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The Best 4K TVs Under $1,000 That You Can Buy Right Now

If you don’t want to break four digits on a 4K TV, you no longer have to.

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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 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.

All the best 4K TVs — we’re talking the crème de la crème — have OLED displays (although Samsung’s QLED 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 display. The problem is, even though prices of OLED TVs are coming down, they’re still expensive; you’re still not going to find a 4K OLED TV under $1,000.

Still, there are excellent 4K TVs within your price range. We’re talking under $1,000 for a 4K TV that’s at least 55-inches. TCL and Vizio are the two main brands to look for in. They make a variety of 4K TVs, pretty much all of them support the newest HDR technologies and have smart streaming features. And as far as picture quality, they’ll deliver a night-and-day difference to any HD display.

Key Specs to Know

Resolution: The best way to think of your TV is as a big grid, made up of columns and rows of pixels. The more pixels in that grid, the better the overall resolution of the TV. 4K TVs have a grid of 3840 x 2160 pixels, while an HD TV has a grid of 1920 x 1080 pixels. That means 4K TVs have four times as many pixels, and thus four times the detail as HD TVs.

Dimming Zones: The most affordable 4K TVs all have LED backlighting. Whereas OLED TVs can individually light up and dim each pixel, LED TVs can only light up and dim clusters of pixels. This is OLED TVs are able to achieve better contrast and more vivid colors. However, different LED 4K TVs have different amounts of “dimming zones.” The more dimming zones, the more clusters of pixels the TV is able to control. Thus, the more dimming zones, the better the 4K TV’s image quality.

Refresh Rate: This is the number of times per second, or frequency (measured in Hertz), that the screen refreshes itself. TVs with higher refresh rates are better at reducing motion blur and have a better overall image quality. If you’re looking for a 4K TV with all have refresh rates of 120Hz.

HDR: You want a 4K TV with HDR, or high dynamic range, and most the best ones on this list fit that bill. HDR is a technology that gets more out of the TV’s pixels. It helps create deeper blacks and more vivid colors, giving the TV better a contrast ratio and producing a more realistic picture. Ultimately HDR relies on HDR-compatible content, but more and more shows, movies and video games are taking advantage of it. The two most popular HDR formats are: Dolby Vision and HDR10.

Smart TV: Pretty much all new 4K TVs have some kind of smart TV platform built in. Whether that’s Roku, Smartcast or WebOS, it doesn’t matter so much because they all work with most of the popular smart apps, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Go. There’s also the option to get a dongle — Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick — and use whichever platform you like.

The Picks

TCL 6-Series (2020)

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Courtesy

Sizes: 55"— 75"
Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Dolby Atmos: Yes
Smart OS: Roku

The TCL 6-Series continues to be one of the best budget 4K TVs you can buy, and the 2020 models actually feature some meaningful upgrades over the 2019 models. They still use Quantum Dot (QLED) panels, but they've been upgraded with mini LED backlights to help them produce a brighter picture with even more contrast. They also have a new THX-certified gaming mode and are fully capable of handling the improved graphics and fast gameplay of the next-gen gaming consoles. Like before, the 6-Series supports both popular HDR formats, HDR10 and Dolby Vision, as well as Dolby Atmos surround sound. And they run on Roku's hugely popular smart operating system.

Buy Now: $650+

TCL 5-Series (2020)

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Sizes: 50" — 75"
Backlight Type: LED
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Dolby Atmos: No
Smart OS: Roku

The TCL 5-Series is an excellent line of 4K TVs, but they are essentially a budget friendly version of its 6-Series — and there some few definite tradeoffs. The new 5-Series utilize the Quantum Dot (QLED) panels, which is actually a first for TCL's 5-Series, but it lacks the mini LED backlights and has fewer dimming zones, meaning the line won't achieve the excellent contrast of the 6-Series. The 5-Series doesn't support Atmos, either. Nor does it have the THX-certified gaming mode. On the plus side, the 5-Series is available in a smaller size — 43-inch — which is one of the best 4K TVs under $500.

Buy Now: $400+

Vizio M-Series Quantum (2020)

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Vizio

Sizes: 50" — 65"
Display: LED with Quantum dot technology
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG
Dolby Atmos: Yes
Smart OS: Smartcast

The M-Series Quantum is Vizio’s mid-range line of 4K TVs. Like the 2019 models, the 2020 versions have also integrated with Quantum dot technology, so they’re able to deliver brighter more vivid picture than its predecessors. They support all the same HDR technologies, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision, as Vizio’s higher-end P-Series Quantum, but the M-Series is significantly more affordable. (The main difference compared to Vizio’s P-Series is that the M-Series Quantum has significantly less dimming zones and overall brightness, so it’s not able to produce quite the same level of picture quality.) Maybe the biggest difference from other TVs on this list is that the M-Series Quantum works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and supports AirPlay 2 and HomeKit as well.

Buy Now: $399+ (Walmart) Buy Now: $400+ (Best Buy)

Samsung Q60T QLED (2020)

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Sizes: 43" — 85"
Display: LED with Quantum dot technology
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
HDR: HDR10 and HLG
Dolby Atmos: Yes
Interphase: Tizen

The Samsung Q60T is the company’s more affordable series of QLED 4K TVs and the direct successor to the Q60R. It’s able to deliver an excellent picture and has a slim minimal design. Something new is that the Q60T features Samsung’s new Dual LED technology, which automatically adjusts the backlight’s color depending on what you’re watching, so it has a better picture contrast than most 4K TVs in its price range. One downside is that the Samsung Q60T doesn’t support Dolby Vision. It’s also not the ideal TV for big rooms due to some poor viewing angles.

Buy Now: $530+ (Samsung)

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