Chances are, someone on your list wants a new TV for Christmas. And let’s be honest here, that someone is probably you.
But whether that TV is going to a loved one or to your own living room, there’s no clear way to label any TV out there as THE one to buy this year. That is, not with a long list of options like screen size, resolution, lighting technology, internet connectivity and all those different platforms, specific brands and any other bell or whistle to consider.
So it really comes down to your (or your loved ones’) preferences regarding those features. Right now, there are some best bets out there to cover a wide range of those options – but which will you choose?
Move over 1080p, 4K is the new king of TV
Although still hanging around, 1080p isn’t the standard anymore – at least not for TVs of any substantial size. The new king is Ultra High Definition (UHD) or 4K, whichever term you prefer. Those 4K TVs used to come with a hefty price tag, but the cost has dropped dramatically across the board over the last couple of years. And that resolution (3840 x 2160) should remain the standard for the next few years or more. Yes, 8K equipment exists, but has yet to make it over to this part of the world.
With that in mind, the TVs featured here will all be 4K models. It’s the other features that will vary.
Big screen with a small price tag – RCA Virtuoso 70″ Class 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (RNSMU7036), Walmart, $599.99
This is a big deal – in a number of ways. That’s because (as of Thursday) I can’t find another 70-inch 4K smart TV anywhere near this price range – although it was even $50 cheaper earlier this week. I’m not sure how long Walmart will be offering it at this price, but it’s a safe bet that it could sell out.
The RCA brand may not command the same respect it had in decades past, but this is a full-featured (and big) 4K TV. It’s equipped with Wi-Fi along with Bluetooth, and comes loaded with apps like Netflix and YouTube. You can stream music and share your phone or tablet content via wireless screen casting.
Great option for those on a budget – Sceptre 55″ Class 4K Ultra HD LED TV (U550CV-U), Walmart, $229.99
For about $230, you’ll get a decent, no-frills TV that’s pretty big. Scepter is by no means a big brand name, and you won’t find any smart features or advanced menu options to speak of. But it stacks up as a solid 4K TV with decent color contrast, and comes packed with 4 HDMI 2.0 inputs. The 2.0 part is important because you need that modern standard in order to stream 4K video.
You can connect your phone or tablet, but in a way that’s not very well-known. This 4K TV is equipped with a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) USB port. With an adapter or two, it allows you to connect (via cable) to the TV and mirror your device. Many people aren’t even aware of MHL’s existence because of the abundant options for wireless connection.
Great deal on a top brand – Samsung 50″ Class 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (UN50NU7200), Amazon, $447.99
If you’re looking for a well-reviewed 4K TV from one of the top three manufacturers, this may just be the one for you. Samsung says that this TV has a wider color gamut than some previous models, and that PurColor provides a wider spectrum of realistic colors. It also comes with a built-in universal guide to find your favorite content from multiple devices and apps, and can make custom recommendations.
You’ll also be able to sync this TV to your smartphone to control the content and access various streaming services using the included Samsung remote control. It typically retails for about $600.
The ‘smartest’ of the bunch – TCL 55″ 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV (TCL55S517), Amazon, $449.99
Another brand that’s perhaps not as well-known, TCL started to become more popular over the last couple of years when they began baking-in Roku‘s digital media player. Personally, I find Roku to be the best and most comprehensive option for your streaming services, with a stable and very easy-to-navigate UI. It comes with 3 HDMI ports and is priced similarly to comparable TVs from Vizio – although you’ll probably find a better image with Vizio.
The best display, but it’ll cost you – LG 55″ 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV (OLED55C8PUA), Amazon, $1,796.99
Got some cash to burn? Consider this 65-inch behemoth from LG. This has most high-end features, including AI with Google Assistant built-in. It’s also compatible with Alexa (when paired to an Echo device), so you’ll be able to use either voice assistant you choose. What makes this much more expensive is the OLED (read more here) technology. Although LED is not going anywhere, OLED uses less energy and can be made small enough to be used as individual pixels.
For the technology, it’s a great TV that should last you for years to come.
BONUS: – Go big or go home – Hisense 100″ 4K Ultra HD Smart Laser TV (100L8D), Amazon, $6,999.99
This isn’t the first TV to hit the 100-inch mark, but it’s so far it seems to be the most inexpensive – if $7,000 can be called “inexpensive.” This comes with four embedded Harman Kardon speakers and a wireless subwoofer, although I still prefer a true home theater experience with a high-powered receiver and numerous surround speakers. This one also comes with built-in apps and a web browser, as well as Bluetooth compatibility.