Monday, November 19th, 2018 pm30 3:50pm

As 4K TVs Approach Perfection, Cheap Sets Go on the Attack

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If you’ve ever witnessed a 4K OLED television playing HDR video, you’ve seen the pinnacle of TV tech. The black levels look like deep space. The contrast is perfect. The colors are stunning. Every frame mesmerizes, a twinkling, tack-sharp work of art.

At CES, incredible OLEDs from LG and Sony and equally stunning LCDs from Samsung dominated the news. With good reason. They’re all gorgeous. But while OLEDs are coming down in price, the cheapest ones still run a couple grand. For the same money, you could buy several 4K sets from Hisense or TCL. These Chinese companies also offer high-end panels, but their big appeal in the US is the affordable stuff. You’ll never mistake these sets for OLEDs, but they offer solid specs and handy extras like built-in Roku. Still, the biggest hook is that they’re insanely cheap.

Those bargain TVs are aimed at a different market than the premium LG, Samsung, and Sony sets, but they still may eat up potential sales. Just as top-tier sets are looking better than ever, budget TVs are getting pretty damn good in their own right. “It’s very possible lesser known TV brands will have an impact in the US,” says Brian Blau, VP of research at Gartner. “But with their brand strength and media buying power, the incumbent brands won’t give up that easily.”