Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – 2019: Best Smart TVs

There’s never been a better time to pick up a TV thanks to the increased selection now on offer. While this is great for the consumers it does also mean the TV market has never been more complicated to navigate as the varied selection means more features to consider - in addition to the price. To make matters a little worse, in a lot of cases these features are not always directly comparable either. For example, should you opt for OLED or LED, Amazon or Google support, Android TV or a proprietary OS. It goes on. Once you do decide on which of these features matter most to you, then you still need to choose between the various options that all offer your curated checklist. This is hopefully where this gift guide will help to make the decision-making process a little easier as below you'll find the best options broken down by main features/selling points.

Prices below are subject to change. This post will be updated regularly to ensure the most up-to-date pricing, but during the holidays, there will be flash sales and price drops so keep that in mind.

Best overall - all things considered, this is the best TV right now

While most of the TV talk focuses on OLED, right now an LCD TV is likely to be the best overall option for those in the market for a new TV. That’s because the Samsung Q9FN hits all the right notes and although it’s expensive, it’s far less expensive than its predecessor was. More to the point, this 4K QLED TV offers a picture quality that is hard to argue with and especially when it comes to the black level, brightness and the picture detail. Couple that with HDR10+ support, a true 120Hz refresh rate, and what the Samsung Q9FN offers is the best overall experience regardless of whether you’re watching movies, gaming or even using this TV as a PC monitor. The main downside is that it’s only available in one (65-inch) size and therefore only available at one price point. But it’s well worth the money.

Best value overall - the best for the best price

The TCL 6-Series provides enough of what you want and need to offer a great experience at a great price. So if value is the biggest concern with buying a new TV, then you cannot go wrong with either the TCL R615 or the TCL R617. The main difference between these two models is the size with one boasting a 55-inch display and the other a 65-inch display. Although it might be worth noting the R617 also comes with an “enhanced remote” which features support for voice commands. Otherwise buyers of either model can expect a similar experience including 4K support, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, and an operating system powered by Roku OS. Over the last few years Roku OS has become a very powerful and feature-rich OS making the TCL 6-Series a feature-rich and app-centric TV at a bargain price.

Best for resolution - 4K is old news, here’s 8K

If resolution is what you mainly care about and you are happy to pay for the best in class then arguably Samsung’s Q900R QLED TVs are the ones to go for. The Q900R series is said to offer “real 8K” which means four times more pixels than 4K and in part thanks to the 4,000 nit peak brightness level. While finding actual 8K content is a bit of a problem at the moment, the Q900R series also comes with artificial intelligence-based technology to upscale current resolutions for an even better picture. So regardless of the resolution of content being watched, the Q900R series will look to improve the picture and the sound quality. This also includes content viewed via HDMI and USB, as well as through streaming services, set-top boxes, and connected mobile devices. The Q900R series is available in four different sizes - 65, 75, 82 and 85-inch.

Best OLED - can’t go wrong with an OLED TV and especially this one

The LG OLED C8 series is one of the best OLED TV lines you can buy right now overall and when taking everything into account. So if picture quality is what matters to you then it’s worth considering this series as all the TVs part of this line offer accurate color, deep black levels and great viewing from almost any angle. Adding to the picture quality, and the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, the C8 series is also a ThinQ product as it comes with an emphasis on AI with the Google Assistant built-in and additional support for Amazon Alexa. Making it a TV that’s as feature rich as it is rich in the viewing experience. The LG C8 series comes in three sizes -- 55, 65, and 77-inches -- with prices starting at $1899.99.

Best value OLED - if you want a great picture but at a lower price

Let’s face it, OLED TVs are not cheap in general so there are no real great bargains to be had when it comes to this product category with the baseline price being higher to begin with. For example, the C8 mentioned above is not even the best OLED TV available, but when factoring in the price it becomes the best overall. The LG B8 is another 2018 OLED model from LG and actually represents the company’s entry-level option. That said, the prices still start at around $1600-1700. So if you are looking to save on an OLED TV, then while you can save, you won’t save much - especially if you are looking for a 2018 model. Even opting for a 2017 model doesn’t mean you will find greater savings as the LG B7A is the 2017 version of the LG B8 and currently will cost you more than the B8. In either case, a saving of $200-300 is nothing to be sneezed at and can be used to further improve the home entertainment experience overall. Especially considering most people consider the difference between LG’s B8 and C8 lines to be fairly negligible. As once again you are getting 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos, and ThinQ (Google Assistant) support.

Best OLED alternative - if you don’t need OLED, LED will save you big

VIZIO's P65-F1 is part of the company’s P-Series and is one of those TVs which flies under the radar a lot of the time but it’s worth taking a moment to consider, and especially if you want a great picture at a lower price. Not only does this one feature 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision support, but it also plays nicely with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The operating system in use is the company’s own SmartCast OS which is very well supported and routinely gains new and improved features. So this will be more than sufficient for most buyers and will offer plenty of streaming service and app options. Where it does suffer a little compared to some of the others is in the viewing angles. Meaning those seated in the most optimal positions will reap the biggest benefits.

Best for Android TV with Google Assistant - if you’re willing to pay the high price

The Sony Bravia A9F is probably the best TV you can buy now that comes running on the Android TV platform and by association comes equipped with Google Assistant. In fact, this model is part of the company’s “MASTER” series which means it is purpose-designed to offer a best in class experience. That not only extends to the actual interface and features, but also the display in general and design. This is a 4K OLED TV, one that supports HDR10, Dolby Vision, and is a device that’s been certified as “IMAX Enhanced” - a new IMAX certification program designed to highlight hardware (and software) that meets IMAX's exacting standards. So yes, if you are looking for the best in class Android TV/Google Assistant built-in experience then the A9F is likely to be what you are looking for - providing you are willing to pay the higher asking price. The Sony Bravia A9F is available in two sizes, 55 and 65-inches.

Best value Android TV with Google Assistant - without the high price tag

The A9F is a powerful, but expensive TV line and so, if you are looking for something a lot more affordable than the Hisense H9E Plus series is certainly one to consider. This line is available in either a 55 or a 65-inch model with prices starting at under $700 - making this range a much more viable option for most people. In spite of the significantly lower price, you just might be surprised at how feature-rich these TVs are as not only do they feature Android TV and Google Assistant built-in, but these are also 4K TVs with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support.

Best for Amazon Alexa - great for those already embedded in the Alexa ecosystem

There are many TV sets that work with Alexa including a number of the Android TV/Google Assistant models, however, if you are looking for a TV which comes with Amazon Alexa built-in, then the Hisense H9E is worth taking a look at. This is different to the H9E Plus model as this one does not come running on Android TV but instead runs on the company’s proprietary OS. Likewise, unlike the Plus model which offers Alexa support, this model has Alexa built-in so users can more naturally use Alexa to navigate the interface and or control other Alexa-compatible smart home products. Besides the voice assistant support, the standard H9E model supports 4K, HDR and is available in two sizes -- 55 and 65-inches -- with prices staring at a little over $600. Making this a bargain purchase.

Best value Amazon Alexa - great for those looking to cut the cord with Alexa

If you’re looking for an even better Alexa-equipped price than look no further than the Toshiba 4K UHD Smart TV with HDR. As the name suggests, this is a 4K TV that does support HDR but in addition it also features Amazon Alexa built-in. In fact, unlike the Hisense model this one actually comes running on Amazon’s TV-based OS, Fire TV making it a great option for Prime members who can take advantage of their free access to video on-demand content through Prime Video. Best of all though, this one can routinely be picked up for well under $500.

Best Large TV - when size matters most

You will certainly find larger TVs than the LG W8 but you are unlikely to find many, if any that are better. This is the company's LG SIGNATURE OLED TV W which comes in a 77-inch size (although there’s also a 65-inch model), and one which checks pretty much every box. In fact, while the picture is great this is often not the aspect that is most commonly spoken about with the W8 77 as many tend to focus more on how thin this TV is and especially considering its size. To the point where this is mostly referred to as the company’s “wallpaper” solution. So if you are looking for the best in class visual experience, with all the supports you can think of, in a large size, and as thin as it gets then this is the one. You will be paying for all of those benefits though.

Best value large TV - when size matters but so does the price

Arguably, the VIZIO M70 (Walmart) is one of the best largest TVs on a budget although you might it find it a little hard to find available at the moment. If you can find it, then that's definitely one to check out. If you can’t find it in stock then it’s worth considering the 7 Series from Samsung. Especially the 75-inch model as this one comes with many of the most sought after features including 4K, upscaling, and HDR support as well as a 120Hz refresh rate. All while boasting a clean, slim and stylish design. Best of all, this TV, in spite of its size can often be picked up for under $1500. Which is a good price considering the size, although not quite as good as the M70. Alternatively, you could also opt for the VIZIO E70 - while it's not quite as good as the Samsung option, it’s cheaper.

Best not your usual TV - looking for something a little different? Here you go

Hisense’s 100L8D is not your usual TV. It’s is usual in the sense that it supports 4K Ultra HD and in the fact that it provides access to apps such as Netflix, YouTube and so on, in addition to the option to connect and stream connect from compatible devices over Bluetooth. But where it’s not so usual is in the fact that it’s a laser TV. More specifically, it’s not really a TV at all but a short throw projector which comes with a display that the image is projected on to. What’s more, it equates to a TV-like experience that’s 100-inches in size along with 180-degree viewing angles. And it’s not just about the image either as the package also comes equipped with four embedded Harman Kardon speakers, as well as a wireless subwoofer. Making this a great option for those looking for something a little different - and can afford it.

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About the Author
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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]
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