There is still a case to be made as to whether or not you need a 4K TV yet. If you’re looking to upgrade your old flatscreen to take full advantage of 4K streaming or gaming, it’s good to know that you don’t necessarily have to spend big. Here’s some of the choices you have when looking for a 4K TV under $1200.
Truthfully, when I first began researching this piece I set the upper budget limit at $1000. I quickly found that, although you may be able to find some pretty cheap 4K TVs online that are well within that budget (and with Amazon opening a warehouse in Melbourne, your options are likely only going to increase), the selection of big brand TVs at retail in Australia was much smaller.
So, I bumped up the budget a little and found that for the extra $200, there’s a couple of great options, though it’s worth noting that, at least for now, this price point generally means you’ll be buying a TV that hovers between 43” and 50”.
The Series 6 may not be Hisense’s best model, but it’s a functional unit that serves as a great entry point to 4K TVs, plus it’s one of the cheapest options on offer. Though its RRP is $1300, most retailers sell it for below $900.
The Series 6 doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles and more expensive models, but that’s okay, it’s got all that an entry-level 4K TV should have. Four USB Ports, four HDMI ports, Smart TV functionality with access to Netflix, Stan and Freeview Plus right out of the box. I don’t think it has the prettiest trim you’ll ever see, but if this is the kind of price you want to pay, then you’re probably not as worried about how good it looks on your TV cabinet.
One of Hisense’s selling points over the competition is that their TVs come with a three year warranty, so you can have piece of mind that this relatively cheap model will at least see you through until the next Big Thing drops.
Another sub-$1000 4K TV that is worth a look if you’re hunting for a larger panel at an affordable price. As we reported back in March, Toshiba’s been out of the TV game in Australia for a while but their products have recently been filtering back into retail stores.
Though it may not have quite the same level of image processing sophistication or sound quality as rivals such as Sony, Samsung or Panasonic, the U77 contains Toshiba’s proprietary CEVO 4K engine and Color Re-master PRO tech to deliver a crisp, clear image. A big downside is the lack of HDR support but it does come with Smart Noise Reduction, a Super Contrast Booster to improve depth of colour and a serviceable three HDMI ports, two USB 2.0 ports.
The U77 also runs Android TV which means you’ve got a Chromecast right there in the panel and can take full advantage of the content, apps and games that Chromecast delivers which is a neat bonus at this price point. The 55” model sneaks in at under $1200 too.
Sony’s 7000D series, released in 2016, were highly-regarded machines series and they’ve continued the trend of pumping out high quality sets with the 7000E series this year.
The image quality is largely driven by Sony’s 4K X-Reality PRO, some of Sony’s most advanced tech, which can upscale HD or low-resolution images using a sophisticated algorithm that make the images look more life-like in real-time. It’s a clever piece of engineering that makes images pop without leaving them looking unnatural.
Specifications-wise it has exactly what you’d expect from Sony – good overall sound, USB recording, excellent colour and it’s also a great option for PS4 Pro owners who can take full advantage of its HDR compatibility and will be h. From a connectivity point of view, you’re looking at 3 HDMI Ports, 3 USB Ports and if you’re interested in watching YouTube and NETFLIX straight from your TV, they’re both just one-button away.
Most retailers have the 43” version for around $1100 but the 49” version (which has an RRP of $1699) is only $100 more expensive so, if you’ve got the space for it, that’s the one to go after.
The Series 6 is Samsung’s entry-level 4K model and it’s a sleek, stylish unit with a thin bezel. It’s an entry-level unit, so it doesn’t contain some of the excellent features of Samsung’s more expensive models, but the PurColor technology and HDR compatibility ensure you still get an image you can be happy with. Sound is fine, but there’s no getting around that with TV sets at this price point.
Samsung have made a concerned effort to ensure that all of their TVs are more user-friendly and the Series 6 makes it easy to quickly jump into Netflix, YouTube, Stan, Foxtel Now or a host of other streaming services that you’re likely subscribed to. I also appreciate their effort to do away with complicated remotes, where other companies seem to keep stacking those things with as much buttons as possible. For those of you, like me, that struggle to keep track of where the remote is, you can also use Samsung’s Smart View App on your phone as a replacement.
We’ve only been able to find the 43” model at under $1200, but if you’re looking at spending bigger, I’d recommend jumping up to the Series 7 which provides a great middle-ground between picture quality and price.
Panasonic’s EX600 series and the LG UJ654T series are two other models that routinely get reviewed well and are worth a look too. I haven’t included a full run-down here because they come with very similar technology and features to what you find in the Samsung Series 6, only under each manufacturer’s specific branding. They are both reliable bets that are commonly found beneath the $1200 mark.
This article was originally published in August 2017.