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In recent years, 55-inch TVs have become a sweet spot when it comes to the television market. A TV of this size can comfortably fit in a variety of spaces, from large living rooms to compact dorm rooms. It’s one of the most common sizes across manufacturers’ offerings, so this class offers just about any configuration you could want. Whether you’re looking for a TV with the best OLED picture quality, or are more concerned about gaming, we’ve researched and selected the best 55-inch TVs for every occasion.
- Best overall: LG C1 OLED
- Best for gaming: Samsung QN90A
- Best OLED TV: Sony A90J
- Best 4K TV: TCL Class 6-Series 55R635
- Best outdoor TV: Sunbrite Veranda
How we picked the best 55-inch TV
I’ve been reviewing gadgets for over a decade for sites like TechnoBuffalo, XDA Developers, iMore, and Android Central. During that time I’ve tested many products, and that includes TVs. When I’m not writing about technology, I’m probably watching a movie or gaming, so finding the right TV is something I care deeply about. The PopSci staff also has extensive experience testing and reviewing TVs.
When rounding up my picks, I made sure to find TVs that offer a healthy balance between features, price, and technology. Now that we’re into a new era of gaming, I paid special attention to whether these TVs support the latest HDMI 2.1 features, which will be crucial for futureproofing your purchase. There’s a lot to go over, so without further ado.
Things to consider before buying a 55-inch TV
What’s great about 55-inch TVs is their size is flexible enough to fit in spaces that are large and small. I live in a small one-bedroom apartment and a 55-inch inch TV fits perfectly in our living room. It’s big enough for me to absorb what I’m watching without feeling like I need to squint to enjoy the details.
It’s recommended you sit about 7-and-a-half feet away from a 55-inch TV for the optimal viewing experience. That recommendation isn’t an exact science since everyone’s eyesight is different, but this calculator goes into much more detail into the data behind the optimal viewing distance for the size TV you buy. Resolution used to be an issue when buying a large TV because sitting too close would make the pixels visible. With 4K resolution as the norm, however, that isn’t much of a problem anymore.
Picking the right size TV for your space is only the first step. You’ll want to be mindful of screen technology (OLED or QLED), price, and a wide array of specs. From display resolution to refresh rate to connectivity, there are a wide variety of things to consider.
OLED vs QLED
LCD, LED, OLED, QLED, ACDC (kidding), these acronyms can get confusing, especially in the TV space where technology has progressed rapidly. Most TVs available today either offer OLED or QLED displays and, despite their similar-sounding names, they offer important differences you need to know about.
OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode,” and is distinctly different from LCD. OLED is emissive, which means the pixels emit their own light. TVs equipped with OLED technology can turn these pixels on an individual basis, which means the picture can produce “true blacks” and better highlights. Best of all, when shadows and highlights rub shoulders, you won’t get any light bleed from an OLED panel, which traditional LCD technology struggles with.
Meanwhile, QLED stands for “quantum dot light-emitting diodes,” and is a transmissive layer that complements traditional backlit LCD panels. The quantum dot layer enhances the screen’s color, brightness, and contrast, resulting in improved picture quality compared to older LCD and LED sets. There are some TVs that feature QLED displays with Mini-LED backlighting, which is a separate display technology that enables “local dimming.” This makes it possible for your TV to enhance or reduce its brightness in specific areas for improved contrast.
The main thing to know is QLED TVs tend to be more affordable than OLEDs because the technology has been around longer and is more established. QLED displays can also get noticeably brighter than OLED TVs, which can make a big difference if your space gets a lot of natural light.
If you want even more information, we’ve rounded up the best OLED TVs and best QLED TVs.
If you’re buying a TV in 2023, chances are it features 4K resolution, which has more or less become the norm. These days 4K content is widely available, whether through a streaming service or gaming, so there’s ample opportunity to take advantage of the higher resolution.
There are 8K TVs out there, but they aren’t worth the extra cost right now since there is a dearth of content to watch. Technically, next-gen consoles like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 support 8K gaming but, currently, there are no native 8K games. By the time 8K content does become more widely available, we’ll probably see TVs that are more advanced than what you can buy today, so upgrading to a higher resolution isn’t really worth it.
If you plan to play a lot of video games and watch a lot of sports, you’ll want a TV with a higher refresh rate. Why? Refresh rate refers to how many times your TV can redraw the on-screen image each second. TVs with a refresh rate of 120Hz or above—as opposed to the standard 60Hz—will provide viewers with smoother on-screen motion. That’s exactly what you want because it means smoother animation in modern video games and a more fluid picture when watching sports. Unless it’s curling, a 60Hz TV should be fine for that.
While we’re on the topic of next-gen gaming, the next TV you buy should come equipped with HDMI 2.1, which is the newest version of the familiar port. HDMI 2.1 increases the bandwidth that can pass through the connection, and is necessary to play games at 4K 120Hz when using the right cable. If anything, choosing a TV with at least one HDMI 2.1 port will ensure you’re more prepared for the future when higher resolutions, including the aforementioned 8K, and fast frame rates are more widely supported. And don’t forget the HDMI cables!
The best 55-inch TVs: Reviews & Recommendations
A TV is often the centerpiece of our homes—we gather around them to watch movies, special events, and more. This is why it’s so important to find one that fits your needs. That means it has the features you want at the price you want.
Best overall: LG C1 4K OLED TV
Why it made the cut: You get one of the best OLED displays on the market paired with all the right features.
- Resolution: 4K
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz
- Ports: 4 HDMI 2.1, RF, 2 USB 2.0, ethernet, optical audio, headphone out
- Amazing picture
- Good mix of features and price
- Gorgeous design
- HDMI 2.1
- Mediocre brightness
The LG C1 regularly appears on best-of lists and it ranks as our top overall pick for best 55-inch TV thanks to its terrific display and plentiful features. To top it off, the 55-inch version is available for a good price all things considered.
For starters, the LG C1 supports the leading HDR standards and two of the top refresh rate technologies (G-Sync and FreeSync). It also offers four HDMI 2.1 ports to take advantage of features required for the best next-gen gaming experience. There’s even a Filmmaker Mode, which turns off motion smoothing and tames the colors to provide viewers with the most accurate image your TV can produce. That means no more fiddling around with settings to get the image you want.
Lastly, the LG C1 features a Game Optimizer mode, which puts all your game settings in one place. That includes the ability to quickly toggle between G-Sync and FreeSync technologies, adjust picture settings, and more. There’s so much to like about the LG C1 and the fact that it’s more affordable than some of its OLED competition makes it even better. That’s the benefit that comes with LG’s position as the only OLED manufacturer around.
Best for gaming: Samsung QN90A
Why it made the cut: The Samsung QN90A is a showcase for QLED technology while offering support for next-gen gaming features.
- Resolution: 4K
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz
- Ports: HDMI 2.1 x 3, HDMI 2.0 x 1, USB 2.0 x 2, Ethernet, headphone jack
- Thin, gorgeous design
- Game-specific enhancements
- Low input lag
- No Dolby Vision HDR
- Only one HDMI 2.1 port
OLED TVs typically get all the accolades due to their excellent picture quality, but the Samsung QN90A is so fantastic we had to recommend it. The Mini-LED-powered QLED TV delivers great brightness, contrast, and local dimming, resulting in wonderful picture quality that produces highly precise color.
The Samsung QN90A also features the gaming features you’ll want for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. Some of the features include HDMI 2.1-powered 120Hz refresh rate, automatic low-latency mode, and variable refresh rate. Additionally, the TV offers a Game Bar interface that makes it easy to quickly access and change features. You can even change the aspect ratio to 21:9 or 32:9 for a wider field of view with compatible games.
Our only quibble with the Samsung QN90A is that it features just one HDMI 2.1 port. That means if you own multiple next-gen consoles, they’ll be fighting over the single port, which isn’t so much a deal-breaker as it is an inconvenience. But the TV is still a strong contender with well-rounded features and a bright, vibrant picture.
Best OLED TV: Sony A90J
Why it made the cut: Powerful image and sound processing technology make the Sony A90J a cut above the competition.
- Resolution: 4K
- Refresh rate: 120Hz
- Ports: 4 HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, Composite, RF, Headphone jack, 3 USB 2.0
- Fantastic picture quality
- Support for the latest HDMI 2.1 features
- Google TV onboard
If what you’re after is the very best in video and sound performance, the Sony A90J is at the top of the pile. It features the best OLED display we’ve seen, capped off by some of the brightest highlights achieved by this display technology. The TV is equipped with an XR image processor that analyzes the image and enhances the area it thinks you’re most likely to look at with augmented brightness and contrast.
Sony was able to achieve improved brightness by adding an aluminum sheet to the OLED panel, which helps dissipate heat more efficiently. A brighter picture is easier to see in environments with a lot of natural light. Viewers also get more detail, which is great for movies, TV, and games.
Beyond the picture, the Sony A90J features Google TV, built-in Chromecast functionality and AirPlay, and two HDMI 2.1 ports for gaming on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. The major downside to the TV is its price, which can cost more than double a competing QLED offering.
Best 4K TV: TCL Class 6-Series 55R635
Why it made the cut: The TCL Class 6-Series is a great QLED TV with Mini-LED, and comes with a host of great gaming features.
- Resolution: 4K
- Refresh rate: 120Hz
- Ports: HDMI 2.1 x 2, HDMI 2.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 2, Ethernet, Headphone jack
- Great picture quality for the price
- Support for 4K 120Hz
- The different models can make things confusing
TCL has earned a reputation for offering affordable TVs that punch above their weight in terms of picture quality and feature set. The TCL 6-Series is yet another example. It features a wonderful QLED panel with Mini-LED and supports the latest HDMI 2.1 features for next-gen gaming.
Thanks to the inclusion of quantum dots, the TCL 6-Series gets nice and bright while playing HDR content, and produces a picture that’s well-saturated and rich with color. There are three different models: A 4K version with the Roku TV operating system, a 4K version with Google TV, and an 8K version. We like the Google TV version because it’s slightly newer and offers a few upgrades over the Roku model, including two HDMI 2.1 ports.
In addition, the TCL 6-Series offers everything from HDR10+ to Dolby Vision. It also features support for AirPlay 2, Chromecast, VRR and auto low-latency, and 4K 120Hz gaming—all at a price much lower than what you’d pay for an OLED.
Best outdoor TV: Sunbrite Veranda
Why it made the cut: There aren’t many exciting outdoor TV options out there, but the Sunbrite Veranda is one of the best.
- Resolution: 4K
- Refresh rate: 60Hz
- Ports: 3 HDMI (HDMI 1.4 / 2.0 with HDCP 1.4 / 2.2), USB
- Weather-resistant design
- Media bay for streaming devices
- 4K display
- No HDMI 2.1
Not all viewing parties happen indoors, but there are very few good options available that can compete with what sits in your living room. Enter the Sunbrite Veranda, which pairs 4K resolution and HDR support into an impressive weatherproof package.
Let’s be clear: Outdoor TVs can’t match the fidelity and picture quality you’d get from the other 55-inch TVs mentioned above. But the Sunbrite Veranda is still no slouch and will offer an enjoyable viewing experience. The TV features an LED backlight that cranks up the brightness to compete with the ambient light bouncing around outdoors. And although it can’t match the same contrast and vibrancy as what’s in your living room, an outdoor setting makes them less relevant anyway.
Of course, the big sell here is the fact that the Sunbrite Veranda is built to withstand the elements, including rain, dust, extreme temperatures, and other outdoor nuisances. That kind of build quality will ensure it makes it a great option for outdoor use, and a centerpiece the next time you grill some hotdogs.
Q: What TV brand is the most reliable?
With so many TV brands to choose from, finding the most reliable brand can be tough. Some companies—Samsung, LG, Sony—have been making TVs for years. Others—TCL, Vizio, Hisense—are newer to the scene. There’s no school like old school, as they say, and for that we think TV brands like Samsung, LG, and Sony are the most reliable, simply because they’re responsible for either creating or perfecting much of the modern TV technology that’s available. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a brand you’re familiar with. But most brands that offer high-end TVs are reliable, so you should rest easy knowing you’re getting a quality product.
Q: Is a 55-inch TV big enough?
I’ve owned a 55-inch TV for nearly 10 years and I’ve never considered it to be too small. Would I mind something bigger? Certainly not, and I even have thoughts on the best 65-inch TVs, but I have no complaints about my TV’s size. I sit at the recommended distance from the TV, so I’m able to see details without squinting. The size also doesn’t feel like it’s dominating my living room, allowing me to admire its picture when it’s on and ignore it when it’s off. It strikes a good balance and is a good size for spaces large and small.
Q: Are expensive TVs worth it?
You don’t need to spend a lot to get a good TV. But you generally get more features the more money you spend. A few of our picks—the Sony A90J and LG C1—are on the expensive side. But they offer fantastic OLED displays, a plethora of features, and gorgeous designs. Is an expensive TV worth it? Yes, it’s worth it. The question really becomes whether or not you need every single feature an expensive TV offers. If you don’t need four HDMI 2.1 ports, there’s no point in paying for a TV that offers them.
Q: How much does a 55-inch TV weigh?
None of our picks weigh the same, but on average they are around 50 pounds.
Final thoughts on the best 55-inch TVs
A 55-inch TV is a good jumping-off point for most people, whether you’ve moved into your first apartment or are going off to college. As we’ve said, it’s a nice in-between size that’s flexible enough to fit spaces large and small.
The good news is a TV in this size range features all the bells and whistles you could ever want, from high resolution to displays to support for next-gen gaming. As we said in our roundup of the best 65-inch TVs, it comes down to the details: How many HDMI 2.1 ports do you need? Do you want OLED or QLED? Whatever you decide, our picks above are among the best.