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The Best 4K TVs Under $1,000

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

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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

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Vizio P-Series Quantum (2021)
Vizio M7 Series Quantum (2021)
TCL 6-Series Mini-LED QLED (2021)
TCL 5-Series QLED (2021)
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