Don’t miss out on these TV deals from Walmart’s Deals for Days sale – you’ll still find major discounts from LG, Samsung, and more

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LG C1 OLED 4K TV in a living room.
LG’s C1 OLED is one of several 4K TVs on sale right now during Walmart’s Deals for Days event.

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As the big retailers go to war on prices during Amazon’s Prime Day 2021 sale event, we’re seeing some tempting discounts from competing events like Walmart’s Deals for Days. The big sale has another day to go, but some of the best TV deals will likely sell out. You can find discounts on TVs from LG, Samsung, TCL, and more.

We’ve highlighted some of the best Walmart TV deals right now, with displays that range in size from just 32 inches all the way up to 65 inches. If you’re in the market for a new TV make sure you check out the best Prime Day 2021 TV deals at Amazon, too.

Best Prime Day 2021 Walmart TV deals

It’s not often that you get money off the best 4K TVs or the best OLED TVs, but there are some good panels on offer here, and discounts on some of the best cheap TVs for anyone with a limited budget.

65″ Class 4K UHD Smart OLED C1 Series TV with AI ThinQ (medium, Preferred: Walmart)55-inch OLED C1 Series 4K Smart TV (medium, Preferred: Walmart)43-inch The Sero QLED Smart TV (medium, Preferred: Walmart)65″ Class 5-Series 4K UHD QLED Roku Smart TV (medium)32″ Class 3-Series 720P HD LED Roku Smart TV (medium)40-inch FHD Roku Smart TV (medium)

How to shop for a TV

Picking the right television for your needs can be difficult. When it comes to budget-friendly displays, you can find HDTVs for as low as $100 in smaller screen sizes. On the high end, premium 65-inch 4K TVs can cost $1,500 or more. Flagship 8K TVs can even sell for over $10,000.

Buyers who prioritize picture quality will want to go for a 4K TV with at least a 65-inch screen. The best 4K TVs feature an OLED panel or an advanced LED screen with a feature called local dimming. These technologies enable the best contrast, deepest black levels, and brightest images for gorgeous high dynamic range (HDR) picture.

Though companies use different terms to describe their flagship models, in general, shoppers who focus on picture quality should look for TVs branded as OLED, QLED, Neo QLED, Quantum, NanoCell, and QNED.

People who just want a simple TV for casual viewing, however, will be better off with a smaller display using an affordable LED screen without advanced image features. Though picture quality won’t be as good as more expensive TVs, there is plenty of solid budget LED TVs, including affordable sets that include 4K resolution and reliable smart TV streaming.

If you’re looking for even more TV recommendations, be sure to read our TV buying guides:

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The best OLED TVs in 2021 for vibrant, high-end picture quality

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  • OLED TVs offer key benefits over LCDs, making them ideal for buyers who want high-end image quality.
  • The LG CX presents the best balance between picture and price of any OLED we’ve tested.
  • For more TV recommendations, check out our roundup of the best TV deals.

OLED TVs have become popular among home theater enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. Thanks to some key perks, OLED displays offer several benefits over traditional LCD TVs (including those branded as LED and QLED). Though they tend to be pricier, there’s no substitute for an OLED if you want the best home theater experience for movies, streaming, and gaming.

OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode.” Instead of using a traditional LED backlight like those found on an LCD TV, OLED screens are self-illuminating. This means that each pixel on an OLED can emit its own light or turn off completely, enabling an infinite contrast ratio.

As a result, OLED TVs are capable of true black levels – something even the best LCDs have a hard time producing. Viewing angles are also much better than typical LCD displays, making OLEDs a great fit for rooms where people need to sit off to the side of their TV. On the downside, OLEDs can’t get as bright as flagship LCD TVs, which makes OLED displays less ideal for living rooms that let in a lot of sunlight.

LG, Sony, and Vizio all sell OLED TVs in the US. While image quality does vary a bit between the displays, the TVs’ physical design, connectivity, and software are actually the most telling differences. With that in mind, we’ve tested and researched several OLED displays in order to select the best models for a variety of needs and budgets.

Here are the best OLED TVs you can buy:

  • Best OLED TV overall: LG CX
  • Best OLED TV for picture quality: Sony A8H
  • Best premium design OLED TV: LG GX
  • Best budget OLED TV: Vizio H1
The best OLED TV overall

LG 2020 OLED CX 4K TV

The LG CX OLED presents the best balance between picture performance, smart connectivity, design, and value of any OLED TV you can buy. 

Pros: Solid brightness for an OLED, HDMI 2.1 with next-gen gaming features, voice remote, lots of screen sizes

Cons: Processing and image accuracy aren’t as good as Sony OLEDs, HBO Max app missing

When it comes to balancing image quality and smart features, the CX remains the best OLED TV you can buy. Though LG recently released a 2021 successor to the CX, called the C1, we think the CX presents a better value since it costs less and offers very similar performance. 

Like all OLED TVs, the CX provides pixel-level contrast with deep black levels and precise highlights. Peak brightness is also high for an OLED panel, edging out similarly priced models from Sony and Vizio with a max of around 700 to 800 nits. 

Thanks to the α9 Gen 3 Intelligent Processor, the CX is capable of advanced upscaling. This feature can make lower-quality video content, like Full HD (1080p), look cleaner and sharper. That said, Sony’s OLED offerings are still known for slightly better processing.

The panel offers very low input lag and includes compatibility with Variable Refresh Rate, Nvidia G-Sync, and 120Hz high frame rate. These features help make the CX one of the best gaming displays you can buy, and we think the 48-inch model is a great alternative to a traditional monitor.

The CX is powered by LG’s webOS and ThinQ platforms, enabling extensive streaming app support and voice control. The magic remote also features a unique pointer function which allows you to navigate through menus with a virtual cursor.

The best OLED TV for picture quality

Sony A8H series

Sony’s A8H is a premium TV champ when it comes to image accuracy, but it lacks HDMI 2.1 for future-proof connectivity.

Pros: Advanced processing powered by Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor, superior image accuracy, Android TV with Google Assistant, acoustic surface audio technology

Cons: Can’t get as bright as LG’s CX, no HDMI 2.1 ports

The A8H has an edge on other OLED models thanks to Sony’s advanced X1 Ultimate Processor. Don’t get me wrong, LG’s processors are no slouch, but Sony’s solution offers a slightly better image. The A8H delivers the same inky black level performance that LG’s OLED TVs provide, and it takes things one step further with improved color accuracy. That said, the A8H can’t get quite as bright as the CX.

Based on side-by-side demos of Sony and LG OLEDs I’ve attended over the last few years, Sony’s models consistently come the closest to matching the look of professional broadcast monitors. This means that, when calibrated, the A8H allows movies to appear closer to how directors intend for them to look.

Unlike traditional TVs, the A8H also features a unique audio system with acoustic surface technology. Instead of typical speakers, this process creates sound from the screen itself. 

The A8H runs the Android TV platform for simple and responsive access to apps. AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and integrated Google Assistant voice control are all featured as well. Unlike LG’s OLED models, Amazon Alexa isn’t built-in, but you can still pair the TV with a separate Alexa device if you’d like to use Amazon’s assistant. 

On the downside, the A8H lacks HDMI 2.1 so it doesn’t offer next-gen gaming capabilities. Sony’s new 2021 A80J OLED does offer HDMI 2.1, however, so it’s a better choice for buyers willing to a pay a couple hundred bucks more for that feature. 

The best premium design OLED TV

LG GX Gallery Series 4K OLED TV

With a display so thin it can hang flush on your wall like a piece of art, the LG GX is one of the prettiest OLED TVs to look at — whether it’s turned on or off.

Pros: Same great image performance as the LG CX, thin design lets you mount it flush to a wall

Cons: Expensive compared to OLED models with standard designs

Beyond impressive picture performance, the GX boasts an exceptionally thin profile, enabling the display to be mounted like a piece of art hanging flush on your wall. At just 0.79 inches deep, the 65-inch GX Gallery TV isn’t quite as razor-thin as LG’s more expensive WX OLED, but it still offers an incredibly narrow design.

And unlike the WX model, LG has been able to keep all of the TV’s components within the panel. This means that GX TVs don’t need to use an external box or soundbar unit as a connection hub. Instead, you can simply hook up all your devices directly to the display. 

When it comes to actual image quality, the GX OLED TV offers very similar performance to the rest of the displays on our list. Since those TVs are among the best you can buy, that’s not a bad thing at all.

At the end of the day, you’re paying extra purely for style perks with this model, but if you plan to mount your TV on a wall, the GX can double as a genuine design piece for your living room.

That said, LG has a new 2021 version of the GX available, called the G1. The updated model has a new “OLED evo” panel which promises improved brightness. It’s more expensive than the 2020 model, however, so we still recommend the GX for most buyers. 

The best budget OLED TV

Vizio OLED lifestyle

Vizio’s 65-inch 4K OLED TV offers all the OLED picture quality benefits that home theater fans love for less than the competition.

Pros: Unbeatable image performance for the price, only OLED model in the US with HDR10+, HDMI 2.1 ports

Cons: Glitches, HDMI signal problems, on-screen app selection is limited, no voice remote

In the US, OLED TV models have primarily been limited to high-end offerings from LG and Sony. Though these TVs have been undeniably gorgeous, they’ve also been expensive. Thanks to Vizio’s OLED, however, that high cost barrier is starting to disappear.

Just like Sony and LG’s OLEDs, Vizio’s model offers pixel-level contrast with true black levels. The display can’t get quite as bright as LG’s OLEDs, but it can get close with a max of around 700 nits. 

Vizio’s OLED has comprehensive HDR support and it’s the only model on our list with HDR10+ playback. It also supports HDMI 2.1, which is something Sony’s 2020 models lack. On the downside, the TV is missing a voice remote. You can still pair it with a separate Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device, however.

Though image quality is nearly identical to more expensive OLEDs, the Vizio does lose some points when it comes to general stability. I encountered glitches and compatibility issues when reviewing the TV. Thankfully, most of these problems have been fixed through firmware updates, but it’s a shame the display’s software isn’t more reliable. 

Still, there’s no denying the incredible value this OLED offers. When it’s on sale it delivers unbeatable picture quality for the price. In fact, if it wasn’t for those glitches, Vizio’s OLED might even edge out the CX for the top spot on this list. As it stands, it’s not quite there, but it’s a fantastic option for budget-conscious buyers.

Should you worry about burn-in on an OLED TV?

Vizio OLED design

Like plasma TVs of yesteryear, OLED panels are susceptible to a problem known as burn-in. This means that if a static image is left on the screen for hours on end — the CNN or ESPN logo in the corner, for example — a faint, ghostly image can be left permanently stuck on the TV.

Though OLED owners should be aware of this risk, OLED TVs feature special measures to help prevent burn-in, including pixel-refreshers and pixel-shift modes. Websites like Rtings have conducted long-term tests with OLEDs, and while their results do prove that burn-in is possible, their tests show that buyers with regular viewing habits really shouldn’t worry about it. 

You’re more likely to notice temporary image retention, which is when a ghost image faintly lingers on the screen and then fades away over time. Though true burn-in is really only a risk in extreme situations, it is worth pointing out that LCD TV owners don’t have to worry about burn-in at all.

If you really only plan on watching content with the same static logos all day long, you’re better off with an LCD (also branded as LED or QLED). Buyers with regular viewing habits, however, shouldn’t be put off from buying an OLED TV because of burn-in.

What we look forward to testing

LG G1 4K OLED evo on stand

Since our last round of testing, several new OLED TVs have been released. LG and Sony, in particular, have new flagship models that promise improved brightness over previous OLED displays.

Here’s a rundown of 2021 OLED models we look forward to testing over the coming months for consideration on this guide.

LG G1 OLED 4K TV: The G1 is the successor to last year’s GX OLED. It features a similar ultra-thin design and improves upon the GX with a brand-new “OLED evo” panel. The updated screen promises improved brightness which could justify its higher price. We got a first look at the G1 back in January and were impressed with what we saw. 

Sony A80J OLED 4K TV: This display is designed to replace the A8H OLED and it carries over a lot of what we loved about that 2020 model while adding a few key improvements. Most notably, the A80J includes HDMI 2.1 ports for next-gen gaming features, along with upgraded processing and the new Google TV OS for streaming apps.

Sony A90J OLED 4K TV: Like the LG G1, Sony’s new flagship A90J promises higher brightness than any OLED the company has released before. It also boasts HDMI 2.1, Google TV, and new cognitive image processing. Though it’s the most expensive OLED released in 2021, the A90J’s impressive specifications could make it the new high-end TV to beat. 

 

Check out our other TV buying guides

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The best speaker deals – save $20 on Amazon’s Echo Dot smart speaker

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

echo dot
  • Speakers with good performance can be pricey, but they often go on sale.
  • We’ve compiled all the best speaker deals for May 2021.
  • Right now, you can get an Echo Dot for $30 – that’s $20 off its full price.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Great speakers can make listening to music far more enjoyable, and there are plenty of deals to be found. These days, even relatively inexpensive speakers can deliver well-rounded bass response, a well-tuned mid-range, and plenty of clarity and detail in the high end.

Whether you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker, a smart speaker, floortstanding speakers, bookshelf speakers, or even a soundbar, you may be able to stay on budget and save some cash thanks to these awesome discounts. After combing through the web, we’ve rounded up the best speaker deals out there for a variety of needs.

Here are the best speaker deals in May 2021:

Echo Dot (4th Generation) (small)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Jacket H20 4 Bluetooth speaker (medium, Preferred: Walmart)

Best Bluetooth speaker deals

Altec Lansing Jacket

Portable Bluetooth speakers make it easy to take your music on the road with you. Many of them are water-resistant, meaning you can use them near the pool or at the beach, and while they’re usually not as great-sounding as more expensive home theater speakers or soundbars, they’ll definitely get the party started at your next BBQ.

Product Card (medium)Onyx Studio 6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker (medium)Sonic Portable Bluetooth Speaker (medium)
Best soundbar deals

samsung hw t550

If you’re looking to enhance the sound quality in your living room without going all out for a full-sized surround sound system, then it’s worth considering a soundbar. Soundbars range in price and audio quality, but the best of them allow for full-bodied audio in a relatively compact package. Some models even include wireless subwoofers and separate satellite speakers for more immersive performance.

2.0-Channel Mini Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)HW-T550 Soundbar (medium)SL4Y Soundbar (medium)
Best smart speaker deals

Echo Dot light

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri have gotten a whole lot smarter over the past few years, and they can now help you with a huge range of tasks, including controlling smart home devices, finding out information from the web, and more. There are often deals on smart speakers too – so you might be able to pick one up at a super low price. So models even include screens, enabling video playback to go along with audio. 

Echo Dot (4th Generation) (small)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)
Best home theater speaker deals

Klipsch Reference 820F system

Soundbars are great, but if you truly want the most immersive movie-watching or gaming experience, it’s worth looking into home theater speakers. Home theater speakers can be set up as a simple pair of stereo speakers next to your TV, or a full surround sound system. It should be noted, however, that home theater speakers typically require a separate AV receiver for power and processing, which can make purchasing a full system pricey. Thankfully, the below discounts can help cut down your costs.

RP-8000F Speaker (medium)
Best computer speaker deals

Klipsch ProMedia 2

Want to avoid having to use headphones all the time when you’re at your computer? A great pair of computer speakers can make for a better PC gaming experience, or simply make listening to music and podcasts more enjoyable. Sometimes, computer speakers even come with a small subwoofer to help enhance bass performance.

Product Card (medium)
How to shop for speakers

There are a number of different types of speakers, and they can all serve drastically different purposes. 

If you want something to take to the beach or use on the go, then a portable Bluetooth speaker is your best option. If you’re looking to enhance your TV-viewing experience, then home theater speakers or a soundbar will do the job. If you want to bring a digital assistant into your home, then consider a smart speaker. If you just want speakers around the house, then perhaps it’s worth considering bookshelf speakers or a pair of computer speakers.

It’s also a good idea to take the brand into consideration when purchasing speakers. For example, if you’re buying a smart speaker, then it’s definitely worth looking at options from companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Sonos, and Bose. Vizio and Samsung, meanwhile, are both safe bets for soundbars. If you’re setting up a surround sound system, then brands like Klipsch and Focal will be a better fit for your needs. 

Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your budget. You can get decent Bluetooth and smart speakers for under $150 – but that probably won’t be enough if you’re looking for a soundbar or multiple home theater speakers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best speaker deals – save $120 on Vizio’s flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

VIZIO OLED TV and Elevate soundbar
  • Speakers with good performance can be pricey, but they often go on sale.
  • We’ve compiled all the best speaker deals for April 2021.
  • Right now, you can get Vizio’s 5.1.4 Elevate Soundbar for $879 – that’s $121 off its full price.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Great speakers can make listening to music far more enjoyable, and there are plenty of deals to be found. These days, even relatively inexpensive speakers can deliver well-rounded bass response, a well-tuned mid-range, and plenty of clarity and detail in the high end.

Whether you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker, a smart speaker, floortstanding speakers, bookshelf speakers, or even a soundbar, you may be able to stay on budget and save some cash thanks to these awesome discounts. After combing through the web, we’ve rounded up the best speaker deals out there for a variety of needs.

Here are the best speaker deals in April 2021:

Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pill+ (small, Preferred: Best Buy)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)

Best Bluetooth speaker deals

Altec Lansing Jacket

Portable Bluetooth speakers make it easy to take your music on the road with you. Many of them are water-resistant, meaning you can use them near the pool or at the beach, and while they’re usually not as great-sounding as more expensive home theater speakers or soundbars, they’ll definitely get the party started at your next BBQ.

Pill+ (small, Preferred: Best Buy)SRS-XB43 Bluetooth Speaker (medium)Product Card (medium)
Best soundbar deals

Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you’re looking to enhance the sound quality in your living room without going all out for a full-sized surround sound system, then it’s worth considering a soundbar. Soundbars range in price and audio quality, but the best of them allow for full-bodied audio in a relatively compact package. Some models even include wireless subwoofers and separate satellite speakers for more immersive performance.

One of the best deals you can snag right now is on the Vizio Elevate soundbar. The system is on sale for $121 off its full price, and it serves as a more affordable alternative to a traditional home theater setup. You can read our full Vizio Elevate review here

Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Amazon)SB46514-F6 46-inch 5.1.4 Channel Soundbar (small, Preferred: Best Buy)2.0-Channel Mini Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)HW-T550 Soundbar (medium)SL4Y Soundbar (medium)
Best smart speaker deals

Sonos Beam

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri have gotten a whole lot smarter over the past few years, and they can now help you with a huge range of tasks, including controlling smart home devices, finding out information from the web, and more. There are often deals on smart speakers too – so you might be able to pick one up at a super low price. So models even include screens, enabling video playback to go along with audio. 

Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)
Best home theater speaker deals

Klipsch Reference 820F system

Soundbars are great, but if you truly want the most immersive movie-watching or gaming experience, it’s worth looking into home theater speakers. Home theater speakers can be set up as a simple pair of stereo speakers next to your TV, or a full surround sound system. It should be noted, however, that home theater speakers typically require a separate AV receiver for power and processing, which can make purchasing a full system pricey. Thankfully, the below discounts can help cut down your costs.

R-620F Speaker (medium)
Best computer speaker deals

Klipsch ProMedia 2

Want to avoid having to use headphones all the time when you’re at your computer? A great pair of computer speakers can make for a better PC gaming experience, or simply make listening to music and podcasts more enjoyable. Sometimes, computer speakers even come with a small subwoofer to help enhance bass performance.

Z625 2.1 Speaker System (medium)Product Card (medium)
How to shop for speakers

There are a number of different types of speakers, and they can all serve drastically different purposes. 

If you want something to take to the beach or use on the go, then a portable Bluetooth speaker is your best option. If you’re looking to enhance your TV-viewing experience, then home theater speakers or a soundbar will do the job. If you want to bring a digital assistant into your home, then consider a smart speaker. If you just want speakers around the house, then perhaps it’s worth considering bookshelf speakers or a pair of computer speakers.

It’s also a good idea to take the brand into consideration when purchasing speakers. For example, if you’re buying a smart speaker, then it’s definitely worth looking at options from companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Sonos, and Bose. Vizio and Samsung, meanwhile, are both safe bets for soundbars. If you’re setting up a surround sound system, then brands like Klipsch and Focal will be a better fit for your needs. 

Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your budget. You can get decent Bluetooth and smart speakers for under $150 – but that probably won’t be enough if you’re looking for a soundbar or multiple home theater speakers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Vizio’s Elevate is more than just a soundbar – it’s one of the best $1,000 Dolby Atmos home theater systems you can buy

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

VIZIO OLED TV and Elevate soundbar

  • Vizio’s Elevate is more than a typical soundbar; it’s a full home theater system for under $1,000.
  • The device features unique rotating speakers and immersive 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos performance.
  • The Elevate is perfect for buyers who don’t have the cash or space for larger speakers and a receiver.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyElevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (small)

Putting together a proper Dolby Atmos home theater system can be a complicated and expensive task. For a traditional setup, you need multiple speakers and a separate AV receiver to power and process everything.

Though this type of configuration offers the best performance, there are many buyers who simply don’t have the space and budget for that kind of investment. And that’s where a Dolby Atmos soundbar system like the Vizio Elevate comes in.

The Elevate is designed to offer a full 5.1.4 surround sound solution in a convenient package, complete with a soundbar, satellite speakers, and a subwoofer. The system comes with everything you need and it even features built-in amplification so you don’t have to buy a receiver.

With its up-firing speakers, the Elevate can make it seem like sound effects are coming from above your head. The front speakers also feature a clever rotating design, which allows them to automatically switch from up-firing to front-firing positions depending on what you’re watching.

I’ve been reviewing home theater products for nearly a decade, and after spending a month with the Elevate, I’ve come away impressed by the soundbar’s performance and value. The system’s software is a little glitchy, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better 5.1.4 home theater package for this price.

Vizio Elevate Soundbar specifications

Vizio Elevate Soundbar

Specs:
Package includes: Soundbar, two satellite speakers, 8-inch wireless subwoofer
Channels: 5.1.4
Formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Ports: One HDMI eRC, two HDMI inputs, 3.5mm input, Optical input, USB
Connectivity: Chromecast built-in, Bluetooth
Features: Rotating front drivers
Remote: Backlit remote included, works with SmartCast app
Voice assistant: Works with separate Alexa and Google Assistant products
Soundbar dimensions: 2.64 (H) x 48 (W) x 6.5 (D) inches

Design

The Elevate features a sleek, industrial design with an all black finish and aluminum build. Though a system like this is compact compared to a traditional home theater setup, keep in mind that the Elevate and its subwoofer are fairly large compared to most soundbar packages.

The system offers support for a total of 5.1.4 channels. This means there are five ear-level channels, one subwoofer, and four up-firing channels for height effects.

The soundbar itself has a left, center, right, left height, and right height channel. The satellites then serve as your left surround and right surround speakers, and each has their own height channel.

The height channels work by angling sound up to bounce effects off your ceiling. This makes it sound as if the audio is coming from above your head. Vizio takes the Elevate further by incorporating special rotating drivers.

Vizoi Elevate soundbar review rotating speakers
The Vizio Elevate features a rotating speaker that can switch between up-firing and front-firing audio.

The front height speakers can automatically rotate up or forward depending on what you’re listening to. When they’re up you can hear overhead effects. When they’re down, they help to create a wider front soundstage.

Various inputs are included on the back of the bar, including one HDMI eARC to receive audio from your TV, as well as two HDMI inputs to connect additional sources, like a game console or Blu-ray player. Full 4K HDR video passthrough is supported, and the Elevate supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding. DTS:X was incompatible with older Vizio soundbars, so it’s nice to have on this model.

Vizio also includes a handy remote with a small text display to scroll through settings and modes. Unlike previous models, this year’s remote is even backlit.

Setup

Vizio Elevate review
The system includes a soundbar, two satellite speakers, and a subwoofer.

To get the system set up, you simply need to plug the power cables in, connect the soundbar to your TV, and run the satellite speaker cables to the subwoofer. The subwoofer wirelessly connects to the soundbar. Though having to use cables for the satellites is less convenient than a fully wireless design, the included speaker wires are long enough to suit small and medium rooms.

To update the firmware and enable Chromecast music streaming you can download the Vizio SmartCast mobile app. I had some issues getting the app to find the soundbar during my initial setup, but after restarting it was able to connect.

You can adjust settings using the remote or the SmartCast app. This includes setting your preference for the rotating speakers. For the most accurate audio experience with movies, I recommend using the Elevate Auto setting and the Direct EQ mode.

This will automatically angle the Elevate speakers up when you listen to Dolby Atmos or DTS:X audio. The height speakers will then automatically angle forward when you listen to music, movies, or shows that don’t support overhead audio.

Performance

Vizio Elevate Dolby atmos performance
The Elevate’s up-firing speakers bounce sound off the ceiling to create overhead effects.

For a 5.1.4 soundbar in this price range, the Vizio Elevate delivers fantastic sound quality. To be clear, this isn’t an audiophile system that can equal a dedicated home theater rig with floorstanding and bookshelf speakers, but as a space-saving and cost-saving alternative, it’s a winner.

The bar itself has good separation and imaging, while the inclusion of separate satellite speakers provides genuine surround sound immersion. The up-firing channels also do a solid job simulating overhead sound, but the effect can be hit and miss depending on where you sit.

To test the system’s performance I watched a bunch of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X titles on Blu-ray and streaming services, including “Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Vertigo,” “The Mandalorian,” and various clips from demo discs designed to show off systems like this.

Throughout all my testing, the Elevate engaged with an enveloping dome of sound, fully engulfing the room with audio from all directions. Having the heights in the front and back helps to avoid any gaps, creating a complete Atmos experience.

When switching to regular surround sound, the system performs equally well, rotating the heights down to create a wider front soundstage. Music also sounds good, though tracks can sound a little bright and small when using the Direct EQ mode. Switching to the Music preset opens things up nicely, creating a bit more depth.

The wireless subwoofer offers ample kick for medium-sized rooms. That said, I find the sub to be a little too aggressive. Room-shaking bass makes sense during explosions, but when low frequencies become overpowering watching a Netflix rom-com like “Holidate,” you know something is a little off.

Some key bass cues I use as test material in “Inception” and “The Tree of Life” also sound a little too harsh, leading to some unwanted vibrations that make the subwoofer stick out in my room. I ultimately prefer to have the Elevate’s sub adjusted five levels below the default setting. This helps dial it in, but can rob the system of some punch. In other words, finding just the right balance is a little trickier than I’d like.

Still, the overall experience you get with the Elevate is genuinely impressive. I typically use an Onkyo 5.1.4 system with a dedicated receiver, separate bookshelf speakers, and a 10-inch subwoofer. Though I still prefer that setup, the Vizio Elevate’s performance isn’t that far off, and it’s a much simpler and cheaper solution.

Problems with the Elevate Soundbar

As impressed as I am with the Elevate, the system isn’t perfect. I’ve encountered some odd glitches here and there, as well as some issues with the soundbar’s software.

After getting the Elevate set up, the first thing I did was boot up an episode of “The Mandalorian.” Despite everything being connected properly, there was no audio and the Elevate’s remote stopped working. Suddenly, the subwoofer kicked in at full blast for no reason forcing me to quickly turn the system off for fear of angering my neighbors.

This strange glitch only happened once, however, so I consider it more of an anomaly than a major issue. There have been a few other times when the remote becomes unresponsive, though, and the SmartCast app loses connection with the soundbar occasionally.

The rotating drivers work just fine during my testing, but I ‘m a little concerned there could be some issues with their longevity after lots of use. Finally, there is a faint high-pitched noise audible if you put your ears close to the satellite speakers. This isn’t noticeable during regular playback, though, so I don’t consider it to be a real problem.

While not ideal, I don’t think any of these hiccups outweigh the Elevate’s many strengths.

Should you buy it?

Vizio Elevate soundbar lifestyle

The Vizio Elevate is a good buy for anyone who wants a genuine 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos home theater system under $1,000.

Piecing together an equivalent package with separate speakers and an AV receiver is basically impossible in this price range. In fact, most 9.2 channel receivers – which is what you’d need to power 5.1.4 speakers – cost at least $1,000 on their own.

If you have that kind of cash, you can configure a larger speaker setup that sounds better than the Elevate. But, that kind of investment simply isn’t realistic for everyone. Conversely, you can find plenty of smaller and cheaper soundbars, but they just don’t offer the level of immersion you get with the Elevate.

The Elevate is designed for home theater fans who want to spend less and save a little space without losing out on a full Dolby Atmos surround sound experience. And in that sense, it delivers exceptional value and performance.

What are your alternatives?

When it comes to similar Dolby Atmos soundbars with satellite speakers, the Elevate has some competition from brands like Samsung, as well alternative models from Vizio itself.

Most notably, Samsung’s HW-Q950T offers a similar setup with dedicated surround speakers, four up-firing channels, and a wireless subwoofer. Samsung’s model even adds side-firing drivers in order to simulate extra surround channels, enabling support for a 9.1.4 system.

That said, the HW-Q950T lacks Vizio’s unique rotating speakers. The HW-Q950T is also typically sold for at least $350 more than the Elevate.

It’s also worth considering two of Vizio’s cheaper 5.1.4 soundbars: the SB46514-F6 and the SB36514-G6. The SB36514-G6 is smaller compared to the Elevate, while the SB46514-F6 is more similar in size. Both of these models lack eARC and DTS:X support, however, and neither have rotating speakers or a backlit remote.

The bottom line

Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you don’t have the space or money to invest in a traditional home theater setup, then the Vizio Elevate 5.1.4 soundbar is the next best thing.

For a retail price of $1,000, you get everything you need for a complete Dolby Atmos experience – no costly AV receiver required. And it sounds fantastic for the money. The system is even frequently on sale for around $900, which makes it an even better buy.

Pros: Full 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos support, immersive audio performance, DTS:X capabilities, unique rotating drivers, affordable price compared to a comparable setup with separate speakers and a receiver

Cons: Sporadic software and signal glitches, some concerns about longevity of the rotating function, subwoofer lacks balance, no voice assistant built-in

Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (button)

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When is the best time to buy a TV?

Samsung TV

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  • The best times to buy a TV are Black Friday and around the Super Bowl. 
  • That’s when many TV makers and retailers launch sales to clear out inventory before the spring launch cycle.  
  • Check out our guide to the best TV deals and best cheap TVs

Buying a new TV can feel like a daunting task. There are a lot of different models, and sales seemingly happen every week. How do you know when it is the right time to get the best deal on a new TV?

Our team has covered TVs and home entertainment for years, and have figured out the best times to get the lowest prices. Below, we break down the best time to shop for a TV, when to expect new TV launches, and what to consider when buying a new TV. 

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best time to buy a TV

Target Black Friday
A Target store in Culver City, California on Black Friday 2016.

Black Friday

Black Friday is usually the best time of the year to buy a TV. It is the first time that new models  see major discounts, making it the perfect time to buy for those looking to score a great deal that also want the latest tech. Black Friday deals are also no longer confined to a single day, as many retailers have ongoing online sales that can last into the week and into Cyber Monday.  

This is the time when major retailers aggressively compete with each other for consumer dollars, which means that pricing, especially online, can shift throughout the day as various outlets react in real-time to their competitors’ pricing. Price matching guarantees proliferate in this environment, making it easier for gift card recipients to get the best deals at their preferred location. 

One word of caution, however: It is always a good idea to do a little research before jumping on a deal, especially during Black Friday. Sometimes retailers will advertise big Black Friday discounts, when in reality the pricing isn’t far from off from what it has been for months. The website camelcamelcamel.com is a great way to quickly verify a deal, as it tracks a product’s price on Amazon throughout the year. This way, you can see if a product is actually heavily discounted, or if it has been hovering close to the same price for a while. 

The Super Bowl

The big game traditionally means big savings on TVs. These sales often start during the playoffs in January and lead up to the Super Bowl in early February. This means t fans can still watch their team in the playoffs on a brand new TV, even if they don’t make it all the way to the championship. 

 By this point, most manufacturers are already looking at releasing their new models in the coming months, and are trying to clear out the stock from the previous year. This meshes nicely with Americans’ desire to watch the biggest game of year on a new TV set. Overall, this is one of the best times to get deep discounts on still-current models.

When new TVs are usually released

Man Watching Streaming TV
Roku shares climb as the company passes the 50 million active account figure.

New TV models are typically released during the spring of each year. Some manufacturers start their product rollout in March, while others drop models in April and May. 

Shoppers looking for the latest and greatest can expect to pay full price for these units, though it is important to note that most new models only feature modest upgrades from those in the previous year. Picking up a brand new, full-priced TV is really only best for those willing to pay more for a specific upgrade, such as improved brightness. Even then, it might be worth waiting for a few months to read reviews of the product before jumping on a purchase. 

For those interested in getting steep discounts, spring offers many closeout deals on models from the previous year. The NCAA basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, is a good time to start looking for these discounts, though the closeouts can continue to roll on throughout the spring and into the summer as different manufacturers release their new TV lineup.

How to buy a TV

LG nanocell TV

Here are some of the key factors to consider when shopping for a new TV.

Display: The best displays on high-end TVs use an OLED panel, which stands for organic light emitting diode. These panels use self-illuminating screens rather than LED backlighting, which results in better contrast and viewing angles as well as true black tones and more even lighting. 

These premium TVs are usually expensive and are best suited for a home theater setup. LED panels with features like quantum dots and local dimming are also a good choice for buyers who want the best picture quality. These sets can’t match the contrast of an OLED, but they can get even brighter.

Those looking for a more casual viewing experience can opt for a smaller screen with a budget-friendly LED panel. Even entry-level TVs offer 4K displays, which means that it is possible to get a sharp TV without spending tons of money. Of course, these TVs might not feature the greatest brightness and contrast of more expensive models, but they are often more than enough for movie nights and console gaming.

HDR Format: High Dynamic Range (HDR) is an image technology that is featured on many 4K TV displays, 4K streaming options, and 4K Blu-ray disks. HDR enhances images so that they appear brighter, with more color and deeper contrast than ever before. However, there are three different HDR formats – HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision – and not every TV supports all three.

This means that you can have a TV with HDR, but still not be able to get the best HDR quality from a specific source. When buying a TV with HDR, make sure that it supports the format that you use the most. 

Connectivity: It is important to be able to connect all of your devices to your new TV. Gaming consoles, such as the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X, each need their own HDMI port to connect to the TV, as do Roku players and other streaming boxes. The more HDMI ports the TV has, the better. 

It is also important to find out what kind of HDMI is supported by the TV. HDMI 2.0 is capable of streaming in 4k at 60Hz, while the newer HDMI 2.1 standard supports next-generation gaming features such as 4K at 120Hz, and variable refresh rate (VRR).

Smart TV Platform: These days, most TVs come with some smart capabilities. Unfortunately, content on various smart platforms can differ dramatically. For example, Spectrum TV customers can find the Spectrum TV app on Samsung Smart TVs, but not on ones made by LG or Sony. LG TVs also don’t support HBO Max. It is important to find a platform that offers all of the channels you want.

Of course, you can also purchase a separate streaming player to connect to your TV if you don’t mind spending a little extra money. Streaming devices also generally offer better performance and are easily upgradeable. 

Extra Features: It’s a good idea to check what other extra features the TV offers. Does it have a voice-controlled remote? What about Alexa, or Google Assistant? Does it offer Airplay compatibility? These features will probably not make-or-break a purchase, but are good to know about, especially when you are trying to get the best deal for yourself or your family.

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The best speaker deals – save $100 on Vizio’s flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar

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VIZIO OLED TV and Elevate soundbar
  • Speakers with good performance can be pricey, but they often go on sale.
  • We’ve compiled all the best speaker deals for March 2021.
  • Right now, you can get Vizio’s 5.1.4 Elevate Soundbar for $900 – that’s $100 off its full price.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Great speakers can make listening to music far more enjoyable – and speakers have been getting a whole lot better over the past few years. These days, even relatively inexpensive speakers can deliver well-rounded bass response, a well-tuned mid-range, and plenty of clarity and detail in the high end. 

Of course, if you’re in the market for a new speaker or speakers, you’ll want to think about exactly what kind of speaker best matches your needs. There are a number of different types of speakers, and they can all serve drastically different purposes. 

If you want something to take to the beach or use on the go, then a portable Bluetooth speaker is probably your best option. If you’re looking to enhance your TV-viewing experience, then home theater speakers or a soundbar will do the job. If you want to bring a digital assistant into your home, then consider a smart speaker. If you just want speakers around the house to listen to music on, then perhaps it’s worth considering bookshelf speakers. And, last but not least, if you want a more immersive computing experience, then consider buying a pair of computer speakers.

It’s also a good idea to take the brand into consideration when purchasing speakers. Depending on the type of speaker you end up buying, you’ll want to seek out different brands. For example, if you’re buying a smart speaker, then it’s definitely worth looking at options from companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple. Vizio and Samsung, meanwhile, are both safe bets for soundbars. If you’re setting up a surround sound system, then brands like Klipsch and Focal will be a better fit for your needs. 

Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your budget – and your budget might again depend on the type of speakers you’re looking for. You can get decent Bluetooth and smart speakers for under $150 – but that probably won’t be enough if you’re looking for a soundbar or multiple home theater speakers.

Thankfully, you may be able to stay on budget and save some cash thanks to these awesome deals. After combing through the web, we’ve rounded up the best speaker deals out there for a variety of needs.

Here are the best speaker deals in March 2021:

Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (medium)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)

Best Bluetooth speaker deals

Altec Lansing Jacket

Portable Bluetooth speakers make it easy to take your music on the road with you. Many of them are water-resistant, meaning you can use them near the pool or at the beach, and while they’re usually not as great-sounding as more expensive home theater speakers or soundbars, they’ll definitely get the party started at your next BBQ.

Product Card (medium)Aura Studio 3 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Best soundbar deals

Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos soundbar

If you’re looking to enhance the sound quality in your living room without going all out for a full-sized surround sound system, then it’s worth considering a soundbar. Soundbars range in price and audio quality, but the best of them allow for full-bodied audio in a relatively compact package. Some models even include wireless subwoofers and separate satellite speakers for more immersive performance.

2.0-Channel Mini Soundbar (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)TV Speaker (medium)Elevate 5.1.4 Soundbar (medium)SB46514-F6 46-inch 5.1.4 Channel Soundbar (small, Preferred: Best Buy)
Best smart speaker deals

Sonos Beam

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri have gotten a whole lot smarter over the past few years, and they can now help you with a huge range of tasks, including controlling smart home devices, finding out information from the web, and more. There are often deals on smart speakers too – so you might be able to pick one up at a super low price. So models even include screens, enabling video playback to go along with audio. 

Echo Show 5 (small, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)
Best home theater speaker deals

Klipsch Reference 820F system

Soundbars are great, but if you truly want the most immersive movie-watching or gaming experience, it’s worth looking into home theater speakers. Home theater speakers can be set up as a simple pair of stereo speakers next to your TV, or a full surround sound system. It should be noted, however, that home theater speakers typically require a separate AV receiver for power and processing, which can make purchasing a full system pricey. Thankfully, the below discounts can help cut down your costs.

R-620F Speaker (medium)
Best computer speaker deals

Klipsch ProMedia 2

Want to avoid having to use headphones all the time when you’re at your computer? A great pair of computer speakers can make for a better PC gaming experience, or simply make listening to music and podcasts more enjoyable. Sometimes, computer speakers even come with a small subwoofer to help enhance bass performance.

Z625 2.1 Speaker System (medium)Product Card (medium)

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I saw Samsung’s new Micro LED and the bright, gorgeous display could be the future of TV

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Samsung Micro LED TV lifestyle 2
  • Samsung has revealed a new 110-inch TV model with an advanced Micro LED screen.
  • Micro LED is designed to compete with OLED, and it could offer even better performance. 
  • We got to examine the display during a CES 2021 event, and the TV looks stunning in person.  

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Samsung has been showing off massive Micro LED displays at CES for the last few years, but the impressive technology has yet to hit the consumer market. This year, however, the company aims to change that.

For the first time, Samsung will be releasing 110-, 99-, 88-, and 76-inch Micro LED 4K TVs. There’s no word on pricing, but the 110-inch model is set to launch globally this spring. 

Micro LED promises key improvements over other TV panel types, and it could even end up beating our current favorite TV technology, OLED. To help demonstrate what makes Micro LED so special, Samsung invited Insider Reviews to an in-person CES 2021 event. 

The 110-inch Micro LED TV was on hand at the demo, and the gorgeous screen does not disappoint. It’s important to note, however, that Samsung described the model as a prototype, so the version we saw could still go through some changes before hitting the market.   

That said, based on what we’ve seen, Samsung’s Micro LED shows incredible promise, and the technology could very well end up being the future of TV. It’s not perfect, but the overall picture quality is simply stunning.  

Note: Samsung did not allow pictures of the Micro LED TV at the CES event, so all images included here are provided by the manufacturer.

What is Micro LED?

Samsung Micro LED lifestyle 3

Micro LED is an advanced panel technology used for displays. The tech is designed to compete with other popular TV types, like LCD (often branded as LED or QLED) and OLED.

As the name implies, Micro LED screens are made up of millions of microscopic red, green, and blue light-emitting diodes. Micro LEDs are self-emissive, allowing them to dim, brighten, or turn off individually. This results in an infinite contrast ratio with true black levels and wide viewing angles – which are all areas where regular LCD TVs struggle.

Meanwhile, OLED TVs are capable of similar contrast, but that technology uses organic LEDs which can degrade over time. This leads to brightness limitations and the potential for burn-in. Since Micro LEDs are inorganic, however, Samsung says that they can get brighter and last longer than OLED TVs with virtually no risk of burn-in.  

In other words, Micro LED has the potential to combine everything home theater fans love about OLED TVs while also offering similar brightness capabilities as an LCD TV. Basically, it could be the best of both worlds. 

Unlike typical TVs which use one panel, Micro LED screens are actually constructed from multiple tiles that are aligned together. This creates the potential for modular screens, where you can add, remove, or shift tiles around to create different display sizes and orientations. 

Samsung offers a modular Micro LED screen for business and luxury customers, called “The Wall,” that has this capability. That said, the upcoming 110-, 99-, 88-, and 76-inch Micro LED TVs will have fixed configurations and won’t be modular. 

Samsung Micro LED TV picture impressions

Samsung Micro LED lifestyle

For demo purposes, Samsung had a prototype of its 110-inch Micro LED TV set up in a dark room displaying a gorgeous reel of 4K HDR video.

As is typical with demonstrations like this, the footage featured a beautiful assortment of colorful images ranging from shining gem stones to towering cityscapes. The images dazzled no matter what was on the screen with rich saturation, precise highlights, and deep black levels that disappeared into the room.

Samsung didn’t offer a specific number in nits, but to my eyes the peak brightness was very impressive, offering a more punchy image than I’m used to seeing on a screen so large. One scene, featuring a starry night sky over mountains, was particularly striking as each star shined brilliantly from the screen against inky blacks. 

It’s the type of infinite contrast that I’ve only ever seen on OLED TVs before, but the HDR effect was even more pronounced. Viewing angles were also essentially perfect, with no real color or contrast issues when viewing from the side. 

An LCD TV this big, even with advanced local dimming, would still show signs of blooming, crushing, or off-angle fading. An OLED would likely look similarly impressive but not as bright. The Micro LED was able to demonstrate all the benefits of both of those technologies while offering no real signs of their flaws. That said, pixels were visible if you put your face right up to the screen, but that’s the case with any 4K TV this big. 

Of course, demos like this only offer a limited view of what a TV can do, and it’s important to remember that the model on display is still a prototype. At the end of the day, though, the experience has only left me wanting more.

Problems with Micro LED TVs

As impressive as Micro LED is, no display technology is perfect. We’ll need to spend more in-depth time with a Micro LED TV to really evaluate it, but based on what we’ve seen so far there is one slight downside that’s already clear: seams are sometimes visible on the screen.

Since Micro LED TVs are constructed from several display tiles that are connected together, there are seams between each tile, creating the appearance of a grid. Thankfully, these seams are very faint and, during my demo time, I found them to be extremely hard to spot. 

In fact, from a normal viewing distance and a centered angle, they are essentially invisible. It’s only when getting very close to the screen or watching the display from an off-angle that the seams faintly come into view. Even then, the seams generally only pop up when certain colors are on the screen. Likewise, you can see them when the TV is off. 

It’s too early to say how much of a factor this will be when watching a Micro LED TV under normal viewing conditions, but I doubt it will end up being too much of a problem. Though LCD and OLED TVs don’t have this specific issue, they have their own uniformity quirks that can be just as distracting. 

How much will Samsung’s Micro LED TV cost?

Samsung has not announced US pricing for its Micro LED TVs yet, but it’s safe to say that they will be very expensive when they hit the market. New panel technology always comes at a premium, and Micro LED has been particularly hard to scale down to a consumer level.

According to ZDNet, the 110-inch Micro LED TV model is launching in South Korea for 170 million won, which is around $156,000. A similar price is likely for the US.

The closest premium TV we can look to right now as a comparison is likely LG’s flagship 88-inch OLED 8K TV, which currently sells for $30,000. Samsung’s Micro LED TV is 4K rather than 8K, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar, if not higher, price tag for the 88-inch model.  

Samsung Micro LED TV release dates

The 110- and 99-inch Micro LED TVs are set for release globally this spring, with expected availability starting in late March. The 88-inch model will then follow in the fall.

A 76-inch Micro LED TV has also been announced, but an estimated release window has not been confirmed yet. 

The bottom line

Samsung Micro LED Lifestyle 4

Samsung’s Micro LED could very well be the future of TV, but like any display tech, it won’t be perfect. Still, based on what I’ve seen so far, the picture quality pros look like they will far outweigh the cons. 

The real question will be how much these displays end up costing. I expect that this first wave of Micro LED TVs will be prohibitively expensive for regular buyers, but the 2021 lineup could help pave the way for more affordable Micro LED TVs in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

If you’re looking for a high-end Samsung TV at a more consumer-friendly price point, be sure to check out the company’s new lineup of Neo QLED 4K and 8K TVs. The 2021 collection starts at $1,600 and promises several improvements over last year’s models. 

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LG’s 48-inch OLED TV is a high-end home theater display and gaming monitor in one stunning package

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LG CX Gaming
  • LG’s CX is our top OLED TV pick thanks to its gorgeous display and forward-looking features.
  • The 48-inch model makes the most of OLED tech and can serve as a living room TV or gaming monitor.
  • A new 2021 C1 OLED is set for release this year, but we think the CX will remain a better value.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky48-inch CX OLED 4K TV (small)

The LG CX is our pick for the best OLED TV you can buy, combining the sharp, vivid colors and infinite contrast ratio of OLED display technology with LG’s fastest TV processor.

The 48-inch review unit we received is the smallest OLED TV on the market, with prices starting at $1,500 and dipping to $1,200 during sales. LG’s CX is also available in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch models, with base retail pricing going up to $5,000 ($3,500 on sale) for the largest size.

While the LG CX OLED is significantly more expensive than many 4K LED TVs of the same size, the difference in picture quality is immediately noticeable due to the OLED panel’s self-illuminating pixels. Because each pixel on an OLED display can be lit individually, black portions of the screen will remain pitch black during dark scenes, avoiding the cloudy grey “halo” effect that occurs on a back-lit LED TV. The infinite contrast ratio also helps enhance high dynamic range (HDR) formats like HDR10 and Dolby Vision, which have become the new standard for streaming shows and video games.

Along with being our top rated OLED TV, the LG CX has also built a reputation as an impressive gaming monitor. LG’s CX boasts a native 120Hz refresh rate and HDMI 2.1 ports, allowing PCs and next-gen consoles, like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, to run at a faster frame rate. This leads to smoother looking gameplay when compared to older TV models that are limited to 60Hz. Of course, with sizes starting at 48 inches, the LG CX demands much more space than a typical monitor.

After spending more than two months using the LG CX for everyday viewing, I can feel confident saying that this OLED TV is the best pick for most households, whether you’re looking for a family TV, a home theater display, or a personal gaming setup. So long as you can afford the premium price tag, the LG CX OLED will leave you thoroughly impressed.

LG CX OLED TV specifications

LG CX Inputs
A view of the LG CX’s rear and side ports.

LG 48-nch CX OLED 4K TV Specifications
Screen 48-inch OLED panel
Dimensions with stand 42.2 x 25.6 x 9.9 inches
Weight with stand 41.7 pounds (32.8 pounds without stand)
Resolution 4K Ultra HD 3,840 x 2,160 
Refresh rate 120Hz with support for VRR, Nvidia G-sync, and AMD FreeSync
HDR Formats HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, HGiG
Ports 4x HDMI 2.1 ports, 3x USB 2.0 ports, 1x AV input
Audio 2.2ch speakers, 40W with 20W woofer
Connectivity Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay2, Bluetooth 5.0
Smart TV platform LG webOS
Remote LG magic remote with voice controls
Digital Assistants Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatible

Setup and design

LG CX OLED side view
The LG CX OLED panel is razor thin.

While the 48-inch LG CX is small enough for one person to carry, you’ll definitely want a second set of hands to gently unpack the 33-pound screen and get it mounted on the stand’s wide base. The base is easily secured with the included screws, or you can opt for a VESA wall mount.

The razor thin bezel around the outside of the OLED screen gives the LG CX a distinct look that’s more comparable to a sleek smartphone display than a boxed in TV screen. This helps the OLED screen’s striking blacks stick out even more when watching letterbox films, since the black bars create a distinct border pushing against the edges of the screen.

Though slim, the width of the base gives the LG CX a sturdier foundation than some of LG’s cheaper LED models, which use small plastic feet on the left and right of the screen. The rear of the LG CX base also contains a cable management compartment, making it easier to hide whatever wires you need to run to the TV.

Most of the LG CX’s inputs are accessible from the left of the TV, set a few inches behind the display. That includes three HDMI ports and two USB ports; while the remaining ports are located in the TV’s rear. A single button located under the screen provides power and a quick menu of on-screen controls.

Picture performance

LG CX picture quality

LG has been manufacturing industry-leading OLED displays for several years, and the LG CX has relatively flawless image quality. Along with a top-notch display, the LG CX has the latest hardware to maximize quality from 4K devices and licensed technology, like Dolby Vision and Nvidia G-Sync, to further enhance picture performance.

The TV has four HDMI 2.1 ports, which can transfer data at a much higher rate than the more commonly used HDMI 2.0 ports. This helps 4K streaming devices display the highest possible picture quality, and allows elevated refresh rates with video game consoles and PCs.

LG’s CX OLED display requires little to no calibration once setup, though that might depend on your taste. The standard picture mode is slightly brightened and features some post-processing, as is common with most consumer TVs, but the cinema mode will remove those effects for a neutral picture that should match the source more closely. LG’s CX will detect when HDR content is being displayed and switch to HDR specific presets, though you’ll still find the crucial standard, cinema, and game modes.

The peak brightness of the 48-inch LG CX tops out at about 600 nits, while the larger models can reach up to 700, according to CNET. That brightness level is actually lower than some LED TVs, but the OLED display’s infinite blacks provide greater contrast and a more satisfying experience when viewing in HDR videos as a result. 

I used films like “The Lord of the Rings” and the notoriously dark “The Long Night” episode of “Game of Thrones” to test the LG CX’s contrast and overall picture quality, with and without HDR. The results are wildly impressive on both fronts – shadowy scenes that were difficult to parse on my older LG LED TV can be seen in fine detail, but the sharp lighting keeps dark caverns and castles from looking washed out. Similarly, bright scenes retain their fine details without extra portions of the screen taking on a glow from an LED backlight.

The LG CX does a commendable job of upscaling lower resolution signals too, smoothing out the inconsistent picture quality coming from my 1080i cable box and the jagged edges of my 480p Nintendo Wii at 60Hz.

When using a PlayStation or Xbox console the TV will automatically switch to “Instant Game Response” mode, which disables most post-processing, maximizes brightness, and reduces input delay so your controls are as responsive as possible. If you primarily use the LG CX for gaming, you’ll want to activate HGiG for your console’s HDMI port to get the most accurate HDR picture quality.

I used fast-paced, visually intense video games like “Tetris Effect” and “Dragon Ball FighterZ” to help me test the CX for issues like artifacting and ghosting, but the screen remained amazingly responsive whether I was playing at 60Hz on Wii and Switch, or 120 Hz with my PC and PS5.

Gaming features

LG CX Desktop

The LG CX is amazingly responsive for a TV, registering similar input delay to many high-end gaming monitors, and at a higher native resolution.

Many of the newest features supported by the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, like variable refresh rate and gaming at 120 frames per second, are only available with HDMI 2.1 compatible TVs like the LG CX.

For example, the PS5’s RGB color display requires too much bandwidth to use at 4K resolution with an HDMI 2.0 port, so it defaults to YUV422, a slightly degraded format, instead. Similarly, playing at 4K resolution and 120Hz refresh rate requires an HDMI 2.1 port, or you’ll be limited to 1440p and 120Hz on HDMI 2.0.

While a few TVs have adopted a single HDMI 2.1 port, the LG CX has four, so you can have multiple high bandwidth 4K devices.

The LG CX also has access to variable refresh rate, and licensed technology from the leading computer graphics hardware companies, Nvidia and AMD. Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync help the display’s refresh rate match the speed of a video game as it’s being played. This helps alleviate issues like screen tearing and smooths animation, and it’s especially helpful for PC gamers.

I was able to set up my RTX 2060 PC with the LG CX using G-Sync and HDR with no problems. Both my  Xbox Series S and Xbox One X were able to take advantage of the AMD FreeSync compatibility to activate variable refresh rate.

Smart TV features

LG CX Smart TV Features

LG’s webOS smart TV service is one of the best in the business, making features like streaming apps, screen sharing, and voice control easily accessible. The LG CX’s a9 processor makes navigating the interface quick and simple too, rarely showing any stutter between tasks when compared to cheaper webOS TVs. 

The home screen and options interface allow for customization, so you can order your most used menu items and apps, remove the ones you don’t need, and rename all of your inputs. WebOS also accessed my local TV listings during setup, immediately providing much faster navigation and schedule information than my set-top cable box.

WebOS supports most popular streaming apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Hulu, Peacock, Apple TV Plus, and even music apps like Spotify and Pandora. Apps that support 4K HDR and Dolby Vision should use those formats automatically when downloaded from LG’s content store. With that said, some features won’t always work, like Dolby Atmos through Disney Plus, since companies sometimes limit support depending on the platform being used. 

HBO Max is noticeably missing from webOS, though you can use another mobile device to cast the HBO Max app to the LG CX for screen sharing. The CX supports both Android casting and Apple’s AirPlay 2, so most mobile devices can screen share with the TV. You can use a USB drive to sideload your saved movies, music, and photos too, or stream them directly from a shared media folder on another PC in your network.

There’s a large selection of games and other entertainment apps to choose from in the LG content store, though few of the offerings seem worth the time. The CX also has access to LG Channels, a set of more than 100 free streaming “IP channels.” These are channels dedicated to a certain subject rather than operating as traditional broadcast or cable TV stations, but it’s a free service that only requires an internet connection.

The CX is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa for voice commands; webOS voice searches will be answered by Google Assistant. I found LG’s Alexa skill rather cumbersome due to the specific phrases needed and the speed required to process commands; it was often faster to just grab the remote, unless I was already well out of range of the TV.

The LG magic remote

LG Magic Remote

To be honest I underestimated the impact the magic remote would have on my time with the LG CX, but the mouse-style control feels like a significant game changer thanks in large part to the TV’s quick processing.

LG’s Magic Remote Control brings a motion-controlled cursor, a scroll wheel, and voice control to the table, and is easily integrated with most set-top boxes and video game consoles thanks to webOS. The LG CX configured the magic remote to work seamlessly with my Amazon Fire Stick, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles with no setup required, though there is a universal remote setup process for more specific devices. 

The remote’s voice control is easy to operate when prompted and generally accurate, whether it’s being used within specific apps or webOS.

Should you worry about burn-in on an OLED TV?

OLED display technology has been known to suffer from an issue called burn-in. Burn-in happens when a static image is left on the display for so long that the screen’s pixels begin to age at different rates. This can create a faint “ghost” image that remains on screen while viewing. With this issue in mind, OLED manufacturers have created TV features to prevent burn-in.

The LG CX has three features to address burn-in and image retention. You can use “clear panel noise” to reset the TV’s pixels to their original color; you can activate screen shift, which adjusts the pixels at regular intervals to prevent a static image from getting stuck; or you can use logo luminance adjustment, which will reduce the brightness of static logos, like sports scoreboards or news tickers.

Websites like Rtings have conducted long-term tests with OLED burn-in if you’re curious, and generally, while burn-in can occur, these tests show that most buyers won’t have to worry about it.

I haven’t noticed any image retention or burn-in issues after more than two months with the LG CX, whether using it as a TV or a PC monitor. I primarily used the LG CX for gaming on PC, but spending two full days using it as my primary work monitor didn’t produce any adverse effects either.

Should you buy it?

If you’re in the market for a new TV and can afford to spend more than $1,000, the LG CX OLED is a great choice. Beyond the best-in-class display, the OLED’s speedy processing and features should satisfy all of your entertainment demands for years to come.

The 48-inch model may be a bit small for some living rooms, so be sure to measure your usual viewing distance to select the optimal size; LG also offers 55-, 65-, and 77-inch models. In fact, the 55-inch model is cheaper than the 48-inch version right now, so you actually pay a premium for the added convenience of a more compact size.

LG’s CX is also ideal for gamers trying to make the most of next-gen hardware like the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Nvidia 3000 series graphics cards. It’s more expensive than most premium gaming monitors, but the OLED’s flawless support of HDR color and the increased refresh rates of HDMI 2.1 help the LG CX outperform just about every monitor on the market, and its smart TV features bring additional value.

What are your alternatives?

The 48-inch LG CX is one of the most affordable OLED TVs on the market, and also the smallest, so it’s got solid value for buyers who want a high-end TV under 50 inches. In fact, it’s the only OLED TV currently available at that screen size.

However, if you’re open to a larger 55-inch TV, you can consider the LG BX OLED, which has lower peak brightness than the CX and a smaller stand, but is around $200 cheaper.

Vizio’s 55-inch OLED is also a worthwhile contender for buyers on a budget. It’s $300 cheaper than the 48-inch LG CX, but our review found that it has some issues with glitches and HDMI 2.1 compatibility. Most of these issues have been corrected by a firmware update, however.

The Sony A8H OLED may have even better picture accuracy than the LG CX based on our reviewer’s experience, but fans of games and high quality HDR formats may be disappointed by its total lack of HDMI 2.1 ports.

It’s also worth noting that LG will be releasing its new C1 48-inch OLED later this year, but pricing hasn’t been announced. The 2021 model is the successor to the CX, and it offers improved processing. Outside of processing, however, the C1 TV’s specifications are nearly identical to the CX, so the CX remains our top recommendation. 

The bottom line

LG CX Assassin's Creed
LG CX features like variable refresh rate and HGiG will make games like “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla” look even better.

LG’s CX OLED is an amazing TV that reflects the best in OLED display technology, user interface, and forward-looking hardware. The precise picture quality of the OLED screen and experience-enhancing features, like variable refresh rate, make the LG CX one of the best TVs and gaming monitors you can buy. The 48-inch version is a perfect starting point for people interested in picking up their first OLED screen.

If you’re looking for a larger screen there are a few more options to consider, but you certainly can’t go wrong picking up the LG CX in any size.

Pros: Infinite contrast ratio, four HDMI 2.1 ports, ideal features for gaming, Google Assistant and Alexa support, magic remote, 120Hz native refresh rate

Cons: Peak brightness is lower than LED competitors, no HBO Max app

48-inch CX OLED 4K TV (button)

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CES 2021: The 15 best new products revealed at the year’s biggest tech conference

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Sony A90J OLED TV

With CES 2021‘s all-digital event having now come and gone, it’s time at last for our favorite part of the show: awards. We’ve seen dozens of products over the past four days from in front of our screens, and now we’ve collected what we think are the best of the show across 15 different product categories.

From the best smartphone of the show to the best health-focused device, this is the cream of the crop when it comes to CES announcements and reveals. We’ve seen a tech-filled face mask that solves a lot of the problems of normal masks, as well as rollable smartphone displays.

We also spotted major advancements in the smart home from a voice-activated fridge to a home-cleaning robot that’s less like a Roomba and more like a Rosie of “The Jetsons” fame. It’s innovations like these that are not only available today, but will be the foundation of huge advancements in daily convenience and general coolness.

Some of these products are available for either preorder or direct purchase, while others will be launching over the coming months. But, more importantly, they’ve all earned our seal of approval as products to keep an eye on this year as potential buys.

Best laptop: HP Elite Dragonfly Max

HP Elite Dragonfly Max

Many companies are tailoring their products for a work-from-home life at CES 2021, and that’s especially true with HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max

The business-focused laptop has features that are optimized for our new remote work routines, like four wide-range microphones that use artificial intelligence to optimize audio and a 5-megapixel camera. Considering most laptop webcams aren’t very good, and it’s unusual for a laptop to come with that many microphones, the HP Elite Dragonfly Max seems well-positioned to boost the quality of your daily Zoom video meetings. 

In yet another sign that the Max is built with remote work in mind, it also has EyeSafe technology to reduce eye strain after prolonged use — another common theme among this year’s laptops at CES. 

Otherwise, the HP Elite Dragonfly Max, which launches in January for an unannounced price, runs on 11th-generation Intel processors, features a 13.3-inch screen and comes with the option for 5G connectivity. — Lisa Eadicicco, Senior Tech Correspondent

Best phone: LG and TCL’s rollable smartphones

LG rollable phone ces 2021

Smartphone makers are still figuring out the next big thing for smartphone design, and CES 2021 shows that LG and TCL are advancing on rollable smartphone displays instead of foldable ones. 

The concept is the same as foldable displays — to make a smartphone screen bigger than normal when you want the extra screen real estate. The way in which these rollable smartphones deliver on that concept is completely different to foldable phones, and fairly simple to grasp. Inside the phones is a rolled up OLED screen that unfurls, allowing the phones to keep a similar size and shape of a traditional smartphone. The mechanisms to expand the phones as the screen unfurls from their enclosure, however, will undoubtedly be incredibly complex, and there will be many questions to answer regarding their reliability.

Little is known so far about LG and TCL’s smartphones with rollable screens, but rumors suggest that LG plans to launch its own model sometime this year. Regardless, these are certainly the most impressive and exciting phones of CES 2021. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

Best high-end TV: Samsung Micro LED 4K TV

Samsung Micro LED TV lifestyle 2

Samsung has been showing off Micro LEDs at CES for the last few years, and the advanced display technology never fails to impress. That said, the company has yet to actually release a consumer Micro LED 4K TV. For 2021, that’s finally going to change.

Micro LED 4K TVs in 88-, 99-, and 110-inch screen sizes are set to hit the market by the end of the year. Yes, this first wave will likely be prohibitively expensive for anyone but those with the deepest of pockets — my best guess is at least $30,000 for the smallest size — but the fact that the tech is starting to scale down to the consumer level is very exciting. Why? Because Micro LED TVs have the potential to combine everything we love about the pixel-level contrast of OLED TVs with the high brightness of QLED TVs

We got a first look at the 110-inch Samsung Micro LED last week, and if prices eventually come down to a reasonable range, we think this tech could be the future of TV. — Steven Cohen, Tech Editor

Best 4K TV: LG G1 and Sony A90J OLED TVs

Sony A90J OLED TV

OLED is our favorite display technology for picture quality because OLED panels offer the best contrast and viewing angles on the market right now. That said, they have one drawback compared to competing QLED TVs: they can’t get as bright. 

This makes OLEDs less suited for rooms that let in a lot of light, and it can make certain high dynamic range (HDR) videos look dimmer than they would on a QLED. This year, however, Sony and LG have made key improvements to their flagship OLEDs in order to deliver higher brightness than previous models. 

We don’t know exactly how much brighter they’ll be just yet, but the upgrade could help cement the upcoming Sony A90J and LG G1 as top 4K TV contenders. In addition to OLED picture performance, the LG G1 also features an incredibly thin “Gallery” design that enables it to be mounted flush to a wall. Meanwhile, the Sony A90J uses the company’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ tech to create sound from the screen itself. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but new TV models usually start hitting stores in the spring. — Steven Cohen, Tech Editor

Best gaming device: LG 42-inch OLED displays

LG_OLED gaming
LG’s CX (pictured above) is already available in a 48-inch screen size, and new 42-inch OLEDs could be coming soon.

While monitor and TV manufacturers are still working to produce models that make the most of the newly released PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, LG’s OLED TVs have become an increasingly popular choice for PC and console gamers who want the latest features, like adaptive refresh rate, high dynamic range, and low input latency.

LG Display’s newly announced 42-inch OLED TV panel is the company’s smallest OLED yet, and it will undoubtedly compete with premium gaming monitors when it’s released. LG’s CX OLED is already our top rated OLED TV with sizes starting at 48 inches, and a 42-inch display will be an ideal fit for a monitor replacement or bedroom gaming setup. The 42-inch panels are expected to go into production this year, but it’s not yet clear when a consumer model will be available to buy. —Kevin Webb, Tech Reporter

Best soundbar: TCL Alto R1 Wireless Soundbar

TCL Alto R1 soundbar

Soundbars are generally designed to offer a more convenient audio solution than separate speakers or surround sound setups. Though there are some impressive high-end models with advanced audio features like Dolby Atmos, many buyers turn to soundbars primarily for their simplicity. TCL’s new Alto R1 aims to make setup easier than ever before.

The soundbar is the first to use Roku’s new Wi-Fi audio system, enabling the device to wirelessly connect to a Roku TV. You just need to plug the power cable in and then turn the bar and TV on. From there, the soundbar is designed to seamlessly pair and communicate with a Roku TV without any additional wires. This also makes it easy to use one remote and on-screen interface for the display and soundbar. Roku says the tech should prevent any audio syncing issues as well. 

Though we’ll need to get hands-on with the Alto R1 to see how well the wireless tech really works, the feature looks very promising. The soundbar is set to launch later this year, but there’s no word yet on an exact release date or price. — Steven Cohen, Tech Editor

Best robot: Samsung Bot Handy

Bot Handy.
Bot Handy.

Robots are a common sight at CES events, and companies simply won’t stop showing off their robo-tech. This year at CES 2021, the best robot we came across is Samsung’s Bot Handy, It’s an upright robot with a rolling base, and it has a long mechanical arm equipped with a clamp to pick things up. 

The Bot Handy is designed to help with house chores, like cleaning up messy rooms, picking up and throwing away trash, and putting dirty laundry into washing machines. It’s even delicate enough to put dirty dishes into the dishwasher. But, why stop there? The Bot Handy will truly prove its worth when it pours you a glass of wine. Good robot. 

To perform these complex tasks, the Bot Handy relies on AI and delicate mechanics to apply an appropriate amount of force with its clamp.

The Bot Handy is still in development with no definitive price or sales date at the moment. However, Samsung will have its smart robo-vacuum, called the JetBot 90 AI+, available this year. It’s essentially a smarter and better vacuuming robot that doubles as a travelling security camera. Unfortunately, we don’t know how much the JetBot will cost yet, or exactly when it’ll be released. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

Best smartwatch: Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR

Skagen watch

Skagen already makes one of our favorite minimalist smartwatches, and now at CES 2021 the Fossil-owned brand is launching a new wearable that should blend in even more seamlessly as a timepiece. The $195 Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR, as its name suggests, is a hybrid smartwatch that combines the look of a classic watch with the connectivity and health-tracking features of a smartwatch. 

The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR’s signature feature is its always-on e-ink display, which should offer two-week-long battery life if it lives up to its claims. It also includes health features like a heart rate monitor and activity and sleep tracking, and can deliver notifications from your phone to your wrist. The only major feature it appears to be missing that’s usually standard on smartwatches is built-in GPS. Instead, the Skagen Jorn HR will connect to your phone’s GPS when needed.

All told, the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR looks like a promising new watch for those with a preference for sleek, minimalist looks and long battery life in a smartwatch. — Lisa Eadicicco, Senior Tech Correspondent

Best health device: Razer Project Hazel

razer project hazel

CES is always chock full of wearable technology and wellness gadgets, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put health in focus more than ever in 2021. One of the most promising devices at this year’s CES is Razer’s Project Hazel, which aims to fix many of the shortcomings and inconveniences that come with wearing masks today. 

Project Hazel is an N95 respirator prototype that comes with a special UV light charging case for disinfection, a built-in microphone and amplifier to make it easier to speak loudly while wearing the mask, and clear design so that others can actually see your mouth when worn. And of course, in typical Razer style, the mask also lights up automatically in the dark. — Lisa Eadicicco, Senior Tech Correspondent

Best smart home device: LG InstaView ThinQ Refrigerator with Voice Recognition

LG fridge CES

Voice recognition is now available on refrigerators, obviously, and as it should be. The LG InstaView ThinQ Refrigerator with Voice Recognition, which we’ll call “InstaView” from now on, can open its doors with a simple voice command — something no other refrigerator can do.

This kind of device is exactly what CES is best at showing. The InstaView sounds excessive and superfluous, because it is. But, so does all the futuristic stuff you’ve seen on modern TV shows and movies. And, if you’ve ever wanted to live in that kind of futuristic setting, you can’t ignore things like the InstaView. Indeed, the InstaView is another notch in our progress towards a cool future where our fixtures and appliances listen to our voice commands rather than using our hands like cavepeople. 

LG has a more practical implication for the InstaView. The company says the voice-activated refrigerator that can open its doors on your voice command will help with the “struggle to open the refrigerator door when their hands are full of groceries.” Scoff all you like, but it’s a legitimate “thing” to improve — placing a large object that needs two hands into your refrigerator is a task that needs planning. You need to open the refrigerator door first and hope it stays open while you fetch the large food item. People in the future don’t have that problem because they have the InstaView. 

And, of course, you can ask InstaView about what’s coming up in your calendar and check the status of the ice and water dispensers. Although, it’s unclear if InstaView will talk back or display the information on a screen. 

But, let’s face it: It’s all about the futuristic feels, really.  

So far, InstaView doesn’t use a popular smart assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant. Instead, it uses LG’s own ThinQ AI, which should be perfectly capable of understanding when you want it to open its doors. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

Best home appliance: Kohler Stillness Bath

Smart tub

Baths are kind of gross, but Kohler’s Stillness tub is more about recreating an at-home spa experience than de-griming you. It starts at $6,000 and comes to $16,000 with all the trimmings, so it’s ridiculous and over the top. It takes inspiration from Japanese soaking baths, with a special hinoki wood moat that catches water as it gently spills over its sides. Soft LED lighting illuminates it from below, and the experience tower releases a fine fog and aromas from essential oils. The bath is also voice-activated, so you can ask it to fill to your desired depth and temperature.

Put it all together, and it’s almost enough to make you forget that you just sunk $16k into a bathtub, almost. — Jenny McGrath, Buying Guides Editor

Best small home appliance: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Sur Mesure Powered by Perso

Yves Saint Laurent makeup CES

Last year, L’Oreal introduced its personal beauty device, the Perso. It was still unclear when it would come to market and how much it would cost. Now we know. You can preorder the Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Sur Mesure for $299.99 right now. 

The device is focused on creating unique lipstick shades. It draws the liquid from three tubes of YSL Velvet Cream Matte Finish. The result will depend on the amount it’s pulled from each. The app can help you try to recreate a color you see on Instagram, too. If it’s too red or orange, you can try again without wasting a ton of product. L’Oreal also hopes it will cut down on packing, since you can get so many colors from just a few cartridges. 

It’s a pricey gadget, but I’m looking forward to what it means for the other version of the Perso I saw at CES last year. The skincare model mixes lotions and serums for you, factoring in things like the weather — maybe you need more sunscreen on a sunny day — and your preferences. Its design helps keep delicate ingredients out of contact with air. Of course, it does mean you’ll have to stick to products from the L’Oreal family of brands, which might be a deal-breaker for a lot of people who like to buy from an array of companies. 

L’Oreal said the skincare Perso should hit the market later this year, though pricing is still unavailable. — Jenny McGrath, Buying Guides Editor

Best fitness tech: Ultrahuman

ultrahuman app

Digital fitness is in the midst of a major moment, as at-home workouts are now the norm instead of some time-constrained exception. Because of this, fitness classes are everywhere; they’re live-streamed on Instagram, produced as a series for YouTube, and downloadable on your smartphone. It should come as no surprise then that CES 2021 (a show that also embraced a fully digital presentation) was chock-full of this new wave of keeping fit. 

At the forefront of the fitness innovation displayed at the show was Ultrahuman, a self-described “masterclass-like” workout app that aims to connect users with world-class athletes, neuroscientists, psychologists, and artists all in the name of improving one’s heath, wellness, and fitness.

Though the analogy to Masterclass seems gimmicky, Ultrahuman does at least have the credentials to back it up. Included in its roster of experts are Crossfit champion Kara Saunders, bodybuilder and athlete Kris Gethin, and fitness influencers, Amanda Cerny and Johannes Bartl. And that just skims the surface of what the brand has planned — its site says it intends to have “100+ of the world’s best athletes.”

But what also makes Ultrahuman intriguing is its concept. The brand aims to teach subscribers everything from mindfulness and meditation to the impact of sleep and the science of working out. There’s even content around how to boost productivity and how to improve focus. The classes are intensive, not unlike what Masterclass offers, and come loaded with expert- and doctor-approved lessons (most of which are developed by the expert or doctor actually leading the class). These include 14-week marathon training classes, a group of sessions on developing a balanced mind, and strength training basics, among many others. The range of classes offered seem fit for people of literally any fitness level or skill, too. 

The platform was designed specifically for the Apple Watch and any iOS-compatible device, but also works on Android devices via an Android smartphone or through a Google Chromecast. Ultrahuman also offers a tiered subscription plan, so users can choose to pay either $14 per month, $41 every six months, or $75 a year for full access to the platform. 

The app is available now on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. — Rick Stella, Health & Fitness Editor

Best auto tech: Mercedes-Benz MBUX Hyperscreen

Mercedes Benz Hyperscreen CES

There were plenty of futuristic car tech unveiled, but most were more fantasy than reality. One that is actually coming is Mercedes-Benz’s next-gen vehicle infotainment system, the MBUX Hyperscreen.

The highlight is a high-resolution 56-inch OLED display that spans across the entire dashboard. Technically divided into three components — digital gauge for the driver, a central 17.7-inch touchscreen, and a screen for the front passenger — the Hyperscreen incorporates artificial intelligence to help the driver adjust controls without taking hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. While such telematics aren’t entirely revolutionary, the Hyperscreen digitizes nearly every control — something we will start to see more and more in new cars.

The MBUX Hyperscreen will debut in the all-electric Mercedes EQS this spring. — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

Best photography device: Sony FE 35mm F1.4 G Master Lens

Sony camera CES

Finding a new camera at CES to write about is as elusive as spotting a rare bird, as few companies use the tech conference to launch new products — compared to 15 years ago when every camera maker would unveil multiple models. But, that doesn’t mean CES is entirely void of camera and photo-related products.

While not an official CES release, Sony this week announced the FE 35mm F1.4 G Master lens for its highly lauded full-frame mirrorless cameras. A compact lens designed for shooting photos and videos, it weighs 18.5 ounces yet has the complex optical construction and fast f/1.4 aperture to capture high-quality images with sharpness and beautiful bokeh. Although we haven’t used this particular lens, we have used other fast G Master lenses. Some of the best images we’ve ever taken were with a G Master lens.

The lens goes on sale in February for $1,400. — Les Shu, Senior Guides Editor

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