budget 4k tv reviews

TVs with 4K displays are becoming the norm, with more streaming content available, game consoles running games in 4K, and 4K Blu-rays available for collectors. 

With all the ways to get 4K content today, you’ll need a TV that’s up to the task. And there’s no shortage of choice. But how do you know which one is the best for you? (And if you’re shopping for a deal this Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Prime Day, how do you know which one you should actually get?)

We’ve combed the internet for some of the best 4K TVs depending on your needs. Maybe you’re looking for pure power, or you maybe you’re on a tight budget. No matter what your needs are, these budget 4k tv reviews are some of the best out there.

Check out our top picks below:

Budget 4k Tv Reviews

Best Overall: Samsung TU8000

Samsung Tu8000 75-inch 4K TVSource: Samsung

One thing in the tech world is undeniable — Samsung makes some fantastic displays. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the budget smartphone market, or the high-end television market, you’ll find great displays everywhere you go. The Samsung TU8000 doesn’t fall on the “high-end” of the spectrum, so you won’t find Samsung’s QLED panel here, but it still checks a lot of boxes.

There’s a TV size option for just about every application you can think of. Sizes range from 43 inches all the way up to 85 inches, so all of your needs are covered (and then some). The ultra-thin bezels on the TU8000 will immerse you and keep your attention on the movie, and 4K upscaling will help you watch those movies from the 90s that haven’t been remastered yet.

The Samsung TU8000 checks a lot of boxes for those looking for a new TV, including having some “smarts” from Alexa and Bixby. However, you won’t find any Dolby certification here, likely so Samsung could keep costs down. Another potential source of frustration is that there are only two HDMI ports built-in. So if you use something like a Chromecast or Shield TV, you’ll likely end up needing an HDMI splitter.

Pros:

  • Ultra-thin bezels
  • Many sizes to choose from
  • Built-in Alexa and Bixby support
  • 4K Upscaling

Cons:

  • Not Dolby Atmos certified
  • Only two HDMI ports

Best Overall

Samsung TU8000

It’s tough to find a better display with more options in the price range

The TU8000 can’t touch the display prowess of Samsung’s QLED panels, but it can certainly enhance your experience.

  • From $348 at Amazon
  • $350 from Best Buy
  • $350 from Walmart

Upgrade Pick: Sony X800H

Sony X800HSource: Sony

On paper, you may not think that the Sony X800H is a “budget-friendly” television, thanks to the long and impressive feature list and high price, but for what you get, it’s a great value. The TV is Dolby Atmos certified, has 4K upscaling, and ultra-slim bezels so you can get the best picture quality possible. That’s not even to mention the various other features to enhance the playback quality of whatever you are watching.

While the picture is great, and the sound quality is just OK, there is one additional feature in the X800H that you may jump up and down about. Android TV is built right-in so you can Cast your favorite content, download familiar apps, and get a smooth interface without plugging in a Chromecast or Shield TV. To turn things up another notch or two, Sony has included Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay support.

MotionFlow XR and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer aim to fill the gaps where the display itself falls short. This includes the 60Hz native refresh rate and lack of HDR capabilities. Netflix has started implementing some guidelines for calibration when viewing content using the app. This “Netflix Calibrated Mode” has started making its way onto more and more TV sets, but you won’t find it with the X800H. Yes, you’ll still be able to watch your favorite Netflix shows, but the playback quality may not be exactly as the streaming giant intended it.

Pros:

  • Dolby Atmos certified
  • 4K Upscaling
  • Android TV built-in
  • Multiple features to improve playback quality
  • Alexa, AirPlay support

Cons:

  • Native refresh rate limited to 60Hz
  • Lack of HDR capabilities
  • Does not feature Netflix Calibrated Mode
  • Expensive

Upgrade Pick

Sony X800H

All the bells and whistles

For not so much money, you’ll get a dreamy Sony panel that you can be confident will show all the details.

  • $648 from Amazon
  • $600 from Best Buy
  • $748 from Newegg

Best for Amazon: Toshiba Fire TV

Toshiba Fire TV 2020 Edition LifestyleSource: Amazon

After being all but forgotten, Toshiba finally released the updated version of its 4K UHD Fire TV Edition. This comes in two different size options, 43 and 50 inches, gives you access to 4K Ultra HD content, and is based on Amazon’s Fire TV platform. You can finally get rid of that Fire Stick hanging off the back!

Unlike other options on this list, the Fire TV has Dolby Vision certification and HDR playback compatibility. This will give you incredible picture quality. You’ll also be able to stream from your favorite services without needing to plug something else into your TV. With the included Voice Remote, you’ll get Alexa in your hands, and can just ask to turn something on with the press of a button and your voice.

The Fire TV 2020 Edition is such a great value, even if you don’t use Amazon’s services, that we wish that more size options were available. Even going up to 55 inches would have been a sight for sore eyes, but you’ll have to hope that these options are enough. Gamers also might have a bit of an issue using the Fire TV, as the refresh rate comes in at just 60Hz, so you may experience some stuttering when the next-gen consoles hit the market.

Pros:

  • Alexa built into remote
  • HDR-Compatible
  • Compatible with VESA wall mounts
  • Dolby Vision certified

Cons:

  • Only two sizes to choose from
  • Refresh rate limited to 60Hz

Best for Amazon

Toshiba Fire TV

Perfect for the Amazon household

The updated Toshiba Fire TV provides a great viewing experience with a Fire TV built right-in.

  • $250 from Amazon
  • $250 from Best Buy

Best for Android TV: Skyworth Q20300

Skyworth Q20300Source: Skyworth

As is the case with smart home speakers and mobile voice assistants, the battle for your smart TV seems to come down to Google’s Android TV versus Amazon’s Fire TV. The problem is there aren’t as many Android TV options available, short of picking up a Shield TV or using a Chromecast. That presents a portion of the market up for grabs, which the Skyworth Q20300 is capitalizing on.

The TV itself features ultra-thin bezels, measuring in at just 1mm thick. In addition to getting Android TV, the Q20300 also gives you built-in Bluetooth and an Ethernet port, which will definitely come in handy. The same goes for the included smart remote, which has a dedicated Assistant button, and shortcuts for Netflex, Youtube, and the Play Store.

While having Android TV is great, dealing with software updates can end up being a pain. That’s when you’ll likely want to take advantage of the Ethernet port, so your updates can install faster than if you are using Wi-Fi. Gamers will also want to take a second-look at the Q20300 with its limited 60Hz refresh rate, which should be fine for current-gen consoles, but likely won’t work as well for the next batch. Finally, those who still rely on RCA inputs will want to pick up some adapters, as the Q20300 does not have any RCA ports installed.

Pros:

  • Android TV built-in
  • 1mm bezels
  • Smart remote includes Google Assistant
  • Built-in Bluetooth and Ethernet

Cons:

  • Refresh rate limited to 60Hz
  • Does not include RCA inputs
  • Software updates can take longer than others

Best for Android TV

Skyworth Q20300

Android TV and built-in Cast

With the Q20300, you’ll get a gorgeous 50-inch 4K UHD display, along with Android TV onboard.

  • $419 from Amazon

Best for Roku: TCL S525

TCL S525 LifestyleSource: TCL

TCL’s budget-minded television has been updated for 2020 and is quite an impressive value, given the price point and what you get. For your streaming needs, the built-in Roku provides the foundation for downloading all of your favorite streaming apps and services. There’s even a Roku TV app that can be installed on your phone to control your TV, along with using your preferred voice assistant.

TCL really nailed it though in regards to picture quality. The S525 is certified for Dolby Vision HDR, which is fantastic considering the price point. Regardless of whether you need a 43-inch TV or a 65-inch one for gamedays, there’s an option for everyone here. Plus, gamers can get excited about this one with its native 120Hz refresh rate and ultra-thin bezels to go along with the “Auto Game Mode” to ensure your gameplay is as smooth as possible.

The problem with Roku providing the backbone for your television controls and streaming needs is that you will have to deal with the occasional ads appearing. These aren’t super-intrusive, but can definitely be an annoyance when you’re browsing around or trying to find a new app to install. While Dolby Vision HDR certification is in-tow, you won’t find any Dolby Atmos here. The sound quality of the S525 is nothing to write home about, so you’ll likely want to snag a soundbar to enhance the experience.

Pros:

  • Dolby Vision HDR-certified
  • Roku TV built-in
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Ultra-thin bezels

Cons:

  • Ads can appear from time-to-time
  • Audio quality is not the greatest

Best for Roku

TCL S525

Get Dolby Vision and Roku TV for streaming

This 4K television not only gives you access to Roku’s TV services, but also offers an crisp picture experience.

  • $300 from Amazon
  • $300 from Best Buy
  • $300 from Walmart

Best for Dolby Experience: Hisense H8G

Hisense H8G Quantum Series ReviewSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

It’s tough to argue against the quality of a QLED television, but the Hisense H8G with its ULED display is still great. This TV is both certified for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos while offering a great HDR experience and up to 700 nits of brightness. For context, high-end HDR televisions usually max out around 2,000 nits, so getting almost half of that is pretty solid with the H8G.

The H8G comes in four different sizes, ranging from 50 inches (if you can find it) and maxing out at 75 inches. One great addition that is making its way to more TVs is the built-in Android TV for your streaming needs. You’ll get access to your favorite streaming apps, an intuitive interface, and Google Assistant support all in a one package.

Gamers can rejoice with the Automatic Game Mode, but this Game Mode has to do a little bit of work since the H8G is only equipped with a native refresh rate of 60Hz. Hisense had to cut corners somewhere, and refresh rate is one place it decided to do so. Another downside is with its weight, as the 55-inch model weighs a bit more than similar TV at this price point. Having Dolby Atmos certification is fantastic for this television, but if you rely on an Optical Audio Output, you’ll be out of luck, as Hisense did not include one.

Pros:

  • Dolby Atmos and Vision certified
  • Android TV built-in
  • Automatic Game Mode improves gaming

Cons:

  • 60Hz Refresh rate
  • No Optical Audio outputs
  • Heavier than similar models

Best for Dolby Experience

Hisense H8G

Almost the complete package

With the Hisense’s H8G television, you get built-in Chromecast, 700-nit peak brightness, and ULED technology.

  • $500 from Amazon
  • $500 from Best Buy

Bottom line

With so many cheap 4K televisions available, it can be tough to figure out which models are good, and which you should just ignore. However, when you come across the Samsung TU8000, you realize you can still get the complete package. It has ultra-thin bezels, 4K Upscaling and the sheer number of size options that you get. It even has a 120Hz refresh rate to help the picture look smooth and to make gaming easy.

You really can’t go wrong with the TU8000, as it’s already rated as one of the best Samsung TVs you can buy, and you don’t have to empty the bank just to get one for yourself. There’s just about every major feature you could want, short of Dolby Atmos cerification and the lack of more HDMI ports. But there’s even there for you to get your favorite shows, movies, or games up and running while looking fantastic.

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: LGSony, 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.

Samsung’s The Frame TV

LG Gallery TVs

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:

Price

LED TVs are less expensive than OLED TVs, though OLED prices are coming down.

Picture

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.

Brightness

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.

Contrast

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.

Black Levels

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 Traditional Display

OLED vs. LED black levels

TV Depth

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.

Viewing Angles

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

Fast Action 

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.

SDR Content

Standard Dynamic Range Content

4K HDR 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.

LG Streaming

LG Smart TVs

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. 

Sound Bars

Sound Bars

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.

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