Which is the best budget TV?
If you’re after bargains, there are plenty to be had with the selection we’ve rustled up. From new 2019 efforts to 2018 models that are still available, there’s a TV for everyone on this list.
For those on the hunt for a 4K performer that’s less than £1000, Panasonic’s TX-50GX800B is a good shout. It features features both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR tech, produces a very cinematic-looking image and supports Dolby Atmos sound at an affordable price.
For those who want something smaller and cheaper, Hisense’s A6200 is an impressive performer that can be had for under £400. OLED TVs aren’t often cheap, but the price is coming down each year, though around the £1000 mark remains the price for these types of sets. LG’s 2018 OLED range, in the form of the OLED55C8PLA and OLED55B8PLA, remains an excellent option.
- Great value 4K TV: Panasonic TX-50GX800B
- Best upscaling: Samsung QE49Q60R
- Great for gaming: LG OLED55C8
- OLED on the cheap: LG OLED55B8
- Budget QLED TV: Cello C55SFS4K
- Budget big screen: Hisense U8B
- Value for money: Philips 55PUS6753
- Slick smart features: Samsung UE55NU8000
- Solid budget 4K TV: Hisense A6200
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Sets a new benchmark for price and performance
- Cinematic picture performance
- Multi HDR support – HDR10, HLG, HLG Photo, Dolby Vision and HDR10+
- Classic good looks
- Limited black level performance
- Brightest HDR performance requires Dynamic image preset
If you haven’t waded into the 4K waters yet, Panasonic’s TX-50GX800B represents as safe and sure a bet as we’ve seen thus far in 2019.
It supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, meaning you’ll be able to get the best possible picture quality from your 4K library. Picture performance is impressive, with crisp detail, lush colours and a cinematic look. Sound quality is respectable, though Dolby Atmos compatibility is welcome if you have the means to take advantage of it with a compatible soundbar.
With its very accessible smart service, which offers an assortment of apps and features, the TX-50GX800B sets the benchmark for every other affordable TV in 2019.
An enjoyable all-round package
- AI upscaling
- Expressive colours
- Robust build quality
- Super-fast Game mode
- Limited HDR performance
- No Dolby Vision
Samsung’s Q60R is an attempt by the South Korean manufacturer to bring its QLED TVs to a more affordable price, and it succeeds in most respects.
It doesn’t quite possess the same picture as the step-up models, partly because the panel is edge-lit rather than direct-lit, but it still has the Quantum processor 4K and with that comes very good upscaling performance and 100% colour volume for vibrant, expressive images.
The lack of Dolby Vision hurts it, but even so, this is a fairly accomplished set.
Another gorgeous OLED set from LG
- Sharp, colourful picture
- Excellent upscaling
- WebOS still rocks
- Low input lag
- Motion could be better
- Better suited to darker rooms
The LG OLED55C8 is armed with the Alpha 9 processor, allowing for a brighter picture plus better sharpness, noise reduction and colour management.
Black levels are perfect and there’s more detail to be found in the shadows, too. Brightness levels are high enough to make for a properly dynamic picture. Unless you’re viewing in sunlight or a very bright room, it’s hard to suggest that OLED isn’t bright enough – LG has torpedoed that argument.
If that weren’t impressive enough, the set’s low latency makes it an excellent choice for gamers.
LG’s cheapest OLED is a fine performer
- Great price for an OLED TV
- Typically good OLED picture
- Beautiful design
- Picture quality falls short of step-up 2018 models
- Not the brightest with HDR models
- Set-up needs care
The B8 is LG’s cheapest OLED set, but its features have been trimmed to reach that price. It uses the older Alpha 7 processor and, as a result, the B8 isn’t as bright and its picture quality isn’t as sharp as the step-up C8 model.
That said, the 4K picture is still generally outstanding. Contrast is immensely good, with deep blacks sharing the screen with clean whites and stunning colours. SDR images are excellent and, thanks to OLED’s prowess with wide viewing angles, you’re likely to see a beautiful image wherever you sit.
The B8 offers a good compromise between features, performance and price, if you’re after an OLED that doesn’t break the bank.
Solid performance and video streaming services for under £400
- Great SDR quality
- Smart TV is simple but works
- Solid set of features
- Exceptional value
- HDR very limited
The A6300 sports an old-school look in terms of design but, while it lacks frills, it’s more than adequate for the price. Connections are decent with three HDMI 2.0 inputs included. You’re not short of video services either, with 4K HDR versions of Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Rakuten.
Freeview Play provides access to UK catch-up services, with the iPlayer app supporting 4K and HLG. The panel is a direct LED backlight, which is uncommon at this price. It’s capable of respectable black levels and bright, colourful images with SDR content.
Viewing angles are compromised, however, and the set’s HDR performance is limited. Audio quality is competent, but consider a soundbar to beef it up. If you’re a gamer, input lag is measured at around 24ms.
An inexpensive big-screen for TV lovers and sports fans
- 65 big inches at a reasonable price
- HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR
- Vibrant presentation
- Limited black level performance
- Blooming and halo backlight issues
If you want to get a big screen without having to splash too much cash, Hisense’s U8B would make a decent option.
Images pop on the U8B with is vibrant picture presentation. Black performance is limited and, as is the expectation for TVs around this price, screen brightness isn’t at the level to do HDR images justice. However, this telly does support Dolby Vision, so it’ll be able to extract a better picture performance from some HDR content.
Factor in its smart TV platform, along with its range of features, and the U8B puts in a solid overall performance.
Reassuringly sharp 4K performance, but HDR is limited
- Versatile Android smart OS
- Premium finish
- Reflective screen
- Low brightness HDR
- Average audio
We reviewed the Cello when it was £800 and you can get it for considerably less now. With good features, design and a decent 4K performance, Cello’s first QLED TV is an impressive effort.
The C55SFS4K is a looker with its aluminium bezel and metallic stand. It has four HDMI 2.0 inputs − more than we’d expect at this price − and a couple of USB ports. A microSD card slot can be used to pause live TV or for basic time-shifting, depending on the capacity of the card you use.
The biggest surprise is the set’s ability to run the Sky Q app. A Sky Mini box isn’t needed to catch up on recordings, making it the perfect fit for Sky Q users who want a TV for a second room.
The picture quality is decent, and although the C55SFS4K doesn’t have wide colour gamut, images are rich. HDR isn’t great, with the TV limited in its brightness to do HDR content justice. A 66.3ms input lag means it’s not a set for gamers.
A very good value 4K TV
- Crisp, clean 4K pictures
- Good blacks levels for the price
- Good value
- It’s not very bright
- Rather tortuous set-up menus
- Bass-light sound
At £700, the Philips 55PUS6753 occupies that enticing budget area for 4K sets, and at 55 inches, it’s a potential bargain.
The Philips VA direct-LED panel helps the set’s black levels, mitigating the grey tones that often blight TVs. While it is not the brightest − at 350 nits it doesn’t come close to the UHD Premium spec − its HDR colour performance is clean and precise.
For smart features there are a few caveats. There’s Netflix, Amazon (without HDR), Rakuten (no 4K or HDR), YouTube and Freeview Play for catch-up TV. Connections are the usual suspects: three HDMIs, two USB ports and hard-wired/wireless internet connectivity options.
While this set isn’t best suited for bringing the most out of HDR, it’s a good 4K performer for under £1000.
A competitively priced TV with a state-of-the-art smart system
- Great definition
- Strong contrast
- Excellent app support
- Separate connections box
- Easy assembly
- Some backlight bleeding
- Slightly crushed blacks
- No 3D support
The edge-lit, 120Hz panel helps generate a smooth image – important for fast-moving scenes and sports. There’s a comprehensive suite of smart features and support for BBC iPlayer in 4K and HLG. It bucks the trend at this price with four HDMI ports, and for those into gaming, input lag is a low 18ms.
On the whole, the NU8000 delivers a punchy SDR image with natural, detailed and realistic images. However, step up to HDR and issues crop up, with blacks appearing grey and haloing around bright objects.
With a mostly impressive 4K picture, good design and plethora of smart features, the UE55NU800 is a good budget 4K TV.
2019 range guides
- Philips TVs 2019: Every new OLED, LCD, 4K and HD model explained
- Samsung TV 2019: Every new Samsung 4K QLED TV explained
- Sony TVs 2019: All the Sony Master and Bravia TVs for 2019
- Panasonic TVs 2019: 4K HDR and HD TV line-up explained
- LG TV 2019: Every OLED and NanoCell 4K TVs explained
How we test cheap TVs
Every TV that passes through our doors gets put through a series of tests and naked eye checks to gauge its overall picture quality and optimal settings. Key things we look out for are screen uniformity, black level, maximum brightness and colour vibrancy/accuracy. We also check input lag to make sure gamers won’t lose their edge when playing online.
Related: Best Now TV deals
What should I look for in a cheap TV?
Gone are the days when spending less than £1000 got you a chunky, 32-inch box with a disappointing screen. TVs have improved no end; they are slimmer, more attractive and boast a wide range of features. Most important of all, though, they offer a far better viewing experience.
If you’ve had an ear to the ground in the world of TV tech, you’ll probably have heard the terms 4K and UHD bandied about. We explain both technologies in more detail in our article What is 4K TV and Ultra HD? Put simply, however, 4K is a picture technology that quadruples the pixel count of Full HD, creating sharper, more lifelike images.
Related: Smart TVs explained
Some brands choose to interchange 4K with the term UHD. Technically, however, there’s a difference. Used correctly, 4K describes the 4096 x 2160 resolution first introduced in digital cinemas. UHD refers to the 3840 x 2160 resolution you’ll find in 16:9 ratio TVs, which is what you actually take home.
Full HD isn’t dead, however. While not quite as new or exciting, Full HD TVs remain excellent options. This is largely because the core technology at the heart of the best screens – such as black levels, contrast ratio and colour accuracy – is consistently higher than ever before.
Those who yearn for a more complete home cinema set-up may also want to consider investing in a soundbar, as excellent audio can make a huge difference to your viewing experience.