Finding the perfect TV
If you're in the market for a new TV you're in for a treat as prices for HDTVs have dropped dramatically and performance has improved just as much. Prices for sets with cutting edge technology -- including 4k (also called Ultra High Definition, or UHD) and OLED (organic LED) -- have started to tumble as well. Smart sets -- including bargain-priced TVs with Roku and other robust streaming platforms built in -- are also available with lower-than-ever price tags. But, and here's the rub, finding the perfect TV for you and your family can be a bit of a juggling act.
Most TV sets are LED TVs -- that is LCD TVs with LED backlights. Plasma sets are dead and gone. OLED TVs have taken their place as the object of desire for those that are obsessed with absolute best picture quality. Most OLED sets carry stratospheric price tags, but at least one "reasonably" priced -- at least compared to competing flagship LED TVs -- model is available, and is well reviewed. See more in our discussion of TVs with the best picture quality.
What makes a TV "perfect" for you?
In an attempt to get consumers to buy a new set, TV makers have been adding lots of high-tech goodies to their offerings. There's 3D, of course, and "Smart" features that let you access content directly from the Internet or from your personal computer. Things we never had to consider before, such as refresh rate, are now front and center on the features list and in advertisements.
On the other hand, maybe you just want a TV with a great, or simply a good, picture at a price that's easy on your wallet. Image quality is defined by a few different factors, including how deep a level of black a set can obtain, how accurate and saturated colors appear, how uniform the picture looks across the screen, how well it handles fast motion, and how free the picture is of image-processing bobbles like curved lines that are slightly jagged rather than perfectly smooth.
How much do you need to spend on a TV? If you're a perfectionist, be prepared to dig deep as cutting edge TVs can cost $4,000 or more -- and sometimes much more depending on the technology and screen size. Others can find TVs with images that look perfectly fine -- in fact, pretty darn outstanding -- at $500 or even less. Splitting the difference are a spate of TVs with price tags that, while certainly not budget, offer performance and features that were previously unheard of even in sets that cost substantially more.
How we found the best TVs
This report discusses the features and specifications that matter when selecting your next TV. We examine professional and user reviews to identify the sets that shine in terms of image quality, features, design and value, and name those our Best Reviewed choices. We also look at some TVs that don't fall too far behind and can be excellent options in their own right. Experts we consult include CNET, PCMag.com, Reviewed.com, ConsumerReports.org and many others. User feedback is drawn from popular retail sites such as Amazon.com and BestBuy.com.
Elsewhere in this Report:
Important TV Features | Best Value TVs | Best Cheap TVs | TVs with the Best Picture Quality | Buying Guide | Our Sources