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Best TVs for the holidays 2018

If you've decided to give a big screen this season, we've got picks for every budget.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A brand-new big-screen TV makes a heck of a nice gift. The kind of thing they'll enjoy for hours every day, for years. Sure it will set you back more than a reindeer sweater or a smart speaker, but it'll probably get more use too.

If you've decided to put that special someone forever in your debt by gifting them a TV, you should make it a good one. And we don't necessarily mean an expensive one. 

The TVs below represent our five favorite picks at various price levels -- generosity levels, if you will -- among the best TVs we've reviewed in 2018. They come in sizes from small-bedroom-tiny to can't-fit-under-any-Christmas-tree, offer image quality from "good enough" to the best we've ever tested, and put a hurt on your gift budget from paper cut to getting run over by a sleigh. 

But can you really put a price on eternal gratitude?

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Budget streaming pick: TCL S305 or S405 series Roku TV

Sarah Tew/CNET

Price: $150 and up

Sizes: 32- to 55-inches

Technically from 2017 but still current, these TVs comprise two series: the cheaper, smaller S305, which lack 4K resolution, and the larger, slightly more-expensive S405. Both rock for people who prize streaming and convenience over image quality. The picture is fine, but what really sets them apart are dirt-cheap prices and Roku TV, our favorite Smart TV system at any price. These sets are perfect for a bedroom or secondary space.

See the 32-inch 32S305 at Amazon
See the 40-inch 40S305 at Amazon
See the 55-inch 55S405 at Amazon

Budget picture quality pick: Vizio E series

Sarah Tew/CNET

Price: $330 and up

Sizes: 43 to 75 inches

If you'd rather give a budget TV that could please a home theater nut, ditch those TCLs and check out the Vizio E series. No, Vizio's Smart TV system can't hold a candle to Roku, but the E's image blows those TCLs out of the water. These are the cheapest TVs with full-array local dimming, and trust us, it makes a huge difference. And speaking of huge, who doesn't want to see their name after "To:" on a 75-inch TV-sized box? Just remember to get extra wrapping paper.

See the 43-inch E43-F1 at Best Buy
See the 55-inch E55-F1 at Best Buy
See the 65-inch E65-F1 at Best Buy

Midrange pick: TCL 6 series

Sarah Tew/CNET

Price: $600 and up

Sizes: 55 and 65 inches

Nothing says happy holidays like a gigantic TV, and the TV that made CNET editors happiest this year -- at least in terms of picture quality for the money -- is the TCL 6 series. It belts out a seriously awesome picture for much less than you'd think, outperforming any cheaper TV, including that Vizio E series, and even beating TVs that cost a lot more. The Roku TV operating system, complete with Dolby Vision 4K HDR streaming, is just icing on the candy cane.

See the 55-inch 55R615 at Best Buy
See the 65-inch 65R617 at Amazon

High-end 65-inch pick: Vizio P-Series Quantum

Sarah Tew/CNET

Price: $2,100

Size: (duh) 65-inches

You and your gift recipient might not think "high-end" and "Vizio" belong in the same sentence, but wait until they unwrap the Quantum. This TV --only available in that one healthy size -- performs better than anything else at its price, with searingly bright highlights and precise local dimming that combines to provide a real improvement over that TCL 6 series, especially with HDR sources. It's the next-best TV gift you can give that isn't a, well, scroll down.

See the 65-inch PQ65-F1 at Best Buy

Super high-end pick: LG OLEDB8P series

Sarah Tew/CNET

Price: $1,700 and $2,600

Size: 55- and 65-inches

When you care enough and can afford to give the very best, this is it. LG's OLED televisions have been the reigning picture quality kings for years, and the latest versions are sure to warm any videophile's icy soul. The B8P delivers perfect black levels and an excellent bright room picture along with the style of a super-thin cabinet and a price that, among elite TVs, can be viewed as almost affordable. Almost.

See the 55-inch OLED55B8P at Amazon
See the 65-inch OLED65B8P at Amazon

Of course we've reviewed and liked a bunch of other TVs this year, and they'd make pretty sweet gifts too. If you don't see that perfect set among these five, check out our expanded list. Seasons screenings!

CNET's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: Gift recommendations at all price points

Black Friday 2018: All of the best deals so far