Best cheap TV 2023: The best budget 4K HDR televisions

Andy White
6 Jan 2023
Best cheap TV

Bring big-screen 4K entertainment into your living room on a budget with our pick of the best cheap TVs

While fancy OLEDs and QLEDs will still set you back a pretty penny, the best cheap TVs are constantly improving thanks to technology trickling down from the high-end sets. That means it’s possible to get a cinematic 4K experience at home without raiding your savings, and potentially still leave room in your budget to afford a good-quality soundbar and a subscription to Netflix.

But with hundreds of similarly named models to choose from, shopping for the best cheap TV can be a daunting, demoralising task. That’s where we come in. Our team of experts have spent countless hours watching and testing TVs, and in this article, we’ve handpicked the best cheap televisions currently available. That means all you need to do is scroll down the page and pick the model and screen size which best fits your budget and your requirements.

READ NEXT: The best 4K HDR LCD LED, QLED and OLED TVs for every budget

How to choose the best cheap TV for you

What resolution TV should I buy?

The pictures you see on TVs are made up of millions of tiny dots called pixels. To put it simply, the more pixels there are, the higher the resolution and the sharper and more detailed the picture quality will be.

Most TVs fall into one of three categories: Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), 4K/Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) and 8K (7,680 x 4,320). Full HD remains an acceptable compromise for smaller screen sizes of around 32 inches and below, but 4K is definitely the sweet spot for cheap TVs. Once the screen size expands beyond 40in, 4K TVs deliver vastly superior picture quality to Full HD alternatives – and they aren’t prohibitively expensive like their 8K brethren.

What about HDR?

Another term you’ll see a lot is HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range. We have a separate What is HDR TV? article explaining exactly what this is, but put simply, the best HDR TVs can display brighter, more vibrant images than their non-HDR counterparts.

Cheap TVs typically struggle with HDR content as they simply aren’t bright enough, so HDR content can look dull and washed out. Some do manage better than others, though, and this partly comes down to which formats they support.

There are a number of HDR formats out there, such as HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), and each has its pros and cons. Formats such as Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are a huge asset for cheaper models as they utilise dynamic metadata to tailor the HDR experience to suit a TV’s abilities. You won’t experience the eye-popping zing of a top-flight HDR TV, but you can get a taste of what HDR is about.

At the time of writing, Dolby Vision is probably the most widely supported format on streaming services and beyond, so it’s well worth looking out for. Naturally, certain manufacturers often pick one format over another, though: Samsung incorporates the royalty-free HDR10+ into its TVs but steadfastly avoids Dolby Vision, for instance.

What size TV should I buy?

This will be dictated mainly by your budget, the size of your room and how far you plan on sitting from it. Larger TVs cost more but typically deliver a more immersive, cinema-like experience. To find the perfect size for your needs, head on over to our standalone TV size guide.

Before you splash out, make sure you take the time to measure the space you have for a TV and compare it to the manufacturer’s quoted dimensions.

Is TV panel type important?

Cheap TVs tend to use LCD panels and LED backlighting. Other panel technologies such as Organic LED (OLED), Quantum Dot LED (QLED) and Mini LED are far more expensive and therefore not used on budget models.

There are two main types of LCD LED panels to be aware of, Vertical Alignment (VA) and In-Plane Switching (IPS). VA panels provide dramatically better contrast, but IPS panels provide wider viewing angles. If your sofa is positioned off to one side, then you’ll get better image quality from a TV that uses IPS technology; if however, you’re viewing your TV from directly in front or thereabouts, you’ll get a bolder image with better contrast on a TV with a VA panel.

Which TV’s have the best interface?

As your TV is something you probably use every day, there’s more to choosing a good one than just image quality: how easy it is to use is a critical consideration, too. TVs from different manufacturers all have their own interfaces or platforms, so one TV is rarely exactly like another – unless, that is, the TV employs a third–party platform such as Google TV.

The various platforms can look radically different and also have a big impact on how easy it is to access your TV’s various features. Some platforms support a more limited range of streaming services, too, so it’s worth checking that a TV supports your favourite services before pulling the trigger.

You can read our breakdown of the best smart TV platforms for information on the various options available.

Are cheap TVs good for gaming?

If you want an optimal next-gen gaming experience, a cheap TV won’t cut it. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X support 4K resolution gaming at 120Hz – something which no cheap TV currently supports. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy 60Hz gaming on a cheap TV, though, and the number of games that currently support 4K at 120Hz isn’t huge, so it’s definitely a compromise that most casual gamers can live with.

Some cheap TVs are better equipped for gaming than others. Some support Auto Low Latency Mode, which puts the TV into Game mode when a signal from a console is detected; this helps to minimise input lag. Others support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which involves the TV adjusting its refresh rate to match that of the game you’re playing to create a smoother, stutter-free and tear-free experience.

If you’re interested in seeing what we deem the best gaming TVs regardless of price, head on over to our best TVs for gaming page.

The best cheap TVs to buy in 2023

1. TCL RP620K: The best cheap TV for streaming

Price: From £229 (43in) | Buy now from Currys

This option from TCL runs the Roku OS, which is wonderfully well-equipped to meet all your streaming needs and extremely easy to use. Among the myriad streaming services it supports are Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BT Sport, Apple TV+, Disney+ and Now, and there’s also support for Freeview Play too, which makes catching up on UK TV shows a breeze.

On top of that streaming provision, the RP620K supports the Dolby Vision HDR format, which is somewhat of a rarity at its price point. Contrast and peak brightness and about what you'd expect from a budget TV, but the metadata supplied when watching Dolby Vision content (which is becoming more and more widespread) helps ensure very watchable pictures in just about any lighting conditions.

Read our full TCL RP620K review for more details

Key specs – Screen sizes: 43in, 50in, 55in (tested) and 65in; Display type: VA-type LCD LED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision; HDMI inputs: 4 x HDMI 2.0; Operating system: Roku OS

Buy now from Currys

2. Samsung BU8500: The best cheap TV for picture quality

Price: From £395 (43in) | Buy now from Amazon

The BU8500 is part of the same Crystal UHD series as our favourite cheap TV from 2021 and the 2022 model is equally good value. It sports an elegant "AirSlim" design and the Crystal 4K Processor-powered panel delivers excellent picture quality for the money. Contrast is reasonable for an LCD TV, the screen displays impressive uniformity, and the overall picture is well-balanced. Limited peak brightness does affect its HDR performance somewhat - specular highlights lack impact - but you still get plenty of detail in light and dark scenes and Filmmaker mode delivers impressively accurate greyscale and colours, doing justice to the content creator's intentions.

Samsung's Tizen OS provides access to a wide range of key streaming services and, despite being an entry-level model, the BU8500 possesses sufficient processing power for the platform to run smoothly. Navigating around the homepage is intuitive and those seeking smart functionality have a pleasing amount of choice, with Bixby-built in and support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Read our full Samsung BU8500 review for more details

Key specs – Screen sizes: 43in, 50in, 55in, 65in (tested) and 75in; Display type: VA-type LCD LED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+; HDMI inputs: 3 x HDMI 2.0; Operating system: Tizen OS

3. LG UP75: The best cheap TV for viewing angles

Price: From £329 (43in) | Buy now from Hughes

The UP75 was LG's entry-level option in 2021 and was superseded by the LG UQ75 last year but given we've not tested the 2022 model and both have very similar specs, we're recommending the cheaper option here.

While its peak brightness and HDR colour gamut coverage are disappointing, the UP75 has one advantage over other options on this page; it uses In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel technology rather than Vertical Alignment. This enables it to provide wider viewing angles, which may be useful in some rooms.

It also benefits from the same webOS smart platform featured by LG’s premium models. We’re huge fans of webOS and, although it’s not quite as responsive here as it is on options higher up the company’s range, it remains beautifully simple and highly effective. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are both supported, as is Siri via AirPlay 2, and just about every streaming service imaginable is available, including YouTube, Netflix and Prime Video.

Read our LG UP75 review for more details

Key specs – Screen sizes: 43in (tested), 50in, 55in, 65in and 75in; Display type: IPS-type LCD LED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG; HDMI inputs: 2 x HDMI 2.0; Operating system: webOS

Buy now from Hughes

4. Toshiba UK21: The best cheap TV with Dolby Atmos

Price: From £219 (43in) | Buy now from Argos

Part of Toshiba's 2021 TV lineup, the UL21 won't blow you away with stunning picture quality but is eminently affordable and has a couple of attractive qualities going for it, chief among which is support for Dolby Atmos. Sound quality is often overlooked by TV manufacturers, particularly at the budget end of the market, so support for Atmos is very welcome. The surround-sound format adds height channels to aid aural immersion, and while it can’t work miracles with the UL21’s pair of 10W down-firing speakers, you do get an increased sense of scale while watching Atmos content.

Dolby Vision is also present and correct, which aids the UL21's HDR performance, while the Toshiba Smart Portal is slick and easy to use. It does, however, lack a couple of key streaming services, namely Disney+ and Apple TV+, but if you can live without those, this is a cheap TV well worth considering.

Read our Toshiba UL21 review for more details

Key specs – Screen sizes: 43in (tested), 50in, 58in and 65in; Display type: VA-type LCD LED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision; HDMI inputs: 3 x HDMI 2.0; Operating system: Toshiba Smart Portal

Buy now from Argos

5. Xiaomi F2 Fire TV: Best cheap TV with Fire OS

Price: From £349 (43in) | Buy now from Amazon

Amazon’s Fire TV streaming sticks are immensely popular and for good reason, they offer access to a huge range of applications and the interface is very simple to navigate. The Xiaomi F2 Fire TV takes that successful formula, tweaks it slightly to accommodate built-in tuners and Freeview Play, and incorporates it into an affordable LCD television.

The TV itself is hamstrung by the same issue that affects many budget televisions, namely mediocre picture performance due to the use of basic TV panels. This is particularly noticeable when viewing HDR content - 4K HDR Blu-rays are perfectly watchable but lack any of the pop you’d get from pricier, more advanced sets.

It is, however, extremely easy to set up, well-made and looks pretty smart, while offering the convenience of built-in Alexa and the other benefits the Fire TV OS brings. Most people will probably gravitate towards buying a TV and streaming stick separately, but if you want both in one relatively inexpensive package, the Xiaomi F2 might just be for you.

Read our Xiaomi F2 Fire TV review for more details

Key specs – Screen sizes: 43in, 50in (tested) and 55in; Display type: VA-type LCD LED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG; HDMI inputs: 4 x HDMI 2.0; Operating system: Fire OS 7

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