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The 5 Best Budget TVs On Earth Today

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The 5 Best Budget TVs On Earth Today

Key Points:

  • Our choice for the #1 Best overall budget TV on earth today is the Hisense U6H.
  • The budget TVs on our list are surprisingly high-tier, at a price that won’t break the bank.
  • These TVs are worth checking out as the divide between affordable and premium is shrinking.
  • These budget TVs offer QLED technology, deeper blacks, longevity, streamlined software, and a lot of screen real estate for an excellent sticker price.

The best budget TVs on the market are all about offering consumers the best technology without refinancing their homes to afford them. Some of these are hit-and-miss, so separating the wheat from the chaff is important before taking the plunge.

The affordable brands include Hisense, Ruko, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Vizio. Element and Insignia manufacture very affordable options but the drop-off in quality may be a deal breaker for some. You’ll see the acronyms, QLED, and OLED throughout this review. While it’s a form of LCD, QLED tends to be cheaper than OLED.

Although QLED surpasses OLED in terms of brightness, OLED tends to have a wider range of contrasts and black levels. The point is, that some of the most affordable, top-tier options are QLED, and it’s only a notch down in terms of quality. With that being said, let’s dive into some of the best budget TVs on earth today!

Just take a look at our roundup of the 5 best budget TVs:

1. Best Overall: Hisense ULED 4K Premium 55U6H

Best Overall
Hisense ULED 4K Premium 55U6H Quantum Dot QLED Series 55-Inch Smart Google TV
$520.97
  • 4K ULED resolution to improve colors, motion, contrast, and brightness
  • Supports Dolby Vision HDR video and Dolby Atmos sound
  • Up to 600 nits peak brightness
  • Built-in Google Assistant and also works with Alexa
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB connectivity
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02/23/2024 10:11 pm GMT

The Hisense ULED 4K Premium 55U6H is proof positive that not all budget-friendly TVs belong on the ash pile of history. While you won’t get a superb gaming performance and the contrast is far from top-notch, the quantum dot technology that drives the 55U6H’s performance is outstanding.

The local dimming backlight that divides the display into zones does an excellent job of amplifying the overall color display capabilities. Hisense has its own built-in Roku variation, powered by Google TV, and it offers exceptional performance with Google Assistant voice operation.

The back panel features three HDMI ports (one of which is an eARC), a coax cable connector, dual-USB ports, and four 3.5mm ports on one section and an additional HDMI, ethernet, and optical audio on another. Though the color levels are incredible, the refresh rate is 60Hz, so rocking a PS5 at 120Hz is problematic.

Last-gen consoles should do fine, however. The black level is approximately 0.3 nits on High Dynamic Range (HDR) and slightly higher at Standard Dynamic Range (SDR). If there’s a complaint to be had, outside of gaming, it’s that the Hisense still suffers somewhat in dark scenes, like most budget TVs. The overall impression is of watching black puzzle pieces moving around on even blacker puzzle pieces.

Overall, however, it’s hard to imagine a better TV at this price range. Hardcore gamers may want to look elsewhere but, for everyone else, the Hisense offers an incredible picture, along with a user-friendly Google TV experience, for a surprisingly low price.

ProsCons
It has the look and feel of a much pricier setIt doesn’t have the greatest contrast
It features 600 nits of peak brightnessGamers on next-gen consoles will struggle
It features Google TV and Google Voice Assistant
The U6H Supports Apple AirPlay

Check out the Hisense ULED 4K Premium 55U6H on Amazon.

2. Best for Gamers: TCL 6-Series Roku TV QLED

Best for Gamers
TCL 65-Inch 6-Series R635
  • Dolby Vision HDR
  • 3840 x 2160 panel resolution
  • Quantum Dot Technology (better brightness and wider color volume)
  • Up to 240 localized zones for a striking contrast
  • Roku Smart TV
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The TCL 6-Series Roku TV QLED is TCL’s flagship model, available in several sizes, and one of the best budget TVs on the market. It features mini-LED backlighting that really brings out the brightness. On top of that, there is a separate quantum dot layer (hence the QLED qualification). The combination is a bright, multilayered canopy of vivid and contrasting colors, along with deep blacks that previous TCL owners would have to see to believe.

The TCL 6-Series also has gamers in mind, with a 120Hz refresh rate at 4k, including FreeSync Premium Pro. It also supports a Variable Refresh Rate of up to 144Hz. With Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10, and HLG, it’s hard to argue with this platform from gaming to casual streaming.

The back panel features two HDMI 2.1 ports, two additional HDMI ports, a coax cable port, ethernet, 1x USB, two 3.5mm ports, and an optical port. All are arranged in a neat row to maintain the streamlined effect.

However, navigating the Settings menu that lies behind everything is often difficult. If you want to adjust the viewing experience, its unnecessary complication is one of the biggest drawbacks. As a TV with gaming in mind, the sound is surprisingly high-pitched and tiny.

ProsCons
The TCL 6-Series features outstanding image qualityThe TCL 6-Series comes with poor sound quality
It’s perfect for gaming with a 120Hz refresh rate thanks to FreeSync Premium ProThe settings menu is unnecessarily complicated
The 6-Series features a simple and streamlined user interface
It’s one of the brightest TVs in its class

Check out the TCL 6-Series Roku TV QLED on Amazon.

3. Best Contrast: Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K UHD

Best Contrast
Amazon Fire TV 50″ Omni Series 4K UHD smart TV, hands-free with Alexa
$329.99
  • Bright, vibrant colors
  • Built-in Alexa
  • Great for smart home integration
  • 4K Display
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02/23/2024 08:32 pm GMT

The Amazon Omni Series is one of Amazon’s first attempts at higher-end, budget TVs. If you’ve ever used a Firestick before, the TV interface will be very familiar and Amazon certainly isn’t looking to break with what works. The Omni TV Series, though entry-level in the 4K market, is surprisingly robust, and easily one of the best budget TVs on our list.

It does offer three HDMI ports and one HDMI eARC port, along with cable, ethernet, IR, optical, USB, and 3.5mm ports. The integration with Alexa is exceptional and you can control almost everything with simple voice commands. In the visual department, the Omni series truly stands out amongst its peers.

Though the contrast is one of its strengths, dark black scenery is a struggle, as it is with all budget 4K TVs. However, the Omni series features exceptional color vibrance and HDR is excellent at this level. Some scenery seems to leap off the screen, depending on what you’re watching. It also gets along well with gaming systems though it lags behind the TCL in terms of refresh rate.

ProsCons
The Omni Series features better contrast levels than most comparable TVsIt features sluggish performance at times
It features bright, vibrant colors
Built-in Alexa is excellent and responsive
It’s a great option for smart home integration

Check out the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K UHD on Amazon.

4. Best Supported Streaming Services: Vizio 50″ M-Series Quantum X TV

Best for Streaming
VIZIO 50-inch MQX Series Premium 4K Smart TV
$498.00
  • 4K Ultra HD display
  • Full-array backlight LEDs
  • AMD FreeSync Premium and VRR
  • Dolby Vision HDR Bright Mode plus HDR10+
  • Wi-Fi 6E for fast streaming
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02/24/2024 02:12 pm GMT

The Vizio 50″ M-Series Quantum X continues Vizio’s long history of quality TVs that sell well below the Samsungs and Sonys of the world. One of the powers behind the Vizio M-Series’ excellent picture is the local dimming. It works effortlessly to provide just the right light. This makes the picture pop with excellent color saturation.

It also features solid contrast. When paired with HDR, the combo results in outstanding black levels. There are 16 local dimming zones on the MQX. While that number won’t blow anyone’s socks off, it strikes the perfect balance between excellent picture and affordability.

The MQX is also an outstanding choice for gamers, with a 120Hz refresh rate and FreeSync Premium Pro. It’s not quite up there with the TCL 6-series but it only misses that mark by a hair. The back panel features four HDMI inputs (one of which is 2.1), a USB 2.0 port, an optical audio port, and an RV, Ethernet, and RCA input as well.

In terms of design, Vizio sticks with what’s always worked for them. It’s nothing outlandish and it doesn’t give off weak, plastic aesthetic vibes either. Altogether, it’s a solid TV with a triangular stand, a gray bottom bezel, and adjustable leg heights (two options altogether).

ProsCons
It’s a great TV for gamers with the latest, next-gen consolesThe sound quality is a mixed bag
Its a great TV for gamers with the latest, next-gen consolesThere are better Operating Systems out there with a more user-friendly experience
It has a solid construction quality and comes in three sizes
The MQX also features SmartCast TV

Check out the Vizio 50″ M-Series Quantum X on Amazon.

5. Best Affordable OLED: LG A2 OLED

Best Affordable'
LG 65-Inch Class OLED A2 Series 4K Smart TV (2022) (Renewed)
  • AI-powered 4K OLED
  • 65-inch display
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • Dolby Vision IQ
  • Dolby Atmos
  • WiSA Ready
  • Cloud Gaming
  • Alexa built-in
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It’s not often you see an OLED set on a “best budget TVs” list but, the LG A2 OLED Series deserves to be there. OLEDs are distinctly separate from LCDs in every way and the materials and manufacturing process tend to drive up the costs. However, LG pulls off an excellent entry-level, affordable TV with the LG A2 OLED.

Of course, to drive down the cost of an OLED option, LG made a few sacrifices along the way. One of which is the low frame rate that shows up from time to time, primarily when gaming. It’s also not the brightest TV in the world.

Still, once you set this bad boy up, the casual observer will assume you have a $2k TV set in your living room. The LG A2 oozes a premium aesthetic, with a thin screen, a thin bezel all the way around, and an interesting, light gray textured surface as a back panel. Speaking of back panels, you’ll find a coax, two HDMI ports, an RS-232-C connector, an SP/DIF jack, an ethernet, and an additional HDMI eARC.

The visual experience is exceptional as well. HDR, HDR10, and Dolby Vision are all accounted for. The colors have an incredible, visual pop, only held back by the device’s lack of high brightness levels. While there are OLEDs that are slightly better, at a comparable price, the LG A2 OLED is an affordable option that is really hard to beat.

ProsCons
The LG A2 features excellent picture quality at an affordable priceIt lacks the brightness to truly bring out the color capabilities of the set
It features an excellent smart TV OSThe audio is just okay
The LG A2 has surprisingly high-quality audio

Check out the LG A2 OLED on Amazon.

How to Pick the Best Budget TV

There are a lot of factors to consider if you want to pick a truly budget TV. One of the most important things to remember is to forget about 1080p or 720p. Today, 4k resolution TVs are well beyond the standard HD formats and the upscale price is minimal at best. Unless you’re looking for a very small TV screen, there’s no reason to scale down to 1080p.

  • The more HDMI ports, the better: While four or more is optimal, try to find TVs that have more than three HDMI ports. There are simply too many devices out there that require an HDMI connection to sell yourself short on the number of ports.
  • HDR Compatible: The improvements in contrast and colors are great enough that it justifies the extra expense.
  • Use QLED as a Compromise: Avoid standard LCD sets and aim for OLED, which will offer the best picture overall. However, if you can’t justify the price, QLEDs are excellent in their own right, and better in terms of brightness.
  • Consider the Audio Capabilities: It’s hard to find even a premium TV with 8k resolution that has great audio. When budgeting for a TV, consider a small home theater setup or even a soundbar to make up for it.
  • Refresh Rate: If you’re a gamer, especially with a next-gen console, a 120Hz refresh rate is where it’s at. Even if you don’t do much gaming, however, 120Hz still offers a lot of benefits that are worth considering.

When shopping for the best budget TVs, it’s a game of balance. The above factors are well worth the slight bumps in cost. Fortunately, you have some wiggle room to compromise with most.

What to Know Before Buying

It’s important to understand the subtle distinctions between OLED, QLED, ULED, and all of the other little acronyms that apply to TVs. In layman’s terms, QLED is a quantum dot LCD display that only beats out OLEDs when it comes to brightness. OLEDs, however, beat out QLEDs in every other measurable way.

An OLED screen is not an LCD TV and the technology is more expensive throughout the acquisition and manufacturing process. OLEDs usually demand a higher price, especially with very large sets. ULED is often confusing and, just as often, turns out to be just another name for QLED.

When it comes to 8k, there’s no reason to make that jump right now, at least not if you are looking to keep the price realistically ‘budget’ prices.

Using the Best Budget TVs: What it’s Like

When it comes to the best budget TVs, the shopping experience is almost as important as the visual experience. Sorting through a cornucopia of premium budget TVs in a saturated market is no easy feat. Choose well and you’re rewarded with a premium viewing experience at a fraction of the price.

Honestly, unless you have the tools to measure pixel saturation, varying degrees of brightness, relay speeds, etc, most people won’t be able to tell the picture difference between a QLED and OLED. It’s important to remember that these TVs are often evaluated and compared with a wide spectrum of tools that most people don’t have access to.

Having a screen with a dazzling picture on a budget TV versus an ever-so-slightly better display is often not worth the $1k price markup. That’s essentially what we’re dealing with here. Budget TVs are more likely to have faults elsewhere, such as inferior viewing angles, struggles with well-lit rooms, or fewer ports on the back.

Finding an excellent budget TV often makes very little discernible difference in a living room than an OLED 55″ and below. The point is, a solid TV on a budget looks outstanding in most homes, with fantastic resolution and smart capabilities. The technology that separates these TVs from their big-budget cousins is discernible but not so much that it justifies the expense.

Final Thoughts on the 5 Best Budget TVs on Earth Today

There you have it, five top-of-the-line TVs (within their class) that are more than affordable considering what each one brings to the table. Of course, to keep things within the ‘affordability’ range, sacrifices are often made. Usually that takes place in the build quality but also in brightness, refresh rate, and contrast.

Brightness and contrast are much easier to deal with in a low-light setting, while the refresh rate is more pertinent to the demands of gamers. No matter what you decide to choose, these 5 TVs are outstanding picks and offer quality, affordability, and longevity.

Summary Table

RankTV ModelBest For
#1Hisense ULED 4K Premium 55U6HOverall Performance
#2TCL 6-Series Roku TV QLEDGamers
#3Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K UHDContrast
#4Vizio 50″ M-Series Quantum X TVSupported Streaming Services
#5LG A2 OLEDAffordable OLED

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you really need an expensive TV?

Not really. Gamers and those who connect high-end devices will get more out of a really expensive TV than most people. Even gamers can take advantage of budget offerings with a focus on high refresh rates.

Is HDR necessary in a budget TV?

The good news is, many budget TVs now have HDR capability, and it’s more than worth it if you want the best infusion of colors. HDR-capable sets are superior in the color category in every way and it’s worth the slight jump in price.

What's the difference between cheap and expensive TVs?

The biggest difference is usually in the display—QLED versus OLED. More subtle but no less important, are the little distinctions, such as viewing angles, brightness, and refresh rates. Those looking for specific things, such as a high refresh rate, have to spend a little more time parsing through budget TVs.

What should I avoid when buying a budget TV?

First and foremost, avoid buying one that’s too small. Stick with the 45″ to 65″ range and avoid going way too big either. You should also consider a soundbar since most budget TVs are forced to cut corners on the audio to keep those prices low.

What's the best budget TV brand?

Each has its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, Vizio features great performance while TCL typically has better panel technology. Hisense focuses on HDR while Vizio is usually better in dark rooms. In other words, the best budget brand is the one that matches your needs the best.

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