What to Look For in a Budget TV in 2021
Like most consumer electronics, budget TVs are far more capable and feature-rich than ever before. As a result, you no longer need to break the bank to get a good TV. But not all affordable televisions are made equal, so you need to keep a couple of things in mind while selecting a new budget television. There’s a difference between a cheap TV and a budget one, after all!
Most importantly, pick a television with 4K resolution. 4K TVs used to be expensive, but nowadays they’re just as affordable as their 1080p counterparts. With such a small difference in price, there isn’t much reason to invest in a resolution lower than 4K. As you are likely to use a television for several years, you want it to be sufficiently future-proof, and 4K resolution gives you that, whether you’re currently watching 4K content or not.
Secondly, you’ll want to choose a brand that is known for quality products and good after-sales support. You’ll see several brands in the budget segment offering TVs with enticing features, but many of them have poor long-term service support. Apart from premium brands that everyone knows about, Hisense, TCL, and Vizio are great TV brands, especially in the budget segment. They offer proper service support and are excellent value TVs.
With these two things out of the way, let’s jump into the best budget televisions on the market. If you want a deeper dive into the most important TV features and technologies, we have an excellent guide covering everything you need to know before buying a TV.
Best Budget TV Overall: Hisense U7G
- ✓ Vibrant colors and a very bright screen
- ✓ HDMI 2.1 support
- ✓ Dolby Vision and HDR10+
- ✓ Impressive contrast with deep blacks
- ✗ Poor viewing angles
The Hisense U7G is an excellent budget 4K TV for most use cases. It packs Quantum Dot technology for vibrant colors and a brighter screen, which combined with the U7G’s excellent contrast, results in an impressive movie-watching experience in a dark room. In addition, local dimming, a feature that dims parts of the screen for better blacks, is present to enhance the contrast ratio further.
Even when you’re in a bright room, this QLED won’t disappoint you with a peak brightness of up to 1,000 nits. This high brightness also helps the television counter glare.
The U7G is a part of Hisense’s 2021 lineup, and it looks good and features thin bezels. It’ll go well in most living rooms and not clash with your decor as a result. The company has also added support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ for a great HDR performance.
Finally, an Android TV platform brings everything together and gives access to tons of smart TVs apps, including all popular streaming services. In addition, hands-free voice control support is built-in for Alexa and Google Assistant.
The only area where the U7G struggles are with the viewing angles, which is a problem most budget TVs will have. So if you’re looking to save some money and still get a great TV, the Hisense U7G is the way to go.
Best Budget TV Overall
Hisense produces some of the best value-for-money TVs on the market, and you can’t go wrong with the company’s U7G. It’s great for everything from watching movies to playing games.
Best Budget Gaming TV: Hisense U8G
- ✓ High brightness, richer colors, and excellent contrast
- ✓ HDMI 2.1 support with low input lag and fast response time
- ✓ Native 120Hz panel
- ✓ Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support
- ✗ Some issues with local dimming
- ✗ Poor viewing angles
Although our pick for the overall best budget TV is excellent for gaming, if gaming is your primary reason for buying a new TV, you should go for the Hisense U8G. It is the absolute best budget gaming TV you can buy under $1,000.
The U8G is a well-rounded TV that looks great and has amazing build quality. Like the U7G, it features Quantum Dot technology, resulting in richer colors and a bright screen. The U8G is even brighter than the U7G, with a peak brightness of around 1,500 nits. So even when you are playing games in a well-lit room, you will get a good viewing experience.
The television also comes with outstanding native contrast that is further helped by local dimming. Support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ is also present, so whether you’re playing HDR games or watching HDR movies, everything will look fantastic on the TV.
In terms of the gaming-specific features, the Hisense U8G features a 120Hz panel and two HDMI 2.1 ports so that you can enjoy 4K games at 120fps. The television also offers low input lag, excellent response time, and VRR support for next-generation gaming.
On the downside, you might face issues with local dimming when playing games on Xbox with VRR enabled—but disabling game mode or lowering the resolution on Xbox does the trick. Other than that, the Hisense U8G is truly one of the best budget gaming TVs around.
Best Budget Gaming TV
If you want a budget TV specifically for gaming, there is no better option than the Hisense 55U8G. It offers 4K@120Hz gaming, two HDMI 2.1 ports, low input lag, and other next-gen gaming features.
Best Budget Roku TV: TCL 55S535
- ✓ Superior contrast with deep blacks
- ✓ Vibrant colors
- ✓ Apple AirPlay support
- ✗ Low HDR brightness
- ✗ No next-gen gaming features
- ✗ Poor viewing angles
TCL, like Hisense, produces some of the best value-for-money TVs. The company is especially well-known for its association with Roku. Whenever you’re looking for a Roku TV, you’ll see everyone recommending a TCL TV. It’s not shocking that the TCL 55S535 is an excellent Roku TV, but it’s also just a great TV overall.
Part of TCL’s 2020 lineup, the S535 is a 4K QLED TV, which uses Quantum Dot technology for vibrant colors. It also has a superior contrast ratio that is further improved by local dimming. In addition, the TV looks good and has thin bezels. You can even control it with your voice, thanks to the support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Homekit.
The S535 does support Dolby Vision and HDR10, but its peak HDR brightness is poor for a truly outstanding HDR performance. It’s something to keep in mind if you plan on having this in a well-lit room.
Also, as TCL hasn’t included any HDMI 2.1 ports, it is hard to recommend the TV for next-generation gaming. So for that, you’ll be better off with our gaming pick. But some gaming features, like Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), low input lag, and quick response time, are present. In short, The S535 is a great Roku TV at an affordable price.
Best Budget Roku TV
The TCL 55S535 is an excellent 4K TV that uses the Roku OS. The platform provides access to several free streaming channels and all popular streaming services. The TV also has great contrast and vibrant colors.
Best Budget TV Under $800: Hisense U6G
- ✓ Impressive contrast-ratio and richer colors
- ✓ Support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+
- ✗ No next-gen gaming features
- ✗ Poor viewing angles
Hisense’s 2021 ULED lineup is fantastic, which is why we have already included two of its TVs on this list. But if you’re looking for something under $800, the 55U6G is perfect for you. It might be the entry-level model of the company’s ULED lineup, but it shares some of U7G and U8G’s exciting features, like Quantum Dot technology and support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+.
For the price, you get a good-looking TV with thin bezels and decent build quality. It also has an impressive contrast ratio and local dimming support, but local dimming doesn’t work too well here.
This Hisense TV runs on the Android TV platform, giving you access to the Google Play store and all of the major streaming apps. You can also use Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants to control the U6G, which is uncommon for this price threshold.
Unfortunately, the TV lacks next-generation gaming features, like HDMI 2.1, but you do get low input lag and an excellent response time. You just have to be okay with your games not being in 4K.
Although we have picked the 55-inch model and the main recommendation, you can also go for the 65-inch U6G if you have the space. Both screen sizes are available for under $800, so it’s up to your personal preference.
Best Budget TV Under $800
If you can’t spend over $800, the Hisense 55U6G makes perfect sense for you. It looks good and has everything needed for a good 4K experience. You also get the Android TV platform with the Google Play store.
- ✓ Stylish looks
- ✓ Excellent contrast and good reflection handling
- ✓ Access to all popular streaming services
- ✗ Poor HDR performance
- ✗ Narrow viewing angles
The Samsung AU8000 is an entry-level 4K TV from the company’s 2021 lineup. Despite its lower price tag, this Samsung offering looks elegant and is well put together, as expected from Samsung. It’ll feel great whether you are putting it on a table or mounting it on a wall.
The television offers excellent contrast with deep blacks, but there is no local dimming support. Still, you’ll have a great time watching movies and TV shows on it. The TV also handles reflections very well, so you won’t have the sun ruining your picture.
Instead of Android TV like many of the picks on this list, the AU8000 runs on Samsung’s Tizen platform with apps for all popular streaming services. Support for Alexa, Bixby, and Google Assistant is also present for voice control. In addition, if you have a Samsung phone, you can use its Tap to Play feature to effortlessly mirror your phone’s screen on your TV.
Although the TV supports HDR10+, its HDR performance is nothing to boast about because of lower brightness and lack of Quantum Dot technology to provide richer colors. The AU8000 also misses next-generation gaming features, but that is to be expected given its price tag. However, you do get low input lag and ALLM for decent casual gaming.
If you can afford just a bit more, the Hisense 50U6G is another budget option to consider. It retails typically around $530, but depending on discounts, you might catch it at $500. The 50U6G is an excellent budget 4K TV with vibrant colors, excellent contrast, and support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+. In addition, it runs on Android TV if you prefer that platform.
Best Budget TV Under $500
Need a TV priced below $500, Samsung’s entry-level AU8000 is a good option. It may not be as feature-rich as its more expensive counterparts, but it gets the basics right. You get a stylish design that looks great on both a table and a wall.
- ✓ Dolby Vision and HDR10 support
- ✓ Fire TV OS with tons of apps
- ✓ Excellent contrast
- ✗ Poor out of the box color accuracy
- ✗ Low brightness
Toshiba isn’t the most popular TV brand, but it offers some decent budget televisions. The Toshiba 43LF621U21 is one such TV. It looks nice and has okay build quality with mostly metal construction.
This Toshiba model provides excellent contrast with deep blacks, so you’ll have a good experience watching movies and TV shows in dark rooms. The TV handles reflections well, but it doesn’t get too bright, which can be a problem in well-lit rooms.
Toshiba uses Amazon’s Fire OS, which is user-friendly and comes with support for pretty much all major streaming services and apps. You can also use Alexa to control the TV, as well, which is novel at this price range. There is HDR10 and Dolby Vision support present as well to view HDR content.
Finally, advanced gaming features are missing, but the Fire TV at least has low input lag and a fast response time.
If you are able to spend a little more money, you can also pick up the . This is an entry-level 4K LED TV, but has better out-of-the-box color accuracy. Vizio’s budget TV also removes judder, a TV screen artifact that occurs when content recorded at 24fps is shown on a television with a 60Hz refresh rate.
Best Budget TV Under $300
The Toshiba LF621 is a good 4K TV for anyone who is a little tight on the budget. It runs on Amazon’s Fire OS that brings all the goodness of the Fire TV devices to the TV. In addition, the TV has Alexa for voice control.