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If you haven't purchased a television in eons, you may be surprised to learn that a 55-inch TV is currently considered a medium or even a small screen size. LCD TVs are now so popular and numerous that consumers have been paying ever-lower prices for ever larger screens -- we're talking $300 for a perfectly decent budget 55-inch TV with the latest technology in picture quality and streaming. At the high end of this market, just about every nice TV series has a 55-inch size, and it's often the smallest in the line.

These TVs come with all the bells and whistles, including a high refresh rate, dynamic range, 4K resolution, local dimming, a plethora of HDMI ports and more -- everything you need to watch your favorite TV shows and movies. Oh, and most of them are smart, which gives you access to all of your beloved streaming content without using a second device.

TL; DR: The 55-inch 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.

The list below represents the best TVs I've reviewed in CNET's test lab, where I compare the pros and cons side-by-side to see which are most worth buying. Here are my latest recommendations for the best 55-inch TVs, periodically updated. Keep these points in mind as you look over my choices:

  • Looking for a different size? Check out our comparisons of 32-inch TVs, 43-inch TVs65-inch TVs and 75-inch TVs.
  • The images below are generally of 65-inch TVs since that's the size we review at CNET. 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.
Sarah Tew/CNET

OLED TVs are the picture quality kings, but they're not cheap. The TVs' OLED displays use organic light-emitting diode technology to deliver a contrast ratio, viewing angles, and a wide color gamut that no LCD TV (or QLED TV) can match. As the least expensive OLED TV, the B9 55-inch TV is our favorite overall for high-end shoppers even though it's a 2019 model. It fell just a bit short of the 2020 CX (below) in image quality in our tests, but the differences in picture quality are minuscule -- and since it's less expensive than the CX, it's a better value. Read the LG OLED55B9P review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

No TV I've ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The 2020 TCL 6-Series has even better image quality than its predecessor, thanks to mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming that helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. It's also a solid choice for gamers with a new THX mode that combines low input lag and high contrast. As if that's not enough, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite. Read the TCL 55R625 (2019 Roku TV) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What's that you say? You just want the best TV, money no object? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests, the 2020 LG CX is the best TV I've ever reviewed, barely beating the 2019 B9 -- which like other 2019 OLED TVs is mostly sold out these days.  Read the LG OLED55CXP review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Aside from the TCL 6-Series above, this is the runner-up for best TV for the money. The TCL has a better picture in a couple of important areas, in particular HDR brightness and contrast. I'd also recommend the TCL to streaming-centric viewers because of its superior Roku smart HDTV system. It's great for watching Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV and more. And finally this is a 2019 model, so you might want to wait a bit for my upcoming reviews of the 2020 version. Read the Vizio M558-G1 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku is our favorite platform for streaming apps and 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 high dynamic range (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.

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.

  • New 2020 TVs are available now but since TVs are generally a mature technology, a less-expensive 2019 version is usually just as good of a choice.
  • 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 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 Mandalorian yet?!) Streamers are cheap and easy to use, and they 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.

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 buying a new TV in 2020

More TV recommendations