Best cheap TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best cheap 4K TVs you can buy in 2022.
Good news: you can get a great TV for a cheap price. The latest technology does trickle down, meaning the best cheap TVs can still deliver good picture quality and have the latest streaming TV apps, specs and features.
If you want to upgrade your TV but don't want to spend a huge amount of money, then our round-up of the best cheap 4K TVs is for you. The best budget TVs combine impressive pictures, good sound and the necessary features for enjoying the ultimate home entertainment experience available, including 4K and HDR picture processing, and streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix.
The TV industry moves faster than most, with big brands such as Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony bringing new TV technology every year to deliver genuine performance advances. And it's not just the screen manufacturers. Broadcasters and streaming services have pushed HD, 4K and now HDR (high dynamic range) video, in an effort to lure new viewers and improve the quality of their content.
Read on for our pick of the best cheap TVs to make your buying decision simple.
Look up ‘unassuming’ in the dictionary and you’ll probably find a picture of the Samsung UE43AU7100. This 43-inch LCD TV doesn’t flaunt a particularly flamboyant design, doesn’t sell for a particularly outrageous price – either high or low – and its features list is certainly no Lord Of The Rings-style epic.
You don’t have to spend long in the UE43AU7100’s company, though, to realise that a TV doesn’t have to be an extrovert to stand out from the crowd. Solid processing and a thoughtful, balanced picture that actually seems to have had some care and attention lavished on it can be more than enough.
While inevitably for its money it’s not without its limitations, the UE43AU7100 delivers an impressively balanced, consistent and immersive picture. Particularly great to see at this price point is how deep its blacks are. Dark elements of mixed light and dark images enjoy rich and deep black tones, while full-on dark scenes appear with startlingly little of that grey or blue wash over them that so often blights such scenes on relatively affordable LCD TVs.
Good black levels are often accompanied by good colour, and so it proves – mostly – with the UE43AU7100. Colour blends are delivered with impressive subtlety and practically no ‘banding’. And while the set isn’t bright enough to drive colours off the screen with particularly spectacular volumes, there’s still an agreeable sense of daylight lustre to the tones of sun-drenched HDR woods, vibrant blue skies and busy city streets.
The UE43AU7100 even proves a little more tolerant of wide viewing angles than most budget LCD TVs, wrapping up a picture performance that trades showiness and aggression for immersiveness and consistency in a way we wholeheartedly endorse.
On top of the surprisingly mature and accomplished picture performance, you get arguably the best, most app-packed operating system available at any price. Connections run to three HDMIs and one USB port.
The only cutting edge gaming graphics feature the HDMIs support, though, is Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which allows the TV to switch into and out of its Game mode depending on the sort of content an ALLM-capable device is outputting. There’s no 120Hz or Variable Refresh Rate support, but that's no surprise for a TV of this size and price.
One HDMI supports eARC, allowing the TV to pass lossless Dolby Atmos sound to a compatible soundbar or AV receivers, one of which you should certainly budget for if you're able. If you're determined to stick with the in-built speaker system, you'll find that the AU7100 sounds only passable, with a lack of volume and projection that makes for a presentation without much impact. That said, while it's hardly cinematic, the presentation is certainly good enough for everyday TV-viewing – just don't expect a rousing rendition of action movie soundtracks.
Ultimately, while the UE43AU7100 certainly can't hold a candle to a top OLED or QLED, it's superb for its size and price.
Read the full Samsung UE43AU7100 review
On a performance-per-pound basis, this TCL is very hard to beat. The integrated Roku platform means the set is packed with streaming apps and is very easy to use, and the performance is much better than you'd expect from a set costing so little.
Compared to most TVs at the budget end of the spectrum, the RP620K produces richer, more vibrant and truer colours, better blacks, and more convincing contrast and texture. There's no real motion processing on board, but the native handling is decent.
While not exactly cinematic, the integrated speaker system is clear and controlled, so will do the job if you're unwilling or unable to add a soundbar.
All told, this TCL is a very solid buy. It might not be the AV equivalent of fine dining but it’s more sophisticated than the chips and gravy of Hisense’s even cheaper Roku TV – and just as tasty. If you want a big TV on a budget, there's currently nothing better.
Read the full TCL 55RP620K review
The Hisense Roku R50A7200GTUK is likely to be the cheapest 50-inch TV we’ll see on sale in the UK this year from a major manufacturer. It promises a good-sized, punchy 4K HDR image and all the major apps and services you could need, without so much as an additional box or stick in sight.
It’s a pledge that Hisense delivered so well in 2020 with its R50B7120UK model that it decided to leave the recipe pretty much as it was for the replacement model.
Neither the picture nor the sound are perfect, but both are surprisingly good for the very low asking price. Add in a brilliant feature set and an unbeatable content offering, and you've got a great performance-per-pound proposition.
Read the full Hisense R50A7200GTUK review
We’ve seen a pretty dizzying mixture of the decent, the bad and the ugly from Toshiba’s recent TV efforts.
With this in mind, it was pretty much impossible to predict what we were going to get out of the new 50UK3163DB when it landed on our test benches. Certainly we could never in our wildest dreams have predicted that it was actually going to end up dazzling us with arguably the most aggressively ‘next-gen’ pictures we’ve seen from any sub-£500 TV to date.
Inevitably for its money, the Toshiba 50UK3163DB isn’t perfect. Black levels are average, its pictures sometimes border on harshness, and its colours sometimes look rather washed out.
Its entirely healthy obsession with trying to give you the maximum 4K and HDR bang for your buck may well win it plenty of fans, though. Especially in shops where it can be shown running side by side with its subtler rivals.
Read the full Toshiba 50UK3163DB review