A hand holding a remote in front of a smart TV system.

Smart TVs are now everywhere. According to research firm IHS Markit, nearly 70 percent of all TVs sold last year were smart. That number is probably even higher among big-screen sets.

So it’s highly likely that your next TV will come installed with one of these six major smart TV systems, which offer direct access to streaming video services such as Netflix and Hulu.

More on TVs

The best systems now make lots of content easier to find. For example, many now have universal search, which means you can search for shows and movies across multiple TV and streaming services. More now have voice capability, so you can perform searches and control TV power, adjust volume, and change channels using voice commands. And a growing number will also work with voice-enabled digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

But while there are a lot of similarities among these platforms, each of them is a bit different. Here are the pros and cons of each.

Amazon Fire TV Edition

Brands: Insignia, Toshiba

What we like: Lots of content, and quick access to Amazon’s own streaming services. It has Amazon’s built-in Alexa assistant with voice interaction for everything from searching for shows to watch to controlling room lighting to ordering pizza.

What we don’t: Most of the TVs using this system have been so-so performers in our TV ratings. And Fire TV tends to promotes Amazon Prime content over selections from other services, and shows ads for Amazon content and products.

Android TV

Brands: Hisense, Philips, Sony, and more

What we like: Lots of apps, access to Google Play store, universal search, and top-notch voice recognition. Built-in Google Assistant for voice control over TV content and compatible smart home products. Built-in Chromecast for beaming content from your phone to the TV. 

What we don’t: Overly complicated interface. Sponsored apps take up a lot of real estate and can’t be deleted.

Roku TV

Brands: Hisense, RCA, Sharp, TCL, and more

What we like: Easy-to-use interface, vast choice of apps, unbiased universal search across numerous apps. Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice-powered digital assistants. My Feed section lets you know when shows and movies become available for streaming.

What we don’t: Roku TVs often have fewer picture controls than other sets, and you may need to use the Roku TV phone app to adjust settings or use voice features.


Brand: Vizio

What we like: Built-in Google Chromecast, so casting content from your phone to the TV is easy. Offers free shows and movies via Vizio’s WatchFree app.

What we don’t: Offloads some smart TV features and streaming apps to your mobile device. Requires an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device in order to control the TV using voice commands.


Brand: Samsung

What we like: A two-tier menu of customizable tiles across the bottom of the screen; one row for apps, another showing content from whichever app is highlighted. Top-notch smart home integration, with support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung’s own Bixby voice assistant, which let you control compatible smart devices such as lights and thermostats.

What we don’t: Some apps are hard to find. To use Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, you need a separate device, such as an Amazon Echo.


Brand: LG

What we like: Best interface of the bunch, with customizable cards along the bottom of the screen for apps and settings; a second row with content appears when an app is highlighted. A home dashboard shows all connected smart devices. Support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and LG’s own ThinQ digital voice assistant lets you control compatible smart home devices.

What we don’t: Fewer apps than competing platforms; for example, HBO is missing. Also, voice-enabled Magic Remote is an extra-cost option with some sets.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the November 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.