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We ask a lot of our big screens. They must entertain, educate, and sometimes even lull us to sleep. When it comes to picking the best television or computer monitor, it’s important to get the best screen you can, and that means selecting the right brand. It’s even more important as the holidays approach; grandpa could benefit from a 70-inch OLED TV this year, little elf.
The PCMag Readers’ Choice survey is here to guide you with feedback from the people who matter most to us: our readers. Let them point you to the product manufacturers they recommend, with details on what aspects they believe make a display brand stand out.
All TVs 2020
China’s TCL makes inexpensive, easy-to-use TVs with internet smarts. That translates to digital happiness in the living room, or wherever you put your TV. TCL—officially renamed TCL Technology earlier this year—earns its third Readers’ Choice award in a row for 2020.
Few of the TV brands out there are complacent. Under overall satisfaction, not a single brand in our results got less than an 8.3 on a scale from 0 (extremely dissatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied). On that measure, we had a three-way tie with TCL, LG, and Sony on top (a hair above Samsung and Insignia) at 9.0.
Ultimately, we had to pick winners, and when we looked at likelihood-to-recommend scores, LG was tied with TCL with an 8.8, edging it into a slot for the award. (We put TCL on top in the chart simply because it leads in a few other measures.)
TCL and LG stand out in different categories. TCL’s scores for cost (9.5), ease of use and setup (9.1 each), and smart TV capabilities (9.0) keep it on top. All TCL TVs are also Roku streaming media devices, and Roku’s smart TV interface is about as simple as it gets. LG, on the other hand, has a killer picture, with high or tied scores for picture quality (9.1 tie with Sony) and 4K quality (9.2 tie with Sony).
You’re not going to be sad with a Sony TV, either—read the next section for more—but it lost the overall TV award by a copper wire’s breadth. (Last year it won handily with an 8.9 overall score.) If you tend to break your televisions a lot, stick with Sony, as it has the best scores for repairs. Same with Samsung; if you don’t understand how a TV works, Samsung has the best tech support score at 7.8, and the same high reliability rating as Sony (9.2). As runners-up go, you could do a lot worse.
It’s worth noting, a full 83% of the TVs rated by our readers were smart TVs. The tech of choice on those screens is LCD/LED at 65%, but OLED is gaining at 15%. And size matters: The majority are using 50- to 59-inch screens (35%), with 28% going larger than that. We didn’t get any ratings on a TV under 20 inches.
For more, read The Best TVs for 2020The Best TVs for 2020.
4K TVs 2020
The basic thing to know about 4K TVs (sometimes called “Ultra HD”) is that they run at a minimum resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, of which there are at least 8 million. That’s what sets them apart from other televisions that are only HD (1,920 by 1,080 pixels)—4K has four times as many pixels. Considering 4K has been out for years, why give a separate 4K TV award anymore? Well, we let people filling in the Readers’ Choice survey rate TVs going back four years, and there are still plenty of non-4K sets in people’s homes. In fact, only 60% of the TVs rated by readers in the survey were 4K.
When we narrowed the field from all the TVs (above section) to those that readers said were 4K-capable, an immediate winner jumped out: Sony. It doesn’t lead in every category/measure, but when it comes to overall satisfaction with a TV set, Sony’s 4K TVs are on top.
Sony won the 4K TV award last year, as well as the overall TV award, which it didn’t receive this time. That’s how the numbers play. It’s no surprise, as Sony tends to make more expensive, higher-end TV equipment that people definitely appreciate. Sony’s 4K sets came out on top for picture quality, with a stunning score of 9.4, and it’s the lead for reliability (tied with LG at 9.3), sound (8.2), and HDR picture (9.3).
But even if LG and TCL—our overall winners above—are a little behind Sony for 4K-only sets, they’re not far back, with overall satisfaction numbers of 9.0 and 8.9, respectively. What’s more, they both have a lot of great highlights. TCL is the hands-down best for cost (9.6), ease of use (9.2), setup (9.2), and smart TV capability (9.1, thanks again Roku!). LG’s no slouch, with a tied-with-Sony reliability score (9.3) and a 4K-quality score of 9.2. LG is also the most recommended 4K brand this year, with a 9.1 likelihood to get a good word from a friend.
Samsung ties with LG for a third-place slot in overall satisfaction (8.9) and likelihood to get a recommendation (9.0), but is on top for things like tech support and repairs. It’s also the only vendor we got enough responses on to earn a score for a curved screen (8.4).
For more, read What Is 4K (Ultra HD)What Is 4K (Ultra HD)?
Computer Monitors 2020
Last year, ViewSonic put all other computer monitor vendors on notice with a massive overall satisfaction score of 9.3. There’s no 2020 repeat; its score drops to a (still pretty amazing) 8.9, which leaves the field open enough for three other vendors to outscore it. Two of them, Asus and Samsung, each with a 9.0 overall, take home the coveted prize this time around. They also both tie with each other for likelihood to be recommended at 9.0.
Those aren’t the only ties at the top of the list: Dell ties for overall at 9.0 with the winners, and ViewSonic does same under likelihood for recommendation.
Let’s be clear, you’re not going to be upset with any PC monitor you buy if they’re on this list—they all have overall satisfaction scores of 8.8 or higher. The individual categories have crazy high ratings as well, like reliability scores of 9.4 for Dell and ViewSonic; 9.1 picture quality numbers for Dell, ViewSonic, and LG; and ease-of-use ratings of 9.1 plus setup scores of 9.5 for Dell and HP. It’s somewhat mind-blowing in our results to see even the lowest rated product brand (in this case, Acer) still perform so well at 8.8 overall.
Interestingly enough, this is the third year in a row we’ve seen a 9.0 three-way tie for overall score. In 2018 it was LG, Samsung, and BenQ; in 2019 it was Asus, Dell, and Samsung—all trailing that ViewSonic win at 9.3.
The only vendor to be in that three-way tie all three years? Samsung, which also scores well for monitors that we specifically had rated as being ultrawide (9.2 overall) or curved (also 9.2). The only better overall score there is curved displays from Dell that earn a 9.4. While 48% of our readers are doing dual monitors, only 12% use curved screens and 31% use ultrawides. Sixty-eight percent have screens between 21 to 29 inches diagonal; 23% are even larger.
While this year’s co-winners Asus and Samsung aren’t on top in any of the individual categories, we stand by the winners as the most satisfying and recommended desktop display brands you’re going to see this year.
For more, read The Best Computer Monitors of 2020The Best Computer Monitors of 2020.
The PCMag Readers’ Choice survey for TVs & Computer Monitors was in the field from October 12, 2020 to November 2, 2020. For more information on how our surveys are conducted, read the survey methodology.
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