If you are shopping for a new television the ideal time to get a deal is from black Friday through spring of the following year. Manufacturers release new year models around spring each year, so you can often find bargains as stores try to get rid of last year’s models before the new units arrive and obviously around Christmas time there can be some amazing sales as well.
We reviewed over 100 models from 2015 to come up with our list of the best tvs in several different categories including:
We have not updated plasma TVs since they are no longer being built by the electronic manufacturers except in an extremely small amount of models.
Below you will find the best of the best from each category. Just click read more to find out more on each group.
If you need more information or purchasing advice see our TV Buying Guide.
Best LED HDTV
Samsung UN65J6300 – Read More
Best 4K TV
LG 55EG9600 – Read More
Best 3D LED TV
Sony Bravia XBR-65X930C – Read More
Best OLED TV
LG 55EG9600 – Read More
TV Buying Guide
Which new television to purchase is an important decision because of the price and how often you will be watching it. If you are confused read this guide and we will try to help you along.
Types – OLED vs LED vs Plasma vs LCD vs 3D
The TV market is currently dominated by LED display technology, although a handful of plasmas and OLED models are being manufactured. Although you see many tvs advertised as LED, these really are just LCD displays that use LEDs as their light source. Older LCD models used CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) technology as their light source.
Plasmas are a dying breed, but OLED displays are just now coming on the seen and will most likely dominate the market in the future.
The main advantages of plasmas were a wider viewing angle, blur-free motion, and darker blacks which results in a better picture quality. Many of these same qualities can be found in the new OLED screens, however they cost significantly more currently and only a few models exist.
The main advantages of LED LCD screens include generally cheaper initially and much cheaper on your monthly power bill, more options in screen size, brighter display means you can watch in daylight or in a brightly lit room, and cheaper and more convenient 3D.
3D capable sets are not really a different type, but more of a feature of any version. Any 3D model can also display normal 2D content as well. You should be aware that there are two types of 3D – active and passive. The main difference is that active uses battery powered glasses you wear that sync with the tv to view the image while passive uses inexpensive polarized glasses. Active 3D generally produces a better image, but may be darker, and is also much more expensive. Usually found on LED models, passive 3D is much cheaper, but generally the image quality is not quite as good although brighter.
When it comes to flat screen HDTV’s, bigger is better. The number one regret for buyers is that they did not go big enough, so we recommend getting the biggest you can afford and that will fit in the space where it will go. For a bedroom we consider the minimum size to be 32 inches. For a small living room or tv room you should go with at least a 42-inch up to about a 55 inch version. For a larger living room where you might be sitting farther away from the unit or for a small theater room go with at least a 50 inch screen up to a 70 inch or as large as you can get. (For a dedicated home theater you might want to consider a projector)
For most people the overall picture quality is the single most important attribute in buying a new television. The quality of any unit is a combination of many factors some of which include source content, resolution, refresh rate, contrast ratio / black levels, color accuracy, and screen uniformity. Buyers should be aware that many of the specs listed for any model are marketing gimmicks to make their brand appear better. Since you can not really judge picture quality just by looking at the specs, we graded each model on a scale of A-F and list that for each model we ranked.
- Source Content – An HDTV is worthless if you are not watching high-definition stations or content. Make sure your cable or satelite provider provides HD channels. Also remember that a standard DVD is not HD. If you are going to watch content on disk then you need a Bluray player and Bluray disks to get full high-def. Currently there is very little 4K content available, but it is something to keep in mind for the future.
- Resolution – The resolution is the number of pixels a screen can display. Full HD is broadcast in 1080p, or 1920×1080 pixels which is also a 16:9 aspect ratio. In other words it displays 1920 pixels across the display horizontally and 1080 vertically. A 720p screen displays 1280×720 pixels, also a 16:9 aspect ratio. While 1080p is generally better and does display finer detail, it does not necessarily mean a better overall picture quality over a 720p set, which are often much cheaper. Standard def content is 480p with a 4:3 aspect ratio and will not look very good on an HDTV.There is also now 4K or Ultra HD resolution which is 3840×2160 pixels or 4x the resolution of full 1080p HD.
- Refresh Rate – Standard LCD televisions update the screen 60 times per second, or 60Hz. At that rate images with lots of motion like sports might blur, although plasma and OLED sets really do not have an issue with motion blurring and do not need higher refresh rates. Many manufacturers now release models with 120Hz, 240Hz, or even higher like 600. The problem is the way they achieve those claims. Most use special processing tricks to achieve 600Hz and it is not a true 600Hz refresh rate. Ultimately only use the advertised refresh rate as a guide and not the deciding factor in whether a tv reduces motion blur.
- Contrast Ratio & Black Levels – Contrast ratio is the difference the between the brightest image a screen can display and darkest image, or black level. The problem with contrast ratio is there is no regulated way to measure it, so every manufacturer can define how they calculate it. Therefore, do not even look at contrast ratio when comparing models. Instead we feel that black levels, or the ability to produce a deep shade of black, have the most influence on the quality of the picture.
- Color Accuracy & Saturation – You want a screen that accurately matches the color and saturation of the source content or else you can get washed-out colors and oranged-tinted skin tones. It is also important to get the image properly calibrated through the controls and settings provided on the tv.
- Screen Uniformity – Screen uniformity refers to how effectively the screen distributes its backlight. Plasmas and OLEDs usually have perfect uniformity, while a LCD varies depending on how it is lit. Some LCDs use LEDs as their light source only along the edge (edge-lit) which can result in spots or patches where the backlight is visibly brighter. The top performing LED LCDs have ‘local dimming’ or ‘full array’ backlights that provide better uniformity due to more even spacing.
Features and Smart TVs
A smart TV generally refers to a model that has Wi-Fi for internet connectivity along with apps to view or download content and browse the internet. Many people use a streaming content device like Roku or their gaming console to access Netflix or Amazon Prime and find smart models redundant and unnecessary. However, most new models have Wi-Fi and some form of smart apps whether you want them or not.
Another important feature is connectivity. You need an HDMI cable to display full HD content, so just count the number of devices you’ll want to connect and make sure the TV you want to buy has at least that many HDMI ports (Note: All HDMI cables are created virtually equal so do not waste your money on the most expensive ones). If you want to display photos you might want USB inputs and/or an SD card slot as well.