These Are The 5 Best 2018 4K HDR TVs For Less Than $1000
Stephan Jukic – December 13, 2018
4K TVs are now a long ways away from being the insanely expensive ultra-premium show-off technologies they were just a few short years ago. Yes, you can still find insanely expensive giant versions of the absolute best flagship models from each of the major brands selling for several thousand dollars each but the basic fact is that a whole wide market now exists for highly affordable ultra HD televisions going for the same prices that HDTVs sold for only a couple years ago. Even models with full display HDR for color, contrast and brightness/black levels can now be found at excellent budget prices.
This proliferation of highly affordable models does however create its own problem, which is simply that of figuring out which is the best TV you could go for to get the absolute most value for each dollar you spend on a budget. That’s where this list comes into play. It gives you our sequential ranking of what we consider to be the 5 absolute best 4K UHD TVs available today for under $1000 in order of quality from best on downwards. We’ll cover the particular pros and cons of each TV and give you a quick rundown of why we like each model so much for its ranking.
Let’s get started.
Sony XBR49X900F $998.00
By far the best rounded 4K HDR TV on this list in terms of performance, build, display support features and overall quality is the Sony X900F 4K HDR LCD TV. It scrapes by onto our list at just a smidge under $1000 but this model is after all Sony’s “second best” 2018 LCD TV after the ultra-premium Master Series Z9F. And despite coming close to the $1000 mark, it still manages to sell for an amazingly low price considering all that it offers. Coming in with full-array LED backlighting, superb peak brightness, some fantastically good color support and excellent motion handling, the X900F also comes with a brilliantly efficient connectivity package for console or PC gaming. As an added bonus it offers up fantastic local dimming quality for its price. We love this TV and there are plenty of reasons why most other people should too.
The only edition under $1000 is a bit small at 49 inches but if you don’t mind this screen size, it’s so worth it. We also don’t like the weak viewing angles but these are inevitable with 4K TVs that come with VA (vertical alignment) display panel design.
Vizio P55-F1 $699.99
Vizio did it again in 2018 by releasing yet another highly affordable and extremely high quality 4K TV that’s nearly as well rounded as they get. The 55 inch P-Series 2018 edition delivers excellent picture quality, very good peak brightness and some excellent deep black levels that make it a wonderful 4K TV for display of HDR content in both Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats. Its contrast ratio is also very high and made even better by the inclusion of normally-premium full-array LED backlighting and local dimming technologies. Furthermore, the P-Series offers up some great motion handling, strong gaming connectivity specs and as a final bonus, it’s very nicely built, with an elegant looking design that’s easy on the eyes and very sturdy on any surface. The P-Series is also a very, very good 4K TV for gaming due to its excellent input lag specs.
On the other hand, the P-Series doesn’t deliver the best grey uniformity we’ve ever seen and because it also comes with VA display panel technology, like all such 4K TVs (even HDR models) it suffers from image quality deterioration when viewed at an angle. The P-Series also doesn’t offer what we’d call stellar audio performance but this can be fixed easily enough with an external sound bar.
TCL 6 Series 55R617: $629.99
TCL’s 6-Series is almost as good as the Vizio P-Series and the two can easily be confused even though they’re by entirely different brands. Either way, this model delivers nearly the same high level of HDR performance, some excellent display brightness, high contrast ratios, superb black levels and is also another budget-priced 4K HDR TV with Dolby Vision HDR support, full-array LED backlighting and local dimming. These display technologies and specs are all crucial to high levels of picture quality and the 6-series delivers these in spades for its price. Other things we love about this model are its excellent gaming connectivity specs (due to low input lag and multiple resolution/color/frame rate support features) and its much improved motion handling.
The TCL 6-Series biggest defect is its build. This 4K TV doesn’t look particularly great and its body is slightly on the flimsy side. That said, it’s certainly not going to fall apart and far from an ugly 4K TV. Furthermore, though it comes with full-array LED backlighting and local dimming, this combination of technologies doesn’t work quite as well as it does in either the Vizio P-Series or Sony X900F above.
Samsung QN49Q6F Flat 49” QLED 4K UHD TV: $797.99
QLED TVs really are awesome in how well they deliver high level picture performance and the Q6FN is the only Samsung ultra-premium QLED model that you can get your hands on for well below $1000. That by itself means quite a lot because if there’s one thing we noticed about Samsung’s Q6F and other 2018 QLED TVs in general it’s that they deliver some of the most eye popping color and contrast delivery we’ve ever seen in any 4K UHD TVs so far except maybe for some OLED HDR models from LG and Sony. In other words, as an HDR 4K TV, the Q6FN is a fantastic performer that will stun most people with the quality of its display of both HDR and conventional content. In addition to these premium specs, the Q6F offers up excellent motion handling, really, really good gaming connectivity and comes with one fantastically bright display.
On the negative side of things, just like the X900F above, this model is only available in the 49 inch range for less than $1000. For some people this might be a problem but if you don’t mind the screen dimensions, the 49 inch Q6FN 2018 inch model is a great choice. Another con of this TV is that it doesn’t support Dolby Vision HDR, which is a shame considering how good it is at rendering wide color gamut.
Samsung UN55NU8000: $847.99
Samsung’s NU8000 is easily the best of the brand’s non-QLED 2018 4K HDR TVs. It offers display specs that make it almost as good as the very best Samsung QLED TVs of last year and as a result it delivers some truly fantastic display brightness, excellent motion handling, black levels, contrast and extremely vibrant color performance. Additionally, we love just how well this particular 4K TV handles gaming input from PCs or game consoles. In other words, the NU8000 is one extremely well-rounded 4K HDR TV and it just happens to be remarkably affordably priced for its qualities and the roomy 55 inches of display space that you get if you buy it. On a further note, this is one wonderfully built 4K TV, with an elegant, sleek look and one very sturdy support structure for keeping it from toppling over. Out of all of Samsung’s 2018 4K TVs, this is the model we most recommend after the Q6F if both price affordability and overall quality are taken into account.
Like all Samsung 4K HDR TVs, the NU8000 does not support the Dolby Vision high dynamic range standard and while it does come with local dimming technology, the quality of it is only mediocre. Fortunately though, because it produces great black levels and contrast despite this, the weak local dimming is a minor issue. These are pretty much the only notable cons this TV model suffers from.
LG 65SK8000PUA: $896.99
LG’s LCD 4K TVs may take a distant second place to the extremely popular brand’s OLED masterpieces, but they’ve gotten much better in 2018 that they deserve quite a bit more attention. Among the 2018 LCD models from LG, one of the best in terms of overall performance and price is without a doubt the SK8000. Unlike many older LG LCD TVs we’ve reviewed on 4k.com, this model delivers some very good black levels despite its IPS display panel technology and in terms of HDR and SDR color rendering, it’s a solid display performer. Additionally, the SK8000 comes with local dimming technology that further boosts its black level and contrast performance. One other benefit of this model is the IPS screen itself: while this display technology means weaker contrast and black levels on the one hand, it also offers much better viewing angles, making the SK8000 an ideal budget 4K TV for a living room or den in which some of the seats are way off to one side. We should also mention that this LG LCD TV model supports Dolby Vision HDR specs and offers very good gaming connectivity. Finally –and this is the biggest reason why we include the SK8000 here in this list—what you get here may not be the best 4K TV of the bunch for less than $1000, but it’s certainly the biggest at 65 inches. That makes it a very decent deal.
Despite being a much better performer than the LCD 4K HDR TVs that LG put out in previous years, the SK8000 is still much weaker than any other 4K TV on this whole list at delivering rich, deep black levels. This is its single biggest weakness. Additionally, while it does support wide color gamut for HDR content, the coverage percentage of those 1 billion extra color values isn’t as good as that of any other model ranked here. In other words, expect a slightly subpar HDR color rendering experience with the SK8000.