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The best smart TVs to buy in 2022
Once almost the definition of luxury, smart TVs have been around long enough that they’re now firmly entrenched in the market — it’s difficult to find one without smart technology, even when you’re shopping budget models. But which products are the best smart TVs to buy in 2022?
Buying the best smart TVs for your needs
People tend to gravitate towards the largest TV they can afford, but size isn’t the only thing you should consider. A smart TV’s operating system (OS) can be important. Sets made by Samsung, LG, and Vizio use proprietary software, whereas others use a third-party OS, usually Android/Google TV, Roku OS, or Amazon’s Fire TV. We’ll elaborate on this in a minute.
Unless you're getting a smaller set for your kitchen, gym, or home office, you should insist on a 4K HDR screen.
Most TVs have an LCD/LED display panel, but if you want the ultimate in picture quality you should consider spending extra on OLED, which offers superior color representation and deeper blacks. If OLED is too expensive, you can get most of the way there with Mini-LED.
Typically you should insist on 4K resolution unless you’re getting a smaller set for your kitchen, gym, or home office. 4K is relatively cheap now, and there are already TVs with 8K. We’re steering most people away from 8K just because it’s insanely expensive with very little native content. Owners of 8K TVs are more often watching upscaled 4K.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is de facto on both 4K and 8K products, but it’s important to check format support. Cinephiles will want a TV with Dolby Vision, or at least HDR10 Plus, which offers enhancements over the more basic (but universally supported) HDR10 standard.
Owners of recent game consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X should check to see if a TV supports high refresh rates like 120Hz, as well as dedicated game modes that reduce latency. Lag may not matter much when you’re watching Apocalypse Now, but in games, minimizing the gap between input and output can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Keep an eye out for the number of HDMI ports a TV has and how many of them support HDMI 2.0 or better. You can sometimes get away with three ports, but four is ideal, and at least one of them should have HDMI 2.1 or later, enabling the best possible latency and refresh rates for connected devices. That makes 2.1 effectively mandatory for gaming. On top of this it’s necessary if you want eARC audio, which supports 3D surround formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Should I get a streaming stick or set-top box to go with my smart TV?
Not all platforms are created equally. As we’ve mentioned, Samsung, LG, and Vizio use proprietary operating systems, which tend to drag behind Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Android/Google TV when it comes to getting new apps and features. If you do buy a TV from those companies, we recommend buying a separate streaming stick or set-top to plug into one of your spare HDMI ports. You may want one regardless of your TV’s platform, as we explain in a link below.
Make sure any OS supports the apps you want to use. Roku lacks a sanctioned Twitch client, for example, but you can find one on Apple TV, Android TV, and Fire TV. Conversely, Roku and Apple TV have a Spectrum TV app, which Fire TV and Android TV are missing. You may want a secondary streaming device just as a fallback.
If you’re still not sure which smart TV might be best for you, below are our picks of the best smart TVs in 2022 across multiple categories and price points.
Read further: Why you need a separate streaming device for your TV
The best smart TVs to buy in 2022
- The Samsung QN900B Neo QLED is the best 8K TV you can get, thanks to some impressive brightness and picture quality.
- The Sony A95K is the best 4K TV, with a powerful processor and Google TV.
- The TCL 5 -Series Roku TV is the best budget smart TV, offering high-quality features for the money.
- The Vizio D-Series is the best small (under 40 inches) smart TV, offering 1080p resolution and solid picture quality for smaller rooms.
- The LG G2 is a great overall OLED smart TV, with excellent contrast and color, and support for Dolby Vision IQ.
- The Sony A80K is another great Android TV, featuring Google TV like the A90J.
- The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED is the best Fire TV, with hands-free voice control and other smart home enhancements.
- The TCL 6-Series is the best Roku smart TV, with Mini-LED tech and gaming features.
- The Samsung QN90B is the best gaming smart TV, with variable refresh rates and other enhancements.
Samsung QN900B Neo QLED: The best 8K smart TV
If you’d like to futureproof your TV for the next decade, that means something with 8K support. There’s a small but growing number of such TVs, and the best ones come from Samsung. The QN900B ships in 65-, 75-, and 85-inch sizes, and uses proprietary technologies like Quantum Mini LEDs and the Neural Quantum Processor 8K for a bright and accurate picture.
With native 8K video so sparse, it’s good that the TV uses AI upscaling for content mastered at lower resolutions. Its design is pretty slick as well, with a thin and nearly bezel-free screen, and a stand that holds ports and power connections out of sight. We’re now recommending the QN900B over the QN900A because while you can save money with the latter, it’s being phased out, and the brightness and picture quality on the 900B are noticeably better.
Brace yourself — the TV starts around $5,000 without any discounts, although you can potentially get it for the “low” amount of $3,700.
- 8K resolution
- Impressive brightness and quality
- Powerful AI processor
- Sleek and thin design
- Alexa, Bixby, or Google Assistant voice control via remote
- Eye-wateringly expensive
- Very little 8K content to stream
- Samsung’s Tizen OS is proprietary and not the best-supported
Sony A95K: The best 4K smart TV
The A95K only ships in 55- and 65-inch versions, and it’s definitely on the pricey side for something without 8K, but you still get what you pay for. That includes the Cognitive Processor XR, which is one of the most powerful chips inside a TV right now. Beyond image quality, the tech aids AI upscaling and XR OLED Motion, essentially Sony’s version of a 120Hz refresh rate.
The A95K is further equipped with Google TV, the enhanced version of Android TV, as well as special features for PS5 owners like Auto HDR Tone Mapping and Auto Genre Picture Switch. You’ll still be able to take advantage of standard HDMI 2.1 gaming features if you connect an Xbox or PC.
- Powerful processor
- Excellent OLED display
- Google TV version of Android TV
- Dolby Vision
- Great gaming features, especially for PS5 owners
- Very expensive
TCL 5-Series Roku TV: The best budget smart TV
Would you like a TV with solid hardware and software that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars? TCL has been making a name for itself by offering a solid balance between price and premium features. The TCL 5-Series comes in 50,- 55-, 65-, and 75-inch formats.
Despite its pricing, the TV uses quantum dot technology, which provides richer colors and better HDR than conventional LED. Console gamers will appreciate Auto Game Mode, which activates when the TV senses a game being played and provides lower latency and optimized picture settings, including variable refresh rates. Roku OS, meanwhile, is both simple to use and loaded with thousands of apps to choose from. You can choose a Google TV model instead if that’s your flavor.
TCL TVs don’t have the slickest design, but if you can ignore that, the 5-Series promises to give you a high-end experience at a low cost.
- Excellent QLED display at a good price
- Auto Game Mode
- Roku OS installed
- Design is not that stylish
- Other, more expensive TVs have better features
Vizio D-Series: The best small smart TVs
If you want a TV that fits on your kitchen counter, in your home office, or any place that’s smaller than your living room, you’ll probably want a model that’s 40 inches or less. The Vizio D-Series is the best of these options, in part because it maintains 1080p resolution at 24-, 32-, and 40-inch sizes. Below the 40-inch mark, some other small TVs max out at 720p, which barely counts as HD.
Naturally, prices are even lower than the TCL 5-Series. You can get a 24-inch D-Series for under $200. Since Vizio uses its own OS though, we’d recommend buying a cheap streaming add-on from Roku or Google to improve your app experience.
The newest D-Series models are virtually bezel-free, and equipped with refresh rate enhancements like AMD FreeSync and VRR (variable refresh rate). Just don’t expect any high-end features like Dolby Vision.
- 1080p resolution on a small panel
- Can be placed nearly anywhere
- Refresh rate enhancements that are rare for budget sets
- Lacks HDR features beyond gaming
- Vizio’s OS is just not good
LG G2: A great OLED smart TV
LG has an advantage when it comes to OLED technology, since its LG Display spinoff makes some of the world’s best panels for both its parent company and others — picture quality is immaculate. The G2 ships in 55-, 65-, 77-, and 83-inch sizes, and includes features like a Game Optimizer, support for GeForce Now cloud gaming, and LG’s famous Filmmaker Mode that promises movies “the way directors intended.” Tech like Dolby Vision IQ (HDR adjusted to ambient light) makes things even better.
Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are built-in, so while LG is sticking to its proprietary webOS, you can use voice commands for your TV and connected smart home services. You can keep the price under $2,000 if you choose the 55-inch model.
- One of the best displays on any TV
- Very thin design
- Filmmaker Mode and Dolby Vision IQ for cinema purists
- Gaming features like GeForce Now, NVIDIA G-Sync, and AMD FreeSync Premium
- Four HDMI 2.1 ports
- LG’s webOS is functional but not the best
Sony Bravia A80K: A great Android TV
While we’ve lately seen more vendors embrace Google TV and Android TV, the best TVs with those platforms continue to be made by Sony. Another example is the A80K, which comes in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch models. In fact while the A95K mentioned earlier is a higher-end product, the A80K remains solid at a more practical price point. Most people should probably consider this set first if they’re interested in Sony’s OLED lineup.
Both products share Google TV, the Cognitive Processor XR, and a terrific OLED screen, so you’re not really missing out on much. Like the A95K, the A80K offers some exclusive features for PS5 owners.
- Sharp display
- Google TV UI
- High-end performance
- HDMI 2.1 with special enhancements for PS5 owners
- Still a bit on the expensive side
- Slightly less stylish than A95K
Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED: The best Fire TV
Amazon seems to be making leaps and bounds with Fire TV, perhaps pushed into it by competition with Google- and Roku-based devices. The best Amazon-branded Fire TV set is the Omni QLED, available in 65- and 75-inch sizes. Picture-wise, you get not just 4K QLED but HDMI 2.1, Dolby Vision IQ, and HDR10 Plus, all in something starting at $800.
The real reason to go with the Omni QLED however is smart home integration, starting with hands-free Alexa, meaning you don’t need a remote or external speaker for voice commands. You can nevertheless pair a couple of Echo devices for wireless audio, and when you’re not watching something, the TV can default to artwork, personal photos, or Alexa info widgets modeled after the Echo Show 15.
Just be aware that as a platform, Fire TV is skewed not just towards Alexa, but Amazon services in general. While apps like Netflix and HBO Max are certainly available, expect to see a lot of recommendations for Prime Video.
- QLED, Dolby Vision IQ, and HDMI 2.1 in an affordable package
- Alexa integration including hands-free voice commands and pairing Echo speakers for audio
- Ambient modes offering artwork, photos, and Alexa widgets
- Fire TV OS has a bit of a learning curve
- Skews towards Amazon services
TCL 6-Series: The best Roku OS smart TVs
Roku OS is used by many manufacturers, including Hisense, Philips, and Walmart’s Onn brand. The best Roku TVs, however, are still made by TCL. The 6-Series includes 55-, 65-, and 75-inch sizes, and represents a step up from the 5-Series without breaking the bank.
Distinguishing the 6-Series from the 5 is the combination of QLED with Mini-LED technology, offering even better contrast, if still short of OLED. It also comes with features like a Game Mode, and support for Alexa and Google Assistant. Be aware that TCL sells a version with Google TV, so don’t get models confused.
- Affordable with high-end Mini-LED hardware
- Roku OS is easy to use
- Game Mode included
- Design is fairly basic
- Other smart TVs do things better at a higher cost
Samsung QN90B: The best gaming smart TV
Sony, LG, and Samsung all make excellent smart TVs for next-generation gaming. We’re going to give the edge to the Samsung QN90B, available in 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models. That’s a much wider size range than the A95K, and it uses Mini-LED instead of OLED, which keeps pricing reasonable.
When you connect a console like the PS5 or Xbox Series X, the TV snaps into Game Mode. That includes Samsung’s customizable Game Bar, which shows information about HDR, frame rate, and more. If you hook the QN90B up to your PC, Game Mode lets you switch your aspect ratio to 21:9 or even 32:9 to simulate playing on ultrawide desktop monitors. Motion-related tech includes variable refresh rate, plus support for NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro.
The pricing below is for a 65-inch model, but you can already find discounts, and you can save hundreds more by choosing smaller sizes.
- Excellent game-specific features
- Solid Mini-LED display
- Great design
- Expensive in larger sizes
Picking the best smart TV accessories
The best smart TVs can still be enhanced with some accessories. One popular upgrade is a soundbar, which improves audio substantially versus built-in speakers while remaining compact. Many can simulate surround sound using standards like Dolby Atmos. If you want to go all-out, there is of course the option of an authentic multi-speaker surround setup.
If you’re ever watching solo, we’d suggest looking into wireless headphones to avoid disturbing neighbors or fellow house guests.
In depth: The best wireless headphones
While streaming is how many people watch movies and TV shows, there are those who demand physical media for the best picture and audio quality. If you want that, it’s best to get a 4K BLU-Ray player.
Gamers may demand a new console to play the latest titles and take advantage of newer TV tech. Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X are ideal ways to play, assuming you can find them in stock. Pick one that supports the games you’re looking to play.
For a fully immersive experience you might try adding smart backlights, which dynamically mirror onscreen colors. The best options are the probably the Philips Hue Gradient Lightstrip and/or a pair of Hue Play Bars, but those require a Hue Smart Hub (a.k.a. Bridge) and a Hue Play HDMI Sync Box, the latter of which is surprisingly expensive. A cheaper alternative is the Govee DreamView T1 Pro bundle, which costs less than the Hue Sync Box by itself, but uses a camera instead of direct sync.
Frequently asked questions
As you might expect, smart TVs range in price from just over $100 to many thousands of dollars. At the extreme, some can cost as much as a car. Higher prices usually mean bigger screens with more advanced display and processor technologies.
Year-end holiday sales are usually the best time to buy a smart TV. Prices also tend to go down in late January, however, as vendors try to push upgrades in anticipation of the Super Bowl.
Sony, Samsung, and LG’s TVs are typically considered the cream of the crop, but you’ll also be paying a hefty sum for them. If you just want a quality picture, not perfection, mid- to high-tier TCL, Hisense, and Vizio sets will do.
For the most part there are none, and you almost have to go out of your way to buy a “dumb” TV in the 2020s. That said, smart TVs do cost more, and may force you to use an unnecessarily complicated interface if all you care about is basic settings and live TV.