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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Best Budget 4K TVs of 2023

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If you want to buy the best gaming TV on the market, you're likely looking at a price tag over $2,000. But the best budget TVs, like the Hisense 65" Quantum ULED, deliver top-end performance at a price that's much easier to swallow. Even at a budget of around $1,000 or under $500 you can get a pretty decent screen in 2023.

There are a few sacrifices you will have to make, as you're not going to find many affordable high-refresh displays with mini LED or anything. But if you just want a nice 4K TV and you don't care about all the bells and whistles included in the top-end sets, you can get a pretty great discount, especially if you take advantage of Fathers Day tech deals going on right now.

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TL;DR – These are the Best Budget TVs

Hisense 65” U6H Quantum ULED 4K TV

Best Budget TV

Hisense 65U6HHisense 65U6H

Last year’s Hisense U6G stood out for hitting the pinpoint sweet spot between performance and affordability. The U6H continues to build upon its predecessor with a new ULED panel, which features full array local dimming, 48 local dimming zones, and up to 600 nits of peak brightness. Combined with support for HDR formats that include Dolby Vision and HDR 10+, the U6H has plenty of tools at its disposal to deliver an incredibly detailed picture for a price that won’t break the bank.

Hisense isn’t done, however. The U6H marks Hisense’s transition to the Google TV operating system, and the display offers gaming-friendly features like a variable refresh rate of 60Hz. It also offers both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and supports Dolby Atmos to help make it sound as immersive as the display. Perhaps the U6H’s most intriguing component is its processor, called the “Hi-View Engine (4K).” This processor acts as the brains of the entire ensemble, automatically adjusting the picture in real time for the best quality. All together, it’s a wildly capable 4K TV for a ridiculously inviting price tag.

TCL 55” 5-Series 4K QLED TV

Best Budget TV Under $500

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The TCL 5-Series is a step below the prowess of TCL’s 6-Series, which is also on this list, but it’s not as significant of a step down as it used to be. For around $400, you get a 55-inch display featuring a QLED panel for vibrant and accurate colors, so your HDR will pop. As for contrast, you get deep blacks even in darker spaces, while 30 zones of full array local dimming let some parts of the screen stay deep in shadow as others shine bright.

However, the 5-Series has poor viewing angles, so it’s best for a space with a more compact seating setup. It also has some upscaling hiccups, while its refresh rate of 60Hz is worse than its more expensive sibling, the 6-Series. If a lower refresh rate isn’t a deal breaker, you’ll still have an enjoyable 4K gaming experience with the TV's four HDMI 2.1 ports that support VRR and Auto Game Mode, ensuring the smoothest motion and ideal picture settings.

Vizio M7 Series Quantum 4K TV

Best Budget Gaming TV

Vizio M55Q7-J01Vizio M55Q7-J01

The Vizio M7 Series does several things exceptionally well, and chief among them is gaming. The display’s ProGaming Engine processor offers features like AMD FreeSync and Auto Game Mode, which allow for smoother graphics and lower input lag. Vizio measures the M7’s input lag at less than 10ms while offering a variable refresh rate of 60fps at 4K. Those are solid, gaming-focused specs for any display, much less a 4K TV that typically runs a hair over $500.

It’s not just a gaming TV, though. Vizio boasts Quantum Color to display over 1 billion distinct colors. Depending on the size of your model, the M7 will have a full array, backlit panel with up to 30 local dimming zones. This allows the M7 to crush contrast by boosting vibrant colors and delivering deep black levels. And, with Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built right in, streaming content is as easy as it gets. The M7 has been known to have some scattered blooming issues, and does struggle with a rather narrow viewing angle. But those are small prices to pay for an otherwise excellent gaming experience.

TCL 55” 6-Series 4K QLED TV

Best Budget TV for Movies

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Simply put, the TCL 6 Series makes movies look good. Nearly every aspect of this popular TCL model is tailor-made to make movies look masterful, from its QLED panel featuring mini-LED backlight technology, to its support for Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10+ and more. When you factor in the TV’s AiPQ Engine, which uses machine-learning algorithms to enhance colors and clarity, it’s clear why the 6-Series is such a highly-regarded TV for movie watching. Especially in this price range, it’s going to be hard for the cinema fans out there to find a better deal.

The 6-Series is another TV that has been dealt a handful of challenges, viewing angles among them. But those flaws feel far smaller when you consider gaming features like Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Game Mode. This isn’t quite the gaming juggernaut that its Vizio counterpart has proven to be. But it’s an absolutely worthwhile option for anyone who hopes to mix a healthy dose of gameplay into their movie watching.

Hisense 50" U6 Series QLED 4K Smart Fire TV

Best Budget TV for Streaming

Hisense 50U6HFHisense 50U6HF

Most TVs these days are rocking some sort of smart operating system to make streaming easier than ever, but many are flawed and lack the control a streaming device offers. However, the Hisense U6 Series QLED 4K Smart Fire TV changes all that in the budget TV space. You get Fire TV built-in to load up all your favorite streaming apps once the TV connects to Wi-Fi, while an Alexa-enabled remote makes it even better. Not only can it power on the TV and adjust the volume with the sound of your voice, but it can also search and pull up your favorite show or movie. What’s more, Alexa doesn’t stop at streaming. It incorporates several skills and smart home capabilities into your display, including the ability to start something like a Zoom call or get access to live feeds from your connected security cameras elsewhere in the home.

The actual specs of the Hisense U6 Series QLED 4K Smart Fire TV aren’t half bad, either. With support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG, you can enjoy an insanely realistic picture aided by its 600 nit peak brightness and a plethora of local dimming zones. For gaming, its HDMI 2.1 port offers a 60Hz variable refresh rate and ALLM, making it possible to enjoy some smooth gaming on the PS5 or Xbox X. Built-in Bluetooth also allows the TV to pair wirelessly with Bluetooth speakers or headphones, adding an additional audio boost to the content you choose to stream.

Samsung 85” AU8000 Crystal UHD 4K TV

Best Budget Big TV

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In the case of this 85-inch behemoth from Samsung, the word “budget” is a relative term. It’s far and away the most expensive TV on this list, and there are other, cheaper 85-inch models from the likes of TCL and Hisense that we could have chosen instead. However, the AU8000 represents the best middle ground in the big TV market, offering respectable picture quality without forcing you to take out a second mortgage.

You won’t find support for a wide variety of HDR formats here, or a full array backlit panel, or even HDMI 2.1 connections. What you will find, however, is a decently well-rounded picture with surprisingly low input lag that excels most with the likes of TV shows and sporting events. In other words, it’s the ideal giant TV to invite friends over for either the big game on Sunday, or the latest episode of whatever streaming series you’re all currently obsessed with. The sheer size of it will be sure to wow, but the picture quality itself isn’t anything to scoff at either.

Vizio 55” OLED 4K HDR TV

Best Budget OLED TV

Vizio OLED55-H1Vizio OLED55-H1

Much like the Samsung monster above, the Vizio OLED H1 doesn’t exactly meet the threshold for “budget” for some consumers. It is, however, a verifiable budget pick when looking at the larger selection of available OLED TVs on the market. With the Vizio OLED, you’re getting some of the best qualities about these highly sought-after TVs while paying a fraction of the typical price for the privilege. The outstanding colors, unrivaled black levels, and meticulous attention to detail are all present in the Vizio OLED to one degree or another.

As with any OLED, you do run the risk of permanent burn-in if you leave a static image on the Vizio’s screen for too long. As far as reasons not to buy this 55-inch marvel, though, that’s pretty much it. The contrast, black levels, and overall picture quality found in the model make the Vizio OLED one of the best deals around if you’re searching for a high-end display without a high-end cost associated with it.

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

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