- Flagship TV models can be expensive, but there are many affordable TV options out there with solid picture quality and great smart features for budget-friendly prices.
- With a fantastic balance between price, performance, and size, the TCL 55-inch 5 Series 4K Roku TV is our top pick for the best cheap TV you can buy.
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TV pricing has come down a lot over the last few years. Gone are the days when buying a 4K TV meant having to spend thousands of dollars.
These days, you can get a nice 4K TV with basic HDR support for only a few hundred bucks. You can even find big-screen options in sizes as large as 65 inches without totally breaking the bank.
Of course, there are always some performance trade-offs to keep in mind when buying a TV on a budget. A true home theater movie-watching experience still comes at a premium, but choosing an entry-level TV doesn't mean you have to settle for poor picture quality, a small screen, or a dumb display without the latest streaming apps.
I've been covering the consumer electronics industry for eight years, and during that time I've demoed and reviewed numerous TV models at various price points. After testing and researching all the latest TVs on the market, we've selected the best display models you can buy on a budget.
Here are the best cheap TVs you can buy:
- Best cheap 4K TV overall: TCL 55-inch 5 Series 4K Roku TV
- Best cheap 4K TV for HDR: Hisense H8G Android TV
- Best cheap 4K TV for wide viewing angles: LG 55-inch 4K UN7000 TV
- Best cheap 4K TV with a big screen: Vizio 65-inch V-Series TV
- Best cheap 1080p TV: TCL 40-inch 3 Series HDTV
Prices and links are current as of 1/6/2021. This article has been revised to note that Roku TVs now include HBO Max. New TV models will be announced the week of January 11 during CES 2021, so we're keeping an eye on upcoming models to test for consideration on this guide.
TCL's 55-inch 5 Series 4K Roku TV balances image performance, smart connectivity, screen size, and cost better than any other display in this price range.
Pros: 4K HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, quantum dots, full-array local dimming, Roku smart TV system, great price
Cons: Doesn't include a voice remote, doesn't have HDMI 2.1 ports, HDR brightness is limited
If you're looking for a 55-inch 4K TV at an affordable price, then the TCL 5 Series is your best option overall. With solid picture quality, a screen size suitable for most rooms, and integrated support for Roku's simple and convenient smart TV system, this display hits the right sweet spot between features and cost.
The 5 Series uses a 4K resolution panel with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support. That latter feature is missing from some other TVs in this class, and it can provide better contrast when watching Dolby Vision titles on 4K Blu-ray discs and streaming services like Disney Plus.
Another premium picture quality feature that the 5 Series offers but several other budget TVs lack, is expanded color support. This enables the display to produce more realistic colors when watching HDR videos. Unlike the 2019 5 Series, this newer model even uses quantum dots, which enable improved colors that are more in line with much more expensive TVs from brands like Samsung.
Also new is the addition of full-array local dimming. This feature allows the TV to brighten and darken in specific spots across the screen, resulting in better black levels and more precise HDR highlights. There are 48 zones on the 55-inch model, which is a good amount for a TV in this price range. With that said, brightness capabilities are a bit limited compared to more expensive sets, which lessens the impact of HDR.
Powered by Roku's easy-to-use interface, the 5 Series offers access to a fantastic assortment of streaming apps, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, and HBO Max. The Roku platform is fairly snappy and responsive, so you shouldn't run into any annoying lag when navigating menus. The 5 Series doesn't include a voice remote like some more expensive TVs, but the standard Roku remote gets the job done for basic controls.
Finally, when it comes to connectivity, you'll get four HDMI 2.0 inputs, along with a USB port, optical audio out, analog audio out, composite in, an Ethernet port, and Wi-Fi support — making it easy to connect media players, soundbars, and other devices.
Simply put, the 5 Series has virtually everything that a modern 55-inch 4K TV in this price range should have — and then some.The best cheap 4K TV for HDR
The Hisense H8G Android TV uses local dimming and quantum dots to provide some of the best HDR performance you can get on a budget 50-inch TV.
Pros: 4K with HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision, local dimming for superior contrast, quantum dots, Google Assistant voice remote, solid brightness capabilities for the price
Cons: No HDMI 2.1 ports, 50-inch model has less dimming zones than larger versions
Buying a smaller TV on a budget typically means you have to miss out on some advanced picture quality features found on larger, more expensive sets. The Hisense H8G, however, totally dispels that notion. The impressive midrange display packs local dimming and quantum dots into a 50-inch panel with Google Assistant — all while maintaining a very affordable price.
One of the most important image features you can look for in a new 4K TV is high dynamic range (HDR) support. HDR enables enhanced contrast and wider colors for a more realistic picture. The Hisense H8G offers some of the most impressive and comprehensive HDR capabilities in this price range.
Like the TCL 5 Series, the H8G features quantum dots and support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision. On top of that, the Hisense provides a brighter image for more intense highlights, along with support for HDR10+, which is an advanced format used by Amazon Prime Video and select 4K Blu-rays.
Google's Android TV system is integrated for extensive app support and smart capabilities, including access to popular services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Peacock, and even HBO Max. Google Assistant is also supported via the included remote for reliable voice control.
The 50-inch H8G includes 32 zones of local dimming. This is solid for such a small size, though the 55-inch model steps things up to 72 zones, and the 65-inch offers 90 zones. I reviewed the 65-inch model and came away very impressed by its overall performance and value. That size is more expensive, but the cheaper 50-inch model remains a fantastic budget option for shoppers who prioritize HDR performance.
The LG 55-inch 4K UN7000 TV boasts a 4K resolution IPS screen for wide viewing angles — plus, it has LG's webOS smart TV platform and AirPlay 2 support.
Pros: IPS panel for wide viewing angles, 4K resolution with HDR10, AirPlay 2 support, works with separate Alexa and Google Assistant devices
Cons: Black levels and contrast aren't great, doesn't include a voice remote
Though many of the 4K TVs recommended on this guide offer impressive picture performance, they all suffer from one pesky drawback: lackluster viewing angles.
This means that colors and contrast tend to distort and wash out when you sit off to the side of the display. Though that's not a problem for people who can plop down on a couch right in front of their TV, it can be an issue for buyers who have to position their seats in other parts of their room.
If viewing angles are one of your main priorities in a budget 4K TV, then the 55-inch UN7000 from LG is one of your best options. Unlike many TVs from other manufacturers, this LG model uses an IPS LCD panel rather than a VA LCD panel. IPS panels offer improved off-axis picture. In other words, you can sit off to the side of the display without the TV's colors and contrast dramatically degrading. This makes the UN7000 an ideal fit for people with off-center TV placement, or buyers who plan to have a lot of viewing parties with seats all around the room.
On the downside, TVs with IPS panels like this one have worse black levels and contrast than other displays. This particular model also lacks local dimming or wide color support, and it only offers basic HDR10 capabilities. So, while great for wide viewing angles, this TV doesn't have very good home theater performance in a dark room.
Like most LG TVs, this one supports apps like Netflix, Hulu, and many other streaming services via the webOS platform. HBO Max, however, is missing from LG TVs. Unfortunately, the UN7000 also lacks a voice remote, but you can use the TV with a separate Alexa or Google Assistant device. AirPlay 2 and HomeKit are also supported for easy pairing with Apple products.
The UN7000 is also available in a few larger and smaller screen sizes, but we think this 55-inch model offers the best value. Also, keep in mind that only the 65-, 55-, 49-, and 43-inch models use IPS screens.The best cheap 4K TV with a big screen
The Vizio 65-inch V-Series TV is an affordable big-screen display with 4K resolution, Dolby Vision support, and HDMI 2.1 ports.
Pros: Big display for an affordable price, 4K resolution, HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision support, HDMI 2.1 ports
Cons: Image quality is only average, lacks local dimming or quantum dots, no voice remote
Flagship 65-inch 4K TVs can cost a couple thousand dollars, but that doesn't mean that budget buyers always have to settle for smaller screen sizes. In fact, there are several worthwhile big-screen models out there that don't cost an arm and a leg.
Vizio's new V-Series 65-inch TV is easily one of the best. It's big, it's 4K, it supports HDR, and it even includes HDMI 2.1 ports. That latter feature is especially noteworthy since it's missing from every other display on this guide.
With that said, even though it includes HDMI 2.1, the V-Series doesn't support next-gen gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) or 120fps gaming. Of course, those features really shouldn't be expected at such a low price point.
When it comes to image quality, the V-Series has solid specifications, but there are some understandable limitations given the TV's budget-friendly cost. You get a 4K resolution LCD panel with HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision support. While that sounds great on paper, the display doesn't feature quantum dots or local dimming, so overall contrast, brightness, and color simply aren't on par with more expensive models.
Vizio's SmartCast platform has seen some improvements recently but, while decent, it's not quite as reliable or comprehensive as the Roku, Android TV, or webOS systems. Still, buyers can access a select assortment of popular apps from the TV's on-screen menu, along with support for casting even more from a mobile device via Chromecast or AirPlay. The TV is compatible with separate Alexa and Google Assistant devices, but the display doesn't include a voice remote.
Budget buyers who favor home theater performance over size will be better off going with the smaller Hisense 50-inch H8G or the TCL 55-inch 5 Series, but if you want a large 65-inch 4K TV in this price range, the V-Series offers a lot of value for the money.The best cheap 1080p TV
It doesn't have 4K resolution or other advanced features, but the TCL 40-inch 3 Series HDTV is one of the most affordable 40-inch Roku TVs you can buy.
Pros: Very affordable, Roku TV platform with easy access to streaming apps
Cons: Not 4K, no HDR or wide color support, no voice remote, smaller screen size
The TCL 3-Series is about as basic as a smart TV can get. It's the smallest display on this list, it features a 1080p resolution screen instead of 4K, and it lacks HDR support — but when it comes to overall value for the money, the TV is still a worthy option for budget buyers.
This 40-inch smart TV uses a modest Full HD panel. While you won't be able to watch 4K HDR Blu-rays or 4K streams from Netflix, the reality is, most cable/satellite/live TV streaming content is still presented in SDR high definition. With that in mind, this 1080p screen is fine for casual viewing needs.
Overall image performance isn't as good as the more expensive TVs on this list, but at a screen size of 40 inches, it would actually be hard to see any benefits from an upgrade to 4K. The lack of local dimming is a bit more of an issue, but contrast and black levels are decent considering the low price.
Three HDMI inputs are included, along with a USB port, optical audio out, composite video, and Wi-Fi connectivity. While the included remote doesn't feature voice control, you can pair the TV with a separate Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device.
This definitely isn't a TV geared toward buyers looking for advanced picture quality. Instead, the TCL 3 Series is meant to appeal to people who just want a reliable 40-inch smart TV with easy access to their favorite apps. Thanks to the simple yet effective Roku platform, the 3-Series does just that.Check out our other TV buying guides