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Best cheap TVs: the best screens that don’t cost the earth

Boy sitting in front of a wall of tvs
(Image credit: Hiya Images/Corbis/VCG)

Looking for the best cheap TVs often feels like an impossible task. So many acronyms and so much tech jargon, not to mention a few too many zeros, often mean that it feels like we have to empty our wallets for a good screen. Thankfully, this just isn’t the case. You don’t need to spend thousands on a television to enjoy your favorite movies and shows in beautiful fidelity. In fact, some of the best cheap TVs even include streaming services like Roku so you don’t even need to buy a separate stick. 

Over the last few years, brands like TCL and Hisense have upset the TV market with brilliant 4K screens at significantly lower prices. This, in turn, has driven other manufacturers to strive for feature-rich 4K TVs at budget price points, meaning that there’s never been a better time to snare yourself one of the best cheap TVs. Let’s take a look at the screens on offer to upgrade your watching experience for less. 

TCL Roku RP620K

(Image credit: TCL)

1. TCL RP620K Roku TV

The best cheap smart TV

Specifications
Screen sizes available: 43, 50, 55 and 65-inch
Operating system: Roku
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant intuitive streaming platform+Dolby Vision+Works with Alexa/Google Assistant
Reasons to avoid
-Brightness a little low-You’ll need a wide stand 

Given that sale prices can take the 43-inch model of the TCL RP620K Roku TV under £300, it might seem far too good to be true. But the excellent news is that this Roku-equipped offering is an excellent television. The Roku operating system is slick and easy to use with all the usual streaming suspects in one place, and the 4K picture quality is excellent. It’s not as bright as other screens out there - that price sacrifice has to come in somewhere — but the addition of Dolby Vision HDR brings real color to movies and TV. There’s even voice assistant support for both Google and Amazon’s digital assistants and Apple AirPlay to send content from your iPhone or iPad to the screen.

Samsung AU9000

(Image credit: Samsung )

2. Samsung 43AU9000

The best budget all rounder

Specifications
Screen sizes available: 43, 50, 55, 65, and 75-inch
Operating system: Tizen
Reasons to buy
+Great picture+Superior operating system +Slim design
Reasons to avoid
-You’ll want a soundbar -No Dolby Vision

The Samsung 43AU9000 is a bit of a step up in price from something like a TCL but for a bit more of an investment, you get a seriously impressive 2021 screen. The 4K imagery is striking with rich dark blacks and natural colors. There’s no Dolby Vision so you’ll want to feed it HDR10+ content to make it shine but the AU9000 is an exceptionally impressive screen at this price point. There’s also some good news for gamers. While there’s no HDMI 2.1 support for bonus new-gen console features, there is auto low latency mode (ALLM) support to stop lag. The only real downside here is the audio but get yourself a good soundbar and the Samsung AU9000 hits that balance of budget and features that make this one of the very best cheap TVs to buy in 2021. 

Hisense A7G

(Image credit: Hisense)

3. Hisense A7G

The biggest TV for your buck

Specifications
Screen sizes available: 43, 50, 55, 58, 65, 75-inch
Operating system: Hisense VIDAA
Reasons to buy
+QLED technology +Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and HDR+Great features for the price 
Reasons to avoid
-HDR could be better 

The price for the 55-inch A7G is impressive enough without the fact that this makes the most of a QLED display. The quantum dot screen here can’t quite square off with the same tech from Samsung but it gives it a great shot with Dolby Vision on imaging duties alongside HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos audio support too. 4K images look beautiful on screen, making this TV perfect for enjoying your favorite Blu-Rays and Netflix’s 4K and Dolby Vision output. Add in variable refresh rate (VRR) for gamers as well as Google Assistant and Alexa functionality and you won’t find more feature-rich screen real estate for your money than the A7G. And, if you want the biggest screen possible, the 75-inch model is the most budget-friendly way to do that.

Panasonic HX580

(Image credit: Panasonic)

4. Panasonic HX580

The best picture on a budget

Specifications
Screen sizes available: 43 and 50-inch
Operating system: Android TV
Reasons to buy
+Dolby Vision means sharp imagery  +Plenty of HDMI and USB ports +Game mode for low lag 
Reasons to avoid
-Limited streaming apps 

One of the many excellent things about the Panasonic HX580 is that it comes in a neat 43-inch size if you don’t fancy overwhelming a small room with a 4K TV. And there’s no loss in quality for a smaller size either. Dolby Vision is here as standard alongside HDR10 so everything looks colorful and vibrant, even on a smaller screen. You’ll have to buy a streaming stick to add Disney Plus to the selection but the image quality here excels for the size and price. The color and vibrancy really pop and while it’s happy to upscale non-HD content, you’ll make the most of the HX580 with Blu-Rays and native 4K content on streaming services. There’s also a healthy number of HDMI ports to connect whatever you like.   

LG UP7700

(Image credit: LG)

5. LG UP7700

The best cheap non OLED LG TV

Specifications
Screen sizes available: 43, 50, 55, 65, 70, and 75-inch
Operating system: LG WebOS 6.0
Reasons to buy
+Great HDR support +Intuitive LG OS+Size range is huge 
Reasons to avoid
-Sound isn’t the best 

Everybody talks about LG’s OLEDS (and we will in a minute) but don’t forget their LED models that are probably one of the cheapest ways to get a seriously big 4K TV without going bankrupt. The UP700 is an impressive television with brilliant HDR and a selection of viewing modes to make sure you’re getting the best out of whatever you’re watching. The addition of LG’s excellent WebOS too means you’ve got all the best streaming services intuitively to hand. The build quality isn’t the same as the more expensive models but features wise, you won’t find a more generous television. And if you’re dreaming of a 75-inch behemoth with strong performance at a competitive price, the UP7700 will be happy to oblige. 

LG A1

(Image credit: LG)

6. LG A1

The best cheap OLED TV

Specifications
Screen sizes available: 48, 55, 65, and 77-inch
Operating system: LG WebOS 6.0
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful OLED contrast+Stylish design+Excellent OS 
Reasons to avoid
-Entry level LG processor -Needs a long TV stand

So we know you’re here for a cheap TV and that doesn’t normally involve OLED. But if you are looking for a cheap OLED screen that won’t set you back thousands, LG's A1 has been specifically designed to hit that sweet spot. OLED means the inkiest blacks and richest colors from a thin slick display and although the A1 is the entry-level model, there are plenty of reasons to recommend this a great gateway into a high contrast world. The A1 comes with the brilliant LG WebOS 6.0 for easy access to streaming services and the Magic Remote, voice assistant capabilities, and Airplay functionality makes this a visual extravaganza if you’re willing to shell out the extra. 

How to choose the best cheap TV for you 

LG A1

(Image credit: LG)
  • The first thing to think about when you’re looking for the best cheap TV is where and how you want to use your screen. Is this going to be a main living room television or just an option for the bedroom? If you’re not looking for a 55-inch behemoth then you might be able to get a smaller version of a more expensive model, or, conversely, if you’re looking for a screen with as much real estate as possible, you’ll want to look for a model that can tick both your budget and size requirements. 
  • Another big consideration is what you want to use the TV for, primarily. If you’re looking for as much Netflix or Apple TV as possible, you’ll want to find a television with an intuitive smart operating system to let you watch your favorite shows without endless button presses. Check which streaming platforms have dedicated buttons on remotes for easy access and, importantly, check that your favorite streaming service is actually on your TV of choice.  Most platforms now have everything but it’s always worth checking. 
  • If the television doesn’t have the service you want, you can always stream from your smartphone or tablet so be sure there is WiFi streaming capability in there too. AirPlay is vital if you want to stream from your iPhone or iPad. 
  • It might all feel like a lot to think about but the purpose of smart TVs in 2021 is for them to be truly smart and work properly for you. It’s also worth noting that given the design of modern TVs with very little room for booming audio speakers, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll also want to budget for a soundbar. The most reassuring thing is that this is a necessity for the majority of TVs, even those into the thousands. This means that a good soundbar is a great investment that you’ll be able to keep for future screen purchases too.
Louise Blain

 Louise is a writer and broadcaster working across entertainment, technology, and gaming. She presents BBC Radio 3's monthly Sound of Gaming show. Louise can often be found watching horror, drinking coffee and beating you at The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth.