If TVs were sold on the clothing rack, 55-inch would be Medium. "Wait," you say, "my TV is 42 inches and it seems pretty big." Welcome to 2019, where TV size is cheap. The proliferation and popularity of LCD TVs has led to ever-lower prices for ever-larger screens. Now you can get a perfectly decent 55-inch TV for a little over $300 -- or maybe a little under, once the Black Friday sales kick in. And on the higher end of the market, just about every nice TV series has a 55-inch size. Typically it's the smallest one.
That means this size offers more choice than any other. Let me help you decide by listing my favorites.
The list below represents the best TVs I've reviewed in CNET's test lab, where I compare them side-by-side to see which ones are most worth buying. Here are my latest recommendations, with the following notes to keep in mind.
- Looking for a different size? Check out: 32-inch TVs, 43-inch TVs, 65-inch TVs and 75-inch TVs.
- The images below are generally of 65-inch TVs since that's the size we review. But the review still applies to the 55-inch version.
- Don't see what you're looking for below? Here are all the TVs I've reviewed, with more coming soon.
OLED TVs are the picture quality kings, but they're not cheap. The TVs' OLED displays use organic light-emitting diode technology to deliver brightness and contrast and viewing angles that no LCD TV (or QLED) can match. Even in fall 2019, this OLED TV from 2018 is still the one to buy. With image quality close to the 2019 C9 (below) and a price that's hundreds less, the B8 has aged beautifully. That said, we expect the 2019 B9 (also below) to fall in price soon, so the B8's place at the top of this list won't last forever. Read the LG OLED55B8P review.
No TV I've ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The latest version of the TCL 6-Series has even better image quality than its predecessor, thanks to improved color, and its well-implemented full-array local dimming helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. As if that's not enough, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite. Read the TCL 55R625 (2019 Roku TV) review.
What's that you say? You just want the best, money no object? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests the C9 is the best TV I've ever reviewed, barely beating the 2018 models like the B8 (above), but the B8 is a superior value -- almost as good and much less expensive. This 2019 OLED TV also has all the HDMI 2.1 future-proofing that some high-end buyers, particularly gamers, desire. Read the LG OLED55C9P review.
Aside from the TCL 6-Series above, no TV offers this much picture for this little cash. In my comparisons, the TCL won slightly in a couple of important areas, in particular HDR brightness and black level. I'd also recommend the TCL to streaming-centric viewers because of its superior Roku smart TV system. All of that said, the Vizio is still an excellent choice and sometimes available for less than the TCL -- just make sure you're getting the M8, not the M7. And stay tuned for upcoming reviews of Vizio's other 2019 models. Read the Vizio M558-G1 review.
Roku is our favorite platform for streaming apps like Netflix, and it's even better baked into the TV. This TCL 4-Series can't beat any of the models above on image quality -- its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don't do anything to help the picture -- but it's perfectly fine for most people, especially at this price. Read the TCL 55S425 review.
Samsung's QLED TVs are basically fancy LCDs -- don't confuse them with OLEDs. The Q70R has an excellent picture and plenty of Samsung design and features goodies for a price that's relatively affordable, albeit not exactly "budget." If you're not interested in a TCL or Vizio and don't want to splurge for an OLED, the Q70 is an excellent choice. Read the Samsung QN55Q70R review.
Although it's the third OLED TV on this list, the B9 could be the best TV of the year -- as soon as its price drops this holiday season or the B8 from 2018 finally sells out. The B9 improves on the B8 with more extras including HDMI 2.1 features and support for Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2. It fell just a bit short of the C9 in image quality in our tests, but the differences are minuscule -- and since it's a couple hundred dollars less expensive than the C9, it's a better value. Read the LG OLED55B9P review.
Other stuff to know about buying a new 55-inch TV
I'm sure you'd be happy with any one of the TVs above, but a new set can be a big investment, so maybe you're looking for a bit more information. Here's a quick and dirty list.
- Prices for 2019 TVs will start hitting their lowest points around late November (for Black Friday) and into the holiday season. Until then, many of the 2018 TVs will be better values.
- In my opinion, bigger is better. Big TVs are cheaper than ever, and your money is best spent on large screen sizes rather than a slight upgrade in image quality.
- If you don't like the built-in smart TV system, you can always add a media streamer. They're cheap and easy to use, and receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs. See our picks of the best media streamers.
- Most built-in speakers sound terrible, so it's worthwhile to pair your new set with a soundbar or other speaker system. Good ones start at around $100. See the best soundbars.
Looking for even more info? Here's everything to know about.
Originally published earlier this year. Updated periodically with new recommendations.