Updated

Best Smart TVs - Spring 2017
Reviews

Nowadays, finding a TV that isn't smart is very difficult. Only very cheap budget TVs, or old ones, will be without smart features. Generally, these won't have very good picture quality. Thankfully, they've grown to be a much better experience than they used to, so it's less problematic even if you dislike them. Not all smart TVs are built equal, though. Some platforms are much better than the others when it comes to speed, stability, features and supported apps. Here are our recommendations for the best smart TVs we've reviewed so far.

What is a smart TV?

In their most basic form, a smart TV is a television that is connected to the internet and provides web-related features. It can be a web browser, but their appeal usually comes from their ability to use online services such as Netflix, Youtube, and Spotify. If you've ever used something like an Apple TV, a Roku or a Chromecast, then you are already quite familiar with their capabilities as they are quite similar.

Unfortunately though, while they offer the same features, they tend to be a bit slower and less stable. This has become less of an issue in recent years, but most TVs still don't quite match the speed and reliability of something like a Roku set top box.

Best Smart TV

Coincidentally, the best TV we've reviewed also has the best Smart features.

Usage Ratings
8.7Mixed Usage
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What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
9.2Movies
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What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
8.4TV Shows
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What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
8.4Sports
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What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
Score components:
8.9Video Games
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What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
Score components:
9.0HDR Movies
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What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
8.9HDR Gaming
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What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
8.7PC Monitor
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What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
55" 65"

WebOS 3.5

The best smart TV available today is the LG OLED C7. This year again, LG's updated version of its WebOS platform is the best we've reviewed. Its interface is easily the prettiest of the bunch, and the comfortable motion-based remote enables swift and very accurate selections.

Its picture quality is unmatched. Thanks to OLED, individual pixels can be turned off completely, allowing it to display pure blacks. Contrasts are most impactful with picture quality, and C7 is perfect in that aspect. This smart TV also features one of LG's coolest features - by holding the remote pointing at the TV while in your viewing position, the TVs can play a track and adjust its audio to fit the room better. Unlike usual sound features, this one works quite well.

Unless you have some very specific needs that WebOS doesn't cover, it can't be beaten. It can be found across their entire range, but the LG C7 OLED is also one of the best TV's we've reviewed overall, so it fits quite well.

See our review

Best Mid-range Smart TV

If your budget can't quite fit the more expensive models, mid-range TVs can still offer great picture quality and smart features for a more accessible price. 

Usage Ratings
8.2Mixed Usage
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What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
8.4Movies
Show Help
What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
7.7TV Shows
Show Help
What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
7.9Sports
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What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
Score components:
8.5Video Games
Show Help
What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
Score components:
8.4HDR Movies
Show Help
What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
8.5HDR Gaming
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What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
8.0PC Monitor
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What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
49" 55" 65" 75"

Android TV 6.0

For a more reasonably priced option, the Sony X900E 4k LED TV is a very good smart TV. Android hasn't seen many upgrades over the years, but it's still a fully-featured solution that offers all the popular apps and then some.

The X900E is a great LED overall. It's versatile, and the picture quality is amongst the best found in an LED TV. This smart TV is especially good for gaming and sports since it handles fast motion very well.

Its biggest downside is its narrow viewing angle, but if you're only going to be watching from the front, this isn't an issue.

See our review

Best Budget Smart TV

Usage Ratings
6.7Mixed Usage
Show Help
What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
6.1Movies
Show Help
What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
6.6TV Shows
Show Help
What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
7.1Sports
Show Help
What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
Score components:
7.6Video Games
Show Help
What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
Score components:
5.3HDR Movies
Show Help
What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
4.7HDR Gaming
Show Help
What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
5.0PC Monitor
Show Help
What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
32" 40" 50"

Roku

For a true budget option, go for the TCL FS3800 LED TV. It's a simple smart TV with decent picture quality, but it features one of the best smart platforms available. Roku is simple to use, fast, and it has most of the apps and feature needed. The only missing thing is a web browser, but that isn't a big loss.

It's a pretty basic TV, but it still has some good picture quality. Blacks are deep, and the picture is quite uniform. It lacks premium features such as HDR, but that's to be expected of a TV at this price. Overall though, it's a package that's very difficult to beat in this price range.

See our review

Best Smart TV Platforms

LG WEBOS 3.5

LG Smart TV

9.5Remote
9.0Design
9.0Usability
7.5Web Browser
7.5Extra Features

Ever since its introduction in 2014, LG's WebOS has been a dominant force compared to competing Smart TVs. Especially at the time, it was slick, fast and intuitive. It's progressively evolved and has become even faster over time. Most of the changes have been fairly incremental, but it's matured into something that's very tough to beat. Even today, competing smart TVs are playing catch-up, which shows how far ahead it was 3 years ago. The app marketplace offers a selection wide enough to please just about everyone, but it's biggest selling point is most definitely the overall performance and simplicity.

TCL ROKU TV

TCL Smart TV

8.5Remote
8.5Design
9.0Usability
0Web Browser
9.0Extra Features

As services such as Netflix exploded in popularity over the past few years, so did the devices that rendered them accessible on the average person's TV. Roku boxes are one of the most popular options, and they've recently implemented their platforms within TVs themselves. 

It is essentially the same as what you'd find on the boxes. Related apps, such as the remote found on Android and iOS are compatible with both. It's very simple to use and stable. The biggest downside compared to WebOS is its lack of a web browser, but that's a fairly minor loss.

ANDROID TV

Sony Smart TV

8.0Remote
8.0Design
7.0Usability
8.0Web Browser
8.5Extra Features

Found on Sony and LeEco TVs, Android is a well-featured platform. It doesn't have quite the polish of some of its competition, but it still offers access to all the apps one would need, and more. Since Android is a pretty open platform, it allows for quite a lot of tinkering. Unfortunately, TVs featuring this smart platform have a tendency to be under-equipped. This isn't necessarily a fault of the system itself, but it usually leads to slow-downs and stability issues. One of its best features is casting; from apps on your phone or computer, you can send videos or movies to the TV directly. This essentially negates the need to use the remote to navigate through the menus, which is great.

sAMSUNG Smart Hub

Samsung Smart TV

8.0Remote
8.0Design
7.0Usability
7.0Web Browser
8.0Extra Features

Samsung's evolving platform has seen some polish over the years. In 2017, it received a facelift turning it shades of white. Its biggest advantage compared to other platforms is its voice control. It doesn't have quite the depth that you'd get with the google search that you find on Android, but it recognizes commands very accurately. It also allows you to change settings directly through voice commands, so changing inputs or brightness levels is as easy as holding the microphone button and saying "brightness 20".
Unfortunately, it's quite prone to framedrops and other forms of slowdowns. Some settings are quite buggy too. It's pretty well featured and should suit basic usage, but it isn't the best.

VIZIO SMARTCAST

Vizio Smart TV

6.5Remote
7.0Design
7.0Usability
4.0Web Browser
5.0Extra Features

Vizio's Smartcast is the most barebones option on the market today. If you've used a Google Chromecast before, this will be exactly the same. It doesn't actually have apps on the TV itself, it's entirely dependent on external devices such as your phone or tablet. The content availability is then entirely dependent on the external device itself, which can be hit or miss. 

The same feature is available on android, but it also allows to use it as a standalone device, making Vizio's solution seem quite limited in comparison.

Which apps are on a Smart TV?

Unless you have very specific needs, most apps will be found on smart platforms from the major manufacturers. Android, WebOS, Roku and Samsung's Smart Hub all feature an app store where you can download and purchase a wide variety of applications, or sometimes even rent or purchase content directly.

Here is a table comparing the main apps across all smart TV platforms, including Apple TV and Roku. It isn't the full list, but it should cover most people's needs.

 
Table Last Updated: 04/13/2016. If you see any error, email us at errors@rtings.com.

Is a Smart TV better than a standalone box?

Game consoles like the Xbox one and PS4, if you consider them in the same realm, obviously offer the advantage of giving you access to a wide library of high-quality games in addition to smart features. Devices like Roku, Apple TV or Nvidia's Shield TV don't offer as big of an advantage. Their feature set is either very similar or exactly the same as modern TVs, but their main advantage tends to be stability and speed. It's less of a factor for the various Roku boxes, but Android on the Shield TV gets updates more frequently, is more stable and is, in general, more responsive and less prone to slowdowns.

This isn't too big of a deal though. If most of your usage is going to consist of starting the TV and launching apps such as Netflix and Youtube, then investing in a standalone device is unnecessary.

Conclusion

Not only does almost every TV include smart features today, most of them are pretty good. LG's WebOS and TCL's Roku definitely stand out for their quality, but most shoppers should be pleased by the features of any of them. If you're shopping for a TV, don't fret too much on their smart features since little of your time is going to be spent using them. Instead,  focus on the picture quality or other features that complement your usage. You'll get much closer to finding your perfect TV that way.

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