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Best TV and streamer gifts for the 2020 holidays

This year more than ever, a new streaming player – or if you're feeling generous, a whole new TV – makes the perfect gift.

David Katzmaier Editorial 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.
Expertise A 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.
David Katzmaier
4 min read

If you're looking for an amazing holiday gift idea for 2020, when people are spending more time at home than ever, a new TV would truly deliver. But a new media streamer, which is a lot less expensive, would also pack quite the punch. There's still time to get a streamer shipped to make it on Dec. 25, although for a new TV you might have to visit a store. Don't worry -- most of them offer curbside pickup.

CNET's TV and streamer reviews home in on high-value products – after all, not even a TV lover wants to shell out a ton of cash just to stream Stranger Things. That's the goal of this list too, which we hope will be a big help for picking out TV gifts even if you're facing challenging times as you head into the holiday shopping season. Starting at $30 (or less during holiday sales), you can give the TV fan on your list a thoughtful gift to remember, and something to watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime for years to come. 

Amazon Fire TV Lite

Best budget streamer

When it comes to covering the basics Amazon's Fire TV Lite is a unique gift idea that delivers. Amazon's interface isn't as strong as Roku's and it doesn't do 4K, but it has solid Alexa integration and is one of the rare platforms that supports nearly all major streaming apps. The one exception is Peacock, which isn't available yet on Fire TV. For streaming your favorite shows on a budget, however, there is not much more you can ask for. 

Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With must-have features like 4K HDR streaming, a voice remote control that can control your TV's volume and power, plus compatibility with Apple's AirPlay system, this is our favorite streamer for the money. Other options in this price range like the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Chromecast with Google TV are solid Christmas gift ideas too, but Roku's simplicity wins the holidays -- especially now that it has HBO Max.

Read our Roku Streaming Stick Plus review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

For those looking for an alternative to Roku, Google's new Chromecast with Google TV has emerged as an excellent option to give to your loved ones this holiday season. Priced at $50, the dongle includes an actual remote and app interface, support for 4K HDR with Dolby Vision and Atmos, and strong integration with other Google services including Assistant, YouTube TV and Google Photos. Read our Chromecast with Google TV review

Read our Chromecast with Google TV review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 2020 version of the Roku Ultra added Dolby Vision support and improved performance while keeping the price at $100. That's $80 cheaper than our previous pick, the Apple TV 4K. Throw in an Ethernet port, AirPlay 2 support, an excellent interface and a fantastic remote-finder feature and the Ultra is our new pick for the best high-end streamer. 

Read our Roku Ultra (2020) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET
Sizes 55-, 65-, 75-inchTV Technology QLED with Mini-LEDSmart TV Yes (Roku TV)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 4

Now we're getting into super-generous gift-giving territory, but if you can swing this great gift, your recipient will be a happy camper. The 6-Series is a seriously excellent TV 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, there's that excellent Roku TV operating system again.

Sizes: 55-, 65-, 75-inch. (The price shown below is for the 65-inch size.)

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

Vizio M-Series Quantum

Second-best TV for the money

If you don't want to be quite so generous as giving TCL 6-Series above, this is the runner-up for best TV for the money. The TCL has a better picture and better smart HDTV system so it's a superior TV overall, but it's also a couple hundred dollars more expensive, and it doesn't come in a budget-friendly 50-inch size like this Vizio.

Sizes: 50-, 55-, 65-inch. (The price shown below is for the 65-inch size.)

Read our Vizio M7-Series Quantum (2020) review.

David Katzmaier/CNET


Best high-end TV

What's that you say? You just want to give somebody 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. New for this year it's available in a 48-inch size too, perfect for fitting under the tree, and its high-end gaming features go perfectly with an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 or, let's face it, both.

Sizes: 48-, 55-, 65-, 77-inch. (The price shown below is for the 65-inch size.)

Read our LG OLEDCX series review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The TCL 4-Series can't beat any of the TVs above on image quality -- its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don't do anything to help the picture -- but it's perfectly fine for most viewers, especially at this price. Despite its extreme affordability the 4-Series still includes the equivalent of a Roku Streaming Stick Plus built-in, with a single, super-simple remote to control streaming and the TV itself.

Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-inch. (The price shown below is for the 43-inch size.)

Read our TCL S425 series (Roku TV) review.

More holiday gift coverage