Published: Tuesday, 17 August 2021 19:32
They're like 65-inch TVs, only smaller. David Katzmaier July 20, 2021 4:58 p.m. PT
- Best 55-inch TV for the money TCL 55R635 Jump to details $948 at Amazon
- Best 55-inch TV, money no object LG OLED55G1P Jump to details $2,000 at Amazon
- Best high-end 55-inch TV for the money LG OLED55CXP Jump to details $1,897 at Amazon
- Best 55-inch OLED alternative Samsung QN55QN90A Jump to details $1,600 at Samsung
- Best budget 55-inch TV TCL 55S435 Jump to details $500 at Best Buy
- Best 55-inch TV for the money runner-up Vizio M55Q7-H1 Jump to details $500 at Best Buy
- Best budget 55-inch TV runner-up Vizio V555-J Jump to details $492 at Walmart
- Best design, features in a midpriced 55-inch TV Samsung QN55Q60A Jump to details $798 at Crutchfield
If you haven't bought a new TV in a few years, you may be surprised to learn that a 55-inch screen is considered medium-size or even smaller these days. At the high end of this market, just about every nice TV series has a 55-inch size, and it's often the smallest screen size in the line. Companies have been offering ever-larger screens for ever-smaller prices -- we're talking $400 for a perfectly decent budget 55-inch TV -- and sales take the prices even lower.
Many of these TVs come with all the bells and whistles, including full-array local dimming, OLED screens, 120Hz refresh rate, 4K resolution, HDR, a plethora of HDMI ports, and even high-end gaming features to go with a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Oh, and most of these options for the best 55-inch TV are smart, which gives you access to all of your beloved streaming channels and TV episodes without a second device.Get the CNET Now newsletter Spice up your small talk with the latest tech news, products and reviews. Delivered on weekdays.
In my view the 55-inch size offers more choice than any other, and there are a lot of quality options. Let me help you decide by listing my favorites.
The list below represents the best 55-inch TV options I've reviewed in CNET's test lab (for 2021, that's my basement), where I compare the pros and cons of various TV sets side by side to see which are most worth buying. Here are my latest recommendations for the best 55-inch TVs, periodically updated. Keep these points in mind as you look over my choices:
- Looking for a different size? Check out our comparisons of 32-inch TVs, 43-inch TVs, 65-inch TVs and 75-inch TVs.
- If you're worried that new 2021 TVs will have some great feature or picture quality enhancement you'll miss out on if you buy a TV now, relax. TVs are generally a mature technology and our advice is that if you need a new TV now, you should get one.
- Some of the TVs below came out in 2020. New 2021 models are now available and we've reviewed a handful so far. For the 2020 TVs on this list I've included a "2021 outlook" section with everything I know about the new models.
- The images below are generally of 65-inch TVs since that's the size we review at CNET. But the reviews also apply to the 55-inch versions.
- Don't see what you're looking for below? Here are all the TVs I've reviewed, with more coming soon.
- This list is updated periodically.
Read more: Do this to your TV now: 9 crucial settings to improve the picture
Best 55-inch TV for the money
TCL 55R635Sarah Tew/CNET ED I T O R S ’ C H O I C E Nov 2020
No TV I've ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The 2020 TCL 6-Series 4K UHD TV has even better picture quality than its predecessor, 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. This QLED TV is also a solid gaming TV 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.
2021 outlook: TCL says this TV will remain on sale through most of 2021. I don't expect it to be replaced until at least the fall, and it might stick around the entire year. TCL will also sell an 8K version of the 6-Series, but I don't think it will be worth the money.
Read our TCL 6-Series (2020 Roku TV) review.
$948 at Amazon $950 at Best Buy $948 at Walmart
Best 55-inch TV, money no object
LG OLED55G1PSarah Tew/CNET
What's that you say? You just want the best 55-inch TV and can afford whatever you want? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests, the LG G1 OLED TV is the best TV I've ever reviewed, with world-beating contrast, perfect wide viewing angle and excellent uniformity. This OLED TV beats the picture of the LG CX below, barely, and offers a slimmer, more wall-friendly design. If you can afford it, this is the 55-inch TV to get.
Read our LG OLED55G1P review.
$2,000 at Amazon
Best high-end 55-inch TV for the money
LG OLED55CXPSarah Tew/CNET ED I T O R S ’ C H O I C E Nov 2020
Currently this OLED TV is available for hundreds less than the G1 above, and with picture quality that's almost as good, the CX from 2020 is a better choice overall for people who want a really nice TV but don't have money to burn. The G1 was slightly brighter in my measurements and has slightly better video processing, but it was really hard to tell the difference. The only real advantage to the G1 is that slim styling, but the CX is pretty slim itself.
2021 outlook: The new model, designated C1, costs a few hundred dollars more than the CX. I haven't reviewed it yet. It adds some minor new features and improved processing but I expect image quality to be largely the same as the CX's.
Read our LG OLEDCX series review.
$1,897 at Amazon $1,425 at Best Buy $1,400 at Target
Best 55-inch OLED alternative
Samsung QN55QN90ADavid 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 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 comes closer than ever. It's also a bit cheaper than 2021 OLED TVs, but not cheaper than the 2020 CX.
Read our Samsung QN90A series (2021) review.
$1,600 at Samsung $1,598 at Crutchfield $1,598 at Amazon
Best budget 55-inch TV
TCL 55S435Sarah Tew/CNET
Roku is our favorite platform for streaming apps like Netflix, and it's even better baked into this 4K TV. Picture quality on this TCL 55-inch television set can't beat any of the models above -- its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don't do anything to help the picture -- but it's perfectly fine for most people, especially at this price.
Read our TCL 4-series Roku TV (2021) review.
$500 at Best Buy $517 at Walmart
Best 55-inch TV for the money runner-up
Vizio M55Q7-H1Sarah Tew/CNET
Aside from the TCL 6-Series above, this is the runner-up for best TV for the money. The TCL has better picture quality and a better smart HDTV system so it offers a superior TV viewing experience overall, but it's also a couple hundred dollars more expensive. If you can't afford the 6-Series, this Vizio is a very good runner-up.
2021 outlook: The successor to this TV is the M55Q7-J. It looks very similar on paper -- the major difference is a new voice remote. I haven't reviewed the new model yet but since it currently costs $800, I doubt it will be worth the price difference compared with the 2020 version.
Read our Vizio M7-Series Quantum (2020) review.
$500 at Best Buy $600 at Target
Best budget 55-inch TV runner-up
Vizio V555-JGeoffrey Morrison/CNET
Vizio's V-series is our favorite budget alternative to the TCL 4-Series Roku TV at this size. 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.
Read our Vizio V-series (2021) review.
$492 at Walmart $530 at Target
Best design, features in a midpriced 55-inch TV
Samsung QN55Q60AGeoffrey Morrison/CNET
Samsung is the TV brand that sells more TVs than anyone, and one of its most popular is the Q60A series. Its sleek design stands out compared to the other TVs on this list -- although the ultrathin 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, but if you want a Samsung TV and can't afford the QN90A, this is a great choice.
Read our Samsung Q60A series (2021) review.
$798 at Crutchfield $800 at Best Buy $798 at Walmart
Other stuff to know about buying a new 55-inch TV
I'm sure you'd be happy with any of the TVs above, but a new 55-inch TV set can be a big investment, so maybe you're looking for a bit more information. Here's a quick and dirty list.
- In my opinion, bigger is better. Big TVs are cheaper than ever, and your money is best spent on large screen sizes rather than a slight upgrade in image quality or resolution.
- If you don't like the way the built-in smart TV system interacts with your streaming apps, you can always add a media streamer. After all, there are more streaming services with more amazing content than ever before.
- Streamers are cheap and easy to use, and they receive updates more frequently than most smart TVs. See our picks of the best media streamers.
- Most built-in speakers sound terrible, so it's worthwhile to pair your new set with a soundbar or other speaker system. Good ones start at around $100. See the best soundbars.
Got all that? Great! Now grab your remote control and settle in for some high-end TV viewing.
Looking for even more info? Here's everything to know about buying a new TV in 2021.
More TV recommendations
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- Best 65-inch TVs for 2021
- Best TVs for gaming with low input lag
- HDR formats like Dolby Vision, HDR10, Technicolor and HLG explained
- Best HDMI cables for your new 4K and HDR TV
- How Samsung QLED and LG OLED, the two best TV technologies, compare in 2021
- Best home theater systems of 2021
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