Best Smart TVs In 2021
It’s a new era—everything is coming with voice controls, artificial intelligence, and intuitive designs that are set to make your life easier. One piece of tech that’s benefitted the most from this leap in technology is your television. From voice control to direct movie purchases and registered cloud storage accounts, there’s virtually nothing that you can’t do with a smart TV. We’re going to go over the top ten best smart TV units on the market, but we’re also going to delve into what you should be looking for on a per-feature basis, so you can find the best smart TV for your needs.
The Best Smart TV
Toshiba wins this one by a thin margin, despite only being 720p—don’t worry, we’re going to cover exactly why it stole the top spot. Toshiba’s intuitive design is not only the easiest to use, it includes Fire TV, giving you access to Prime Video, as well as a ton of other streaming services to get the most out of your viewing experience. Tons of smart TVs come with Fire TV, but not for this price range, and with an agreeable 32” screen size. You know as well as I do that when you get into 32” televisions, you end up fighting for screen space over the bezel. Well, in this case, it’s the perfect amount of bezel without being too encroaching. It’s a solid picture.
Including 3 HDMI cable ports as well as a single USB hookup, with Toshiba LED HD Smart TV you also get the option to plug in your hardwired ethernet cable for a much more stable connection. This is huge, even though you’re not going to be streaming 4K pictures on this screen. Streaming services dedicate a lot of bandwidth to keep the speeds in good standing, but on a slower internet package (40mbps or lower) in your household, which is also running your phone, laptop and console, a hardline connection is going to make it much easier to maintain good streaming speeds.
I have to give props to the simple remote design. How often do you get a new TV only to marvel at all the buttons you aren’t going to use? Too often. This remote has simple, spaced out buttons that make navigating your smart TV a breeze. As far as the resolution itself goes, 720p looks a whole lot better with zero screen bleed. If you look at this at an angle, you can see very minor light (if you’re seeking it out) from the LEDs in the screen’s bezel, but for the most part, you won’t see any glaring or bleeding. I will say this: they need to rethink their TV stand game.
The stand juts out pretty far, making it a little awkward if you’re putting it on an entertainment system. If you want to wall-mount it, you have the necessary screw holes for swivel stands or wall brackets. It also makes a cool gift for movie lovers.
32” display w/ narrow bezel
The narrow design includes three HDMI ports + 1 USB
Allows ethernet cable for hardwired connection
60hz refresh rate is optimal for console gaming
- Weight10.58 pounds
Operates on Fire TV, giving you access to nearly every smart TV app out there
Clear picture with little to no screen bleed
Simple, intuitive remote control without all the unnecessary buttons
Caps out at 720p for full resolution
Stand is very bulky and juts out from the TV a fair distance
Insignia paired up with Amazon to include Alexa built right into Insignia 4K Ultra HD LED Smart TV, and it comes with some good features, but a few difficulties ahead. To start, you have three screen sizes to choose from, but the most bang for your buck comes from the 43” model, which includes all the dynamic features you’re looking for. If you’re a console gamer, HDR brings your game to the next level and competes with imagery that PC players always brag about.
Couple that with the LED-backlit screen and 4K UHD display, and you’ve got something truly fantastic. When it comes to using Alexa, it works well for the built-in Fire TV features, but it has a really hard time syncing with your Echo or Echo Dot (moreso that Dot than anything else). It means that sometimes, you might not be able to command your Echo Dot to actually change the channel or put on a specific show for you. You might have to repeat yourself.
Use the buttons on your compact remote to take you straight to your favorite services, like Netflix and Prime Video, and sit back and enjoy. While the Wi-Fi receiver on the TV is high quality, I should warn you that you’re not going to be able to plug in an ethernet cable, so your options for connection stability will be limited. Consider turning off other devices in your home to retain a 4K streaming-worthy connection quality.
You might also like some of these reliable Siri remote alternatives for the Apple TV from our list. Check them out.
The simple remote design includes Netflix, Prime, Vue and HBO buttons
43” screen dimensions
Compact stand doesn’t take up much room
- Weight19.6 pounds
4k UHD resolution without paying the big bucks
Comes with Amazon Alexa built-in
The high dynamic range makes this fantastic for console gaming
No ethernet cable input
Difficulty pairing Alexa products to TV (like Echo Dot)
TCL is rarely the first pick anyone has for a TV, but over the years, they’ve been putting out some really impressive televisions. TCL 4K LED Smart TV comes in a full 50” display with a small bezel, giving you as much potential viewing area as possible. While you can choose whatever you like, there’s an option to get this just as a TV, or you can upgrade it to a 2.1 channel soundbar that comes with your package. That’s up to you.
You can enact Amazon Alexa to help you voice-control your television, so you can call out the show and episode that you want to watch from the other room while you fix a snack. Just to be clear, this comes as a 50” display, but you can upgrade to a 75” display if you see fit, it just amplifies the issues that we’re about to discuss, which is why we went with the 50”.
There’s screen bleed. No matter how hard they try, TCL is just going to be known for it as the years carry on. You’ll notice it on the left and right, but when you climb into the larger screen resolution models, it’s more prominent on the top and bottom as well. It’s not something you want to watch a dark GoT scene on, I’ll tell you that.
Roku TV is built right in, so you won’t need a separate receiver. The stand is a bit tough to deal with though, so I recommend wall or stand mounting this. The stand isn’t terrible, but it’s a bit flimsy and it’s bulky at the same time, which is a bit surprising.
You may also be interested in some of these quality blu-ray players from our list. Check them out.
3 HDMI ports
Upgrades from a 43″ to 75″ screen
Works with Amazon Alexa
Includes option for an inexpensive soundbar bundle
- Weight23.6 pounds
4K display for enhanced viewing
Built-in Roku TV with an intuitive operating system
50” resolution on a budget
Some LED bleed on the left and right edges of the screen
The bulky stand isn’t good for smaller entertainment centers
Clean input layout (one strip of inputs, no hard-to-reach slots)
Samsung continues to run some of the smoothest pictures that you could imagine, and it’s for this that they’re always going to be one of the top dogs. They’ve had a lot of versions of this different TV, and even though this is their 4K UHD Smart TV 2019 model, it comes with a few issues to be on the lookout for. For one, if you’re sick of trying to punch things in on that little remote that they give you, you can’t even connect your ergonomic keyboard and mouse to this TV. Well, they say you can, but the wireless compatibility options are few and far between. You’re going to run into problems with it.
If you’re a console gamer, you might want to flip on HDR on your PS4 to get the best possible quality. HDR on the Samsung not only fails to communicate with the PS4 that it even has an HDR mode but if you just flip it on for television viewing purposes, it provides little to no difference in the picture quality.
That said, the UHD images are stunning, and there’s literally no screen bleed from the LED backlighting. If we were ranking these solely on the picture quality and lighting, this TV would have taken the cake without a doubt.
The picture is sleek, but so is the chassis for the TV. You can wall mount this with ease because they’ve somehow managed to keep everything ultralight (for a TV). Hats off to Samsung, they just need to get their compatibility down pat.
Comes with Amazon Alexa as an additional feature
Upgradable to come with surround sound and bars
Very lightweight and slim design w/ plenty of ports
- Weight30.6 pounds
Crystal clear UHD quality picture
Absolutely zero screen bleed
Clear and concise images with no blur, whether it’s for movies or gaming
The HDR mode doesn’t do much
Accessory compatibility is on the fritz
Sony will always be one of the masters of electronics, and with their Bravia 4K TV, they’re not far off the mark. They include HDR so you can use it with your Sony PS4 system with ease, and the color resolutions (8 million self-illuminating pixels) give you every potential viewing angle you could ever want from your PlayStation system.
There’s a voice-activated remote control that comes with your unit, which can hook up to Roku TV or Amazon Alexa, depending on what you have. In terms of versatility, it’s good for whatever you hook it up to, and that’s what Sony is good at. When it comes to the actual picture quality, it’s flipping astounding. It’s just about as immersive as it gets (a close second to that Samsung above), making it a truly rich viewing experience on this 50” screen. This Sony 4D LED TV itself acts as a stand because you can fold out the back (power supply) to place your TV. It even has a built-in subwoofer system.
But that’s where our first problem comes into play. Sony has good customer service, but their quality assurance could use a bit of assistance before they send anything to your door. There have been a lot of complaints about the 2018 model coming with subwoofer issues. Now, Sony fixes them and goes over the top with making it right, but for this kind of money, you want it to show up with no issues, you know?
If you have dogs or kids, I don’t recommend this TV. The screen itself is durable, and even comes with an OLED panel for some crisp viewing, but one football or over-excited dog knocking into this could permanently damage it. You may also be interested in some of these quality digital-to-analog converters from our list, so check them out.
Includes microphone for voice control right in your remote
Wi-Fi or ethernet cable ready
Built-in stand splits the panel and battery housing for a solid viewing angle
- Weight81 pounds
The OLED display is unlike anything you’ve used before
Paper-thin bezel gives you the ultimate viewing angle
Intense 120hz refresh rate
The built-in subwoofer has a high issue rating (Sony will fix it)
Fragile; not for use if you had kids or dogs
Everything you get nowadays comes with Amazon Alexa built right in, and LG has taken to that trend with their UHD TV. It’s Amazon certified to work with Alexa, but it also works with LG’s own AI system. Unfortunately, that AI is underdeveloped, making it difficult to really sync up with your other LG AI products and make recommendations based on the right information.
However, when it comes to the actual picture, this Alexa-enabled smart device gives you what you expect LG would: the immersive picture with a high-end UHD level of quality. You’ll be glued to the screen from the moment you sit down.
The LED panel has absolutely no screen bleed, so you won’t be able to see any bright light even at 100% brightness—it just evenly brightens the picture in an even way. If you’re standing at an angle that’s not at least 50° within the direct viewing angle of the TV, you will notice it starts to darken. That’s just the angle, so if you position this correctly, you won’t encounter this issue.
They rolled out their AI program too early, but their HDR mode is excellent to enrich your console gaming experience. With a 60hz refresh rate, it’s good enough to use most pro console features and next-gen consoles as well.
Altogether, it’s a solid choice that will enrich the entire atmosphere of your living room. Depending on the size of your setup, you can choose a 43” unit or up to 65” with the same specs and level of quality the whole way through.
Amazon Certified to work with Alexa voice control
Available from 43” up to 65”
HDR mode for console gaming and richer viewing
- Weight17.6 pounds
Zero screen bleed from the LED panel
4K UHD picture is even and crisp
Narrow bezel and body keeps this lightweight for wall mounting
Panel starts to darken at a 50° viewing angle
AI-based entertainment feature was launched too soon
I really expected VIZIO to rank higher on the list, but it was up against some fierce competition. They came very close to being near the top, especially when you factor in the HDR settings for more immersive gaming and movie viewing.
However, the 4K resolution wasn’t enough to set VIZIO M-Series Quantum 55” HDR Smart TV higher. You have a really bright screen thanks to the UltraBright 600 hardware, which makes it fantastic to view… from the right angle. If you stand at a different angle, the screen doesn’t get dark, but you notice the LED light pouring out from the sides.
Does that diminish the 4K resolution? No; it’s fantastic television, and it comes with enough ports to hook everything you need to right into it. On top of that, it works with Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, and a ton of other voice-activated smart hubs on the market. You can start your TV from virtually anywhere in your home.
Sometimes you will run into compatibility issues, but a quick restart is usually all you need to set it right. From the slim design, 8 million pixels of color, and the built-in Chromecast features, you have everything you need for hands-free viewing. No more getting popcorn grease on the remote control. For more quality products for your home, check out our guide to the best Android TV boxes, and pick your favorite.
Built-in Chromecast function means no external hardware
Works with Amazon Alexa
UltraBright 600 brightness hardware
- Weight35.9 pounds
Includes HDR mode for better dynamic visuals and gaming
4K resolution appears crisp and clear
8 million pixels of color resolution
Viewing angle screen bleed problems
Sometimes encounters issues with niche home hubs, like HomeKit
Hisense is probably the last brand you expected to see here. They’re known for their budget-friendly options, but on the flip side, they make some high-powered smart TVs. Built with Roku right in your unit, Hisense delivers excellent 4K through a 43” display, with the option to upgrade to larger screen sizes. The main attraction of Hisense 43” 4K Ultra HD Smart TV w/ Roku TV here is the zero screen bleed coupled with the high dynamic range mode. It makes for an excellent viewing experience.
Where it falls flat is the low-interference Wi-Fi connectivity. You don’t even see it marketed as a main feature in most smart TVs, so we put it to the test, and found that it’s actually pretty easy to interfere with. You can lose connection pretty easily if the TV is far from your wireless router.
Standby mode eats up little to no power, giving you the option to leave it on with a short standby timer in case you’re prone to leaving the TV on or falling asleep on the couch at night.
There’s a big bezel, but a ton of color clarity as well thanks to the millions of available pixels. It’s a good in-between model with an average five-year expectancy on it before you start to notice burnout or screen bleeding. You may also like some of the best streaming sticks from our list, so be sure to check them out.
Includes Roku TV function built right in
Low power consumption
Millions of pixels for excellent color
- Weight30 pounds
Includes HDR for better gaming and movie viewing
Ultralight and thin design makes it easy to mount on the wall
Use an app as a remote in case you lose the physical remote
Low-interference Wi-Fi doesn’t always follow through on quality
Big bezel removes inches off the actual screen size
Sceptre was a brand that honestly shocked me when I opened it up. I’ve seen Sceptre TVs before, but they were always budget picks that just didn’t fit the bill quite right. Well, they turned the tide with this smart TV model. You get a high-end 1080p display with zero bleeding. Normally, when you bump an LED TV up a bit (around 80-90% or so), you can see where the light starts coming through on the edges. Not with Sceptre FSR Smart TV.
Between that and a 60hz refresh rate, it’s ideal for most movies and console gaming, even on “pro” console models. While you don’t have HDR, flickering and screen lag is also virtually non-existent. It’s a shame that you have to share one of your HDMI port slots with the same as an MHL cable, but it’s the way the cookie crumbles. The only other major complaint here is that it’s heavier than it looks, so it requires an additional wall mount. Our guide to the best streaming TV devices features more amazing products to enhance your home TV experience.
The narrow design keeps everything nice and flat
43” width with thin bezel (actual screen size 42.6”)
- Weight15.2 pounds
High quality 1080p display
LED backlighting doesn’t bleed through, even when the brightness is near 90%
60hz refresh rate is ideal for console gaming
One HDMI slot has to be shared with MHL
Heavy compared to other 43” TVs; might require extra wall mount kit pieces
Is Element the first brand you think of when you look at a new TV? No, but they’re also not the last. Element offers a budget-friendly, wildly inexpensive way to get another screen in your house with decent resolution.
I say decent because Element 32 Inch HD Smart TV isn’t technically full HD. It’s not quite what I want for watching movies, but I don’t mind watching some Netflix TV shows on it; it’s a middle-of-the-road solution. What’s odd is that despite it only being able to go up to 720p, there’s a port that supports 1080p.
What you do get is a mount-ready, lightweight TV that you can put just about anywhere. It’s versatile, which is what earned it a spot on this list, and it’s able to display a decent response rate for gaming at just 8ms. Anything over 10ms is iffy, but 2-10ms is good for console gaming since it doesn’t have the same refresh rate as PC gaming.
However, you are going to experience screen bleeding. I wish I could say that it didn’t happen, but it definitely does. You’re left with a minimal number of ports, though the ones that you do have are decent quality. No issues with VGA connections or HDMI instability/flickering. It’s a solid pick, just not ideal for those looking to get high-quality streaming or high-resolution video feedback. If you’re like me and you can’t stand anything under 1080p, this isn’t the TV for you. You may also be interested in some of the best universal remotes from our list, so be sure to check them out.
Compact stand doesn’t take up much space on your entertainment center
Includes 3 HDMI ports, 1 USB, 1 VGA, and 1 RCA
- BrandAmazon Renewed
- Weight9.5 pounds
Wildly inexpensive budget-friendly price
Good 8ms response time for gaming
Super lightweight and mountable just about anywhere
Screen bleed on top and bottom
Low contrast ratio
Smart TV Buying Guide and FAQ
Q: What is Smart TV?
A: A smart TV has an internet connection, voice control function, and in some instances, it will also have onboard AI to help you make choices when it comes to movies, television shows, and even what resolution to watch certain things on. Smart TVs have an internet connection so you can immediately sync to streaming apps without the requirement of external receivers. No need to buy extra hardware; you just control everything from the built-in TV interface. Smart TVs can also be upgraded through software updates to include more features, utilizing the same hardware that already exists in the TV. Not all smart TVs will have all of these features.
Features To Look For In A Smart TV
If your smart TV doesn’t include at least some of these features, then is it really a smart TV? While no two units are built the same, and every brand focuses on different aspects of their smart TV configuration, you can expect to find a blend of these different features.
Interface - The interface is everything. It’s not going to be much of a smart TV if you can’t properly navigate all of your features. Your interface is where tiles or apps are displayed on your TV screen, and how easy they are to access. On top of that, your interface actually extends beyond the screen and into the remote control. If your remote isn’t easy to navigate, then you’re going to have a hard time utilizing all of your smart TV features. The interface is best summed up as the display, remote control, and how easy it is to use.
Voice Control - Most televisions are using Amazon Alexa for voice control features, but some brands will simply include their own voice-activated AI to help you navigate your options. Voice control isn’t for everyone, but it can be helpful if you don’t have a lot of downtime in the evening. You can voice control the TV from the kitchen while you whip up a quick dinner, and have your favorite shows set up to go before you even make it back to the couch. It’s time saved, and convenient as can be.
Ethernet and/or Wi-Fi Accessibility - Your smart TV requires internet access to run apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video, but it all depends on how that internet connection can be set up. While most devices exclusively use Wi-Fi connectivity, smart TVs actually come with ethernet cables for one very good reason: connection stability. We’ve all been on YouTube and had the video buffer, pause repeatedly, and kind of bring us out of the trance of watching it in the first place. That’s because Wi-Fi is much more susceptible to interruptions and connection issues, but a stable hardwired ethernet connection generally retains the same upload and download speed, as well as a low ping. Nobody wants to be in the middle of Game of Thrones in 4K, only to have it continuously stop and restart again due to a bad connection.
App Store Direct Downloads - If you’re running apps, which is basically why you have a smart TV in the first place, then you want a wide variety of what you can choose from. Furthermore, you want to be able to download some movies for when the internet is out, so it can be stored locally on your TV. You can either run a formatted USB stick in one of the ports to store movies, or you can get a smart TV with a bit more internal storage so it can actually store full-length movies. Either way, having an app store that’s wide open and allows you to access numerous television apps is what you want to look for.
Operating System - If you’re not keeping tabs on smart TV operating systems, that’s okay; we’ve done it for you. It’s not exactly the most pertinent piece of information unless you’re looking to buy one, you know? An operating system, much like on your phone or PC, dictates features, accessibility, and the interface. Operating systems are the backbones of any device that allows you to run apps, keep things smooth and easy to operate, and allow the device to run in the first place. Most brands use different operating systems, but Samsung is known to run on Tizen, an operating system that’s been the most well-regarded for smart TVs for years now. Some brands, such as LG and Sony, run Android operating systems which make it feel similar to your smartphone.