How to choose the right TV: Quantum dots, HDR and more in 2024

These days, you don’t want to buy a TV that doesn’t support HDR unless you’re looking for a small/cheap HDTV. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to consider a quantum dot LED TV (also known as a QLED or NeoQLED display) because of its brighter, more vibrant colors.

Gaming performance

Black and white video game system with 1 black controller and 1 white controller on top

Sony Playstation 5 Game Console

Photo: Ryan Waniata

If you’re planning on gaming on your TV, I highly recommend paying attention to two factors: refresh rate and input lag. You can usually find these specifications on the product listing or on the box itself. Most standard TVs have a refresh rate of 60 HzThis means that the display can reach 60 frames per second (fps), or 60 images on the screen every second. However, modern game console and the game can support up to 120 frames per secondor 120 frames per second. This results in smoother motion on the screen, making your gameplay smoother and more responsive. For this reason, Best Gaming TV use one 120 Hz panel.

Input lag is the time it takes for your movements on a gamepad or keyboard to register on the screen. The lower the better. Most TVs have an input lag of around 15 milliseconds (less if the game is running at 1080p and 60 frames per second). LG’s OLED models have incredibly low input lag, but this is mainly beneficial for fast-paced games that require quick interactions, like first-person shooters.

If you’re an avid gamer, you’ll also want to make sure your TV offers advanced gaming features like VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) to sync with the game’s changing refresh rate without “tearing” or feeling sluggish, and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode)automatically optimizes the TV’s input lag when you turn on a modern game console or gaming PC. To get those features at high resolution, you’ll need a high-bandwidth HDMI connection, and that means a TV with HDMI 2.1.

Suitable ports

Image may contain Electronics Routers and Amplifiers

Samsung S95D One Connect Box

Most TVs have optical outputs for audio, Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections, and three or four HDMI ports. As noted above, you should make sure your new TV supports at least one high-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 (or more if you have multiple modern gaming rigs), enabling 4K resolution at up to 120 Hz for the best gaming performance, among other benefits.

All new TVs offer an HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) port, allowing you to easily connect modern, powered soundbars. bookshelf speakersand an A/V receiver with an HDMI cable—and even control volume and power from your TV remote. Most mid-range and higher-end TVs will support the more advanced version of ARC, HDMI eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel). With higher bandwidth, eARC allows the TV to send uncompressed audio formats to supported audio devices. In essence, it supports better audio quality to enhance the performance of best sound bar and surround sound systems, but you’ll need a great setup to notice the difference.

I recommend buying a brand new high-speed cable if you’re buying a new TV for the first time in a while, like the affordable Amazon Basics cable linked above. Modern cables support higher data speeds than cables from years past, and HDMI cables can wear out over time.

What about TV software?

Chromecast with remote

Photo: Google

All major TV brands have a basic smart interface that supports a variety of streaming services, including Vizio’s Home Screen, Samsung’s Tizen OS, and LG’s webOS. New Sony TVs, as well as most new Hisense and TCL models, come with Google TVwhile Roku TVs come with Roku operating systemsimple tile interface of streaming brand.

Roku and Google TV are our current favorite smart TV interfaces, but if you don’t like the built-in operating system on your TV, don’t worry—you can easily add your desired streaming platform for very little money with a simple one-time purchase. Just grab one of our favorite streaming devicesPlug in and let your favorite smart interface do the hard work.

How much should you expect to pay?

Hisense U8H TV

Hisense U8H

Photo: Hisense

You’ll see a wide range of prices when shopping for a new TV. Much depends on the features you want. Here’s a basic price guide of what you can expect for your money. Be sure to check out our list of The best TVs for specific information on each model.

Under $500

If you just want a big-screen TV that can stream your favorite shows, this is a good place to start, especially if you’re on a budget. I’d highly recommend avoiding TVs not made by companies like Samsung, LG, Sony, TCL, Hisense, Vizio, or Roku. Also, avoid spending less than $300 on whateverunless the size is less than 55 inches.

From $500 to $1,000

If you watch TV a lot and want a TV in the 40- to 65-inch range, this is a great price to shop around. Stick with the big brands above—especially our favorite value-oriented brands like TCL, Hisense, and Roku—and you can’t go wrong. If you want the best from higher-end brands like Samsung, LG, and Sony, you’ll likely have to spend more.

Over $1,000

This price point is for TVs 65 inches and larger and/or those with advanced panel technologies like OLED and QLED/mini-LED. You’ll also typically get more advanced processing power for improved upscaling and better hardware like 120Hz panels for gaming and sports. Spend another $2,000 and you’ll find top-rated 4K TVs from Samsung, LG, and Sony. Spend a few thousand dollars more and you can start looking at 8K resolution—though there’s not much 8K content to watch right now.

Buy Soundbar or Bookshelf Speakers

Long black rectangular speakers in front of a large flat screen TV sitting on an entertainment system shelf

Photo: Ryan Waniata

TV speakers are terrible. Companies have tried to improve them, but even the best models still sound tinny. Buy a soundbar now. Many modern soundbars come with built-in smart assistants like Google Assistant or Alexa, connect to streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify Connect, and offer advanced audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for immersive sound. Guide to the Best Soundbars There are many recommendations at many different price points.

If you’re more musically inclined and don’t care much about surround sound formats, we recommend considering a pair of bookshelf speakers as an alternative to a soundbar. Many options in Guide to the Best Bookshelf Speakers comes with a built-in amplifier and enhancements like wireless streaming and HDMI ARC, so you don’t need a separate amplifier—just plug and play. If you’ve listened to TV speakers so far, you won’t believe what you’ve been missing.


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