The TV market continues to evolve, both in terms of technology and pricing. 4K has replaced 1080p, and 8K is waiting in the wings. The long-running success of liquid crystal display (LCD) screens is increasingly being eroded by affordable competition from organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels. Let's not forget features like HDR or the steady evolution of HDMI cable standards.
But which TV should you buy? Here are the best TVs we've tested, as well as the main points to consider when shopping.
The Best TV Deals This Week*
- 65" Samsung S95B Series 4K OLED HDR Smart TV (2022 Model) (Opens in a new window) — $1,797.99 (List Price $2,997.99)
- 65" Sony Bravia X80K Series 4K HDR Smart TV (2022 Model) (Opens in a new window) — $678.00 (List Price $999.99)
- 48" LG C2 Evo OLED 4K HDR 120Hz Native TV (2022 Model) (Opens in a new window) — $899.99 (List Price $1,299.99)
- 75" Hisense U8H 4K Mini LED Quantum ULED TV (2022 Model) (Opens in a new window) — $1,399.99 (List Price $1,499.99)
- 65" Amazon Omni Series 4K HDR Smart Fire TV (Opens in a new window) — $599.99 (List Price $759.99)
*Deals are selected by our commerce team
Best Overall Value
Why We Picked It
The Hisense U8H is the follow-up to one of our favorite TVs from 2021, the Hisense U8G, and stands alongside the TCL 6-Series as one of the best values. It's reasonably priced (especially if you can find it for its "everyday" price, rather than its higher suggested retail price), plus it offers loads of features and a fantastic picture. It shows more light bloom than the Samsung QN90B (and obviously more than any OLED TV), but its bright panel, wide colors, and Google TV platform with hands-free Google Assistant make it an excellent deal.
Who It's For
This is a bit pricier than a budget TV, but not by much. If you're willing to spend around $1,000, this is one of the best choices available. The TCL Google TV 6-Series is almost identical in features and performance, though it isn't quite as bright.
- Excellent contrast and color range
- Google TV with hands-free Google Assistant and Google Cast
- Solid gaming features and performance
- Occasional light bloom
- Confusing pricing strategy
|Amazon||$699.00||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Best Buy||$699.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
LG C2 Evo OLED TV
Best Midrange OLED TV
Why We Picked It
This is the best-looking TV we've seen yet and is a stunning showcase for the capabilities of OLED panels. Its color performance is close to perfect and it offers effectively infinite contrast thanks to its perfect black levels. It's also quite reasonably priced for an OLED. LG's WebOS interface is occasionally clunky, but it's loaded with features like hands-free voice assistants and Apple AirPlay 2. It's simply an incredible all-around package.
Who It's For
If you're willing to splurge for a TV (around $2,500 for the 65-inch model), the C2 should be at the top of your list. It offers something for everyone, beyond its stellar picture quality. Gamers, in particular, should appreciate its low input lag, as well as both its AMD FreeSync Premium and Nvidia G-Sync Compatible features.
- Most accurate digital cinema color we've seen on a TV
- 120Hz panel with incredibly low input lag
- G-Sync Compatible and supports AMD FreeSync Premium
- WebOS offers Apple AirPlay, multiple voice assistants, and a web browser
- Remote control and WebOS are a bit clunky
- No hands-free Google Assistant
|Amazon||$1,246.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Best Buy||$1,249.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
TCL 6-Series 4K Google TV
Best Affordable Google TV
Why We Picked It
Like the Hisense U8H, the TCL 6-Series 4K Google TV shows just how good a picture you can get without paying too much. It hits that $1,000-for-55-inches sweet spot while offering stunning color and an excellent contrast ratio. It also uses Google TV, a feature-filled smart TV platform with hands-free Google Assistant and Google Cast support. It sits right alongside the Hisense U8H, with a sleeker interface but a somewhat dimmer picture. On that last point, it still exceeds the 1,000cd/m^2 peak brightness level necessary to show most HDR content.
Who It's For
This is another strong value option because it strikes an ideal balance between picture quality and price, much like the Hisense U8H. Other cheaper models aren't as likely to impress. Whether you should buy the TCL or Hisense model depends on your design tastes and whether you can find either model on sale.
- Excellent contrast and color performance
- Google TV with Google Cast and hands-free Google Assistant
- Low input lag
- No AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync
- No Apple AirPlay
|Best Buy||$599.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Amazon||$599.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Why We Picked It
Hisense and TCL have both proven that you can get excellent picture quality and plenty of features out of a modestly priced TV (generally in the $1,000 to $1,300 range for 65-inch models). Below that price range, you need to make some compromises, but not too many. The Hisense U6H's contrast levels aren't impressive, for instance, but its color performance is fantastic and it offers tons of useful features including Apple AirPlay, Google Cast, and hands-free Google Assistant. This TV is also frequently available for below its suggested retail price, which helps solidify it as one of the best budget-priced TVs we've seen yet.
Who It's For
The U6H is for shoppers who want to spend as little as possible without buying a piece of junk. At several hundred dollars less than the Hisense U8H, the follow-up to last year's Editors' Choice U8G, it's appealing if you're on a budget. This TV is also one of the least expensive big-screen models we can recommend; the 75-inch variant goes for a suggested price of $1,400.
- Impressively wide and accurate color performance
- Google TV interface with hands-free Google Assistant
- Apple AirPlay support
- Mediocre contrast
- Slightly sluggish gaming performance
|Amazon||$529.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
SunBriteTV Veranda 3 Series
Best Outdoor TV
Why We Picked It
Outdoor TVs are few and far between, and you can count on spending a fair amount for them. The rock-solid build quality of these models, which ensures that they can survive extreme temperatures along with rain, snow, and dirt, tends to be the reason for the extra cost. This doesn't mean you have to compromise on picture quality, though, and that's where the SunBriteTV Veranda 3 excels. Its color range and accuracy are excellent and, although the TV is designed for use in full shade, it does a solid job of reducing glare.
The Veranda 3 is also well-equipped because of its Android TV platform. It doesn't have hands-free Google Assistant like some of the TVs on this list, but you can still use the voice assistant by speaking into the remote. You also get Google Cast support and access to all the major streaming services.
Who It's For
If you want a TV for your (covered) deck or patio, and don't mind spending the money for the best picture for that purpose, the SunBriteTV Veranda 3 is the ideal pick. We've seen a few more affordable outdoor TVs, but none look nearly as good or offer as many smart TV features.
- Ruggedized for outdoor use
- Wide, accurate colors with Dolby Vision support
- Android TV provides phone mirroring, streaming media, and voice control
- Low input lag
- Doesn't include a stand
- High black levels
|Amazon||$2,898.95||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|B&H Photo Video||$2,898.95||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED
Best Fire TV
Why We Picked It
Amazon's Fire TV Omni disappointed us last year because of its mediocre contrast and color performance. But the company stepped up its game significantly with the Fire TV Omni QLED, which offers a brighter picture and wider colors. You also get Apple AirPlay support on top of all of the useful Amazon Fire TV features such as hands-free Alexa. It still doesn't put out a ton of light, but we can recommend it to deal-seeking shoppers regardless.
Who It's For
This is the best Fire TV option on the list, though that isn't saying much. Otherwise, its low price makes it a good choice for people who want to add an Alexa-centric TV to their home without spending a ton of money.
- Excellent color and strong contrast
- Hands-free Amazon Alexa
- Not particularly bright
- Light bloom can overpower shadow detail
|Amazon||$599.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Sony Bravia XR A95K OLED TV
Best for A/V Receiver Integration
Why We Picked It
The Sony Master Series A90J wowed us last year with the kind of superlative contrast and excellent color performance OLEDs are capable of providing, along with a surprisingly crisp speaker system thanks to actuators behind the panel, and hands-free Google Assistant through the Google TV smart platform. The Bravia XR A95K features strong contrast and even wider colors than its predecessor, keeps the actuators and the hands-free Google Assistant, and adds Apple AirPlay 2 on top of it.
This isn't a completely positive upgrade, however, due to some new technology that enables its vivid colors. Like the Samsung S95B, the Sony A95K uses a quantum dot layer to expand its color range. It's effective, but its trade-off is that the quantum dots are so light-reactive that they can make the screen look just slightly less than perfectly dark with any ambient light around. The panel isn't emitting any light, but it's reflecting just a bit too much to really offer visually perfect blacks. Even with that caveat, though, this is a feature-packed TV with a great picture and some useful and unique features.
Who It's For
For pure picture quality and value, the LG C2 is by far our top OLED pick because of its nearly perfect colors that don't require a contrast-compromising quantum dot layer. However, the A95K has a few advantages that make it a worthwhile choice for high-end home theaters. This is one of the very few TVs that has spring clips for speaker wires, letting you connect it to your A/V receiver to function as the center-channel speaker, taking full advantage of the crisp, clean sound from the actuators to bring out dialog while letting you keep your favorite amp-driven stereo or satellite speakers. That's a pretty big boon for a custom installation.
- Very wide color range
- Google TV interface with Google Cast and hands-free Google Assistant
- Apple AirPlay 2 support
- Crisp, actuator-based sound system with speaker wire inputs
- Colors aren't as accurate as some competing OLED TVs
- Quantum dot layer compromises the perfect black levels OLEDs should provide
- No AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync support for gaming
|Amazon||$2,598.00||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|B&H Photo Video||$3,998.00||See It (Opens in a new window)|
TCL 6-Series 4K Roku TV
Best Roku TV
Why We Picked It
TCL's 6-Series TVs, including the Google TV version higher up on this list, have long stood among our favorites. The latest Roku TV model in the series has strong contrast, good color, and uses the simple, accessible Roku TV interface that supports Apple AirPlay. Competing Google TV models from TCL and Hisense offer slightly more accurate color and better voice features, but it's still an excellent value.
Who It's For
You should consider this TV if you want very good picture quality and an easy-to-use interface. The Roku TV platform has gone through many back-end upgrades over the years, but the app-based user experience remains as simple as ever. AirPlay compatibility also makes it appealing for iPhone users.
- Very high contrast
- Wide colors
- Low input lag with AMD FreeSync Pro and 144Hz support
- White balance is a bit skewed out of the box
|Best Buy||$949.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Vizio M-Series Quantum X TV (65 and 75-Inch Models)
Best for Gamers on a Budget
Why We Picked It
The 50-inch Vizio M-Series Quantum X TV showed excellent gaming performance and strong colors when we tested it earlier this year, but it wasn't particularly bright. The larger models in the series, however, have more powerful backlight systems and all of the same qualities otherwise. The bigger entries still aren't blazingly bright, but they offer reasonably better performance than the smaller version in this regard.
Who It's For
This is for gamers who want a big screen on a relative budget. At just $900 for a 65-inch model, you can get a 120Hz refresh rate, low input lag, and AMD FreeSync Premium.
- Significantly brighter than 50-inch model
- High contrast and wide color
- Good gaming performance and features
- Apple AirPlay and Google Cast
- Blacks can look a bit washed-out with light bloom
- No hands-free voice assistant
|Best Buy||$849.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Walmart||$848.00||Check Stock (Opens in a new window)|
What to Look For in a New TV
Resolution has long been a top consideration in buying a new TV, but the current TV landscape has seen a flattening of this trend. The TV resolution question used to be between the options of 720p (1,280 by 720 resolution, or just under one million pixels) and 1080p (1,920 by 1,080, or just over two million pixels). Then it moved on to 1080p versus Ultra HD, or 4K (3,840 by 2,160, with eight million pixels). Now, it's no longer a question: 4K is the standard for medium-sized and larger televisions from every major manufacturer.
The higher resolution no longer commands a price premium, and you can now find a 65-inch 4K TV for under $1,000. (You can even dig lower and build an entire home theater for $1,000 if you're willing to make some compromises.) Realistically, you'd be hard-pressed to find a TV from a major brand larger than 40 inches that isn't 4K. In fact, every TV on this list (except one) is 4K.
Nearly all 4K TVs have connected features that let you stream 4K content. The Amazon Fire TV, Android/Google TV, and Roku TV platforms have enabled many TV brands to add smart TV functions without developing first-party systems like LG, Samsung, and Vizio do. These platforms are full of features and offer access to most major streaming services, along with features like voice assistants, local media streaming, and a variety of apps. If you can't find the apps or services you want on your TV, you can connect a separate 4K media streamer to an HDMI 2.0 port to fill that gap.
Apple AirPlay 2 is now available on new TVs from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, along with all Roku media streamers including Roku TVs. This feature lets you use your iPhone or iPad to stream content from iTunes to the TV. Apple also has the Apple TV app with its Apple TV+ service on all major smart TV platforms, so you can watch Apple video content on nearly any TV without an Apple TV 4K box, which was previously necessary.
4K content is now freely available on many streaming services and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, even if it hasn't been widely adopted by broadcast or cable TV services yet (read more about the ATSC: 3.0 standard for more details). If you have a very fast internet connection, you can watch some excellent shows on Amazon and Netflix in 4K (and most new original programming on the services is produced at that resolution). New films are also coming out digitally in 4K through various on-demand streaming services.
Ultra HD Blu-ray discs are a physical media format that can store 4K HDR content and are readily available. Don't expect to play them on your current Blu-ray player, though; it's a separate format from Blu-ray, so you need a dedicated Ultra HD Blu-ray player, a Microsoft Xbox Series X (or Xbox One S/X if you can find one), or a Sony PlayStation 5 to handle the format. The good news is that Ultra UD Blu-ray stores 4K video with HDR (explained below), and it can even handle advanced surround sound audio if your speaker system supports it. It has a long-term edge over streaming since it's a piece of media you can physically own, and it doesn't require an internet connection or a service subscription. Ultra HD Blu-ray releases are relatively paltry outside of major new movies, though, so if you want to watch your favorite obscure film you might have to downgrade to 1080p or even 480p with a Blu-ray or DVD.
Should I Wait for 8K?
That one's easy: No.
That's it. Don't worry about 8K for now, despite what you might have heard about it and that the HDMI 2.1 standard supports it. 8K is 7,680 by 4,320 resolution, or four times the number of pixels of 4K. 8K TVs are currently available as premium models for significantly more money than their 4K equivalents (including OLED TVs, which are already pricier), but they aren't going to be meaningful for consumers for a few more years, and there's little reason to consider buying one yet unless you have lots of cash to burn.
Moreover, there's no consumer-ready 8K media available, and no major studios or distributors have even talked about releasing 8K movies or shows so far. There aren't yet physical or streaming media standards that allow 8K video to be commercially released. Even if you can find an 8K TV, at best you might be able to watch upconverted 4K video on it. So, for the time being, don't worry about 8K suddenly replacing 4K. It won't happen anytime soon.
Is a 4K HDR TV Worth It?
4K is a no-brainer, but there's a new next-step video technology to consider when you shop for a TV. High dynamic range (HDR) content gives much more information to the display than a standard video signal. The resolution remains the same as UHD, but the range of color and amount of light each pixel can produce is significantly broader.
Because of improving LCD and OLED panel technology, high-end televisions can display wider color gamuts and finer gradients of light and dark than before. Standard video was built around the limitations of older televisions, intentionally using a set range of color and light information in the signal. HDR breaks those limitations and uses expanded ranges with finer values between them. Basically, this means HDR displays can produce more colors and more shades of gray (or, rather, luminance values) than standard dynamic range displays.
There are two major HDR standards out there with commercially available content: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is an open platform that uses 10-bit color values. The UHD Alliance certifies televisions that meet the HDR10 standard, along with minimum brightness and contrast ratios, as UltraHD Premium. Dolby Vision is a closed standard from Dolby; it supports 12-bit color and determines ranges in the signal it provides to a display on the fly, based on the display itself and the needs of the scene. Televisions that support Dolby Vision note so on their packaging.
Some other HDR standards and variants are also out there, but they've yet to see the broad acceptance in TVs that HDR10 and Dolby Vision have. Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) is a standard developed by the BBC and Japanese broadcaster NHK, which is backward compatible with standard dynamic range TVs. Meanwhile, Samsung and Amazon Video have HDR10+, which adds variable metadata to brightness, changing the range of bright and dark that video can display from scene to scene.
HDR content is generally rarer than SDR UHD content, but it's still widely available, especially for new shows and films on major streaming services. Ultra HD Blu-rays, along with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and other streaming apps all support HDR in HDR10 and/or Dolby Vision. Whether one standard is better than the other is difficult to determine at this point; HDR10 uses more concrete values and is easier to technically evaluate, but Dolby Vision is designed to specifically fit the needs and limits of whatever television you use. Whether its HDR10 or Dolby Vision, HDR-capable televisions can produce a better picture than TVs that don't support the wider color gamuts or increased range of luminance information.
What Is the Best Time to Buy a TV?
Manufacturers typically announce new TVs in January (we saw several promising new screens at CES 2023), but those models don't usually hit store shelves until spring or summer. That means there's a solid three- or four-month span in which you know what new TVs are coming out. If you can find deep discounts for the previous year's models during that period and you know they're good performers based on our reviews, you should go for them.
Keep an eye out for sales around big sporting events like the Super Bowl, or when football season is just starting. You might be able to find price cuts of a few hundred dollars or more. Like all sales, pay attention to which models are on sale; different tiers and series of TVs can perform wildly different.
Huge price slashes on Black Friday often promote budget or midrange televisions with seemingly big discounts, but their pictures might not be nearly as good as higher-end models. Check the model numbers carefully against reviews for a good sense of whether the discount you see is worthwhile.
Are Cheap TVs Worth the Price?
Budget-priced TVs can be very appealing, especially if you haven't yet made the jump to 4K and are daunted by $1,000-plus price tags. Be careful when you see a great deal on a TV, though, even if it says 4K HDR. It could be a steal, or it could be a disappointment.
Performance among budget TVs varies wildly and trends toward the mediocre. You might find a few very good deals, like the TCL 6-series and Hisense U7G series, that manage to combine excellent picture quality with a reasonable price. You are also likely to find a sea of cheap TVs that don't measure up in one way or another.
Don't count on big names to be reliably high-quality in their budget lines, either. Although companies like LG, Samsung, and Sony can make some incredible flagship TVs, their inexpensive models generally aren't any better than baseline models from more budget-centric brands like Hisense and TCL—and they're usually a bit more expensive. As always, our reviews (and the picture quality tests we perform) can help you find a screen that doesn't trade quality for price.
For the top budget-friendly models we've tested, head over to our story on the best cheap TVs.
What Is the Best OLED TV?
Plasma TVs were the only flat-panel models available when they first came out nearly two decades ago. They're now a dead category, however, and you won't find a major television manufacturer that sells new plasma models. That means you likely must choose between LED-backlit LCD TVs (also simply called LED TVs), and much less common, much more expensive OLED displays.
First, a note: LCD and LED TVs are distinct types, even though both use LCD panels that require some sort of illumination. But whereas traditional LCD TVs rely on cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) for that task, the now more common LED TVs use LEDs.
There are further differences in the various designs. LED TVs can be either edge-lit or backlit. Edge-lit TVs light up their screens with arrays of LEDs along the edges of the panels, allowing the set to be thin and light. Backlit TVs use a large array of LEDs directly behind the panel. That design choice makes the screen a little thicker, but enables more even illumination and, for high-end screens, the ability to adjust individual LEDs to enhance black levels. Very good edge-lighting systems can produce excellent pictures, though, and TV manufacturers are making backlit LED arrays smaller and thinner, so the distinction means less than in the past. No matter the technology, an LED TV's thinness and brightness are roughly proportional to its price.
OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays are a rare and very expensive technology for TVs and, despite their name, are drastically different from LED-backlit televisions. In fact, they're closer to plasma screens in how they work. Each diode generates both color and light, like in plasma screens, but the diodes can be much smaller and thinner than even LED-lit panels. That makes it possible for them to produce very impressive black levels. For a few years, LG and Sony were the only television manufacturers that offered OLED models. However, Vizio entered the field three years ago, and Samsung dipped its toe in the OLED TV market in 2022. The latter released the brightest OLED TV we've seen yet, the S95C, in 2023.
What Size TV Should You Get?
A big TV that's too close can be just as uncomfortable to watch as a small one that's too far away, so don't assume that the biggest screen available is the best choice. There are a few different rules of thumb regarding TV screen size based on your distance from it.
Generally, the distance between your couch and your TV should be between 1.2 and 1.6 times the diagonal measurement of your screen. So if your couch is six feet away from your screen, you can comfortably watch a TV between 42 and 60 inches. If your couch is five feet away, a 37- to 52-inch screen should work well.
For more, see our stories on how to choose the right TV screen size, the best 65-inch TVs, and the best 75-inch (and up) TVs.
What Is a Good TV Refresh Rate and Contrast Ratio?
One of the biggest problems with narrowing your choices to a single TV is the sheer number of specs. To make your job a little easier, two of the biggies, refresh rate and contrast ratio, are safe to ignore.
Refresh (or response) rate, the speed at which your TV's panel refreshes its image, is expressed in hertz (60Hz, 120Hz, 240Hz, 480Hz, or 600Hz). The theory is that a faster refresh rate results in a smoother image. But in reality, there are several reasons this simply isn't true, and it's not worth paying more for a set with a faster response rate. In many cases, 60Hz is just fine for films and TV, and 120Hz is plenty for video games and sports (though you should probably turn off those higher refresh rate modes when watching most shows and movies to avoid that jarring soap opera effect). Also, keep in mind that numbers above 120Hz (except for a few Samsung TVs with gaming monitor-like 144Hz refresh rates), tend not to indicate a panel's native refresh rate; they're usually numbers produced through various backlight flickering and other image processing tricks.
Contrast ratio, meanwhile, is the difference between the darkest black and the brightest white a panel can display. In theory, the highest contrast ratio possible is desirable since dark blacks and bright whites contribute to a high-quality picture. There isn't really a standardized way for manufacturers to measure this spec, though, and vendors are all vying to come up with the highest ratios so their TVs seem more appealing. Previously, OLED TVs were the only models we've tested to actually produce an "infinite" contrast ratio with a perfect 0 black level, but recently mini LED backlight systems have enabled some TVs, like Samsung's flagship LED models, to also offer perfect black levels with no noticeable light bloom. We measure contrast ratios with a consistent process across all TVs, so you can trust our numbers.
What Is the Best Smart TV?
Almost all TVs now offer web apps and built-in Wi-Fi via a smart TV platform. These features let you connect your television to the internet and access online streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, and YouTube. Many also integrate social network services like Facebook and Twitter, and many manufacturers offer entire downloadable app ecosystems with other programs and games you can use on your TV. Some manufacturers like LG, Samsung, and Vizio develop first-party systems, while others like Hisense, Sony, and TCL use third-party systems like Google TV and Roku TV to give their TVs apps and online services.
These apps are on inexpensive media streaming devices, so they're not vital. But a friendly interface that unlocks the services you want to use is convenient and saves you from needing to buy anything extra.
What Are the Different TV Connections?
Your ideal TV should provide enough video connections not only for now but also for the foreseeable future. The most important input is HDMI, which supports all major forms of digital video sources including Blu-ray players, game consoles, set-top boxes, and PCs through a single cable. Most TVs have three or four HDMI ports, but some might only have two. If you want a 4K screen, make sure the HDMI ports are at least HDMI 2.0. It's the current standard and supports 4K video at 60 frames per second; older HDMI ports can only handle 4K up to 30 frames per second, at best. HDMI 2.1, meanwhile, supports higher resolutions and faster refresh rates, though it isn't vital for most content currently available.
As for cables, unless you have a huge home theater system and plan to run cables between devices at distances longer than 25 feet (and that's being generous), brands and prices don't matter. We've compared the performance of high-end cables and inexpensive ones, and found that they all carry digital signals similarly. More expensive cables might have a better build quality, but you won't see any performance advantages from them. Don't shop for HDMI cables at retail stores, and ignore any clerks who warn you of "dirty electricity" or "viruses" that can come with cheap cables (both claims I've witnessed). Hop online and find the least expensive cable at the size you need and snap it up.
For more, see our story on what you need to know about HDMI cables.
HDMI also supports the highest-end home theater audio standards, though you'll generally have to give up a port as a video input to use it. Most TVs have an HDMI port with an audio return channel (ARC), clearly labeled on the back. ARC enables sound to be sent downstream to a connected soundbar or speaker system from the TV over HDMI and supports compressed 5.1-channel surround sound like optical connections do. However, recent TVs have enhanced ARC, or eARC, which offers even higher-quality audio and more features than optical or ARC can provide. eARC supports uncompressed multi-channel sound, including spatial audio like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. In fact, if you want to use those much more precise surround systems instead of discrete channel feeds, you need to use eARC.
If you have legacy devices from before the days of HDTVs, some new TVs might still support them. While they're not standard, many TVs have composite or component video inputs you can use to hook up VCRs and older game systems. Groups of full-sized RCA ports might be available, but you're more likely to find 3.5mm ports designed for use with included dongles that convert the 3.5mm connection to three RCA ports for composite video or five RCA ports for component video.
Should You Calibrate Your TV?
Most modern TVs are accurate enough out of the box that they don't need calibration. Just follow our five simple tweaks to get the best picture settings for your TV and you'll be good to go.
Still, if you spent a lot on your new TV, you might want to get it calibrated to obtain the best picture possible. Professional calibrations can cost hundreds of dollars, but if you have a high-end home theater (the kind you hired someone to build for you), it can be a worthwhile added expense. You can also use the Apple TV's Color Balance feature, though it doesn't come close to a professional calibration and only affects the Apple TV device's (not the Apple TV app) output itself.
And, of course, don't forget to turn off motion smoothing (the effect that makes everything look like a soap opera) unless you're watching sports.
Which Sound System Is Best for TV?
TVs have built-in speakers that function well enough in the sense that you can understand dialogue, but beyond that, they're typically pretty underwhelming. With few exceptions, you can improve your movie and gaming experience greatly by adding a speaker system, such as a soundbar or a dedicated multi-channel home theater system.
If space is at a premium or your budget is limited, a soundbar is your best bet. Soundbars are long, thin, self-contained speakers that sit under or over your TV. Small and simple to set up, they're less expensive than multi-speaker systems. Soundbars generally don't separate the channels enough to accurately place sound effects, but they've become quite good at producing a large sound field around you. Moreover, many soundbars pair easily with a subwoofer for that added thunder when watching movies.
Here are some of our favorite soundbars.
The Best Outdoor TVs
As a rule, TVs aren't rugged and you shouldn't use them outside. They aren't built to handle extreme temperatures or any significant amount of moisture or dirt. If you want a TV to put on your porch or deck, you need a specialized set designed for that location.
Companies like SunBriteTV make rugged TVs that can function in a much wider range of temperatures than most consumer TVs, and are protected against the elements. They're built to be left out in the rain and snow, with a heavy chassis and shielded connection bays. That extra protection is costly, though; most rugged TVs cost at least twice as much as comparable indoor TVs. Our Editors' Choice, the SunBriteTV Veranda 3, costs $2,898.95 for the 55-inch model we tested.
For more buying advice, see our story on what TV model numbers and SKUs actually mean.