That, however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other solid options available. You just have to broaden your view a bit and not just take cues from the weekly Best Buy ads and Amazon lightning deals.
Keep in mind that these “cheaper” sets may not achieve the level of visual goodness of their OLED and QLED counterparts, but take comfort in knowing that they do get the job done for most people’s viewing needs—and you’ll save plenty of cash to boot.
So, if you’re not particularly interested in making a sizeable investment in an OLED or QLED set right now, then here are five great options that are under $500 to strongly consider.
TCL 4 Series
As the little brother of TCL’s highly regarded 5 and 6 Series HDTVs, the 4 Series often gets lost in the shuffle during conversations about 4K panels. But this particular set packs enough punch for those who love action movies and today’s top video games. You’ll definitely get more picture quality for the price you’re paying, in addition to support for the must-have HDR 10 and low input lag and great response and processing time. The contrast ratio and black levels and uniformity are also above average, but be aware that the set does fall short in terms of wide-angle viewing. If you’re one of the millions who can’t live without Roku TV, then you’re definitely in luck because it comes built-in.
Hisense H8G Quantum Series
You’ll be receiving quite a bundle for this particular Hisense HDTV. Like the more well-known QLEDs from the Korean tech giant Samsung, the H8G Quantum Series also taps into next-generation quantum-dot technology in their panel displays, boosting the overall color reproduction that you can actually see for yourself. Also know that the set features Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision HDR, a built-in Google Assistant, and Android TV. In the 2020 refresh, the H8G now comes with local dimming zones that do a wonderful job in keeping the screen pitch black in areas that need to be and has a peak brightness of seven hundred nits.
Insignia 4K Fire TV
Right off the bat, you should know that Best Buy’s Insignia brand often uses parts from past-year versions of LG, Toshiba, and Samsung TVs, so sometimes you don’t know exactly what you’re getting. But there’s no reason to fret—in addition to the rock-bottom pricing, this 4K Fire TV has proven that it has plenty of meat on its bones. It indeed is a great value play—and it could be a perfect addition to any bedroom, den, or kitchen. When compared to the much-vaunted OLED panels, the picture quality of the Fire TV is obviously lacking and won’t necessarily blow you away. Keep in mind, though, that you are still getting a 4K display that comes with HDR capability.
TCL 5 Series
If you’re looking to spend only half of what you would normally shell out for a QLED TV, TCL’s 5 Series definitely fits the bill. But even at these bargain-bin prices, you’re still getting a 4K TV with solid picture quality, wide color gamut, low input lag, and great response and processing time. The contrast ratio and black levels and uniformity have also been highly praised—just not at those OLED levels. You’ll also be on the receiving end of Dolby Vision, HDR 10, Hybrid Log-Gamma, and like the 4 Series, the Roku TV platform.
Toshiba 4K Fire TV
If you’re seeking a no-frills 4K HDTV option that just gets the job done for your smaller spaces, make sure to take a gander at Toshiba’s Fire TV. Sure, it doesn’t have the same VIP ring to it as an LG OLED, but this HDTV is definitely no slouch—and in terms of pure value, it can really hold its own compared to other offerings in a similar price range. Despite the ultra-friendly price tag, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by what you’ll be receiving, as it boasts Dolby Vision HDR that does a valiant job in reducing motion blur and other picture-related annoyances.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.