A Visible Upgrade

5 Best Budget 4K TVs — All Under $1,000, All New to 2018


May 18, 2018 Tech By Photo by Samsung

The first 4K TVs from LG and Sony went on sale in the U.S in late 2012. Both were 84 inches and exceeded $20,000. So while desirable — 4K TVs have four times as many pixels as standard HD TVs (3840 x 2160 versus 1920 x 1080) and can produce a much clearer and beautiful picture — people basically had to choose between buying a top-notch TV and sending their child to college. Thankfully, that’s changed. Every major TV manufacturer makes at least one 4K TV, and they all come in myriad display sizes and price points. And if you don’t want to break four digits on a 4K TV, you no longer have to.

Today, all the best 4K TV have OLED displays — although Samsung’s QLED (Quantum Dot) displays come a close second. That’s because OLED technology allows the displays to produce darker blacks and more vivid colors than any LED TV could hope to replicate. The problem is, even though prices are coming down, you’re not going to find a 4K OLED TV under $1,000. (Unless it’s a used or manufacturer refurbished OLED TV, though probably not even then.) Below, we’ve rounded up the best 4K TVs under $1,000. All were released in 2018, so they support the newest HDR technologies and have smart features. And all are LCD displays, which still deliver a night-and-day difference in picture quality to any HD display.

TCL 2018 6-Series

The Good: The 6-Series is the next generation of TCL’s 2017 P-Series, which was largely considered one of the best budget 4K TVs you could buy. The 6-Series is very similar to last year’s P-Series, in both design and supporting both popular HDR formats, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The main differences are that the 6-Series of TVs have a better, faster processor, allowing them to produce slightly vibrate and accurate colors; plus, the new TVs have a metal frame instead of plastic, so they look a little nicer.

Watch Out For: There aren’t many downsides to the 2018 6-Series. It’s on the pricer end of “budget 4K TVs,” and it’s a Roku TV, which some users might not be familiar with, but other than that it’s a terrific TV.

Key Specs

Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Backlight Type: LED
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Interphase: Roku

|

TCL 2018 5-Series

The Good: The 2018 5-Series is a slightly more affordable option than TCL’s 2018 6-Series and has largely similar specs. Both are 4K HDR Roku TVs. The 5-Series is also available in smaller, 43-inch and 49-inch TVs.

Watch Out For: The 5-Series has a plastic frame and stand, instead of the 6-Series’s metal, which feels more premium. The main difference between the displays is that 5-Series has fewer contrast zones, so it produces a slightly less vibrant and less accurate picture; it still looks good, but not 6-Series good.

Key Specs

Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Backlight Type: LED
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz Clear
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Interphase: Roku

Vizio 2018 P-Series

The Good: Vizio makes some of the nicest 4K TVs you can buy, let alone 4K TVs under $1,000, and the company’s 2018 P-Series is particularly special. It supports all of the latest HDR technologies, including HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG. It has 120 local dimming zones (which is a ton) for excellent color contrast, and it gets much brighter (100 nits) than other 4K TVs in this price range. And it’s also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can easily incorporate into your smart home and control it with your voice.

Watch Out For: The only downside, if it’s a downside, is that this is such a premium TV that only the 55-inch model comes in under $1,000.

Key Specs

Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Backlight Type: LED
Refresh Rate: 120Hz
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG
Interphase: Smartcast

Vizio 2018 M-Series

The Good: The 2018 M-Series is near identical to the 2018 P-Series in many key areas. It has the same processor, same built-in speakers supports all the same HDR technologies, and works with Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s also considerably more afforable.

Watch Out For: It can’t quite reach the same performance levels as the 2018 P-Series. It has 48 local dimming zones (instead of 120) and its peak brightness is up to 600 nits (instead of 1,000 nits). It also has a wider color gamut, so the picture looks more vibrant.

Key Specs

Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Display: LED
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG
Interphase: Smartcast

|

Samsung NU8000

The Good: Samsung’s NU8000 is a beautifully-designed 4K TV. Its Tizen operating system is intuitive and the TV can act as a dashboard for all your smart SmartThings-compatible smart home devices. It has two new game modes, Game Mode and Game Motion Plus, that produce a vivid and bright picture, with minimal motion blur, which gamers will love.

Watch Out For: No Dolby Vision. Flat viewing angle, so the picture quality doesn’t look as great when not viewed straight on. Samsung’s Bixby is built into the TV and it’s not as intelligent or helpful as other smart assistants; like many of Samsung’s smartphones, however, you don’t need to use Bixby at all.

Key Specs

Resolution: 3840 x2160
Display: LED
Refresh Rate: 120Hz
HDR: HDR10+
Interphase: Tizen

|

The Most Beautiful TVs You Can Buy Are OLEDs. Period.

OLED technology produces darker blacks and more lifelike colors than any LED LCD TV. And it’s finally accessible. Read the Story