Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: What’s the best TV to buy?
56 points by colpabar 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 89 comments
I’m in the market for a new TV. I’d like it to be as dumb as possible. I don’t subscribe to any streaming services and download everything through torrents. I don’t want a TV that requires an internet connection and I really don’t want it to do anything other than display what I send to it. What’s the best TV for someone like me?

It doesn’t have to be totally dumb; I know these are expensive and I’m ok with a few features. But I need to be able to ignore them and I don’t want it to stop working when the manufacturer rolls out an “update”.

I've had an LG OLED (65" C9) for roughly 2 years, and its the best TV I've owned, hands down. It is amazing for movies and TV, because of its inky blacks. (unliked LED/LCD, the OLED pixels are actually turned off individually) which are just as good as a Plasma I owned 10 years ago. It also supports 4K/120Hz for gaming, and looks amazing with my XBox Series X.

The primary complaint I've seen for this TV is that its not bright enough compared to LED models, but I've not found it too dim, even in a room that gets lots of morning sun.

Another OLED concern is burn-in. After 2 years of 90% Netflix/YT and 10% gaming (mostly Forza Motorsports 7), I have not seen any signs of burn in. Apparently the built-in image shifter/orbiter works well.

EDIT: In terms of smart TV misfeatures-- the voice search requires a scary opt in that I've never done. Aside from that, I'm able to disable most tracking, and I've not seen any targeted ads.

The biggest issue I have with the TV is that the LG the "magic remote" is incredibly annoying as it pops a cursor onto the screen randomly when moved.

I worked on the Forza series for several years and I’m proud of that work.

I’m glad to hear you are enjoying it and that it looks good on your TV. If you haven’t tried them already, I’d highly recommend the Forza Horizon games. A new one just released this month.

That's awesome. Forza was the primary reason for both my Xbox purchases 360 ages ago, series X recently.

No offense, but I'm not a fan of the horizon games. I far prefer the motorsport series. The horizon games are too "arcade" for my tastes.. I prefer to grind away and shave hundredths of a second off my time in a motorsport rivals challenge with everything set to manual / simulation.

I'm really looking forward Forza 8

I guess newer models are better, but for completeness.

I have a the B6 model, so roughly 5 years old now.

It has severe burn-in at this point. Everything in the middle of the screen has a green tint due to the lack of red pixels. Our brains are surprisingly adaptable though so I am actually way less annoyed about it than I I should be.

The thing that really annoys me though is that they have a feature, supposedly to avoid burn-in, where the screen dims automatically if it thinks the image is static.

For some reason it seems to think any scene, or game passage, where things are dark are static and thus automatically darkens it even further making it basically impossible to see what is happening.

Especially for an OLED this becomes rather problematic due to its capacity to resolve really really dark shares. Way beyond the capacity of any gamma standard (save perhaps Dolby Vision) followed by content creators. Thus a fair bit of really precise calibration may be required to find that sweet spot between that stunning sweet absolute black OLED are famous for, and being able to actually see shades of things with their intended gamma.

I ended up buying this model as well, but if I were to do it again I'd heavily consider the Sony equivalent just because of the AndroidTV support. WebOS isn't necessarily bad, but lot of native apps on LG don't seem to get the same level of support as AndroidTV and they're necessary to get the best quality from some streaming services (HDR, Atmos, etc)

Which ones don't support HDR and Atomos? All the major streaming apps I've tried do. And if they don't, and the android TV support is better, then you can just get an Nvidia Shield or FireTV

Bear in mind that AndroidTV recently got a "firetv like" treatment where they push ads to your home screen. A lot of Nvidia Shield owners are seriously upset, I assume the same hold true to Sony TVs.


I'd specifically recommend their Gallery Design TV's. Everything the parent mentioned + they're of a uniform thickness everywhere, and are specifically designed to be hung on a wall without any gaps. Makes them take up much less space. I've had the GX for over a year, and am nothing but happy with it. The screen is absolutely fabulous.

Though I completely ignore the smarts and use an Apple TV + Xbox Series X for all content.

I'm not sure if it would apply to your model but aparently there are open source firmware projects for some LG tvs now. I learned about it in this thread.


LG C1 OLED, the new version of the C9 and CX, is significantly brighter apparently.

LG G1 is the even newer version of the C1.

Indeed, but the price difference is pretty huge for seemingly barely noticeable improvement in brightness, useful for HDR but it can be twice as expensive.

I’ve used the exact same TV without ever connecting it to the net or using any of its smart features. It works perfectly well as a dumb TV.

The picture is consistently fantastic.

What do you use as your STB for YT, Netflix, etc?

I use the built-in apps mostly because I'm still a bit paranoid about burn in.

If I pause Netflix/Plex/AppleTV+ on the TV, it will aggressively pop up an ugly screen saver quickly. When I pause Stube-Next on a FireTV stick, even with the firetv's settings set to the shortest screen saver timeout, I'm a bit paranoid because it takes minutes for the screensaver to kick in. So I'll often switch away from the HDMI input into an on-TV app when I'm watching YT from the firetv just for peace of mind when answering the door or fixing a snack..

I use an Apple TV. I think the Apple TV screensaver prevents burn in fine. The LG has never popped a screensaver on me. I’m not worried about a few minutes here or there and if I’m not around the TV I shut the whole thing off.

+1 on the LG OLEDs, very very satisfied with my CX

how do you make sure all smart TV features are disabled? can you simply not connected it to the internet?

there is a blocklist for LG Smart-TV features available [1], intended for use with the PiHole software [2], which is a popular and easy-to-use network level firewall.

[1] https://gist.github.com/wassname/78eeaaad299dc4cddd04e372f20...

[2] https://pi-hole.net/

You can, but I use the built in smart tv apps because they are the best at preventing burn in, which i'm paranoid about.

I'm away from home, and I set it up nearly 2 years ago, but I recall there are settings to disable tracking/targeting, etc. And I recall the opt in for voice search was so scary that I've never enabled it.

You can not accept all the terms and conditions prompts. This disables some features but also disables tracking. I didn't agree because the terms are awful. It's unfortunate that features (like voice) are tied to this but honestly it's not a deal breaker.

Same feelings towards my C1 I just got. Loving LG the last few years.

For years I've heard people recommend https://www.rtings.com for reviews. More recently, people pointed to this page showing which TVs don't serve ads: https://www.rtings.com/tv/tests/ads-in-smart-tv

If you want a dumb TV, you can look for commercial models (used for billboards), but it might be lacking basic features like more than one HDMI input or speakers.

In Canada, LG's Business site has tvs branded as "Commercial Lite" that are all dumb, and work great. I have a 55" 4k and I enjoy its simple features and minimal remote-control. The only downsides IMO are that it only has two HDMI inputs and it doesn't do HDR. But for $1000 CAD four years ago, I'm still happy with it! I bought mine from CanadaComputers in-store. I don't know if it's as easy to get one nowadays, and I don't know if/how they sell them in the US.


Having owned a couple of Samsung TVs and done quite a bit of research, I'd say LG is the brand that I'd go for when I buy my next TV. My Samsung TV's infrared remote signal receiver broke after ~1.5 years. I had to call several times to arrange a repair person to come to my house. Guess what, the contractor they hired to send the repair person has poor organization skills--they double-booked me for appointments and yet failed to send anyone to my house. After calling Samsung customer support and chatting with their reps many times, they finally said they'll refund me the money, which I naively agreed to (they had me sign an online PDF or something). Guess what, when I bought that TV, it was ~$350 (including tax) and they issued ~$328 for me even though my Costco receipt clearly shows that it was ~$328 total (they only issued refund of the base TV price--not including the tax and such). The rep was smart in not telling me that I could have told them that I want another TV as replacement, but I was naive and after calling and speaking with them for so many times, I just wanted this ordeal to be over. The whole ordeal took ~2 months and after that, I swear myself to never buy Samsung product again.

I look into other TV brands and either they have very suspicious privacy practices (Roku and TCL) or they are made with items sourced in just one country (e.g., TCL and Hisense, which are both based in China).

That leaves me with either Sony (too pricey) or LG and LG seems like the most non-smart TV with sources all over the world (Vietnam and sometimes Mexico), as opposed to mostly from one country.

I had a horrible experience w/Samsung as well. I bought their highest end non-curved TV in 2015 for ~$3,000. It was delivered when I was away from home and my ex did not notice it had a glaring defect -- very bright corners. It turns out that they had switched out packaging, and the new packaging was pinching the corners of TVs in transit. Soon after I got mine, there was a whole thread on AVS Forums about it.

Samsung told me the TV was "in spec", which was absurd for a top of the line $3k TV. After I exhausted my options with Samsung, the local retailer grudgingly replaced it free of charge with a new one from a different shipping lot that did not have the issue.

Samsung's refusal to take responsibility for this issue has caused me to refuse to consider any Samsung consumer electronics or appliances, and I tell this story to anyone considering buying anything made by Samsung.

You got a full refund (minus small-print about sales tax) after ~1.5 years of ownership?

TVs are not supposed to break after just 1.5 years. That’s money lost for the owner even though it’s just a tax. My LG tv is still going strong after 10 years and I don’t want to replace TV until at least another 5 years.

They got the use of a TV for about 5% of the price / year. That'd be a crazy good leasing deal for consumer electronics.

Sitting in a 3rd world country, I am amazed at the service people in 1st world countries get and crib about.

Just wait for the off season and pick up a discounted Sony.

Whatever you buy, just simply never give it the wifi password and never attach it to an ethernet cable that will give it a DHCP lease. Once it's phoned home and filled itself with ads, your experience is ruined.

I have a mid 2017 Samsung 4k 70" that works great as a dumb screen. It's attached to a home theater PC through a receiver, PS4 pro and an Xbox.

People say, but the PS4 and Xbox have ads in their home screens? Yes, sometimes they do, but I trust Microsoft or Sony a thousand times more to keep their operating systems patched and up to date.

Bravia TVs are calibrated properly out of the box (to around the same level of quality as Apple displays, which is generally unheard of in TVs), never have to be connected to the Internet, and do 4K/60 content just fine. I’ve had a selection of them over time and have no fuss with them. They are smart TVs, which could be unforgivable, but I find it’s irrelevant.

They don’t necessarily all do HDMI 2.1 / LRRM / 120Hz gaming, but nothing really does well at that yet other than monitors. They support firmware updates by USB stick which I am currently not applying, as the latest update for my older model has a different set of compromises that I choose not to accept. My friend uses one of my prior older models as a gaming monitor.

There might be cheaper TVs but the calibration and ability to set aside the smarts has been excellent for me.

I recommend projectors, if you have a room that would work well with it. Every one I’ve seen has been refreshingly completely dumb.

My friend has an LG short-throw projector that's a few years old now. It has TV tuner input and Smart-TV features/apps. The interface is _dog_ slow, even just for switching inputs. A wait spinner comes up for over 5 seconds whenever you try to bring up the UI to switch inputs or adjust picture etc.

Good to know. We have a Benq and an Epson which are both totally dumb and responsive. Neither has a tuner, we use an Apple TV. Not too surprised that a company that makes smart TVs also tries to shoehorn some of that crap into their projectors.

Agreed. It does depend on having a good big wall in a convenient location. But you can search for projectors by throw distance/screen size here: https://www.projectorcentral.com/projectors.cfm

Yes projector + appletv is a perfect combo. Add airpods pro and you get spatial sound.

LG is hands down the best.

OLED if you'll be using it in a dark room like a bedroom.

Nanocell/Qled/Microled if you'll be using it in daylight or with static content.

Disable the Wifi and use some other device like an Apple TV.

Bought a TCL Roku tv from Walmart last year, opened it up and physically disconnected the wifi card now I just use the HDMI input works great for my needs.

Huh, I assumed those would be soldered on or otherwise baked into the chip

it was mounted with two screws to plastic posts from the tv housing, and connected with either a ribbon cable or what resembled a mini coax cable (I forget the specifics, but at least on my model it was readily apparent).

Good to know!


Best picture hands down, money’s not a concern - Sony A90J

Best picture but not worth $1000 more - LG C1

Best for gaming - LG C1

Don’t want to bother with Burn in or want the brightest screen, but not the best black levels - Samsung QN95A

Notable mention: Panasonic JZ2000

All the OLEDs use the same panels from LG anyway, but Sony’s picture processing is on another level

With all of them I’d just not bother with the integrated smarts and just hook up an Apple TV that supports Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and has a ton of apps, updated regularly.

I'm the market for a replacement for a 5yr sony bravia 3D replacement which I love. Your question is answered like any other question about which electronics; your budget. As I'm gleaning the market, few things I'm keeping in mind:

1. dumb as possible, no OEM OS like webos/roku etc. use ext. smart box

2. HDMI w CEC to be controllable w/ ext receiver

3. LCD/OLED have burn-in like your phone. just fyi. Particularly OLED.

4. want local dimming

5. want HDR's as many as it supports

6. you want class A screens likes of which manuf are; sharp, sony etc.. but now includes lowend like Vizio

7. look at reviews for screen edge bleeding.. I hate that.

IMHO every brand at every model level has diff screen/tech so one can't definitively say one brand is better. Your budget should dictate what you end up buying. I think what one sees is subjective. Only reviews showing things like contrast levels, bleeding and color reproduction are you only objective parameters to steer you.

[EDIT] forgot to mention that if you like so many others use ext. box to stream. Remember that all your TV settings for color, Hz etc can be over written by your ext box. So the quality of your ext. streamer will also dictate the quality of your videos.

I can tell you what not to buy - a smart TV. Buy a good screen and buy one of those small computers. Install normal deskop OS on it. Why? Less vendor lock-in, less tracking, more freedom, easier to repair.

Get yourself Kodi. Things like Netflix in 4K resolution can be watched in the browser, 1080 resolution - anywhere. Games - Steam or some other place. Some ISPs now offer the ability to watch TV channels online in a browser as well.

When was the last time you got a TV, 2001? Every TV is a smart TV now, that's table stakes.

I think what gp was saying is to buy a monitor instead of a TV, and I completely agree with this. All my screen purchases in years have been monitors.

Not sure what's available in your part of the world, but in the antipodes we have a brand Veon sold by our Walmart equivilent.

Picture is more than acceptable, absolutely no smarts at all and the sound is shite - all this equates to an unbelievably cheap TV compared to the standard name brand TVs like Samsung, Sony etc. All it does is put a picture on the screen - there's barely even an onscreen display and all that does is let you change inputs.

I can't imagine using the built in sound system on any TV, so once your sound system is plugged in, the TV is imo as good if not better than something that costs 4 times as much, and if it ever craps out .... you're looking at forking out hundreds of dollars to replace instead of thousands.

https://www.thewarehouse.co.nz/p/veon-50-inch-4k-ultra-hd-tv... (bear in mind NZD so that's about $USD400, and there's a big premium we pay on getting anything shipped to an island on the other side of the world)

I was shopping for TV a few months ago, and spent weeks researching. My conclusion is that most online the reviews are useless, all the quality comparison is something I would never notice myself. I went with TCL 50" Class 4 Series 4K UHD Smart Roku TV, Model: 50S435, and I love it. Cheap, roku works great, quality is great, I don't use cable, I am streaming from Netflix only.

I got the 43" from the same line a couple years ago, and it's been likewise excellent.

I’ll hijack this thread and ask, is there any tv that has the ability to change the brightness with a single button press on the remote, or adapts automatically to ambient brightness? On my tv, I have to navigate into 3 menus that take 15 seconds to load. It takes forever. I’d love it if I could repurpose the channel rocker that’s never ever used into a brightness rocker.

My 10 year old Panasonic plasma TV has an RS-232 input. Perhaps that's a viable route.

LG OLED without question. Best picture quality, remote and smart features work well.

I find the smart features on this TV to be the best I’ve seen, compared to Samsung or Sony.

They aren’t intrusive and the app selection is pretty great. Also has native support for network storage with good codec support.

You can disable WiFi and not connect the Ethernet if you want it to be fully disconnected.

An OLED even ruins the theater experience. The last time I was in a theater I was very disappointed by the black levels; something I never really noticed before. The viewing experience would have been better at home.

I've learned recently that OLEDs don't do quick movement- primarily quick panning shots well- the 120 frame per second OLED screen has trouble with 24 frame per second movement without introducing some jidder. It's not a big deal but there is something theaters can do better.

There are some settings you can tweak for that. What’s the BFI level you’re using?

I'm using the default setting on a Sony a80j. It's rately noticeable so I won't bother playing around with the settings unless it really starts to bother me.

Last spring I bought a "dumb TV" (very inexpensive) from Walmart that just has two inputs: HDMI and an antenna input. I plug in an Apple TV box via HDMI. I love this setup because of its simplicity and lack or Smart TV annoyances. My wife misses our expensive Samsung Smart TV that I gave away to a hiking buddy.

Do you remember the make, model, and price?

I'd guess that it was the sceptre brand mentioned in a different comment. That's what I have and it is solid.

yes, that is the TV. I love having a dumb TV. With the Apple TV box, it is like using a large iPad, except the track pad on the remote isn't as good.

LG. Always LG.

WebOS isn't Android, which is a huge plus. Also LG makes the actual panels for most TVs anyway, so other brands can't compete in that either.

Depending on how clear of a display you want, a projector may be a good option.

We have a small shelf in our bedroom with an Apple TV, a HomePod mini, and a $90 projector from Best Buy. It projects to the large wall across the room from our bed and is perfect for night time or late evening viewing. I’m sure you could put together a similar system using either SD cards or streaming from your Plex or whatever media server you use.

A couple years ago I went for a setup with a regular (gaming) computer screen, speakers, a TV tuner (DVB-T in, HDMI out), and a computer at once, but it works without a computer as well. Noname TV tuners tend to be pretty "dumb", it seems: neither requiring Internet access, nor showing ads.

Though not sure if you even need a TV tuner; sounds like just a computer screen and speakers may suffice.

Buy used and it won’t be expensive. Check your local craigslist for available options, and verify the model number matches with a dumb model.

And check it out in person extensively. Used OLEDs tend to have burn-in issues.

I was given a 10+ year old TV for free. It’s heavy, and it’s 720p video is good enough. If I were to buy new, I would buy another 4K monitor.

Broadcast TV is dead, and I wouldn’t pay to subject myself to cable. Most TV broadcasts that I am interested in are available through streaming.

I have been looking for one of those small colour CRT TVs with a built-in VHS player and composite input.

NEC commercial panels are very nice and totally dumb. They’re, I think, a little more expensive than a consumer panel.

The Best Buy Insignia brand has some dumb models. (They all used to be, but now they have some "smart" models.) The Sceptre brand is similar. After that, you're into commercial displays, which are expensive but of good quality.

If you don't need a tuner or remote or built-in speakers, a monitor may also suit you.

People overworry about smart features. Just don't tell it your wifi password and now you have a dumb TV.

Except Samsung TVs will connect to any open Wifi: https://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/bpr6xs/if_you_choo...

The other issue is smart TVs carry a whole bunch of unwanted electronics that will definitely become outdated and unsupported, and will quite likely fail. And be expensive, or just impossible to fix when they do.

Is this a problem? TVs become outdated with or without internet connection. I guess I don't understand you. TVs are so cheap now, if anything is actually expensive, you are better off just buying another (cheap!) TV.

It's not such a problem if we want to keep on a 'disposable society' path, but even then, the more complex the electronics, the more likely they are to fail, or just be bricked when support ends.

It definitely is a problem if we want to make things that last longer and are repairable.

LG OLED C1 Series 65” - Easily the best TV I've ever owned. Don't usually mix brands or get models other than Sony/Samsung. Samsung has been disappointing last few years and Sonys upper models in the size I wanted for OLED are stupidly expensive.

It's crazy how thin OLEDs are.

Sceptre from Wal-Mart's web site.

Spend a bit more and you can get a monitor to which you attach your PC with media.

This is what I have. It has zero 'smart' features and you can buy smaller sizes like 32". The TV has average audio but with the price, it is cheap enough to afford a decent sound bar if that is a sticking point. I haven't bothered with that myself and it's been just fine.

Just don't connect it to network or wifi. I would hope sets don't lock you out from viewing content through HDMI while offline (but check reviews to be sure, I would not doubt there have been heated discussions about it in some TV product manager meetings).

Learned a lesson when i spent >$1k on a Samsung which failed after three years. Now I buy the cheapest dumb TV from Best Buy which gets reasonably good reviews. I don't spend much in case the next dies an early death.

I have an LG C9 and while it has a lot of "smart" features, they stay out of the way.

The thing is, there are TVs you can buy which have fewer "smart" features but they are business-oriented for things like conference rooms and display walls and, are far more expensive. Even if you didn't care about spending extra money, the panels in these displays are not optimized for TV/Movies, they are optimized for presentations/display.

The biggest question really is what are you planning on watching? If you're watching a lot of dramatic content where you actually care about picture quality, I really don't think you can do better than an OLED, and an LG CX OLED in particular. If you've never experienced a huge OLED in a dark room, it's an amazing thing to behold on a great movie which takes advantage of huge shifts in brightness/darkness of scenes.

I recently re-watched the matrix and having that OLED does amazing things to the feel of the picture. When Neo/Morpheus get dropped from the Nebuchadnezzar into the white room in the matrix for the first time it goes from this rich deeply color saturated picture to this incredibly bright stark white in an instant and it's a change you can feel as much as you can see.

If you're curious technically WHY OLED is just so incredible, and some more rational points of view on it, this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=226kWMOVGGc) was the video which convinced me to get an OLED.

RTINGS has some great data on the CX OLED (the newer version of the C9 OLED which I have)


The best way of describing things I think is that the upgrade from !OLED to OLED (and especially LG CX OLED) is akin to upgrading from using TV speakers to using a proper HT sound setup. Movies which are well mastered in 5.1 (or more) with great dynamic range and have great HDR and dynamic range in the video as well.

On a more detailed technical note: I have my LG TV connected to my LAN because I want to be able to use Roomie to turn it on/off and set the input (it only uses 1 input which goes to my receiver), but, I have my firewall set to block all of it's access to the internet and it seems to be 100% fine with that. It can't exfiltrate data on what i'm watching, or download ads, or complain about software updates (and it doesn't complain about not being able to do those things), so the LG TV is perfectly fine as a dumb TV.

Burn-in was a huge concern for me. This was not a cheap TV and if it only lasted a year or two I was going to be very angry.

If I'm playing a particular video game (which I do do occasionally) and I look closely I can sometimes see menu elements ghost on the screen very slightly, but, they seem to completely disappear with normal use (I don't use the pixel refresher) and if you're not looking for them, you don't see them.

> If you're curious technically WHY OLED is just so incredible, and some more rational points of view on it, this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=226kWMOVGGc) was the video which convinced me to get an OLED.

I don't understand, why is that guy not screaming, not talking in clichés and not doing a word per take editing ? Why is he so calm ? Why didn't he start with "heyllooooooo guyzzzz".

He convinced me to get an OLED though :).

JerryRigEverything is great, he's converting a Hummer to all electric now, great videos.

I've had good results with the Sceptre line of dumb TVs. I plug a wireless connection dongle into one of the HDMI ports and I can project anything to it from my laptop.

+1 for Sceptre, they have some really interesting models at good prices; unforunately they don't seem to support DVB, and shipping+taxes to Europe would be outrageously expensive anyway.

LG C1 and A90J

Just ask /r/4KTVs

Note - I have the LG C1...its incredible.

The a80J is the equivilent to the C1. The a90j is the "twice as expensive" niche model.

Doh you're right - sorry can't edit it now.

also consider a projector - even 1080p looks pretty great and 4k is getting more affordable. They are dumb and take whatever HDMI input you feed them and don't take up space when not in use (if you wall or ceiling mount one opposite a wall you don't even need a screen).

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact