Best Smart TV for 2023: Top Picks From Roku, Amazon, Google and More
This holiday season, it's smart to remember that most TVs are smart TVs. These are our favorites.
Updated Nov. 20, 2023 9:00 a.m. PT
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
Reviews ethics statement
David KatzmaierEditorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
ExpertiseA 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics.Credentials
Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
Sarah Lord covers TVs and home entertainment. Prior to joining CNET, Sarah served as the tech and electronic reviews fellow at Insider, where she wrote about everything from smart watches and wearables to tablets and e-readers. She began her career by writing laptop reviews as an intern and subsequent freelancer at Tom's Hardware. She is also a professional actor with many credits in theater, film and television.
ExpertiseTVs, Home Entertainment, Streaming, ComputersCredentials
Member of Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity Association
The holiday season is the best time to get a good price on a new TV, so if you're in the market, now is a smart time for comparison shopping. These days, most new TVs come equipped with smart capabilities, which let you access streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus. And unlike TVs of the past, you won't even need to get a dedicated streaming device like a Roku. But it can be hard to distinguish what separates a decent smart TV from an outstanding one, so we're here to help.
Our reviews take smart TV systems into account, but we think picture quality for the money is usually more important when buying a new TV. That's because you can always "replace" the TV's built-in system with a good streaming device, most of which cost less than $50. The exception is for budget TVs, where the price of the new streaming device can make up a significant percentage of the cost. For this list, we weighted the importance of the smart TV system higher for budget model TVs.
At CNET, I review TVs side by side in a state-of-the-art testing lab, taking hundreds of measurements with specialized equipment and comparing gaming, home theater and bright-room image quality. My 20 years of experience as a TV reviewer helps me determine not just the best smart TV overall but also the best smart TV in your price range.
Our list below is generally arranged in order of which TVs provide the best picture for the money, but we also note how much we like (or dislike) the built-in smart TV system.
What is the best smart TV right now?
After testing some of the best TVs for the money this year, the TCL QM8 series (2023) sits at the top of the list for a number of reasons. It offers superb picture quality overall, all the features you need in a modern television -- including 4K/120Hz input and variable refresh rate that can get the most out of consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X -- and an affordable price tag. When a friend asks me what TV to buy from 65 to 98 inches, I tell them the TCL QM8 series.
There are plenty of other excellent choices out there, however, so even though the QM8 is my current favorite for most people, it might not be right for your preferences or budget.
TCL has topped our list of the best TVs for the last few years but the QM8 is something different, and even better than before. In my comparison tests it stood out with superior brightness and impact while still maintaining excellent contrast -- a combination no other TV could match at this price. The key is mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming. It also has a sleek design with a center-mount stand. The operating system is Google TV, which I don't like as much as Roku TV, but it's still a solid smart TV. This model replaces the TCL 6-Series Roku TV from last year.
The main downside of the TCL QM8 is that it's only available in large sizes (65 inches and up). If you're looking for a 55-inch TV, I recommend the Hisense U8K instead. Note that prices shown here are for the 65-inch size in the QM8 series.
If you're looking for the best smart TV for the money and the TCL QM8 is just too big, the Hisense U8K should be your go-to. I compared the two 2023 TVs side-by-side, and while I liked the QM8 just a bit better, the U8K has one medium-size advantage: a 55-inch screen option. So if 65 is too large for your room, your budget or your tastes, the choice between the two is simple: Get the 55-inch Hisense UK8.
Both offer excellent image quality and affordable prices thanks to mini-LED backlights and full-array local dimming, as well as similar gaming features and the Google TV operating system. And both cost hundreds less than you'd have to pay to get similar image quality from a better-known brand.
Note that while I tested the 65-inch size in the U8K series, prices shown here are for the 55-inch size.
The picture quality of the TCL 4-Series Roku TV was only a slight step behind the Vizio V-Series (below) in our 2023 budget TV test, but we liked its Roku smart TV system better than Vizio's SmartCast, so the TCL gets the top spot on this list. The 4-Series lacks the Dolby Vision, Bluetooth connectivity and AMD FreeSync with a variable refresh rate, all of which the Vizio offers, but in our book superior smart TV streaming is more important at the budget level.
Excellent smart TV system
Image quality and features lag some entry-level TVs
Note that TCL has been selling the 4-Series for the last few years with little to no change in image quality or features in our tests, although it has recently added some larger screen sizes, including an 85-inch option.
When we compared the best budget TVs, the picture quality of Vizio V-Series clearly emerged as the leader of the pack. The Vizio offered the most balanced and accurate picture during our comparisons, and it comes with some useful extras such as Dolby Vision support, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth compatibility and variable refresh rate for potentially smoother gaming.
The biggest downside of the Vizio is its smart TV platform, Vizio SmartCast. It's crowded, slow and littered with ads for platforms such as Tubi and Kidoodle TV. That's why the TCL 4-Series with Roku gets the top slot. That said, if you value its image quality and extra features, you can always add a separate streaming device to this Vizio.
Competition among TVs in the middle pricing band is heating up, and the Plus Series is the latest entrant in 2023. Unlike the TCL Roku TVs higher on this list, this one is all Roku, with no other brands on board. It adds a couple of step-up extras, including QLED and full-array local dimming, which help deliver a better picture than the TCL 4-Series, for example. It's not as impressive as the Vizio MQX, though, since it lacks 120Hz for gaming and worse picture quality overall. If you value those extras, then the Vizio is worth saving for, but if not the Roku Plus Series is a very good value.
Good picture quality thanks to local dimming
Great smart TV system
Lacks 120Hz refresh rate and other gaming extras
Not as bright as some similarly priced TVs
This is the first TV Roku has produced under its own brand, as opposed to partnering with a brand like TCL, Sharp, Pioneer or Hisense. The company also released a version with fewer features and no local dimming, called the Roku Select Series.
The C3 represents better picture quality than any non-OLED TV on this list at a price that's definitely higher, but still not stratospheric. Its perfect black levels, unbeatable contrast and superb off-angle viewing kept it a notch above the mini-LED models in my comparison tests, and while its overall brightness isn't quite as impressive, it's still an incredible performer in all kinds of room lighting. The C3 is also one of the lightest TVs we've ever reviewed thanks to carbon-fiber construction; the 65-inch version weighs just 37 pounds with its stand.
The prices shown here are for the 65-inch size of the LG C3 series.
Don't look now, but there's a new picture quality champ in town for 2023. The LG OLED G3 delivers the best image quality I've ever tested in my 20-plus years of doing TV reviews. It's brighter than any other OLED TV and has a superior antireflective screen, for incredible performance in both bright and dark rooms. Compared directly to the Samsung S95C those traits helped it overcome a slight color deficit to the Samsung and propel it into best-ever territory.
Of course, both it and the S95C cost hundreds more than less-expensive OLED TVs like the LG C3, and for most people the difference isn't worth it.
Best picture quality we've ever tested
Superb contrast and off-angle image
Best-in-class bright room performance
Slim, wall-friendly design
Samsung S95C has superior color
The G3 replaces the G2 from last year and has an improved screen technology called MLA (for Micro Lens Array) that LG says is responsible for the G3's superior brightness. The G3 series comes in four sizes (55-, 65-, 77- and 83-inch) but the largest 83-inch size lacks MLA, so I don't expect it to perform as well as the others.
I compared this TV side by side with the LG G3 above, and while I liked the G3 better overall, the Samsung S95C looked nearly as impressive. Its biggest advantage was color, thanks to Samsung's quantum dot-infused take on OLED technology, aka QD-OLED. The S95C's flowers, sunsets and other colorful objects looked a bit more natural and impressive than on the G3 or, frankly, any other OLED TV I've tested. The G3 showed excellent color, too, and looked brighter and better overall, but it was very close.
I also preferred Samsung's design, with its unique external One Connect input box, if that's a factor for you. Instead of inputs on the back panel, this TV houses them in a separate box that connects to the TV via a single cable, easing installation. The panel itself is also thinner than that of the G3.
Superb image quality with best-in-class color
Superb contrast and off-angle image
Excellent gaming features
Ultrathin panel with external input box
Competing LG G3 has superior overall picture
The S95C replaces the S95B from last year and is one of two QD-OLED series Samsung is making in 2023. The other, the S90C, isn't as bright, according to Samsung, and costs less and has standard inputs on the back panel.
Looking for a high-end TV with spectacular image quality, but don't want an OLED? The Samsung QN90B 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 our side-by-side tests, but the QN90B QLED screen comes closer than ever.
The older version of this TV, the QN90A, remains on sale for hundreds less. It's also an excellent performer but it's slightly dimmer than the QN90B. It also lacks some of the 2022 model's features, including the new game hub with cloud gaming.
Best non-OLED picture quality we've ever tested
Incredible brightness with minimal blooming
Stylish design, packed with features
Slightly worse contrast, off-angle and uniformity than OLED
Samsung produces a number of QLED TVs, but the QN90B is among the highest-end, aside from versions with 8K resolution. This is a 2022 model, but the 2023 version, the QN90C, looks similar in terms of features and while we haven't reviewed it, we expect it to deliver similar image quality. It's also significantly more expensive.
The prices shown below are for the 65-inch size.
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How CNET tests smart 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 use Portrait Displays CalMan Ultimate software to evaluate every TV we review. In every CNET TV review, three or more similar TVs are compared side by side in various lighting conditions playing different media, 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 other factors.
One important aspect of image quality we test is overall brightness. Here's how it compares in nits across select TVs listed above.
With all of the TVs available today, and all of the technical terms and jargon associated with television technology, it can be tough to figure out what's important. Here's a quick guide to help cut through the confusion.
Price: TVs range in price from $100 to more than $2,000. Smaller screens are cheaper, well-known brands are more expensive and spending more money can also get you better image quality. Most entry-level TVs have a good enough picture for most people, but TVs last a long time, so it might be worth spending more to get a better picture. It's also best to shop for a TV in the fall, when prices are lower.
Screen size: Bigger is better in our book. We recommend a size of at least 43 inches for a bedroom TV and at least 55 inches for a living room or main TV -- and 65 inches or larger is best. More than any other "feature," stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money. One of the most common post-TV-purchase complaints we've heard is from people who didn't go big enough. And we almost never hear people complain that their TV is too large.
Capability: Among entry-level TVs the most important feature is what kind of smart TV system the TV uses. Among midrange models, look for a feature including full-array local dimming, mini-LED and 120Hz refresh rate, which (unlike some other extras) do help improve the picture in our experience. And among high-end TVs, OLED technology is your best bet.
We'll post the answers to commonly asked TV questions below. If you have any others, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@dkatzmaier), or by clicking the little envelope icon on my CNET profile page.
What's the best smart TV system for streaming?
At CNET our favorite is Roku for its simplicity, while Google TV is our runner-up for its impressive integration with other Google services such as Google Photos and YouTube TV. Samsung TV's system is our third choice, with Amazon Fire TV and LG left as some of our least favorite options.
Amazon makes a full range of smart TVs that run on its Fire operating system. The Fire TV platform is not one of our favorites because ads are featured so prominently throughout. We just don't appreciate the TV becoming a giant rotating billboard for content or ads when in screensaver mode. In addition, we've found other TVs tend to have better picture quality than most Fire TVs.
Do smart TVs come with Alexa and Google?
Many smart TVs come with some kind of voice assistant. All Amazon Fire TVs come with Alexa built in, while Sony, TCL and Hisense TVs that run on Google's operating system offer Google Assistant. Many new Samsung and LG TVs come with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in as well. Roku TVs and Vizio TVs, meanwhile, respond to voice commands but don't work with Alexa or Google Assistant.
On most of these TVs you'll need to speak into the remote to use voice commands, but some also respond to hands-free "Alexa" or "Hey Google" wake words, just like a smart speaker. And many TVs can also be paired with a smart speaker, such as an Echo Dot or Google Nest Mini, to receive voice commands.
How big a TV should I get?
In our opinion bigger is better, and your money is best spent on large screen sizes rather than a slight upgrade in image quality. The answer also depends on room size and seating distance: If you have a big room and sit farther away, you'll want a bigger TV. The answer also depends on room size and seating distance.
How do I get the best TV sound?
Most TVs sound terrible because their thin cabinets don't have room for decent-size speakers or bass. If you want to get good sound you should buy an external audio system. Even an inexpensive soundbar will deliver much better audio quality than a TV's built-in speakers. The Roku Streambar is a good example of a device that integrates a streaming system with a soundbar into one product.