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Are 4K TVs worth it?

4K TVs are not only mainstream now, but many can be considered budget-friendly too. They offer significantly better image quality than standard HD models, and most feature smart functionality, so you’ll never run out of content.

Those who can afford a 4K TV for around $500 should consider the Samsung 50-Inch Class Crystal UHD AU8000. It boasts Dynamic Crystal Color, which gives it an extensive color gamut and vibrant imagery, and the company’s Motion Xcelerator technology for smooth action. Plus, it features an intuitive on-screen guide that makes it easy to find great content to watch.

What to know before you buy a 4K TV


When shopping for a new 4K television, you’ll see the terms LED and OLED. These describe the lighting system for the display, and it is essential to understand the differences before choosing a model.

LED TVs are further broken down into edge-lit, backlit and QLED. On edge-lit 4K TVs, the illumination only comes from the perimeter of the display. This results in an image that can look dim at times and which will have poor contrast. Backlit TVs may be either direct-lit or full-array, and both offer better contrast and a brighter picture than edge-lit TVs. This is because their illumination is spread throughout the entire display rather than solely along the edges. Of these two types of backlit TVs, full-array models stand out as the best choice because their lighting is broken down into zones that can be individually lit or darkened as needed.

Many people often confuse QLED TVs with OLED TVs, most likely because of how similar the names look and the effective marketing of companies making QLED TVs. In truth, though, QLED TVs are simply another type of LED TV, but they use nanoparticles to enhance the display’s vibrancy. QLED TVs can also be edge-lit or backlit.

Though OLED has LED in the name, it is an entirely different type of technology. Without delving into the science behind these, the most important thing to understand is that light is emitted on a pixel-by-pixel basis in OLED TVs. This enables the TV to display a picture with extremely high levels of contrast and clarity far surpassing that of any kind of traditional LED TV. Unfortunately, unless you find a fantastic sale somewhere, it is nearly impossible to get an OLED TV for less than $500.

What size do you want?

People often automatically assume that bigger is better when it comes to TVs, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Ideally, a TV should fit nicely into a living area without feeling like it completely takes over the space. Most will find that TVs between 40-55 inches are ideal for bedrooms, while larger televisions between 60-85 inches work well in living rooms. Of course, the actual size of your bedroom, living room or wherever else you plan on putting your 4K TV will determine what size is best for you.

Features to look for in a quality 4K TV

Refresh rate

Refresh rate is an often overlooked spec when buying a TV, but it shouldn’t be. It refers to the number of times the display refreshes every second, and this is especially important when watching sports and while gaming. The more times an image refreshes per second, the smoother the on-screen movement will be. Usually, budget-friendly TVs will have a 60Hz refresh rate, while more premium options will have a 120Hz or 240Hz refresh rate. That being said, you can still find some 4K TVs below $500 that offer a 120Hz refresh rate.

High-dynamic range

High-dynamic range, which is often abbreviated as HDR in product specs, dramatically improves the color and contrast of a TV. This will make fine details like the textures of surfaces more noticeable, give the reflection of light off a shiny object more pop, deepen the blacks and make colors look more vibrant. 

Smart functionality

Considering how affordable TVs with smart functionalities are these days, there is little reason not to buy one that comes with it. The cost difference between a smart and non-smart TV is almost negligible, but the functionality is worlds apart. With a smart TV, you’ll be able to stream video content from popular sources like Netflix and Disney+, and you’ll be able to stream audio content using apps like Spotify and Pandora. Just note that for most video content sources, you will need to pay a monthly subscription fee.


If you plan on hooking up many peripherals to your TV, you want to make sure whichever model you are considering has enough ports to accommodate them. Consider both the USB and HDMI ports, as well as any others you might need.

How much can you expect to spend on a 4K TV under $500?

The cost of a TV is dictated by its size, lighting type and various other features. The most budget-friendly 4K TVs cost between $200-$300, but it is more common to find them in the $300-$500 range.


Do popular streaming services offer 4K content?

A. Yes. These days, the majority of streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Amazon Video, all offer 4K content. However, you will need a high-speed internet connection for the best viewing experience.

Is UHD the same thing as 4K?

A. Technically speaking, 4K and UHD are different. 4K displays have 4,096 by 2,160 pixels, while UHD displays may either have 3,840 by 2,160 or 7,680 by 4,320 pixels, depending on whether they are classified as a 4K UHD 8K UHD TV. For the most part, UHD and 4K are used interchangeably in regards to television sets and nearly all TVs labeled as 4K have the 3,840 by 2,160-pixel count.

What is the best 4K TV under $500 to buy?

Top 4K TV under $500

Samsung 50-Inch Class Crystal UHD AU8000

Samsung 50-inch Class Crystal UHD AU8000

What you need to know: This slim 50-inch smart TV has vibrant true-to-life colors and high contrast.

What you’ll love: It supports several voice assistants, including Alexa and Bixby, and features Samsung’s Motion Xcelerator technology for smooth on-screen action.

What you should consider: The sound quality is lackluster.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top 4K TV under $500 for the money

Best Insignia 43-inch Smart 4K UHD

Insignia 43-inch Smart 4K UHD

What you need to know: A 43-inch fire TV with a 4K display, several ports and HDR that comes for an affordable price, it’s hard to beat this Insignia model when it comes to value for the money.

What you’ll love: The majority of its ports are located on the side, so they won’t be blocked if you decide to mount it to the wall, and it has better sound than you would expect for a TV in its class.

What you should consider: The remote doesn’t always register button presses.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Vizio V-Series 50-inch Class

Vizio V-Series 50-inch Class

What you need to know: One of the few 4K TVs with a 120-hertz refresh rate for under $500, this V-Series model is an intelligent choice for gamers and people who watch a lot of sports.

What you’ll love: It boasts full-array lighting, features SmartCast for viewing media from your connected phone or tablet and has VIZIO Watch Free, which includes access to tons of video content at no cost.

What you should consider: It is a 2019 model.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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