Best Pushing the Budget
- Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020
Best Mid Budget
- LG UP8000
Best Low Budget
- TCL 4 Series 2020
The basic concept of a smart TV is one that includes smart functionality such as apps and voice recognition rather than just playing content from a list of provided channels. Realistically, you may actually now struggle to find non-smart TVs as the cost of adding basic smart functionality is minimal.
In the budget range price is obviously always important, however, there are some sets that include some fairly high-end features, it may be worth spending a bit of extra money to get those improved features that can result in an overall better experience.
Especially in the budget category, screen size is going to be a somewhat limiting factor, nevertheless, you can still get screens that are 50-inches or more for a good price. If you can wait for a sale, you can save a bit of extra money and potentially buy a more advanced model too.
To help you pick a TV set, we’ve drawn up a list of our recommendations for the best budget Smart TVs in 2021.
- Integrated Fire TV stick
- 350 nit peak brightness
- Apps for all major streaming platforms
- 40”, 43”, 49”, 50”, 55”, 65”
- HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
The JVC Fire TV Edition is a collaboration between JVC and Amazon that integrates the Fire TV stick in 40-, 49-, and 55-inch formats. The screen quality of the 40- and 43-inch model is noticeably lower than the larger panels with reduced brightness and contrast so you may want to tend towards the larger sizes. The limit to 50Hz on all screen sizes may be a downside for many, however.
Despite the Amazon integration, you don’t need to worry about being restricted from accessing other streaming services, and Netflix, YouTube, iPlayer, and Disney+ all have their own apps. The volume compression feature allows you to make quiet sounds louder and louder sounds quieter, which can be ideal when you’re wanting to watch TV without bothering someone else.
- 700 nits
- 32 – 90 local dimming zones
- Quantum Dot technology
- 50″, 55″, 65″, 75”
- HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG
The Hisense H8G is a Quantum Dot 4K QLED display that runs at 60Hz and is available in 50-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch formats. It includes support for all major HDR platforms. One of its key selling points for a budget tv, and the reason for the higher price is the full-array local dimming, which has between 32 and 90 zones depending on the screen size you get.
Connectivity-wise it has four HDMI 2.0 ports which are more than powerful enough to drive the 60Hz display. Gamers may find the lack of VRR a problem but the limitation to 60Hz should make that less of an issue.
- ADS panel has wide viewing angles
- 43”, 50”, 55”, 60”, 65”, 70”, 75”, 82”, 86”
- HDR10, HLG
The LG UP8000 is a decent budget option if you don’t mind sacrificing a number of features. It comes in a huge range of sizes, with most being 4k60 and the 80+ inch versions supporting 4k120. The three key selling points are the wide viewing angles, making this ideal for group viewing; the great response time, making this a reasonable gaming option; and the price, which makes larger screen sizes more affordable.
Unfortunately, to reach that price you’ll have to give up VRR, local dimming, and even some HDR formats. While it can display HDR10 and HLG content, it doesn’t support HDR10+ or Dolby Vision. It also doesn’t get particularly bright or have great contrast.
- 400 nit brightness
- 99% DCI P3 gamut
- Full array local dimming
- 50”, 55”, 65”
- HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG
The Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020 is another pricy budget model, but you do get more features for your money. It comes in 50-, 55-, and 65-inch formats and runs at 4k 60Hz and supports all major HDR standards.
In terms of HDR quality, the 400 nit brightness is good if not outstanding, however, the wide colour gamut is top quality with 99% coverage of the DCI P3 gamut. It has full-array local dimming, however, it’s not particularly responsive which means it doesn’t give the best experience. The use of a VA panel also means that this TV has narrow viewing angles.
- Built-in Roku TV
- Variant available with Android TV
- Well priced
- 43”, 50”, 55”, 65”, 75”, 85”
- HDR10, HLG
The TCL 4 Series 2020 TV comes in 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch variants and has a 4K 60Hz screen. It comes in both Roku TV and Android TV variants if you prefer to use Android TV, although not all sizes are available for the Android TV variant and you get one fewer HDMI port.
The use of a VA panel means that the viewing angles are pretty narrow. This isn’t the best HDR TV as the 200 nit peak brightness just isn’t impressive, and the average at best colour gamut just doesn’t do HDR content justice. One big feature that’s missing is motion interpolation which means you won’t see any particularly smooth content that isn’t native 60Hz. To make up for this though, it is very affordable.
Those were our picks for the best budget smart TVs in 2021. Have you recently bought a budget smart TV, which model did you go for and what feature was it that sold you on it?