Best Buy 4K HDR LED TVs of 2016 under £1,600

High-end performance for a lower-end price

by Steve Withers Dec 15, 2016 at 2:38 PM

  • TV technology has fundamentally changed over the last few years but despite that you don't need to break the bank to benefit from the latest developments.
    The major manufacturers, along with some new names, have been producing LED LCD TVs in 2016 that offer exceptional features and performance, and yet all the TVs on this list have a price below £1,600 and most can be picked up for less than a grand. Despite these lower prices you don't have to miss out on cutting-edge features like Ultra HD 4K, Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR) and all these models also include Smart TV functionality. They represent the best budget TVs we have reviewed this year and although they cover different screen sizes, they all have one thing in common – exceptional value.
    Philips 49PUS6501 – £599 – Recommended

    The Philips PUS6501 has been built to a specific price point and as such, it has been designed to deliver a level of performance that meets the needs of those looking for a cheaper TV. It's reasonably well made, with some nice design touches and a host of useful features. There's a handy dual-sided remote control, plenty of connections and an Android TV smart platform. The sound quality was pretty good, the energy consumption acceptable and the 36ms input lag low enough for most gamers. However it was in terms of its out-of-the-box accuracy that the 6501 really shone, delivering an impressive performance that is important at this price point. The reality is that even though the Philips includes calibration controls, it is unlikely that anyone will get a TV costing less than £600 professionally calibrated, so its out-of-the-box performance is vital.

    The 6501 certainly delivered in this area, with natural colours an excellent greyscale and an even backlight. The video processing and motion handling were very good and only the black levels let down what was otherwise an excellent image. Although the 6501 does support HDR 10, the limited peak brightness and colour gamut means that it can't deliver the kind of impactful higher dynamic range found on more expensive TVs. But that really isn't the point and the 6501 delivers a great performance with standard dynamic range content, whilst also giving you a taste of the new HDR format. If you think HDR is going to be important to you then you'll need to look for something more expensive but if you're not that bothered and just want a solid all-round TV that can deliver a great picture at an attractive price, then the Philips 49PUS6501 is certainly worthy of recommendation.

    MORE: What is High Dynamic Range (HDR)?

    Panasonic TX-50DX750 – £819 – Recommended

    The Panasonic DX750B is another solid all-round TV that has also been designed to deliver a certain level of performance at a very specific price point. In that respect it succeeds admirably, with an attractive design and an ingenious multiple stand configuration. There are plenty of connections, including two HDMI 2.0a inputs, and our only complaint is that the side-facing inputs are too close to the edge. The 50DX750 is easy to setup and intuitive to use with extensive calibration controls. There's Panasonic's usual effective remote control, the option of a remote app and the excellent Firefox smart TV platform. The DX750B has plenty of features including all the main video streaming and TV catch-up services, as well good file support and even 3D. The DX750 has a 44ms input lag and excellent energy efficiency, whilst the sound quality is surprisingly good when you consider the inherent limitations.

    The flat VA panel delivered excellent black levels for an LCD TV and overall the backlight uniformity was reasonably good. The viewing angles could be wider and there were instances of bright edges and haloing, especially when watching HDR content but this could be mitigated by using the local dimming. Whilst the local dimming wasn't always that effective, the greyscale and colour accuracy were very good, both out-of-the-box and after calibration, whilst the video processing and motion handling were also impressive. The DX750B delivered a great picture in 2D with very natural images, whilst the performance in 3D was equally as impressive and suitably free of crosstalk. Despite being restricted to a peak brightness of just over 500nits, the DX750 still managed to deliver a great HDR performance that was surprisingly accurate. In fact the Panasonic TX-50DX750B often surprised, with a very solid performance that delivered an enjoyable viewing experience.

    MORE: What is Wide Colour Gamut (WCG)?

    Samsung UE55KS7000 – £979 – Best Buy

    The Samsung KS7000 offers fantastic value for a fully loaded Ultra HD 4K TV with a wider colour gamut, HDR support and Ultra HD Premium certification. The KS7000 also includes Samsung's Ultra Black moth eye filter and their excellent Precision Black local dimming, as well as some impressive video processing and motion handling. The build quality is very good and the design relatively attractive, although we're not huge fans of the feet but there's always the option to wall mount. There's a newly designed universal smart controller, the excellent One Connect box and an updated smart platform that now includes an auto detect feature. There are also plenty of connections, including four HDMI 2.0a inputs with support for HDR and HDCP 2.2. The KS7000 is extremely energy efficient and has an input lag of only 21ms, making it ideal for gamers. In fact it's so feature-packed that we're struggling to think of any negatives aside from the fact that it doesn't support 3D but that applies to all Samsung TVs this year.

    The Samsung UE55KS7000 delivered a superb level of accuracy right out-of-the-box and thanks to some impressive picture controls, the calibrated performance was near perfect. The use of a VA panel meant the native blacks and contrast performance were all excellent, whilst the local dimming was highly effective and was rarely caught out. The motion handling was also very good for an LCD and the viewing angles, whilst limited, are better than many other TVs that use a VA panel. In testing the KS7000 delivered wonderful images with standard and high definition content and was equally as impressive with Ultra HD Blu-rays. Whilst an edge-lit panel isn't ideal for HDR, the results were still impressive with most content and the colours looked very realistic and overall it was a great all-round TV. It seems that every year Samsung release at least one TV that offers an outstanding combination of performance and value and this year it's the KS7000.

    MORE: Read All Smart TV System Reviews

    Hisense H65M7000 – £1,199 – Best Buy

    Hisense might well be the new guys on the block but that hasn't stopped them releasing a strong line-up of TVs in 2016. Pride of place goes to the M7000, with its genuinely unbeatable combination of build quality, features, performance and price. Despite its relatively low cost the M7000 is extremely well made, with a largely metal construction, a minimalist design and an attractive silver brushed metal finish. The TV comes in 55- and 65-inch screens sizes, sits on a wide stand that uses two feet and offers the option of wall mounting. The connections are plentiful with four HDMI inputs, two of which are HDMI 2.0a with support for 4K/60p, HDR and HDCP 2.2. The provided remote control is well designed, comfortable to hold and easy to use with one hand. The menu system is also intuitive in its layout, whilst the simple Smart TV platform contains the main apps that you'll need and is also responsive thanks to quad core processing. The sound quality is surprisingly good for a modern TV and the input lag is 38ms in Game mode.

    The picture quality on the M7000 was very good, with an even backlight and excellent black levels for an LCD panel that delivered impressive contrast ratio numbers. The out-of-the-box accuracy could have been better but was excellent after calibration, with only the gamma proving difficult to set correctly. The upscaling, motion handling and video processing were all very good and whilst the local dimming was rather subtle it did enhance the picture to a degree. All these factors combined to deliver a very watchable image with standard dynamic range content, although naturally the better the source the better the results. The M7000 proved to be equally as adept when it came to high dynamic range content and although it lacked the peak brightness of some of the competition, the increased resolution and surprisingly accurate colour performance resulted in an enjoyable HDR experience. Overall the Hisense H65M7000 is an impressive all-rounder at a bargain price, making it an obvious winner of a Best Buy award.

    MORE: 4K LED TV Reviews

    Sony KD-55XD9305 – £1,599 – Highly Recommended

    The Sony XD93 is a great piece of engineering with superior build quality and a few design flourishes that make it a very desirable television based on looks alone. The chassis is incredibly slender and the XD93 is blessed with all the latest connectivity, including 4 HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2 compatibility. Sony has redesigned their remote control with a tactile, soft finish but the menu system is still somewhat fragmented, although the Android TV platform seems far more stable this year. The Smart TV interface has been rejigged a little and the XD9305 has just about every video service you’ll want, whilst the integration with YouView means all the major UK catch-up services are covered. In terms of picture quality the Sony XD93 produced the goods with mostly stunning images and a near flawless screen uniformity on both bright and dark screens. This has a major positive impact for sports lovers who won’t be plagued with panel banding or dirty screen effect issues on fast panning shots.

    The XD93 also looked great in dark scenes with the impressive native black levels and contrast complemented by a surprisingly effective edge-lit dimming system. The XD9305 was nice and accurate right out of the box in the Cinema modes and the calibration controls onboard allowed it to shine even more. In terms of HDR, the Sony would make the grade as an Ultra HD Premium certified TV with over 1000 nits of peak brightness, 0.03 nit black level and 90% plus of the DCI colour space. Consequently the XD93 looked utterly spectacular with HDR content, both streamed and from Ultra HD Blu-ray. While the marketing focus is undoubtedly on 4K and HDR, for the time being it’s far more important how a TV handles Full HD, 1080p content and, again, the Sony delivers in spades. The video processing is of the highest quality, with great scaling, deinterlacing and cadence detection producing fantastic images. The Sony KD-55XD9305 might be the most expensive TV on this list but it is a genuinely impressive piece of TV technology.

    MORE: Read All Ultra HD TV Reviews

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