The best all-around TVs in 2021 for every budget – Great for movies, sports, and games
Buying a new TV in 2021 is both a curse and a blessing as you have so much choice. However, numerous options also mean that you might get a headache trying to figure out the best decision. You see, buying a TV is still a considerable investment that you plan to use for a long time. That’s why it’s crucial to make the right pick, and it can be a nightmare if you don’t understand the terms such as HDR, Dolby Vision, VRR, AALC, and others. However, my mission is to save you time and help you make the best decision while not making everything sound technical. I picked these five TVs, which all offer outstanding performance for the price.
|LG C1||[email protected]||65″||4 x HDMI 2.1 |
3 x USB 2.0
|SEE ON AMAZON|
|Sony A8H||[email protected]||65″||4 x HDMI 2.1||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Samsung Q80T||[email protected]||65″||4 x HDMI 2.0|
2 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0
|SEE ON AMAZON|
|TCL 6-series||[email protected]||65″||1 x HDMI 2.1|
3 x HDMI 2.0
2 x USB 2.0
|SEE ON AMAZON|
|Hisense H8G||[email protected]||55″||4 x HDMI 2.0|
1 x USB 2.0
|SEE ON AMAZON|
|LG C1||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Sony A8H||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Samsung Q80T||SEE ON AMAZON|
|TCL 6-series||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Hisense H8G||SEE ON AMAZON|
What are the quintessential characteristics of the best TV in 2021?
Even when a TV is praised as the best on the market, that doesn’t mean it’s also the best for you. Let’s imagine that the price is not an issue so that you can afford even the best OLED screens. However, if the highest-rated TV doesn’t offer the size option you need, then it would clearly be the wrong choice. Even though all the TVs I’ll recommend are great all-rounders, that doesn’t mean they perform the same when watching your favorite football team, enjoying movies, or playing games.
Still, there are some universal rules when buying a TV in 2021. First, 4K/60Hz is a minimum, and you need a TV with at least three HDMI 2.0 inputs. Also, while every UHD TV now supports HDR, you won’t enjoy it if the screen isn’t bright enough. Finally, your next TV needs to have the top build quality and support every major streaming service. So, here are my current favorites in 2021, although I will update the list as the new models arrive.
The best TV overall bring terrific picture quality and the ultimate gaming performance
Four HDMI 2.1 inputs
Low input lag
Supports both G-Sync and FreeSync
Brightness hasn’t improved over CX
Not meant for very bright rooms
The whole OLED LG C series has always been a favorite of mine, and last year’s LG CX was brilliant, despite only a slight improvement over the 2019’s C9. The same trend continues with the 2021 LG C1, which manages to outshine its predecessor, especially if you are into gaming. Despite looking almost the same as CX, this doesn’t make it any less gorgeous. As expected from OLED, the device is incredibly thin, with barely noticeable bezels. While the stand is solid and modern looking, be aware that you’ll need a big table, as it’s very wide.
Like CX, C1 is available in 48, 55, 65, and 77 inches sizes, but there’s also a new 83-inch version. However, this one is also quite expensive and has limited availability. Apart from the size, all models are identical, including the 48-inch variant, which is an excellent substitute for a PC monitor. Keep in mind that this one is already on the same price level as the 48-inch CX.
As for the inputs, LG C1 is pretty much perfect, with four HDMI 2.1. In 2021, 99% percent of us still don’t need more than two of these, but it’s nice to be future-proof. That said, keep in mind that C1 supports 40Gbps bandwidth instead of maximum 48Gbps. However, full bandwidth is only needed for non-existent 12-bit color supporting sets. Other inputs include 3x USB 2.0, digital optical audio out, analog audio out 3.5 mm, tuner, and ethernet.
Tons of options for gamers with impressive display quality
The OLED technology is still superior, as it displays perfect black levels and has infinite contrast. This is because the pixels can be turned off, unlike on LED panels where blacks are only different shades of grey. In a moderately lit or dark room, LG C1 shines the most. Besides, the only reason you should skip this model is if you need a TV in the room with lots of daylight. OLED technology still can’t offer excellent brightness levels like LED/QLED, and surprisingly, C1 doesn’t improve over CX. That privilege is tied to the new and much more expensive LG G1 series.
Still, brightness is among the best for OLEDs, so it’s really not a deal-breaker. This is still enough for the terrific HDR performance, and especially for the movies supporting Dolby Vision. Of course, LG keeps ignoring the HDR10+ standard as promoted by the big rival, Samsung. Upscaling performance is still important in 2021, and LG C1 uses the fourth generation of Alpha 9 chipset. Advances over CX aren’t tremendous, but they are visible, especially with SD content.
LG C1 is not advertised as the gaming TV, but with so many HDMI 2.1 ports, VRR, G-Sync, and FreeSync, it’s fully compatible with PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, or the latest PC technology. The new “Boost” option brings the lag down to 10 ms (from an already respectable 13 ms), and there are presets for various genres, including FPS, RPG, and tactical games.
While the LG CX owners shouldn’t upgrade to C1, everyone else must consider this beautiful device. Whatever you love movies, gaming, or search for a TV that does everything brilliantly, LG C1 is the best you can get. While the G1 series offers slightly better brightness, the improvements are not worthy of
The best you can get for watching movies
The best picture quality on the test
Predefined settings are excellent
USB 3.0 port
Top HD upscaling
Offered in only two sizes
Not recommended for gamers
Nothing can beat OLED in the top class, so no wonder that Sony A8H is the only serious rival to the CX series. While LG is still slightly better overall, there are reasons why A8H might be a smarter choice for you. Like its main competitor, this product looks gorgeous even when turned off. “Elegant” is the way to describe a device that is thin as a smartphone. Also, you can choose from two different stand configurations. One is perfect if you plan to use a soundbar, while the other is ideal for hiding cables.
If you need a massive or relatively small screen, A8H is not for you. Here, unlike the CX series, you have only two choices – 55″ and 65″ versions. However, for most of us, these are the preferred sizes anyway. Alternatively, you go for A9G, which offers a 77-inch version, but is rather expensive.
As for the inputs, Sony A8H has four HDMI 2.0 ports, which might surprise you. However, the company asserts that this isn’t primarily a gaming TV. On the plus side, the set has one USB 3.0 port, which is still a rarity.
The supreme display for movie nights
What makes A8H so attractive is its picture quality. Even the worst OLED TVs in 2021 still look great, but it says a lot when A8H tops LG CX. While both screens perform magnificently, there’s no doubt that A8H has visibly better color volume and gradient handling. Another great thing is that the TV has excellent predefined settings, so you don’t have to do much manually. SDR and HDR brightness are almost identical to CX, so in practice, this means that you won’t get the best picture quality in broad sunshine.
A8H shows its full potential in the evening, and I recommend you watch some of the movies you love and know by a heartbeat. Rechecking them on this TV will be so much different and a better experience. Things are even better once you experience HDR content, particularly if it supports Dolby Vision. While it’s a shame that HDR10+ isn’t implemented, Dolby Vision has much better, although still limited support. A8H automatically upscales HD content to 4K, and thanks to BFI (Black Frame Insertion), it dramatically improves dark scenes. It’s only a further testament that A8H provides the best picture quality overall.
By now, you already know that A8H is not a terrific gaming TV, but an 18.6ms input lag is still more than good enough even for fast, multiplayer gaming. The lack of 120 fps support isn’t a problem now, but that might change in a couple of years. Also, while some HDMI 2.0 inputs support VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), you won’t find that here.
If you love watching movies or live sports while gaming only occasionally, A8H is a must buy. The color reproduction and upscaling performance make it so exciting that it will stay relevant for years to come!
Excellent value for the money, especially for students
Available in many sizes
Performs well in bright rooms
Excellent gaming support
Only a single HDMI 2.1
Even though there’s no doubt that OLED screens are the best you can get, that doesn’t mean that other types of panels are obsolete. As a strong proponent of QLED TVs, Samsung makes its presence with Q80T. While it’s not the best model the company offers, Q80T shines in the midrange category. The device is not as attractive as OLED TVs on our test, as its build quality is slightly lower. At the same time, the design is minimalistic but still traditional.
Q80T offers 49″, 50″, 55″, 65″, 75″, and 85″ inch models, so there’s plenty to choose. However, I have a few important tips. The 55″ and 65″ models offer the best price, as they are a lot cheaper than LG CX and A8H. The second thing is, you should skip 49″ and 50″ models as they lack HDMI 2.1. If you are a gamer who owns or plans to buy a console, don’t even think about them!
Samsung Q80T has four HDMI inputs, and one of them is HDMI 2.1. Obviously, that’s the one you want to use for your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S consoles. Finally, you have two standard USB 2.0 ports, which is still pretty much all you need.
Deep blacks and terrific gaming support
Unless you are coming from an OLED screen, you’ll love what Q80T has to offer when it comes to picture quality. Native contrast and black levels are superb for QLED, and in a bright room, you’ll enjoy it more than LG CX or Sony A8H. Of course, every LED/QLED is weakest during the movie night, as they usually struggle with blacks. However, what you might experience here is only a slight blooming, while even the subtitles aren’t causing any problems.
HDR performance can match and beat the best OLED screens for less money, but that’s what I’ve expected. Things are even better if the content supports HDR10+, but that’s still a rarity. Samsung is ignoring Dolby Vision for now, even though it looks like it’s losing this battle. The Q80T automatically applies upscaling and uses machine learning to improve it over time. The results are above average, as I haven’t noticed artifacts.
One of the best reasons to own Q80T are its features, as it supports practically everything but Dolby Vision. The gamers will be delighted, as because of HDMI 2.1, you can expect VRR, FreeSync, and G-Sync support. Combine that with Ultra Viewing Angle technology, and you’ll get an excellent TV for local multiplayer. Finally, the input lag is only 10.1 ms, as it beats every other screen on the test.
Samsung Q80T is a great mid-range TV and a decent alternative for OLED screens, even beating them when it comes to input lag or daylight performance. Plus, you’ll be saving a lot of money.
Best TV under $1000 and the brightest on test
Somehow, many people think that spending less than $1000 on a TV is not a good idea. But, even though you’ll have to forget about 8K and OLED screens for the price, you don’t have to sacrifice almost anything else. While there are more than a few tremendous under a thousand bucks TVs, it doesn’t get better than TCL 6-Series. This model is not particularly thin, and you’ll need a lot of space for its wide legs. However, bezels are small, and the build quality is impressive.
TCL 6-Series is available as 55″, 65″, and 75″ models and they are all the same when it comes to quality and features. That’s a pretty decent choice, as these are currently the most popular sizes. Of course, only the 75″ version is above our $1000 limit.
As for the inputs, TCL 6-Series has four HDMI 2.0 and only a single USB 2.0. However, don’t let that fool you. Despite lacking HDMI 2.1, this is still a 120Hz TV with advanced gaming features I’ll mention later.
Mini-LED and the best contrast in the class
This model has visibly improved picture quality over the previous generation and beats more expensive rivals, including the Sony X900H. TCL 6-Series uses a mini-LED technology and benefits from it in a few ways. This is the brightest TV on the test, meaning that the picture looks impressive even in the daylight.
This also helps a lot with HDR performance, as the colors pop up, while local dimming helps with black levels. While this model doesn’t support HDR10+, I’m happy to report that Dolby Vision is present, and it works very well. However, keep in mind that many supported titles are barely using even the standard HDR, despite claiming otherwise. As for the upscaling, AiPQ is doing a great job, as long as the source HD material has a decent bitrate.
As I mentioned, this device has some extra features for gamers, the most important being the support for VRR. Also, while 4K gaming is limited at 60 fps, you can enjoy [email protected] for some ultra-smooth performance. Keep in mind that PS5 doesn’t support this mode, but that should change. At 18.4 ms input response, it’s not among the fastest models, but that’s more than enough unless you are a professional gamer. Thanks to ALLM, the gaming mode activates automatically, and the device also has a PC mode.
If you need a bright display with excellent HDR and decent gaming performance for a limited budget, TCL 6-Series can’t be the wrong choice. Still, keep in mind that it’s available only in North America.
Excellent value for the money, especially for students
Low input lag
An excellent choice for movie nights
Limited viewing angles
No HDMI 2.1
Not so long ago, paying $500 for a TV meant that you’ll get a basic device that’s not anywhere near a comprehensive solution for your living room. Hisense H8G is one of the models that changes this perception as it offers some surprising features. It sure looks good, and it helps that its feet are metal, with cable management that wasn’t present in the previous generation. Finally, the device is thinner than three inches, which is very helpful if you want to wall-mount it.
H8G comes in four sizes, including 50″, 55″, 65″ and 75″ inch models. However, know that 50″ and 55″ versions lack optical audio. However, they are the models that fit into our $500 limit. This TV comes with four HDMI 2.0 and two USB 2.0 inputs, which is usual for the class.
HDR10+ AND Dolby Vision working in harmony
H8G will impress you once you see it in action, mostly thanks to its relatively bright screen (700 nits) and high contrast ratio. Local dimming produces deep blacks, so even when watching a movie in a dark room, you’ll love what you see. However, in bright environments, the situation is a bit different. You likely won’t be shocked to know that the viewing angles are limited, so don’t plan crowded movie nights or game sessions. Or draw straws to determine who will get the center positions.
While HDR is impressive, a lot of daylight will harm the color richness. One of the best surprises is that the H8G is the only model on our test that supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. As both formats still have limited support (to put it politely), this is even more meaningful. Upscaling is slightly above average and is turned on automatically.
While this is a fantastic budget solution for the movie-loving crowd, H8G is nearly as good as a gaming device. That might sound weird, as this is an HDMI 2.0 device, which unlike TCL 6-Series, doesn’t even support 120Hz in any mode. While this also means that VRR is also not available, the gaming mode shows an 11.5 ms input lag, beating even the LG CX series. However, make sure it’s enabled as without it, lag skyrockets to 65 ms. I suggest you also allow MotionRate 240 and see if you like it or not. Of course, in no way it’s a substitution of 120 fps gaming.
While not shining in bright rooms, Hisense H8G is an excellent choice for moviegoers thanks to strong blacks, vivid colors, and advanced HDR options. It will also work well with PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, despite not supporting VRR.
The best TV in 2021 – Frequently asked questions
Why are there no 8K TVs on this list?
Because this is the list of the best 4K TVs! Joking aside, buying an 8K TV at this moment doesn’t make much sense. There are no 8K Blu-rays and streaming services don’t offer the 8K content. Moreover, while YouTube offers some 8K videos, keep in mind that they are highly compressed. Finally, while PS5 and Xbox Series X support 8K, there are no 8K games on the horizon. While there’s no doubt that 8K will make 4K obsolete one day, that won’t happen anytime soon.
How many HDMI and USB inputs do I need?
Almost every TV on the market has three or four HDMI ports. Even three ports should be enough for most users unless you have two consoles and a Blu-ray player. However, before buying a TV, you should also check where HDMI ports are located. That’s especially important if you want to wall-mount your TV, as in that case, one or more HDMIs may become inaccessible. As for the USB inputs, all models include at least two, and you don’t need more than that. While it’s nice to have a TV with USB 3.0 support, you’ll be fine with 2.0, which is still far prevalent.
Do I need HDMI 2.1 compatible TV?
You don’t unless you are a gamer. Watching sports, movies, or regular TV channels is the same on HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.1. Furthermore, that won’t change for a very long time! On the other side, HDMI 2.1 enables [email protected] gaming on the latest console. More importantly, HDMI 2.1 integrates VRR or Variable Refresh Rate that prevents frame drops during gameplay. VRR is present in some HDMI 2.0 devices, but in HDMI 2.1, it’s guaranteed!
Do I need to buy more expensive HDMI cables?
The short answer is no. That’s because of how the technology works, so either you have a perfect picture, or you don’t have it at all. More expensive cables won’t make the picture brighter, sharper and will certainly not make colors more vivid. However, if you see something resembling snow artifacts, this means that the cable is broken, and you should return it. Nevertheless, I would still skip the cheapest HDMI cables as their build quality usually affects their life span. I highly recommend well-protected cables if you need to connect the devices 15 feet or more away from each other.
How long is the lifespan of today’s TVs?
The lifespan of TV depends on many factors, but the crucial is the display technology it uses. For example, now long-gone Plasma TVs had a declared lifespan of at least 100,000 hours, and modern LEDs are slightly below that. OLED screens are the worst, as for a long time, their lifespan was only about 30,000 hours. Still, if you would watch TV every day for three hours, this means that it would lose half of its brightness in 27 years! Moreover, LG claims that they have drastically improved the OLED lifespan, which is now close to 100,000 hours. In practice, whatever you do, expect your TV to serve you well for at least a decade, and probably much more.
Do I need to pay for an extended warranty?
As we concluded, the current generation of TVs have a long lifespan, so paying for the extended warranty isn’t necessary. Manufacturers offer a one-year warranty, which is long enough to notice any problem. Also, when buying a TV, check the store’s return policy.
What happened to 3D TV? Are they still available?
If you want to confuse your local TV seller, ask them if they have any 3D displays. Expect to cause a bit of confusion, as all TV manufacturers dropped the support in 2017, citing the lack of interest. The age of 3D gaming pretty much died with PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles, while 3D Blu-ray movies are also facing extinction, even though new releases are still coming in 2021.
Which one is better, Dolby Vision or HDR10+?
Both standards are doing the same, enhancing the standard HDR. Besides, they are also nearly identical performance-wise. Still, the better standard is the one that’s widely supported, and in this case, Dolby Vision is currently winning. However, even Dolby Vision has minimal support, so don’t take it as a significant factor when buying a new TV.
What is the best size for a TV?
That really depends on your needs and the size of the room. With 4K TV, you need to watch it from a relatively short distance to see all the details. Unless you are in a tiny apartment, I would recommend a 55″ or even better, 65″ screen. These sizes are the most popular, widely available, and are the best buy options. One more thing – I don’t know anyone saying that his TV is too big. Go for the largest version you can afford!
What to avoid when buying a TV?
When buying a TV for general use, you should primarily care about the picture quality. The lack of HDMI 2.1 ports shouldn’t be something to worry about unless you’re a passionate gamer. You’ll notice that I haven’t talked much about the audio on these TVs because there’s not much to say. Even the best model, LG C1, is not shining in this department, so I advise buying a decent soundbar.
Some TVs depend on firmware updates to enable all their features, and sometimes you will have to have to wait months for delivery. Just ask the owners of Sony X900H, which caused a lot of confusion.
Buying guide for the best TV in 2021
What is the best 4K TV you can buy in 2021?
The top deciding factors when purchasing a 4K TV in 2021 are your needs and your resources. Those two things are usually not compatible, but in 2021 you can find an excellent TV for any budget. As we go below $1000, some compromises are necessary, but maybe you don’t need these extra features anyway.
Having said that, LG C1 is the best 4K TV you can find. It has excellent picture quality thanks to its OLED screen, and it includes four HDMI 2.1 inputs. This a terrific device for any purpose and will work great with the latest gaming consoles or gaming laptops. While it’s not cheap, it’s worth every penny.
However, if your gaming needs are average or non-existent, Sony A8H OLED is a better choice. This TV lacks HDMI 2.1, but the picture quality makes it the best choice for movie nights. It’s also a fantastic option for watching regular TV because of its advanced upscaling engine.
While Samsung Q80T is not the best model that the company offers, it’s a great value and is much more affordable than OLEDs. Despite using QLED technology, the picture quality is excellent. Black levels are deep, colors are vibrant, and it performs well in bright spaces. Finally, HDMI 2.1 compatibility makes it gaming-ready.
TCL has proven its relevance as their 6-Series beats anything else under $1000. For the money, you’ll get a very bright 65-inch screen with excellent color reproduction and terrific HDR performance. Despite the absence of HDMI 2.1 support, you can still play the latest games in [email protected] and employ VRR.
Hisense H8G is the best you can get for around $500 if you don’t need more than a 55″ TV. Despite limited viewing angles, watching movies on this device is an excellent experience thanks to local dimming and HDR performance. While it lacks advanced gaming features, H8G has a very low input lag.
What is the best TV in 2021?
If you can afford it, LG C1 is the best solution. Nothing beats OLED, but this model also has tons of other qualities that will make the whole family happy. If you don’t play video games, Sony A8H is even better, as it offers slightly improved picture quality, making it the ultimate choice for watching movies.
Samsung Q80T will save you close to $1000 while still offering an attractive display that is better suited for bright rooms. HDMI 2.1 helps it be a viable gaming platform.
If you don’t plan to spend over $1000 on a TV, TCL 6-Series won’t disappoint you. You will still get a 65″ screen that shines thanks to its vibrant colors and gaming performance. Finally, Hisense H8G is the best TV for around $500 and is a real all-arounder. The viewing angle is not the best, but long movie nights and gaming sessions are delightful on it.