Unwrapping a new smart TV on Christmas morning is everyone’s dream. And with our latest gift guide, you can be that person that gives that joy to someone else. Whether that’s your significant other, your parents, or someone else. There’s loads of great smart TVs on the market today, including many that are great, some that are good, and quite a few that just aren’t good at all. And that’s why we’ve made this gift guide, to help you get the best bang for your buck, depending on what the TV is going to be used for.
Best Overall Smart TV: Samsung S95C OLED
Samsung’s S95C is not only the best OLED TV, but the best TV period
The Samsung S95C is the company’s new flagship TV for 2023, and it’s quite an impressive one. The first thing you’ll notice when you see it in person is, just how bright it truly is. This is because it is Samsung’s first QD-OLED TV on the market. QD-OLED is Quantum Dot Organic Light Emitting Diode, and it basically means that it’s going to make your TV a lot brighter, without distorting the colors. And just writing about it really doesn’t do this TV panel any justice. You really need to see it for yourself, and you will be amazed.
Now, since QD-OLED is still a fairly new technology, the prices are not cheap here. Starting at $1,897. Which is a few hundred bucks more than most regular OLED TVs. However, if you are planning to keep this TV for five years or more, it’s much more of an investment and worth the price. Samsung does offer this in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch models, and we’d recommend the 65-inch. We feel that is the sweet spot for most TVs and most living spaces. It’s a big screen, but not so big that it takes over the entire room.
Thanks to QD-OLED, movies look superb in any room, and in any lighting condition. Even dark movies like The Batman (2022), which was a very dark movie, and really hard to watch on any TV that wasn’t OLED or QLED. We watch it on this S95C and found that it was a huge upgrade.
This TV isn’t just great for watching content though, it’s also great for gaming. Plug your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X to the S95C OLED and you’ll be amazed at how good it looks. Not only because this is a QD-OLED TV, but it also has HDMI 2.1 included. That means you can game at 4K120, as well as getting variable refresh rate and auto-low latency mode. I’ve played a few games on this TV, and honestly, this would be my pick for the best gaming TV too.
Samsung S95C – Amazon
Honorable Mention: Sony A95L OLED
For our honorable mention, we have another QD-OLED TV, which arguably is better than what Samsung has to offer, but it came down to price here. The Sony A95L OLED is a QD-OLED TV that starts at $2,798. It does come in three sizes: 55-, 65- and 77-inch. Again, we’d recommend the 65-inch model as that is the sweet spot for a TV size, and still big enough to really take advantage of the QD-OLED panel and its brightness.
The software on Sony’s A95L gets a bit interesting here. We’re looking at Google TV and Dolby Vision HDR being included. Google TV is interesting since it gives you just about every app and game you could want, including Netflix, Max, and YouTube. As well as support for Google Assistant and Google Cast.
Sony A95L OLED – Amazon
Best Budget TV: Roku Plus Series
Roku’s Plus series of TVs are good TVs that won’t break the bank
This year, Roku debuted its very first branded smart TVs. With the Roku Plus and Roku Select. The Roku Plus is the higher-end of those TV lines, but both are fairly inexpensive, to be quite honest. The Roku Plus is available in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch starting at $499. When I first started using this TV, I was wondering how far $500 could go with a smart TV, and as it turns out, quite far.
First off, this is a QLED TV. Which is already surprising to see on a sub-$500 smart TV in 2023. So it should go without saying that the visuals on this TV are pretty incredible. Not quite as good as the QD-OLED panels on the options above, of course. If I didn’t know the price of this TV, I would have said that it was a $750 or higher TV, but it’s not. A good reason for why the picture quality is so good here, is due to the local array dimming here, which helps keep the colors the way they were meant to be. And the black levels where they should be, black instead of gray.
It’s not all good with the Roku Plus, obviously to get to this low price tag Roku did need to leave out some features. Like 120Hz, and HDMI 2.1. While not having HDMI 2.1 and the ability to game at 4K120 does indeed hurt, many people looking to buy this TV, that’s not on their list of features. Not to mention, HDMI 2.1 is still a newer port and is quite expensive to add in. As far as the panel itself not being 120Hz, that does suck, but I can tell you, in day-to-day usage you won’t notice this. Unless you are watching a lot of sports, and even then it really only makes a difference for some sports that are fast paced like Basketball of Soccer. While using this TV, I never once thought “I wish this TV had 120Hz”.
The Roku Plus is a good TV, but not the best TV, however we do think it is the best sub-$500 smart TV on the market today.
Roku Plus Series – Best Buy
Honorable Mention: Amazon Omni QLED Fire TV Series
The Amazon Omni Fire TV Series is a really good option if you’re a Fire TV user over Roku. This is another cheap, but very good, QLED TV on the market, with Fire TV built-in. I actually have this TV in my living room and have been using it for over a year so far. I absolutely love this TV and do think it is a great value for the money. Amazon’s Omni QLED series starts at $449, and comes in five sizes now: 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch.
So what’s so great about this TV? Well first of all, if you are heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem like myself, it does everything you could want. There’s hands-free Alexa built-in, this allows you to invoke Alexa at anytime, without the TV even being on. It also has Fire TV built-in, giving you access to all of your favorite apps as well as Live TV.
Amazon Omni QLED Fire TV – Amazon
Best 8K TV: Samsung QN900C
Samsung’s QN900C delivers all of the pixels you could ever want on a TV
The Samsung QN900C is arguably the best 8K TV you can buy from any brand right now. Samsung is really the only one pushing 8K TV right now, and this one is a beauty. It’s another Neo QLED TV, which means it does have that mini LED backlight, making it nice and bright, while also having a ton of pixels.
To really appreciate 8K resolution, you need to see it on a larger screen. And for that reason, Samsung only offers the QN900C in three sizes. Those are 65-, 75- and 85-inches. Pricing does start at $4,997. So this is not a cheap TV, but it is one that you can keep for the next decade or longer. So think of it as an investment over anything else. We’d recommend buying the 75-inch or 85-inch model, since the benefits of 8K aren’t really seen unless the display is 75-inches or larger.
Just to put things in perspective, an 8K TV like this one has over 33 million pixels, and has a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320. That’s a whole lot of pixels, and it just makes everything look so much better. Surprisingly, viewing angles are quite decent on this 8K TV, which is not something we can always say. On top of that, it is one of the brightest TVs on the market today, with a peak brightness of 2,300 nits.
In our experience, local dimming has worked extremely well on the QN900C. Providing the viewer with exceptional black levels, with minimal blooming. This is one of the few areas where a Samsung OLED TV would have an edge. However, the QN900C comes closer to OLED than any of Samsung’s other QLED offerings right now. Part of this is due to the many more pixels included in this TV.
Samsung claims that this TV is the “greatest of all time”, we’re not quite sure we’d call it the GOAT from our experience, but it is pretty close. Perhaps the best TV you can purchase today, but that might change in a few months (with CES 2024 coming up). It’s not just the stunning display panel that makes Samsung think this TV is the GOAT however.
Samsung’s incredible Gaming Hub is included on this TV. It makes it super easy to jump into different cloud gaming services like NVIDIA GeForce Now, Amazon Luna and Xbox Game Pass. It’s incredible how fast you can turn on the TV and jump into a game on any of these services. The combination of the QN900C and Samsung’s Gaming Hub has me rethinking whether I’ll ever buy another gaming console.
This is a bigger TV, but it is still razor thin, making it incredible that Samsung was able to include such incredible Dolby Atmos-capable speakers here. Just sitting in front of the QN900C, you’ll be blown away both visually and aurally.
Samsung QN900C – Best Buy
Honorable Mention: Samsung QN800A
There’s not many TV makers making 8K TVs like Samsung is, so it makes sense to see them here with the best 8K TV and the honorable mention. This TV is still not that cheap, but it is a bit older. Prices for the QN800A start at $2,497 for this TV, and it is available in 65-, 75- and 85-inch models.
The 8K display on the QN800A is pretty incredible. It does have fantastic peak brightness in SDR as well as HDR, and the 8K resolution does make text and images crisp and clear. But there is a downside here, and that comes from local dimming. Unfortunately, the local dimming does cause blooming around bright objects. This is going to be more noticeable with a dark or black background. The contrast ratio is also lower than most other VA panel TVs, in our experience. It is still a really great TV to take a look at, especially if you’re looking to make the jump over to 8K resolution.
Samsung QN800A – Amazon
Best OLED TV: LG G3 OLED
The brightest and best OLED is the LG G3
For the longest time LG was the best OLED TV on the market. They didn’t have much competition, since they made all of the OLED panels used by competitors, but now that Samsung is getting into OLED TVs, there is some competition, and that forced LG to step it up a bit. The LG G3 OLED evo Smart TV is the result of that. A fantastic looking OLED TV, that starts at $1,996. It also comes in four sizes: 55-, 65-, 77- and 83-inches.
If you’re debating on buying this TV over another TV, just take a look at this one at your local Best Buy, and you’ll see why this is the one you should buy. It has such a great picture here, with many saying it’s the best picture quality on a TV so far. Of course, that will all change when the 2024 TVs come out next year. But right now, this is the best picture quality you can get. We also found that it had superb contrast and off-angle image. Meaning that you can have a party over for the Super Bowl and everyone will have a good viewing angle.
LG’s G3 is also surprisingly bright. This is a big deal for an OLED TV, because they are generally somewhat dark, this is because each pixel is backlit, allowing for better color reproduction, but that results in a darker picture altogether. This is rather surprising, since this is not a QD-OLED TV, but great to see. And it’s something you really can see.
Now the software on LG’s TVs might not be for everyone. It can be somewhat tough to navigate, but thankfully, there is support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. This lets you just ask either assistant to open apps and start playing something. LG uses webOS for their TV software, yes that webOS.
LG G3 OLED – Amazon
Honorable Mention: Sony A95K BRAVIA XR OLED TV
The Sony A95K is a pretty pricey OLED TV, but if you want the best, here it is. It’s just a step behind the LG G3 above, due to the price, and the picture quality. Those are really the only two areas that the LG G3 OLED does better. Speaking of price, the A95K does start at $2,498, and comes in 55- or 65-inch.
In our time with the Sony A95K, we found that it was great to use in dark rooms, since it’s able to display deep blacks without any blooming around bright objects. This is something that a lot of OLED and even QLED TVs tend to suffer from. This is also a Sony TV, so of course it has all of the features for PlayStation 5. This includes HDMI 2.1, variable refresh rate and auto-low latency mode. This all makes for a fantastic gaming experience.
Sony A95K – Amazon
Best QLED TV: Samsung QN90B
Samsung has built some stunning QLED TVs over the years, but none of them compare to the QN90B
Over the last few years, many more people have been gravitating towards QLED for their choice in TV display technologies. And it’s not hard to see why. QLED offers a lot of the same benefits as OLED, at a cheaper price and without burn-in. Samsung has really spear-headed this trend change, and the Samsung QN90B is probably the best QLED TV ever made, so far.
The QN90B starts at $1,197, so as you can see, about $500 cheaper than the best OLED TV. It also comes in a bunch of sizes, including 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75- and 83-inch. Making it perfect to put in any room. We’d recommend the 43- or 50-inch model for a bedroom, and a 75-inch for the living room or a man cave. So you can really take advantage of that amazing display panel.
In fact, when we tried out the QN90B, we found that it was the best non-OLED picture quality available today. That is quite telling, considering there are some really good TVs out there. We also found that it was quite bright, all while not adding any blooming around bright objects on a dark or black background.
Not only does this TV have a brilliant display and picture quality, but it is also great for gaming. Playing my PlayStation 5 on this TV has been an incredible experience. But even if you don’t have a console, you can play Amazon Luna, NVIDIA GeForce Now and more, with an incredible experience. If you’re into cloud gaming, this is the best TV for that.
Samsung QN90B – Amazon
Honorable Mention: TCL QM8 QLED TV
Enter our first Mini LED QLED TV, the TCL QM8. This is an exceptionally bright and color accurate TV, and if I were to buy a TV right now, this would be it. The TCL QM8 is one of the more expensive TVs from the company, with a starting price of $1,299, and it comes in three sizes: 65-, 75-, and 85-inch.
The TCL QM8 has extraordinary brightness, if you’re someone that watches a lot of darker movies and TV shows, then this is the TV to get. It also has plenty of gaming features, and the Google TV platform on-board. So you don’t need to worry about getting a streaming device to plug into this TV. The only downside here is the sound, but you should be buying a soundbar for a TV like this anyways.
TCL QM8 – Best Buy