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Best TVs to give for the holidays 2021


If you have a TV on your holiday shopping list, then rejoice — some of the best prices of the year are on their way. The tough part is figuring out which TV to give that lucky recipient (let’s face it, or yourself). Thankfully, we’re here to help: We’ve rounded up the best TVs of 2021 so you can find the perfect one to give or get this holiday season. We look at contrast ratiolocal dimming, brightness, coloruniformitygaming input lag and refresh rate, as well as the number of HDMI ports, streaming service support and more, all to help give you the information you need to make the best choice for you and your family. 

For this list, all the prices you’ll see are for 65-inch models, unless otherwise noted. Although most of these TVs are 2021 models, a few came out in 2020. These remain on our list because we think they still offer a good combination of features and value.

Looking for a specific screen size? Check out: 43-inch TVs, 55-inch TVs65-inch TVs and 75-inch TVs.

David Katzmaier/CNET

The TLC 6-Series just might be the TV with the best bang for the buck. No set we’ve ever tested offers this much picture quality for as little cash. This TV has an excellent image thanks to mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming that helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. It’s also a solid choice for gamers with a THX mode that combines low input lag and high contrast. As if that’s not enough, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite. This TV came out in 2020 but will stay on sale throughout 2021 and remains our top choice. 

Sizes: 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inch. (The prices shown below are for the 55-inch size.)

Read our TCL 6-Series (2020 Roku TV) review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

If you are looking to splurge this holiday season, the C1 could be for you. It costs a bundle, but if you can afford it, its amazing image quality is worth the money. The key to that picture quality is OLED technology, which outperforms other types of TVs. It’s more expensive than entry-level OLED TVs but has better features, and still costs less than higher-end models like the G1. The only real advantage to the G1 over the C1 is its slim styling, but the C1 is slim itself and comes in a wider array of sizes.

Sizes: 48-, 55-, 65-, 77-, 83-inch.

Read our LG C1 series OLED TV review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

Looking for a high-end TV with spectacular image quality, but don’t want an OLED? The Samsung QN90A is your best bet. This TV uses QLED TV tech augmented by mini-LED for a brighter image than any OLED TV. The spectacular contrast of OLED still won out in my side-by-side tests, but the QN90A QLED screen comes closer than ever. 

Sizes: 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inch.

Read our Samsung QN90A series (2021) review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Those looking for a good TV without breaking the bank might be interested in the TCL 4-Series. Roku is our favorite platform for live TV streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and it’s even better baked into the TV. This TCL 4-Series can’t beat any of the models above on image quality — its 4K resolution and HDR performance don’t do much to help the picture — but it’s fine for most people, especially at this price. 

Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inch. (The prices shown below are for the 43-inch size.)

Read our TCL 4-series Roku TV (2021) review.

 

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Vizio’s V-series is our favorite budget alternative to the TCL 4-Series Roku TV. We liked Roku’s smart TV system better (sound familiar?), but the V-series has some advantages, including a better remote with voice and more advanced picture settings. Picture quality between the two was basically the same, so if you don’t have a preference, it makes sense to get the cheapest one.

Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 58- 65-, 75-inch.

Read our Vizio V-series (2021) review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

There’s a lot of competition in the midpriced TV category. With excellent picture quality, anchored by full-array local dimming and plenty of brightness to make HDR content shine, the X90J makes a case for itself as Sony’s answer to the TCL 6-Series and step-up Vizio models. This LED TV’s sleek looks and the Google TV operating system score additional points, as does its next-gen console support (it has 4K and 120fps inputs and Sony promises VRR… sometime) and built-in NextGen TV tuner. If you want an “S” brand, this is one of the best values we’ve tested.

Read our Sony X90J series (2021) review.

 

David Katzmaier/CNET

Samsung is the TV brand that sells more TVs than anyone and one of the most popular is the Q60A series. Its sleek OLED screen design stands out compared to the other TVs on this list — although the ultra-thin OLED models are even sleeker — it offers better features and image quality than budget models like the TCL 4-Series, and it comes in a vast array of sizes. The TVs above are all superior values, and the Sony X90J has a better picture, but if you want a Samsung TV and can’t afford the QN90A, this is a great choice.

Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 60- 65-, 70- 75-, 85-inch.

Read our Samsung Q60A series (2021) review.

 

Other stuff to know about giving a new TV for the 2021 holidays 

We’re sure you’d be happy with any one of the TVs above, but a new set can be a big investment, so maybe you’re looking for a bit more information. Here’s a quick and dirty list.

  • In our opinion, bigger is better. In general, your money is best spent on large screen sizes rather than a slight upgrade in image quality.
  • If you don’t like the built-in smart TV system, you can always add a streaming device from Roku, Amazon, Google or Apple. They’re generally cheap and easy to use for streaming services — and they receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs. See our picks of the best streaming devices here.
  • The sound quality of most built-in speakers is terrible, so it’s worthwhile to pair your new set with a sound bar or other speaker system. Good ones start at around $100. See the best soundbars here.


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