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

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

Best TV under $1000
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(Image credit: Samsung)

A lot of people look for the best TV under $1000 because there's a definite meeting of the mid-range and high-end at this kind of price. It's where you can get most of the advanced features from the very best TVs – the real flagship sets – but at smaller sizes or with slightly less cutting-edge panel tech, to bring the price down. There's a huge amount of value here, giving you the best of both worlds – elite features at a more affordable price.

The only big flagship TV trends that have struggled to land in the best TVs under $1000 so far are the best OLED TVs and best 8K TVs… and that won't be true of OLED for much longer, with new models due in 2021 that will be cheaper than ever (and even current models only just breaking the $1K barrier).

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 ‘staunchly mainstream’ is closing all the time. 

Looking at the best TVs under $1000 is also key for the growing number of people who want to go bigger and bigger with their TV. For this price, you can some of the best 55-inch TVs, but if you're happy to step down in features slightly, you can get some of the best 65-inch and even 75-inch TVs! What a time, eh?

Of course, spending more money can get you even better picture quality than the sets here, but you'd be amazed at how high the level of images here is – you'd have had to spend twice as much for just a few years ago to match this. For combining scorching picture quality, excellent design, superior sound and a whole raft of smart TV functionality, as well as cutting-edge HDR compatibility, these TVs really hit the spot.

Of course, if you want something even more affordable, we've also got the best TVs under $500. And, of course, sometimes more expensive TVs will drop under $1000 during a sale – keep your eye on our list of the best TV deals.

What is the best TV under $1,000?

Our pick of the current best TV under $1,000 is the Sony KD-55XH9005. It's an LCD screen with direct array backlight, meaning it's really bright (useful for cutting through the light in bright rooms), but also has good local dimming for rich contrast. It provides really rich HDR performance, and Sony's processing is second to none, so 4K images look perfectly sharp, HD video is upscaled to 4K expertly, and motion looks smooth with seeming artificial. It's also geared up for gaming, with a really low response rate, support for 4K at 120Hz over HDMI 2.1, and with Variable Refresh Rate and Auto Low Latency Mode coming with an update – all of which are perfect for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

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

best TVs under $1000 in 2021: Sony XH90T3 Approved Badge

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony XBR-55X900H

The best TV under $1000 – the best balance of size, image quality and features

Specifications
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 rich HDR image quality+Great value for money+Next-gen HDMI 2.1 features

After recent price drops, this impressive 55-inch set from Sony is now our overall pick as the best TV under $1,000. Some of the TVs below beat for image quality in certain areas, but nothing gives you this quality of picture at this size with such great technical features to make sure it's future-proof.

This LCD TV gives you bright HDR images that really dazzle with color, but it's also quite capable when it comes to darker scenes, though not as strong as the Philips OLED TV below, of course. But it makes up for that with Sony's excellent processing, which makes motion look natural and smooth, and is fantastic at upscaling from HD to 4K, so everything looks detailed and crisp. Support for Dolby Vision makes the most of its HDR screen, though there's no HDR10+ here (the rival to Dolby Vision used on Amazon Prime Video).

It uses Android TV for its smart TV functionality, which means it's really well-equipped for streaming apps, though the interface isn't quite as tidy and smooth as Samsung or LG TVs. And as a bonus, the built-in sound is better than most mid-range TVs – you won't have to immediately add your own soundbar (though you might still want to).

This is also Sony's only 4K with HDMI 2.1 functionality, including support for 4K video at 120fps, which makes it perfect for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. It will also support Variable Refresh Rates and Auto Low Latency Mode via an update coming shortly. eARC HDMI support is here too, for high-resolution audio output to your sound system.

Combine all that, and you get the best overall TV package under $1,000. For more info, read our full Sony X900H review

Best TV under $1000 in 2021: Sony X950HT3 Approved Badge

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony XBR-49X950H

The best 50-inch TV under £1000

Specifications
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

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. 

Want to know more? Read our full Sony XBR-49X950H review

Best TVs under $1000 in 2021: Samsung Q70TT3 Approved Badge

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung QN55Q70T

The best TV under $1000 for gaming

Specifications
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 in 2021: Samsung Q60TT3 Approved Badge

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung QN65Q60T

The best 65-inch TV under $1,000

Specifications
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

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).

Read our full Samsung Q60T review

Best TVs under $1000 in 2021: Samsung TU7000T3 Approved Badge

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung UN75TU7000

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

Specifications
Screen size: 75 inches
Other sizes: 43, 50, 55, 58, 65, 85 inches
Inputs: HDMI x2, USB x1, composite video, ethernet
Dimensions: 65.9 x 37.7 x 2.4 inches
Reasons to buy
+Unarguable price/performance ratio+Really good upscaling+Best-in-class user interface
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision-Impoverished sound

The Samsung TU7000 is a great value TV with commendable picture quality. Though this is the entry-level model in Samsung's Crystal UHD TV range, you still get some impressive specifications. And all for roughly an eighth of the price of its new 8K flagship in the same size. 

For your $900 you get a decent selection of connections, including a couple of HDMI inputs (one with eARC), a USB socket, a CI slot, an ethernet socket and a digital optical output. There's also Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay 2. For gamers, it's worth noting that the HDMI inputs support Auto Low Latency Mode, too. 

Where the TU7000 really shines is in picture quality; it provides impressively deep black tones and equally admirable white tones, with plenty of detail and luster. Detail is respectable throughout and movement is dealt with intelligently. 

The downside is that, despite the 20W of speaker included, the audio performance is somewhat lacking. There's a decent mid-range but dynamics are sparse. We advise investing in a soundbar to do this screen justice. 

The TU7000 comes in a range of sizes from 43in upwards, with this 75in being the largest in the range. Though there are better all-round packages (including the Samsung Q60T above), if you want to go big, this is a great choice for the money. 

Read our full Samsung TU7000 review

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.