It’s fairly safe to assume that most TVs made in 2020 are smart to some extent, and virtually every TV manufacturer claims to make the best smart TVs. But what exactly does that adjective “smart” entail? What makes a TV smart?
In this context, smart isn’t so much a technical term as a catch-all descriptor for TVs with certain types of features. The best smart TVs provide some mix of the following features:
- An intuitive OS: This is most crucial, since it will be the main way you interact with your TV. Not only do you want it to be fast and responsive, but you also want features such as universal search and personalized recommendations which make it as quick and easy to find something to watch.
- A wide-ranging app selection: Good smart TV software is nothing without content, and if the best apps aren’t available on a Smart TV platform, your new TV won’t feel all that smart.
- Voice assistant functionality (Alexa, Google, Apple or a proprietary system): Makes it easy to find content with your voice. Alexa and Google Assistant allow you to connect other smart home devices and access them with your voice.
- Built-in casting: The ability to stream content from your mobile device to your TV. This is usually accomplished via Apple AirPlay or Google Chromecast, and is a great workaround for when certain apps and services aren’t available on your smart TV platform.
Our primary focus below is TVs with great smart features. That’s not to say that these aren’t plenty of incredible 4K TVs — you’ll find plenty of cross over between the two categories — but these smart TVs have great online and voice assistant features that make your viewing experience that much more enjoyable.
Here are our recommendations for the best smart TVs for sale in 2020.
1. LG CX OLED Smart TV
BEST WEBOS TV
This isn’t your typical flatscreen TV. If you’re looking for a smart TV with 4K resolution and plenty of streaming options, we have plenty of top-rated options for you below (and there are tons of affordable flatscreen TVs to choose from, too). However, if you’re looking for a truly premium home entertainment setup, then we dare you to find a better option than this gorgeous LG CX OLED TV.
LG and Sony OLED TVs look incredible, there’s no doubt about that, and we’ve consistently touted the LG C9 Series as one of the best TVs for sale today. However, this smart TV makes other top-rated smart TVs look downright dumb. The WebOS interface that comes with the LG CX Series is as well organized and easy to navigate as they come. The app store is robust with most, if not all, the most popular applications. Your go-to entertainment apps populate cleanly across the bottom third of the screen when needed. And for those who prefer voice control over the old-school way, the C9 has support from three different voice assistants: the LG proprietary ThinQ, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Finally, you can stream content from your phone to the TV via Apple AirPlay 2.
For full smart capabilities and overall picture quality, the LG C9 leads the pack.
2. LG BX OLED SMART TV
BEST WEBOS ALTERNATIVE
While it’s almost universally accepted that the LG CX is the end-all, be all for TVs in 2020, its high price tag means that it won’t be within everyone’s budget. However, the LG BX is nearly as good, and a couple hundred dollars less, which means that you can still get an excellent OLED display at a more wallet-friendly price. While you may give up a little in overall brightness and it doesn’t have the latest LG image processor, this TV still has all the same webOS 3.0 functionality packed in.
3. TCL 6-Series Smart TV
BEST ROKU TV
With an interface so simple a caveman could figure it out, the TCL 6-Series Smart TV provides essentially a bare-bones interface stripped of all the bells and whistles that you don’t need for an intuitive, easy to navigate experience. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less capable or robust than other platforms. The interface is snappy and responsive, it has one of the widest selection of apps and streaming services, and you can integrate it into your Google Assistant or Alexa ecosystem in order to control this TV with your phone or voice. Beyond that, you can plug headphones right into the remote for “private listening” when you don’t want to wake others at night. And you can even keep track of upcoming shows you want to watch via My Feed within the interface. And for Apple devotees, it even has support for AirPlay 2, which makes this a great all around package for streaming content of all types.
4. TCL 5-Series Smart TV
BEST SMART TV UNDER $500
The TCL 5-Series took a big leap forward in 2020 thanks to the addition of full-array local dimming and improved color gamut, and while the 6-Series still offers amazing value for a mid-range TV, the TCL 5-Series is more of a true budget option. But a more affordable price point doesn’t mean that the included Roku OS loses anything in the way of functionality. All of the same apps and connectivity options are available here, including AirPlay 2. If you’re looking for the best smart TV under $500 for Black Friday or Christmas shopping, the 5-Series is a more than worthy affordable flastscreen TV! Fair warning, only the 55-inch is priced under $500.
5. Sony A8H OLED Smart TV
BEST ANDROID TV
If we’re talking just picture quality, Sony’s OLED TVs are right at the top of the pack. But drop in a little smart TV hot sauce into the mix and the A8H becomes extra awesome. For starters, most Android users will be able to control the TV with their phone via the Sony TV SideView app. That also means built-in Chromecast for seamless streaming from your devices to the TV. It’s no surprise that since Google Play is your primary go-to app store, it also has Google Assistant integration so you can control your smart home devices with your remote, along with easy access to all of the best streaming services. This TV is the total package.
6. Hisense H9G Quantum Series Smart TV
BEST ANDROID TV ALTERNATIVE
Like the top TVs from TCL and Vizio, the Hisense H9G has quietly emerged as another display that offers performance far exceeding its price tag. And if that isn’t enticing enough, it also comes with Android TV, which, as we’ve already pointed out, is an extremely versatile smart TV platform. Of course, the picture quality won’t be as great as OLED TVs the likes of LG and Sony, but stack this display up against any of the top QLED models and it’s easily right up there with the best models.
7. Vizio OLED-H1
BEST VIZIO SMARTCAST TV
With the Vizio OLED-H1, there’s no need for an additional Chromecast device to stream content from your phone straight to your TV, which is awesome, and rather handy. The SmartCast OS (pretty much the Android interface) is robust, if a bit unpolished. While it does offer recommendations tailored to your viewing habits, the interface is a bit on the slow side compared to premium smart TVs. With that in mind, this is the most affordable OLED TVs you can find for the money.
8. Vizio M7 Quantum Smart TV
BEST VIZIO SMARTCAST ALTERNATIVE
If you’re looking for a non-OLED Vizio TV that offers equally good bang for the buck, the Vizio M7 Quantum is a great choice. The SmartCast software on this TV offers all the same functionality as the OLED-H1 and has image quality that is excellent in its own right, but still manages to come in at a fraction of the price. And since SmartCast has more than 200 channels offering free content, there will be plenty for you to watch, even if you don’t want to pay for a premium service.
9. Toshiba TF 32-inch Smart Fire TV Edition
BEST AMAZON FIRE TV
Looking for a top-rated small TV? Even though you can buy a Fire Stick from Amazon, the Toshiba TF 32-inch Smart TV has the Fire Stick platform built right into it. And there is still plenty of utility for a 32-inch TV, which can be perfect for a kitchen or a den. The Fire Stick platform is incredibly easy and versatile, allowing for you to speak directly to Alexa to find the content you are looking for. Toshiba is a solid choice if you need a little TV at a little price tag.
10. Samsung Q80T
BEST TIZEN OS SMART TV
Samsung’s Tizen OS is about on par with the simplicity and intuitiveness of LG’s WebOS. Higher-end Samsung TVs also come with Bixby, Samsung’s proprietary voice assistant. (However, the 2020 version of the Q80 does come with Alexa functionality as well). Beyond the nifty voice control search, there’s also a Mult-View feature to watch content on your phone and TV while you are casting. That makes it easier to share content from your phone for others to watch and enjoy. Beyond the smart stuff, Samsung Q80T is an overall great TV choice for picture quality. There have been early reports of occasional picture quality issues, which is frustrating in a TV that costs more than $1,500.
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