The best TVs under $1000: top budget QLED TVs and more

The best TVs for under $1000 include cheap QLED and LED sets – but all deliver world-class images and do big-screen blockbusters justice

The best TVs under $1000: Samsung Q70T
(Image credit: Samsung)

Why the best TVs under $1000? We chose this price limit for this roundup because it's well below what you'll pay for an ultra-serious 'flagship' TV, but still gives plenty of scope for getting a TV with the latest and greatest features, top smart TV options, and advanced processing.

There was a time (not that long ago) when getting a big TV with top specifications would cost you eye-watering amounts of money. Unless you wanted (and were prepared to pay for) an authentic 'flagship' screen, there would have to be sacrifices and compromises made if you wanted a TV under $1,000.

Not any more. Admittedly, you won't find the best OLED TVs in this price range, unless there's a big sale – if you see one that cheap, be sure it's from a company such as LG or Vizio that won't cut corners.

But spending up to $999 will most certainly buy you an LED (or QLED) TV that will do justice to the ever-increasing amount of stunning 4K content available, and will get you plenty of HDR compatibility as well. While TV manufacturers obviously reserve their up-to-the-minute technological tour de forces for the most expensive televisions, the gap between top of the range and solidly mainstream is closing all the time. 

Yes, our picks of the very best TVs overall can get you even more cinematic image quality – but in many cases, you're paying for bigger-size panels. You'll be surprised how much more you have to spend before the upgrades really start to make themselves visible.

For combining amazing picture quality, excellent design, superior sound and a whole raft of smart TV functionality, as well as cutting-edge HDR compatibility, there are a selection of TVs here that really hit the spot.

Of course, if you want something even more affordable, we've also got the best TVs under $500.

What is the best TV under $1,000?

Our pick of the current best TV under $1,000 is the Sony XBR-49X950H. It has all the top features Sony offers for an amazing price. Sony has mastered the science of 4K video and the X950H takes full advantage of the robust processor to produce great upscaling from lower-resolution sources. It also has great color and contrast. However, it’s not a great TV for gaming given its lack of support for next-gen gaming features. 

OLED vs QLED: what they are, and which is right for you

If you’re looking for a slightly bigger screen and better gaming abilities, go with the 55-inch Samsung Q70T. It’s an astoundingly good balance of picture quality and value for money. Bright QLED images are mixed with local dimming to produce HDR that stops you in your tracks – and the saturated colors are equally stunning. It's excellent for movies and TV, but is also ideally suited to gaming, including for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X

The best TVs under $1,000 (in order)

Best TVs under $1000: Sony X950H

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony XBR-49X950H

The best LED TV under $1000

Screen size: 49 inches
Other sizes available: 55, 65, 75, 85 inches
Inputs: HDMI x4, USB x3, composite, ethernet
Dimensions: 43 x 24.8 x 2.7 inches
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic 4K HDR images+Top-tier upscaling and motion+Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+-No next-gen gaming features

• Read our full Sony XBR-49X950H review

This is Sony's flagship LED 4K TV for 2020, packing in all kinds of advanced technology and processing for supreme picture quality… and somehow you can get one of these sets for under $1000!?

Only the smallest size of this model comes within our budget, but 49 inches is still a generous size, but one that's small enough to fit in most living rooms without a problem. But crucially, there's still all of Sony's wizardry going on here.

The X950H includes Sony's X1 Ultimate image processor, which works on making sure that all the detail of 4K video is brought out, and on upscaling HD into 4K so it looks pristine on the screen. There's no TV that does this better, meaning you get the most from this TV whatever you're watching. The same processor is the best out there for handling motion, making sure that fast-moving action is clear and smooth while still looking natural. And we really rate Sony's ability to take SDR video and punch up the colors and contrast to look closer to real HDR, but again without making things look artificial.

Combine that with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio support, plus eARC for lossless connectivity with a soundbar, and you've got a really well-equipped TV for movies and television. The Android TV operating system has all the key apps available, though is a little clunkier to navigate than some others.

The only disappointment here is the lack of gaming features ready for the PS5 and Xbox Series X – there's no Variable Refresh Rate and no support for 4K video at 120fps. The Sony X900H TV is the Sony TV to get if you want those features, which ironically is the model down from this one in Sony's current selection – it starts at 55 inches at the same price as this. 

best TVs under $1000: Sony XH90

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony XBR-55X900H

The best gaming TV under $1000 (and a great all-rounder)

Screen size: 55 inches
Other sizes available: 65, 75, 85 inches
Inputs: HDMI x4, USB x2, composite, ethernet
Dimensions: 48.5 x 28 x 2.9 inches
Reasons to buy
+Excellent HDR and 4K detail+Top-level upscaling and motion control+4K 120Hz (VRR coming soon)
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+

• Read our full Sony X900H review

This is Sony's 'sweet spot' TV for this year, delivering an ideal mix of size, price, features and image quality. It uses a full-array LED backlight to deliver bright and powerful HDR, with local dimming also helping dark areas to look truly dark.

Sony's image processing is always a big reason its TVs look so good, and this one is no different – it can take HD videos and upscale it to 4K better than just about anything else at the same price range, and it's the best out there for making fast motion look smooth and clear (without suffering from the 'soap opera effect') too.

That, plus the impressive HDR, really means it's a TV that makes the most of cutting-edge tech, despite not being flagship-price – and you still get a generous 55-inch size while keeping under our $1,000 budget. (Actually, if you can break the $1,000 limit, this TV is even better value at bigger sizes – the 75-inch model especially is much cheaper than any other set close to it for quality.)

And there's a huge bonus for those looking for the best gaming TV: this is Sony's lead “Ready for PlayStation 5” TV – it supports 4K video at 120fps when playing PS5 (or Xbox Series X) games, and has ultra-low latency. It will support Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode in the future, via an update, too.

Best TVs under $1000: Samsung Q70T

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung QN55Q70T

The best TV under $1000 for gaming

Screen size: 55 inches
Other sizes available: 65, 75, 85 inches
Inputs: HDMI x4, USB x2, ethernet
Dimensions: 1230x706x57mm
Reasons to buy
+Great QLED image quality+Next-gen gaming features+Excellent software
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision HDR-Sound is mediocre

The Samsung Q70T sits in the middle of Samsung's 2020 4K QLED TV range, bringing pretty much all the high-end technical features you could want, but with a slightly less advanced panel, making it impressively future-proofed for the price, and still delivery great image quality.

You get the wide, rich colors of QLED, with bright HDR highlights. It uses an edge-lit backlight, rather than the direct backlight of the Sony models above or the Samsung Q80T (which sits just above it in the range), which means it's not quite as strong for black levels and deep contrast. But for overall image punch, it's a really impressive set, with excellent upscaling and motion processing, and one of the best (and easiest to use) smart TV platforms.

And with all the sales going on, it's also regularly available at this size for a couple hundred less than the Sony X900H, and the 65-inch model only just breaks our $1,000 barrier – if you can stretch a little further, that's arguably the best-value 65-inch set on the market.

But what really tempts us is that Samsung has still filled this set with high-end tech, including next-gen gaming features. The Q70T supports the Variable Refresh Rate and 4K at 120fps features of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and when combined with ultra-low latency in its gaming mode (which it will switch to automatically when you fire up a console), this is the best gaming TV option for this price overall. That said, the Sony XH9005 sometimes dips to this price on offer, and that offers slightly better image quality overall with all the same features, so on occasions when they're the same price, that would be our choice.

Best TVs under $1000: Samsung Q60T

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung QN65Q60T

The best 65-inch TV under $1,000

Screen size: 65 inches
Other sizes available: 43, 50, 55, 75 inches
Inputs: HDMI x3, USB x2, ethernet
Dimensions: 57.1 x 32.6 x 2.3 inches
Reasons to buy
+Lovely 4K images+Great upscaling+Splendid OS
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision HDR-Sound is mediocre

• Read our full Samsung Q60T review

The Q60T range is pushing to give you the lush colors of QLED at the lowest possible price – or, to think of it another way, to give you the biggest QLED screen possible for your budget. Pictures from 4K sources are outstanding: vivid-yet-natural colors, strong contrasts, lavish detail levels and smooth motion. Upscaling from lesser resolutions is accomplished too, with super-low picture noise and a fine color balance. The downside is that its brightness is lower than more expensive models, and it doesn't have the same fine control over contrast.

It still uses Samsung's Tizen-based operating system/user interface that’s a match for the best around – responsive, logical and not too in-your-face – plus offers an incredibly rapid sub-10ms response time when in ‘Game’ mode. Then there’s the customary Samsung quality of build and finish – nothing about the way this TV presents itself suggests it’s built to hit a lower price.

Consider everything the Q60T does brilliantly, and you’ll find it easy to overlook its shortcomings, especially since there aren't many of them: the sound this Samsung makes in no way does justice to the pictures it delivers, like all Samsung TVs it goes without Dolby Vision, and though it's great for gaming in terms of its rapid response times, it doesn't support the new 4K/120fps and Variable Refresh Rate features of the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. If you're not a next-gen gaming nut and are happy beefing it up with a soundbar, those aren't even flaws at all, especially when you look at what kind of price you can get a 65-inch model for (and even a 75-inch model breaks our barrier less than you'd think).

Samsung TU8500

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung UN75TU8000

The best 75-inch TV for under $1,000 – big screen, mid-range budget

Screen size: 75 inches
Other sizes: 43, 50, 55, 65, 85 inches
Inputs: HDMI x3, USB x2, composite video, ethernet
Dimensions: 65.9 x 37.7 x 2.4 inches
Reasons to buy
+Great quality, big screen+Excellent smart platform
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision-Not the brightest

• Read our full Samsung TU8000 review

The Samsung TU8000 is the highest-end TV in Samsung's range that doesn't have a QLED screen. It's subsequently not quite as bright as the Q-range TVs above and doesn't have quite such an eye-catching color range, but compared to other TVs in the same price bracket, it offers high-quality, sharp 4K images and great contrast, with accurate blacks.

Samsung is using an interesting new backlight tech with two different colors of LEDs, and it does a great job of keep blacks looking deep, while also providing a good overall brightness level, only really struggling with HDR, which lacks the pop of more expensive TVs.

The real trick here is that while the images are 'good for the price', the apps and software you use on the TV are 'good for any price at all', because it uses Samsung's full Tizen smart TV system, so the usability is on par with the most elite of flagships. If you're looking for a big TV that doesn't let itself down on image quality and has every streaming option you could want in an easy-to-use system, this is absolutely perfect.

How we chose the best TV under $1,000

From eye candy UHD visuals and superior sound to drop-dead gorgeous design, these are the TV sets you should be shortlisting right now.

All models benefit from the extra clarity that 4K offers, a fact that will be particularly noticeable when upgrading from a 1080p telly. The good news is that there’s now less of a shortage of native UHD content to exploit this resolution boost. From Apple TV and the burgeoning UHD Blu-ray catalog, to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, there’s plenty of stuff to show off your new panel’s prowess.

And of course, gaming is increasingly a source of spectacular 4K, thanks to the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X (and soon the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X).

All these TVs feature HDR onboard. It’s worth noting that not all screens that claim to be HDR offer a genuine HDR experience, with properly bright spectral highlights. Many lower-cost models are mere 'HDR compatible' (which means they know when they’re receiving HDR content, but they don’t have the wherewithal to do much with it). Naturally, we're looking for the ones that truly make the most of HDR.

The other area where corners are inevitably cut on lesser TVs is sound. You can always add one of the best soundbar or soundbases to rectify this sorry state of affairs.