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best smart tv

The Best Smart TVs in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

With the multimedia selection nowadays, a Smart TV is the non plus ultra.. When comparing various external tests, the performance and other criteria were closely scrutinized.

TCL 32" 3-Series 720p ROKU Smart TV - 32S335

 Our Pick
TCL 32 Inch 3-Series 720p ROKU Smart TV – 32S335
  • Dimensions with Stand (W x H x D): 28.8″ x 18.9″ x 7.1″ |…
  • Smart functionality delivers all your favorite content with…
  • HD, Resolution: High definition (720p) resolution for…
  • Dual band Wi-Fi: Get fast and easy access to your favorite…
  • Inputs: 3 HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 (one with HDMI ARC), 1 USB…

LG Electronics 24LM530S-PU 24-Inch HD

LG Electronics 24LM530S-PU 24-Inch HD
  • HD: A great view. LG HD TV’s screen delivers accurate images…
  • SMART TV WITH WEBOS: webOS platform delivers streaming…
  • WALL MOUNTABLE: To simplify the mounting process, the rear…
  • HDMI: offers incredible audio/video quality and single-cable…
  • Included components: Power Cable, Remote Control, Stand

Hisense 40-Inch Class H4 Series LED Roku Smart TV

 Our Pick
Hisense 40-Inch Class H4 Series LED Roku Smart TV
  • Combining rich 1080p picture quality, intuitively smart Roku…
  • Enjoy all the key moments in fast-paced sports, movies, and…
  • Roku TV’s simplified home screen and streamlined remote…
  • Control the TV with your iOS or android device via the…
  • Measuring 35.6 by 20.4 by 3.2 inches (35.6 by 22.1 by 8…

LG 43UN7300PUF Alexa BuiltIn 43Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

LG 43UN7300PUF Alexa BuiltIn 43Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV
  • REAL 4K DISPLAY: Enjoy 4K resolution for your 4K movies and…
  • Inputs & Outputs: 3 HDMI ports, 1 Ethernet port, 2 USB Ports…
  • Dimensions with Stand (WxHxD): 38.3″ x 24.1″ x 7.4″; With…
  • QUAD CORE PROCESSOR 4K: Instant and intelligent. Our Quad…
  • Webs AND MAGIC REMOTE: LG’s fan-favorite webOS platform…

All-New Toshiba 32LF221U21 32-inch Smart HD 720p TV

 Our Pick
All-New Toshiba 32LF221U21 32-inch Smart HD 720p TV
10,146 Reviews
All-New Toshiba 32LF221U21 32-inch Smart HD 720p TV
  • Voice remote with Alexa: Use your voice to watch live TV,…
  • Endless Entertainment: Watch over 500,000 streaming movies…
  • Access your favorite content: Fire TV Edition seamlessly…
  • Smart TV with access to streaming services for countless…
  • Item arrives in packaging that reveals what’s inside and…

Sony KDL32W600D 32" 720p Smart LED TV

Sony KDL32W600D 32 Inch 720p Smart LED TV
  • X-Reality PRO for a Cleaner, More Refined Picture. Enjoy…
  • Enjoy 720p HD. Experience the detail of HD across all your…
  • Easy entertainment, wirelessly. The KDL-32W600D’s built-in…
  • Motionflow XR 240. This refresh rate technology is designed…
  • Clear Phase for Enhanced Audio. Enjoy enhanced audio with…

TCL 55" 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR QLED ROKU Smart TV - 55S535

TCL 55 Inch 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR QLED ROKU Smart TV – 55S535
  • Superior 4K Ultra HD: Picture clarity combined with the…
  • QLED: Quantum dot technology delivers better brightness and…
  • Product Size (WxHxD) with Stand: 48.4″ x 30.1″ x 11.6″;…
  • Easy Voice Control: Works with Amazon Alexa or Google…
  • Roku Smart TV Platform: Roku Smart TV platform provides…

SAMSUNG QN32Q50RAFXZA Flat 32" QLED 4K 32Q50 Series Smart TV

 Our Pick
SAMSUNG QN32Q50RAFXZA Flat 32 Inch QLED 4K 32Q50 Series Smart TV
  • 4K UHD Processor: a powerful processor optimizes your tv’…
  • Inputs & Outputs: 3 HDMI ports, 1 Ethernet port, 2 USB Ports…
  • Dimensions with Stand (WxHxD): 28.5″ x 18.8″ x 6.1″ | with…
  • 4K UHD: see what you’ve been missing on a crisp, clear…
  • Smart TV with Universal Guide: our simple on-screen Guide is…

Frequently Asked Questions: Smart TV

What is a Smart TV?

A Smart TV is a television with a wealth of additional functions. In most cases, the devices can be connected to the Internet and have their own operating system. This also makes it possible to run various apps, such as games.

From the outside, Smart TVs are no different from conventional TVs. However, the additional components inside and especially the software make a dramatic difference in daily use.

In principle, a Smart TV is no longer just a TV, but a complete computer with countless possibilities.

What is a Smart TV?

For the numerous functions in a smart TV, the manufacturers install powerful yet energy-saving hardware, such as that used in smartphones and tablets. A fast processor and as much working memory as possible are essential. Some TVs rely on very powerful components, such as a processor with several processing units. This makes demanding applications such as 3D games possible.

Hardware alone is not much use to a user. That’s why a smart TV always comes with a suitable operating system, such as Android. The software is specially adapted to the needs of TVs so that users can enjoy the easiest possible operation. With the remote control, it is thus conveniently possible to surf the web, install various apps or even play games

 Some of the advanced TVs also have additional interfaces like USB or Bluetooth. With these, game controllers can be connected if necessary and the TV turns into a game console without any additional devices. Apart from the operating system, Smart TVs work just like any other TV.

Advantages of a Smart TV

The biggest advantage of a smart TV is its immense versatility. There is hardly anything that the powerful devices cannot do. Users can surf the Internet and use various streaming services with such a TV, all without using additional hardware like a set-top box or a surf stick. Of course, the devices can be connected to the Internet to enjoy even more benefits.

This way, the latest information is always available on the TV. For example, a digital program guide can be conveniently called up in this way. A classic printed TV guide is then superfluous for many users. In addition, it is also possible to provide a TV with software updates via the Internet.

So you are not dependent on the state in which a TV set is delivered. Many manufacturers are constantly developing programs and functions and offer the results to customers for free download.

An update is theoretically also possible for a device without an Internet connection, but the installation is much more complicated.

Some Smart TVs offer even more advantages, such as voice control or automatic recognition of the user by an integrated camera. With such features, anyone can search for their favorite content on the web with simple voice instructions or make certain settings in no time at all.

Camera recognition, on the other hand, can automatically assign different viewers to corresponding profiles. This allows the TV to automatically adopt the current viewer’s favorite settings without any further input from the user.

For example, if a child in a family sits in front of the TV, it can set the color scheme to vivid and bright colors. If the parents want to watch TV later, the device automatically changes the settings to a more natural color image.

These are just a few examples of the huge range of functions that come with using a Smart TV. Basically, the functions can be constantly expanded with apps even after the purchase and adapted to one’s own requirements. A Smart TV is interesting for anyone who wants to do more with their TV than simply watch TV channels.

Connecting a computer is unnecessary, since all functions can be used with the device itself. Photos as a slideshow, the connection of smartphone or camera, various games and much more are open to the user. The countless possibilities have led to companies already discovering Smart TVs for themselves. In some companies, they serve as a surface for presentations or as a terminal for the Internet and intranet.

Types of Smart TVs

The selection of Smart TVs could hardly be bigger. As with classic TVs, there are of course differences in the screen diagonal. Both small devices and large ones are available with corresponding functions. A significant factor is also the lighting technology used. Here, a distinction is made primarily between fluorescent tubes and LEDs.

The latter are superior to classic cathode ray tubes in almost all respects. LED lighting shines brighter, consumes less power and can also illuminate areas separately. However, not all TVs are LED. There are devices with either Edge LED or Direct LED technology.

Edge LED only has LED strips at the edges that illuminate the entire screen. The advantage here is the low-cost production. Although halos or small shadows can sometimes form in the center of the screen, the devices are already available very cheaply.

Direct LED lighting has LEDs over the entire surface of the TV. This ensures a more even illumination and can improve color reproduction. However, such devices are often quite expensive.

Further differences in Smart TVs can be found in the operating system used. The four most important representatives are Android, Web OS, Firefox OS and Tizen. Many users certainly already know Android from their smartphones. This has the advantage that they already feel at home when they use it for the first time because they are already familiar with numerous functions.

Furthermore, Android enjoys a very high distribution. This makes the system enormously interesting for developers and offers by far the most apps from third-party manufacturers. However, in direct comparison to the competition, Android is quite prone to bugs and requires quite a bit of performance for a smooth display.

The situation is different with Web OS, which is often used in LG devices in particular. The system has proven itself over the years and also copes with less well-equipped TVs. The operation is always very smooth and crashes are rare. However, the selection of additional apps is quite limited.

The situation is quite similar for Firefox OS. Tizen is only used in Samsung devices. The self-developed system has the advantage that it is exactly adapted to the respective hardware and thus runs extremely fast. However, the app selection is also somewhat limited here.

In some cases, smart TVs literally merge with completely different product categories. This is especially the case for devices with touchscreens. These could easily pass for oversized tablets, since they have very similar features. Of course, a huge touchscreen opens up new possibilities and can also be used for virtual board game evenings, for example.

However, the disadvantage is that constant use of the touchscreen causes a not to be underestimated amount of dirt. If you always want a clear view of your TV, you’ll have to clean it at least once a day.

It’s impossible to say which type of Smart TV is the absolute best option. That depends much more on the very own needs and habits.

How are Smart TVs tested?

In our Smart TV Test, all devices have to face a long and detailed test course. Only if a TV can convince across the board can it climb into high regions of the rankings and secure a chance at the title of Smart TV comparison test winner. In the following, we reveal what we primarily look for in a test.

Picture Quality

Every TV must be able to convince with a sharp and bright picture, regardless of whether it is smart or not. That’s why we analyze exactly how the TVs perform in different scenarios in the test. Are black levels convincing in movies? Can we enjoy sports broadcasts without visible streaks?

Sound quality: In terms of sound, we examine both the integrated speakers of a smart TV and the quality when they are transmitted to external devices like a home theater. It is important to us that a TV supports the latest standards as much as possible. This is the only way to achieve satisfactory surround sound results. Beyond that, however, trebles and mids must generally remain clearly intelligible, while bass should come out of the subwoofer as punchy as possible.

Speed

At this point, we evaluate the operating speed of a smart TV. It is not so important for us which hardware is installed. What ultimately matters is how smoothly a device can be operated in practice. If a device with a single-core processor can convince us with its well-tuned software, we praise it.

Conversely, even the fastest 8-core processor with an integrated graphics unit is of little use when it is slowed down by faulty software. By the way, we use numerous apps for performance measurement in the test and can tell you how a device behaves in certain situations based on the collected data.

Operation

Due to the countless functions, smart TVs place special demands on operation. In principle, it is not difficult for a manufacturer to overload a device with features and functions. The trick is to make sure that the user can still use the TV without any problems. Settings should be quick to find and apps also need to be listed as clearly as possible.

In addition, a remote control needs input devices that are adapted to the use of the Internet. This could be a small touchpad or a microphone for voice input. We look at all aspects of operation in the test.

Power Consumption

Since a Smart TV is basically a complete computer, it is not surprising that the power consumption is somewhat higher than in most normal TVs. Nevertheless, no model should consume too much juice from the socket. In the test, we closely check the power consumption and compare it with similarly equipped models.

In this way, we can easily determine which smart TVs use energy sparingly and which ones really waste power.

Apps

At this point, we will take a closer look at what a Smart TV can do in detail. The basic functions include a connection to the Internet via WiFi or Ethernet. In addition, we also take a closer look at the integrated functions. We not only check these for their general function, but also tell our readers whether the integration is useful at all.

A useless program only takes up space in the menu and confuses users unnecessarily. Lastly, we also check the process of installing new apps or updates. In the best case, this is so easy that even less experienced users can easily manage it. The selection of apps, on the other hand, is less important in our test.

Of course, we do take this into account, but the situation in an app store can change on a daily basis.

I/O

Despite all the enthusiasm about the countless new possibilities, a Smart TV must ultimately also be able to convince as a TV. For this, it is important to have the appropriate ports that can connect the user’s own devices without any problems. Above all, as many HDMI and USB ports as possible are desirable.

Optical outputs for sound transmission, analog options for Scart and component cables are also welcome. Apart from the cable inputs, we also check the compatibility with other devices in the test. We reveal whether you can connect smartphones and tablets without problems and which content can be transferred.

Quality & Design

Quality and workmanship: At this point, we focus on the casing of the smart TVs. We tell our readers whether the manufacturers have used high-quality materials or prefer to rely on cheap plastic. We also scan the devices for any gaps and get an idea of the general design.

We don’t mean the looks, because that is a matter of taste anyway. We are much more concerned with whether a device has a firm stand and makes optimal use of its space. One issue that should not be underestimated here is, for example, the center of gravity of a TV, which should be as centered as possible.

Price-Performance Ratio

In this category, we compile the results of our test and check whether a certain TV is worth its asking price in view of the performance it offers. To do this, we compare the devices with similarly equipped devices from the competition and use both the manufacturer’s recommended price and current street prices.

Conversely, we can also draw your attention to bargains. Some smart TVs can still be interesting for many users with a low price despite minor flaws.

What should I look for when buying a Smart TV?

When buying a Smart TV, the first question is probably the right size. However, bigger is not always automatically better. The user’s sitting distance is always important in this question. If you normally only sit a short distance from the TV, you will usually not be satisfied with a very large device.

At short distances, individual pixels are visible more quickly, causing the entire picture to turn out blurry. Furthermore, it can also happen that only individual sections of the picture can be focused.

At a seating distance of about two meters, 40 inches usually prove to be the best choice.

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Viewers enjoy all the advantages of a high resolution here and still have the entire picture in view at the same time. Even larger screen diagonals only make sense with correspondingly longer seat distances.

At a distance of 2.50 meters, a 50-inch TV from our test comparison is recommended, and at a distance of three meters, 60 inches make sense.

Devices for very small distances of about one meter should generally not be larger than 32 inches. Such models are suitable for the bedroom or the children’s room, for example.

However, please note that these are only general recommendations. Ultimately, of course, everyone feels differently about the advantages and disadvantages of different TV sizes. Therefore, if you can, take a closer look at the various options yourself before making a purchase.

Personal preferences also play a major role when it comes to picture quality. However, the main thing to look for is the most even illumination possible, sufficiently bright lighting and high contrast values. Everything else can be adjusted in detail on most devices anyway.

Especially with a Smart TV, the inner values also play an important role. Hardware and software in particular deserve additional attention. A modular operating system is important. This is software that can still be changed by the user afterwards. TVs with Android, WebOS or Firefox OS often offer the possibility to install apps afterwards. This allows everyone to set up their TV according to their own wishes.

That is always better than having to rely on preinstalled solutions from the manufacturer. In terms of hardware, multi-core processors and as much working memory as possible are a good indicator for convincing performance rates.

When buying, you also have the choice between different resolutions. Smart TVs are available both classically with Full HD and with UHD. The new Ultra HD standard offers an even higher resolution and thus potentially better picture quality. However, this comes along with a higher purchase price. So, if you do not want to spend too much, Full HD is still a good choice.

Lastly, make sure that a Smart TV is compatible with all your devices. This includes not only receivers, hard disk receivers and game consoles. Above all, wireless connections are important in the decision-making process. After all, a Smart TV is of little use to you if you can’t connect it to your router and thus to the Internet at all. Apart from that, it is of course also desirable to connect your own smartphone to a Smart TV in order to display content on it.

Smart TV Accessories

If you want to connect a variety of devices to your Smart TV, you can expand the number of HDMI inputs with an HDMI switch. These are small boxes with multiple HDMI ports. Game consoles, computers and other devices can be connected to them and switched as needed. A TV with only two HDMI ports can easily be expanded to up to six inputs this way.

Similarly, it is also possible to upgrade USB ports if they are no longer sufficient for all devices. USB hubs are available with a variety of different ports and some also have integrated card readers. However, it should be noted that a hub does not always provide enough power for very hungry devices. For example, it is not always possible to charge a smartphone via such a connection. Economical accessories like a USB stick or a mouse, however, usually work without problems.

If you don’t want to be spied on by your TV, you can simply tape over an integrated camera if necessary. A bit of simple insulating tape is enough for this and the camera can no longer see what’s going on in your own home. We don’t want to pass judgment on whether such a procedure makes sense or not. However, it is an option for those who prefer to be on the safe side.

Smart TV Alternatives

If you would like to use the functions of a Smart TV, but don’t want to buy a new TV, you will find numerous alternative options. First and foremost, these include set-top boxes that can be connected to the Internet. Google Chromecast offers the Android operating system and access to numerous apps.

There are also devices that can simply be connected as a stick to the HDMI input of a TV and then communicate with the Internet via WiFi. This has the advantage that the device is not visible.

Classic set-top boxes, on the other hand, offer significantly more power, which makes for a smoother experience and provides enough reserves for demanding services. The best-known representatives here include Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. Apple TV is very interesting for all friends of iPhone and co.

It is currently the only way to access your iTunes collection on your own TV.

Alternatively, there are also numerous apps for YouTube, Netflix, Spotify and other services. There is also a game controller for the Apple TV. The situation is similar for the Amazon Fire TV, which also allows all users to access Prime Video.

Game consoles such as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One also offer numerous Smart TV functions. If you already own one, you can simply connect it to the TV and surf the web with an existing Internet connection. Apps for YouTube, Netflix and other services are also available on the platforms.

Although the app selection is much smaller than Android and the like, the consoles naturally offer their own games in their respective online stores. They also have a lot of power, which guarantees smooth operation.

The biggest disadvantage of such devices is the additional power requirement. It is not uncommon for them to consume significantly more energy together with the TV than a single Smart TV. On the other hand, the acquisition costs are naturally lower.

Last product update on 2021-01-22 | Source: Amazon Affiliate