needs of an outdoor TV are vastly different than those of an indoor TV, and waterproofing and a rugged design are all but required for it to last more than one season on your desk, patio, or wherever you need it. And for people who still want an amazing picture outside (enjoying a movie in your outdoor hot tub can be divine), we recommend the SunBrite Veranda 3 Series Outdoor Smart TV.
With an outdoor TV you are going to want a high brightness rating and good contrast to compete with the potential sunlight, and the Veranda 3 is capable of both, offering 1000 nits of brightness and HDR compatibility. It has all the smart features you need (so make sure your WiFi reaches outside), and has 20-watt speakers to hopefully be loud enough for your outdoor environment. High direct sunlight might be a bit too much, though, so consider potential placement of the TV before the
Note that this model might not be the outright best TV in terms of performance or size, but note that the “best” TVs in this category would cost well over $3000 as a conservative estimate. The average person might want to invest that money elsewhere, and everyone else would probably want to look at a more specialized list than this, with more outdoor options to pick from.
In terms of weatherproofing and protection, it has everything that is needed. The ports and a fair bit of the wires are hidden behind a metal panel on the back, keeping the dust and water out. There is also foam at the edges of the panel to keep anything from leaking in. The power cable is waterproof, though you may want to make sure the other cables you use with the TV will be as well. The build in general is sturdy and will hold well except for extreme weather or poor installation. There are 3 HDMI ports, a VGA input port, and an ethernet port for plugging into a control system.
We recommend the SunBrite Veranda 3 Series Outdoor Smart TV if:
- You simply want a TV that can go anywhere with you if you have the cargo space.
- You are willing to pay a premium for a TV that can keep up with indoor TVs while out in the weather.
- You don’t mind a bit of inconvenience for the stability of having an outdoor TV.
7. Best 8K TV: Samsung QN900B Neo QLED 8K
While we did generally recommend an 8k TV for the average household, perhaps you do not have an average household. You might be interested in the newest technology, can afford it, or have a professional reason for owning one. Content does exist, however rare, for 8k televisions, and eventually, we will have some shows and other content that everyone will want to watch available in the resolution, if only as a test. Furthermore, if a TV is capable of providing a great picture of 8k content, then it stands to reason that 4k content will also hardly be an issue.
If you’re still interested, we recommend the QN900B Neo QLED 8K TV, a variation of the high-end model we recommended before. It has all those same features and more. It is certainly expensive, given the technology involved, but it is the best value for your money for an 8k TV. If you want more you might want to look at a different list for the rich and famous, or seek out a high-end projector and all the related accouterments for something like a home movie theater.
However, it will be very expensive, and you will pay a few extra thousand dollars for the privilege of 8k. It also has Dolby Atmos surround sound built right into the TV, giving you a true theatrical experience.
We recommend the QN900B Neo QLED 8K if:
- You do not mind working with the cutting edge, even if it means that you might not have the best possible version of an 8k TV in a few years.
- You do not mind spending a fair bit of money on fantastic picture quality, assuming the content has an 8k resolution.
- You want to future-proof your living room setup early.
There is no shortage of great TVs on the market, and we hope that you can pick out the best model for you and your household after reading this. Your TV will likely be with you for the better part of the next decade, so make sure it is a good one and do whatever further research you feel is necessary.