Best cheap TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best cheap 4K TVs you can buy in 2021.
If you want to upgrade your TV but don't want to spend a huge amount of money, then our round-up of the best cheap 4K TVs is for you. The best budget TVs combine impressive pictures, good sound and the necessary features for enjoying the ultimate home entertainment experience available, including 4K and HDR picture processing, and streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix.
The TV industry moves faster than most, with big brands such as Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony bringing new TV technology every year to deliver genuine performance advances. And it's not just the screen manufacturers. Broadcasters and streaming services have pushed HD, 4K and now HDR (high dynamic range) video, in an effort to lure new viewers and improve the quality of their content. (Just don't think about 8K TV.)
The good news is this technology does trickle down, meaning the best budget TVs can still deliver great picture quality and have the latest apps, specs and features. Read on for our pick of the best cheap TVs to make your buying decision simple.
How we choose the best cheap TVs
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, including a lot of TVs of all shapes, sizes and types. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years' experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency.
All the TVs we review are tested in comparison with rival products in the same category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity.
From all of our TV reviews, we choose the top products to feature in our Best Buys, such as this one. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.
This is one of the cheapest 4K TVs that Samsung currently offers. But fear not, it still boasts Samsung's core performance and feature set, at a smaller size and a lower price. In short, it's pretty much the best cheap TV you can buy.
Most 43in TVs offer about a tenth of the features of a bigger set, but not this one. The Tizen operating system is identical to that found on pricier sets, with the same winning UI and stacked app selection. It's 4K, naturally, HDR formats are well catered for (with the exception of Dolby Vision, which no Samsung sets support), and it supports Auto Low Latency Mode, which switches the TV to game mode when it detects a gaming signal. That's a feature missing from many much pricier sets, such as the 48in Sony in the top spot on this list.
The contrast ratio isn't as impressive as an OLED or QLED TV, of course, but that's to be expected. The blacks are actually surprisingly deep for a TV this affordable, and there's a hefty amount of punch. The TU7100 is a sharp and detailed performer, too, and it handles motion with a good balance of smoothing and authenticity. It's an excellent picture performance for a TV of this size, and you'd have to spend a fair bit more to get a significant improvement.
Read the full Samsung UE43TU7100 review
Samsung's 8-series has traditionally been positioned just below the company’s glamorous range-topping QLEDs. In the past, it has proven to be the sweet spot where picture quality and price intersect to maximum effect. And the Samsung UE55TU8000 delivers on that promise, while still coming in at an affordable price.
This Samsung has three HDMI inputs, which should be plenty considering the TV offers all the smart TV streaming apps you'd expect (Netflix, Amazon, Now TV, Disney, and plenty more), so there's no need to add a streaming stick. There's a decent interface for browsing all that content and voice control if you want to get clever.
Crucially, the picture is involving, exciting and way beyond anything else you’ll find at this price. There's impressive detail, punchy colours and solid, deep black levels. And it performs impressively across 4K, HD and even SD pictures. The sound is pretty standard for a relatively affordable TV but add a simple soundbar and this makes for a compelling home entertainment system. One of the biggest TV bargains available right now.
Read the full Samsung UE55TU8000 review
This is the price where TVs tip over from budget to mid range. And this set is the new best in class.
The feature set is very impressive, with ALLM, eARC, 4K and three formats of HDR supported. There's no VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), but at this price, that's hardly surprising. The Tizen OS is the same as seen on Samsung's flagship TVs, which means a slick user interface and apps galore.
It comes with Samsung's standard remote, plus its One Remote, which is more ergonomic and has a stripped-back selection of buttons that cover all of the bases. Voice controls are handled by Amazon's Alexa or Samsung's Bixby personal assistants, with Google Assistant due to land soon via a firmware update.
Picture-wise, it blows most of the similarly priced competition out of the water, with deeper blacks and bright white highlights. On the motion side of things, it displays a satisfyingly natural degree of smoothing, and manages to dig up plenty of detail. At this price, there really is no competition.
Read the full Samsung UE50TU8500 review
This is the best cheap 50 inch TV you can buy. The Hisense R50B7120UK is a direct LED-backlit TV, with a 4K resolution, HDR support and all of the apps you could possibly need, thanks to the excellent Roku TV platform (it's the first Roku TV to land in the UK). And all at a staggeringly low price.
It may not look much but in terms of features and connectivity, it surely offers everything you need, from HDMI, optical, USB and headphone connections, to Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Freeview Play, Apple TV, Disney Plus, Spotify, and plenty more). The universal search could be better but the content is certainly there.
The picture itself is good straight out of the box, too, though tinkering a little with the contrast, brightness and colour settings will yield even better results. Motion is handled confidently, colours are bright and dynamic but never artificial, and while absolute detail in dark scenes can be bettered by more expensive TVs, any flaws here never distract from what is a watchable picture. We can't help but give a hearty recommendation for this budget 50-inch 4K TV.
Read the full Hisense R50B7120UK review
The Samsung UE43RU7020 is the smallest size of the lowest range of Samsung’s 2019 TV range. And if you want an affordable but still recent Samsung TV, then this might be the one.
It is a couple of rungs down the ladder compared to the TV above, so you do lose some features. There's no One Remote or Bixby, but potentially more significant to performance, it also loses Samsung’s Dynamic Crystal Control colour technology, which is replaced by the technically less advanced PurColor. You do however still have all the main streaming video apps, presented in a usable interface, and with plenty of HDR video support alongside the 4K resolution.
In terms of performance, this TV delivers excellent, deep black levels, thanks to an impressively uniform backlight considering the price. 4K detail is good, too, though it doesn't quite match the model above for contrast or colour performance, and viewing angles aren't as strong.
This is still a fine ‘small’ TV - and if you see a deal, it's well worth snapping up.
Read the full review: Samsung UE43RU7020
This Philips 50-inch 4K HDR TV has the company's eye-catching Ambilight picture technology, all that screen, and all the smart TV apps you need. What’s more, it delivers a picture performance that’s genuinely brilliant for the price. It can be a little bit fussy to use but there's no arguing with the deal on offer here.
Play some 4K content and this Philips offers striking but nuanced colours, with natural skin tones. There's texture to background details and impressive close-up insight, even when dropping down to HD video. Black levels don't always reveal every dark detail but you do get rich, inky dark scenes, so it's a reasonable compromise.
For its price, even the sound quality is acceptable - it is a very slim TV after all - and the improved interface is OK if not as intuitive as some rivals. A fine value 4K TV, and definitely one to check out if you're on a budget.
Read the full Philips 50PUS6703 review
A 55-inch set, this is a big, cheap OLED TV. And with this Hisense O8B using an LG panel, it’s tempting to assume that you’ll get a similar performance for significantly less money. And that's almost true. It's well connected, has all the inputs, outputs and features you would expect, including support for the latest HDR video formats: Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG.
You have to do some tweaking but once set up, you're treated to an image that’s rich without being noticeably unnatural, sharp without obvious over-processing, and bright without looking blown out.
It also features most of the big-name apps you would expect, and has a simple operating system that's a doddle to navigate.
Downsides? Motion processing could be better, and colours more nuanced. That means it can't quite match the performance of the LG C9, which is now not a lot more money. But it remains a good TV in its own right.
Read the full review: Hisense H55O8BUK
Toshiba might not be the cutting edge name in TV it once was, but the Japanese giant has not given up the fight for your living room. Instead, it has refocused its attention on a budget battle with brands such as Hisense and TCL: smaller sets and lower prices. So, while the price tag on the Toshiba 43UK4B63DB may look low, it’s actually part of the company's flagship series.
At 43in, it’s the baby of a three-strong line up – the other options are 50in and 58in screens – and it’s fully fitted with HDR10 and Dolby Vision, a Dolby Atmos-badged sound system (produced in conjunction with Onkyo) and even a built-in microphone for Alexa and Google Assistant voice interaction. There aren’t many more stops that Toshiba could have pulled out here.
This is a good TV from Toshiba and a big improvement on what we’ve seen from this former great in recent years. The sound performance is poor (we'd recommend you add a soundbar) but the picture is solid at all levels. For detail, for scaling, for contrast and largely for colour too, it performs well for its low price.
Read the full review: Toshiba 43UK4B63DB
An LG OLED panel with Philips' Ambilight TV technology sounded good to us and luckily this TV turned out to be as good as it sounds. In fact, even without Ambilight it would be one of our favourite televisions of the last couple of years. Add it on, and you've got an amazingly compelling little package on your hands.
The Android OS interface ensures most of the apps you'd expect to be here are present, though Amazon Video was missing when we tested it. Ah well, you can't have everything. But the picture quality more than makes up for the odd app omission: objects look reassuringly solid, with a palpable sense of three-dimensionality. Colours are lush and vibrant, and the contrast between light and dark parts of the picture is stark.
In short, this is a superb TV, and yet another enhancement of LG’s OLED tech. If HDR is your prime concern (and it should be) this should be right at the top of your new TV shortlist.
Read the full Philips 55POS9002 review
For a bargain price, Hisense will sell you a 43in 4K HDR screen with an edge LED backlight. The HDR is actually something of a busted flush, but the H43AE6100UK is in many ways quite the bargain. Hisense takes the liberty of pre-installing most apps so that they’re more or less ready to go when you are, and that includes Netflix and Amazon, both in 4K and HDR.
Colours are decent – vibrant within the set’s brightness limits but also natural and relatively nuanced. There’s reasonable detail and sharpness, too. And while there’s no motion processing setting as such, movement is no more juddery or blurry than that from many more expensive televisions.
This is true whether you're watching in 4K or HD, though only in standard dynamic range. Unfortunately, the HDR performance proves poor but for this money, in every other aspect, it's cheap and cheerful. And if you don't watch HDR sources you'll find plenty to like.
Read the full Hisense H43AE6100UK review