Super Bowl 53 between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams is just a few days away. Is your TV ready for Sunday, Feb. 3?
This year's game will be available to watch more places than ever: You can watch it on CBS (CNET's parent company), stream it for free at CBSSports.com or stream it with a subscription on CBS All Access or via the NFL app -- among other options.
Once you figure out how to watch, the next step is where. You obviously want to watch it on the biggest possible screen -- and that means it's a great excuse to buy a new TV. Prices on many sets are getting cut as manufacturers and retailers tackle 2018 inventory in advance of 2019 models. If you want a new TV now, and don't want to wait until the fourth quarter of 2019 when prices fall again, it might be time to pull the trigger.
Unfortunately the TV market is packed with contenders. It's not easy to pick a sure winner from field level. That's where I come in. Think of me as your eye-in-the-sky offensive coordinator, without the headset.
The TVs below represent our five favorite picks among the best TVs we've reviewed in 2018. They come in sizes from small-bedroom-tiny to truly huge, and as befits an American football contest, skew big.
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Budget small-screen pick: TCL S305 or S405 series Roku TV
Price: $150 and up
Sizes: 32 to 55 inches
Can't fit a linebacker-size TV in your room? For smaller sizes and budgets, these TCLs are our main pick. The TVs comprise two series: the cheaper, smaller S305, which lack 4K resolution, and the larger, slightly more expensive S405. Both rock for people who prize streaming and convenience over image quality. The picture is fine, but what really sets them apart are dirt-cheap prices and Roku TV, our favorite Smart TV system at any price.
The best deal might be the 49-inch S325 series for $200. We haven't reviewed the S325 but TCL tells us image quality and features are the same as the S305, the only differences are cosmetic.
Budget big-screen pick: Vizio E series
Price: $330 and up
Sizes: 43 to 75 inches
If you want a cheap set with better picture quality -- one that's available in big sizes -- ditch those TCLs and check out the Vizio E series. No, Vizio's Smart TV system can't hold a candle to Roku, but the E's image blows those TCLs out of the water. These are the cheapest TVs with full-array local dimming, and trust us, it makes a huge difference. And even the 65- and 70-inch models cost less than $1,000.
Main midrange pick: TCL 6 series
Price: $600 and up
Sizes: 55, 65 and 75 inches
Getting a new TV for the big game should be a joyous occasion, and the TV that made CNET editors happiest this year -- at least in terms of picture quality for the money -- is the TCL 6 series. It belts out a seriously awesome picture for much less than you'd think, outperforming any cheaper TV, including that Vizio E series, and even beating TVs that cost a lot more. The Roku TV operating system, complete with Dolby Vision 4K HDR streaming, is just icing on the chili dip.
New for 2019, TCL is now selling a massive 75-inch version, just in time for the Super Bowl. Currently it's only available at Best Buy.
Alternate midrange pick: Vizio P-Series
In our tests we liked the TCL slightly better for image quality overall, but this Vizio is also an excellent performer and has its advantages -- including a somewhat brighter image and better motion performance. The biggest reason it's on this list, however, is the price: Vizio's Super Bowl sale means the 65-inch size costs less than the TCL 6 series. The TCL is cheaper at 55 inches, however, while the 75-inch sizes cost the same.
High-end 65-inch pick: Vizio P-Series Quantum
Price: $1,500 to $1,600
Size: (duh) 65 inches
You might not think "high-end" and "Vizio" belong in the same sentence, but wait until you watch football on the Quantum. This TV -- only available in that one healthy size -- performs better than anything else at its price, with searingly bright highlights and precise local dimming that combines to provide a real improvement over that TCL 6 series and the non-Quantum Vizio P-Series. It's the next-best TV you that isn't an OLED.
And now through Super Bowl Sunday, Costco and Sam's Club are selling it for $600 less than the original price, while supplies last. That $1,500 price, matching the Black Friday 2018 low, is an absolute steal, but of course you'll need a store membership to take advantage of it. And if you don't happen to have a membership, Vizio.com and Best Buy have it for $1,600, no membership required.
Super high-end pick: LG OLEDB8 and C8 series
Price: $1,500 and $2,300
Size: 55 to 77 inches
Even the New England Patriots don't have the same winning record as LG's OLED TVs. They've been the reigning picture quality kings for years, and the latest versions are sure to warm any football fan's soul. The B8P delivers perfect black levels and an excellent bright room picture along with the style of a super-thin cabinet and a price that, among elite TVs, can be viewed as almost affordable -- especially after its Super Bowl price drop. And in case you have the budget of, say, Robert Kraft, there's the 77-inch C8.
Speaking of huge TVs, we've also done a version of these Super Bowl picks that focuses on 70- and 75-inch sizes. Of course we've reviewed and liked a bunch of other TVs this year, and they'd make pretty sweet TVs for the big game. If you don't see something you want above, check out our other lists:
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