The best smart TVs to buy in 2021

Just a few years ago, the idea of a “smart television” was something out of science fiction. Today, most TVs sold have hardware like Wi-Fi and Ethernet ports, and more importantly, apps that can stream content to your television. But which of these products are the best smart TVs to buy in 2021?

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Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Here’s a look at our picks for the best smart televisions you can currently buy.

Buying the best smart TVs for your needs

Smart TVs come in almost all sizes, but size by itself is not the only thing you should consider before purchasing one. The smart TV OS is another consideration. Televisions made by Samsung, LG, and Vizio have their own proprietary smart operating systems. Others use a third-party OS like Android TV, Roku OS, and Amazon Fire TV.

Unless you are getting a smaller set for your kitchen, home office, or even your bathroom, you should get a TV with at least a 4K resolution screen

Cheaper TVs typically have an LED display, but if you want a better picture, you should consider getting an OLED model, which offers better color variety and deeper blacks. Also, unless you’re getting a smaller set for your kitchen, home office, or even your bathroom, you should get a TV with at least a 4K resolution screen. There are TVs with 8K resolution screens, but they also tend to be more expensive. Plus, there’s very little native 8K video to stream at the moment (although some sets do upscale 4K content to 8K).

Finally, owners of new game consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X should check to see if the smart TVs they want have a higher refresh rate, like 120Hz, along with special game modes that will improve latency.

Should I get a streaming stick or set-top box to go with my smart TV?

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Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Even if you have a smart TV with included streaming apps, not all of them are created equally. Samsung, LG, and Vizio have their own proprietary smart TV operating systems. However, they tend to lag behind other smart TV OSs from Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, and Android TV, when it comes to adding new apps and features. If you buy a new TV from Samsung, LG, or Vizio, we recommend getting a separate streaming TV stick or set-top box to plug into one of your spare HDMI ports.

If you own a smart TV with Amazon Fire TV, Roku, or Android TV installed, make sure they support the apps you want to have. For example, Roku lacks a Twitch app, which Amazon Fire TV and Android TV have. However, Roku has a Spectrum TV app, which Amazon Fire and Android TV lack. You might want to buy a separate streaming stick with a different OS as a backup.

If you’re still not sure which smart TV would be the best for you, below are our picks of the best smart TVs in 2021 across multiple categories and price points.

The best smart TVs to buy in 2021

  • The Samsung QN900A Neo QLED is the best 8K TV you can get overall, thanks to some impressive video and high brightness levels.
  • The Sony A90J OLED is the best 4K TV, with some great and accuracy levels for viewing video content.
  • The  TCL 5 Series Roku TV is the best budget smart TV, offering high-quality features for a price that’s less than its competitors.
  • The Vizio D-series is the best small (under 40 inches) smart TV, offering up to 1080p resolution and solid picture quality for smaller rooms and kitchens.
  • The LG C1 Series OLED is the best overall OLED smart TV, with great contrast and color variety and support for Dolby Vision IQ.
  • The Sony A80J is the best Android TV, using the Google TV OS, combined with a great picture and powerful processor.
  • The Amazon Fire TV Omni series is the best Amazon Fire smart TV, with hands-free voice control and a slick design.
  • The TCL 6 Series is the best Roku OS smart TV, with solid all-around video streaming and gaming features.
  • The Samsung QN90A is the best gaming smart TV, with variable refresh rates and auto-low latency mode.

Samsung QN900A Neo QLED: The best 8K smart TV

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If you really want to future-proof your television, you want one with 8K video resolution support. There’s a small but growing number of such TVs, and the best comes from Samsung. The QN900A Neo QLED comes in 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models, and uses Samsung’s proprietary technologies. That includes its Quantum Mini LEDs for its bright and accurate display, along with its Neo Quantum Processor 8K that helps to optimize the display to give it the best-looking video and images possible.

There’s very little native 8K video to stream right now, but this TV also includes AI technology that automatically upscales video to the top resolution. The design of the QN900A Neo QLED is pretty slick as well, with a thin and nearly bezel-free screen, and a stand that holds all of the ports and power behind the television. The Samsung QN900A Neo QLED is perfect for your living room/home theater if you have the money.

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Samsung QN900A Neo QLED

The Samsung QN900A Neo QLED is expensive but that’s the price to get a TV with an 8K resolution that will be future proof for years to come.

Pros

  • 8K resolution
  • Impressive display
  • Powerful AI processor
  • Sleek and thin design

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Very little 8K content to stream
  • Samsung Tizen TV OS is good, but not perfect

Sony Bravia A90J: The best 4K smart TV

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Sony has alway