The Best 4K HDR TVs For Every Budget: Winter 2020
Reviews of 4k Smart, Curved, LED & Flat Screen TV – Sony, Samsung, LG, Vizio & More.
We tested all the top rated 4k TVs available for sale in 2018 and 2019. Below you will find a list of the models we think are the absolute best among these, as well as detailed Reviews of most of them and where they’re available at the most affordable possible prices!
We should also strongly note here that the following TV rankings are made with both quality and price taken into consideration. Essentially, we’ve at least partly ranked these models in terms of their quality and value per dollar spent so that we could demonstrate what the best TVs are for the lowest possible prices in their category. The rankings below are of course also split into one for 4K TVs of all types and a second list of exclusively budget 4K UHD models that cost less than $1000, followed by our last ranking which is for all the best 4K TVs we know of for less than $500. However, once again, the very top list of best 4K HDR TVs of 2018 and 2019 right below has been ranked so that TVs with the absolute best possible quality at the lowest possible price rank higher than just the best TVs in terms of sheer specs. Often both are reflected in the same TV but not always.
The 9 Absolute Best 4K TVs of 2020 as Reviewed by 4K.com
The following are the 10 best 4K TVs that 4K.com has reviewed or thoroughly covered to-date. The following models are mostly 2018 4K HDR TVs that we have reviewed so far or are certain of their rankings and a very few 2017 models which we still think are stunning enough to compete with newer editions and deliver a superb level of performance relative to their price or in absolute terms. In other words, this list will be updated as regularly as new television models get reviewed or thoroughly vetted by us. Furthermore, you should check back regularly to see how we’ve updated our rankings of models based on new releases and reviews. Also, bear in mind that we’ve selected the following models based on how much value each offers when both pricing and overall display performance specs are balanced against each other.
The following are more premium 4K TVs for the most part (the budget listings can be found further down this page) but their rankings definitely take quality per dollar spent into consideration. For this reason, a few notably superb and famous flagship models from major brands like LG, Sony and Samsung are excluded below because we believe that much more affordable “lower-ranking” models offer performance that’s almost as good or equal to that of the flagships but for much better prices. All of the following 4K TVs deliver a native refresh rate of 120Hz and they all offer full support for judder-free playback of 24p movie content from all sources unless otherwise stated in their specific descriptions. Furthermore, the majority of the following top-ranked 4K UHD TVs come with other premium technologies such as full.array LED backlighting, full-array-based local dimming and complete HDR support in terms of both color performance AND black levels/peak brightness
1. LG C9 OLED 4K Ultra HD HDR TV (2019 Model)
The successor to LG’s 2018 OLED C8 model deserves top spot on this list for 2019. It’s simply that good. Though the C9 doesn’t quite reach the same levels of overall peak brightness as its predecessor, its combination of reasonable pricing and sheer display performance makes it the single best overall 4K HDR TV of 2019 in our rankings. The C9 is also an incredibly good 4K HDR gaming TV and with its display specs, quite possibly the best model there is to be bought for this sort of activity. Watching content (and especially 4K HDR content) on this particular television will possibly ruin LCD TVs for you, because even the best non-OLED models fail to quite match the combination of performance and incredible picture quality that the C9 delivers at the price it sells for.
What does this particular TV offer? Only some of the best color vibrancy we’ve ever seen combined with your typically amazing perfect OLED black levels, contrast and precision dimming technology. It also gets incredibly bright by OLED standards and though this means it’s not quite as luminous as Samsung or Sony’s flagship televisions, the brightness shines through to an exceptional degree thanks to this televisions literally perfect capacity for infinite contrast. Then there’s the C9’s motion handling, which is nothing short of incredible too, and quite possibly the best we’ve ever seen in any 4K TV so far.
2. Samsung Q90R QLED 4K HDR LCD TV (2019 Model)
Samsung’s Q90 QLED TV is the successor to last year’s Q9F QLED and damn is it good. Of the 2019 lineup of LCD 4K TVs, we have to call this model out as the best of the bunch among all brands. Not only does it offer fantastic color delivery, motion handling, contrast and insane peak brightness, the Q90R also introduces the completely new innovation (among Samsung 4K TVs) of a VA display that conserves the traditionally deep blacks and high contrast of VA-type 4K TV screens while also creating the best viewing angles we’ve ever seen in a VA TV to-date. This is a major improvement since up until recently, VA TVs always had to deal with a trade-off between great color depth and black rendering and bad viewing angles. The alternatives were the poor blacks of TVs with IPS screens or the near perfect viewing angles but lower brightness of OLED TVs.
Display qualities aside, the Samsung Q90R is also an incredibly responsive TV for gaming and its capacity for delivering absolutely explosive color quality makes console or PC games on this model outstanding. On a final note, this TV has some of the best motion handling we’ve ever seen in an LCD television so far, so no worries on the best possible smoothness for your favorite action movies and sportscasts.
3. Samsung Q9FN QLED 4K Ultra HD HDR TV (2018 Model)
Samsung’s Q9FN 2018 Edition is the company’s absolute flagship 4K HDR TV for 2018/ early 2019 and while it’s very expensive, damn is it also incredible. The Q9FN is easily one of the three best 4K TVs we’ve ever seen (the other two are the models above) and in some ways, such as in how well it delivers color and high dynamic range color in particular, it’s probably the best 4K UHD TV we’ve ever reviewed. Samsung has really refined QLED technology to new levels and it shows off at its absolute peak (so far) in this flagship QLED TV. What the Q9F 2018 model also offers is out-of-this-world LCD TV picture brightness, the highest non-OLED contrast ratios we’ve ever seen in any 4K UHD TV so far and fantastically great motion handling. It’s also a physically beautiful 4KUHD TV that will impress with its physical presence in any living room, especially if you go for one of the larger 75 inch models. We can’t recommend this 4K TV enough as far as quality goes. We only give it a lower ranking here because it’s very expensive and because it lacks Dolby Vision HDR support. This however is practically its only real performance defect.
4. Sony XBR-X900F 4K Ultra HD HDR LCD TV (2018 Model)
Sony’s X900F is one of the outstanding 4K TVs of 2018 for at least a couple of major reasons. First and most importantly, it’s just a great UHD TV, with some all-around excellent specs and performance capability even by ultra-premium TV standards. Secondly though, this model is awesome because it manages to be the above while having a remarkably reasonable price. It’s in fact so decently priced that we’ve ranked it twice on this page, first here as one of the best 4K TVs of 2018 period and further down (in its smaller 49 inch edition) as one of the best 4K HDR TVs for less than $1000. Thus, we’ve got more than a few reasons to really like the X900F.
Just how good is this model? Well it delivers everything a 4K TV buyer could want even if they’re looking for a premium entertainment technology experience. The X900F offers up full array LED backlighting, high quality local dimming technology, superbly vibrant color rendering and full HDR support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10. It’s also an excellent, smooth handler of fast-paced motion on the screen. As a bonus this model is also well-built, with a simple but sturdy and elegant design. Finally. It’s just extremely affordable for its quality and one of the best 4K HDR TV deals of 2018 as a result.
5. Samsung Q6FN QLED 4K Ultra HD HDR TV (2018 Model)
Samsung’s QLED Q6FN is the most inexpensive of the 2018 QLED models put out by Samsung and despite it not delivering anywhere near the display power of the flagship Q9F we covered above, the Q6FN still performs incredibly well even by ultra-premium TV display technology standards. Best of all though, it’s a lot cheaper than any of the other QLEDs, with the 49 inch model even being one of the TVs listed in our Best TVs For Less Than $1000 listings below this. However, even by ultra-premium 4K UHD TV standards, the Q6FN is a great choice, and whether you’re buying one of its larger versions, like the 55 and 65 inch editions, or the economical 49 inch model, the Q6F 2018 QLED easily ranks among this year’s best 4K UHD HDR TVs.
Just what does it offer though? Well, the Q6FN delivers you some really impressive color vibrancy, with a picture realism that has to be seen to be appreciated. It’s black levels, contrast ratio and display brightness are all also incredibly good for any type of content, be it HDR-formatted video from any source or just ordinary broadcast TV movies and programming. Furthermore, given its reasonable price and smaller possible screen sizes, this particular TV can handle console gaming like an absolute champion, with excellent, low input lag and support for a whole range of frame rates, color settings, HDR and resolution formats. We love the Q6FN and think it’s a close competitor to the Sony X900F or LG’s C8 in terms of both quality and price combined. Samsung’s Q9F is a much better TV, yes, but if you take price into consideration, the Q6FN delivers plenty enough to almost be a better choice.
6. LG B8 OLED 4K Ultra HD HDR TV (2018 Model)
LG’s B8 OLED 4K HDR TV isn’t quite as good as the C8 OLED we ranked further up this list but it underperforms the C8 (and LG’s other 2018 OLED TVs) only due to its slightly slower, weaker picture processing engine and inferior audio connectivity support. In terms of display performance, OLED screen quality, contrast, black levels and color rendering, the B8 delivers just as well as the C8 or even LG’s best 2018 OLED HDR TV. We noted this very clearly in our review of this TV model and we absolutely stand by this judgment of this model. This is also part of why the B8 is so damn excellent, because it also happens to be the cheapest of all OLED 4K HDR TVs you can get among this year’s models. In other words, this model delivers all the display performance of the best 2018 OLEDs while costing hundreds to several thousand dollars less than any of them. For this combination of reasons, yep, the B8 is without a doubt one of 2018’s best 4K TVs.
7. Sony A9F Master Series OLED 4K Ultra HD HDR TV (2018/2019 Model)
Sony’s A9F Master Series OLED 4K HDR TV promised a great deal of high quality when unveiled by Sony in July of 2018 and in most ways it lives up to the hype around it. On the other hand, it also disappoints in two notable ways and they’re why we rank it so low on this list (though make no mistake about it, this is one fantastic premium 4K HDR television). First of all, the A9F is way more expensive than LG’s alternative OLED the C8, with the 55 inch model costing well over $1400 more than its C8 55 inch rival. It even costs more than the pricier LG E8 edition OLED TV, with the 55 inch version of the A9F being several hundred dollars pricier than the 55 inch E8. Despite this huge price disparity, the A9F delivers only very, very mildly better performance than either of these alternative OLED editions. In fact, it even slightly underperforms them on the crucial spec of display brightness, with a generally lower level of screen brightness almost across the board. In other words, while we can’t not recommend the A9F due to its incredibly good OLED display quality and its excellent picture processing and calibration engine (better than that of the LD TVs), we rank it last here simply because it costs so much for what it offers, and alternative options are more than better choices given the nearly identical performance they themselves offer at much, much lower prices.
The 6 Best 4K HDR TVs for Less Than $1000:
After the mostly premium and ultra-premium 4K TV models above which generally sell for close to or over $1000, we now come down to what we consider to be the absolute best 4K UHD TVs at the largest possible display size for less than this price. All of these models offer some sort of HDR specs and at least a couple come with full premium HDR display of the best kind. Furthermore, all of these TVs promise an excellent home theater experience despite their possible lack of some features like QLED technology or full-array LED backlighting, full HDR color and higher levels of peak brightness (though some of them still have all of this technology even with their lower price tags). In other words, if you’re looking for the highest possible display performance on a highly reasonable a budget, you can’t go wrong with any of these televisions unless you’re looking for something really huge.
1. 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 model. It just fits into our list at a couple dollars under $1000 for the 49 inch version but what you get for that price is simply excellent. As you can see in the list of best 2018 TVs of all sizes and higher prices, we’ve also included the X900F there and for a good reason. It’s generally one of the best 4K HDR televisions of 2018 by any metric at all. That a 49 inch model is available for a more budget-friendly price of less than $1000 is great simply because you get all of the same quality with only a reduction in screen size. The 49 inch X900F comes with full-array LED backlighting, full high quality local dimming, fantastic contrast ratios and extremely high display brightness. The X900F also delivers excellent color vibrancy, with full HDR color support and really, really good rendering of color in ordinary content too.
Most importantly this model is essentially Sony’s second best 2018 LCD TV after the ultra-premium Master Series Z9F. And despite coming close to the $1000 mark, it thus 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. For less than $1000 you’ll be limited to the smaller 49 inch edition of the X900F but we still consider this to be a superb deal for a decent size.
2. 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.
3. TCL 6 Series 55R617: $629.99
TCL’s 2017 P-Series 4K HDR TV (not to be confused with Vizio’s identically named P-Series TVs for 2017 and 2018) was one of the best budget offerings of last year and in 2018 the company pulled off the same trick again but only better. The result was the 6-Series and it’s easily one of our favorite 4K HDR TVs of any kind for this year and definitely one of the absolute best you can get for this sort of ridiculously low price among the 2018 models. The 6-Series has even been offered on sale for lower prices of under $500 recently and might be going for such a discount whenever you read this (the link below will show you current pricing for all sizes). So what exactly does the 6-Series offer? Well it quite simply delivers a pile of essentially premium-quality display specs and performance at an unbeatable price: Offering up full-array LED backlighting, full HDR support for color, brightness, contrast and black levels, superbly high contrast ratios and some very good motion handling. In other words, this is one fantastic 4K HDR TV. Where the 6-Series also does so well is in its full display support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range formats. And unlike many budget 4K TVs that claim “HDR”, this model’s display genuinely delivers the capacity to fully render it.
On the other hand, the TCL 6-Series biggest defect is its build. This TV isn’t built quite as robustly as the Sony X900F above 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, which is the main reason why we ranked this model lower than either.
4. Samsung QN49Q6F Flat 49” QLED 4K UHD TV: $797.99
Samsung’s QLED 4K HDR TVs are the company’s ultra-premium top-of-the-line ultra HD televisions, and the QLED Q6F 2018 model is one of them for now. This is why it delivers some fantastically powerful display performance almost regardless of what content its being used to display. Furthermore, if you use the Q6F to play back HDR video, the visual spectacle you’ll see is almost mind-blowing. The QLED technology in this TV is no mere gimmick and genuinely creates some truly fantastic color performance by 2018 4K HDR TV standards. In addition to this, the Q6FN offers up stunningly good black levels, contrast ratios and some truly phenomenal display brightness. Its other truly strong feature is this television’s excellent connectivity for gaming from consoles or PC rigs. The Q6FN handles game inputs from both superbly, with excellent, low input lag from console devices and full support for multiple color, HDR and frame-rate levels.
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 that also happens to be a fair bit cheaper than its Sony competitor even though its display specs are almost (but not quite) identically good. 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.
5. Samsung UN55NU8000: $847.99
Samsung’s NU-Series 4K HDR TVs are the second-tier models in the TV maker’s 2018 lineup. However, among them, the NU8000, which is the priciest of this bunch, delivers a level of display performance that’s flat out fantastic even by top-shelf TV standards. This is one excellent non-QLED Samsung TV and its specs are powerful enough that it could have easily been considered a flagship LCD TV if made by another brand. What the NU8000 delivers is full and very high quality high dynamic range support, powerfully vibrant color rendering and really robust capability at rendering deep, rich black colors, strong shadows and high contrast in onscreen content. It also handles motion just as well as Samsung’s QLED 4K HDR TVs, so you’ll lose almost nothing on that front if you decide to economize a bit with this model. Where the NU8000 also really does well is in its handling of games from consoles. Samsung has rarely disappointed us on gaming connectivity for its 4K TVs and the NU8000 doesn’t do so either, with excellent input lag and complete support for full HDR+4K+multiple color formats during playback of even the most vibrantly rich HDR ultra HD Xbox or PS4 Pro games.
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.
6. LG 65SK8000PUA: $896.99
LG’s LCD 4K HDR TVs aren’t nearly as famous or renowned as the company’s absolutely stunning OLED models. However, they’ve gotten consistently better over the last couple years and the 2018 batch was particularly decent. One of the better affordable models among these is the SK8000. It’s nowhere near the best 4K LCD TV for under $1000 on this list but it is nonetheless a decent performer and a 4K TV that’s very cheaply priced when all factors are considered. One big thing in the SK8000’s favor is that it delivers both IPS display technology, which allows for very wide viewing angles, while also managing a decent black level and contrast ratio. Previous LG IPS TV designs couldn’t pull off the latter and the result wasn’t what we’d call fantastic. In the SK8000 it’s pretty damn decent. That aside, the SK8000 also 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. Overall, the above make and especially the IPS display aspect make 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.
The Best 4K & HDR TVs of 2018/2019 For Under $500
That’s what we’re going to cover here. We’re taking the idea of 4K on a budget even further down from $1000 dollar limits and right into a demonstration of the best possible picture quality and decent display size you can get even if your budget is less than half that amount. All of the following 4K ultra HD TVs offer high dynamic range, solid overall display performance and several other important features while costing less than $500. We’ve ranked them top to bottom from best down to least valuable for $500 or less.
Let’s get started.
1. TCL 55-inch 5-Series 4K HDR TV: $429.99
By far the best of the bunch on this ultra-lean budget listing of best 4K HDR TVs is TCL’s 5-Series S517 4K HDR LCD TV. In terms of display size and general overall quality, the 5-Series is a remarkably good performer for its price and not only does it pull this off, it also manages to throw in some premium technology. For one thing, what you get with the 430 dollars you’ll spend on the 55 inch model is a respectably large screen that’s good enough even for most living rooms. Along with that, the S517 also throws in full HDR support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10, beautiful wide color gamut coverage, superb console gaming performance (due to extremely low input lag) and some very good black levels and contrast ratio. Overall, it’s almost amazing for the price it sells at. Yes, TCL’s pricier and better built 6-Series, which we covered in our “Best 4K HDR TVs for Under $1000” guide is an even better choice but the 55 inch 5-Series is as good as things get at this even lower budget price.
We should also definitely mention this model’s Roku TV smart platform. It’s one of the best in existence today in terms of usability and sheer vast selection of apps and content, and even more importantly, it makes the TV come with a Roku remote that includes the normally premium technology of voice control.
On the negative side, the 5-Series is certainly not HDR powerhouse. Its peak brightness isn’t nearly as high as that of the 6-Series and unlike its pricier sister TV, this model lacks local dimming technology, which leaves more than a bit to be desired. Then again though, even with these defects, the sheer value for price of this model is excellent.
2. Samsung 40-inch, 43-inch & 49-inch NU7100 4K HDR TV: $377.99/ $489.00/ $499.99
By far the best Samsung 4K HDR TV at this price is the NU7100, That said, for its 40, 43 or 49 inch screens (all three cost less than $500, though the 49 incher manages it on a technicality by only a penny) the NU7100 is a very good 4K HDR LCD TV that covers all the essentials of high quality advanced picture performance. It offers some key HDR display technologies in the form of HDR10 support and 10-bit color and also manages to deliver some very good black levels and contrast ratio.
In addition to these things, this model delivers a decent level of motion handling for its price and status in the Samsung 2018 4K TV hierarchy. The single best feature of the NU7100 though is its capability when it comes to gaming connectivity; the TV offers fantastically good input lag levels and support all sorts of resolution and color settings for advanced gameplay in 4K resolution, HDR or in combinations of the two and different color settings.
In terms of notable negative qualities, the NU7100 has a few even for its low price. For one thing, we wish that Samsung sold the 55 inch version at the price that the 49 inch model goes for and most unfortunately of all, think that this TV doesn’t get nearly as bright as it should for its status as an HDR 4K TV. At its best it underperforms even some of the mid-range Samsung TVs of 2016, such as the KU6300, which is downright unfortunate. One further negative quality of the NU7100 is that it lacks wide color gamut, which the TCL S517 ranked above it DOES come with (along with a notably brighter display).
3. Samsung 43 inch, 50-inch NU6900 4K HDR LCD TV: $323.23/ $427.99
The Samsung NU6900 is extremely similar to the NU7100 but lacks some of the superior motion handling that its slightly pricier cousin is capable of offering. In most other regards though it performs equally well. This means that it also delivers great overall color performance, excellent contrast ratio, deep, rich black levels and most importantly of all, it comes with a great capacity for handling gaming via consoles or PCs, in both 4K HDR settings and in other resolution and color support formats. The NU6900 is also a nice, lightly designed 4K TV that’s solidly built with a sturdy supporting stand and fairly narrow bezels along its screen edges. Most of all, this model makes for a very decent starter or bedroom/studio 4K TV and as a PC display or gaming screen, it’s nearly perfect for its price
In terms of negative aspects, the NU6900 is an even dimmer 4K HDR model than the NU7100 and this takes a good deal of the quality out of its high dynamic range display specs. Additionally, because it lacks wide color gamut, the overall color vibrancy that it can create for high dynamic range content is somewhat limited. On a final note, the NU6900 doesn’t throw out the best motion handling performance we’ve seen among budget 4K TVs. In this characteristic it’s fairly weak for fast-paced action content, particularly in 4K resolution.
4. Toshiba 55LF621U19 55-inch 4K HDR Amazon Fire TV: $399.99
The Toshiba 55LF621U19 is one of Amazon’s Fire 4K TVs and for this reason more than any other, it deserves a spot here. The Amazon Fire 4K “HDR” TVs are famous for offering basic but decent picture quality, great ultra HD content app access and a very, very good user control interface for extremely low prices. In other words, as long as you don’t mind less than excellent picture quality that is nonetheless fairly decent, this model and other Fire 4K TVs like it will deliver some of the best raw smart platform entertainment value for your money.
Best of all, they are dirt cheap for coming with such a large 55 inch screen while also featuring the normally premium feature of Amazon’s truly superb Alexa remote and smart TV platform, which offer excellent access to content apps along with some of today’s most sophisticated voice control technology for smart TVs. Overall, this Toshiba Fire 4K TV is a great value for its sheer low price of just under $400 mainly because of all the smart functionality it comes with. It also offers very decent if basic picture performance and true, full 4K resolution, which is more than we can say for the last under-$500 4K TV on our list.
The Toshiba 55LF621U19 suffers from the simple flaw of being a completely mediocre performer across all key metrics of picture quality. Yes it offers full, crystal clear 4K UHD resolution and this makes it a great TV in comparison to almost any 1080P HD model you could buy but the HDR on this model is extremely weak, its color performance is ordinary and its motion handling capability is only moderately decent. As long as you mind these deficiencies (and many people won’t at all), the Toshiba 55LF621U19 offers robustly good value for its price as a starter 4K TV with a remarkably good smart platform/remote control combo.
5. LG 49-INCH UK6300PUE 4K HDR TV: $396.02
LG’s 49 inch UK6300 is just about as affordably priced as a 4K HDR TV can get and in exchange for that low, low cost, it delivers a fairly functional but decent package of display performance specs, some limited HDR rendering capability and sharp, clear pseudo-4K resolution. Most of all though it offers excellent viewing angles due to its IPS display panel design and makes for a great 4K TV if you want to use it for gaming through consoles or as a PC monitor. It’s connectivity package is also robust and fully modern with all of the same essential ports and standards that you’d find in some of LG’s best 4K HDR TVs. The same goes for the inclusion of its excellent ThnkQ engine and Dolby Vision HDR support (though it won’t do you much good on this TV due to the weak display specs it delivers) In basic terms, the UK6300 makes for a bare-bones but fairly decent budget 4K TV and a very good starter model if you’re a student who’s just moving out and wants decent-sized home theater display at a nearly rock bottom price.
There are two major reasons why we ranked the LG UK6300 at the very bottom of our list and they both badly affect some aspects of its picture quality. First and foremost, this 4K UHD TV offers mediocre contrast ratios, terrible black levels and mediocre peak brightness. LG’s LCD 4K TVs used to commonly suffer these three highly related problems but some of the higher-priced 2018 and 2017 LCD editions have finally surmounted such issues. Not so for the UK6300: though it’s still a much better performer than comparably priced 2016 or older LG LCD cousins we’ve reviewed.
4K HDR TVs: Everything you Need to Know
4K UHD is the latest buzzword in the entertainment display industry, but in this case the buzz isn’t simply hollow jargon. Why? Because 4K UHD really seems to be the near future of video display technology.
Given this potential trend and all the resulting buzz, you’re probably curious about what 4K TV is really all about.
Well, look no further for an explanation. We’re about to cover all the essentials of what 4K TV technology refers to and give you some solid advice on making a buying decision.
What Exactly Is 4K TV?
4K TV is a title used to describe any TV display technology that offers a total pixel count which offers 4 times the final resolution that you’d find in ordinary Full HD TVs. A 4K TV doesn’t exactly need to have 4,000+ pixels in horizontal pixilation. Instead, with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 (as most 4K TVs have, it already offers 4 times the resolution of 1920 x 1080p typical Full HD displays; though some 4K TV models do indeed offer even more than 4,000p horizontal resolution. Some TVs come with a flat screen while others might be curved, here is a great guide on the Pros & Cons of a curved TV.
Furthermore, 4K televisions aren’t just about their massively augmented pixel count. They also offer a whole plethora of other technological enhancements that leave many conventional HD TVs in the dust. These include much better frame rates than normal HD TV, the ability to upscale regular HD video, far superior wide color gamut color palettes and HDR contrast ratios along with extras like full 3D TV capacity in most cases.
What’s the Difference Between 4K and UHD?
In practical terms as far as branding is concerned, there is no difference between UHD and 4K. In most cases, TV manufacturers use the two terms interchangeably to describe the same 4K technology. However, if we’re speaking strictly, 4K is different in the sense that it has to consist of display resolution at least four times greater than that of normal 1080p HD and by its own industry standard it is specifically defined as 4096 x 2160 pixels (at a 1.9:1 aspect ratio).
UHD, on the other hand, can be used to describe any resolution range that’s considerably larger than normal 1920 x 1080 Full HD.
So for example, any type of TV resolution that doesn’t reach 4K levels but does give you say twice the pixel count of 1920 x 1080p would also be considered UHD, and furthermore, any resolution that goes way beyond even 4K TV, such as say 8K technology at 7680×4320 pixels would also be considered UHD.
In fact, there are also several types of informally defined 4K resolutions such as those with pixel counts of 4096 × 2160p or 3996 × 2160p. The bottom line is that 4K is a format which outstrips pretty much anything else currently commercially available for the consumer market.
What about High Dynamic Range?
The biggest technology to yet come along for home entertainment is high dynamic range, and 4K TVs are right at ground zero of this new trend because at least so far, HDR has been applied exclusively to 4K displays and 4K UHD content without shifting over to Full HD video as well. This first became broadly evident in the premium ultra HD TVs of 2015 but in 2016 and 2017 it expanded much further to cover all mid-range and premium television models from pretty much every single brand. And for 2018 and 2019 4K TVs, pretty much all models sold at least support pass-through of HDR formatting; even most low-cost 4K UHD TVs include HDR color and dynamic range specs as part of their core package of features. This includes the mid-range TCL P-Series models of 2017, Sony’s low-priced X800E televisions and pretty much all of Samsung’s 4K TV lineup for 2016 and 2017. LG has also included HDR color and dynamic range levels in all of its newer 4K HDR OLED and LCD TV models. In basic terms, 4K TVs today all come with some degree of HDR display performance, though the premium and flagship TVs from each major brand (such as those listed as our Best Picks at the top of this page) offer what could truly be called comprehensive and stunning HDR display.
As for what HDR itself does to TV display quality, well we can’t understate the value of the technology. Unlike 4K resolution, which only really makes a visual impact in larger TVs viewed at closer distances, the picture quality improvements in color, contrast and realism are immediately visible in even the smallest TV sets viewed from almost any normal distance. This is because with this technology, color range, color depth and contrast precision are all dramatically enhanced in content which has been formatted to display in HDR on a TV with a compatible display. Currently, the three main HDR standards in the consumer market are HDR10, Dolby Vision and for some types of broadcast content, HLG. At least one of these and now more frequently both are available in all HDR TVs currently being sold.
Basically, HDR is turning into a technology with even more importance than 4K resolution itself and it’s definitely here to stay and get refined further down the road. All of the genuinely high quality 4K TVs of 2016 and 2017 come with HDR and if you’re just now thinking of buying a new 4K TV, high dynamic range is one of the core features you absolutely should make sure to see included in your model of choice regardless of your budget. Doing so will offer the benefit of future-proofing your TV for new content and other standards during a longer period of time than would be the case if you simply went for a basic SDR 4K model.
Fortunately, HDR is no longer expensive either. The price of TVs with the technology has dropped even faster than did the prices of 4K TVs in general since they first started being sold to consumers. Thus, today, with the near universality of high dynamic range in all major 2016/2017 TV models and brands, very decent HDR sets in the 40 to 55 inch range are available for well below $2000 and many 4K HDR TVs even sell for less than $1000 –with some smaller models retailing for less than $800 even.
For much more detail on how dynamic range works and the benefits it brings to home entertainment, check out our comprehensive HDR guide here.
4K TV and Home Theater Costs
Though these gadgets make some truly superb home theater setups, they aren’t cheap yet. On average, a decent 50 inch TV or more from any one of the major high end brands that make them (such as Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio) will cost you a highly affordable minimum of $600 USD new and decent 65” inch to 75 inch models go for nearly twice that price but many models in these size ranges can cost well below $2000 towards the $1000 end. Great examples would be Vizio’s superb 2017 HDR 4K TVs in the P-Series and M-Series. 85” inch and above TVs nearly cost $10,000!.
However, prices are indeed dropping and at a steady pace. In comparison to what the first mass produced 4K TVs cost back in late 2012, todays models are not only more feature rich but also considerably cheaper for it. Furthermore, even the big brands like Samsung, Sony 4K TV and LG now have a number of smaller models with screens at or below the 50″ inch size level which sometimes sell for less than $1000. These are very small 4K UHD TVs but at least they offer some truly superb visual technologies and will only continue to offer more display features as things like quantum dots and HDR mature and proliferate in 4K televisions of all sizes and prices.
The bottom line for 4K UHD TV pricing is that it’s dropping and like a stone. At the same time, the overall quality of these 4K TVs is expanding enormously with new specs, new features and other new technologies which are pretty much exclusive to 4K TVs and also happen to make them superb investments. For one thing, you’ll be buying a TV that’s future ready and can handle the content that will increasingly fill the Ultra HD market in the next 3 to 5 years and secondly, many 4K TV models such as any of Samsung’s excellent 4k UHD TV SUHD editions come with design and warranty features that make them very easy to upgrade as new advancements come along.
4K Content and Regular Content
For the moment, actual native 4K content for your would be UHD TV is still in the minority among content choices but its range is growing quickly and now includes a much wider than ever selection of 4K streaming offerings, VOD 4K movies and shows, download 4K content and even live broadcast sports and other movies from a number of services. You can check all of these out here on our movies page for plenty of details on what to get and from which source. Keep in mind however that for streaming 4K entertainment from the major sources like Vudu, Amazon Prime and Netflix among others, a fast internet connection of at least 20Mbs is essential. Furthermore, with the advent of 4K HDR TVs, the content available in high dynamic range and 4K resolution is also expanding in scope. Netflix, Amazon and Vudu are two particular sources of HDR ultra HD programming and if you have one of the HDR 4K TVs that have emerged from 2015 onward, these are definitely worth checking out for a truly stunning home theater experience. On top of these options, there is also the growing body of 4K ultra HD Blu-ray disc media that’s on sale with new release and remastered classic movies being sold for consumers who own a 4K TV and a 4K UHD Blu-ray media player. To date, nothing quite beats 4K HDR Blu-ray in terms of sheer picture quality, at least from what we’ve seen so far when viewing this type of content on TVs with high dynamic range.
However, for now, most of your enjoyment will probably come from seeing the enhancements your TV offers to conventional HD content, which according to some users are definitely noticeable (though others disagree on this). At the very least, having your TV, you’ll be ready to enjoy any new UHD content that will almost certainly be emerging at an accelerated pace over the next couple of years.
One of the crucial aspects of deciding which 4K television to buy revolves around the connectivity specs your TV is going to come with. In this area, you need to pay careful attention to making sure the TV you buy comes with the right specs so that you can enjoy ultra HD content in the widest possible variety at the best possible level of quality.
There are several key connections and connectivity specs any 4K TV worth its salt must have if you want to be up to date with the latest and best content delivery technology.
For starters, any 4K TV worth its salt must have at least 1 and preferably several HDMI 2.0a ports built into it. Ideally, at least one of these ports should also be HDCP 2.2 enabled. Thus, with these in place, you will get access to the widest range of 4K content from set-top boxes, external media players, Blu-ray players and other potential sources. Furthermore, because HDMI 2.0a is uniquely capable of delivering 4K HDR content at a much smoother refresh rate of 60 frames per second, you’ll be able to enjoy your entertainment on the screen much more smoothly.
Second a DisplayPort 1.2 connection built into your 4K TV would be ideal though this isn’t a common feature or much of a requirement in 4K TVs. DisplayPort is in fact much more common and needed in UHD PC monitors for easy connectivity to the graphics cards which are needed for gaming in UHD and other resolutions.
An Important Note on Smart TV Technology
Smart TV is an integral part of any decent 4K TV setup and all of the major brands include Smart functionality as a fundamental feature of their ultra HD TV models. In fact, a very large part of what 4K TVs are all about revolves around their Smart platforms, and there are many to choose from indeed.
First of all, just to cover the essentials of Smart TV as a whole, we need to briefly describe what all such platforms have in common.
In the most basic terms, a Smart TV is any television, HD or 4K, that is capable of connecting to the web and runs with its own internal operating system with interactive technology and access to streaming media apps and other software systems.
Thus, most modern smart TVs come with their own different operating systems depending on which brand you’re dealing with and in all of these different platforms, you’ll find essential features like a web browsing platform, a central apps navigation and search menu, a series of interactive controls for TV display and configuration options and access to things like on-demand video rental apps, internet music streaming platforms, and the media player software for running all of these. All Smart TV platforms connect to the internet connection in a home via either a wired Ethernet connection or through the powerful WiFi that virtually all 4K TVs have built into them.
Some of the major brands use their own natively developed Smart TV operating systems while others install major adaptations of third party platforms. Some notable examples of the former are LG 4k TV with its native (and excellent) WebOS 2.0 and some highly effective examples of the second include the Android TV platform for 4K that’s found on Sony’s latest 4k UHD TVs, or the Firefox TV OS found in select Panasonic 4K TVs.
Because smart TV platforms are essentially computing platforms very similar to those found in a PC, their online connectivity also means that they can be updated remotely as new apps come along and new features for their different software features. These updates are often automatic and include better software, new games and all sorts of other constantly developing technologies and entertainment mediums.
Some of the best rated smart TV systems in existence today are the webOS 3.5 platform found in LG’s latest 4K TVs and its OLED 4K models, the Android TV platform of Sony’s 2017 4K TVs and the native Tizen operating system of Samsung’s 2017 Ultra HD TV models and the company’s QLED 4K TVs in particular. Then there is also Vizio’s highly innovative mobile device-based SmartCast smart TV application which instead of being controlled from the TV display, has its UI on the mobile device the app is downloaded to. This is an entirely new take on smart TV technology and one we might see emulated in more brands down the road.
Finally, if your own 4K TV’s smart platform isn’t something you’re happy with, there are numerous plug-and-play streaming media platforms available online or in stores with their own, often much better internal smart platforms and content apps. We go into deep detail on these and just how affordable and easy to install they are in our “Streaming and Gaming Media Devices” page, here.
What’s the Bottom Line, Is 4K TV Sticking Around and Should I buy One?
That 4K will stick around and keep growing in importance is almost without question. Major broadcasters, TV makers and content producers are all investing ever more heavily in the technology. Furthermore, professional film cameras are increasingly switching over to UHD resolutions and they are absolutely going to want to show their shooting off to audiences.
Addtionally, the bottom line is that 4K Televsions are the new mass market premium TVs that Full HD models were a few years ago. Thus, it is 4K TV models which get all of the best connectivity specs, the most innovative new display technologies (like the HDR covered above) and assorted other features. In essence, the best and brightest of quality home entertainment is almost entirely geared towards the sort of technologies found in today’s 4K UHD TVs. What this obviously means is that if you want access to the cutting edge of home entertainment, a 4K TV and particularly a newer HDR 4K TV is basically becoming an essential purchase.
As to whether or not you should buy one of these TVs, well that’s a very personal decision that depends a lot on your finances and love of truly superior home entertainment systems. However, if you really want to be ready for the inevitable rise of 4K resolution as a replacement of 1080p HD, then at least one of the more affordable 4K TV screens would make for a great investment, especially now that 4K televisions become the de facto top-shelf models form all the major brands, meaning that they are the TVs in which the best and latest display technologies like high dynamic range and wide color gamut get included.
What sort of 4K TV is right for me?
This is another rather subjective issue for would-be 4K TV buyers but a few key considerations are going to simplify your own decision making process here. First of all, as a general rule, bigger is indeed better with 4K TVs. This isn’t to say that a larger TV is always better than a smaller TV –because some smaller models offer much better display specs than other larger-issue models– but larger screens of 55 inches or more generally deliver a much better appreciation of native ultra HD resolution and upscaled non-4K video as well. The arrival of HDR in numerous different 4K TVs of all dimensions has definitely made size less of a factor in display quality than it was before but even here, a larger screen with UHD resolution definitely shows off HDR color and contrast much more impressively than a small screen does.
What we can definitely say is that you should buy the largest and best possible 4K TV your budget allows you to get your hands on while also not stretching yourself too far for something which offers only a bit more screen real estate but leaves you too broke to really appreciate your television. Thus, if a 55 inch model from a major brand costs several hundred dollars less than a 65 inch version of the same TV, the 55 incher will probably be more than good enough if your budget is a bit tight.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many 4K TV specs and manufacturer touted features often mean very little or nothing when it comes to actual performance in a 4K television. Looking at specs sheets is great for knowing if a TV has the right sort of connectivity, or if it has certain basic smart TV features or not, or if there is HDR and 3D technology in the model but beyond these sorts of things, manufacturer-described benefits like “great color”, “contrast enhancement engines” and motion interpolation technologies can be either misleading or outright false. Instead, pay attention to real third party review descriptions of key performance metrics or best of all, see if you can observe a model you’re interested in a showroom as it performs in the flesh.
Below we’ve selected several of the 4K UHD TVs for 2017 and 2018 which we consider to be the best on the market today, either based on their sheer quality or on a combination of very decent quality and affordable pricing. These models cover both the budget end of the spectrum and the ultra premium end but all of them have something great to offer in terms of home entertainment for their given price range. Below the following select 4K TVs, we’ve also listed links to our 4K TV size guides, which cover all the best currently reviewed 4 TVs we’ve covered so far by different size categories.
For some well researched listings on the best 4K TVs by size range, check out our own guides to the best 4K TVs on sale today in all the different sizes ranging from a compact 40 inches up to a gigantic 80+ inches. The following links will take you to each guide, and we updates these guides regularly.