Today, we review the Best Budget 55 Inch 4k Smart Tv and the best 55 inch tv for the money. A 55 inch 4K TV is by far one of the most popular 4K screen sizes around the world. This is so popular because it is perfectly luxurious and just about right for a medium-sized room, not too big and not too small.
55 inch and 4K resolution, it’s a perfect combination to get a truly cinematic experience at your home and available from 50K onwards.
But while making a decision, you should look at these factors below:
Screen Size and Resolution: The latest 55 inch TVs at this price are all available at 4K/ Ultra HD resolution. These 4K smart TVs offer a Superior Viewing Experience by providing a wide viewing angle of 178°/178°. And also gives great picture quality without any annoying reflections, rich contrast, and true colors from any corner of the room.
For the Better Experience, place the TV at least 5 – 7 feet away from the sitting position.
HDR-compatible: Get the latest HDR tech like HDR10, Dolby Vision, etc. The new HDR tech on the latest 4K panels offers extraordinary color, contrast, and brightness ratio. This significantly improves the overall viewing and enhances the gaming experience.
Sound: Almost all Premium TVs at this price offers Dolby audio. This is better than normal TV output as it enhances the sound output quite a bit. If you need more bass, going for Soundbar or a home theatre is the best bet.
Without further ado, here are the 10 best 55 inch 4K TVs on the market today. This list is longer than normal for our other TV guides by size because of how popular the 55 inch size range is. However it will continuously be updated throughout the year as any new 55 inch models with even better performance arrive for our review, so feel free to check back fairly regularly.
We should also strongly note here that the following TV rankings are made with both quality and price taken into consideration. Essentially, we’ve at least partly ranked these models in terms of their quality and value per dollar spent so that we could demonstrate what the best TVs are for the lowest possible prices in their category. The list does of course include lots of premium 4K HDR TVs but if the only measurement was absolute performance, we could simply rank the top five most expensive televisions, one from each of the major brands. Some of the top 55 inch televisions sold today aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Thus, those with very good performance sometimes rank a bit higher than absolute ultra-premium TVs because they cost much less while performing almost indistinguishably as well in their core specs.
As you’ll note, this is the size range at which we finally start to see the spectacular LG OLED 4K TV models, which don’t come in smaller sizes than this. They clearly dominate the rankings due to what are some unarguably excellent overall performance specs.
Also keep in mind that all 4K TV models listed come with a native refresh rate of 120Hz unless otherwise stated for any particular TV.
best budget 55 inch 4k smart tv
LG OLED55C8 55 Inch OLED 4K HDR Smart TV
LG’s OLED C8 is in our view the truly outstanding 4K UHD TV of 2018 and early 2019 for its sheer combination of quality and price. This applies particularly to the 55 inch model and while we hardly can call this a budget 4K TV at over $1500 per unit, its price tag is remarkably reasonable if what you’re looking for is the best possible ultra-premium quality at the lowest possible price. Because the C8 is an OLED TV it shares nearly identical specs with all OLED TVs from LG in a given year, this means identical display performance regardless of price, with the only real points of difference being physical design, native audio qualities and processing engines. Because the C8 has LG’s best processing engine of 2018 and because audio in any 4K TV can easily be compensated for by hooking up an external sound system, then that only leaves the display specs, and in the C8 they’re as good as those of any other 2018 OLED.
In other words, the C8 gives you display performance that could easily cost thousands of dollars at just a fraction of price. And speaking of this performance: this ultra HD TV packs some of the best color performance you’ll see in any 4K HDR TV of 2018 and early 2019. On top of this, it can manage motion handling in a way that no LCD TV can match. Furthermore, because we’re talking about OLED technology here, its black levels, contrast and OLED dimming are essentially perfect. This model deserves its top spot.
Sony XBR55X900F 55 Inch LCD 4K HDR Smart TV
We placed the Sony X900F in our top spot for our ranking of best 49-50 inch 4K UHD TVs and here it is again because this is one of the outstanding 4K HDR models of 2018 and into early 2019. This particular television comes with a reasonable price, fantastic display specs and some very good features for everything from movie watching to gaming. It’s just excellent in general. As we’ve mentioned before, the X900F is a full HDR TV that can really output the visuals necessary for doing justice to high dynamic range content from streaming or 4K Blu-ray sources. This means that it delivers very vibrant color accuracy due to its wide color gamut and 10-bit color specs, and that it can manage both the extremely deep blacks and very high screen brightness levels necessary for high quality HDR. This model also comes with full-array LED backlighting and high quality local dimming technology, allowing it to offer even better than average, crisp black levels and contrast.
On a final note, the X900F is also an excellent gaming TV, like most of the models on this list. Its input lag is very low for console connectivity under an assortment of different settings for HDR, 4K resolution, 1080p gaming and different frame rates.
best 55 inch tv for the money
LG OLED55B8 55 Inch OLED 4K HDR Smart TV
LG’s OLED B8 is so close to being as good as the C8 we ranked above this model that they’re nearly identical in their performance, and oddly, the B8 actually gets a bit brighter than the C8 when playing back HDR content. However, it comes with an older internal visual processing core and doesn’t include quite the same audio support specs. On the other hand, this TV is at least a couple hundred bucks cheaper, so if you don’t mind the almost unnoticeable differences created by its processor, we highly recommend it. Processor differences aside, in all key display specs like color reproduction, HDR support, typically beautiful OLED black levels, dimming and contrast, the B8 is excellent, and delivers just as well as the C8 or any other 2018 OLED on these and gaming support as well.
TCL 55R617 6-Series 55 Inch 4K HDR Smart TV
TCL’s 6-Series 4K HDR TVs are probably the single best value of all the 2018/early 2019 4K UHD TV’s we’ve reviewed so far. They deliver so much quality that it’s hard to believe their price tags. This is why we rank this model so highly on this list. It offers nearly ultra-premium display quality and performance at budget prices. Just recently, during the 2018 Christmas Holidays, the 55 inch TCL R617 was selling for only $499.99 and there hasn’t been a single other TV sold in 2018 that was that good for that kind of price.
As for all its high end performance, well, it consists of all the usual hallmarks of quality picture specs, including: extremely high peak brightness, exquisitely deep black levels, extremely high contrast ratios, local dimming to make both of these latter specs even better and some fantastically vibrant color output. The 6-Series also manages excellent motion handling and is one of the best 4K HDR TVs we know of for console gaming thanks to its extremely low input lag metrics. Just about the only defect of this model is its slightly cheap build, but the 6-Series is sturdy enough.
Samsung QN55Q8FN 55 Inch LCD 4K HDR Smart TV
The Samsung Q8FN is the highest caliber Samsung QLED TV that comes in the 55 inch range. The Q9F 2018 model is even better in almost any way but it starts at 65 inches, so the Q8 is Samsung’s single best QLED ultra-premium model in this list in our opinion. It’s a bit expensive but not exorbitantly so and in terms of overall performance, it simply isn’t likely to disappoint anyone. This physically lovely 4K HDR TV offers up stunningly good contrast, extremely high display brightness and some of the best color performance we’ve ever seen in a 4K TV thanks to its legitimately unique QLED color enhancement technology (it ain’t just marketing hype). We also consider this model to be fantastic console gaming HDR television and given its generally incredible display specs, it will absolutely hammer out the very best in even the most detailed UHD HDR Xbox or PS4 Pro games you throw at it, and at very low input lag as well.
On the other hand, we don’t entirely appreciate the Q8FN’s lack of Dolby Vision HDR support and the local dimming technology in this TV is only mediocre at best. This isn’t such a problem though because this model outputs exquisitely good black levels and contrast ratio by default.
Samsung Q6FN 55 Inch LCD 4K HDR Smart TV
Again we come back to Samsung, because for 2018 at least, the company really knocked out some great 4K TVs across the board. In this case, we come to the elegantly lovely Q6FN model. This is Samsung’s cheapest QLED 4K TV of 2018/early 2019 but it still delivers spectacular quality at a very reasonable price. The Q6 offers excellent color reproduction with wide color gamut, fantastically good black levels, really strong contrast and as a result of all these things, its HDR performance is spectacular pretty much across the board. Two of its very few defects are a lack of Dolby Vision HDR support and some fairly weak local dimming technology, but due to this model’s otherwise fantastic display specs, these are relatively minor issues. We also think the Q6FN could be a bit cheaper but it’s not terribly priced either.
Sony XBR55A9F Master Series 55 Inch OLED 4K HDR LCD Smart TV
Sony’s OLED 4K HDR TVs are the only other option out there on the U.S market and the A9F Master Series model is pretty much the best of them. It’s just as good as, if not slightly better than LG’s C8 or E8 OLED 4K HDR TVs but beats them handily on a couple of little things. On the other hand, this OLED TV is really expensive for being so similar to the LG OLEDs we mention and this is why we rank it somewhat lower.
In terms of overall specs, the A9F is just about the same as the LG C8 except that from our comparisons of the two TVs, the Sony OLED delivers slightly better shadow detail and marginally more accurate color rendering. These however are minor differences given the steeply higher price, so again, our lower ranking here. That said, Sony’s OLED TV does have one particular feature on which it completely kicks any competitor TV’s ass and that’s its native audio quality. It’s simply fantastic as far as the speakers of any 4K UHD TV are concerned. The A9F pulls this off through a system of powerful dual speakers and a subwoofer located right inside the screen. Previous Sony OLED TVs had the same thing but for their latest OLED, the company beefed things up considerably to a notably higher level of sound quality; the simple fact that you can listen to very decent audio renderings from your favorite movies with the sound coming from what seems like the very visual source that’s creating it (onscreen characters voices for example), is quite cool, and even more so if you combine the internal in-screen speakers/woofer of the A9F with an external surround sound speaker system or at least a decent sound bar.
If you like good TV audio, this might be a decent OLED TV for you but bear in mind that it will still cost more than the LG C8 does by a price margin that’s quite a bit higher than the cost of a very decent external sound bar which you could simply buy for an LG OLED TV.
Samsung UN55NU8000 55 Inch LCD 4K HDR Smart TV
Finally for our main TV rankings, we finish off with yet another Samsung 4K TV. This is the NU8000 and it’s also one of the outstanding 4K HDR televisions of 2018 and early 2019 despite being a mid-range 4K TV. The NU8000 is Samsung’s premiere NU-Series model and though it lacks the QLED technology that the next model up (the Q6FN ranked above) comes with, it delivers wonderful overall picture quality to a degree that makes it comparable to many ultra-premium 4K TVs in certain ways. For example, this TV comes remarkably high picture brightness, some truly high caliber high dynamic range color capacity (with both high DCI wide color gamut and 10-bit color delivery), excellent deep black levels and some really high contrast. The NU8000 also has local dimming for even further contrast and black level enhancements though the feature isn’t exceptionally powerful in this model. On a final note, this 4K TV is a wonderful choice for HDR movie fans and console gamers who want the best levels of performance at a price that won’t crush their budget. The latter of these things because the NU8000 also comes with very high gaming responsiveness with low input lag.
Bonus 2017 4K HDR TVs We Still Love
Just because the 2018 batch of 4K UHD TVs is so loaded with worthy models that they basically have to occupy our top spots doesn’t mean that the 2017 editions have simply lost all their quality. In fact, they’re perfectly good televisions already and there are several 2017 4K UHD TV models we think are still superb choices due to their prices and specs. We’ve removed most of these from this list because of space concerns but here are a couple that we think really deserve special mention even now in early 2019.
LG Electronics C7 Flat 55 4k ultra HD OLED HDR TV (2017 Model)
LG’s C7 was without a doubt the single most affordable high-end, cutting-edge OLED 4K HDR TV model released among the 2017 4K UHD TVs. It’ basically took on the role of this year’s OLED C8 in terms of performance and quality. Well, though it may be a last-last year’s model, it’s still great and due to price reductions also delivers better value per dollar spent than ever before. The C7’s display specs are extremely similar to those of the C8 and Sony A9F above and its biggest real “defect” is that this television does not not quite reach the same brightness as its successors in 2018. The C7 also comes with slightly weaker speakers than OLED TV models for this year and has a slower processing engine than its successor the C8. On the other hand, oddly, the C7 delivers a solid 800 nits of maximum peak brightness and this is high enough to put even some of the other LCD 4K TVs on this very list to shame. It also remains damn impressive for an OLED TV. Aside from these things, the C7 is largely identical to the C8 in most display specs, full HDR support and awesome connectivity. Like all OLEDs it also offers superb motion handling and makes for one hell of a gaming console 4K TV. We can’t recommend it enough for anyone who wants a new OLED 4K HDR TV at the lowest possible price.
Sony X930E 4K HDR Ultra HD LCD TV (2017 model)
Sony’s X930E model was beaten by almost no other LCD 4K HDR TV in 2017 as far as overall quality and display performance go and even when compared to 2018 LCD TV models, it’s outperformed only by Samsung’s QLED TVs and Sony’s own new Z9F Master Series 4K LCD Edition. So with that, this television is still a firm placeholder for superb HDR LCD TV technology, now that we’ve run through the inevitable OLED winners and 2018 LCD models. The X930E is one of the brightest (literally, due to its peak brightness) HDR LCD TV’s we’ve reviewed for 2017 and to this it adds superb deep black levels for an excellent, almost unmatched contrast ratio. The X930E also offers some of the best full HDR color performance of any 4K TV you’ll find in 2017. It also supports Dolby Vision as an added bonus. Sony really outdid itself with this model. We’d also like to mention that the X930E television makes a great console gaming TV and in general offers fantastic motion handling specs for nearly any kind of content. It’s still slightly on the pricey side but cheaper than any of Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs, which it comes very close to matching despite its very slightly older technology
TV Buying Guide Cheat Sheet
If you’re only going to read one thing, read this.
Here are the 7 most important things to know (or do) when buying a TV, in bitesize form:
- Go with 4K (aka Ultra HD) and make sure it has HDR. These are huge — the most important factors for TV picture quality.
- Bigger is better. Always. “I wish I bought a smaller TV” said no one ever. (Bigger + 4K these days = spectacular. Jaw-dropping. Wow.)
- Upgrade your HDMI cable. It’s all about the plumbing, and the extra $30/40 bucks is more than worth it. Get an HDMI cable worthy of your TV investment and see every single pixel replicated in glorious form.
- Upgrade the sound. Audio is more than half the experience, and your TV’s built-in speakers aren’t up to the task. (In fact, they were actually better years ago.)
- Choose a trusted brand. We have a reputation for testing and vetting brands. In short, we put them all through the wringer. What TV brand is the best? Three clearly rise above: LG, Sony, and Samsung, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
- Buy your new TV from an authorized dealer. You get the manufacturer’s warranty, service, and support. (In our case, guaranteed support even long after the sale. Not to brag, but we did take #2 in Customer Service by USA Today. Just sayin.’)
- Or just skip the rest of this and buy one of these: The Top TVs of 2020. Then give yourself a standing-O. You now have what experts are calling some of the best TVs anywhere, at any price.
Our 10-step formula for picking the best TV for you.
Step 1. Choose your price range.
The more you spend, the better the features.
TV prices have come way WAY down in the last 3-5 years, and right now, less than a grand will buy you a gorgeous, top-of-the-line, 42-inch, 4K smart TV loaded with almost every bell and whistle possible. Spend more, and you can bring home the same thing, but at 65 or 75-inches… and with every feature under the sun. (We’ll discuss features as we go.)
More money also buys you deeper blacks, better contrast, and a broader, richer color spectrum. (Deeper blacks are huge. You want deeper blacks.) And most of all, more money will also get you a bigger screen, so let’s start there.
Step 2: Choose your TV size.
Bigger is better. Way better.
Once upon a time, the family sofa determined how big or small the TV should be. (As in: the further away the sofa, the bigger the TV.) But today’s TVs are rewriting all the rules, so that’s over.
In fact, the one thing every serious review of current 4K TVs will tell you: bigger is better. Go too small, and you will regret it. That’s how amazing TVs are these days, not only with respect to picture, but design as well. We’ve gone from big, gaudy black boxes that take up space and clash with everything to incredibly thin, beautifully designed TVs that work with your room and range in size from 32-inch to 100-inch. (100” is a little over 8 feet — and an 8-foot wide 4K TV is, in a word, stupefying. Out-of-body. Front-row-seats-to-everything.)
For example, when turned off, Samsung’s Frame TV is indistinguishable from actual framed artwork. When on, it’s an awesome, full-featured 4K TV. And LG’s Gallery TV is credit card-thin, hangs flush to the wall, and looks like something out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Tips from our experts:
- The newest TV mounting options let you put your TV flush to the wall (like a sticker) or over the fireplace with the latest fireplace friendly mounts that are really clever. The end-effect: the TV takes up less space, seems smaller, and is less intrusive. So if you’re mounting your TV, go bigger. (Plus, a wall mount means you don’t have to buy some giant piece of furniture to put the TV on.)
- Keep in mind: a 65-inch TV has more than twice the screen real estate of a 42-inch TV. (Odd but true. Geometry rocks.) At 65 or 75 inches, your TV will turn your den into a cozy cinema. And don’t forget, TV screens are measured diagonally, corner to corner. Not side to side.
- Curved or flat? A curved TV won’t have a better picture than a flat TV, and in our opinion, curved TVs are a passing fad. We vote no.
- We can’t say this too many times and it’s the single biggest regret we hear from new TV buyers: “I went too small.” If you can do 55 inches, chances are good that 65 inches will still work aesthetically — and you’ll be much happier in the end.
Step 3. Choose OLED or LED.
Both are awesome, but one is better.
Let’s make this easy: though OLED is more expensive, it’s by far the best picture technology. Period. End of story. To be clear: though OLED wins the picture contest, a good 4K LED TV still offers a spectacular viewing experience — and the good ones come with the same smart TV features found in OLED TVs. Add to that, 4K LED TVs cost less than OLED TVs – possibly freeing up money for that killer sound bar or awesome surround sound system you’re going to want.
So you’re now free to skip over the rest of this section, unless you want more detail and a little TV history.
First came plasma. (By the way, no one makes plasma TVs anymore.) Then came LCD (short for liquid crystal display), which was awesome but had severe shortcomings. Then LCD technology improved and we got LCD/LED TVs, or just LED for short. (These days, most TVs are LED TVs.) Then came OLED TVs (which stands for organic light emitting diode). Last, there’s also something called QLED, but that’s just Samsung’s name for their particular line of high end LED TVs.
Bottom line: you will be choosing a TV with either LED or OLED panel technology — and that’s all you have to know.
So what are the specific differences between LED and OLED? Here’s how they stack up against each other:
LED TVs are less expensive than OLED TVs, though OLED prices are coming down.
LED TVs are backlit, which means a light shines through a panel of crystals to create the picture. OLED TVs are not backlit. Instead, every single pixel in an OLED 4K TV (and we’re talking 8,847,360 pixels in all) turns on and off and adjusts on its own. The result = picture that is far superior and more lifelike.
LEDs and OLEDs both work well in all lighting conditions. LEDs are especially good in well-lit spaces and can be made even brighter for sunny Florida rooms. OLED is spectacular in dimmer rooms.
Given LED TVs cannot go completely dark, shadow detail suffers. With OLED, colors pop, black is true black (which is huge), and contrast and shadow detail are true to life.
The deeper the blacks, the better the contrast. And the better the contrast, the better the picture. Add to that: it’s not just the depth of the blacks, it’s the details in the blacks that make a great picture. Bottom line: No contest here, OLED nails blacks.
OLED vs. LED black levels
Both LED and OLED TVs are thin, but OLED is thinner. Some LED TVs are 1/4 inch thin, but some OLED TVs are as thin as a couple of credit cards. Caveat: Some TVs have a “bump” on the back that prohibits a tight fit, but a professional installation can bury the bump in the wall for a perfectly flush-to-the-wall look.
Lower-end LED TVs often have viewing angle issues — you have to sit directly in front of the TV to see the best picture. If you’re off to the side, the picture fades. (Important: Make sure your TV will look good from various angles in your particular room!) This is not an issue with OLED technology — every viewing angle is optimum.
LED viewing angle
OLED Viewing Angle
Both LED and OLED TVs occasionally struggle with fast action content, like a football game — it’s one of the most difficult things for a TV to do. A better TV generally is great out of the box with factory settings, but they do come with menu settings that improve fast action — though sometimes at the expense of the picture. (Your call to turn it on or leave it off.)
Tip from our experts:
- If you really want to see a side-by-side OLED vs. LED contest, visit a showroom near you and ask to see a video of fireworks at night on both types of panels – at the same time.
- If you do decide to go with an LED TV, note that higher-end LED TVs way outperform lower-end LED TVs. Take LG vs. Vizio, for example. The LG will have better blacks, better contrast, more vibrant color, and wider viewing angles.
- 3D TVs: No one makes them anymore. It was a fad. (Truth be told, it seems people just didn’t want to wear 3D glasses all day.) But if you really have your heart set on 3D, get a 4K 3D projector — not a flatscreen TV.
Step 4. Choose your TV resolution.
Go with 4K. Boom, done. (Hint: more pixels wins. And 4K has 6 million more pixels than regular HD.)
Let’s get this out of the way first: 4K and Ultra HD are the same thing. (Why the two names,? Who knows, we missed that meeting.) Both refer to screen resolution, and the number of pixels on the screen. The more pixels, the better, sharper, and more lifelike the picture.
Quick history: Back in the old days, TV resolution was awful, but it was all we had. Then HDTV came along, and TVs went from 307,200 pixels to 1 million pixels (720P), then to over 2 million pixels (1080P) — and suddenly TV was perfect. Then 5 years ago, 4K arrived and we went from over 2 million pixels to over 8 million pixels, and we all found out what perfect really looks like. (Yes, 8K made an appearance at CES this year, but let’s not go there just yet.)
4K is quite literally four times better than old HD standards, and four times better isn’t a subtle improvement – it’s a holy mackerel, smack-in-the-face improvement, especially if it’s a good 4K TV. And though there’s not a ton of 4K content available yet (most is still on Blu-ray), content providers of all sorts are preparing to release almost everything in 4K… and your new 4K TV will be equipped to handle this exciting future. But wait, there’s more:
- Your new 4K TV makes even regular old HD content better, thanks to new upscaling technologies that beautifully (and instantly) transpose 1080P to 4K by adding pixel density in the process.
- With old HD, you saw only a fraction of the digital data that’s actually there. But with your new 4K TV, you get it all, and the result, even if you’re just browsing the net or looking at your own digital photos or home movies = a dramatically better experience.
- Blu-ray movies in 4K? Also mind-blowing. Until someone figures out a way to improve the human eye, we’re not sure it gets any better than a premium 4K Blu-ray movie on a good 4K TV.
- Gaming in 4K? That’s coming soon too, and suffice it to say a lot of us are going to be chronically late for work.
Moral of this story: you want a 4K TV. It’s the new standard and it is other-worldly good. Just keep in mind, the biggest difference between, for example, a $1000, 55-inch 4K TV versus a $4000, 55-inch 4K TV is picture. But is the picture on a $4000 TV really 4 times better than the picture on a $1000 TV? Some say that depends on A) how much you watch TV and B) how long you plan to keep your TV. If you watch a lot of TV and plan on having your new TV for 5 years or more, then yes, spending more is worth it.
That said, there are still reasons you may want to get a regular old 1080p TV:
- HDTVs are cheap these days. And they’re just fine for a kitchen, spare bedroom, etc.
- HD resolution (1080p) on a smaller screen (32 inches or less) is still a fantastic picture.
Make sure it’s HDR compatible.
What is 4K HDR? HDR = High Dynamic Range, and HDR does for TVs what whipped cream does for hot chocolate: makes it better. It’s just way better than not having it, but you will have to pay for it. If you can, don’t miss out.
Quick note: Though we all have an HDR feature on our smart phone cameras, or what some call the “soap opera” effect, it’s not the same thing. (In spite of the same name.) HDR on a phone allows the camera to take multiple exposures at the same time, and then combines them for higher contrast. (The results are often unnatural.) HDR on your TV generates higher contrast within the existing pixels, expanding contrast and color so the end result is more natural, accurate, and has more depth.
With HDR, color on a TV remains true to form. Without HDR, a TV can’t reproduce certain colors in a true-to-life way. Really, what HDR does for a TV is so amazingly spectacular, it’s worth a deeper dive.
Up till now, certain colors weren’t possible on TV. Prince’s purple guitar, Mountain Dew green, even a true strawberry red – without HDR, the best a TV can do is approximate and substitute with less-than-true-life results. But HDR fixes that by greatly expanding the two most important factors for a great picture: color and contrast ratios. And the difference isn’t subtle, it’s remarkable.
Art directors and cinematographers love HDR’s accuracy, and how it puts on TV the real life colors they put on set. And once you see HDR do its thing on your TV, you’ll have your own “oh, NOW I get it” moment.
Standard Dynamic Range Content
4K HDR Content
More and more streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, HBO GO) and devices (4K/Ultra HD Blu-Ray players, Apple TV, Xbox, Roku, etc.) now offer 4K/HDR content, and to take advantage, you’re going to need a 4K/HDR capable TV.
The takeaway: 4K + HDR is huge. An episode of Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, Blue Planet or The Walking Dead on a 4K HDR TV is nothing short of magnificent, and may spoil you for anything less.
So if you’re going for 4K, go for HDR capability, too (like these). That way, you’re future-proofed for a few years. (At least.)
Tip from our experts:
- If you don’t currently watch 4K content, a 4K TV will still be a huge improvement. Through a process called up-converting, a 4K TV will take 1080p content and turn it into 4K. While this isn’t as visually stunning as true 4K, it’s still a major upgrade. Not to mention, you’ll be prepared for when you do end up watching more 4K movies and TV shows.
Step 5. What not to worry about.
Two TV specs that may no longer apply.
If you get a good, quality TV, you’re already covered on the below. High refresh rates and excellent contrast ratios come standard in better TVs these days, but for the record:
Refresh rates: The faster or higher the rate, the smoother the picture — which means it’s great for sports, games, and movies. (Note: we only carry models with superior refresh rates — fast enough for any gamer, movie-lover, or sports fanatic — so don’t get stuck on this at all.)
Contrast Ratios: Every brand rates these differently (there are no standards) and some don’t even mention contrast ratios. It’s a worthless spec when comparing TVs, and you can ignore this one, too.
Step 6. Get smart, get streaming.
Smart TVs are pretty much standard these days, and this is a good thing. (If you’re not streaming content now, you will soon. The world is going this way.) A Smart TV lets you:
Cut the cord… and enjoy wireless freedom and control. Smart TVs make it possible to cut the cord and get rid of your cable or satellite service, thanks to the native apps they come with: streaming services like Netflix, Prime, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.
View pretty much any content on your TV, including all the home videos, photos, and music on your phone or computer.
Tips from our experts:
- Streaming from services like Netflix or Hulu? We recommend hard-wiring your TV to your network (ex: router or other network device) via Ethernet cable, rather than simply using Wi-Fi, to avoid connectivity issues and interruptions. It’s worth the trouble. Otherwise, make sure you upgrade your router to get the fastest connection possible to ensure the best picture quality, and sign up for the fastest-possible speed your Internet provider offers.
- If you don’t get a Smart TV, you can still stream via devices like Xbox, Roku, Blu-ray player, and Apple TV with a direct connection.
Step 7. Get connected, stay connected.
The right TV cables and ports really do make a difference.
The thicker-than-typical TV cables you need to hook things together (cable box to TV for example) are called HDMI cables, and HDMI cables plug into HDMI ports. Why this is important:
- Cables: There are many conflicting opinions on this one, and even some controversy, but we land firmly: A higher-quality HDMI cable indeed makes a difference, and we prove it every day for customers in our stores. Better AV cables pass a wider signal faster, and thus better handle the greater bandwidth necessary to get every bit of quality from source to TV. As technology offers better resolution and more content, you’re going to need the speed and bandwidth. Plus, if you’re spending a few thousand dollars or more on a new TV, quality cables ensure you’re getting the most out of it. (You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari and throw on $40 tires, right?)
- Ports: Look for 4 HDMI ports on your TV at a minimum. (Devices like your gaming box, sound bar and Apple TV each need their own HDMI port, so yeah, they go quickly.) And if you’re getting a 4K Ultra HD TV, check to see that your HDMI ports support HDMI 2.0 for many current 4K devices. You should also inquire about HDCP compatibility (or high-bandwidth digital content protection). The next generation of content protection is called HDCP 2.2, and not only is it not backwards compatible, many new 4K devices don’t even support it.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Many TVs come Bluetooth enabled, and if you have Bluetooth headphones that work with your TV, you may be golden! The ability to walk around the house listening to your favorite show with headphones and not disturb others or watch TV in bed while your significant other is asleep is a beautiful thing. Add to that, you never miss a word under headphones. If you are hearing impaired (we’re looking at you, Baby Boomers), some headphones have voice enhancement tech built-in to make voices clearer.
Tip from our experts:
- A better cable manages higher speeds, greater bandwidth, and basically sets you up for the future. One example: When HDMI 2.0 became a problem, our high-quality cables handled the upgrade before it was ever an issue. Conversely, folks with cheap HDMI cables in their walls had to rip them out if they wanted to watch 3D or HDR content.
Step 8. Seriously consider upgrading your audio.
No guts, no glory: it’s the sound that gives you goosebumps.
No surprise here, but the speakers inside these amazing new, credit card-thin 4K TVs are not as good as the speakers that came in your clunky, old 1985 tabletop TV. (One exception, Sony uses the entire screen on its A1E series as a speaker, and it sounds pretty darn incredible, considering it’s built into the TV.) Most TV manufacturers assume you’re going to spring for a TV sound upgrade that works for you and your room.
The good news: a decent audio upgrade doesn’t have to be pricey — as little as $69 to $99 will offer a significant improvement, and $399 will get you sound worthy of a good 4K TV. There are tons of sound bars on the market right now – some are even wireless, and some pack a helluva punch. Or you can go all-in and get true home theater sound and put yourself on the bridge of the Enterprise, the court at Kings Landing, or the front row at Carnegie Hall… with true theater-like quality.
Every TV these days — whether 1080p or 4K Ultra HD — comes with a digital sound port or two in the back that just begs for an upgrade. And really, sound is what makes you jump out of your seat, dive for cover, or (for all you romantic comedy lovers) reach for your Kleenex… so if you can do an upgrade, go for it. (You’ll be spending so many Saturday nights at home watching your favorite shows and movies on your new TV, you’ll recoup that money in no time.
Step 9. Don’t fall in love with a remote control.
Do not buy a TV because you fancy the remote. You can upgrade your TV remote at any time, and some of the newer third-party remote controls are seriously AWESOME.
There are better options. Way better.
And really, though one universal remote that replaces all other remotes is the gold standard, lots of folks still use their cable or Dish remote to do everything.
Step 10. What about the TV warranty?
When you buy from an authorized dealer (ahem, like us), your new TV will come with the full manufacturer’s warranty. And most TV manufacturer’s (LG, Sony, and Samsung for sure) have nationwide authorized service centers where many times, if there’s an issue, they come to your house. (Keep in mind, TVs are hard to lug around and you don’t want to ship it back and forth if there’s a problem.) What’s more, with an authorized dealer, you also get phone and email support from the dealer in addition to the in-home coverage and support from the manufacturer.