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Best cheap TVs 2021: the best budget 4K TVs

Included in this guide:

Best cheap TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best cheap 4K TVs you can buy in 2021.

Good news: you can get a great TV for a cheap price. The latest technology does trickle down, meaning the best cheap TVs can still deliver good picture quality and have the latest streaming TV apps, specs and features. 

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.

Read on for our pick of the best cheap TVs to make your buying decision simple.

Best TVs: Samsung UE43AU7100

(Image credit: Samsung/ Money Heist, Netflix)

1. Samsung UE43AU7100

You don’t need a bottomless bank account or a cavernous room to enjoy great picture quality

Specifications
Screen size: 43in (also available in 50in, 55in, 58in, 65in, 70in, 75in, 85in)
Type: LCD
Backlight: LED
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Operating system: Eden (Tizen)
HDMI inputs: 3
ARC/eARC: eARC
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 56 x 96 x 6cm
Reasons to buy
+Balanced, consistent picture quality+Strong smart features+Excellent value for money
Reasons to avoid
-Some mild colour compression-Sound doesn’t project well-Limited gaming features

Look up ‘unassuming’ in the dictionary and you’ll probably find a picture of the Samsung UE43AU7100. This 43-inch LCD TV doesn’t flaunt a particularly flamboyant design, doesn’t sell for a particularly outrageous price – either high or low – and its features list is certainly no Lord Of The Rings-style epic.

You don’t have to spend long in the UE43AU7100’s company, though, to realise that a TV doesn’t have to be an extrovert to stand out from the crowd. Solid processing and a thoughtful, balanced picture that actually seems to have had some care and attention lavished on it can be more than enough.

While inevitably for its money it’s not without its limitations, the UE43AU7100 delivers an impressively balanced, consistent and immersive picture. Particularly great to see at this price point is how deep its blacks are. Dark elements of mixed light and dark images enjoy rich and deep black tones, while full-on dark scenes appear with startlingly little of that grey or blue wash over them that so often blights such scenes on relatively affordable LCD TVs.

Best cheap TVs: TCL 55RP620K

(Image credit: TCL)

2. TCL 55RP620K

This Roku-powered TV is great for the money.

Specifications
Screen size: 55in (also available in 43in, 50in and 65in)
Type: LCD
Backlight: LED edge lighting
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Operating system: Roku
HDMI inputs: 4
ARC/eARC: ARC
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 72 x 123 x 8.4cm
Reasons to buy
+Complex, natural colours+Good contrast control+Superb smart platform
Reasons to avoid
-Short on dark detail-No motion processing-Sound lacks weight

On a performance-per-pound basis, this TCL is very hard to beat. The integrated Roku platform means the set is packed with streaming apps and is very easy to use, and the performance is much better than you'd expect from a set costing so little.

Compared to most TVs at the budget end of the spectrum, the RP620K produces richer, more vibrant and truer colours, better blacks, and more convincing contrast and texture. There's no real motion processing on board, but the native handling is decent.

While not exactly cinematic, the integrated speaker system is clear and controlled, so will do the job if you're unwilling or unable to add a soundbar.

All told, this TCL is a very solid buy. It might not be the AV equivalent of fine dining but it’s more sophisticated than the chips and gravy of Hisense’s even cheaper Roku TV – and just as tasty. If you want a big TV on a budget, there's currently nothing better.

Read the full TCL 55RP620K review

Best cheap TVs: Hisense R50A7200GTUK

(Image credit: Future / The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, Amazon Prime)

3. Hisense Roku R50A7200GTUK

An impressively complete package at a very low price

Specifications
Screen size: 50in (also available in 43in, 55in, 65in)
Type: LCD
Backlight: Direct LED
Resolution: 4K
Operating system: Roku
HDR support: HDR10, HLG
HDMI inputs: 3
USBs: 1
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 66 x 113 x 8.6cm
Reasons to buy
+Excellent upscaling+Bold, colourful picture+Superb Roku UI
Reasons to avoid
-Sonically lightweight-Colours can be heavy-handed

The Hisense Roku R50A7200GTUK is likely to be the cheapest 50-inch TV we’ll see on sale in the UK this year from a major manufacturer. It promises a good-sized, punchy 4K HDR image and all the major apps and services you could need, without so much as an additional box or stick in sight.

It’s a pledge that Hisense delivered so well in 2020 with its R50B7120UK model that it has decided to leave the recipe pretty much as it was for its 2021 Roku TV.

Neither the picture nor the sound are perfect, but both are surprisingly good for the very low asking price. Add in a brilliant feature set and an unbeatable content offering, and you've got a great performance-per-pound proposition.

Read the full Hisense R50A7200GTUK review

Best TVs: Toshiba 50UK3163DB

(Image credit: Toshiba/ Guilty, Netflix)

4. Toshiba 50UK3163DB

The boldest 4K HDR picture we’ve seen from a sub-£500 TV

Specifications
Screen size: 50in (also available in 43in, 58in, 65in)
Type: LCD
Backlight: Direct LED
Resolution: 4K
Operating system: Toshiba
HDR support: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
HDMI inputs: 3
USBs: 1
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 70 x 113 x 2.5cm
Reasons to buy
+Exceptionally sharp 4K pictures+Superbly punchy HDR+Good smart features
Reasons to avoid
-Black levels aren’t the best-Gaming features are limited-No Disney+ or Apple TV apps

We’ve seen a pretty dizzying mixture of the decent, the bad and the ugly from Toshiba’s recent TV efforts. 

With this in mind, it was pretty much impossible to predict what we were going to get out of the new 50UK3163DB when it landed on our test benches. Certainly we could never in our wildest dreams have predicted that it was actually going to end up dazzling us with arguably the most aggressively ‘next-gen’ pictures we’ve seen from any sub-£500 TV to date.

Inevitably for its money, the Toshiba 50UK3163DB isn’t perfect. Black levels are average, its pictures sometimes border on harshness, and its colours sometimes look rather washed out.

Its entirely healthy obsession with trying to give you the maximum 4K and HDR bang for your buck may well win it plenty of fans, though. Especially in shops where it can be shown running side by side with its subtler rivals.

Read the full Toshiba 50UK3163DB review

Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.

  • Robwhr
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    The best cheap 4K TVs combine great picture performance with the latest smart TV features, without breaking the bank.

    Best cheap 4K TVs 2020: the best budget TVs : Read more

    just bought 50pus8402 from Currys, Android, Freeview Play, 3 sided Ambilight, absolutely superb, much better spec than the sapphy Os of the one you listed in your top 10

    only £399 down from £799
    Reply
  • R6ex
    TCL has cheaper and better stuff than those listed.
    I especially like their C715 or C716 and S535 or even S635
    QLED budget TV.
    Reply
  • robos
    R6ex said:
    TCL has cheaper and better stuff than those listed.
    I especially like their C715 or C716 and S535 or even S635
    QLED budget TV.

    Only someone without personal experience with TCL can recommend it. I own 55C715 QLED, its a complete disaster. While the screen might be OK, the UI is terrible, slow, laggy. It requires frequent restarts. It lacks some basic settings, like audio output/mute built in speakers. I thought that I can solve that by adding xiaomi tv box, but it was a failure, since TCL has problems with CEC, so I had to have 3 remote controls on table, 1st to start up and switch off TV, second for TV box and 3rd for volume on DAC. Unacceptable.

    I will sell that TCL TV and buy Samsung UE55TU8000. Because I had opportunity to try that and it was much better than TCL
    Reply
  • tipyguilford
    Hi there, may i please ask if you would reccommend the $500 FFalcon 4K 55" from Jbhifi. https://www.jbhifi.com.au/products/ffalcon-55uf2-55-ultra-hd-hdr-smart-tvive seen some bad reviews for it, but i think how bad can a tv be if its just playing a picture. I will use it for streaming and on my ps4 pro to play games.
    Reply