If you haven't bought a new TV in a few years, you may be surprised to learn that a 55-inch screen is considered medium-size or even smaller these days. At the high end of this market, just abouthas a 55-inch size, and it's often the smallest screen size in the line. Companies have been offering for -- we're talking $400 for a perfectly decent budget 55-inch TV -- and sales take the prices even lower.
Many of these TVs come with all the bells and whistles, including, , , , , a plethora of ports, and even to go with a or . Oh, and most of these options for the best 55-inch TV are smart, which gives you access to all of your beloved streaming channels and TV episodes without a second device.
In my view the 55-inch size offers more choice than any other, and there are a lot of quality options. Let me help you decide by listing my favorites.
The list below represents the best 55-inch TV options I've reviewed in CNET's test lab (), where I compare the pros and cons of various TV sets 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 , , and .
- If you're worried that will have some great feature or picture quality enhancement you'll miss out on if you buy a TV now, relax. TVs are generally a mature technology and our advice is that if you need a new TV now, .
- Some of the TVs below came out in 2020. New 2021 models are now available and we've reviewed a handful so far. For the 2020 TVs on this list I've included a "2021 outlook" section with everything I know about the new models.
- The images below are generally of 65-inch TVs since that's the size we review at CNET. But the reviews also apply to the 55-inch versions.
- Don't see what you're looking for below? Here are all the TVs I've reviewed, with more coming soon.
- This list is updated periodically.
No TV I've ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The 2020 TCL 6-Series 4K UHD TV has even better picture 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. This QLED TV is also a solid gaming TV choice for gamers with a 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.
2021 outlook: TCL says this TV will remain on sale through most of 2021. I don't expect it to be replaced until at least the fall, and it might stick around the entire year. TCL will also sell an 8K version of the 6-Series, but I don't think it will be worth the money.
What's that you say? You just want the best 55-inch TV and can afford whatever you want? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests, the LG G1 OLED TV is the best TV I've ever reviewed, with world-beating contrast, perfect wide viewing angle and excellent uniformity. This OLED TV beats the picture of the LG CX below, barely, and offers a slimmer, more wall-friendly design. If you can afford it, this is the 55-inch TV to get.
Currently this OLED TV is available for hundreds less than the G1 above, and with picture quality that's almost as good, the CX from 2020 is a better choice overall for people who want a really nice TV but don't have money to burn. The G1 was slightly brighter in my measurements and has slightly better video processing, but it was really hard to tell the difference. The only real advantage to the G1 is that slim styling, but the CX is pretty slim itself.
2021 outlook: The new model, designated C1, costs a few hundred dollars more than the CX. I haven't reviewed it yet. It adds some minor new features and improved processing but I expect image quality to be largely the same as the CX's.
Looking for a high-end TV with spectacular image quality, but don't want an OLED? The Samsung QN90A is your best bet. This TV uses QLED tech augmented by mini-LED, for a brighter image than any OLED TV. The spectacular contrast of OLED still won out in my side-by-side tests, but the QN90A comes closer than ever. It's also a bit cheaper than 2021 OLED TVs, but not cheaper than the 2020 CX.
Roku is our favorite platform for streaming apps like Netflix, and it's even better baked into this 4K TV. Picture quality on this TCL 55-inch television set can't beat any of the models above -- 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.
Aside from the TCL 6-Series above, this is the runner-up for best TV for the money. The TCL has better picture quality and a better smart HDTV system so it offers a superior TV viewing experience overall, but it's also a couple hundred dollars more expensive. If you can't afford the 6-Series, this Vizio is a very good runner-up.
2021 outlook: The successor to this TV is the M55Q7-J. It looks very similar on paper -- the major difference is a new voice remote. I haven't reviewed the new model yet but since it currently costs $800, I doubt it will be worth the price difference compared with the 2020 version.
Vizio's V-series is our favorite budget alternative to the TCL 4-Series Roku TV at this size. We liked Roku's smart TV system better (sound familiar?), but the V-series has some advantages, including a better remote with voice and more advanced picture settings. Picture quality between the two was basically the same, so if you don't have a preference, it makes sense to get the cheapest one.
Samsung is the TV brand that sells more TVs than anyone, and one of its most popular is the Q60A series. Its sleek design stands out compared to the other TVs on this list -- although the ultrathin OLED models are even sleeker. It offers better features and image quality than budget models like the TCL 4-Series, and it comes in a vast array of sizes. The TVs above are all superior values, but if you want a Samsung TV and can't afford the QN90A, this is a great choice.
Other stuff to know about buying a new 55-inch TV
I'm sure you'd be happy with any 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 way the built-in smart TV system interacts with your streaming apps, you can always add a media streamer. After all, there are with more amazing content than ever before.
- Streamers are cheap and easy to use, and they 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. .
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.