Best 4k TVs under $500-$1000-$800 2018-2019:Top 55/65 inch

Best 4k TV under $500-$1000-$800 2018-2019:Top 55/65 inch

Best 4k TV under $500-$1000-$800 2018-2019-Buying a TV is quite a hard purchase so we’ll reveal all in our buying guide below, but the best TV at the moment has to be the LG OLED E6 Series.The LG OLED E6 is available in both 55-inch and 65-inch variants. The display is absolutely superb – there’s not a hint of light bleed, but deep black colours sit right alongside even the brightest HDR whites and HDR footage looks absolutely amazing while standard dynamic range footage pops more than on any other TV.Best 4k TV under $1000 2018-2019

How to choose the best 4k TV for you?

Best 4k TVs under $500-$1000-$800 2018-2019-TVs are very diverse these days and there’s a lot of options. A basic TV can certainly be bought for a few hundred quid, but don’t expect the sort of performance you really want in your living room. These TVs are aimed at people who don’t care. You’re reading this, so you plainly do care.

You’ve got to take into consideration different panel technologies (direct LED, edge LED, and OLED); different resolutions (HD and UHD); whether or not you want high dynamic range and if you do what level of HDR performance you want; whether you want a curved screen or a flat screen.

4K TVs are now the norm – trust us, you don’t want a TV – especially a sizeable one – that can only do Full HD.

Best 4k TVs under $1000-$800 2018-2019-It’s important to look for something that suits your needs. You need to work out for yourself which features matter to you and which don’t, based on your viewing habits and personal tastes.

Think in particular about what screen size you can manage, whether your room is usually bright or dark, and what sort of sources you’re likely to be using.

Your idea screen size is dictated by the dimensions of the room where the TV is going and the amount of cash you’re prepared to spend. Cost is not related to size – you can spend £300 on a 50-inch TV or £4000 on a 55-inch TV.

As a general rule of thumb, work out how far from the set you’ll be sitting (in inches), multiply that distance by 0.535 and then round up the result to the nearest screen size.

Bear in mind that a decent smaller telly is often a more sensible investment than a larger, less accomplished one.

There’s more on choosing the best TV for you at the very bottom of this article.

So let’s run through the list of the best TVs 2017, and while we’re doing it there will be some explanation about technologies included and why they matter.

Best 4k TV Under $500-$1000-$800 2018-2019

  1. LG C7 OLED

  2. Sony XBR-X900E

  3. TCL P-Series (55P607)

  4. Sony A1E OLED

  5. Samsung Q9F QLED

  6. Sony XBR-65Z9D

  7. LG B7 OLED

  8. Sony XBR-X850E

  9. LG E7 OLED

  10. Samsung Q7F QLED

Additional resources:

  • Need to give your TV’s sound a boost? Check out our guide to the best soundbars available.
  • Ultra HD Blu-rays are a fantastic way of watching 4K content without worrying about buffering. Check out our guide to the best Ultra HD Blu-ray players for some suggestions.

1. The best 4K TV of 2018: LG OLED C7

Stunning pictures at an affordable price puts OLED back on top

Stunning contrast-rich pictures
Gorgeous ultra-thin design
Excellent operating system
Lacks brightness vs LCD

At the top of our list for 2017 is the LG OLED C7 – available in both 55 and 65-inch iterations. It’s here because it delivers better brightness and light control than last year’s C6 (something we weren’t sure was even possible), making it a high dynamic range performer that doesn’t sacrifice OLED’s class-leading standard dynamic range capabilities. It delivers its new picture thrills at a price that finally makes OLED a financially viable alternative to top-end LCD sets  making it, beyond a doubt, one of 2017’s most irresistible TVs.

There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony’s A1E OLED or LG’s B7 and W7) but we think the OLED C7 offers the best price-to-performance ratio of any TV under the sun in the year 2017.

Read the full review: LG OLED C7 (OLED55C7)

Today’s best LG OLED55C7 and LG OLED65C7 deals

LG OLED55C7
$2196.99
LG OLED65C7
$2699.99

Best 4K TV

2. The best mid-range 4K TV: Sony Bravia X900E series

An fantastically sleek and capable set

49-inch: Sony XBR-49X900E | 55-inch: Sony XBR-55X900E | 65-inch: Sony XBR-65X900E | 75-inch: Sony Bravia XBR-75X900E

Excellent motion handling
Great contrast
HDR isn’t the brightest
Remote doesn’t feel as premium

Although LCDs haven’t quite achieved the same black levels as their OLED rivals, the Sony X900E’s HDR performance comes tantalizingly close.

This is achieved through the set’s direct LED backlight, which allows it to achieve a brightness uniformity that edge-lit displays often fall short of.

Add in fantastic detail and motion handling, and you’ve got yourself a set that strikes an excellent balance between price and performance for mid-range 4K TVs, and is well worth a look … even if its Android TV interface can feel a little cluttered, and its remote a little cheap.

Read the full review: Sony BRAVIA XBR-X900E

Today’s cheapest deals for each screen size:

Sony XBR-49X900E
$1098
Sony XBR-55X900E
$1298
Sony XBR-65X900E
$1798
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3. The best budget 4K TV: TCL P-Series (55P607)

TCL’s 55P607 is simply the best budget TV of 2018

Bright, colorful HDR
Roku TV is amazing
Upscaling isn’t world-class
Poor black level performance

TV manufacturers have long sought the formula to a great performing TV at a bargain price and, speaking for the last seven years since LED LCD hit the mainstream, have never quite achieved that perfect balance. Until now.

For us, TCL’s P-Series 55P607 does just that – it packs powerful technology under the hood, including support for WCG and Dolby Vision, in an affordable package that will only get cheaper once the seasonal sales start in November.

If you like your TVs bright, colorful and well-stocked with the latest display technologies, the TCL P-Series 55P607 should be at the top of your list.

Read the full review: TCL P-Series (55P607)

4. The best premium 4K TV: Sony BRAVIA A1E OLED

Sony’s brand-new flagship TV for 2018 is returning to OLED

65-inch: Sony A1E OLED

Gorgeous picture quality
Innovative and excellent sound
It’s not very bright
Android TV is clunky

If you have the money to bankroll them, the 55A1 – and the A1 OLED series overall – are crowd pleasers in just about every way. Their ‘picture only’ design has been beautifully realized, managing to be simultaneously subtle and dramatic. Their vibrating screen delivers a far more powerful and effective sound performance than I’d thought possible, too.

The real stars of the show here, though, are the A1’s exquisitely detailed, contrast-rich and colorful pictures. These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things.

Read the full review: Sony A1E OLED

Today’s best Sony BRAVIA OLED A1E deals

Best 4K Tvs

5. For bright HDR pictures: Samsung Q9F QLED Series

Phenominally bright panels do wonders for HDR content

65-inch: Samsung QE65Q9FAM

Fantastic color levels
Very bright screen
HDR color banding can occur
Backlight clouding can be an issue

Samsung was the first brand to introduce an HDR-compatible screen way back in 2015, but it’s not been resting on its haunches ever since.

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It’s latest flagship, the Q9F, is a perfect example of this. It ups the brightness to 1500 nits, 50% higher than the level required for UHD Premium certification, making it one of the brightest TV we’ve ever tested.

Outside of an impressive-sounding number this brightness has a real impact on the set’s image quality. Detail is preserved in even the brightest areas of the image, and colors are exceptionally vivid and bright. That means even non-HDR content looks fantastic thanks to Samsung’s SDR upscaling technology.

No TV is perfect, and the Q9F can occasionally suffer from some backlight clouding around bright objects and some settings cause color striping in HDR colors, but in all other respects this is the best television around at the moment.

Read the full review: Samsung Q9F QLED TV

6. For the cinephile in your life: Sony XBR-65Z9D

Sony’s 2016 flagship TV set new standards

Brilliant SDR picture quality
Ground-breaking backlight
LOOK AT THAT PRICE TAG
Limited effective viewing angle

Look, there aren’t many people out there willing to drop 5,500 on Sony’s 2016 flagship TV. But those who are will be teated to some of best images this side of a high-tech movie theater. There’s just nothing better in the LED-LCD world.

In fact, it might just be the holy grail of television for 2016: a TV able to combine the extreme, high dynamic range-friendly brightness of LCD technology with a 600 LED backlight arrangement capable of getting LCD closer than ever before to the stunning light control you get with OLED technology.

If all that wasn’t enough, the 65Z9D also sports the ‘X1 Extreme’ video processing system and the latest version of Sony’s reliable Triluminos wide color technology for unlocking the extended color spectrums associated with HDR sources – a must-have if you want to get the most from your movie collection.

Read the full review: Sony XBR-65Z9D

Today’s best Sony XBR-65Z9D deals

Best 4K TV

7. The best entry-level OLED: LG OLEDB7 Series

LG’s entry level OLEDs continue to impress

55-inch: LG OLED55B7V | 65-inch: LG OLED65B7V

Excellent all-round image quality
Complete HDR support
Great smart platform
No Dolby Atmos passthrough
Mediocre onboard audio

LG’s ‘B’ line of OLEDs has consistently offered a great entry point into the display technology without compromising on what makes it so exciting.

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And the B7 series is no different.

Contained within the TVs is exactly the same panel that’s powering the more expensive C7, E7 and yes even the W7 LG televisions, which means an exceptional bump over last year’s OLED panels at a much lower price.

So where has LG saved the money? In a word, sound. The B7’s downward firing speakers are the worst all the company’s OLED TVs. Not only that, but the set is also currently unable to pass Dolby Atmos to an external sound system over HDMI (although a firmware update to fix this is on the way).

If however, you’re content to put up with a standard surround sound experience, then the B7 is a fantastic entryway into a piece of TV tech that still feels futuristic in 2017.

Read the full review: LG OLED B7

Today’s best LG OLED55B7V deals

£1879

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8. For great-value HDR: Sony BRAVIA XBR-X850E Series

4K HDR TV that doesn’t destroy your bank account

55-inch: Sony XBR-55X850E | 65-inch: Sony XBR-65X850E

Great value
Good HDR pictures
HDR isn’t very bright
Android TV is frustrating

By introducing its exceptional X1 video processor further down its TV range than ever before and being brave enough to dial down the brightness a bit to deliver a more even, immersive backlight experience, Sony’s struck mid-range gold with the X850E Series. While it’s not the brightest or most colorful TV on the list, the simple fact is that few TVs we’ve seen in recent times have balanced price, contrast, brightness and color quite so all-round effectively as the 65X850E.

If you’re looking for a great TV that doesn’t destroy the bank account, Sony’s X850E series is the clear winner.

Read the full review: Sony XBR-65X850E

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Best 4K TV

9. For the best black levels: LG OLEDE7 series

OLED isn’t done getting better just yet

55-inch: LG OLED55E7 | 65-inch: LG OLED65E7

Gorgeous picture quality
Thinness of OLED
Minor picture noise problems
LCD TVs are still brighter overall

Thanks to the thinness the technology affords, OLED televisions often look striking, but LG’s OLEDE7’s ‘picture on glass’ design looks especially fantastic.

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However beyond its aesthetic appearance, the set delivers the same great picture quality we’ve come to expect from OLED, with blacks that are far darker than any you’ll see from an LCD TV.

It’s black levels were already impressive, but LG’s development this year has been to boost the maximum brightness level that the set is capable of, resulting in images that really pop.

LG’s flagship this year is the crazy-expensive OLED W7, but frankly the E7 offers a very similar level of quality at a much lower price. It still looks great, it’s still packing Dolby Atmos, and although it can’t boast the wallpaper thinness of the W7, it’s not far off.

For all those reasons and more, the E7 OLED is a worthwhile addition to any home theater.

Read the full review: LG OLED E7

Today’s cheapest deals for each screen size:

LG OLED55E7
$2496.99
LG OLED65E7
$2995

10. The best budget QLED: Samsung Q7F QLED TV

Samsung’s entry-level QLED TV really shines

65-inch: Samsung QE65Q7FAM

Gorgeous colors
Unprecedented brightness
Amazing upscaling
Poor black levels
Apps hang periodically

QLED is delivering on Samsung’s promise of better, brighter screens at a more affordable price, with the Samsung Q7F leading the charge as the manufacturer’s entry-level set.

Unfortunately, though, the Samsung Q7F QLED is an extraordinary TV hindered by ordinary issues. It’s one of the brightest, most colorful and we daresay one of the most enjoyable TVs to watch from Samsung in 2017. And while it would be nice to unequivocally recommend it, some damning black level performance, issues with off-axis viewing, audio and operating system performance keep on the most beautiful TVs from being one of this year’s best.

Read the full review: Samsung Q7F QLED TV

Best Overall: Samsung UN65MU9000 Flat 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD 9 Series SmartTV

$1998

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Samsung’s newest MU9000 earns our top spot for the best overall TV due to its stellar picture quality, impressive motion handling and sleek design. Its high SDR peak brightness overcomes any glare, but this 65-incher really shines in dark rooms, where it produces very deep blacks courtesy of its superior native contrast ratio of 6000:1 and excellent black uniformity. Its wide color gamut means it produces vibrant colors, especially saturated reds and blues. And with a motion rate of 240, the MU9000 brings sports and action scenes to life.

When it comes to design, this TV is top of its class, with thin, .39-inch borders and a textured back. Viewed from the side, maximum thickness doesn’t exceed 1.89 inches, which makes it easy to mount to a wall. The side of the TV has a USB and an ethernet port, but all four of the HDMI ports are located on its external OneConnect box. Some reviewers on Amazon complain about needing a secondary box, but others are pleased that it makes accessing ports so easy.

Best Budget: TCL 32S305 32-Inch Smart TV

$170

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We’ve been recommending TCL brand TV sets for a few years for one simple reason – the company makes a great budget smart TV. The TCL 32S305, the latest 32-inch smart TV from this up-and-coming Chinese manufacturer, is no exception and will satisfy most budget buyers.

The TCL 32S305 checks off most of the things people want from smart TVs and it comes in at under $200. It sports 720p HD image quality (which is perfectly fine on a 32-inch set) and a 60 Hz refresh rate. For ports, this model has three HDMI, one USB, a headphone hack, RF, composite and optical audio out, so you’ll be able to hook up most, if not all, of your devices.

Now let’s talk about what makes this set “smart.” It has Roku TV streaming software installed that lets you download and use apps to stream movies, TV shows and videos. Roku apps include Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Vudu, Amazon Video and YouTube, so there are plenty of choices.

Best 4K: Sony XBR55X900E 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

$1198

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Among the latest mind-blowing 4K models, our favorite TV is the Sony XBR55X900E, a 65-inch beast with picture that will knock you off your feet. This model has support for high dynamic range (HDR), which makes whites brighter and blacks darker, and even non-HDR content can be upscaled to look amazing because of the Sony’s new 4K HDR Processor X1. On top of unmatched picture quality, this is also a smart TV with an Android TV operating system that lets you stream Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube (all of which have 4K content) and it even lets you play Android games.

Because the XBR55X900E is a relatively new TV model, there aren’t many reviews available. That said, Sony has a great track record with 4K TVs and we have no problem highly recommending it. Plus, the few reviews that have come in so far have been stellar, with people complimenting the value of the set for what you get, as this easily would have cost thousands of dollars more than a few years ago.

Best Smart TV: TCL 55P607 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV

$679

The 55P607 looks strikingly similar to most other TCL TVs, with a wide, two-legged stand and a solid build quality. But where this TV steps up its game is in the picture quality and smart functionality. Its remarkable 6437:1 native contrast ratio means it can display very deep blacks, on par with best high-end LED TVs on the market. On top of that, it has local dimming that can increase the contrast ratio to 7269:1. Its three HDMI and one USB inputs are located on the side of the TV and it benefits from low input lag, which gamers will be especially keen on.

As far as its smart features go, the P607 runs the Roku TV smart platform, which most people will find friendly and intuitive. It comes preloaded with popular apps such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video and Hulu and offers access to more than 4,000 streaming channels. Viewers can also download the Roku app, which turns your smartphone or tablet into a remote, allowing you to do things such as launch apps, switch inputs and even play the TV’s audio through your device.

Best 40-Inch: Samsung Electronics UN40MU6300 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

Prime

If you’re on the hunt for a 40-inch TV, it’s likely a secondary one that will be tucked away in your bedroom. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on picture quality or features. Its 5768:1 native contrast ratio means it displays dark scenes in great detail, which is perfect if you’re watching a movie while snuggled up in bed, though it falls slightly short in brighter environments. It also gets a knock because of its poor viewing angles, but assuming you’re putting a 40-inch TV in a smaller room, that shouldn’t be an issue. It has a motion rate of 120, but you still won’t notice a lag while watching fast-moving action scenes.

The MU6300 runs Samsung’s 2017 Tizen smart platform, which is easy to navigate, thanks to a menu bar at the bottom of the screen. Its remote also features a microphone, so you can speak voice commands and find your favorite shows without even lifting a finger. While this TV won’t cut it as your media centerpiece, it works perfectly well as a secondary TV in your bedroom.

Best Small TV: Sceptre E246

$130

Prime

If you are still holding onto a DVD collection then you might as well get some use out of it with this small TV from Sceptre. Sceptre is offering a 24” 720p TV that can be wall mounted and comes with a built-in DVD player. The back-lit LED TV is made with an attractive brush metal finish and plays media with radiant colors and high resolution in a 16:9 ratio. In addition to the DVD player, you can access your media with via the HDMI and USB ports.

Best 32-Inch: Sony KDL32W600D

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The cost to buy large HDTVs continues to drop, but what if you want a 32-inch TV, which can be ideal for smaller rooms? Look no further than the Sony KDL32W600D, which offers everything you’d want in a modern HDTV.

This TV measures 32.5 x 6.1 x 20.6 inches and weighs 16.2 pounds. It has a direct-lit LED screen with great picture that will make sports and movies pop. On the back, you’ll find two HDMI ports and two USB ports. It also has smart functionality, so you can connect the TV to your home Wi-Fi network and stream content from YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and more.

Best Gaming: Samsung Electronics UN55MU7000 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

Prime

Samsung’s MU7000 model has an appealing design, great input options and splendid picture quality, which combined make it a good choice for gamers and movie enthusiasts alike.

The 6362:1 contrast ratio and remarkable black uniformity mean that the dark scenes show very well, even in a dark home theater or game room. It also boasts a wide color gamut, produces colors fairly accurately and is ready to show 4K in all its glory. This future-proofing means you won’t have to worry about upgrading it in the next couple years. Its three HMDI inputs and two USB inputs are tucked into the side of the TV, which makes it easy to connect peripherals. And like the MU6300, it runs Samsung’s intuitive Tizen smart platform, so you’ll have access to almost anything you want to watch.

Buying a new television is an overwhelming experience. Prices vary widely for TVs of the same size. TV manufacturers and salespeople use extra features, alien-sounding technologies and hyperbolic claims about picture quality to get you to spend more. And as usual the internet is a mess of conflicting facts, opinions and unexplained jargon.

This guide is intended as an oasis in the vast desert of information about TVs. I strive to fill it with just enough easy-to-understand information to help you select a new television. It won’t answer every question, and when you read it, it won’t tell you “the perfect TV for you” at the end. But I hope it can provide you with the basic tools you need to feel confident when you buy that new set.

Cut to the chase: Which TV should I buy? (Updated September 2017)

If you just want to skip all the details and buy a great television, I have three go-to choices among 2017 TVs I’ve reviewed so far this year:

For more choices, check out our constantly updated lists of the best TVs. (Those models listed above are US-only, but the advice that follows is universal. You can find the UK’s best TVs here and Australia’s best TVs here.)

At this point in the year I still have a few mid-range models to review, and if they’re good enough they could replace or augment the choices above. Stay tuned.

Looking for more detailed advice? Read on.

Three rules for buying a TV

1. Ignore (most of) the specifications

As a rule of thumb, the main purpose of a TV’s specification sheet is to bombard you with confusing terms and numbers in an attempt to get you to “step up” and buy the more expensive version. Just about the only worthwhile numbers are found under Inputs and Weight/Dimensions.

Rather than rely on the spec sheet to provide hints on which TV will perform better than another, our advice is to simply ignore it. The sheet can help when trying to differentiate a TV based on features, such as whether it has HDR, Smart TV capability or a fancy remote, but it’s useless at best and outright misleading at worst when used as a tool for divining picture quality.

Further reading: TV marketing terms and what they mean

marketing-mania.jpg
Just ignore all of these marketing words. Geoff Morrison/CNET

2. Bigger really is better

I recommend a size of at least 40 inches for a bedroom TV and at least 55 inches for a living room or main TV — and 65 inches or larger is best.

In fact, more than any other “feature” like 4K resolution, HDR, Smart TV or a fancy remote, stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money. One of the most common post-TV-purchase complaints I’ve heard is from people who didn’t go big enough.

If you want to fit an existing entertainment center, make sure you have at least an inch on the sides and top of the TV cavity to allow for ventilation. Or just junk that old furniture and get a bigger TV.

Further reading: How big a TV should I buy?

Trust us, bigger is better. CNET

3. 4K and HDR are worth getting

TVs with 4K resolution, also known as UHD (Ultra High Definition) TVs, have four times as many pixels as standard 1080p resolution TVs. That sounds like a big improvement, but in reality it’s very difficult to tell the difference in sharpness between a 4K TV and a good old-fashioned HDTV.

On the other hand, 4K TVs are easy for manufacturers to produce, so they’re coming down quickly in price. Vizio and TCL offer 65-inch 4K TVs for around $800 in the US, while LG and Samsung TVs sell for around $1,100. These days many TVs — especially the big ones — have 4K resolution, and 1080p and lower-resolution models are quickly becoming resigned to the bargain bin.

hdr-tv-03.jpg
Most 4K Blu-ray discs also have HDR. Sarah Tew/CNET

Most of the midpriced and higher-end 4K TVs this year have HDR compatibility as well. HDR delivers better contrast and color, so unlike 4K, chances are you’ll actually be able to see an improvement compared with normal HDTV. How big of an improvement (if any) depends on the TV, however, and just like with 4K, you’ll need to be watching actual HDR content.

4K TV shows and movies are rare today, and HDR is even less common. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon offer both, but only with a handful of titles. You can also invest in a 4K Blu-ray player (like the Samsung UBD-K8500 or Xbox One S), which also do HDR, and discs to play on it. Actual 4K and/or HDR TV channels are still nonexistent in the United States, however.

Bottom line? All of the best TVs are 4K TVs with HDR. If you’re shopping for a medium-sized or larger TV, you’ll probably end up with a 4K one anyway, and chances are it’ll do HDR too.

Further reading: Should I get a 4K TV now?

tv-testing02.jpg
Every CNET TV review is conducted as a side-by-side comparison with up to seven other TVs. Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture quality p’s and q’s

I consider the best picture quality for the money a sort of holy grail in the quest for a new TV. It’s still consistently the No. 1 thing TV shoppers cite as important to their buying decision.

If you don’t place as high a priority on PQ, you’ll get the best value by simply sorting a list of TVs by price along with the screen size you want, choosing the cheapest from a brand you trust and calling it a day. Or at least skip to the next section of this guide.

After more than 15 years reviewing HDTVs, I feel comfortable conveying some generalizations I’ve observed about picture quality:

  • OLED TVs have the best picture quality available, but they’re still quite expensive.
  • Nearly every TV uses LED LCD technology, which (despite the “LED” similarity) is very different from OLED.
  • LED LCD TVs with local dimming often outperform those without.
  • LED LCD TVs with full-array LED backlights often outperform ones with edge-lit LED backlights.
  • The ability to produce a deep shade of black — which translates into high contrast — is the most important ingredient in a good picture.
  • Color saturation, which is directly influenced by contrast/black level, is second-most important, followed by color accuracy.
  • In a bright room, matte screens are the best overall at reducing reflections. The best glossy screens preserve black levels well.
  • Less important factors include resolution, color gamut, video processing, maximum light output and display resolution (4K vs. 1080p).
  • Many people don’t realize they’re watching the Soap Opera Effect and might like their TV’s picture quality better if they turned it off.
  • Poor picture settings on a good TV will usually look worse than calibrated picture settings on a crappy TV.

In sum, picture quality is more complex than just counting pixels or reading a spec sheet, and your best bet is to read reviews, such as those at CNET. Hopefully you can also get the chance to see a good TV in person along with someone who can explain why it’s good.

Further reading: Best TVs for picture quality, regardless of price

Extras beyond picture quality

On one level, I don’t consider any of these extras necessary or even all that important. On the other hand, they’re often found on TVs that have better picture quality and cost more money.

Smart TV
Since you can connect an inexpensive HDMI stick or box to make any TV “Smart” — in the sense that you get access to Netflix, Amazon Instant, and the rest — the “apps” on TVs are often redundant. That’s why I want my dumb TV (or failing that, a Roku TV). Even so, your next TV will likely have Smart apps whether you use them or not.

Further reading: Smart TV or media streamer?

tcl-3750-series-roku-tv-05.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Curved TVs
In my review of the first mainstream curved LCD TV, Samsung’s UNHU9000, I called the curve “a flat-out gimmick.” And that was after living with one in my house for a month. The curve detracted more than it added to picture quality, and in the end seemed like more of an aesthetic choice than anything else. I don’t think it’s worth the extra money.

Further reading: Trouble with the curve: What you need to know about curved TVs

Sarah Tew/CNET

3D
Once a futuristic add-on filled with promise — remember “Avatar”? — 3D TV is now basically dead. This year the last two major brands to support 3D, Sony and LG, dropped support entirely, joining Samsung, Vizio and most other brands.

Further reading: Shambling corpse of 3D TV finally falls down dead

Remote controls
If you aren’t planning to use a universal model or the remote that came with your cable box, pay attention to the TV’s included clicker. It’s nice when it can command other gear directly (especially cool is Samsung’s new system) and I prefer TVs to include medium-size remotes with well-differentiated, backlit buttons. Fancy remotes with touchpads and gesture controls are nice, but a good universal model will almost always work better, consigning your included remote to ignominy in a drawer.

Further reading: Best universal remotes

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A good universal remote can easily retire the one included with your TV. Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity
This one has gotten easier as important inputs have dwindled to one kind: HDMI. Just count the number of devices you’ll want to connect, and make sure your TV has at least that many HDMI ports (or one or two extra if you’ll be expanding). USB inputs and/or an SD card slot are nice for displaying photos, too. You only need to worry about the analog ports if you have an older device to connect; the Nintendo Wii is the classic HDMI-free offender.

We consider HDMI 2.0 or 2.0a, HDCP 2.2 and HEVC decoding necessities on a 4K TV, but again nearly every new 4K TV has them. And you should just buy the cheap HDMI cables.

Further reading: Why all HDMI cables are the same; 4K HDMI cables (are nonsense); Do you need new HDMI cables for HDR?

Thin styling
Since TVs are basically furniture, manufacturers have concentrated on making their sets thinner and less intrusive — see LG’s “wallpaper OLED” for the most extreme example. Many TVs today have frames so thin they look like almost all picture, and when seen from the side or hung on a wall, the thin cabinets almost disappear. Unfortunately, thin LED-backlit LCDs can also introduce uniformity problems in my experience.

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How important is a thin TV for you? Sarah Tew/CNET

Frequently asked questions

What’s the best TV brand?
I don’t have a favorite brand, instead I try to judge the TVs I test on their individual merits, ignoring brand cachet or reputation. I don’t test TVs over the long term, but from what I know all of the major brands are more or less equally reliable. Some brands do perform more consistently better than others in my tests, or deliver remotes, smart TV systems or designs I prefer over competitors, but these can change on a fairly regular basis.

Another way to answer that question is to check out my current list of best TVs.

What’s the best TV for gaming? What about sports?
Trick question! I believe the best TVs for watching pretty much anything are the TVs with the best black level, color and other standard performance characteristics (not to mention the biggest screen). Motion resolution isn’t a major concern since most blurring on TV sporting events is inherent in the source, and input lag, which we measure for every TV review, can often be defeated by specialized gaming modes common on most TVs.

Input lag is measured for every TV we review. Sarah Tew/CNET

What about all those picture settings? Should I buy a calibration?
Properly adjusting the picture is very important to getting the most out of your TV. That said, simply selecting the “Movie”, “Cinema” or “Calibrated” preset will get you the most accurate picture on most TVs. If you want to go further, check out my picture settings database and FAQ along with the articles HDTV settings explained and what is HDTV calibration? for advice on whether it’s right for you. DIY-ers can check out try one of these Blu-ray setup discs for your HDTV or even try a calibration by eye.

What accessories should I buy?
Let me reiterate: All HDMI cables are the same. If you don’t have a universal remote already, you should get one. Our list of best home video and best home audio gear has other good suggestions.

How long will my new TV last?
The short answer is “it should last a very long time.” Here’s the longer version.

Ideally, your TV should last a long time and be useful for all kinds of entertainment. Sarah Tew/CNET

Can I use my TV as a computer monitor?
Yes you can, and it should work very well, especially if it has 4K resolution. Here are a few tips.

How do I set it up?
Geoff Morrison has you covered again.

How come you never mention rear-projection or plasma TV?
Because rear-projection TVs are no longer on sale as of 2012, and the last plasma TVs were manufactured in 2014. They’ll be missed.

OK, so what about front-projection?
Unlike dinosaur rear-projectors, I think front-projectors are really cool, and we’ve we’ve reviewed a few. And yes, your TV is too tiny.

Which HDR format is better, HDR10 or Dolby Vision?
Neither one has proven better in our tests yet, but so far TVs with Dolby Vision have look better when fed Dolby Vision content. Here’s a primer on the HDR format war.

Seriously, what about QLED, SUHD, Super UHD, Triluminos, Quantum Dots, UHD Alliance Premium Certified and so on?
Remember when I told you to ignore the spec sheet? Still curious? Alrighty then.

Where can I find the latest TV reviews?
Right here.

 

Best Budget: Samsung UN32J4000 32-Inch 720p LED TV

$264 $219 You save: $45

The fact that you can buy a decent 32-inch TV for less than $200 these days is pretty astounding. You’ll have to make some sacrifices, of course, but Samsung’s no-frills J4000 knows what’s important. Its Wide Color Enhancer provides an enriching color experience and its quick 60 Clear Motion Rate and processing speed keeps up with all the action you could want in HD720p. Perhaps the J4000’s best feature, though not typically a talked-about one, is its viewing angle; you can watch it from wide-off angles and still get a great picture.

The J4000 struggles when it comes to producing deep black levels and it’s not a smart TV like many cable-cutters look for nowadays. Still, the built-in audio system will offer an immersive surround sound experience that can be enhanced by its somewhat limited connectivity options: two HDMI ports and one USB.

Best Smart TV: Element 43-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED Fire TV

$450

Prime

A relatively new entry into the television market, Element’s 43-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED Fire TV edition is quickly becoming a crowd pleaser. With true-to-life 4K picture quality, there are over eight million pixels allowing for terrific colors, contrast and clarity. Fortunately, the outstanding picture quality only glosses over the surface of what this TV is capable of and that’s where Amazon’s Fire TV comes into play.

With the Fire TV experience built directly into the Element televisions, buyers will get over 15,000 channels right out of the box, Alexa Skills and over 140 channels and apps, including Prime Video, HBO Now, Netflix, Hulu and more. An included voice remote app with Alexa combines with an easy-to-use and navigation-friendly interface. The remote also allows for live TV playback, app launching, music, controlling smart home devices, input switching and more. Setup is just as simple as the remote and interface. Plug it in, connect to Wi-Fi and enjoy the shows even as automatic software updates download in the background for an uninterrupted experience.

Best Picture: Samsung UN40KU6300 40-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

Ringing in at just shy of $500, Samsung UN40KU6300 not only produces the best picture, but also looks pretty attractive itself. The 40-inch LED screen is framed by a half-inch of brushed gunmetal and it sits on a Y-shaped base (which unfortunately doesn’t pivot). Its 4K UHD resolution means it has 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, which is four times sharper than the 1,920 x 1,080 pixels found in a full HD TV. The PurColor feature enhances color to bring out life-like details while the UHD Dimming scans the image and adjusts brightness to deliver deeper darks and brighter whites. “It virtually eliminates the ‘halo’ effect and image distortion, so you’ll enjoy a crystal clear picture,” claims Samsung.

Several Amazon reviewers say the TV doesn’t stand up to its UHD Dimming claims, but it might be something you have to look carefully for to notice. Either way, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many other unhappy reviewers on Amazon, as the TV has earned an impressive average rating of 4.5 stars, thanks in large part to its picture quality.

Best Gaming: TCL 43S305 43-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV

$360 $300

Prime

You save: $60

Gaming equipment can be expensive, but the 43-inch TCL 49S305 is proof that it doesn’t have to be. At 1080p, the picture quality won’t knock your socks off compared to more expensive options. Still, it’s pretty decent for the price. The refresh rate is 60Hz, which is perfectly suitable for gaming given that console video games are capped at 60fps anyway. Colors appear slightly undersaturated, though you’ll get good shadow detail.

With the stand, the Smart LED TV measures 38.3 x 24.4 x 7.5 inches and weighs 16.8 pounds. On a previous version, its connectivity ports awkwardly faced down on the back of the TV, but this model fixes that, so its three HDMI ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, cable/antenna connector, USB port and optical audio output take less maneuvering to reach. To save precious time, you can personalize the home screen to gain easy access to your favorite channels, streaming services, and of course, gaming consoles.

Best Connectivity: Samsung 40-Inch UN40MU6300

$455 $398

Prime

You save: $57

Samsung televisions continue to be a model for the competition to follow and the 40-inch UN40MU6300 is no exception with its 4K Ultra HD LED display. With Samsung’s UHD color management in tow and four times the pixels of regular TVs with a 4K display, colors are vibrant and clear with the result being a lifelike experience that’s sure to please a buyer. Beyond its picture quality, the Samsung shines with its connectivity options, including the OneRemote, which is a single access point for all your connected devices that requires absolutely zero manual programming. A simplified remote with less than 10 buttons on the front whittles down the options to just the necessities.

Samsung’s Smart Hub brings all your favorite TV shows, sports, movies and music to your fingertips with the press of a button along with downloadable apps through Samsung’s App Store. Samsung smartphone owners will also find the televisions SmartView mirroring service quite handy because they can mirror the content from their smartphone directly onto the television.

Best Wireless Connectivity: TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV

This 50-inch LED TV comes with built-in 802.11ac dual-band WiFi that easily connects to your home network. Unfortunately, there’s no ethernet connection, but unless you struggle with getting a consistent connection in your home, that shouldn’t be a problem. For the budget price, you’ll be pleased with its 1080p resolution and 60GHz refresh rate (120Hz CMI) that produce accurate colors and solid contrast.

The TV itself has a pretty basic design, but its remote and on-screen menus stand out for their superb usability. Central to the remote is the familiar purple cursor control of other Roku devices. It has just 20 buttons (half that of a standard remote), including shortcut buttons to four popular apps: Netflix, Amazon Instant, and Vudu. Aside from those, very few other buttons are necessary for navigation. The on-screen menu has tiles that make it easy to jump to your favorite apps, but if you’re more of a cable fan, you can set it to always power on to a designated input like your cable box.

Best Small Screen: Sceptre E246BD-SMQK 24”

$130 $99

Prime

You save: $31

“Bigger is better” is the rule of thumb for TV screens, but sometimes you need to go small. For example, you might need a small TV in your RV to keep the kids occupied on long drives, or maybe you just moved into a small dorm room, or maybe you just want a small screen in the kitchen to have the game on when you’re cooking. For all of these scenarios, this 24” TV from Sceptre is a great buy.

It is just over $100 and has a sharp LED-backlit screen that displays in radiant 720p resolution at 16:9 ratio. Setup is simple and can be done anywhere with an HDMI input to stream high-definition sound and images. You can play media via a USB port or through the built-in DVD player. The brushed-metal finish makes this TV look nicer than the price tag suggests, but the speakers are on the quiet side.

Best Big Screen: HiSense 50H6C 50”

New 50-inch TVs are few and far between at the sub $500 price range, but this model from Hisense fits the bill and includes gorgeous 4K resolution to boot. The Hisense 50H6C can confidently fill up a living room or office with its 2160p resolution that displays picture in gorgeous 4K Ultra-HD display. It even upscales current HD to UHD for the best picture available in all media.

It is wall-mountable and looks great in all light conditions. The included speakers even offer rich sound, although it pairs great with a soundbar or home theater system to make your living room come alive. Hisense includes wireless connectivity for streaming via WiFi, as well as smart functionality. While the UI is not quite up to par with the big-name competitors, it feels great to access popular streaming content from the TV menu at such a small cost.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
best tv under 1000 2018
Author Rating
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