Best 75-inch TV deals: Get a big screen from $500 | Digital Trends

Best 75-inch TV deals: Get a big screen from $500 | Digital Trends

There are a lot of TV deals taking place right now, which makes it a good time to save on upgrading your home theater. But if you’re looking to go big with the experience, there are also quite a few 75-inch TV deals to take advantage of. These include major discounts on 75-inch TVs from the likes of the best TV brands, including LG, TCL, Samsung, Sony, and more. We’ve done the heavy lifting of rounding them all up. All you have to do is kick back, take a look around, and save big on a new 75-inch TV.

Hisense A6 75-inch 4K Google TV — $500, was $580

Hisense

Getting a large 4K TV into your entertainment hub is easy and affordable with the Hisense A6. It not only has a great 4K picture, but it can convert older content into 4K as you watch. It has a 60Hz refresh rate that makes it good for watching fast-paced sports and action movies, as it keeps the image from tearing, lagging, or breaking apart. And because it’s a smart TV, you can break the Hisense A6 in with the best new movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Max, and more.

LG UQ70 75-inch 4K webOS TV — $580, was $750

The LG 65-inch UQ70 Series LED 4K smart TV against a white background.
LG

The LG UQ70 is one of the best value 4K TVs available. Like all of the best TVs, it’s capable of producing an immersive 4K image. It has an AI processor that enhances picture and sound quality, and webOS 22 allows you to customizing your viewing experience with separate accounts and personalized recommendations for every member of your family. It has a game dashboard and optimizer that adjusts settings for gamers. It also has access to streaming platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+, HBO Max, and many others is built right into the TV’s software. This makes a great TV for budget-minded shoppers who still want to push their digital content experience into deeper levels of immersion.

Samsung CU7000 75-inch 4K Tizen TV — $650, was $750

The Samsung CU7000 4K TV on a white background.
Samsung

The Samsung CU7000 4K TV delivers amazing 4K picture quality with Crystal UHD technology, and it’s able to upscale older content into the modern 4K resolution as you watch. Its smart capabilities are powered by Tizen. This gives you instant access to many of the most popular streaming platforms. When it comes to compatibility with smart devices, the CU7000 works with Alexa, making it easy to integrate your Alexa-enabled devices and expand your smart home setup. It also works with Google Assistant, which allows you to change channels, adjust volume, and control playback with just your voice, as well as Apple AirPlay 2, which allows you to share content from Apple devices on the TV.

TCL Q6 75-inch 4K QLED Google TV — $798, was $900

TCL 2024 Q6-Pro QLED TV.
TCL

The 75-inch model of the TCL Q6 is another affordable option if you’re really looking to fill out a home theater. The 75-inch screen utilizes QLED picture technology, which produces one of the best 4K images on the market. It has Motion Rate 240, which combines multiple motion enhancement technologies for motion clarity. This may not sound like much, but it keeps the image looking as good as possible during the fast-paced action of things like movies, sports games, and even video games. The interface for this TV is built on Google TV, which provides easy and helpful access to all of your favorite movies, shows, and live TV.

Sony Bravia XR A80L 77-inch 4K OLED Google TV — $2,900, was $3,300

Sony A80L 4K OLED TV.
Sony / Sony

The Sony Bravia A80L is an OLED TV, which means you’re getting some serious picture quality here. It utilizes the Google TV smart platform. This gives you a range of smart features, including hands-free voice controls that allow you to access entertainment, get answers, and control the TV and other smart home devices. Additional smart features include compatibility with Apple AirPlay for streaming pictures, video, or audio directly to the TV from an Apple device. This is also a TV you should consider if you have a PlayStation 5, as it offers extraordinary picture quality and responsive gameplay through features designed exclusively for the Sony PlayStation platforms.

More 75-inch TV deals we love

There are more 75-inch TV deals out there, however, with quite a few of them coming in at less than $1,000. Among them you’ll find brands like Toshiba, LG, Samsung, and Sony, as well as from Roku, which has started packaging its smart TV platform into its own hardware.

  • Toshiba C350 75-inch 4K Fire TV —

  • Insignia F30 75-inch 4K Fire TV —

  • Samsung TU690T 75-inch 4K Tizen TV —

  • Roku 75-inch 4K RokuTV —

  • LG UQ75 75-inch 4K webOS TV —

  • Amazon Fire Omni 75-inch 4K Fire TV —

  • Samsung Q60B 75-inch 4K QLED Smart TV —

  • Sony Bravia XR X90L 75-inch 4K Google TV —

  • TCL QM8 75-inch 4K QLED Google TV —

  • LG B3 77-inch 4K OLED webOS TV —

More Unmissable Deals






Best 85-inch TV Deals: Save on Samsung, Sony, TCL, and More | Digital Trends

Best 85-inch TV Deals: Save on Samsung, Sony, TCL, and More | Digital Trends

While many large TVs can get the home theater job done, if you want to bring some head-turning action to the experience you need to go with an 85-inch TV. Many of the best TV brands makes models up to 85 inches, and there’s a lot to choose from if you’re hoping to land some savings. Discounts are out there on 85-inch TV models by Samsung, TCL, and Sony, and we’ve done the heavy lifting of tracking them down. So whether you’re shopping to upgrade your home theater or start one from scratch, these are the best 85-inch TV deals for doing so.

Our favorite 85-inch TV deal

85-inch TCL S4 4K TV — $800, was $1,000

TCL / TCL

TCL has grown in popularity the last few years, as it makes TVs with features that generally outperform their price point. You’ll find an excellent 4K image with the TCL S4. It boasts HDR PRO technology that provides enhanced contrast, accurate colors, and includes the fine details in all of your favorite content. This is a great TV for gamers, movie lovers, and sports fans as it utilizes a feature known as Motion Rate 240 to create exceptional motion clarity, even during fast-paced action.

This should be a particularly enticing TV if smart TV features matter to you. The TCL S4 uses the Google TV smart OS platform. This is one of the better smart platforms, particularly if you watch movies and TV shows across several different streaming services. You’ll get built-in access to things like the best new movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Max, and more, and the Google TV interface does a good job of organizing your favorite content from all of your streaming service, as well as present new content from places you may not otherwise think to look.

More 85-inch TV deals we like

A Samsung 85-inch 8K hangs on a living room wall.
Samsung

But there’s plenty more shopping to do, particularly if TCL isn’t your brand or you prefer one of several other smart OS platforms in your smart TV. Samsung using its own Tizen smart OS, and you’ll find some great Samsung 85-inch TV deals available. You’ll also find the likes of Sony, LG, and other name brands with discounted 85-inch models, including some that can compete with the best QLED TVs.

  • LG 85-inch UR7800 4K webOS TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch CU7000 4K Tizen TV —

  • TCL 85-inch Q6 QLED 4K Google TV —

  • LG 85-inch UQ75 4K webOS TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch CU8000 4K Tizen TV —

  • Sony 85-inch X80K 4K Google TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch Q60C QLED 4K Tizen TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch Q80C QLED 4K Tizen TV —

  • Sony 85-inch Bravia XR X90L 4K Google TV —

More Unmissable Deals






Best 75-inch TV Cyber Monday Deals: Samsung, Sony & More | Digital Trends

Best 75-inch TV Cyber Monday Deals: Samsung, Sony & More | Digital Trends

Digital Trends

If our guide on what size TV to buy says you should buy a 75-inch TV, then don’t let Cyber Monday deals end without getting one with a massive discount. That’s a fairly massive size for a screen, which will get you an unparalleled viewing experience whenever you watch sports or blockbuster movies. They’re often expensive, but you can enjoy some savings if you take advantage of Cyber Monday TV deals. Now’s the perfect time to purchase a 75-inch TV, but where do you start? We’ve gathered some of the best 75-inch TV Cyber Monday deals available right now, just to make things a bit simpler for everybody. These cover some of the best QLED TV Cyber Monday deals and OLED TV Cyber Monday deals.

The best 75-inch TV Cyber Monday deal

Hisense 75-inch Class U6 4K Google TV — $650, was $800

The Hisense U6K
Best Buy

One of the best 75-inch TVs when it comes to price, features, and quality is the Hisense 75-inch Class U6 Series 4K HDR Mini-LED QLED smart Google TV, which is $100 off at Best Buy. It’s already priced reasonably at $800, but with today’s deal it’s down to $650. It’s a QLED or Quantum Dot technology panel equipped with Mini-LED tech and full array local dimming, plus ULED 4K resolution. That’s a lot of big, fancy words to describe it as a beautiful TV, and it’s beautiful indeed. Even more beautiful is that price. Thanks Best Buy.

More 75-inch TV Cyber Monday deals we like

A PlayStation 5 connected to a TV, showing the Sony Pictures Core interface.
Sony

If you’re not a fan of Hisense, or you’re looking for a better price, or even a different panel technology, don’t fret. We’ve also gathered a few of the best 75-inch TV Cyber Monday deals that are live right now. There are TVs from Toshiba, Amazon, LG, Sony, and Samsung, and across a variety of price points from more affordable to top-of-the-line. If you want to look at individual brand’s offers, check out Amazon Cyber Monday deals, Samsung TV Cyber Monday deals, Sony TV Cyber Monday deals and LG Cyber Monday deals. Take your pick.

  • 75-inch Toshiba C350 LED 4K Fire TV —

  • 75-inch TCL 4K LED Google TV —

  • 75-inch Samsung TU690T Crystal 4K TV —

  • 75-inch Amazon Omni QLED 4K Fire TV —

  • 75-inch LG QNED 4K TV —

  • 75-inch TCL QM8 QLED 4K Mini-LED Google TV —

  • 75-inch Sony BRAVIA XR X90L LED 4K Google TV —

Editors’ Recommendations






Best Buy Black Friday TV Deals: LG, Samsung, Sony, and More | Digital Trends

Best Buy Black Friday TV Deals: LG, Samsung, Sony, and More | Digital Trends

Digital Trends

It is the time to get Black Friday deals. If you’re like most people, that means your mind immediately leaps to getting one of the best TVs while it is heavily discounted. And, frankly, we feel that you’re on the right track, and think that the following Best Buy Black Friday deals will greatly help you on your search. The store carries a wide variety of brands and will have Samsung TV Black Friday deals, Sony TV Black Friday deals and LG Black Friday deals among others while providing familiar Best Buy service. We are aware that many people prefer to shop by TV size over store and service quality, however, and have created 55-inch TV Black Friday deals and 70-inch TV Black Friday deals lists for these two incredibly popular TV sizes, as well as a 32-inch Black Friday TV deals list in case you are the type that likes these astonishingly hard to find smaller TVS. Finally, while we’re on the topic of Best Buy, consider checking out these great Best Buy Black Friday laptop deals that we’ve recently discovered, as well.

Top 3 Best Buy Black Friday TV deals

The Samsung TU69OT 4K Smart TV on a media cabinet in a living room.
Samsung

No matter what size TV you may be looking to add to your home theater, Best Buy likely has it discounted for Black Friday. Three of the best TV deals you’ll currently find at Best Buy include a couple of 4K options, as well as an HD TV that comes in at a lower price point for ultimate Black Friday savings.

  • Insignia 42-inch F20 HD Fire TV —

  • Hisense 50-inch R6G 4K Roku TV —

  • Samsung 75-inch TU690T 4K Tizen TV —

Best Buy Black Friday LG TV deals

The LG C3 Series OLED 4K TV in a living room.
LG

Almost always one of the best TV brands, LG has a huge offering of smart TVs. Many of them utilize the webOS smart platform, which makes finding your favorite content super easy. Best Buy has a lot of different sizes available when it comes to LG TV deals for Black Friday, ranging from TVs that will fit nicely into the corner of the office to TVs that will make a great centerpiece for the home theater.

  • LG 43-inch UQ75 Series 4K webOS TV —

  • LG 55-inch UQ70 Series 4K webOS TV —

  • LG 65-inch UQ70 Series 4K webOS TV —

  • LG 65-inch 75 Series QNED 4K webOS TV —

  • LG 86-inch UR7800 4K webOS TV —

  • LG 65-inch B3 Series OLED 4K webOS TV —

Don’t Miss:

Best Buy Black Friday Vizio TV deals

Vizio 2023 M-series TV hanging on a wall.
Vizio

Vizio is a good TV brand to consider if you’re looking for ultimate savings. It doesn’t have the name recognition that heavy hitters like Sony have, but that means you aren’t paying for brand recognition. Best Buy has a few Vizio TVs discounted for Black Friday, and while there aren’t currently any overly-sized Vizio TVs discounted, these will all make great options for apartments or smaller rooms.

  • Vizo 24-inch D-Series HD smart TV (refurbished) —

  • Vizio 40-inch D-Series HD smart TV —

  • Vizio 43-inch V-Series 4K LED smart TV —

  • Vizio 55-inch V-Series 4K LED smart TV —

  • Vizio 50-inch MQX Series 4K QLED smart TV —

Best Buy Black Friday Sony TV deals

A Sony Bravia A80K 4K TV sits on a table in front of a large window.
Sony

Sony is one of the most recognizable names in consumer electronics, and it’s almost always one of the best TV brands. It makes a range of sizes that each offer amazing picture quality. Many of them are powered by Google TV to help organize and search through your favorite content, and all of them go a long way toward diving into a quality viewing experience.

  • Sony 43-inch X85K 4K HDR Google TV —

  • Sony 65-inch X85K 4K HDR Google TV —

  • Sony 65-inch Bravia XR X90L 4K Google TV —

  • Sony 85-inch X80K 4K HDR Google TV —

  • Sony 85-inch Bravia XR X90L 4K Google TV —

Best Buy Black Friday QLED TV deals

The VIZIO 65" Class M6 Series 4K QLED HDR Smart TV M65Q6-J09 being used as a meditation coach.
Vizio

If you’re looking for one of the best images you can get in a TV, you should look into these Black Friday QLED TV deals. QLED is regarded as one of the highest quality picture technologies available, as many owners of the best QLED TVs will likely attest. You’ll find in these deals quality TV brands that include the likes Samsung, TCL, and Hisense.

  • Vizio 50-inch MQX Series 4K QLED HDR smart TV — 

  • TCL 65-inch Q7 Class 4K QLED HDR Google TV —

  • Hisense 65-inch U8 Series 4K QLED HDR Google TV —

  • Samsung 65-inch Q80C 4K QLED Tizen TV —

  • Samsung 75-inch Q70C 4K QLED Tizen TV —

Best Buy Black Friday OLED TV deals

LG GX deals bundle hero with OLED TV and sound bar
LG Electronics

And if QLED doesn’t suit your picture needs, OLED is another impressive picture technology. QLED and OLED are considered the best of the best, so you can shop these Black Friday OLED TV deals knowing you’re getting a superior image. You’ll find the likes of LG and Sony among the current Black Friday OLED TV deals, as well as a variety of TV sizes to choose from.

  • LG 48-inch A2 Series 4K OLED webOS TV —

  • Samsung 55-inch S90C 4K OLED Tizen TV —

  • LG 65-inch C3 Series 4K OLED webOS TV —

  • Sony 65-inch Bravia XR A80L 4K OLED Google TV —

  • Samsung 77-inch S89C 4K OLED Tizen TV —

Best Buy Black Friday Samsung TV deals

The Samsung Q60B QLED Smart TV sits on a media cabinet in a living room.
Samsung

Samsung is another popular TV brand that has a lot to offer your home theater. Samsung TVs often offer lower starting price points than brands like Sony, yet they still maintain high picture quality and a ton of smart features. Samsung TVs utilize the Tizen smart platform, which gives you easy access to your favorite streaming services and other content.

  • Samsung 50-inch TU690T Series 4K Tizen TV —

  • Samsung 55-inch CU7000 4K Tizen TV —

  • Samsung 65-inch CU7000 4K Tizen TV —

  • Samsung 75-inch TU690T Series 4K Tizen TV —

  • Samsung 85-inch CU8000 4K Tizen TV —

How we chose these Best Buy Black Friday TV deals

We started looking at our reviews — what we like, and what we don’t like. We then head out and find the best deals on these items, so we’re purposefully curating, instead of filling the list with products that just happen to be discounted. We think a smaller, more definitive list is better than a list of a thousand products.

We also include things we haven’t reviewed where it makes sense, doing our research to make sure it’s a quality product. We’re looking at reviews from subject matter experts and on the shopping platforms themselves, and comparing the product to the alternatives. If we think it all checks out, it makes the cut.

Once we were confident we found all the top Best Buy Black Friday TV deals, we then ordered them in a list from cheapest to most expensive. We recommend scrolling down to the product at the top-end of your budget, and rest assured we think it’s the very best value you’re going to get at that price point.

Of course, we’re also using price comparison and history tools, as well as our own first party data, to make sure you’re getting a good deal. This is something you can do while shopping around yourself too, using tools like CamelCamelCamel, which shows you historic pricing for items on Amazon.

We’re not perfect and it’s totally possible that we may have missed something while curating this list of Best Buy Black Friday TV deals? If you’ve found a killer deal you think should be included, drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll consider it in the next update.

Also keep in mind that all prices were accurate at the time of publishing. While we’re checking back and updating this post with the latest deals and prices, we can’t ignore the fact that deals move fast on Black Friday, and it’s possible that an offer may have expired between when you click and when we last hit update.

Should you shop these deals or wait for Cyber Monday?

Shop now! That’s our advice.

There’s no guarantee that the Best Buy Black Friday TV deals we’re seeing today will be available tomorrow, let alone on Cyber Monday, and it’s even more unlikely that these items will be cheaper then. The same deals we’re seeing on Black Friday tend to run the weekend through the Cyber Monday deals event.

In the unlikely event that the item you purchased today is cheaper on Cyber Monday, you can always purchase it again and cancel or return the original order. It’s better to get something in the bag than miss out on what could just be the bargain of the year. Time isn’t on our side when it comes to Black Friday deals.

But that’s what we’re here for: We help you find the best deals. If we’ve included something on this list, we don’t think it’s price will slip further between now and Cyber Monday — and if it does, it won’t be by anything significant (a few bucks at most), so it still represents a significant savings, and one that’s not to be missed.

Editors’ Recommendations






You Asked 7: streaming inequality and holy grail TVs | Digital Trends

You Asked 7: streaming inequality and holy grail TVs | Digital Trends

You Asked is our series where our Tv expert Caleb Denison answers your frequently asked or insightful questions that we think can help a lot of our readership. In this installment, we explore if it matters what you use to stream Netflix (or any other streaming service) and whether we’re in a time when you should really just wait to buy a new TV. What about Hisense U8K versus TCL Q7? And will there be more Nakamichi Dragon comparisons?

Let’s get to it.

Quality streams

Apple TV 4K Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

John Golla writes: Does it matter which piece of equipment one uses to watch a streaming service such as Netflix? I have a fiber optic TV service, a Panasonic 4K BluRay player, and LG C3 TV. All offer Netflix. The sound is fed to a Denon AVR. Would the picture and sound quality be the same regardless? Does it only depend on the internet speed?


Thanks, John. I’m glad you asked. The timing of your question could not be better. Our recent Sony X95L versus TCL QM8 comparison addresses this issue. In it, I show how the Max app on the Sony TV seems to be problematic, and the YouTube app on the TCL TV seems to be problematic, both in terms of picture quality.

But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Something I have been learning slowly over the last couple of years is that many, if not all, of the most popular streaming apps behave wildly differently from platform to platform. So, the Netflix app on LG’s webOS, for example, may behave dramatically differently from the Netflix App on Roku, which is different than Netflix on Google TVs or Chromecast with Google TV, and so on and so on.

I don’t even know about all the issues, but some include certain platforms limiting color bit depth to 4:2:0 – which means more color banding just because you are watching on that platform. It’s also true that some platforms refuse to allow buffering in favor of better picture quality, so even though you pay for 4K, you might not be getting it because the internet connection is too slow. Some platforms may present 24 frames-per-second (fps) content at 30 fps without you having any say in it.

The issue is wide-ranging, and there isn’t a single streaming platform or device that is perfect. They all have issues. And, no, I have not created a database to track or cross-reference all this, but that’s a good idea.

What I can tell you is that I have decided to settle on Apple TV 4K as my personal, preferred streaming OS and streaming device. It’s the one with the least amount of questions and just enough control. It also comes with the fewest number of headaches, and for that, I’m willing to pay extra. It’s not perfect, but it is the least flawed, and, sadly, I think that’s where we’re at with streaming right now. Pick the lesser evil. And for me, that is Apple TV 4K. I prefer using Google TV, but it seems like I can’t trust it.

TV recommendations

A view of a Japansese courtyard looking from within a house displayed on a Hisense U8K.
Hisense U8K. Chris Hagan / Digital Trends

Next is a question from Tyler Creador, who wrote: I’m in the middle of the road of choosing either the Hisense 55-inch U8K or the TCL 55-inchQ7. I watch TV mostly at dinnertime and more on the weekends. We like to watch Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Paramount Plus, and ESPN + for softball and cornhole. Our viewing angle isn’t straight on, but 6 to 10 feet away from the TV that is wall-mounted. I have a Samsung Model Code: UN55H6350 with a 2.1 soundbar and subwoofer combo from Samsung. The TV is in a room with a large window that only gets the sun when it’s setting in the sky. I am also looking into getting the Nintendo Switch OLED to hook up to as well. I use the Xfinity Flexbox and the Roku Ultra box for streaming. 


Given this use, I’m inclined to say go for the Hisense U8K. In terms of picture quality and, to a lesser degree, sound, It’s the better-performing TV among the two you listed. And since you won’t be using the onboard Google TV interface for much other than selecting your desired input for your Roku or Xfinity Box, I’m comfortable with that suggestion. My main gripe is that Hisense’s OS slows down after a couple of years of updates. That may be changing, but I haven’t had a chance to test it. So until I do, that’s the one thing I keep in mind.

An aerial view of a skyline at night on a Sony A95L.
Sony A95L Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

Along similar lines, Basim Obeida wrote: If budget is not a concern, which TV model is better to buy considering the use of it is streaming content (Netflix, Disney+, etc.) and casual console playing (PlayStation 5 to be exact)? Please note that the space allows for 65 or 75 inches maximum. The video quality is important, but I am not a “nit-nerd” and the room is semi-dark so brightness is not an issue. I just watched Episode 6 of You Asked, and following your advice, this is the most amount of information I was able to provide to help you help me.


You gave me just enough information to answer there. You are looking at a 65- or 75-inch TV, cost is no object, you stream Netflix and maybe play some PS5, and massive brightness is not an issue.

Given those considerations, especially the cost-no-object thing? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the Sony A95L is probably going to be the best TV to buy in terms of picture quality and overall performance. Now, please understand that I have not yet reviewed that TV. I will soon, Sony assures me of that. So, if you want to wait for that review just to be sure, that is certainly the safe, smart play. But, unless Sony really, really screws something up, which it does not have a history of doing, last year’s A95K is a good indication that the A95L is going to be an absolutely outstanding TV, and just slightly better in some small ways than the A95K. If you could still get an A95K, though? I would probably just get that and save some money. That is IF and only IF you don’t mind going 65-inch. If you want to stretch a bit and get a 77-inch, then you would need to wait for the A95L to come out.

I would also strongly consider the LG G3 OLED or the Samsung S95C QD-OLED, as both are very strong TVs as well, each with its own little advantages. But, yeah, if you’re going to pin me down to just one and tell me the cost is no object, I’d say get a 77-inch Sony A95L when it comes out. That has all the makings of the best TV of the year.

Nakamichi Dragon vs. Sony A9 showdown?

The soundbar component of the Nakamichi Dragon Surround System.
Nakamichi Dragon Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

Mohammad Arafat says: Hello Caleb. Love from India. (Love right back at ya!) Can we have a Dragon versus Sonos 300 versus Sony A9- SW5 comparison?


I’m sorry to say that the answer to that is, for now, no. I really am sorry. I think that’s a great idea. And if I had the Sony HT-A9 here to do comparisons, I would have done that already. But Sony needed their HT-A9 back, so I returned it when I was done with the review. Perhaps I should have pressed harder to keep it. That’s my mistake. But, not only do I not have an HT-A9 from Sony, even if I did get them to send me one again, I also don’t have the Nakamichi Dragon anymore. I had to send that back to Nakamichi, which was kind of a bummer. But also, it was huge and heavy and I didn’t really have room for it to stick around so … it’s bittersweet. If I had to do a hot take on that, though? I’d say Nakamichi for the movies and Sony for the music, and the SW5 is OK, but it can’t hold a candle to the dual Nakamichi subs. That’s just based on memory.

Holy Grail TV FOMO

The LG G3 OLED TV on a stand, showing a mountain scene on the screen.
LG G3 Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

John Sprecher writes:  It feels like there is so much innovation on the horizon. [That includes] brighter-than-G3 OLEDs, mini-LED/Quantum color [going] from good to great, and even larger big-screen formats next year. If you’re a multi-big-screen household, does it feel to you like a bad time to invest in a holy grail TV for the main viewing area of a home?


Well, John, I hope it helps you to know that you are not alone with these feelings out there. I get this question all the time because this concern always exists. But there’s your answer in a way: This concern will never go away. There will always be a worry with consumer tech that the next new version right around the corner is gonna be significantly better enough that waiting to buy is smart. Because the concern is that what you buy now would be obsolete, right?

Here’s the thing. I don’t think I can recall a year in which any new version of a TV made the one before it obsolete. Or even that much less desirable! The introduction of QD-OLED was one of the bigger moments in TV tech, and while it was new and impressive, it didn’t render OLED before it obsolete. Same with the LG G3 — MLA made things brighter, and that’s exciting, but how necessary is it for most folks? It isn’t. The G3 didn’t make anything obsolete either. Heck, some thought mini-LED was going to make regular LED obsolete and that clearly hasn’t happened either.

So, you’re not going to run into obsolescence. What’s really happening is you are worried you aren’t going to have the latest and greatest. And I get that. But that will always be true. There will always be little upgrades over the prior year. So, don’t try to wait things out for stabilizing – because they will always be in flux. Buy when you want to buy. Buy when you can buy. And do what you can to refuse your mind the urge to experience FOMO.

Editors’ Recommendations






The best TV brands of 2023: Samsung, LG, Sony, TCL, and more | Digital Trends

The best TV brands of 2023: Samsung, LG, Sony, TCL, and more | Digital Trends

Buying a new TV can be quite an ordeal. There’s figuring out what size is best for your living space, then there’s choosing what picture tech you should go with, then there’s the overall price, and then there’s all the bells and whistles you need to think about, like which smart TV platform to trust and what TVs will let you cast photos and videos from your phone or tablet. Yeah, you’ve definitely got your work cut out for you, but it’s actually a good thing to have all these options. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a little guidance, too.

We’ve already covered what the best TVs are, but if you’d like some bigger-picture TV intel that you can carry around with you, we thought it best to put together this guide to the best TV brands. While this isn’t an end-all-be-all resource, we’ve definitely vetted and tested enough TVs to know what brands are worth considering, as well as which are best to avoid. We’ve also made sure to highlight the calling card features and specifications of these noteworthy names. 

And if, when you’re done, you’re ready to narrow down your search, check out our other roundups, including the best TVs under $500, or the best TVs under $1,000. If you’ve dug even deeper and have an OS preference, we’ve got lists of the best Google TVs and the best Roku TVs, too.

The best TV brands at a glance

Brand Category Calling cards Operating systems
Samsung Heavyweight QLED, QD-OLED Tizen
LG Heavyweight OLED webOS
Sony Heavyweight Cognitive Processor XR chip Google TV
TCL Contender Value Google TV, Roku TV
Hisense Contender Variety Google TV, Android, TV, Roku TV, Fire TV, Vidaa TV, XClass TV
Vizio Contender Quantum SmartCast
Roku-made TVs Newcomer Budget, value Roku TV

Note: Televisions chosen for this list are representative of makes and models available in the U.S. market. Further, TVs included in this guide were chosen primarily for their picture performance, with other considerations such as operating system or audio performance as secondary considerations.

Samsung

South Korea’s Samsung is the de facto market leader in the world television space, and took the top spot again last year, leading competitors like LG and Sony by a wide margin in terms of overall sales. That’s partly a result of the company’s size (Samsung ranks 25th on the Fortune 500), but mostly it’s because Samsung makes great TVs with a focus on accessibility.

Operating system: Tizen

Tizen is Samsung’s own Linux-based smart TV OS that places all your apps in a row along the bottom of the Smart Hub (read: home screen). It’s got all the popular streaming apps as part of a 2,000-plus app library, and it has a neat feature that activates when you select an app, showing you popular sub-categories (like Netflix shows or Spotify playlists) for that app. There’s also a Tizen Gaming Hub which supports Xbox, and GeForce Now for streaming games.

Perhaps most impressive is how Tizen works with the Samsung app family, including SmartThings, Smart Connect, and Smart View. You can use those to mirror content from your phone — even iPhones — to your TV or send TV playback directly to your phone (only on Samsung phones). If you’ve got compatible smart home devices, you also can use the TV as a control hub.

Also, many Samsung TVs offer other cool features like importing app logins from your phone to save time, and the Samsung One Connect Box, built to simplify messy cable nests behind TVs (and to enable cleaner wall-mounting).

Calling cards: QLED, QD-OLED, and Neo QLED

Samsung produces three main types of TVs: QLEDs, QD-OLEDs, and Neo QLEDs. Samsung’s regular QLED models are LED TVs with a layer of quantum dots positioned in front of the backlight. QD-OLEDs actually combine the best of both QLED and OLED technology (more on that below). Samsung Neo QLEDs use the same display tech as the brand’s QLED models but adds mini-LED lighting into the mix. Mini LEDs are much smaller than regular LEDs, which allows these types of TVs to produce a brighter picture with enhanced colors and contrast.

Best for bright rooms

In practice, QLED televisions have been known to be brighter (better for bright rooms) than less-expensive LCD TVs, and unlike OLED, can be more affordably built into large displays (100 inches and beyond).

However, over the last couple of years, Samsung has been producing its own line of OLED TVs. These are billed as “QD-OLED” models because these sets actually combine the self-emissive display tech of traditional OLEDs with the quantum dot-infused backlighting of an LED. As it stands, Samsung has produced two QD-OLED models: the 2023 S95C and the 2022 S95B.

LG

LG G3 OLED evo 4K TV seen wall-mounted.
LG / LG Electronics

Another South Korean company, LG may not be as massive as Samsung, but thanks to its OLED TV display technology, it’s had minimal competition when it comes to top-of-the-line picture performance with its unrivaled contrast and black levels, but new screen tech like QD-OLED is making headway.

Operating system: webOS

webOS is LG’s easy-to-use user interface and, like Tizen, Roku, and Google TV, is the hub from which you access your apps, TV settings, and other advanced features. The most recent version of webOS for 2023 TVs has been redesigned to offer more customization and shortcuts so users can get to what they want to watch faster.

LG’s Magic Motion Remote is also one of the better-designed remotes, with support for voice commands for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, along with a Magic Explorer feature that lets viewers get additional info about the show or movie they’re watching, from what actors appear in the series or film to notable trivia.

Calling card: OLED

OLED — Organic Light Emitting Diode — is still considered the premier display technology today, but it does have stiffer competition than ever. OLED TV panels are capable of reaching black levels never before seen, with better contrast across the board, and because the individual pixels themselves light up, OLED televisions boast quicker response times (and less input lag) than other types of displays, and the picture integrity is stunning at any viewing angle.

We’re always impressed by the TVs that LG continues to roll out year after year. For 2023, the brand’s new OLED flagship is the amazing G3 Series OLED. One of the biggest hitches with an OLED screen is the relative lack of brightness when compared to LED-lit models. Fortunately, LG knows the world wants brighter screens, and the company’s Evo panel delivers some of the brightest picture we’ve ever seen on a traditional OLED.

We were also stunned by the LG Wireless M Series, an OLED that ditches TV-based inputs in favor of an infrared media hub that you plug all your streaming devices and game consoles into. Think of it like the Samsung One Connect Box, but no wires whatsoever (except for a power cable).

We’ve run down the pricing and availability details for all of LG’s 2023 models for you as well.

Sony

An aerial view of a skyline at night on a Sony A95L.
Caleb Denison / Digital Trends

It’s easy to get lost in the Samsung versus LG TV wars and not think as much about Sony, but you’d be making a big mistake. While its TVs tend to be a bit more expensive, they’ve got some of the best processing capabilities and accurate color reproduction of them all, especially if you care about things like super-smooth motion and optimized Playstation 5 performance.

Operating system: Google TV

Google TV — versions of which run on many other devices, like the Amazon Fire TV family — isn’t quite as slick as webOS, but it’s arguably more powerful. Unlike webOS and Tizen, the Google TV home screen is laden with apps and suggestions, and you can scroll down for even more. Sony’s 2021 catalog was the first generation of sets to switch over to Google TV, an overhaul of the Android TV OS that features a faster, more intuitive user interface, complete with recommended and sponsored web content.

Google TV also has built-in support for Google Assistant (via a microphone in the remote or in your phone) and Chromecast, for both video and audio. Plus, as with Tizen, Google Smart Lock can automatically sync logins from your mobile device to your TV. You also have the ability to create separate profiles with Google TV for each person in your home.

Calling card: XR chip, mini-LED, and QD-OLED

Sony is one of a handful of companies offering OLED televisions (the list has recently expanded to include Panasonic, Philips, Hisense, and Vizio) thanks to a deal with LG Display allowing Sony to build TVs using LG OLED panels, which can be found in Sony’s excellent 2023 A80L OLED.

Thanks to Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR chip, Sony’s Bravia flagship TVs offer greater contrast, improved sound, low input lag and faster web performance than we’ve ever seen. For 2023, Sony has updated the XR chip with something called XR Clear Image that will appear in select TVS. Sony says that the update will improve noise reduction and reduce motion blur. Many of Sony’s TVs also offer VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) for gaming, particularly with the Sony-owned PlayStation 5.

In 2022, Sony also announced a push into mini-LED technology. It’s a more affordable version of MicroLED tech where the LEDs are a bit larger, but still provide some of the same benefits, including better-localized dimming, brightness and contrast. Sony’s processor is key to this as it is designed with backlight algorithms to take the most advantage of smaller LEDs. For 2023 Sony’s mini-LED has gotten even better with an all-new tier, the brighter X95L 4K sets (that should rival Samsung’s QN90C QLED) models and its new X93L. Sony has released the pricing list of their 2023 TVs so you can see what you might be getting yourself into.

But the most interesting battleground is with QD-OLED. Last year Sony caused a stir by releasing its first QD-OLED TV, the stunning Bravia A95K, which is built using Samsung Display’s QD-OLED panel. Sony clearly sees a future in QD-OLED as it marries the best properties of OLED’s lush, perfect blacks and QLED’s brightness abilities. For 2023, Sony has doubled down with its next generation of QD-OLED, the A95L (that replaces the A95K), which uses Samsung’s brighter, more efficient QD-OLED panel. The A95L should be a contender for TV of the year.

TCL

2023 TCL QM8 4K mini-led QLED TV.
TCL / TCL

TCL was barely a blip on the radars of seasoned LED TV reviewers half a decade ago. Today, it’s one of the fastest-growing brands out there and has been offering us some of the best mini-LED QLED TVs on the market at preposterously low prices.

Operating system: Roku, Google TV

TCL isn’t the only company making Roku TVs — Sharp, Philips, and Hisense do the same, among other manufacturers — but it has been the most successful so far. The Roku TV platform’s vast selection (4000+) of apps and its snappy cross-app search function are second to none and the OS is super easy to use. But if Roku isn’t your jam, TCL expanded into Google TV territory in 2021 and hasn’t looked back. There were even some rumors that the company would be ditching Roku, but they assured us that this isn’t the case.

Calling cards: Value, mini-LED QLED

If you’re on a tight budget, but still want some buttery mini-LED QLED goodness in your TV with stunning picture quality that can actually go toe-to-toe with some of the higher-end Samsung and LG TVs, TCL is the way to go.

The big guns for 2023 are TCL’s flagship QM8 Series, a mini-LED QLED lineup that will come in 65-, 75-, 85-, and, (gulp) 95-inch varietals. It’s hard to find any TV that can achieve the peak brightness and hard-hitting HDR performance that the QM8 delivers without a hitch, which is why we think this new TCL flagship is going to garner some big praise when it comes to TV of the Year laurels. Along with the Q7 Series (one rung below the QM8) and Q6 models (one rung below the Q7), TCL’s other lineup is the S Series. Think of these as your more traditional budget-buy models, but with picture tech that still brings the big brightness and colors.

Hisense

Hisense U8K vs TCL QM8
Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

Chinese manufacturer Hisense has been steadily making moves in the TV market over the years, licensing Sharp’s brand name (and buying its North American factory outright in 2015), buying Toshiba’s business in 2017, and making TVs under all three names for the U.S. market. Hisense had a rocky start but found a rhythm in making value-conscious Quantum 4K panels. In fact, their quality has improved so much that one of the latest versions, the 65-inch Hisense U8K, is on our list of the best TVs for its amazingly bright image and class-leading black levels.

Operating systems: Roku, Google TV, Android TV, Fire TV, Vidaa TV, XClass TV

Hisense is unique in that it doesn’t have a singular operating system tied to its line of televisions. Some of its TVs still use Android TV, and Hisense also sells models with Google TV, Roku TV, and Fire TV, for Alexa lovers. It also offers TVs that use an OS called Vidaa TV, a slick-looking software that’s good for local TV, and XClass TV, which is simple and bare-bones.

Calling card: Variety, mini-LED QLED

With all of those OS choices, buyers can pick the smart platform they like, with plenty of options for budget-friendly purchases. And like TCL, Hisense uses mini-LED QLED (Hisense calls it ULED) technology for its best TVs, including the above-mentioned 2023 U8K Google TV which has excellent contrast and vivid color, that comes close to many of the best models from Samsung, Sony, and LG. Hisense’s step-down models include the U7K and U6K series, both of which deliver an exceptional picture and other great features, but at a slightly reduced cost (when compared to the U8K).

Lastly, new for 2023, is a new flagship Hisense, the 85-inch ULED X, a mini-LED QLED monster with more than 5,000 local dimming zones and a peak brightness of 2,500 nits. Dolby Vision, Wi-Fi 6e, NextGen TV, and AMD’s Freesync Premium Pro are some of the other features that are helping push Hisense forward this year, too. Like TCL and Vizio, Hisense’s TVs are priced to afford, making you sometimes wonder why you’d even pay more for the big players.

Vizio

A wall-mounted Vizio TV in a white room.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Vizio was once the undisputed champion when it came to awesome picture quality at a reasonable price. And while brands like TCL and Hisense have since challenged the brand’s position at the top of Budget TV Mountain, this isn’t to say that Vizio isn’t still a name to be reckoned with.

Operating system: SmartCast

Before 2017, all of Vizio’s Smart TVs ran a system that required users to download an application on their smartphone or tablet, which would be used to cast any content to the screen. SmartCast updated that system by automatically curating a wide selection of apps without the need to download anything. That includes major streamers from Disney+ to Netflix, plenty of individual channel apps and a wide variety of niche content. It’s particularly easy to use in a field where smart TV platforms aren’t always the most user-friendly.

Vizio also now offers a WatchFree+ service, which allows users to watch free content on SmartCast from partners like Disney, Lionsgate, Sony, MGM and others.

Calling card: Affordability, Quantum color

As with Samsung, Vizio is big on quantum dot-enhanced panels. This is especially evident for models like the Vizio MQX and P-Series Quantum X. While this are both 2022 sets, we’re still thoroughly impressed by the type of picture these bad boys deliver. But if you need the latest and greatest tech from your TV brand (we don’t blame you), look to Vizio’s Quantum Pro 4K QLED. This 2023 flagship pushes 4K at up to 120Hz across all inputs, as well as 1080p at 240Hz. That’s on top of Wi-Fi 6E Tri-Band support and solid HDR support. It may not be the best top model on the market, but its price is pretty unbeatable.

Vizio also has an M-Series TV specifically designed for gaming, with a 240 fps frame rate and built-in Dolby Vision Auto Gaming, among other features.

Roku TV

Roku Plus Series
Zeke Jones/Digital Trends

A new addition to our list, but certainly no stranger to the TV landscape with its set-top boxes and sticks, the world’s most popular streaming platform this year began manufacturing its own TVs under the Roku TV brand name with its first sets hitting the market in March. While the Roku Smart TV OS has been widely available for years in TVs made by Hisense, TCL, and others, this marks Roku’s first foray into making its own TV hardware, a move that could boom or bust. Roku has come out of the gate swinging with a few tiers of televisions that range in price from $120 HD (720p) sets to $1,000 4K QLED models that we’ll get into more about below.

Operating system: Roku OS

If you’re already familiar with the Roku OS, you know that the popular interface is easy to use, looks good (although, it could use an update), gives you access to a massive library of apps and channels, and all the streaming services you know and love — including its own Roku Channel. Just like TCL and Hisense TVs that carry it, the Roku operating system is baked right in, making setup super simple. Roku’s TVs, however, come with Roku’s own familiar voice remotes.

Calling card: Value for the price, Roku-built

Roku is clearly aiming for the budget-to-value end of the TV market, with a lineup of TVs to suit. At the top end of their spectrum is the flagship Plus Series, a range of 4K QLED TVs with Dolby Vision and HDR10+ picture, Dolby Atmos sound, and Roku’s top-of-the-line Voice Remote Pro. The Plus Series comes in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch models that currently retail for $500, $650, and $1,000, respectively, which already puts them at a lower price point than comparable TCL and Hisense models, so it will be interesting to see how this affects Roku’s relationship with those manufacturers. Stepping down a rung is the Select Series 4K with HDR10+ and the Enhanced Voice Remote that comes in 43-to-75-inch sizes, and the bottom tier Select Series HD that features 24- and 32-inch HD models and a 40-inch FHD model.

But are these Roku TVs any good? While we’ve only gotten our hands on the 65-inch Roku Plus Series TV for review, our own Caleb Denison was impressed overall, saying that “most folks just looking for a really solid TV at a nice price will probably be happy to open their wallets for the Roku Plus.”

Editors’ Recommendations






This is as close as we’ll get to a dumb TV anytime soon | Digital Trends

This is as close as we’ll get to a dumb TV anytime soon | Digital Trends

The “Basic TV” option in the setup of a TCL television. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

When it comes to “smart TVs,” you’ll often find that folks fall into two distinct camps. There are those who say: “Connect me to all the things!” And there are those who just want a display to which they can connect other devices, like any of our picks for the best streaming devices.

Neither is necessarily the correct route. It’s a matter of preference, and what you’re comfortable with. Some folks want to limit the devices on their home networks for privacy reasons. Other folks just don’t worry about it all that much. For the former group, there’s been a bit of a resurgence in the desire for a “dumb TV.” That is, a television that allows you to connect peripherals — like an Apple TV box, or sticks from Roku or Amazon Fire TV. Or maybe an over-the-air antenna. But that’s it. There’s no built-in operating systems to manage. And no worrying about what sort of data it might be phoning home.

That’s nearly impossible to do in 2023. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a television that doesn’t have a built-in operating system from Roku, Google, Amazon — or even from the manufacturers themselves. LG and Samsung are the big players in that space, of course.

But in setting up a new TCL TV, I ran across something that honestly was a bit of a surprise. The TCL Q6 uses Google TV for its operating system. And early in the setup process, you get the option to go for the full smash — sign in with your Google account and get everything the smart TV platform has to offer. Or you can opt for “basic TV.”

A setup screen on a TCL TV.
The option to enable all Google TV features is colorful and eye-catching. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

It’s interesting to see how the options are presented, too. The full Google TV option is shown with logos and apps and channels. It’s colorful and fairly pleasing to the eye. Why wouldn’t you want that, right? The basic TV option, on the other hand, kills all the logos and leaves you with just a monochrome bit of text, highlighting what you do get: live TV and external devices via HDMI.

After that, you’ll still be presented with the option to enable a network connection (via Wi-Fi or Ethernet). And you’ll still have some terms and conditions to agree to, or not. (Some are optional. Some aren’t.) And you can opt out of some Google tracking.

And after all that, you’re still not actually presented with a dumb TV interface. TCL has its own live guide built into the OS (in addition to Google’s own live guide, if you choose to log in at the start and use that full interface) that’s available even in basic mode. It combines a number of FAST channels (that’s free, ad-supported television) with an antenna, if you so choose.

So it’s not truly “dumb.” At least not until you disconnect your network connection, which you can do in the settings. It’s not hard or anything — it just take a few clicks with the remote control. It’s not really what folks want, which is an oversized computer monitor on their wall, without the oversized price that typically comes with that sort of thing.

But what you get with a relatively current TCL TV — that option to use the full Google TV system, or not — probably is as close as we’re going to get anytime soon.

Editors’ Recommendations






Which streaming platform has the best screensavers? | Digital Trends

Which streaming platform has the best screensavers? | Digital Trends

Apple TV 4K has the best overall screensaver experience, even if it lacks widgets other platforms offer. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Streaming video from providers like Netflix and Disney+ is generally what you’ll be doing on a platform like Roku or Amazon Fire TV. Or maybe a little bit of YouTube, or something live on YouTube TV.

That’s just scratching the surface of what devices from Google, Apple, Roku, and Amazon can do, however. In fact, there’s a lot to be said for what they can show on your television — whether it’s the centerpiece of your living room or off in a spare room somewhere  — when you’re not actively watching a show or movie. In fact, you can get some spectacular imagery to play in the background.

So let’s take a look at the major platforms: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google TV, and Roku.

To be clear, these are not the only options. Samsung and LG, among other manufacturers, have their own screensaver options that basically turn a television into an electronic work of art. (Particularly in the case of Samsung’s “The Frame” TV, which is mounted nearly flush and has optional frames meant to look like a painting.) But in this piece, we’re focusing on devices that you plug into your TV, and which are less expensive than buying an entire television.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV is a massive platform. It’s estimated to be on the most devices worldwide, and No. 2 in the U.S. And with the advent of the new “Ambient Experience,” it has what probably is the most useful screensaver system of any of the platforms.

The Amazon Fire TV Ambient Experience with widgets.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

The Ambient Experience is made up of two parts. There’s the background, which is your sort of typical screensaver, with images — some with motion — that cycle through after a certain amount of time. And Amazon has a generous number of options, all of which have a great deal of creativity. They’re really well done, save for one little complaint. You can use your own images to populate things — but you’ll probably quickly find that candid snaps not shot at a television’s aspect ratio just aren’t as good as purposely designed art. And you’ll have to use Amazon Photos to get them into the Ambient Experience. That’s simple enough, though, and Amazon is generous with its storage.

The Ambient Experience also has 10 widgets from which you can choose, all tied to the Amazon ecosystem. They include Alexa Weather, Calendar and Reminders, Cookpad Recipe of the Day, Live TV, Music and Audio, Smart Home Favorites, Sticky Notes, What Should I Watch, What to Eat, and Your Deliveries. How useful the widgets are depends on how dependent you are on Amazon. The more you use, the better the widgets are. Or you can choose not to use them at all and just have the background images.

Overall, the Ambient Experience is very good. But there is some room for improvement. The backgrounds that contain motion too often just aren’t as crisp or clean as what you’ll find on other platforms. It’s maybe the sort of thing you might not even notice unless you’re often hopping from one system to another. But we do. And we notice. Widgets also can, on occasion, be a little laggy. But that feels more like an Android-based user interface issue than anything.

Then there’s the fact that the Ambient Experience is, for now, only available on the Omni QLED series of Amazon Fire TVs, or on the second-generation Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max. That limits its reach, though the latter is only $60 before sales prices. And we’d expect the Ambient Experience to hit more devices either through software updates, or as new hardware is released.

The verdict: Amazon has a really cool feature on its hands here, with plenty of possibilities to come.

Apple TV 4K

Let’s not mince words here: Apple TV has what may well be the best set of built-in screensavers you can get, provided that you’re using an Apple TV 4K box. (Which, by the way, is still our go-to for the best streaming hardware you can get for your money.)

Hong Kong as seen in an Apple TV 4K screensaver.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

By default, you’ll be presented with the Aerial screensaver, which is Apple’s high-resolution flyover (or underwater, or in orbit) look at all sorts of parts of Earth. You have options of four major categories — Landscape, Earth, Underwater, and Cityscape. You’ll recognize major landmarks like Times Square in New York City, downtown San Francisco, and Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, to name but a few. Or you’ll find yourself trying to figure out what land mass you’re flying over in space.

It’s all done with exactly the sort of execution you’d expect in an Apple product, particularly one that’s meant to be attached to a large television. You can choose to download new Aerials on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. (Or never.)

If none of that tickles your fancy, you have a few more options. There’s also the “Photography from Apple” section, which includes subcategories of Animals, Flowers, Landscapes, Nature, and Shot on iPhone. They also are extremely dynamic and in high resolution and likely are better than anything you’ve got on your phone.

But if you just have to have your own pictures on your Apple TV screensaver, you can do so. Like with Amazon, you’ll have to have albums made within Apple Photos. But that’s easy enough to do.

And, yes, Apple TV Aerial screensavers are real.

The verdict: No real complaints here. The content is excellent. If we had to find a minor point to pick it, it might be that we’d love to see even more of the high-res Aerials. But between the Aerials, Apple’s still images, and your own images — plus all the ways by which you can display the latter — Apple easily has the best all-around screensaver experience, even if it doesn’t have widgets.

Google TV

Whereas Apple has pushed hard at excellent video, and Amazon is more about static imagery with some motion added in for good measure, Google has long been about photographs. That’s been true since the early days of Android TV and has extended into the various smart displays, and now onto Google TV.

Google TV screensaver as seen on a television.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

And that actually gets to the heart of what helps make the “Ambient display” on Google TV so great. Like the other options above, you’ll need to be within Google’s ecosystem if you intend to use your own photos. But Google Photos remains one of the best Google products since Gmail. It’s on most Android phones by default, and it’s not uncommon for folks to run it in parallel with Apple Photos on an iPhone.

Once you create an album in Google Photos, you’re able to view that album on things like the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max, or on Google TV and Android TV. It’s super simple.

Or you can go with Google’s own albums of curated photos and artwork. These are excellent options and are worth exploring, too. You might also see some widgets, but they’re not really as deep or useful as Amazon’s.

And the ambient experience isn’t just limited to Google’s own hardware. If you have a television or some other streaming device that’s running Android TV or Google TV, you’ll have these same options at the ready. For our money, Chromecast With Google TV is hard to beat at $50. (It’s basically in the same class as the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.)

The verdict: If there are any nits to pick here, it’s that you have to use a phone and the Google Home app to control which albums you see on Google TV. And the Google Home interface is still the sort of thing only an engineer can love.

Roku

Last but certainly not least — given that it’s the most popular platform in the U.S., No. 2 in the rest of the world, and remains super affordable everywhere — is Roku.

Roku screensaver options as seen on a TV.
Roku’s screensaver options are numerous, but you’ll have to dig for them. Phil Nickinsosn / Digital Trends

If there’s one thing Roku has going for it besides price, it’s consistency. The platform mostly looks and acts like it has for years.

And for years that meant the default screensaver was Roku’s built-in, which, while fun, was definitely not anywhere near as sophisticated as what Google, Apple and now Amazon had at the ready. Screensavers were more cartoonish than realistic. It definitely fit with the overall Roku aesthetic and would match the theme you selected for your greater Roku experience.

And to be clear, there are numerous other options now that include nature and architecture and whatnot. You’ll have to go fairly deep in the screensaver options to find them, but they’re there.

And with Roku OS 11 in March 2022 came Photo Streams. It’s basically a Roku-run photo service not necessarily unlike what Amazon, Apple, and Google all provide. It’s just that it sort of sits apart from the Roku user experience and very much seems like a third-party option, at least on the TV side of things.

In any event, the way it works is that you use the Roku app to create Photo Streams, and you upload images from your phone or computer to populate said Photo Stream. The cool part is that you can invite friends and family to join a stream to view and add pics. (The other platforms can do that, too.) It’s not the most elegant system, and like Amazon, because it’s not native to a phone you’ve got a few extra steps to hurdle. But it’s not insurmountable.

Images look just fine on the screen, but it’s also a very basic slideshow, not accounting for aspect ratio or offering designs other than a single image at a time.

The verdict: Roku has more screensaver options than you might realize. Photos Streams is a pretty minimal product, but it does work.

The bottom line

For the most part, there are no wrong answers here. They’re all different, but mostly excellent across the board.

Like so much about this space, it really has more to do with what ecosystem you’re already using. All in on Apple? You’ll get the best experience with Apple TV 4K and its excellent Aerials. Google TV goes big with photos and makes them more useful across more devices. Amazon’s Ambient Experience is excellent and will likely continue to improve, and become available on more devices over time. Roku — well, it’s got an option to show photos. And it’s not awful. But it also has an uphill battle in that it’s not known as a photo service.

Editors’ Recommendations






What is Android TV? Google’s smart TV platform explained | Digital Trends

What is Android TV? Google’s smart TV platform explained | Digital Trends

When it comes to smart TVs, these monolithic QLEDs and OLEDs require an internet connection to get you connected to services like Netflix and Disney+. But like any good computer or mobile phone, there’s an operating system taking care of apps, navigation, and all things user interface-oriented behind the scenes. For Samsung TVs, this OS is called Tizen, for LG TVs, it’s webOS, and for brands like Sony, TCL, and Hisense, it used to be called Android TV, but now (for the most part) it’s called Google TV. 

While Google TV is really just an evolutionary leap based on the building blocks of Android TV, you’ll still see the Android TV moniker on a modern TV or two. Many modern home theater projectors also use the Android TV OS. That being said, it’s a platform that’s still relevant. Here’s everything you need to know about Android TV.

An important note on Android TV and Google TV

Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

In 2021, Google began rolling out a large update to the Android TV platform. This update included many changes, a new interface, and a new name — Google TV. Google TV is designed to be more personalized than Android TV, with Google’s A.I. capabilities working behind the scenes to find recommended content. The layout has also changed to become easier to quickly navigate and more versatile for a variety of activities. However, it’s no longer called Android TV.

Some older devices that were using Android TV can be updated to adopt some of the Google TV features and the new interface, along with the new name. If you’ve personally updated your device and found that references to Android TV have vanished, this is probably why.

Note that the capabilities and most of the actual platform remain the same as Android TV. Google TV just includes some new technology and a new look to make the most of the latest features. Your Google Account connection, etc., will function the same way.

All that said, there are still a few newer TVs that use the Android TV platform, so the information we’ve gathered below is still accurate and relevant.

What is Android TV?

 Android TV streaming device and controller on table.
Walmart

Android TV — as you may have guessed from the name — is a version of Google’s Android mobile operating system that has been specially configured for TVs and other devices such as projectors. But that description doesn’t really convey how different Android TV is from Android.

Android TV focuses on helping you discover the content you can enjoy on your TV, whether it’s through one of your subscription services like Netflix, Max, or Amazon Prime Video, or from your own personal media collection via media center software like Plex.

Because of that focus, Android TV looks very different from Android. Instead of being greeted by a screen full of apps or widgets like search, weather, or stocks, your device’s media apps are displayed as “ribbons” — a horizontally scrolling set of recommendations and recently viewed content from within a particular app.

The Netflix app, for instance, will show you a ribbon of thumbnails from your in-progress, watch next, and recommended shows and movies.

Android TV can access the Google Play app store, where you’ll find thousands of apps that have been designed specifically for Android TV’s 10-foot experience, which means you won’t be struggling to read tiny text or trying to navigate apps that only work when you can swipe with a finger.

Embedded within every version of Android TV is the Google Assistant, which gives you voice control for your TV content, as well as all of your smart home products. Google’s Chromecast technology is also included, letting you cast videos and initiate screen sharing from compatible smartphones, browsers, and apps.

Much like the Roku OS, Amazon’s Fire TV OS, or Apple’s tvOS, Android TV supports a wide variety of TV features, like 4K UltraHD, HDR, and Dolby Atmos. Whether you can take advantage of these features will depend on the device that has Android TV installed. The hardware (and your chosen app) must support these features before Android TV lets you use them.

How do I get Android TV?

NVIDIA Shield TV.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Android TV, until recently, came pre-installed as the default smart TV user experience on select TVs from TCL, Sony, Hisense, Sharp, Philips, and more. You can also add Android TV to any existing TV that has an HDMI port, with an Android TV set-top box from companies like Nvidia and Xiaomi.

Amazon’s Fire TV is often listed as an Android TV device, but don’t be fooled. Amazon used the open-source version of the Android OS to create its Fire TV OS, but it has very little in common with Google’s Android TV.

Similarly, beware of so-called Android TV boxes from brands you don’t recognize. There are tons of these on Amazon and sites like GearBest but they aren’t true Android TV devices. Instead, they use the non-TV version of Android and ship without voice remotes. For an updated list of all official Android TV devices, check out Google’s product page.

You may be wondering why Google itself doesn’t sell an Android TV device. The company did take a crack at it with the now-defunct Nexus Player device, but since its demise in 2016, there was a hole in Google’s Android TV presence that its Chromecast devices didn’t fill. And while Google never did rectify this with its Chromecast devices, in 2020 they did finally release the Chromecast with Google TV, a Chromecast with an included remote — albeit, with the new Google TV interface, not Android TV.

How do I set up and use Android TV?

The Android TV setup screen.
Nvidia.com / Google

While it’s possible to use basic Android TV features without a Google account, if you want to download additional apps or use the Google Assistant, a Google account is required. You’ll be asked to enter your Google account when you first set up your Android TV device. If you already own another Android device like a phone or tablet, you can use it to speed up the setup process.

You’ll be asked to choose a Wi-Fi network (if you don’t have an Ethernet connection) and answer a few questions about locations and preferences — some of which will vary by device type. At the end of the short process, you’ll arrive at the Android TV home screen.

Android TV devices, whether they’re projectors,  TVs, or external set-top boxes, come with voice-capable remote controls. Once you turn the device on and the home page displays on your screen, you can navigate around the interface using the remote’s directional and enter buttons. A Back button lets you return to a previous screen or menu, while the Home button returns you to the home screen. The top ribbon always shows your list of installed apps, for quick access, with a link to the Google Play Store so you can go get more apps at any time.

But to get the most out of Android TV’s features, you’ll want to summon Google Assistant. Depending on your device, you might be able to call out, “Hey, Google,” for a hands-free experience, but you can always use the Mic button on the remote. When you do, there’s no need to preface your commands with “Hey, Google,” because as soon as you press the button, it’s listening for instructions.

What are some Android TV voice commands?

To a certain extent, what you can ask Android TV to do via Google Assistant will depend on which streaming services you have access to. For instance, “Play Stranger Things on Netflix,” will only work if you have a Netflix subscription; however, plenty of commands are universal, such as:

  • “Play some jazz music.”
  • “Play,” “pause,” “stop,” and “resume” while watching any video.
  • “Louder” and “softer” for volume control.
  • “Open [app name]” to open any installed app.
  • “Show me the cast of Friends.”
  • “Tell me about The Witcher.

In addition, you can use any of Google Assistant’s smart home commands, which vary based on which smart home devices you have on your home network.

What are some popular Android TV apps?

A TV screen with examples of Android TV apps.
Google

Needless to say, Netflix is just about the most popular app on every streaming media platform, and Android TV is no exception. You’ll find most of the other major streaming services too, but there are occasional compatibility issues. The Amazon Prime Video app, for instance, works just fine, but at the moment it doesn’t show up as its own ribbon with recommended or continue watching options.

There are also plenty of other lesser-known apps worth installing. Here are a few choices to get you started:

Hulu + Live TV

For years, Hulu refused to update its Android TV app. This meant that the live TV option was simply unavailable to Android TV users. That finally changed in 2019, and now Hulu + Live TV joins Sling and YouTube TV as one of the many great options cord-cutters can enjoy on Android TV.

Kodi

Kodi is a powerful media center app that can find and organize all of your personal media into an easy-to-navigate interface, with support for just about every media file type you can think of. Highly customizable, Kodi has a reputation as an app that will let you stream Hollywood movies for free, but be warned: This kind of activity on Kodi is not officially supported and is a legal gray area, to say the least. We recommend checking out our full Kodi explainer before you find yourself on the receiving end of a cease-and-desist order.

Plex

A screen of downloaded movies on the Plex system.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Similar to Kodi, Plex uses a client/server arrangement to let you view and play your personal media files and much more. It’s a far more powerful and enjoyable way of experiencing your movies, music, and photos than simply sticking a USB drive in the back of your set-top box or TV. We’ve got a full guide to using Plex that will help you get the most out of it, whether you use it on Android TV or the dozens of other devices it supports.

AirScreen

Android TV already supports screen mirroring from Android devices via Chromecast, but iOS users need a solution, too. That’s where AirScreen comes in. Fire it up and your Android TV will show up as a selectable AirPlay device in the iOS Control Center. That’s all there is to it.

Puffin TV Browser

Surprisingly, given that Google is the driving force behind Chrome, one of the most popular web browsers on the planet, Android TV does not come with a built-in browser of any kind. Puffin TV is one of many apps on the Google Play Store that seeks to address this obvious omission, and it does so with an interface that is ideal for TV. Stripped of all but the essential functions, it’s a good way to quickly jump on the web for the occasional task that Google Assistant just can’t handle.

Games

There are tons of games for Android TV — too many to list here. Big titles like Asphalt 8: Airborne, Zen Pinball, Crossy Road, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, and many more are available through the Google Play Store.

Sideloading apps

If you can’t find what you want in the Google Play Store, Android TV has another way of adding apps called sideloading. Though not as convenient as shopping for and installing apps via Google Play, sideloading is sometimes the only way to add hard-to-find apps.

Keep in mind, however, that sideloaded apps are not verified independently by Google for things like malware. There can also be compatibility issues, especially if the app in question wasn’t designed for Android TV.

Is Android TV the same on every device or TV?

Sony Android TV home screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Just like no two computers running Windows are exactly alike, there are some differences from one Android TV to another. On a Sony TV, for instance, you’ll find picture calibration settings like Sony’s proprietary Reality Creation image processing. You’ll also see the option for watching live, over-the-air HDTV channels using the TV’s built-in tuner.

Android TV devices from cable or satellite operators like AT&T are usually customized to place an emphasis on their broadcast and on-demand content.

On the Nvidia Shield TV, you’ll have access to Nvidia’s GeForce Now gaming store, because that particular Android TV device is intended to double as a powerful gaming platform. As we mentioned above, all this is also true of Google TV — while the platform has gotten a new look, that specific look still varies between brands and devices. Generally speaking, the most “complete” experience can be found on Google’s own Chromecast.

You may also find that due to differences in processing power, not every Android TV device will be equally responsive. Early Sony TVs with Android TV felt somewhat sluggish as their underpowered chips struggled to render the interface and respond to menu choices. New Sony TVs are much improved, and the Nvidia Shield TV remains the gold standard for speedy Android TV performance — Nvidia Shield most recently updated to the newer Android 11, so there are some added new features there as well.

The different processing powers aren’t likely to affect the device’s ability to stream content from someplace like Netflix. However, it will make a difference in apps like Plex and Kodi, as they require the device’s processor to render various media files. This difference may also impact some games.

One more difference you should keep an eye out for is whether you have 4K, HDR, and Dolby Atmos support. The Xiaomi Mi Box S, for example, can handle outputs in both 4K and HDR, but it doesn’t support any advanced surround sound formats.

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What is Google TV? Here’s everything you need to know | Digital Trends

What is Google TV? Here’s everything you need to know | Digital Trends

Much like our smartphones, tablets and computers, our smart TVs and streaming devices are powered by cutting-edge operating systems that control everything from the look and feel of your device’s menus and navigation to more unique features. That inlcudes what kind of content (apps and games) your TV will support and whether or not you’ll be able to “cast” photos and videos to your new OLED using your iPhone or Android device. Every web-connected A/V peripheral has some kind of OS working behind the scenes, and the one we’ll be focusing on today is called Google TV.

Google TV goes toe-to-toe with other OS platforms, including Apple’s tvOS, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku’s titular OS. Is it better than the rest? Let’s unpack Google’s foray into TV smartness to find out!

Further reading

What is Google TV?

Sony

At its core, Google TV is a user interface running on top of Android TV, but with a different look and feel than the original platform. It is preinstalled on many different smart TVs from brands like Sony, TCL, and Hisense, as well as on the Chromecast with Google TV and the O.G. Chromecast.

Google TV’s focus is to ensure users can access their most-viewed and recommended content directly from the home screen. Like other streaming device platforms, Google TV features Netflix, Apple TV Plus, Hulu, and more. However, Google TV lets you access what you want to watch without diving directly into the specific streaming app as long as you are logged in to your Google account. An algorithmic wunderkind, Google TV also keeps tabs on the apps you’re subscribed to and the movies and shows you like watching. This allows the platform to recommend content for you to enjoy, which is housed under an awesome Home Screen tab called “For You.”

Thanks to Google Assistant integrations, you’ll also be able to use your smart TV (and Assistant-enabled remote control) to search for apps, movies, shows, and games using voice commands. Google TV can also be linked to your Google Home account, allowing you to control certain smart home devices with Google Assistant through your TV. Google Nest cameras will also connect to the interface so that Nest camera owners can view their camera feeds via their TVs.

How does Google TV work?

A white Chromecast and remote lie on table.
Digital Trends

Whether you purchase a Google TV-enabled TV or Chromecast with Google TV, the experience is pretty similar. All Google TV-enabled devices need an internet connection. Some devices will give the option of using an Ethernet cable for a hard-wired connection, but they all work with Wi-Fi, too. Setting up Google TV is pretty simple. You can download the Google Home app on your mobile device for the fastest experience, but you can also do it directly from the TV or streaming device. Furthermore, having a Gmail account makes this experience seamless.

After the initial setup, you will be presented with the Google TV home screen. The home screen features a slide show of various movies and TV shows that are recommended based on viewing preferences (that For You tab). It may also include advertisements for the latest movie releases. Below that is the Top Picks for You column, which is another recommended list of content, followed by Your Apps. The platform includes a Highlights tab as well to collect a personalized hub of entertainment info, generally news and reviews about important or upcoming titles that Google thinks you will like.

Google TV uses Knowledge Graph and machine learning to boost the discoverability of content aimed at the viewer. Google’s Knowledge Graph is the company’s collection of facts about people, places, and things. This allows Google to answer or present users with accurate information about movies, TV shows, historical facts, and more. The interface is divided into multiple tabs allowing users to browse movies, shows, apps, and purchased content.

Google TV’s focus is to ensure that users never have to venture into apps to watch their preferred content. With just a click of a button, jumping back into Marvel Studio’s Moon Knight on Disney+ is a seamless experience, and it can be done directly from the home screen of Google TV without opening Disney+ itself.

Parental controls are also built into the interface, allowing parents to create separate profiles for their kids. Kid profiles are tied to the parent’s account, so they do not have their email and password to worry about. There is also a Google Family Link app to set guidelines for their kids’ experience with Google apps and devices. For example, Google TV’s parental controls let parents set screen time, lock and unlock profiles, and set rating limits.

Games on Google TV

There are a lot of games available for Google TV. You will find titles like Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Final Fantasy, Oceanhorn, and more. Unlike Android TV, Google TV has so deeply integrated the Play Store that you don’t just go to an app — searching for some games has to be done through voice or word search.

Here’s another gaming pro, specifically for Google TV-powered smart TVs. Many of these sets include a number of today’s best gaming features for a TV, including support for things like NVIDIA GeForce, AMD FreeSync, and VRR. While these features have less of an impact on Google TV’s internal gaming, those of us rocking next-gen consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S will be the real beneficiaries of these awesome gaming features and HDMI standards.

What are some Google TV voice commands?

Chromecast with Google TV remote.
Google

What you ask the Google Assistant is predicated on the apps that you are logged in to. For instance, “Play Master Chef on Hulu,” will only work if you have a Hulu subscription. However, Google TV does offer universal commands, such as:

  • “Play some R&B music.”
  • “Open [app name].”
  • “Tell me about Chef Ramsay” gives a detailed description of the person as well as content from various streaming services that they appear in.

Is Google TV right for me?

Google TV is an excellent alternative to Fire TV, tvOS and Roku OS. And if you’re already intertwined with the Google ecosystem, using Google TV interface will feel right at home. In addition, having a Google Assistant on your smart TV helps make your TV browsing experience more seamless and intuitive.

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