The 5 Best TVs to Buy in 2019 on Any Budget
The TV market has been an initial-filled nightmare for years. As technology evolves, so do screen types and model numbers that none of us really understand. The most recent trend is a television mad lib of LED 4K HDR. From Samsung's QLED and OLED technology to Vizio’s XLED tech and now Hisense's ULED tech, what's it all mean, and which LED should you claim your allegiance to? To help, we’ve got a friendly, not-too-geeky breakdown to kick-start your journey into initial-filled TV technicolor. Most TVs today—and all five TVs we list below—include all four of these components working in tandem to produce a stellar picture. Here's a crash course on what each of them actually does.
LCD: LCD means Liquid Crystal Display, which is the display type that makes the picture. LCD by itself is like the screen on the OG Game Boy before it had back-lighting.
LED: LED refers to the process of lighting the LCD screen. LED technology allows dynamic lighting throughout the screen, meaning areas of the screen can have different light levels for higher contrast and color clarity. LEDs can also dim an area that's meant to be black to make it really deep black. Essentially, LED is the super-smart version of what let us play the Game Boy Advance at night. What happens when you add Q or U or X or O in front of LED? Nothing. It's more or less a marketing term for some company's proprietary technology that couples with the LED tech. There are very subtle differences between them in terms of software, layouts, or physical parts. But for the most part, they all mean LED with limited distinguishing characteristics.
UHD 4K: An Ultra High Definition 4K display just means the picture looks really nice. To get a little geekier, the resolution is 3,840 x 2,160 with 60 frames per second for smooth movement and sharp edges. A few TV companies are starting to dabble in 8K resolution (7680 × 4320). While not widespread yet, it is damn beautiful when it works.
HDR: HDR means High Dynamic Range. This shows an extensive range of color and light, meaning you get a crisper picture and more detail. Upgrading from SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) to HDR is like the difference between buying a 12-pack of Crayons versus a 64-pack.
Needless to say, you're going to encounter countless TVs on the market with all of these features. But don't worry; we've narrowed it down to five for you. Here are the LED TVs to match your needs and price point in 2019.
Hisense ULED Android TVs
Pictured: 50H8F 50" 4K Ultra HD Android Smart LED TV HDR10
Hisense recently burst onto the scene with its ULED technology in the H8 and H9 TV series. Essentially, it took a lot of basic higher-end components and coupled them with smart tech to create a clearer picture. These TVs feature all the good UHD 4K, HDR, and LED technology, but with additional software that allows a dynamic range of pictures. Honestly, a Hisense TV could even have the potential to fix the Battle of Winterfell from being too dark. While these aren't the most high-end TVs on the market, they're definitely a fantastic budget option for those who can't spend an arm and a leg on a new TV. They have built-in Google Assistant to connect with your smart home, and can also connect with Alexa if you're an Amazon geek.
Hisense's more budget-friendly H8 series still looks great, but its picture is a little less crisp than the pricier H9 series, which is scheduled to roll out this July. Both cost in the $400-to-$1,000 area, making them a great buy.
Vizio M-Series TVs
Utilizing Vizio's XLED technology, which is just marketing speak for a type of LED, the M-Series comes at a sweet price point for a fairly powerful machine. Similar to Hisense, there are two Vizio models: the M, which is on the lower-end but is still quality; and the P, which is the higher-end model.
While neither model will force you to remortgage, the M is one of the most budget-friendly televisions on this list. With a range of $580 to $1,150 based on screen size, it's a cost effective way to bring some newer LED tech into your family room. It features the standard smart TV apps, along with smart home functionality and built-in Chromecast (for perfect streaming with your Oculus Quest). It has great contrast and visuals, just with a few budget-saving substitutions—the video is not as crisp and the frame rate is not as high as, say, the Samsung 8K, which is all to be expected when paying a quarter of the price. The Vizio M series is the go-to TV for a money-saving upgrade.
Samsung Frame TVs
Pictured: 43" The Frame Premium 4K UHD TV
This one is really cool. When you aren't watching something, Samsung's Frame TV camouflages itself as a picture frame holding a digital copy of a piece of art that you can change whenever you feel like it. It uses light sensors to create a matte effect, making the artwork look remarkably real. The TV comes with a huge selection of art, with more available to purchase for a helluva lot less than an actual masterpiece. It’s a great way to class up your living room and give your home a rotating art exhibit.
These Frame TVs feature UHD 4K and QLED technology for fantastic picture quality. Starting at $1,000+, they're definitely a pricier option, but considering the art collection and amazing transformative tech you get with them, they're well worth it. As an art geek myself, you can believe the next time I find $1,000 lying around, this will be my TV upgrade.
LG OLED ThinQ AI TVs
Pictured: 55" 4K HDR Smart OLED TV w/ AI ThinQ
This TV falls smack-dab in the middle. While it doesn't have elusive 8K capabilities, the picture is still damn good. The picture quality feels similar to TVs that run around $2,000 to $3,000, partially due to the built-in processor and other innovative technology (like the ThinQ AI software). Similar to the Hisense ULED TV, there is Google Assistant built in, morphing the TV into the Zordon of your smart home.
While $1,500 is by no means cheap, LG makes reputable products, warranting this higher price tag. It definitely has better picture quality then the more budget-friendly TVs on this list and rivals some TVs with even higher price tags. If you're looking to feel like you bought a $3,000 TV for a fraction of that price, this is your guy.
Samsung QLED 8K TVs
Pictured: 65" Q900 QLED Smart 8K UHD TV
Now, these Samsung QLED 8K TVs aren't for everyone. They're more of a pipe dream. Every model in this line will cost you $2K-plus, so feel free to stop reading here if you don't want to bum yourself out.
I’m going to be honest: 8K is an extreme luxury. Not many TV peripherals and apps support 8K yet—everyone's still amped about 4K—but it’s definitely where the industry is heading, especially with the new gaming console generation quickly approaching. That being said, these TVs are damn near the best looking things on the market right now, with the absolute best frame rate, color, and definition. But considering that even the smaller sizes are above $2,000, Samsung's 8K tech still has a ways to go to be ready for mass consumer interest.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.