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Best cheap TVs 2021: cheap smart and 4K TVs

Best cheap TVs Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best cheap 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. 

The models below combine impressive pictures and all the features needed for an outstanding home entertainment experience. This includes 4K HDR picture processing, and streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Netflix and Hulu.

The TV industry moves faster than most, with big brands such as Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony launching new TV technology every year. The good news is this technology trickles down, meaning the best cheap 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.

Best cheap TVs: Samsung UE43TU7100

(Image credit: Samsung / Fear The Walking Dead, Amazon Prime )

1. Samsung UE43TU7100

An awesome performance-per-pound TV.

Specifications
Screen size: 43in
Type: LCD
Backlight: edge LED
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
Operating system: Samsung Tizen
HDMI inputs: 2
ARC/eARC: eARC
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 56 x 96 x 5.9cm
Reasons to buy
+Impressive sharpness and detail+Tonally balanced+Intuitive, app-packed interface
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly sluggish operation-Only two HDMI inputs

This 43-inch model is one of Samsung's cheapest 4K TVs but it boasts the company's core performance technology and impressive smart features. In fact, this set outperforms expectations to the extent that it's just about the best cheap TV on sale right now.

Whereas most TVs of this size skimp on features, this model has the same (brilliant) Tizen operating system found on Samsung's pricier TVs, complete with a well-stocked app selection. 

Picture-wise, it supports HDR formats (though not Dolby Vision, which no Samsung sets support) and Auto Low Latency Mode, which makes this set a great option for PS5 and Xbox Series X owners on a budget. The contrast ratio isn't as impressive as a (much pricier) OLED or QLED panel, but the blacks are actually surprisingly deep for such as cheap TV. 

With excellent picture performance for a TV of this size, and smart features galore, this model is our current pound-for-pound champion.

Read the full Samsung UE43TU7100 review

Best cheap TVs: Samsung UE55TU8000

(Image credit: Future / How to build a girl, Amazon Prime)

2. Samsung UE55TU8000

This awesome cheap TV delivers an impressive performance.

Specifications
Type: LED
Resolution: 4K
HDR support: HDR10, HLG
HDMI inputs: 3
Dimensions (hwd, with stand): 78.3 x 123 x 25cm (with stand)
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant HDR picture+Bags of tonal detail+Punchy colours
Reasons to avoid
-Not particularly bright-Uninspiring sound

If you can stretch your budget a bit further, you'll be rewarded with one of the best TV bargains in the States right now – the Samsung 8 Series. It sat just below the company’s flagship QLED panels when it originally launched, and continues to deliver impressive picture quality at an affordable price.

You get a lot for your money, including all the smart TV streaming apps you'd expect (Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max, Hulu, YouTube, ESPN and plenty more), so there's no need to add a streaming stick. You also get three HDMI inputs, a decent interface for browsing all that content and voice control if you want to get smart.

Crucially, the picture is better than most rivals at the $600 price point. Colours are punchy, black levels are solid and performance is solid across 4K, HD and even SD pictures. Sound is basic but a soundbar would soon fix that. For the money, this is one of the best cheap TVs you can buy right now.

Best cheap TVs: Sony XBR-49X950H

(Image credit: Sony / Hanna, Amazon Prime)

3. Sony XBR-49X950H

One of the best sub-$1000 TVs available right now.

Specifications
Type: LCD with direct LED backlight
Resolution: 4K
HDR support: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
HDMI inputs: 4
Dimensions (hwd, with stand): 109.3cm x 62.9cm x 7cm
Reasons to buy
+Punchy, rich picture performance+Vastly improved sound+Snappy user experience
Reasons to avoid
-Same design as last year-Some backlight bloom

On the hunt for an affordable Android TV with a lifelike picture? This Sony will tick all your boxes and more. Launched in 2020, the 49-inch X950H LCD TV impresses with its sleek design, snappy interface, generous HDR support and sharp picture.

NetflixAmazon Prime Video, and Disney+ are all on board to scratch that 4K Dolby Vision streaming itch, while Google Play Movies & TV deliver pay-as-you-go 4K content with HDR10. Sony has even thrown in AirPlay 2, which lets you can stream Apple TV content from iOS devices to the X950H.

Of course, this set's main draw is its rich but natural colors and excellent dark detail. Motion has long been Sony's forte so it's no surprise that the X950H is a truly insightful performer in that regard. And gamers will be pleased to hear that input lag is just 21.1ms. 

All told, this is a relatively affordable TV that doesn't cut corners when it comes to performance.

Read the full Sony XBR-49X950H review

Best cheap TVs: TCL 32S335

(Image credit: Future / Bosch, Amazon Prime)

4. TCL 32S335

Small, smart and really rather good for the money.

Specifications
Screen size: 32in
Type: LCD
Backlight: Direct LED
Resolution: 720p
HDR formats supported: None
Operating system: Roku
HDMI inputs: 3
ARC/eARC: ARC
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 19" x 29" x 7"
Reasons to buy
+Excellent apps and OS+Lively color palette+Well-balanced audio
Reasons to avoid
-Poor motion handling-Limited shading ability

If you’re looking for something small for a bedroom or perhaps even to fit out a motorhome or camper, then this budget Roku TV-powered TCL may be just the size and price you need.

You won’t find much smaller or cheaper from a recognised manufacturer and, in TCL, you’re getting a TV from a maker that’s on the up.

The software comes in partnership with Roku, whose operating system provides the platform for all the settings and controls as well the apps and service, while the hardware is TCL. This rock-bottom price only gets you 720p resolution, but that could be all you need.

While there are a lot of cheap TV pitfalls, TCL has done well to avoid most of them. The backlighting is even, the picture is balanced and the sound is clear enough. Its colors lack subtlety and its motion handling is pretty poor but, for the very small size and price, this is a good option.

Read the full TCL 32S335 review

MORE:

Bargain or bust: Should you buy a refurbished TV?

Fancy splashing out? Browse today's best TV deals

Or feast your eyes on the best 4K movies and TV shows

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


Read more about how we test

  • 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