Many people think of HDTVs as being a recent innovation of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. But did you know that the roots of high-definition televisions go back all the way to the 1930s? Let’s take a quick look at how all this developed.
What was considered high-def in the 1930s wouldn’t pass for streaming on a dial-up internet connection today. But by the 1970s, some high-end televisions were capable of projecting at 4:3, 5:3 and even 8:3 resolutions. By contrast, standard definition is a mere 1.78:1.
The real hurdle back then was the limitations of analogue broadcasting. The bandwidth available for analogue broadcasting was minimal, which meant that even if you had a good television, you might not be able to make good use of all that resolution.
Even if you were watching movies at home, there weren’t a lot of advantages to owning an HDTV, because VHS tapes had limited resolution in themselves. LaserDisc technology was available in the 1980s, but it never really took hold. So it wasn’t until DVDs came on the scene in the 1990s that a format was readily available that allowed you to make the most of your high-resolution television.
I don’t need to tell you the rest. We went from 720p to 1080p and now all the way to 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 lines). With so many advances happening so quickly, it can be hard to know what’s good and what’s not.
That’s where we come in. We’ve done all the work for you. We spell out five things you need to know before you buy your new TV. We’ve got our recommendation for those of you who just can’t decide. And then we list ten of the best 4K televisions, making it easier for you to do your research.
Development never ends. There are plans to release an 8K television in China and Japan later this year. But if you’re worried about being left behind by 7680 x 4320 resolution, don’t worry. There are no plans to release it in the United States, and they’re estimated to cost at least $9000.
So you can rest assured that your new 4K HDTV will be up to date for years to come.
Things to Consider
To buy the right 4K TV for yourself or your family, there are a few factors you might want to consider. Five of them are listed below.
All TVs are going to have the requisite audio and video inputs, as well as a variety of other inputs that are more or less important. One of the most critical ones to look for are the HDMI ports. All HDTVs will have at least one, but the more you have, the more individual systems you’ll be able to plug in at the same time. If your TV has enough ports, you could switch from the Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U with a single push of your remote.
When I talk about dimensions here, I’m referring to the measurements of the television itself, and not the number of lines on the screen. 4K UHD TVs can range from as little as 40 inches all the way to 75 inches or more.
3. Refresh rate
Traditional TVs have a refresh rate of 60 times each second, or 60Hz; some have even less. 4K UHD TVs refresh at much higher rates, usually close to 120Hz or even 240Hz. A faster refresh rate minimizes the blur, which leads to crisper, clearer video during frenetic actions scenes. Try not to settle for a refresh rate less than 120Hz.
4. Smart TV
A lot of new 4K televisions are what are called smart TVs. A smart TV is one that has wireless internet capabilities built-in, making it easy to connect with Roku, Netflix or a variety of other streaming technologies and services, including television on demand. If this is something you want, bear in mind that some 4K TVs may not utilize smart technology.
When 4K UHD TV’s first came out, they were super expensive and pretty unaffordable for most. However, as more and more companies have brought out their 4K UHD TV’s the prices have fallen dramatically, and there is more variety regarding screen sizes which means that it is now possible to find 4K UHD TVs for less than $1000.
Make sure to consider what you need from your TV because not all 4K UHD TV’s have the processing electronics that you will need for all the inputs and such like that you will need.
The Best 4K UHD TV
Best 4K UHD TVs Under $500
TCL 49S405 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV
Not everyone can afford to spend $1000 or more on a TV. But just because you can’t afford the best, that’s no reason to forgo ultra high-definition 4K television. If you don’t have a ton of money to spend, the TCL 49S405 is your best friend. It may not be up to the standards of a Samsung or LG Electronics television, but it’ll blow your old 1080p right out of the park.
The TCL 49S405 doesn’t have a lot of features, but it has all of the basic functions you need. The most Like most 4K televisions on the market, the 49S405 utilizes smart technology. It comes with Roku TV and has dual-band WiFi built into the television. The television itself is 49 inches wide and has a refresh rate of 120Hz. It also comes with a mobile app that expands the television service to your smartphone.
The television has two 8-watt stereo speakers built into the chassis and a variety of input ports, including three HDMI ports, a USB port, optical, audio and Ethernet ports. This television may not have all the bells and whistles of a more expensive television, but it delivers a great picture for the price.
Sceptre UTV 55″ 4K Ultra-HDTV 3840×2160
It’s always good to have choices. If you’re looking for an inexpensive 4K television and you’re not sure what to buy, the Sceptre U558CV-UMC is just what you need to further your indecision. While this certainly isn’t a high-end television, it does have one thing going for it – size.
At 55 inches, the U558CV-UMC is six inches wider than the TCL 49S405 and over 33% larger than the Samsung 40MU6300. Like the previous two televisions, this TV has a refresh rate of 120 hertz and both standard and 2.0 HDMI ports. In fact, it has four separate HDMI ports, which is more than a lot of more expensive TVs have.
There is one huge difference between this TV and the previous two entries, however: this isn’t a smart TV. I’m not bothered by this personally, but I suspect most people want the latest technology standards to accompany their move into the world of 4K. This TV looks great, but its lack of smart technology could be a deal breaker.
Best 4K UHD TVs Under $750
Samsung UN43MU6300FXZA 42.5″ 4K Ultra HD TV
You can’t judge a television’s price on its size alone. The Samsung Electronics UNMU6300 makes that very evident. At 40 inches, this TV is almost ten inches smaller than the TCL 49S405; it also comes from a brand that is known and trusted the world over.
Like the previous TV, the Samsung 40MU6300 has a refresh rate of 120 hertz. It does have a couple of advantages, however. The first is its OneRemote feature, which automatically detects and connects all of your wireless devices without manual programming.
The other, more impressive difference is the colour. The colours on the TCL are sometimes dull. However, this Samsung TV uses the Mega Dynamic Contrast Ratio, a contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1. This ensures phenomenal contrast between your light and dark colours.
Aside from those two features, there isn’t much to say about this television. It is one of Samsung’s least expensive 4K TVs, so it doesn’t have a lot of the advanced features nicer TVs have. When you consider how inexpensive this TV is, however, it’s easy to forgive it.
Samsung UN49MU6500 Curved 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD TV
No one could confuse the Samsung UN49MU6500 with a different model of Samsung TV, and for one very simple reason: the screen is curved. Thanks to its curved design, this television is perfect for immersing yourself in action, putting a slightly different perspective on all your favourite movies.
The curved screen is the only thing that separates the UN40MU6300 from other, similarly priced Samsung TVs. The UN49MU6500 is ready to connect to your router straight out of the box. One remote connects with all your electronic devices automatically, and you don’t have to lift a finger. And the breathtaking colours of the TV’s 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio looks especially good on a curved screen.
Like other Samsung models, this TV has several HDMI, USB and audio ports, allowing you to connect video from multiple sources and hook up your audio to a home theatre system. Like other Samsung models, it broadcasts at a rate of 120 Hz. The main standout of this television is its curved screen, which feels just a little bit more immediate than a standard flat-screen TV.
TCL 55P607 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV
The TCL 55P607 55-inch LED TV is a major step up from the more budget-friendly TCL 49S405. Unlike some 4K televisions, TCL didn’t just make a bigger television and increase the price. They added some extra features that help to make this a much more capable TV.
This 55-inch television has a lot of things going for it, such as High Dynamic Range (HDR). Dynamic Range is basically how much light and dark the television screen can show at the same time, which leads to bolder, more exciting colours.
This HDR is complimented with LED backlighting that offers 72 dimming zones for even richer contrasts. Like the TCL 49S405, the TV comes with Roku automatically, granting you instant access to over 4000 channels.
The 55P607 runs at 120 Hz, which limits motion blur, and has three HDMI 2.0 ports, one USB port, RF, Composite, Headphone Jack, Optical Audio Out and Ethernet connections. It also comes with a mobile app and a remote control. Combining strong performance with a great price, this is one of the best values on the market.
Best 4K UHD TVs Under $1500
Sony X900E 55″ 4K Ultra HD TV
Samsung isn’t the only big name in the television market. Sony, one of Samsung’s closest competitors on both sides of the Pacific, also produces 4K televisions. And if the Sony XBR55X900E is any indication, they do a very good job too.
This TV uses XDR, which offers five times more contrast than a standard television. So the HDR here helps to bring out a clearer picture that’s more true to life. The TV has a refresh rate of 120 HZ and provides 4 HDMI ports and three USB ports, including one USB 3.0 connection.
The XBR55X900E is a smart television, and as such it even has an on-board processor to help it process the information it receives and translate it into 4K resolution. The TV is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, so your very mouth can be a remote control. This is a beautiful television, and well worth the price.
Best 4K UHD TVs Under $2000
LG Electronics OLED65C7P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
The LG Electronics OLED65C7P 4K Smart TV is currently the #1 best-selling organic light-emitting diode (OLED) 4K television on Amazon. One look at the specifications and you know why. Although it isn’t quite as large as the Samsung UN75MU8000, it has a lot to offer.
In addition to its use of High Dynamic Ratio, the OLED65C7P uses individually lit OLED pixels to provide richer, a deeper contrast to standard LED screens, and without the use of backlighting. This reduces the glare, improves the contrast and makes the TV thinner, which also means its lighter and uses fewer resources to make.
The TV is powered by webOS 3.5 Smart TV and comes with a Dolby Access Smart App that allows you to manage your smart TV and your programming content. It comes with 40W speakers, including a 20W woofer, and weighs just 54 pounds.
LG Electronics OLED55B7A 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
LG Electronics is mostly known for their cell phones. I’ve had an LG phone for over ten years myself. I didn’t realize they also made TVs, but the LG Electronics OLED55B7A is proof indeed. This 55-inch television offers the stunning resolution, colour, clarity and contrast.
The television is almost impossibly slim, which makes it all the more impressive and elegant. It uses Dolby Vision to optimize the colour anew for every scene, ensuring you always get the best colour and contrast possible. The television works with webOS Smart TV for its operating system, and it also works with Sling TV, allowing you to customize and personalize your channels.
With a billion possible colours, television has never looked as incredible as it does now. This TV also has three USB ports and four HDMI connections so you can plug in as many devices as you want. Even the audio is amazing – LG has a built-in four-channel 40W stereo sound system. Home television has never sounded this good.
Best 4K UHD TVs Under $3000
Samsung Electronics UN75MU8000 75-Inch 4K Ultra HD TV
The price difference between the Samsung Electronics UN75MU8000 and the LG Electronics OLED55B7A is pretty significant. But then, so are the capabilities. The UN75MU8000 is a major step above the cheaper LG in a variety of ways and is well worth the premium price tag.
The colour quality on this TV is out of this world. This 75-inch TV has over one billion more shades than your standard UHD TV. It also utilizes Ultra Dynamic Contrast Ratio, which offers a staggering contrast of 1,000,000,000:1, a ratio unmatched by any television on the market.
The TV also offers an unprecedented refresh rate of 240 Hz, eliminating virtually all traces of motion blur. Other features of this television include built-in WiFi, four HDMI ports and a universal remote.
There is no way to describe this television in any other term than amazing. If it has any downside at all, it’s that at 87 pounds, it does weigh a fair amount – although far less than TVs used to weigh. Nevertheless, make sure you have help setting this TV up. The last thing you want is to break a $2500 TV before you even use it.
LG OLED65W7P 65″ Signature OLED TV W 4K HDR Smart TV
If you’re looking for the thinnest, flattest television known to man, the LG OLED65W7P 4K TV is it. This breathtaking TV screen is less than a quarter of an inch thick and attaches to your wall as easily as wallpaper.
This isn’t a cheap model, and it’s easy to see why. Trying to compress all that imaging electronics into so small a screen is a marvel of modern engineering. Its ultra-thin size means it takes up virtually no size at all, and it weighs an incredibly light 16.8 pounds, making it one of the lightest TVs ever designed – in any generation. Considering this is a 65-inch screen – over five feet long – this is nothing short of incredible.
Everything you’d expect to find in a 4K television is right here, and in a package that almost defies comprehension. This is a very expensive TV, and surely out of the price range of many. But if you have to have the best, this is it.
No matter our budget, we all want to have an amazing TV experience. Thanks to our research, you know have a handy guide that lets you zero in on and find the very best 4K TVs for the prices you can afford. Whether you want to stick to a budget or want the best TV around, you’ll find it here. Get it.
*All prices mentioned above were at the time of publishing.
Flat or Curved
48.4 x 8.9 x 29.9 inches
4K Ultra HD
48.4 x 8.9 x 29.9 inches
4K Ultra HD