Smart TV Reviews – Top Products

If you’re in the market for a new TV and have started shopping around a bit, you probably quickly realized that there are hundreds of different current TVs to choose from, varying greatly in price, size, features, design, and much more. Chances are you’ve also seen a subcategory for “Smart TV” on just about every major website that sells TVs. Every major TV production company that sells televisions now sells a wide variety of Smart TVs, and many of these TVs are capable of so much more than just flipping through channels. In fact, if you bought a new TV today you’d have a tough time finding one that isn’t considered “smart” in some sense of the concept. Any TV that you buy now or in the future will very likely be part of the “smart” category, and the goal of this site is to help you pick a new TV that will be perfect for you.


Best Smart TV Comparison Chart

Current Rank
Smart TV
Size
Price Range
($ - $$$$$)
Amazon
Rating
Our Review
1

Panasonic ST60
55 - 65 inches
$$$ - $$$$$
4.6 / 5
Panasonic ST60 Review: click here
2

Vizio M Series
32 - 80 inches
$ - $$$$$
4.1 / 5
Vizio M-Series Review: click here
3

Samsung F8500 Series
51 - 64 inches
$$$ - $$$$$
4.4 / 5
Samsung F8500 Review: click here
4

Vizio E-Series
24 - 70 inches
$ - $$$$
4.3 / 5
Vizio E-Series Review: click here
5

Panasonic S60
55 - 65 inches
$$ - $$$$
4.4 / 5
Panasonic S60 Review: click here
6

Samsung F8000 Series
46 - 75 inches
$$$ - $$$$$
4.2 / 5
Samsung F8000 Review: click here

What Exactly is Smart TV?

Smart TV is to a regular TV like a smart phone is to a regular telephone. They are just regular TVs with a wide variety of extra capabilities and features. Much like our smart phones can do so much more than just phone calls, Smart TVs can do way more than just flip through the channels. Check out this summary video:
 


 

What are These Extra Features

To name a few:

  • A User Interface – Usually widget based and similar to a tablet or smart phone -seamlessly browse through various content
  • Extensive On Demand Content – Instantly watch popular movies or TV shows
  • Social Media – Tweet or like what you’re watching with your remote, or easily pull up a funny show that your friend shared via social media
  • Internet Access/Built in WiFi – Browse your favorite sites right on your TV. You can easily pull up a funny Youtube video on the fly to show your friends
  • App Store – Easily integrate popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Instant for use directly on your TV. Or, choose from potentially thousands of other apps anywhere from Spotify to Angry Birds.
  • Recommendation Engine – Let your TV pick new shows or movies that you’ll like based on what you’ve previously watched
  • Voice Recognition – Say the phrase “show me all football games playing,” and let your TV automatically populate a list of every game that’s currently on

Some TVs have every bell & whistle you could possible imagine, while others focus on very bare-bones, economic feature lists that only cover the essentials. The best smart TV for you really depends on what you want out of your TV, which is why our TV reviews fully cover what kinds of features each product brings to the table, while also comparing them to similar products that might be better suited for you based on your individual preferences.

Which TV Should I Get?

It’s the most logical and fundamental question you can ask when shopping, yet it’s so insidiously difficult to answer for yourself. Even if you’ve just barely begun looking at new TVs, we’d bet you’re a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices alone, not to mention the endless barrage of technical jargon that each individual TV sales page throws at you. And here’s the truth about typical TV sales pages: Most of the specs they rant and rave about don’t really matter, and what actually does matter is rarely disclosed honestly. Here’s what’s actually important in purchasing a TV that will be great for you:

The Right Size

Our rule of thumb is that you should go as big as you can. The number one regret consumers have after buying a new TV is that they wish it were larger. A TV that’s big enough for the user viewing angle will make a big difference in how good everything looks.

Good Picture Quality

TV sales pages often spout random jargon and numbers in the hopes that you “upsell” yourself into getting a TV that’s more expensive, regardless or not whether that extra money actually makes a positive difference in your viewing experience. Worse, these same sales pages do NOT give the full straight dope on what actually does matter:

  • Vertical Resolution & Refresh Rate – These are baseline visual specs that are actually included in just about every TV sales page. A TV’s resolution tells us how many light pixels it has, which determines how detailed of a picture it can produce. A TV’s refresh rate tells us how quickly a TV can produce new images to simulate movement. For example, a 60 Hz TV will create 60 images a second. While these & other baseline numbers are important, the unfortunate truth is that they never tell the full story of how good a TV will actually look. Furthermore, the numbers themselves can often be misleading. For example, popular plasma TVs often tout a “whopping” 600 Hz refresh rate, which at face value would seem to blow away a 120 or even 240 Hz LED TV, but that’s not necessarily true because Plasma TVs produce images in a different way than LED TVs. Directly comparing their numerical specs wont tell us that much.
  • Contrast Ratio – This is basically the range of the brightest & darkest color a TV can display. TVs with a high contrast ratio can produce deep, vibrant images that are more realistic. It’s an important spec, but unfortunately there’s no established standard for measuring it, meaning each manufacturer kind of has their own method, which leads to fudged “numbers” that won’t really do anything to tell you how good the TV will actually look in your living room. The only way to get accurate information is to individually test different TVs in the same exact way and conditions.
  • Color Accuracy & Saturation – This basically means how bright and vibrant can a TV show colors, and how accurately can it display the colors of an image as intended. Once again, this cannot be determined by reading TV sales pages, but only by reading reviews which cite sources that actually test TVs themselves
  • Black Levels – Can a TV produce a deep, inky, dark black, or is it a dull grey? This category is technically a subset of contrast ratio, but a TVs ability to produce deep black levels is important enough on it’s own to be mentioned
  • Uniformity & Viewing Angle – This basically means that the image produced by a TV is accurate throughout the entire screen, and doesn’t change if you’re sitting off center. Remember how older laptops suddenly got warped and inverted colors when you looked at the screen from the side? That’s exacly what a good TV will avoid. Flatscreens have come a long, long way in just the last ten years, but it’s still a factor that deserves significant consideration
  • Brightness – How bright can a TV shine? The degree to which this matters also largely depends on the kind of room you’ll be watching it in.

Useful Smart Features

some Smart TVs come with highly cutting edge user interfaces with things like a touchpad remote, voice recognition, and every currently concievable app or feature. Other smart TVs have very minimalist interfaces with a plain-jane TV remote and access to only a few essential apps or features. The best TV for you will really depend on what you want to get out of it and what kind of features you care about. We recommend learning what each brand/series has to offer and getting an idea of what seems the best for you.

Good Design

Few people care about visual aesthetics and design of a TV as much as the picture quality or features, but it’s still worth mentioning. A TV is a centerpiece fixture of your entertainment room, afterall, and no one wants a total eye sore in their living room. For the majority of consumer’s who aren’t that picky, most current generation TVs look pretty decent. Some look cooler than others, though, and it’s worth some consideration during your selection process. On a more practical note, you should also take note of the dimensions and stand to make sure the TV will fit properly wherever you want to put it.

The Right Specs for the Room it’s in

The nature of the room you plan to watch TV in makes a difference in how any TV will look. A mid budget plasma TV might have picture quality on par with the best of the best in a dark room with no sunlight, but might also become reflective and washed out if the room has a lot of external light. Any good TV review will discuss how the product handles external light, so be sure to think about how it applies to your situation

Good Value

When it’s all said and done, are you getting a good price or not? Certain brands and TV series lines are definitely a better value than others. Also, online prices will fluctuate significantly, be it because of sales or that the product is on clearance to get ready for it’s next generation successor. Additionally, do you really need what you’re paying for? For example, A top tier plasma that looks amazing in a brightly lit room could be a great value in general, but you might be able to get a different TV for half the price that will look exactly the same if your TV room doesn’t have to deal with sunlight.

Our Current Top Choice Smart TVs

After a lot of thorough research, comparison, and consultation with technology review authorities, here are our current top five picks for the best TVs with smart features on the market. Keep in mind that no one product will be best for everyone, so we encourage you to do your own research and read our in depth series and model reviews.
 

The Panasonic TC-P60ST60

  • The ST60 has amazing picture quality at a great price
  • Cnet.com & TheWireCutter.com’s pick for the best overall TV of 2013. Cnet.com’s first ever 5/5 star rating for any TV, ever
  • Is the #1 selling plasma TV on Amazon.com
  • 4.5/5 star user rating on Amazon.com
  • Read our full review here

 

The Vizio M501d-A2R

  • Very well rounded with high quality LED, 3D, and a slick aesthetic design all at a great price
  • 4/5 rating from Cnet.com & AVSforums.com
  • Highly capable, newly release Vizio Internet Apps Plus is an excellent user interface
  • 4.2/5 star user rating on Amazon.com
  • Read our full review here

 

The Samsung PN60F8500

  • Excellent quality plasma picture, 3d capabilities, a very modern and slick design
  • A cutting edge interface platform, Samsung’s Smart Hub, currently dubbed as the best on the market by Cnet.com
  • Industry leading user interface with touch pad remote, voice command interaction, and a recommendation engine to pick great shows & movies based on your previous viewing patterns
  • 4.5/5 star user rating on Amazon.com
  • Read our full review here

 

The Panasonic TC-P50S60

  • Excellent plasma picture at an unbeatable price. This is the best picture quality for value TV on the market.
  • Cnet.com’s pick for the best value high quality pictureTV
  • Very minimalist, simple interface. Great for those who only care about basic features.
  • 4.4/5 star user rating on Amazon.com
  • Read our full review here

 

The Vizio E241I-A1

  • A great high quality, smaller sized TV for a kitchen counter top or office desk
  • Great picture quality and full “smart” functionality with Vizio’s Internet Apps interface
  • Excellent inexpensive option for a fully capable TV that’s under $250
  • 4.1/5 star user rating on Amazon.com
  • Read our full review here

 

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