If TVs were sold on the clothing rack, a 55-inch TV would be labeled Medium. "Wait," you say, "my TV is 42 inches and that screen seems pretty big." Welcome to 2020, 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, with good picture quality, for a little over $300 -- or maybe a little under. 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. As such, upscaling is now a necessity, and there are a lot of quality options. Let me help you decide by listing my favorites in this buyer's guide.
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 for the best 55-inch TVs, with the following notes to keep in mind:
- Looking for a different size? Check out our comparisons of 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.
TVs with an OLED screen are the picture-quality kings, but they're not cheap. The TVs' OLED displays use organic light-emitting diode technology to deliver brightness, contrast and viewing angles that no LCD TV (or QLED) can match. Furthermore, its LG Magic remote control offers voice control and other channel-surfing necessities making 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 smart TV operating system -- which really accommodates all of the top streaming services well -- is our hands-down favorite for a seamless viewing experience. Yeah, this is one of, if not the best 55-inch TV. Read the TCL 55R625 (2019 Roku TV) review.
What's that you say? You just want the best, highest-end TV and money is no object? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests the C9 is the best quality TV I've ever reviewed, barely beating the 2018 models like the B8 (above), which is a superior value -- almost as good and much less expensive. That said, there are people for whom this is the smart option. The LG 2019 OLED TV also has HDMI ports with 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 levels, which are integral to the viewing experience. 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 or color-- but it offers a fine viewing experience for most people, especially at this price. Read the TCL 55S425 review.
With a refresh rate of 120 hertz, Samsung's QLED TVs are basically fancy, high-quality LCDs, so 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 to watch your content on an OLED, the Q70 is an excellent choice. A note to gamers and people who need to connect a Blu-ray player or have lots of streaming devices, there are four HDMI ports and two USB ports. 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. The B9 improves on the B8 with more extras including HDMI 2.1 features and support for smart voice control via 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
I'm sure you'd be happy with any one of the TVs above, but a new 55-inch TV set can be a big investment, so maybe you're looking for a bit more information. Here's a quick and dirty list.
- 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 or resolution.
- If you don't like the the way the built-in smart TV system interacts with your streaming apps, you can always add a media streamer. After all, there are more streaming services with more amazing content than ever before (have you started the best media streamers. yet?!) Streamers are cheap and easy to use, and receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs. See our picks of
- 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.
Got all that? Great! Now grab your remote control and settle in for some high-end TV viewing.
Looking for even more info? Here's everything to know about.
Originally published earlier this year. Updated periodically with new recommendations.