I’ve been reviewing TVs since the days of plasma and rear projection, and I try to keep it simple by focusing on one key concept: picture quality for the money.
As 65-inch TVs become increasingly common, they are more affordable than ever. A solid budget model for under $500 isn’t a tall order, and during holiday sales like Black Friday or Presidents Day they’re even cheaper. When I make side-by-side comparisons of TVs here at CNET, I prefer using 65-inch screens since just about every mainstream TV maker offers this size. It’s big enough to feature HDR-quality video and 4K but not too huge that it dominates most living rooms. Here are some of the best 65-inch TV screens I’ve found.
Watch me set up a TV review lab in my basement
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The list below represents the best TVs I’ve reviewed in CNET’s test lab (for 2021, that’s my basement), where I compare smart LED TV, QLED TV, Ultra HD TV, 4K HDR TV and other 65-inch TV options and list them side-by-side to see which ones are most worth buying. Here are my latest recommendations, updated periodically, with the following notes to keep in mind.
- Looking for another size? Check out: 32-inch TVs, 43-inch TVs, 55-inch TVs and 75-inch TVs.
- The pandemic has thrown a wrench in shipping times, and many TVs are shipping late.
- Most of the TVs on this list are 2019 and 2020 models, but I expect to review more TVs soon.
- On the other hand, since TVs are generally a mature technology, the newest models may not include major upgrades over the previous versions. Most buyers will still be perfectly happy with a slightly older TV, especially since they’re generally cheaper.
- Don’t see what you’re looking for below? Here are all of the TVs I’ve reviewed, with more coming soon.
Read more: What size of TV do I need?
No TV I’ve ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The 2020 TCL 6 Series has even better image 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. It’s also a solid choice for gamers with a new 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.
Read our TCL 6-Series (2020 Roku TV) review.
What’s that you say? You just want the best TV, money’s no object? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests, the LG CX smart OLED TV is the best TV I’ve ever reviewed, with world-beating contrast, perfect wide viewing angle and excellent uniformity. If you can afford it, this is the TV to get.
Read our LG OLEDCX series review.
TCL’s 8-Series also features mini-LED and the result is superb contrast, brightness and high dynamic range that beats the less expensive 6-Series in my side-by-side comparison. The overall image quality doesn’t quite hit OLED levels, but it comes close and costs a lot less.
Read our TCL 8-Series (2019 Roku TV) review.
If you value Sony’s brand, the X900H is an excellent choice, with image quality on par with the TCL 6-Series and a price that’s not that much more expensive. And its suite of connections is actually better than the TCL’s. In winter 2020 it will get full 4K/120Hz HDMI input capability to maximize the potential of the new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, and right now it’s the cheapest TV that works with ATSC 3.0 antenna broadcasts.
Read our Sony XBR-X900H review.
Aside from the TCL 6-Series above, this is the best TV for the money. The TCL has a better picture and better smart HDTV system so it’s a superior TV overall, but it’s also a couple hundred dollars more expensive. If you can’t afford the 6-Series, this Vizio is a good runner-up.
Read our Vizio M7-Series Quantum (2020) review.
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 65-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.
Note that the TCL 65S425 and 65S421 (the Walmart version) are very similar and we expect them to perform basically the same.
Other stuff to know about buying a new TV
I’m pretty sure you’d be happy with any one of the TV screens 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 my opinion, bigger is better. Big TVs are cheaper than ever, and your money is best spent on larger screen size rather than a slight upgrade in image quality.
- If you don’t like the built-in smart TV system with smart features, you can always add a media streamer. They’re cheap and easy to use, and receive updates more frequently than most top rated smart TVs. See the best media streamers here.
- Most TVs sound 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.
Looking for even more info? Here’s everything to know (and more) about buying a new TV and getting the the best viewing experience.
More TV advice and recommendations
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