It used to be that a 50-inch TV was considered a "big screen TV." These days, the average living room TV size—in America anyway—is closer to 55 inches. Basically, it's easier than ever to land a really big TV without spending oodles of cash.
Case in point? Our favorite big screen TV under $1,000, the 65-inch Vizio M Series Quantum(available at Amazon for $970.00). Being a quantum dot TV, the M Series Quantum is bright, colorful, and doesn’t cost nearly as much as most higher-end QLED TVs.
There’s also a handful of other options if you want to get a great big screen TV. Currently, our picks are limited to TCL and Vizio TVs, but this isn’t the result of brand bias; these two brands simply offer the best options for folks who want to buy a big screen TV but don’t want to cross over the $1,000 threshold.
These are the best big screen TVs under $1,000 we tested ranked, in order:
65-inch Vizio M Series Quantum (2019)
65-inch TCL 6-Series (2019)
70-inch Vizio V Series (2019, V705-G3)
65-inch Hisense H8F (2019)
75-inch TCL 4-Series (2019)
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When it comes to new, value-packed TVs, it’s hard to top the 65-inch Vizio M Series Quantum, which offers a taste of quantum dot performance and a big screen for a price most people can justify.
The M Series Quantum doesn’t get quite as bright as TVs in higher price brackets, but that doesn’t mean its contrast is anything to scoff at; the TV’s brightness and deep black levels come together nicely on the full-array panel. Colors pop, too, on account of the M Series’ quantum dots.
A noteworthy caveat, however, is the M Series Quantum’s native refresh rate of 60 Hz, which might be a dealbreaker for folks who’d rather pay a little extra for a TV with smoother motion performance. Gamers who are looking for an affordable gaming TV, for instance, might be more inclined to spend a little more on a TV with a native 120 Hz refresh rate.
The M Series Quantum is also available in a 70-inch version (M706-G3) which is currently priced at around $900, but unless you’ve got your heart set on those five extra inches, we recommend sticking with the 65-inch M Series. Our reasoning is simple: The 65-inch model features 90 local dimming zones and the 70-inch M Series is only equipped with 12 zones. In other words, the 65-inch M Series will net you better contrast performance than the slightly bigger, 70-inch M Series.
Reviewed has been testing TVs since some of its current employees were in middle school. While many proud TV testers have come and gone through Reviewed's labs, the current Home Theater team consists of Michael Desjardin and Lee Neikirk. Michael is a senior staff writer and a six-year veteran of the Reviewed tech team. A film enthusiast and TV expert, he takes picture quality seriously but also understands that not every TV is a good fit for everyone.
As Reviewed's Home Theater Editor, Lee doesn't do as much testing these days. However, he designed the company's current TV testing methodology after receiving calibration certification from the Imaging Science Foundation.
It'd be an understatement to say that we're serious about TV testing. Our lab in Cambridge location is outfitted with much of the same equipment you'd find at a factory that manufactures and calibrates television.
On the hardware side, we've got things like a Konica Minolta CS-200 tristimulus color meter, an LS-100 luminance meter, a Leo Bodnar input lag tester, a Quantum Data 780A signal generator, and more Blu-rays than we can keep track of. For software, we use CalMan Ultimate, the industry-standard in taking display measurements and calibrating screens to specifications.
Our testing process is equally complicated and has been honed over many years to gather data that is marginal enough to satisfy curious video engineers, but also relevant to the average person's viewing experience. We measure things like peak brightness, black level, hue and saturation for primary and secondary digital colors, the accuracy of the TV's electro-optical transfer function—you get the idea, it's complicated. Weighting for our performance tests is based on how the human eye prioritizes vision, which means we put "brightness" data (monochromatic eye based on light sensitivity) higher than colorimetry, which is also scaled by the eye's sensitivity, and so on.
Outside of the strictly technical tests, we also spend a lot of time just watching and using each TV, getting a feel for the at-home experience of doing things like dialing up streaming video services, connecting a DVD player and watching movies, using the smart features, and checking out the TV's ports, remote, and on-set buttons—anything and everything that might be relevant.
What You Should Know About TVs
While everyone has different eyes, generally, our vision all functions the same way: we prioritize dynamic information and bright, compelling colors over subtler hues and resolution (sharpness). Generally, a TV can be considered a good TV when we forget that we're watching a TV. We don't see pixels creating mixes of red, green, and blue to simulate colors; we see the real world, lit and colored as it is, in fluid motion.
In simpler terms, this means a TV that can get very bright and dark without obscuring details; produces accurate colors (compared to various color standards designated by the International Telecommunication Union); possesses proper bit-mapping and the right codecs and decoders for video processing; and can properly play the various types of content thrown at it without judder, blurring, and so on.
Note that specs alone (pixel count, measured brightness) aren't automatic indicators of quality, much like incredible speed is not automatically an indicator of a good car.
What TV Terms Do I Need To Know?
When it comes to knowing what you're paying for, almost no category is more rife with subterfuge and tomfoolery than TVs. While knowing the specs of the TV you're shopping for is only half the battle, it's the bigger half. Here are the key bits of jargon you'll want to know while browsing:
LED/LCD: This refers to Light Emitting Diode and Liquid Crystal Display. LEDs are the backlights used in LCD TVs, also sometimes called a LED TV for this reason. The LED backlight shines through a layer of a semi-solid substance called "liquid crystal," so named for its ability to morph in reaction to tiny electrical volts and allow light to pass through.
OLED: This means Organic Light Emitting Diode. This is an altogether different panel technology than LED/LCD, albeit on the surface they work similarly. Rather than an LED backlight element shining through an LCD panel element, OLED TVs essentially combine the backlight and crystal array, using sub-pixel strata that produce light and color individually.
4K/UHD: Usually 4K refers to resolution—specifically, 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. This is the current standard/mainstream resolution for most TVs. UHD means Ultra High Definition, and actually refers to a suite of picture improvements like 4K resolution, Wide Color Gamut, and High Dynamic Range.
High Dynamic Range: Like "UHD," High Dynamic Range (or HDR) refers to both a type of TV and a type of content that expands on the typical range of brightness (luminance) and color that a TV will produce. HDR TVs are newer and usually a bit more expensive, but can have four times the brightness and 30% more color production than non-HDR TVs, at least. Current leading HDR formats include HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
60 Hz/120 Hz: These numbers refer to what is called a "refresh rate," with Hz (hertz) meaning "times per second." So if a TV's refresh rate is 60 Hz, this means it re-scans and updates for picture information 60 times per second; with 120 Hz, it's 120 times per second. Currently, TVs only come in 60 or 120 Hz. A higher refresh rate is always better, but not always necessary.
Smart TV: The term "smart TV" has evolved a lot over the years, but all it really means is that the TV connects to the internet. Most smart TVs these days are just a way to watch streaming services like Amazon Prime Video on your TV. Some smart TVs have browsers, calendars, or even Roku or Android functions. All smart TVs have ethernet or WiFi built-in.
Quantum Dots: Quantum dots are used in LED/LCD TVs only at present. These are microscopic nanocrystals that produce intensely colored light when struck with a light source. Quantum dots can be used to vastly improve the red and green saturation of a TV, and are one way that LED/LCD TVs can match the color spectrum of OLED.
Local Dimming: OLED panels look great because each pixel can operate independently. LED/LCD TVs can imitate this functioning via a process called local dimming, where localized clusters of LEDs dim or boost depending on whether the screen needs to be darker or brighter, sometimes vastly improving their contrast performance and worth.
What Is a TV Series?
You may notice the TVs listed in this roundup don't follow the traditional naming convention you might see in a store or online. That's because rather than nominating a single size of TV (such as the LG OLED65C8PUA, aka the 65-inch LG C8 series OLED), we nominate the entire range of sizes within a "series."
Typically these TVs are identical in performance but differ in price and size. We do this in order to offer you more flexibility in your decision, but also because it's the most accurate representation available.
Other Big Screen TVs We Tested
TCL 6-Series (2019)
The 65-inch TCL 6-Series is a budget-friendly QLED TV that brings the benefits of quantum dot technology (namely better brightness and color production) to a price bracket that most folks can actually afford.
We were quite impressed with the TCL 6-Series’ contrast; the TV’s relatively deep black levels look all the better thanks to its ability to get very bright, particularly during HDR content. We also love the TV’s built-in Roku software, since Roku is our favorite smart platform of all the major players.
That said, you can’t really offer a QLED TV in this price bracket without some concessions. The 6-Series’ motion handling isn’t as good as higher-end QLED TV’s whose panels feature a native refresh rate of 120 Hz. Additionally, the 6-Series’ viewing angles are quite limited.
Still, this TV is jam-packed with value, especially if you’re hoping to land a TV that’s bright enough to accommodate a room that gets a lot of natural or artificial light.
The 70-inch Vizio V Series (V705-G3) is a great pick for folks who just need to upgrade to a giant 4K/HDR TV but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on bells and whistles.
The performance in a vacuum isn’t much to write home about, but the performance given the V Series’ price point is something to celebrate. It’s not the type of HDR TV that will demonstrate the superiority of HDR content, but it doesn’t really need to be.
The V Series isn’t the best TV on the block, nor is it the best budget-friendly TV on the block, but most folks will be happy to own one—especially people who are either upgrading to 4K for the first time or who seek a big screen for an affordable price.
If brightness on a budget is what you’re after, the 65-inch Hisense H8F might be a good fit—right now, you can find it for as low as around $600.
In our lab tests, the Hisense H8F reached as high as 800 nits at its peak brightness. The H8F also supports Dolby Vision and covers 94% of the expanded P3 color gamut, making it a great pick for cinephiles.
Something to keep in mind, however, are the H8F’s two biggest drawbacks: its spotty motion handling and sluggish software. The H8F is a 60 Hz panel with motion enhancement tools that don’t quite make up for the TV’s motion judder, which makes it a below-average pick for anyone who intends to do some serious gaming on here (or for folks whose eyes are sensitive to poor motion performance).
Additionally, if you’re hoping your next TV features a zippy, whip-smart software suite, be forewarned: The Hisense H8F’s Android-based smart platform won’t treat you as well as an external streaming device will.
In any event, the Hisense H8F carries a low enough price tag to warrant further consideration, especially if what you’re after is brightness and ultra affordability.
The 2019 TCL 4-Series is a huge value/budget option: The 75-inch model is currently priced at just $999.99. You're getting 4K resolution, HDR10 compatibility, the Roku remote, and 60 Hz refresh rates—not bad specs for this TV’s price point.
In fact, the TCL 4-Series is one of the most affordable 4K TVs we've seen to date. Although its performance isn't remarkable, the 4-Series gets the job done for a ridiculously low price tag. Plus, being a Roku TV, you can expect to enjoy a smooth, easy-to-use smart platform.
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.