The best TV under £1000 to buy in 2017: all 4K, mainly HDR, smart TVs that are just (a) grand

Quality doesn't come cheap. But on the other hand, you CAN secure it for less than £1,000

TODO alt text

In the sub-£1000 TV market, large 4K screens, many boasting HDR compatibility, are now the order of the day. In my role as the UK's leading expert on televisions, I’ve been scouring the trade shows, and wrestling with people in the shopping aisles on Black Friday, only to find the best affordable television for you personally, sir/madam. 

They're all priced between £500 and £1000, and there are some doozies. Still too pricey? T3 will be serving up a sub-£500 tellies list in the near future.

What is the best TV under £1,000?

The straight answer here is Panasonic's TX-50EX700. This was a great telly when it launched at around £800, and now you can get it notably cheaper, it is an absolute steal.

For pure screen-inch bang for buck, however, it's hard to argue with the 55-inch Hisense H55N6800. Its mix of screen size, build quality, effective HDR and excellent smart EPG/streaming TV bits for its cost is highly persuasive.

How we chose the best TV under a grand

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

All demonstrably 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 iTunes and the burgeoning UHD Blu-ray catalogue, to Netflix, Amazon and Sky, 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, although not every TV makes for a great gaming display, as we’ll see.

That is why, in my opinion, now is the time to say goodbye to HD and embrace 4K.

Our chosen televisions include both HDR (high dynamic range – this year's must-have TV tech for early adopters) and SDR models (standard dynamic range – ie: what all TVs, no matter how pricey, were like all the way back in 2014). 

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 merely 'HDR compatible' (which means they know when they’re receiving HDR content, but they don’t have the wherewithal to do much with it). So, caveat emptor, as Maximus Decimus Meridius once said.

The other area where corners are inevitably cut with less flagship tellies is sound. You can always add a soundbar or soundbase to rectify this sorry state of affairs.

Right, that’s enough of this merry introductory banter. Let’s take a closer look at these big-screen beauties...

1. Samsung QE55Q6FAMT

4K QLED beast is the hottest TV deal in town right now

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inches
HDR: HDR10 and HLG
HDMI: 4
USB: 3
Dimensions: 710 x 1226 x 55mm
Reasons to buy
+High-performance panel+Solid smart platform
Reasons to avoid
-No Freeview Play-Fiddly connections box

There are two types of sub-£1,000 TV: those that are born £1,000 and those that have it thrust upon them, by being overpriced at launch. This epic Samsung falls into the latter category, being originally about £1,800.

That price drop is partly due to it coming to the end of its life but might also be because Samsung's QLED Quantum Dot technology has proved a hard sell, in the face of OLED. However, QLED has a great many charms, and at this price, it's irresistible. 

Compared to LED LCD, QLED improves off axis viewing and offers an extended colour palette for deeper vibrancy. In addition to HDR10 compatibility, there’s HDR+ processing to effectively 'upscale' standard dynamic range sources to something more vibrant, without being artificial.

This 4K set is fronted by Samsung’s Tizen Smart platform, home to catch-up TV players from all the main channels (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5), as well as ubiquitous  streaming services Netflix, Amazon (both in 4K) and YouTube. There’s also NowTV, which is handy if you want to dip into Sky channels without a long term contract. Tuner options include Freeview HD and twin Freesat HD but there's no Freeview Play, which is unfortunate.

Despite its slimness, there’s a fairly beefy 40w stereo sound system onboard. Connectivity includes four v2.0 HDMIs and three high-speed USBs, although Samsung’s external OneConnect junction box can be a bit of a faff to accommodate.

The '360 degree' design means it looks cool both front and back, so if you enjoy staring lovingly at the back of your telly, this is the set for you. This entry-level QLED also comes with a OneRemote zapper with microphone, able to control other devices, not just the TV. Snap one up.

2. LG 65UJ634V

Best big-screen LED LCD under £1,000

Specifications
Screen size: 65-inches
Other sizes: 43-inch, 49-inch, 55-inch, 60-inch
HDR: HDR10, HLG, DolbyVision **HDMI** 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 855 x 1471 x 84mm
Reasons to buy
+Extensive HDR support+Excellent smart hub and Freeview Play+Many inches to the buck
Reasons to avoid
-Average audio

LG may be the champion of OLED TV tech, but it’s got some well specified LED LCD 4K models on its books too. This 65-incher is just the ticket for home cinema fans, and comes with Freeview Play, which integrates catch-up and on-demand content with linear, terrestrial broadcasts.

This IPS panel offers vivid colours and a wide viewing angle. There’s also extensive HDR support. In addition to HDR10, the TV is compatible with the more 'hay clarse' DolbyVision and the as-yet-unsupported HLG format that the BBC is toying with. 

Connectivity includes three HDMI v2.0 inputs and two USBs. The set also boasts Ultra Surround, although we suspect you’ll want to add a soundbar or similar for a genuinely cinematic viewing experience. 

Another good reason to add it to the shortlist is webOS, the brand’s much lauded connected platform. LG kick-started the trend for minimal smart platforms, and in many ways still leads the field. Streaming attractions include 4K enabled Netflix, YouTube and Amazon video, as well as Now TV.

One largely unheralded trick of webOS is that it supports Fast App Switching, which means accessing Netflix and other internet Services is as easy as changing channels. You can also hop back and forth between Netflix, Amazon et al and live channels, without having to restart the app.  

If the 65-inch version is too big, the option of screen sizes from 43- to 55-inch may sway you, but this is the real bargain.

3. Sony KD-49XE8396

The best smaller TV under £1,000

Specifications
Screen size: 49-inches
Other sizes available: 43-inches, 55-inches
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 4
USB: 3
Dimensions: 640 x 1096 x 57mm
Reasons to buy
+Excellent HD-to-4K image upscaling+Wide Colour gamut
Reasons to avoid
-Android TV OS remains a PITA-Limited HDR peak brightness

One of Sony’s best-selling mid-range flatscreens, this modestly priced 49-incher boasts a spec that warrants a triple take. In addition to the now obligatory 2160p UHD 4K resolution, it’s got HDR10, and YouView overlaid on a Freeview HD tuner.

Sony’s image processing chops remain the best reason to buy though. The X-Reality Pro picture processor is one of the best out there, while the Triluminos display offers a wider colour gamut. 

YouView brings a full complement of catch-up TV services, including BBC iPlayer, ITVHub, My5 and All4, to accompany YouTube, Amazon Video and Netflix in 4K.

There are some compromises to be made of course. At this price point you can’t expect  the full HDR dazzle seen higher up the Sony food chain, and Motionflow is rated at 400Hz, so motion resolution is more limited.

But the design is clean and classy, we like the minimalist wireframe pedestal, and connectivity is great. All four HDMI inputs support HDMI v2.0, which means there’s plenty of scope for 4K gadget hook-ups.

3. Panasonic TX-50EX700B

Close rival to the Sony above, with a great picture enhanced by HDR10

Specifications
Screen size: 50-inches
Other sizes available: 40-inch, 65-inch
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 3
USB: 3
Dimensions: 1115x647x40 mm
Reasons to buy
+Superb smart portal Inventive+High-quality design
Reasons to avoid
-You’ll want a soundbar-Only three HDMIs

Panasonic’s mid-range EX700 range is available in screen sizes between 40- and 65-inches. The 50-inch TX-50EX700B sits in the sweetspot, and is the most affordable 4K HDR offering in Panasonic’s current TV line-up.

Despite that, the spec is very, very impressive. The EX700 boasts effective image processing for smooth motion, and combines Bright Panel technology with wide colour gamut for an outstanding colour performance with punchy contrast. An HDR Brightness Enhancer give pictures real pop. 

Build quality and design are best in class. The set boasts a metal frame, and the curved stand can be either set to the full width of the TV, or used in a narrower gauge to fit a table top – what Panasonic calls 'Switch Design'. The pedestal can also be reversed, depending on which style you prefer.  

Connections include three HDMIs (all HDCP 2.2 compliant), a trio of USBs and component/composite legacy AV inputs.

The smart platform,  Panasonic’s My Home Screen 2.0, is one of the best out there. It’s minimal yet well equipped, offering Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube in 4K. The set also has a Freeview Play tuner, with full catch-up larder.

A premium screen at a mid-range price point, in short. Get stuck in.

4. Hisense H55N6800

Another best-buy, 55-inch 4K HDR TV for under £1000

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inches
Other sizes available: 50-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 4
USB: 3
Dimensions: 1119x647x58 mm
Reasons to buy
+Effective HDR+Freeview Play and smart interface
Reasons to avoid
-Unimpressive audio-Only two full 4K HDMIs 
Today's best deals

If you’re looking for value, performance and a bigger screen than the Panasonic, this big Hisense has them all. 

It boasts Freeview Play with roll-back EPG and integrated Catch-Up TV (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and Demand 5), plus the brand’s minimal but stylish Vidaa U smart portal. This echoes Samsung’s Tizen platform and LG’s webOS  stylistically, and offers Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube in 4K.

Build quality is excellent. The thin bezel and heavy pedestal feet look swish and feel substantial. Even the remote has satisfying heft.

Connections include four HDMI inputs (although only two support 4K at 60Hz), plus three USBs, plus composite and component AV.

Picture quality is high. The set not only promises HDR compatibility, it’s actually bright enough to deliver a believable HDR image. Highlights, from glinting reflections to sunlight, look genuinely dynamic. This makes the TV a great match for UHD Blu-ray, streaming HDR 4K services and Sky Q, as well as next gen games consoles. In Game mode, we measured input lag at just 29.1ms, which is impressive.

Again, the set’s Achilles heel is its audio which, despite a fair amount of volume, sounds thin and acerbic. But that’s easily fixed with a soundbar or home cinema system.

Overall, another cracking budget UHD buy – and one that is available in a number of sizes at similarly alluring prices, at that.

5. Philips 55PUS6272

Excellent, Ambilight 4K TV for under £1000

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inches
Other sizes available: 50-inch
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 1244x731x78 mm
Reasons to buy
+Three-sided Ambilight+Freeview Play
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively poor HDR performance-Only three HDMI inputs
Today's best deals

Philips has significantly upped the ante with its 4K 6-Series models in 2017. The inclusion of Ambilight, its excellent image-complimenting, room-lighting technology, is a real point of difference from the competition.

With Ambilight you can wash your walls with colours, or have it pulsate to the beat of streamed music. If you have a Philips Hue lighting system, it can be fully integrated with that too.

This 55-incher is part of a new line from the brand, the 6272 range, which also incorporates a 50-inch model. The difference from its 6262 stablemates is that we get three-sided Ambilight, not two, and a sexier stand. Mmm.

The specification is top notch. This 55-incher has a Freeview Play tuner, which means all key catch-up TV players are onboard, as well as Netflix and YouView.

Connections include three HDMI inputs, all of which are HDCP 2.2 compliant for hooking up 4K capable gadgets, plus component AV and two USB ports.   

Picture quality is super sharp, with vibrant colour performance, but with a peak brightness of 350 cd/m², the set is more HDR-compatible than HDR capable. This means it’s not really bright enough to really show off spectral highlights, needed for that authentic HDR ping. But with 4K SDR material (as delivered by Sky Q), and HD, be it from a streaming service or Blu-ray, the set is a winner.

6. Hisense H65N5300

Another mammoth screen at a mini price

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inches
Other sizes available: 43-inch, 49-inch, 55-inch, 60-inch
HDR: None
HDMI: 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 568 x 970 x 88 mm
Reasons to buy
+Huge screen for the price+Decent smart platform with Freeview Play
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR-Limited connectivity

Search online for the biggest cheap 4K TV and you’ll most likely stumble across the Hisense H65N5300. It’s certainly big and relatively inexpensive, although there is some devil in the detail.

First, here’s the good stuff: it’s a 4K set with Freeview Play. Having a roll-back Freeview programme guide means you can play shows you’ve missed without having to select individual Catch-Up players. The set also employs the brand’s Vidaa Lite interface, a modern looking smart platform with access to Netflix, YouTube and Amazon in 4K. A Quad Core processor makes navigation snappy.

There’re some compromise on connectivity – only three HDMIs and two USBs – but I suspect most folks could live with that. Similarly, while the audio system makes some noise, it’s ultimately is only a stop gap until you add a soundbar or home cinema amp and speakers.

The 8-bit panel uses FRC ‘Frame Rate Control’ technology, a dithering process to approximate the missing bit-depth. Perhaps more significantly, the set doesn’t support HDR. As a result, 4K performance does suffer by comparison with some of the more expensive panels here. 

But then, come on, what can you reasonably expect at this price? If you want a massive screen, especially if your principal sources are HD – be it Blu-ray, standard consoles or HD streaming – then this set offers an awfully big bang for your buck, and proof that you don’t have to dig deep to go large.

7. Toshiba 49U7763DB

Another cracking TV under £1000, this one with lots of connectivity

Specifications
Screen size: 49-inches
Other sizes available: 43-inch
HDR: None
HDMI: 4
USB: 3
Dimensions: 1099x 660x55 mm
Reasons to buy
+Stylish design+Decent audio
Reasons to avoid
-Tired looking smart portal-No HDR on this one
Today's best deals

From a design point of view, this 49-inch Toshiba is definitely upper class. An ultra slim bezel is balanced by a  heavy flat chrome stand. A forward facing micro-speaker array, hidden behind a cloth grille, is an admirable detail. This is one of the nicest looking sub £1,000 4K models available.

Connections are more comprehensive than much of the competition as well, with four HDMI inputs, all HDCP 2.2 compatible, three USBs, composite and component inputs, VGA and even SCART – remember that?!

Sonically it's a better-than-average performer, too, thanks to those crafty, forward-facing drivers.

The set offers Netflix and YouTube, both of which stream in 4K, even if the portal itself looks a bit tired. On the plus side, we get Freeview Play, so mainstream Catch-up TV services are all provided, albeit via a rather spartan guide that's presented without a live TV window, or even live audio. The only screen dressing is a thumbnail image for any highlighted programme.

The Toshiba remote features dedicated buttons for Netflix, YouTube and Freeview Play; the latter takes you to channel catch-up players.

The set is 2160p, but not HDR compatible. Still, it looks subjectively bright and detailed with 4K SDR sources, and upscales regular Blu-ray a treat. Don’t shortlist this set if you want to play games though; input lag is way too high at over 50ms. The screen-dimming Energy Saving mode is a bit iffy, too.

If you're after a smaller screen, you may be interested to learn that this one is also available as a 43-incher.

8. Cello 55 Platinum P55ANSMT-4K

Best big-screen 4K gaming TV under £1000

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inches
Other sizes available: 50-inch
HDR: None
HDMI: 3
USB: 3
Dimensions: 974x571x79 mm
Reasons to buy
+Makes an excellent gaming TV with a few tweaks+Unusually good sound
Reasons to avoid
-Not so good for TV or movies-Smart portal is devoid of smarts-A big ol', chunky thing
Today's best deals

This big-boned Cello Platinum 4K TV is a curious proposition. The smart portal is Android based, but a throwback to Android Kitkat, so essentially unusable. There’s precious little in the way of image sophistication – you can’t alter sharpness or colour, manage contrast or tweak gamma – and it’s far from HDR compatible.

However, it puts all the 4K detail in the source onscreen and tempts with an extremely low input lag, making this a potentially huge 4K gaming display. Backlight uniformity is also above average. To fix the forced overscan, swap the HDMI Video mode to PC Mode. This tweak also gets input lag down to just 26ms. Given it’s not very bright, you’ll probably want to use it in a low-light room.

Connections include three HDMIs, all HDCP 2.2 compliant, plus a trio of USBs and composite AV. There’s also a micro SD card reader. The supplied Cello IR remote is a tad directional, and often takes several  stabs to elicit a response.  

However, thanks to that multi-driver soundbar, audio quality is considerably better than rival flatscreens at this price point, with a soundstage that's got presence and welly.