November 29, 2020
Best TV and streamer gifts for the holidays

Best TV and streamer gifts for the holidays

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

On the hunt for gift ideas? A new TV fits into that special category of tech gifts certain to blow the recipient’s stockings off. A new media streamer, however, is a lot less expensive and can also bring a world of welcome entertainment. Both are excellent gift choices in 2020, when we’re spending more time at home than ever and can certainly use the distraction a streaming service or two can provide this holiday season.

At CNET, we focus our TV and streamer reviews on products that deliver the best value for your money — after all, not even a TV lover wants to spend a fortune just to stream Stranger Things. That’s the goal of this list too, which we hope will be a big help even if you’re facing financial hardship as you head into the holiday shopping season. For as little as $30 you can give whatever TV fan is on your list a thoughtful gift to remember, and something to watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime for years to come. You will be lauded as the giver of the best TV gifts!

Sarah Tew/CNET

There’s no better streamer gadget for covering the basics. Roku Express delivers all of the goodness of Roku’s platform, including thousands of apps, best-in-class search and a dead-simple interface that just about anybody can understand. No fancy features at this price but compared to other $30 options — the more complex Amazon Fire TV Lite and the phone-centric Google Chromecast — it’s our favorite and would be welcome on any holiday gift list.

Read our Roku Express (2019) review.

The perfect foil to the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, the Apple TV bumps up your cost by more than $100, but it’s the better choice for people who can appreciate its advantages. Those include support for HBO Max, compatibility with Dolby Vision HDR, flexible upconversion, superior voice command features, a touch remote control and a smoother, slicker user interface. The Apple TV 4K is so good for media streaming, it might make a great streaming device for someone even if they’re not an “Apple person.”

Read our Apple TV 4K review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Now we’re getting into super-generous gift-giving territory, but if you can swing it, your recipient will be a happy camper. The 6-Series is a seriously excellent TV thanks to mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming that helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. It’s also a solid choice for gamers with a new THX mode that combines low input lag and high contrast. As if that’s not enough, there’s that excellent Roku TV operating system again.

Sizes: 55-, 65-, 75-inch. (The price shown below is for the 65-inch size.)

Read our TCL 6-Series (2020 Roku TV) review.

David Katzmaier/CNET

What’s that you say? You just want to give somebody the best TV, money no object? Here you go. In my side-by-side tests, the 2020 LG CX is the best TV I’ve ever reviewed, barely beating the 2019 B9. New for this year it’s available in a 48-inch size too, perfect for fitting under the tree, and its high-end gaming features go perfectly with an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 or, let’s face it, both.

Sizes: 48-, 55-, 65-, 77-inch. (The price shown below is for the 65-inch size.)

Read our LG OLEDCX series review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The TCL 4-Series can’t beat either of the two TVs above on image quality — its 4K resolution and HDR compatibility don’t do anything to help the picture — but it’s perfectly fine for most viewers, especially at this price. Despite its extreme affordability the 4-Series still includes the equivalent of a Roku Streaming Stick Plus built-in, with a single, super-simple remote to control streaming and the TV itself.

Sizes: 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-inch. (The price shown below is for the 43-inch size.)

Read our TCL S425 series (Roku TV) review.

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