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If you're ready to upgrade your home theater with a new television, a 55-inch TV may fit the bill. You may be surprised to learn that a 55-inch screen is actually considered a medium-size TV these days. Even more interesting is that when you look at the high-end television market, every nice TV series not only has a 55-inch size, it's often the smallest size in the lineup. Companies have been offering ever-larger screens for lower prices  -- we're talking just over $400 for a perfectly decent 55-inch TV -- and sales can take the prices even lower. 

Many of these TVs come with all the bells and whistles we've come to expect, including full-array local dimming, OLED screens120Hz refresh rate4K UHD resolutionHDR (high dynamic range), a plethora of HDMI ports, and even high-end gaming features -- including variable refresh rate -- to go with a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. 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 shows without a second device. Talk about an optimal viewing experience!

In my view the 55-inch TV screen 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 (for 2021, that's my basement), 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 screen 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 reviews also apply to the 55-inch versions.
  • This list is updated periodically.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

No TV I've ever tested offers this much picture quality for as little cash. The TCL 6 Series has an excellent image 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 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.

This TV first came out in 2020 but will stay on sale throughout 2021 -- in fact it just got its holiday price cut -- and remains my top choice so far. TCL also sells an 8K version of the 6-Series, but I don't think it's worth the extra money, as well as a Google-powered version I have yet to review (although according to TCL its image quality is the same as this Roku version).

Read our TCL 6-Series (2020 Roku TV) review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

With picture quality as good as any TV I've ever tested and a price that's not too crazy, the LG C1 OLED TV is my go-to pick for people who prioritize picture and are willing to pay for it. It beats any non-OLED TV on this list, including the Samsung QN90A below, with its perfect black levels, unbeatable contrast and superb off-angle viewing. It also has the best gaming features, making it the perfect companion to an Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 or both. The C1 comes in the widest variety of sizes of any OLED TV, although the bigger models are really expensive.

Read our LG C1 series OLED TV review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

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 TV 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 QLED screen comes closer than ever.

Read our Samsung QN90A series (2021) review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

The three TVs above are amazing, but what if you can't afford that level of picture quality? The Vizio MQ7 is one of the least-expensive TVs to feature full-array local dimming, which lets it reproduce TV shows, movies and games with enough contrast and pop to do HDR justice. It's a 60Hz model, not 120Hz, but it still handles variable-refresh-rate games for extra smoothness. If you can't save up for the TCL 6-series, the Vizio MQ7 makes an excellent consolation prize.

Read our Vizio M-7 Series Quantum (2021) review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Read our TCL 4-series Roku TV (2021) review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

What's that you say? You just want the best TV and can afford whatever you want? Here you go. In my tests the LG G1 OLED TV and the cheaper C1 above were the best TVs I've ever reviewed, with unbeatable contrast, perfect wide viewing angle and excellent uniformity. The main advantage of the G1 is slimmer, more wall-friendly design compared to the C1, so if you value that style and can afford it, this is the TV to get.

Read our LG OLEDG1 series review.

 

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Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

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.

Read our Vizio V-series (2021) review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

With excellent picture quality, anchored by full-array local dimming and plenty of brightness to make HDR content shine, the X90J is Sony's answer to the TCL 6-Series and step-up Vizio models. This LED TV's sleek looks and the Google TV operating system score additional points, as does its next-gen console support (it has 4K/120fps inputs and Sony promises VRR... sometime) and built-in NextGen TV tuner. If you want an "S" brand, this is one of the best values we've tested.

Read our Sony X90J series (2021) review.

 

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

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.

Read our Samsung Q60A series (2021) review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

Most of the TVs on this list are bright enough for just about any room, but maybe you want a screen that's as bright as possible. The U8G outshines others in its price range and is basically as bright as the significantly more expensive Samsung QN90A. Its image quality falls a bit short in other areas and its selection of sizes is limited, but if raw brightness is what you crave, the U8G delivers.

Read our Hisense U8G series review.

 

55-inch TV FAQs

Is a 55-inch TV big enough?

It depends on your room size, seating distance and personal taste. For a standard master bedroom or smaller living room a 55-inch TV is fine, but for larger rooms we recommend a larger TV, say a 65- or even 75-inch model, if you can afford it. If you sit closer to the screen you don't need as large a TV for the best experience. For maximum theatrical impact, according to THX and SMPTE, you should be between 5.5 and 7 feet from a 55-inch screen, which is relatively close. Nearly every 55-inch TV has 4K resolution, and if you have 20/20 vision you can sit as close as about 4 feet and still not discern individual pixels. 

How wide is a 55-inch TV?

Most 55-inch TVs measure between 48 and 49 inches wide. Because the frames around newer TV screens are typically quite narrow, 55-inch TV widths don't vary much. Models with very slim frames are on the lower end -- the 55-inch LG G1 measures 48.2 inches wide for example, while the slightly thicker-framed 55-inch TCL 4-Series is 48.7 inches wide. If you're not planning to wall-mount the TV, you generally want the piece of furniture supporting the TV to measure at least as wide as the TV itself, and preferably a few inches wider. Refer to the manufacturer's website for exact dimensions of a particular 55-inch TV.

How much does a 55-inch TV weigh?

A 55-inch TV weighs between 25 and 50 pounds with its stand, but this varies significantly depending on the type of TV. The TCL 4-Series 55-inch TV weighs 24.9 pounds with stand, for example, while the LG C1 weighs twice as much at 50.7 pounds with stand. Removing the stand -- which often consists of a pair of little legs under the panel -- allows you to wall-mount the TV and reduces its weight slightly (stands weigh between 1 and 8 pounds). Shipping weight (box, accessories, etc.) of 55-inch TVs ranges from 35 to 63 pounds. Refer to the manufacturer's website for exact weights of a particular 55-inch TV.

How does CNET test TVs?

Our TV reviews follow a rigorous, unbiased evaluation process honed over nearly two decades of TV reviews. Our primary TV test lab has specialized equipment for measuring light and color, including a Konica Minolta CS-2000 spectroradiometer, a Murideo Sig-G 4K HDR signal generator and an AVPro Connect 8x8 4K HDR distribution matrix. We Portrait Displays CalMan Ultimate software to evaluate and calibrate every TV we review. In every CNET TV review, three or more similar TVs are compared side-by-side in various lighting conditions with different content, including movies, TV shows and games, across a variety of test categories, from color to video processing to gaming to HDR. Our reviews also account for design, features, smart TV performance, HDMI input and gaming compatibility and more.

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.

  • 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.
  • 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 2021

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