Best TV for 2023: We Tested Samsung, LG, TCL, Vizio and More
Looking for a TV specific to your needs? Here are our picks for the best TVs of 2023 based on side-by-side comparisons at CNET's testing lab.
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.
Fall is best known for new TV shows, as well as NFL football, but it's also the time for new TVs. Black Friday sales are still a couple of months off, however, so if you can wait until then, you'll likely save compared to buying a new TV now. If you can't wait, however, we have plenty of good suggestions below.
At CNET, I review TVs side by side in a state-of-the-art testing lab, taking hundreds of measurements with specialized equipment, comparing gaming, home theater and bright-room image quality. My 20 years experience as a TV reviewer helps me determine not just the best TV overall but also the best TV in your price range.
The TCL 6-Series Roku TV sits at the top of our list of best TVs for a number of reasons. It offers superb picture quality, an affordable price tag and Roku, the best smart TV system. It also includes gaming features like 4K/120Hz input and variable refresh rate that can get the most out of consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. When a friend asks me what TV to buy from 55 to 85 inches, and money is still an object, I tell them to get the TCL 6-Series.
There are plenty of other excellent choices out there, however, so even though the 6-Series is my current favorite for most people, it might not be right for your preferences or budget.
For the last five years, the TCL 6-Series has been our favorite TV for the money, and the newest version -- also known as the R655 series -- is no exception. This TV 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 improves upon the previous R635 series with improved gaming extras and a new center-mount stand that you can elevate to make room for a soundbar, although the new 85-inch size has standard legs. And finally, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite.
The C2 represents the pinnacle of picture quality, at a price that's admittedly high but not too crazy. It beats any non-OLED TV on this list, including the Samsung QN90B below, with its perfect black levels, unbeatable contrast and superb off-angle viewing. It also has excellent gaming features, making it a great companion to an Xbox Series X or S, PlayStation 5 or both. The C2 comes in a variety of sizes as well, though the bigger models are expensive.
The picture quality of the TCL 4-Series Roku TV was a step behind the Vizio V-Series in our budget TV test, but the differences between the two are slight enough that you'd really have to have them set up side by side to notice anything at all. The 4-Series lacks the Dolby Vision, Bluetooth connectivity and AMD FreeSync with a variable refresh rate, all of which the Vizio offers.
Sizes 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inchTV Technology QLED with Mini-LEDSmart TV Yes (Tizen)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 4
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.
Among midpriced models, we liked the TCL 6-Series just a little better in our side-by-side comparison, but this Hisense is a strong contender. Its excellent image quality is anchored by best-in-class brightness that improves its bright-room picture quality and makes HDR TV movies, shows and games really pop. It's actually brighter than the TCL with better contrast, but the TCL's slightly more accurate image gave it the edge overall. The Hisense uses Google TV instead of Roku, and unlike the TCL, the U8H includes an ATSC 3.0 tuner. Frankly, you can't go wrong with either one.
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 (below) those traits helped it overcome a slight color deficit to the Samsung and propel it into best-ever territory.
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, which is why I called the S95C "second-best," but it was very close.
Sizes 50-, 65-, 75-inchTV Technology LED with local dimmingSmart TV Yes (SmartCast)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 4
The Vizio MQX 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. The MQX has fewer dimming zones than more expensive TVs like the TCL 6-Series and Hisense U8H, but it offers 16 zones on the 50-inch, 30 on the 65-inch and 42 on the 75-inch, which is more than enough for excellent overall picture quality, with bright highlights, dark black levels, punchy contrast and accurate color.
Sizes 55-, 65-, 75-inchTV Technology LED with local dimmingSmart TV Yes (Roku)Resolution 4KHDMI Ports 4
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.
When we compared the best budget TVs side by side, the picture quality of Vizio's 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. Even when you factor in the cost of adding a new streaming device, however, the V-Series remains the best overall entry-level TV that we tested.
LG C3 series OLED TV: As we mentioned above, the C2 from 2022 and C3 from 2023 were basically identical in our tests. Since the price difference between the two LG OLED TVs remains hundreds of dollars, we're recommending the C2 over the C3 for now. Read our LG C3 OLED TV review.
Sony KD-X80K series: Sony is a prominent brand and its higher-end TVs like the X90J do well in reviews, but the entry-level TV in its 2022 lineup, the X80K, didn't make the list. It costs around the same as the TCL 6-Series and Samsung Q60 TVs, and had a worse picture than both, with lighter black levels and contrast. It's definitely not a bad TV, and we liked its Google smart TV system, color accuracy and connectivity, but you can definitely do better for the money. Read our Sony KD-X80K series review.
Amazon Fire TV 4-Series: One of many Fire TVs available for sale, this one is typical of the breed: so-so image quality and a smart TV system that lags behind Roku and Google TV. If you're a big fan of Alexa voice, or see this TV at a really low price, it might be worthwhile, but otherwise go for the TCL 4-Series. Read our best budget TVs roundup.
How CNET tests 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. Doing so will let you send a message straight to my inbox.
How much should I spend on a TV?
Prices vary widely by size and features, from less than $100 for basic 24-inch TVs to more than $2,000 for big OLED models. TVs last a long time, however, so we think it's worthwhile to spend a little extra beyond the bare minimum to get a bigger screen, better picture quality or better features. With that in mind, here's some ballpark prices that will get you a very good TV in 2023.
In our reviews, OLED TVs, which use organic light-emitting diode technology, have always had better picture quality than LED TVs, which are basically LCD TVs that use LED backlights. The main reason is that OLED TVs can produce a perfectly dark shade of black with no stray illumination of blooming, which leads to better contrast and pop. LED TVs can get brighter, however, and usually cost less than OLED TVs.
What is the best smart TV system for streaming?
At CNET our favorite is Roku for its simplicity, but different systems like Google TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung and LG have different strengths, in particular for voice commands. In any case, we don't consider the built-in smart TV system that important because you can always connect a streaming device to any TV.
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.