The 10 Best TVs - May 2017
Every week we analyse the technical specs, reviews and prices of every TV on the market in the US to determine our top 10 list.
In total we compared over 13,400 TVs, 94,500 reviews and 6,120 prices. Last updated 23 May 2017.
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Find out how TV brands compare. The average rating for each brand is based on the rating of all of their TVs. Click on a link to compare all TVs made by your favourite brand.
How to Find the Best TV to Buy
Most people would agree: Buying a TV can be really confusing.It can seem complicated to understand what's behind the technical jargon and what the advantages and disadvantages of technologies like ‘HD Ready’, ‘OLED TVs’ and ‘Edge-lit LED TVs’ really are.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult to find the best TV for your room and budget. We will explain the different technologies in detail and highlight exactly what to look out for when choosing a new TV.
One of the first questions people ask is: what size TV do I need? When it comes to choosing the right size TV, there is one simple rule:
It is incredibly easy to get used to a large TV. At first, you might think that a new TV is huge, but after a short while, you will become used to it and wonder how you ever lived with the small TV you had before. Wishing they had bought a bigger TV is one of the most common regrets people have.
Luckily, large televisions have become incredibly affordable in recent years and there are many TV deals available, including larger sizes of 50-inches and above.
The Difference Between Full HD, HD Ready 1080p and HD Ready Explained
TVs advertised as ‘Full HD’ or ‘HD Ready 1080p’ can handle and display High-Definition signals with 1080 horizontal lines. Most likely, these TVs also have a built in HD tuner such as Freeview HD.
Many televisions are also advertised as ‘HD Ready’. This is not the same as Full HD. It means the television can handle a HD signal from an external source such as a DVD Player or Sky, but it can only display 720 horizontal lines. This is less than Full HD but still better than the standard TV signal.
When A 4K TV Makes Sense – And When It Doesn’t
Ultra HD TVs have been all the rage since their release a couple of years ago and there are now 4K TVs for sale from all the big brands, including Samsung and Sony.
But why is this important?
As TVs get bigger, it is necessary to increase the screen resolution to prevent individual pixels becoming visible. With 4K resolution, images remains super-sharp even on a 80-inch television.
4K TVs have been on sale for a number of years and prices have reduced dramatically and there are some great 4K TV deals available. But:
So, is a 4K television worth its higher price? This really depends on your personal preference. If you are looking for the latest technology and are willing to pay slightly more for an ultra-sharp picture then 4K might well be a great choice. Especially for screen sizes above 55 inches, a 4K television will provide you with the highest picture quality available today.
A Cinematic Experience Like No Other: Curved Screen TVs
A couple of years ago, curved screen TVs from Samsung and other manufacturers appeared on the scene. They look stylish and promise a more immersive viewing experience.
We all know that manufactures are always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to market their products and some have said that a slightly different screen shape is just an attempt to generate sales. However, others say that curved screen TVs have real benefits:
Some people have reported a more immersive viewing experience due to the screen gently ‘wrapping’ around the viewers filed of vision. Each point on the curved screen has the same distance from the viewer when sitting in the ‘sweet spot’, which is usually 10-13 feet away. Reflections and distortions, which can be a problem on flat screen TVs, will also be slightly reduced.
However, due to the curve, the edges of the screen can also appear to be slightly larger than the centre of the screen. This ‘bow tie’ effect is noticeable to varying degrees and also depends on the viewer’s vertical position.
Special curved screen TV brackets are also available for wall-mounting.
Access Amazing Content With Smart TVs
Smart TVs can be connected to the Internet and give you access to a huge range of content, apps and games. Most TVs released these days have ‘smart’ capability. While you can still watch TV using the built-in tuner, the Smart Hub of your TV gives you access to a whole new world of content:
- Watch movies, documentaries and your favourite series on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
- Missed a programme? Not a problem with catch-up TV services like BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4 on Demand and Sky Go.
- Stay connected with apps including Skype, Facebook and Twitter.
- Browse the web, just like you would on a PC or smartphone. Most smart televisions have built-in web browsers although some are easier to use than others.
- Each manufacturers includes additional services like guides, recommendations of what to watch and customisation options.
Every manufacturer has their own preferred operating system and Smart TV platforms tend to change every couple of years.
As operating systems become more sophisticated, many services which were previously available as separate apps have now been integrated into the user interface. Before buying a TV make sure it has all the apps you want to use.
To find the best smart TV for your needs it’s worth knowing a bit more about the differences:
Samsung Smart TVs have had an overhaul for 2015 and Samsung’s Smart Hub is now built on it’s Tizen OS. A horizontal strip along the bottom provides easy access to apps and shortcuts. There is a slight similarity to LG’s webOS. Samsung’s operating system allows access to all the UK’s catch-up TV apps.
Sony, Sharp and Philips are using Google's Android TV OS to varying degrees. Andriod is offering rich content and apps with an easy to use interface.
Panasonic’s Firefox OS is the simplest and best-looking Smart TV interface around. It scores highly for being easy to customise but doesn’t compare to Google’s Android OS on content although it includes all popular apps such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
LG has completely refreshed its smart interface with the release of webOS 2.0 in 2014. It is fast and relies on an app bar located at the bottom of the screen, not unlike Samsung’s Smart TVs. Content is pretty good although it can be a bit tricky to use. Some smart TV reviews have pointed out that it may take a short while to get used to.
Another Dimension: 3D TV
The first 3D TVs became available a few years ago and especially higher-end LED and LCD TVs often have 3D capability.
While manufacturers are currently directing most of their attention towards ultra high-resolution displays, 3D TVs are not dead and can offer an additional sense of depth that provides a similar experience as watching a 3D movie in the cinema.
There are a few things to keep in mind about 3D TVs:
- Screen size is important to provide a good 3D experience. A 32-inch 3D TVs might be too small for it to work well, so aim for a screen of at least 40 inches or bigger.
- Make sure you watch from the optimal distance and avoid sitting at an angle to get the best 3D effect.
- While 3D TVs without glasses would be ideal, they are required control the picture each eye sees to create the 3D effect. Check how many 3D glasses are included before buying a TV and make sure they sit comfortable.
- There are two types of 3D television technology: active and passive. Each has it's own advantages and cost.
Passive 3D TVs
Active 3D TVs
Are 3D TVs Worth the Money?
A lack of available, free content has been one of the biggest obstacles preventing 3D TV from becoming widely adopted.
There are currently no 3D TV programmes available for free but some broadcasters like Sky, Virgin Media and BT vision offer a limited amount of 3D on-demand content to their subscribers.
LCD TVs vs LED TVs – Advantages & Differences Explained
LCD is the most common type of display used in TVs today. The days of plasma TVs are over and while OLED TVs are predicted to be the future, they are still relatively expensive. More recently all major brands have marketed ‘LED TVs’ as the new must-haves.
So, what exactly is the difference between LED and LCD TVs? Actually, the difference is not as great you might think:
A liquid crystal display (LCD) creates a picture by shining light from behind the screen through a matrix of coloured liquid crystal cells. Each pixel is controlled individually and adjusters how much light and colour is let through.
The backlight in ‘traditional’ LCD screens is created by a relatively small number of lamps. LED TVs, on the other hand, use a much larger number of tiny LEDs to create the backlight. This allows for much thinner displays, since the LEDs are much smaller.
Back-lit vs Edge-lit LED TVs
In the search for ever-slimmer displays, manufactures are increasingly promoting edge-lit LED televisions. These models have tiny LEDs placed around the edge of the screen allowing for super-slim displays. The picture on some edge-lit TVs used to suffer from inconsistent lighting levels but the technology has improved a lot in recent years so this should no longer be an issue.
A direct-lit LED TV has lights covering the rear of the screen. While this ensures light is evenly distributed it does not allow screens to be as thin as edge-lit televisions.
OLED TVs – Everything You Need to Know
OLED is a completely different technology compared to LCD. The pixels in and OLED produce their own light instead of relying on a backlight. This is why OLED pixels are also called ‘emissive’. The technology is similar to the screens used in more expensive mobile phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 Edge.
Because each pixel emits its own light, controlling each pixel’s brightness is much easier resulting in better contrasts and deeper blacks. On LCD screens the display is not always completely black as some of the backlight shines through.
Prices for OLED TVs tend to be higher, although OLED TVs are now common enough that some price deals are starting to emerge. OLED TVs are incredibly difficult to produce and only a few manufacturers have ventured into this field so far.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
TV Retailers, Prices and Features
Televisions range in price from $92 to $19,997 and in total we found prices for 600 televisions. A new TV costs on average $1,218 and 80% of TVs are priced between $200 and $2,660. The most expensive TV that we found is the LG OLED77W7P at $19,997, and the cheapest is the Samsung LT24E310 at only $92.
TV Brands - Price Range
The average price of Panasonic TVs is $4,800 which is the highest average price of all TV brands. Panasonic TVs start at $4,800 and the most expensive Panasonic TV costs $4,800.
NEC TVs start at $2,886 and the most expensive NEC TV costs $2,886. The second highest average TV price out of all brands is NEC TVs with an average price of $2,886.
The third highest average TV price out of all brands is SunBriteTV TVs with an average price of $2,195. SunBriteTV TVs range in price from $1,495 to $2,895.
TV Brands - Average Ratings
We have analysed 5,409 expert reviews and 68,212 user reviews for televisions available online and used these reviews to calculate the average rating for each brand of television. The top rated TV brand is Logik with an average rating of 92%. The second best brand is Goodmans with 92% and the third best brand is Samsung with 91%.
Biggest TV Retailers
We found 362 current offers for TVs from eBay making it the biggest TV retailer. That is much bigger than the second biggest retailer, Walmart for whom we found 209 current offers for TVs. The third biggest retailer is Appliances Connection with 124 current TV offers.
When Are Most New Televisions Released?
Over the last 3 years we couldn't see any evident trend in the release month for new TVs. 432 new televisions were released in September 2016 making it the biggest month that year for new TV releases. In 2015 most new TVs were released in April, with 375 new TVs released that month. March was the biggest month in 2014 for new TVs, with 317 new TVs released that month.
How Fast Do TV Prices Drop After Release?
On average TVs drop in price by 7% in the first 6 months after release. If you are prepared to wait then you could save an average of $84 on a typical $1,218 new television by waiting 6 months before buying.
‘Display Diagonal’ is the measure of the size of the TV screen from top-left to bottom-right corner, excluding any frame or border.
Comparing all TVs, the display diagonals range from 2" to 110". The display diagonals of the majority of TVs range from 46" to 52". The SharpLC-90LE745U has the largest display diagonal. This television is a 90" TV and is priced at $8,718.98. The SharpLC-90LE745U has the smallest display diagonal. This TV is a 13.3" TV and currently retails for $93.90.
One of the most important considerations when choosing the right screen size for your TV is the typical distance from which you will be viewing the screen. TVs with a bigger display diagonal allow you to make the most of HD content and are great for watching movies. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the display diagonal by 2.5 to determine the viewing distance. So a 40 inch TV is best viewed from 100 inches away, which is equivalent to 8.3 feet or 2.54m. For home cinema setups and a truly immersive experience this ratio can be reduced to 1.2. This will give a screen size that fills 40 degrees of the viewer's field of vision. So if you viewing from a distance of 6ft (72 inches) you would need a TV display diagonal of 60 inches.
HD Type on a TV refers to the type of high definition image that the TV is capable of displaying (e.g. Full HD, 4K Ultra HD).
Amongst new TVs, the most frequently found HD type is Full HD. We found 2,406 TVs that are Full HD televisions. The second most frequently found HD type amongst new TVs is 4K. We found 1,592 TVs that are 4K TVs.
The better the HD type the better the image resolution and the perceived sharpness of the image will be. Images will appear more life like and realistic. This will be more noticeable on a TV with a larger display diagonal.
‘3D’ describes whether the TV can display 3D movies and programmes. Requires compatible 3D glasses to properly function.
3D technology has become increasingly popular as the amount of 3D film and TV content has increased dramatically in recent years. All 3D TVs will also display regular 2D content and most will allow you to switch on and off the 3D effect on 3D content. 3D compatible TVs allow you to watch 3D content. For most TVs you will need to wear special glasses to see the 3D effect.
OLED TVs use organic material that creates light when electricity is passed through it. This means that they do not require a back light, unlike standard LED TVs.
OLED TVs have much higher contrast then LED TVs as they have no back light. They also have a fast response rate, rich colours and a wide viewing angle. They are also cheaper to run.
Energy Efficiency of TVs
The Energy Efficiency Class of a TV shows how well it uses energy, and how much is unnecessarily wasted. Products are ranked from G to A++ in terms of how little energy they use compared to the norm.
The most common energy efficiency rating amongst new TVs is A+. We found 1,384 TVs that have an energy efficiency rating of A+. We found 1,308 televisions that have an energy efficiency rating of A, making this the second most common energy efficiency rating amongst new televisions.
A TV with a better energy efficiency rating will consume less energy whenever they are used, saving you money and making them better for the environment.
Biggest Television Retailers
We found 362 current offers for TVs from eBay making it the biggest television retailer. That is much bigger than the second biggest retailer, Walmart for whom we found 209 current offers for TVs. The third biggest retailer is Appliances Connection with 124 current television offers.
Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for Televisions?
The retailer that most frequently offered the cheapest price on TVs is eBay and offers the cheapest price on 270 TVs.
Proportion of Televisions for Which Each Retailer is Cheapest?
With the cheapest price on 74.6% of its TVs, eBay is most frequently the cheapest TV retailer.