The concept of a “big-screen TV” has changed a lot over the years. It used to be that anything bigger than 40 inches was huge, and 65 inches was the absolute peak of what flat panel size. Those days are gone, and we’re heading into an era of downright massive TVs. If you want to hit or even exceed 65 inches on your next TV, we’re here to show you what to buy and how.
Rear-projection TVs used to be the only options for getting a really big screen in your home without setting up a front-projection system and building your room around it. And if you wanted a TV more than five feet diagonally, projection was your only option. Technology has advanced, and one-piece rear-projection TVs are dead. Today there are four different tecnology options worth considering for big screen TVs, depending on your budget: LCD, OLED, projection, and LED video wall.
What Is the Best 65-Inch TV Under $1,000?
If you want to get a big screen for a relatively small price, liquid crystal display (LCD) is the way to go. The technology uses a liquid crystal panel to form individual pixels, which are then lit up by a backlight system. The backlight system is currently exclusively light-emitting diode (LED), which is why these are sometimes called LED TVs, though they’re different from the LED video walls below.
LCD is the most common TV technology, and the most affordable. How affordable? Hisense has a 65-inch R6 TV available at Wal-Mart for just over $400. Now, the R6 series is Hisense’s midrange Roku TV line, and while we haven’t tested it, it likely has far inferior performance to the Editors’ Choice H9 series, which tops out at 65 inches for a still-reasonable $900. Vizio’s P and P-Q series have 75-inch models for $1,700 and $2,100 respectively.
If you want to get bigger than that, you’ll have to get ready to pay several times more, but you’ll probably be getting a better picture in the process. The Editors’ Choice Samsung Q90R has an 82-inch version for $4,500.
For more, see our list of The Best Cheap TVs.
Is OLED Worth the Money?
LCD TVs get far pricier the bigger they get because manufacturing panels in larger sizes costs significantly more money past a certain point. The same applies to organic light emitting diode (OLED) TVs, which are a completely different, and much more expensive, technology.
OLED panels form both the individual pixels and produce the light for them in the same space, allowing each pixel to brighten or dim as needed, and removing the need for a backlight system. This means OLED TVs can be incredibly thin (the panels themselves are just a quarter of an inch thick at most), and can produce perfect black levels LCD TVs can’t touch.
The first OLED TV was an 11-inch Sony model that looked like a desk lamp and cost $2,500 11 years ago. Now Sony’s excellent Master Series A9G is available in 55 inches for the same price, and you can pick up LG’s also-excellent OLEDC9P in 65 inches for about as much. If you want to go past 65 inches, however, get ready for the price to jump up by the thousands.
You can get 77-inch versions of the A9G and C9P for $6,000 and $5,000 respectively, and that’s where OLED hits a size ceiling with one special exception. LG’s Signature OLED88Z9P is the largest commercially available OLED TV at 88 inches, and the first with an 8K resolution. It’s one of the most advanced TVs we’ve ever tested, and impressed us across the board with its picture quality. It’s also $30,000, and 8K isn’t going to be an issue for most consumers for a few years.
Are Projection TVs Any Good?
Rear-projection TVs might be dead, but projectors aren’t. Projectors are still the most popular way to set up very big, 100-inch-plus screens. Their pictures aren’t nearly as bright as LCD TVs, and they can’t come close to offering the contrast of LCDs or OLEDs, but what they lack in contrast they make up for in scalability. If you want to spend the cash, a good projector or array of projectors can make a picture as big as you want, from comfortably couch-sized to IMAX levels and beyond.
You can find 1080p projectors for a few hundred dollars, but you should expect to pay at least $1,000 to $3,000 on one that can show 4K, and that’s at the absolute lowest. Relatively small home theater projectors in this price range can produce over 300-inch pictures, but remember that the bigger the screen, the more the same amount of light (at least, if the lamp is maxed out) has to cover, and so the dimmer the picture gets. You can get much brighter and much bigger projectors as well, with prices easily hitting the tens of thousands of dollars, with the option to align multiple projectors together for really big screens to get super bright.
Projectors are tricky, though. You need to place them properly, align the lens to cover the desired screen size and shape, and make sure there are no obstructions between the projector and the screen. You also need a good screen, or at least it’s strongly recommended. Because projectors aren’t as bright as LED-backlit LCD TVs, you want every bit of light that hits the screen to bounce off correctly into your eyes. That’s why home theater screens are an important part of a projector-based home theater, with a variety of treatments available that can range from less than $100 to well over $1,000 (and far beyond that, if you’re getting a custom installation with carefully hidden motorized storage and the most advanced screen materials).
If you want an all-in-one projection screen, the Hisense Laser TV series offers easy 100- and 120-inch options for a hefty price. These are front-projection systems that combine a short throw projector about the size of a small coffee table, with an included fixed-frame screen mounted on the wall just a few inches behind it. They include everything you need, and you can conceivably set them up yourself, but they’re pricey at $10,000 to $13,000.
What Is an LED Video Wall?
This is where big screens get slightly confusing and really, really expensive. As we said before, LED TVs are just LCD TVs with LED backlights. LED video walls are a completely different technology. They use clusters of colored light-emitting diodes to form each pixel and light it up, like OLED. The good news about LED video walls is that they can get really big. The bad news is that they have to be really big, and that’s a very limiting factor if you want to fit a 4K picture in a certain space.
LED video walls are commonly used for digital signage. If you see a huge light-up sign that plays video on the side of a building, it’s probably an LED array. If you get close to it, like within ten feet, you can probably see the individual pixels from each relatively large LED cluster. They’re great for stadiums, but not for home theaters.
That’s changing with miniaturized LEDs, like Samsung’s microLED video wall and Sony’s Crystal LED wall. These newer video walls have pixel pitches of 0.8 to 1.2mm, which means the pixels are small enough that you can sit comfortably black and not notice the individual lights. They’re still huge pixels compared with LCD and OLED TVs (a 4K 80-inch TV has pixels less than 0.5mm across), but they’re much smaller than the big commercial signs with lights as big as your fist.
These new walls are also rare and wildly expensive. You won’t find them on Amazon or at Best Buy. They’re largely designed for commercial installations, which means being a big business that needs and can afford to put up a massive video wall. They’re supposedly available (or will eventually be available) for consumer use, but the consumers in these cases probably have their own mansions, on their own islands; the 55-foot Crystal LED video wall Sony showed off at CEDIA Expo in 2019 costs $800,000.
Where to Buy a Big TV
If you want a big LCD or OLED TV, the answer is pretty simple: Go to your local electronics retailer or shop online. Huge flat panels are available through many stores and direct purchase from manufacturers. Want a 77-inch OLED? Hit up Amazon or Best Buy online, drop the $6,000, and it’ll be on its way to you.
Projectors are also readily available to consumers, to an extent. If you want to buy an entry-level to midrange home theater projector and a screen and set it all up yourself, you can. If you’re planning to spend tens of thousands of dollars in putting together a really impressive home theater, though, you’ll want to talk to an expert. Home theater installers, also known as custom installers, specialize in purchasing and setting up your projection system, speaker system, and even working out the construction and electrical details your dream home theater needs handled. High-end home theater equipment is usually only available through these installers, who also double as AV dealers; the really, really good projectors aren’t usually available boxed on shelves at stores.
As for LED video walls, that’s more tricky. You’ll have to contact Samsung or Sony directly, or find a contractor or installer who works with them in order to get the LED arrays sent to you, and have them properly aligned and installed.
If all you want is a big TV, though, flat panel is largely the way to go, and to that end, you really can’t go wrong with the any of the top models tested here. And no matter which TV you get, make sure to check out our guide on how to calibrate it properly.
Pros: Fantastic color. Excellent contrast. Inexpensive for its performance. Runs Android TV software.
Cons: Contrast processing can occasionally be overly aggressive. Somewhat dull remote.
Bottom Line: The Hisense H9F series is one of the best budget TV lines we’ve seen, with strong contrast and extraordinary color range and accuracy.
Pros: Very bright panel with excellent black levels. Wide, accurate color. Sleek design with One Connect box for cable flexibility.
Cons: No Dolby Vision. Lacks analog video inputs.
Bottom Line: The Samsung Q90R series combines remarkable contrast with excellent color performance out of the box for one of the best pictures you’ll find on an LCD TV.
Pros: Excellent contrast. Remarkably wide color range. Supports Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Cast.
Cons: Relatively few onboard apps. No voice remote.
Bottom Line: The Vizio P-Series Quantum X line of 4K TVs offer high-end picture quality at a midrange price.
Pros: Inexpensive. Bright panel. Wide color. Attractive design.
Cons: Magentas run a little warm. HDR Bright mode is a bit oversaturated. Roku voice features are underdeveloped.
Bottom Line: The 2019 TCL 6-series of TVs offer a bright, colorful picture for a very reasonable price, with lots of streaming options thanks to Roku TV.
Pros: Perfect black levels and excellent contrast. Wide color reach. Powerful smart TV platform with Google Assistant.
Cons: Expensive. Colors are slightly cool out of the box. Limited selection of streaming services.
Bottom Line: LG’s OLEDC9 series of OLED TVs offer fantastic contrast with perfect black levels and vivid colors, in a remarkably thin and attractive design.
Pros: Excellent picture with perfect black levels and strong contrast. Clear stereo audio. Hands-free Google Assistant. Attractive design.
Cons: Expensive. Colors are less than ideal out of the box.
Bottom Line: Sony’s pricey Master Series A9G line of OLED TVs offer perfect contrast, vivid color, and Android TV with hands-free Google Assistant commands.
Pros: Very bright panel. Excellent contrast and color. Android TV offers lots of features. Stylish design.
Cons: Light bloom can hurt effective contrast and shadow detail.
Bottom Line: Hisense’s H8F line of TVs offer terrific contrast, color performance, and loads of Android TV features for a very reasonable price.
Pros: Inexpensive. Excellent contrast and color performance. Very low input lag.
Cons: Notable light bloom.
Bottom Line: The Hisense R8F line offers Roku TV accessibility and surprisingly strong 4K picture quality for a very reasonable price.
Pros: Very bright. Excellent contrast. Vivid color.
Cons: Much more expensive than any other TCL TV. Doesn’t quite match competitors in contrast performance.
Bottom Line: The TCL 8-Series of 4K LED TVs features a bright picture with vibrant color, at a price just a bit lower than comparable flagship models.