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In the market for a 4K TV? There’s never been a better time to get one. They’re cheaper than ever before. There’s more 4K content available than ever before. And not only is Apple now selling 4K Apple TVs, but it has also promised to upgrade everyone’s HD iTunes movies to 4K (as they become available) for free.
So the question is no longer should you get a 4K TV, but which 4K TV should you get? That’s where iDB comes in. We’ve put together a guide of some of the best 4K TVs available right now based on a variety of factors including pricing, feature set, personal experience, customer feedback and expert reviews.What is HDR?
Since Apple and everyone else seems to be talking so much about HDR, we felt it important to explain what it is. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and the term actually comes from an old photography technique used to enhance a picture’s luminosity. In terms of video, HDR technology can significantly expand the range of both contrast and color—two of the most important factors in how a TV looks.
To put it simply if you were to put two 4K TVs next each other, one with HDR and one without, the one with HDR would likely have a better picture. There are several different standards for HDR, but to keep things simple, in this guide we’re only going to focus on the two that the Apple TV 4K supports: HDR10 and Dolby Vision.Does Size Matter?
Yes. Research suggests that the average human eye can’t discern the difference between 4K and HD resolutions on screens under 55-inches—unless you’re sitting within 3 feet of them. Because of this, we’re only including 55-inch TV sets and larger in our guide, and recommend that you get the largest screen size that your budget and space restrictions will allow. Obviously if you plan on sitting closer to your TV—say, if you’re going to be using it as a computer monitor—then a smaller size will suffice.The Best 4K HDR TVs TCL 55P607 55-inch 4K Smart LED TV
You may not be as familiar with TCL as some of the other brands on this list, but its one of the world’s best-selling consumer electronics companies and is now the fastest-growing TV brand in North America. This particular model has been named best bang-for-your-buck 4K TV available right now by a number of publications and it’s easy to see why: features include Dolby Vision HDR, full-array LED backlighting for deep blacks, 120Hz refresh rate for less motion blur and a bevy of inputs. It also has built-in Roku for easy browsing of streaming channels and other smart features.Sony X930E 65-inch 4K Smart LED TV
Sony has long been a highly regarded name in TV sets and it actually has several highly-rated 4K models available today. We particularly like the X930E for its smart mix of outstanding picture quality and high-end features. Those features include HDR10 support (Dolby Vision support expected to be added in an upcoming firmware update), Grid Array for deep blacks and better contrast, 120Hz native refresh rate for reduced motion blur, 4 HDMI ports and several other inputs, and Android TV for smart features. This model is obviously on the more expensive side of this list, but almost all of the reviews say it’s worth it.LG C7 Flat 65-inch 4K Smart OLED TV
In a similar price range, we like the 65-inch LG C7. This one stands out thanks to its OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display which is thinner, more efficient and better performing than other panels, and for what it’s worth, it’s the top selling OLED TV on Amazon. Features include support for premium features like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos surround sound tech, webOS 3.5 smart TV software—yes the webOS Palm used to use in its smartphones, built-in Sling TV streaming service, and a unique blade-like design. If you want an impressive TV and aren’t really worried about pricing, this is the one to get.Samsung MU8000 55-inch Smart LED TV
Samsung is another company that makes a solid 4K TV set (I own one myself) and the MU8000 marks a great value. We like the MU8000 55-inch because it has a nice sweet spot between features, picture quality and price. Features include support for HDR10 (however it does not have Dolby Vision), great blacks and contrast, low input lag, decent brightness (which again works in favor of HDR), beautiful small-bezel design and Samsung’s smart software. I also have to put out that it comes with a great remote—it’s small, with just a few buttons, but it does everything you need it to with ease.Vizio M65-E0 65-inch Smart LED TV
Vizio is a brand that is synonymous with value and picture quality. We particularly like the M65-E0 and for under $1,200, go for the 65-inch model. Features include HDR10 and Dolby Vision compatibility, 120Hz effective refresh rate with Clear Action 360 tech for smoothing out the blur that comes with fast-moving objects, 32-active LED zones for deeper blacks and built-in Chromecast, which allows you to cast apps and media from your mobile device directly to your TV via WiFi. If I were in the market for a large-screen TV today, this one would be at the top of my list.Samsung Q8C 55-inch Smart Curved QLED TV
So the Samsung Q8C is another high-end set from the South Korean electronics giant, and what sets it apart from the others on this list is that it’s a curved QLED panel. The jury is still out on whether curved TVs are just a fad or truly represent the future, but the argument for them right now is that they provide a more immersive viewing experience with a sharper, brighter picture that has more contrast and viewing angles than a standard panel. Otherwise, the Q8C hits all of the other premium TV features: HDR10 support, Motion Rate 240 for reduced motion blur, screen mirroring technology, smart TV software and a ton of inputs.Sony 4K VPL 4K Home Theater Projector
I know this isn’t technically a TV set, but I thought I’d throw this in as a wildcard option. If you have a home theater, or some other type of setup where a TV may not be big enough, your next option is a projector. Now obviously there are a ton of models out there, with varying technologies, but for the purposes of this article we’re recommending the Sony VPL 4K. It’s brand new, highly anticipated, and Sony says it’s one of the first true 4K projectors to hit the market with a price tag under $5K. Features include 4096 x 2160 resolution, Motionflow tech, HDR, and dual HDMI inputs.Buy for $5,000
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As you might expect for a TV this cheap there are ups and downs to the Polaroid P49. The design is nothing special and the remote has its caveats but over all it’s fine. Importantly, the TV offers a crisp 4K image along with an intuitive interface offering lots of streaming services. Sadly, the panel isn’t bright enough to give HDR and Dolby Vision the punch it deserves.
Many Ultra HD smart TVs are expensive but if you want some of the latest tech without spending much then your choices are limited. Luckily, Polaroid has a 4K TV with HDR support for under £300. Here we review the P49UPA2029A.Price
It sounds too good to be true but Polaroid’s 4K TV starts at just £299 and is available exclusively from Asda.
This small amount of money will get you a 43in screen, but you can get 49in for £349 and 55in at £399. We’ve reviewed the middle 49in model here which is the P49UPA2029A.
We thought the Hisense B7500 was pretty cheap starting at £439 but Polaroid will appeal to those with tighter purse strings. For alternatives, check out our chart of the best TVs you can buy.Design & Build
There are ups and downs when it comes to the design of the P49. We wouldn’t call it ugly but it’s also not eye-catching either – it’s just, well, fine.
In places the set is quite chunky and unsurprisingly plastic. However, we’re pretty impressed with the fairly small bezels on the sides and top. They’re around 8-9mm which isn’t bad at all.
Things are thicker at the bottom where the TV sits on a silver metal stand with two feet. This raises the TV up a little but doesn’t allow adjustment. You can wall-mount the P49 but it’s going to stick out from the wall a bit as this isn’t a thin TV and even more so if you need the rear facing ports.
Ports on the back are both side and rear facing and you get three HDMI ports – all of which are version 2.0 so are 4K HDR compatible, with one supporting ARC (audio return channel). There are also two USB ports, VGA, composite audio and video, optical audio, headphone and a line out ports and even an ethernet port if you don’t want to or can’t use Wi-Fi.
The supplied remote control is fairly good with a nice weight and smooth buttons, if a little long.
It’s got dedicated buttons for Netflix, YouTube, Freeview Play and Amazon Prime. Those are handy but the collection of playback buttons are awkward to use due to being so close to the bottom and are tiny. Other buttons on the remote are a little too close together.
There’s a light that illuminates when you press a button but this doesn’t help in the dark and will only use the batteries quicker.
If you really need it there’s a control dial on the back of the TV but it’s not easy to use at all.Features
Unusually for a cheaper piece of tech, software is a pretty strong area for the Polaroid P49. Setting up the TV is quite lengthy but simple and straight forward.
The interface is also quite attractive and easy to navigate. As alluded to earlier you have access to Netflix, YouTube, Freeview Play and Amazon Prime but there are also other on-demand streaming services available such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4.
They’re not quick to load – iPlayer can take around 10 seconds for example – but that’s the kind of sacrifice you have to expect with a budget TV. Importantly, some of the apps like Netflix are the 4K HDR enabled versions.
Facebook, Twitter and some games are present but we don’t imagine you’ll be using these on a TV rather than your smartphone very often, if at all.
If you like you can keep all your most used services in the customisable app shortcuts bar.
A small bugbear of ours with TV sets is the way a pretty large logo appears on screen when the sound is muted and doesn’t go away until you unmute.
Perhaps surprising is the inclusion of Alexa support. This means you can use Amazon’s digital assistant on Echo devices to control the TV with your voice. You can do things like turn the TV on and change the channel. Really, you’ll probably just use the remote unless you’ve lost it.Picture Quality
Like the design, there a pros and cons when it comes to the picture quality of the Polaroid P49.
For under £300, or £350 for this 49in size, you get some pretty good specs including a 4K (Ultra HD resolution) and support for both HDR (high dynamic range) and Dolby Vision. We wouldn’t be overly surprised if it was simply 4K and nothing else.
We’re impressed with how crisp the TV is when watching native 4K content, producing a detailed and sharp image. There’s nothing in the way of motion smoothing in the setting but the Polaroid actually deals with this tricky element fairly well with a reasonably small amount of jerkiness when shots pan etc.
It’s even a good enough set for gaming if you just need something affordable to plug a console or PC into, thanks to no noticeable input lag.
Despite the above plus points, we find the picture to be fairly washed out and colours often lack vibrancy. Things are a little better in ‘dynamic’ mode and you can also try natural, cinema, game, sports to see what you like.
Like most cheaper TVs, the Polaroid just doesn’t have enough brightness or contrast to do justice to HDR and Dolby Vision. The impact and punch just isn’t there. This isn’t so bad considering the price and ignorance might be bliss if you haven’t seen something a lot better to compare with.
Upscaling isn’t particularly good either. Not a big problem if you’re just going to slap on the evening news but watching a film results in a pretty mediocre result which is lacking in life.
Many TVs, even expensive ones, have poor sound quality but the P49 isn’t too bad at all. There are two 10W speakers to the set has a good amount of power. It can go really loud but overall the tuning is quite flat. Luckily you can play with various Dolby Audio modes as well as Dynamic Bass and DTS TruSurround to see what you like.Verdict
The Polaroid P49UPA2029A is a mixed bag of a TV.
On the plus side you’re getting a 4K smart TV for not much money at all. That does mean a fairly basic design and build but at least some of the bezels are pretty small.
If three HDMI ports are enough, the TV offers a crisp image when viewing 4K content that also handles motion surprisingly well. The set is also perfectly good enough for gaming.
We’re also impressed with the easy to use interface and the decent selection of streaming services on offer. The speakers aren’t too bad either.
On the downside, upscaling isn’t that great and the TV isn’t bright enough to do HDR and Dolby Vision justice.Specs Polaroid P49UPA2029A: Specs
Screen size/resolution: 49in, 3840 x 2160 pixels
Contrast ratio: Not stated
Built-in tuner: Freeview HD
Services: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4
Inputs: 3 x HDMI (all 2.0, 1 supports ARC), VGA, composite audio and video
Outputs: Digital audio optical, headphone, line out
Other port: 2 x USB 2.0
Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, Wi-Fi 11b/g/n
Technology in this market can be confusing – there’s a lot more to TV specs than the resolution and screen size.
What you consider to be ‘cheap’ depends on various things, but we’re aiming for the best TVs under $500/£500 here – although we may include some that go slightly over that cap if they are particularly good. Also bear in mind that larger sizes cost more so it may only be smaller options that typically come in under the threshold – often 50in will be the biggest.
We have a chart of the best smart TVs if you do have a little more to spend. Find the best Samsung TV or LG TV or Sony TV for you in our buying guide. The budget TV market has never been so good so you’ll be sure to find a cheap set that’s right for you from the selection below, all tested by our experts.Best Budget TVs 2023
1. TCL RC630K – Best Overall
Bright, impressive 4K QLED display
Smooth Roku software
Excellent HDR support
ITV and Channel 4 apps lack live TV
No voice controls in the remote
TCL has once again topped our affordable TV chart with another budget corker.
The RC630K offers much better specs than you’d reasonably expect at this price point, especially on sizes 50in and larger. The headline combination of a QLED screen and built-in Roku software make it a winner.
There’s also Freeview Play, no less than four HDMI ports and solid HDR support to boot. About the only thing missing, and understandably, is 120Hz for next-gen consoles.
Read our full
2. Sharp FN2 Series – Best Value Android TV
Android TV built-in
Dolby Vision HDR
Harman Kardon sound system
Lackluster input lag
Limited HDR brightness
No 120Hz support
Those looking for an Android powered TV in large sizes without straying into costly sums of money should consider this model from Sharp.
Even the largest 65in panel size comes in at just over our typical budget price cap of £500 with smaller models incredibly affordable. Either way, it’s a plain yet stylish set.
It’s not a good choice for gaming but you get a lot for your money with a razor-sharp 4K image and a subjectively high average picture level. There’s plenty of streaming options and a cinematic experience with Dolby Vision despite a limited peak HDR brightness.
There’s also above average sound thanks to the Harman Kardon designed system with Dolby Atmos support.
Read our full
3. Samsung The Frame (2024) – Best Lifestyle Design
Unique art frame design
Matt QLED screen
Tizen smart platform
Solar powered remote
No Dolby Vision support
Large One Connect box
Best Prices Today:
Samsung’s The Frame for 2023 is once again one of the best TVs you can buy and the firm still offers a budget-friendly option if 32in and Full HD is ok for your needs.
At that size and spec, it makes for a great set for the bedroom, kitchen or similar and the 2023 model has a fantastic new matt finish on the screen making it seem even less like a piece of technology than before.
As usual it has a customisable bezel, Art Mode, Tizen smart platform and now comes with a solar powered remote control.
4. Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED – Best for Alexa Users
Good HDR picture quality
Fire TV interface
Short warranty as standard
Only one HDMI 2.1 port
Only 60Hz panel
Best Prices Today:
It’s better value in the US thanks to high UK pricing but the Fire TV Omni series is worth a look if you can afford it and 43in is a large enough panel size.
There are plenty of affordable QLED rivals from the likes of Hisense and TCL, but the cheaper models don’t have features such as ambient light sensors for HDR10+ Adaptive, and you normally don’t get the luxury of four HDMI inputs.
Only one of those ports is HDMI 2.1 but that’s something of a moot point since the Omni doesn’t offer a 120Hz for silky smooth next-gen gaming. Still, it offers up solid HDR picture quality which can’t be said of many budget sets.
The choice of cheaper QLED TVs that come with Amazon’s Fire TV operating system are much thinner on the ground and don’t have hands-free Alexa or Ambient Experience. That means the Omni QLED is the premium choice for die-hard Alexa fans, but if you can live with Roku or another interface, your choice opens up greatly.
Read our full
5. Amazon Fire TV 4-Series – Affordable Fire TV with Alexa
Fire TV interface with Alexa
Four HDMI inputs
Limited viewing angles
Not very bright
If you can’t afford Amazon’s QLED Omni model, the 4-Series of Fire TV will still make for a solid budget buy with sizes up to 55in.
Prices in the UK aren’t particularly competitive but Amazon will regularly discount these TVs and that’s when you can get good value.
Amazon’s popular Fire TV operating system is baked in so you don’t need to get a Stick or Cube making it very convenient. There’s also plenty of HDMI ports and Alexa as well, as long as you don’t mind the digital assistant not being hands-free.
Where the Fire TV 4-Series won’t do well is in brightly lit rooms with its mediocre peak brightness and lack of ambient light sensor found on the Omni model.
Read our full
6. Xiaomi F2 Fire TV – Stylish with Amazon Services
Integrated Fire TV OS
Poor gaming performance
No eARC support
HDR lacks impact
Read our full
7. TCL C715K – QLED on a Budget
Wide HDR support
Android TV & Freeview Play
Three HDMI ports
This is the best set we’ve seen from TCL to date, largely thanks to its inclusion of QLED tech for such an affordable price.
There are plenty of other good things going on, too, such as wide HDR support, the inclusion of Freeview Play and the excellent Android TV operating system. It’s pretty stylish to boot.
The C715K isn’t flawless though and the price means something had to give. In this case, it’s namely being limited to three HDMI ports and sluggish performance when using the interface.
There’s tough competition at this price point so rivals from the likes of Hisense and JVC can offer a more well-rounded experience.
Read our full
8. Toshiba WK3C – Best for Small Sizes
Freeview Play & apps
It might be limited to 720p resolution, but the WK3D isn’t vying for a spot in the main living room.
Instead, this telly is a great option for those looking for a screen in the kitchen, bedroom or somewhere like a kid’s playroom – albeit without built-in Disney+ support for the little ones. It’s extremely affordable and comes in sizes as 24in.
Limited brightness means the inclusion of HDR is somewhat undermined but there’s a reasonable amount of streaming apps along with Freeview Play and the TV can even function as a Bluetooth speaker.
Read our full
9. Hisense U7QF – Best HDR Performance
Good HDR performance
Limited streaming apps
As is so often the case with Hisense, the U7Q offers you the chance to own an excellent TV without breaking the bank, if you can still find one now it’s an older model.
Apart from simply getting a stylish set in large sizes for under £500, the U7Q has incredibly good HDR performance normally reserved for much higher-end TVs. Quantum Dot panel technology, Full Array Local Dimming, Ultra Smooth Motion and wide HDR standard support will leave you dazzled.
There’s good gaming performance too, even if it doesn’t support 120fps for next-gen consoles. Sound quality is mediocre but that’s to be expected and the combination of Freeview Play and Vidaa U4 OS gives you plenty to watch.
Read our full
As mentioned at the top, cheap TVs are better than ever but you will still be missing out on some features and quality compared to more expensive models. Even if the manufacturer or retailer can make it appear not to be the case.4K and HDR
All the TVs tested here are 4K (aka Ultra HD or UHD) that’s four times the resolution of Full HD and if you’re looking at buying a TV with the latter then something has gone wrong.
Getting a cheap TV with this resolution is the norm but not all 4K TVs are created equal.
They tend to offer lower brightness and typically don’t have local dimming (this means the TV can dim small areas of the panel to make blacks darker). Or if they do, there are not as many zones as high-end models.
Lower brightness means HDR performance is limited as a good backlight is needed. Also, be careful about HDR standards as there a quite a few: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HGL are the most common.
Dolby Vision is favoured by Netflix while HDR10+ is supported by Amazon Prime Video. So check the specs if there’s a particular streaming service you use more than others.HDMI
It’s easy to forget about boring ports when being dazzled by HDR standards, but it’s worth checking simple things like how many HDMI ports a TV has.
To cut costs, TV makers might only offer two or three – not ideal if you want to plug in lots of devices.
Also, be aware of HDMI versions as you might be limited to older ones, or typically, only one port is a more recent version.
Ideally, you want HDMI 2.0 for 4K at 60fps (frames per second). If you want full support for next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X for gaming at 4K at 120fps, you need HDMI 2.1 but that’s out of reach for budget TVs at the moment. Read more about console TV compatibility.OS and apps
Things are certainly a lot better than they used to be and all TVs here are ‘smart’ in one way or another.
In basic terms, they all have internet access via Wi-Fi and operating systems (OS) providing you with a user interface and apps to watch content like BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
While some might come with Android TV, others will have a custom OS. Make sure to read our full reviews to find out what they are like and if any major services are missing.
If it is basic, you can always plug in a streaming stick or box to improve things without spending much extra.
If Santa (or maybe your hard-working, thoughtful spouse) brightened your holiday with Apple’s fourth-generation set-top box this year, you’ve got a big surprise in store for you. Not only can you watch your favorite movies and television shows from such apps as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go, but Apple TV 4 has also been updated with its own App Store full of interesting content for your big screen.
If you just unwrapped a new Apple TV and are wondering where to start, we’ve created a list of the 10 best apps and games for new users.Strike! Ten Pin Bowling
For a Wii-like bowling experience on ATV 4, Strike! is the perfect download. You can play with up to three additional friends and it features a number of different types of bowling missions, like the Mega Lane mini game, Ten Pin Taster, and a bunch of classics that involve knocking down splits and picking up spares. For the ATV 4 version, players use the Siri remote as a motion controller and swing away at the frames. You can even get a nice spin on the ball when you twist your wrist on the upswing. Search for Strike! in the Apple TV App Store to download it for free.
Smule has made a name for itself as a mobile karaoke app for iOS. The company recently added support for the new Apple TV, so you can turn your living room into amateur night at the discotheque. That is to say, you can sing along with thousands of top hits from the Smule songbook. As the song plays, the lyrics appear on screen to help you along. You can even sing songs together with other Smule users around the world. You don’t even need a karaoke microphone to enjoy the fun. Everyone in the room can sing along using their iPhone as a mic. This app is available for free.
When Asphalt 8 first offered support for Apple TV mirroring, we were all on that bandwagon, playing the game on our big screen, using our iPhone as the controller. However, it always had this issue with lag. It wasn’t that bad, but it was there. Now, with the new Apple TV you can play the game as it should be, with no lag. Yes, you can even use the Siri remote as a controller. Although the game isn’t perfect, it is the best racing game available on ATV 4 right now, and a good choice if you really want to put your pedal to the metal. This game is available for free.
Even though Apple Music offers a great way to listen to streaming music on the new Apple TV, there are still a number of other ways to play radio-style tunes. Pandora is one of the first to have offered a free music streaming service on the Internet, and some of us have meticulously crafted our playback stations to perfect suit our moods. Luckily, you can unlock the power of the Music Genome Project. The app features attractive-looking album art for songs and channels and you can skip songs, as well as hone your station by liking or disliking a track. You can choose from premade stations, visit your account, or create a new station from scratch and see where it takes you. This app is available for free.
This spatial reasoning puzzle game was beautiful enough on iOS and now that it has been updated to support the new Apple TV, you can sit back and relax while creating 3-D images in television style HD. The goal is to make an image in the shadows by rotating a group of seemingly random shapes. Twist, turn, and flip every piece until you can see its shape appear in the background shadow. The goal is to complete the puzzle as fast as possible. But the secondary objective is to discover another hidden image in the shadows. This game is available for $2.99.
Another hit game to make it to the new Apple TV right after the set-top box was released. It was previously playing on older Apple TV units thanks to Airplay, but experienced that well-known lag that happens with mirroring content from your mobile device. With support for ATV 4, players can race down the beautifully designed, procedurally generated, snowcapped landscapes, doing tricks and jumps like a pro with just the touch of the Siri remote. There are 180 missions to complete to keep you coming back for more. This game is on sale for $0.99.
I know, it sounds cliché, but you’d be surprised at how comforting a fireplace is on your television set, especially if you don’t have access to one in real life. There are dozens of fireplace apps on the Apple TV App Store, but we like this one by Toughturtle the most because it provides a wide variety of styles without requiring an in-app purchase. It features a looping soundtrack of the sound of a crackling fire. But, you can also add holiday music from within the app, or add tracks from your music library. This app is available for $0.99.
Welcome to the world of Apple TV. Hopefully, you’ll find the apps and games you’ve always wanted on your TV set. If the content seems overwhelming, just grab the 10 apps above (as well as Netflix and Hulu, of course) to get you started.
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Written By Eric Alt
Updated Jun 12, 2023 3:38 PM
While the TV itself is crucial for building out your home theater setup, LED lights for TVs can add a truly theater-like experience. At their simplest, LED TV lights will create a soft, adjustable backlight behind your television, enhancing the ambiance of your home entertainment and reducing eye strain. At their most thrilling, the best LED lights for your TV will connect and sync in real-time with the colors and sounds you’re streaming. LED lights can create a custom visual experience that complements movies, music, and gaming, providing you with a bright spot of entertainment to look forward to after a long day. Whether you want to be the host with the coolest home streaming setup, or simply want to cut down on strain while you watch re-runs, the best LED lights for TVs can make a massive difference.How we chose the best LED lights for your TV to improve your home entertainment experience
QLED, OLED, Mini LED … you’ve thought a lot about the backlighting technology in your TV. But the drama while viewing those vivid images can be upped even more once you think about the environment’s lighting. Got one of the best TVs for PS5 and want to amp up the eye-popping visuals? Look no further than the space you’ve already got to play with around your screen.
The best LED lights for your TV use technology that has trickled down from commercial applications and now offers anyone flexible ways to experiment with light. The majority of these lights come in the form of LED strip lights, which are essentially flexible circuit boards that illuminate. Think about all the times you’ve walked down the aisle in a movie theater, or had your eye drawn to a particular part of a store display; the same lights used to define those spaces are now available at home. These lights are small enough, light enough, and bright enough to illuminate your space with almost no weight, and minimal power. Most LED lights for TVs are designed specifically for use with smart TVs and customized to work with the size of your screen. The strips plug in through a USB port on the back or side of the TV, offering a clutter-free appearance. With an average lifespan of about six years, these lights should be able to cycle through many movie nights.
When it comes to quality, look for TV LED lights that will provide a brightness of at least 450 lumens per foot, equivalent to a T8 fluorescent lamp. In order to allow for theatrical lighting effects, colored LED strips should offer hues across the entire visible spectrum. Higher-end LED lights are designed to not only illuminate but to sync with your viewing experience. You can find Wi-Fi-enabled lights that are controlled via an app on your smartphone or with voice command, as well as simple lights that operate with a remote control. Lights that expressively sync to the music, movie, or game you are playing can do so via a hub that connects to the TV’s HDMI connection, or with a microphone and video camera technology. Whether you want adjustable backlights or a fully immersive lighting experience, we’ve selected some of the best LED lights for your TV.
Related: Best soundbars for immersive soundThe best LED lights for TVs: Reviews & Recommendations
Here are our picks for the best LED lights for TVs. They run the gamut from elaborate and expensive to simple and affordable. Get the pick that best matches your space and preferences.
Number of LEDs: N/A
Recommended TV size: N/A
Colored lights react to on-screen action
Simple to install
Comes in four sections, so no cutting
Higher-end models offer two cameras at a cost
This handy LED lighting system offers Wi-Fi connectivity, so it can be controlled by hassle-free voice command. Different settings (video or music modes) use the system’s built-in microphone and/or small 1080p mounted camera to adjust and customize your lighting experience based on how you are using it. RGBIC technology lets you customize each strip segment for multiple colors simultaneously, and multiple user profiles can be saved. It is important to note, however, that the camera can sometimes have a slight delay in color change, or when multiple colors are used on the TV screen.Best LED sync box: Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box
Number of LEDs: N/A
Recommended TV size: N/A
This box links up your Philips lights across a variety of devices
Works with gaming, streaming, music, and content
Opens up the opportunity for more smart lights around the house
You have to build your own kit
When you are looking to use your LED lights with more than one device, this hub can control and connect them all. Not only will your lights sync to your smart TV, but they will also work for gaming, streaming, and music. While a more expensive option, this Sync Box gives you voice-activated and smartphone control for your LED TV lights, as well as compatible smart bulbs throughout the room in traditional light sockets.Best to sync with audio: Sengled 13.12Ft Smart Wi-Fi TV LED Backlight
Number of LEDs: 150
Length: 160 inches (total)
Recommended TV size: Up to 60 inches
27 scene modes offer lots of flexibility
Built-in microphone syncs to music
Easy to use app
Built-in voice control
Might be underpowered for bigger TVs
Quick and easy setup, no hub required. Customize your lights through the app or voice-activated commands. Whether you want to maintain a dark viewing area with some added low lighting, or you want a couch concert beamed into your face, sync features can take you to a new level of fun.Best light bar: Philips Hue Play White & Color Smart Light
Number of LEDs: N/A
Recommended TV size: Up to 85 inches
Can chain up to three light bars
Excellent color reproduction
Ties in with Philips smart light system
Doesn’t need to attach to the TV
This voice-activated smart light bar works with the Philips Hue Hub and Smart Home Device. It can be used behind the TV for custom backlights or be creatively placed wherever it works best in your space. Controls and settings are controlled with the Philips Hue app.
Number of LEDs: N/A
Length: 78 inches
Recommended TV size: Up to 80 inches
Lacks sophisticated features
Installation requires separate adhesive material
You’ll be the one glowing as you change colors and brightness according to your mood. Installation is an easy peel-and-stick attachment to the back of the TV, and settings are controlled with a remote. While there are no sync options, this offers a good TV backlight for an entertainment center.Things to consider when shopping for the best LED lights for your TV
While we feel confident in the picks above, it’s always a good idea to do some research on your own. Here are some things to consider and terms to know before you make a purchase.Ease of installation
If you are looking for an immersive experience, you want to get the best LED lights for your TV that offer syncing to sound and image. There are a couple of ways that this can be achieved, but if you’re looking for the most compatible, economical set up and you don’t mind seeing a small apparatus, consider a syncing system that uses a built-in microphone and a small camera attachment.
The miniature camera, mounted to the center, top, or bottom of your television, processes the images and then automatically changes the LED light colors. A built-in microphone can also be used to sync lights. And the best LED TV lights synced with a microphone and camera offer a Wi-Fi connection and can work with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.Do you need lights that sync with audio?
Your movies, music, and games come to life with a great surround sound system. And with the best LED lights for your TV, your favorite songs are even more lively. Properly calibrated, LED TV lights can change color and pulse to the rhythm of a favorite album or a film’s soundtrack, elevating an immersive, emotional experience.
While expensive hubs can deliver this feature exceptionally well, it is possible to purchase LED TV lights with embedded microphones that offer this feature for less cost. And, like with hubs, these enabled LED lights use a Wi-Fi connection and work through app controls, as well as with voice activation through Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and SmartThings. Customizable features include dimming, color change, party, and holiday light settings, scene-setting, and modes designed for movies, games, or music.What is an HDMI sync box?
When you want to set up an entertainment center with multiple devices, and perhaps multiple smart lights, you should consider an HDMI Sync Box. A Sync Box, or hub, acts as the command center for all your LED lights and gives you the most customization in lighting design. Not only can hubs be used with LED lights for TVs, but they can also be used with any smart bulb or fixture. Multiple connections allow you to connect, sync to, and control a plethora of compatible devices, such as your smart TV, streaming devices, Blu-ray player, and gaming system.
Using a hub can give you more nuanced controls and can be accessed with an app on your smartphone. Creative settings and modes can be customized to allow for your lights to dance, dim, brighten, or even flash along to the games or movies you are using. While setting up your LED lights for your TV with a hub-based system is a more expensive option, you get more options and connections for other devices. A Sync Box is an additional purchase from your LED lights for TV and other smart bulbs, but it helps with more deeply integrated devices.How much do you want to spend?
Even on a budget, the best LED lights for your TV will offer a customizable backlit light, be easy to install and set up unobtrusively and create a cool ambiance while gaming, watching movies, or listening to music. LED technology has come down in price over the years, so it is possible to set up your home entertainment system with this LED backlight look for under $40—though you will often lose Smart features.
If you are on a budget, getting LED light strips that offer basic controls with a remote is a good solution. While these designs do not have the ability to sync with music and action on screen, you can manually adjust colors and brightness. With an easy USB connection, pre-measured lengths that work out of the box with your specific TV size, and long-lasting bulbs, these are a good choice for enhanced, yet affordable ambiance.Do you need a light bar?
While most TV LED lights on the market are designed as light strips, which are flexible and mounted with tape, there are options that provide this same type of experience but are designed as a freestanding light bar.
The best LED light bar will provide a full spectrum of lights, dimmable and synced to your movies, music, and games. These bars can be lights behind the TV and offer a similar lighting experience to the strip design, or they can be placed in other locations around the TV. For example, two light bars can be used on either side of the TV, projecting a light show onto the surrounding back wall. Or, light bars can be placed on the floor to have your lighting experience splay up the wall and ceiling. Some light bars operate independently, and others are designed to be used with a hub or Sync Box.FAQs Q: How do you stick LED strip lights to a TV?
LED strip lights are very simple to attach to the back of your TV; it’s really just a peel-and-stick process with self-adhesive backing tape attached to the back of the LED light strip. If you need extra tape, a 3M product is a good choice.Q: Can I cut LED strip lights?
Many LED strip lights can be cut, but check with the manufacturer and follow the directions carefully. Cuttable light strips will have specific areas where the strip can be cut. However, try to look for lights suited for the size of your TV, and you won’t have to worry about any cutting.Q: How do you keep LED strips from falling off the TV?
If your LED strip lights don’t maintain a secure connection to the back of your TV, you should clean the TV with a microfiber dust cloth, being careful not to let the TV get damp. Once clean, 3M self-adhesive tape should work, or if you require a stronger bond, you can look for a foam tape.
Related: How to set up a 4K TV for the best possible pictureFinal thoughts on the best LED lights for your TV
The best LED lights for your TV turn your entertainment center into a true centerpiece. They offer an immersive, customizable ambiance through Wi-Fi connections, smart features accessible via voice and/or apps, and amazing effects that bring movie theater-style into your home. From basic backlights to hubs designed for multiple lights and devices LED TV lights can bring a lot of style and fun to your gaming, movies, and music.Why trust us
Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.
Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.Looking for more TV roundups to help you find the best set?
Best space movies and TV shows
Editor’s note: We’ll regularly update this list of the best space movies and space TV shows as new ones are released.
Max, formerly HBO Max, is your home for HBO titles, Warner Bros-made movies and TV shows, the DC Comics superheroes, and more. It’s also the home for new and original movies and shows available nowhere else.
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The Right Stuff (Movie)
The Right Stuff movie was based on Thomas Wolfe’s non-fiction book on the early days of the US space program. This excellent film concentrates its narrative on the test pilots of the late 1940s and early 1950s, many of whom went to NASA as the first Mercury astronauts. Look for an excellent Sam Shepard playing test pilot Chuck Yeager, and Dennis Quaid and Ed Harris as astronauts Gordon Cooper and John Glenn, respectively. You can watch this excellent space movie free on the Roku Channel.
The Right Stuff (TV Series)
Disney Plus, in collaboration with National Geographic, adapted The Right Stuff into a TV series. This docudrama focuses on the original Mercury Seven astronauts (no Chuck Yeager here) and concludes with the first manned US space flight. While it only lasted one season, it’s still worth watching.
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Sandra Bullock is alone in orbit in this modern-day space movie. Her shuttle gets hit by some orbiting space debris caused by a Russian rocket, and she’s lost her partner (George Clooney). Can she survive long enough to get back to Earth?Babylon 5
This space opera takes place in a future with faster-than-light drives and aliens. However, there are some attempts at realism, such as using revolving sections of the Babylon 5 space station to simulate gravity and space fighters that use thrusters to maneuver in zero G. Plus, it’s just fun to watch.The Expanse
Like Babylon 5, this space TV show on Amazon Prime Video does have some non-realistic elements like stargates and aliens. However, trips inside Earth’s solar system are handled with realism in terms of the ship’s physics. Also, people who live in space or on low gravity asteroids operate differently than normal humans.
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video offers access to thousands of movies and TV shows to stream. That includes great original shows and movies like The Boys and The Tomorrow War. You can also sign up for other premium services within Amazon Prime Video.
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Hulu offers not only thousands of movies and TV shows to stream, it also has original shows and films like The Handmaid’s Tale. You can upgrade to Hulu Plus Live TV to get live channels, including your local stations.
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From The Earth to the Moon
After starring in Apollo 13, Tom Hanks extended his time in space with this 1998 HBO mini-series. This 12-episode series chronicles the history of US space exploration, from the founding of NASA to the first Apollo missions, all the way to the end with the last manned lunar landing with Apollo 17.
Hanks directed the first episode of this series, and wrote or co-wrote several others. Many well-known actors play roles in this mini-series, including Tony Goldwyn, Bryan Cranston, Cary Elwes, Gary Cole, Sally Field, and many more. It’s perhaps the best TV series to depict the actual events of the Apollo space program. It’s available to stream with an HBO Max subscription.
For All Mankind
Apple TV Plus is the home for this excellent alternate history, exploring what might have happened if the Soviet Union had landed on the moon first instead of the United States. It also shows how the US and the USSR might have continued to visit the moon, rather than end their exploration in the early 1970s.
Apple TV Plus
Apple TV Plus has quickly become a major player in the streaming game since its launch in 2023. Its slate of original programming includes shows like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Foundation, and For All Mankind as well as movies like The Banker, Greyhound, and Palmer.
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Apollo: Missions to the Moon
National Geographic’s Apollo: Missions to the Moon is dedicated to the Apollo program’s 12 years and 12 missions. The documentary relies exclusively on archival footage of the astronauts and crews who put men on the moon. Apollo: Missions to the Moon covers the entire decades-long program, not just the days of the Apollo 11 mission. It’s a chance to relive the space race through the cameras of news teams that were there.Honorable mentions
Here are a few more space TV shows and space movies that didn’t make our final list
Stargate SG-1: Netflix has this fun action series, which grounds the high-end alien tech with some Earthbound humor and settings.
Space Force: This comedy series is set mainly on Earth, but occasionally goes into space and even the Moon.
Stowaway: This movie shows how a trip to Mars is made more complicated by an unexpected passenger.
Space 1999: This show, inspired greatly by 2001, does have the silly premise of the moon being blasted out of Earth’s orbit.
Halo: The newly launched space-based TV show, based on the popular video game, has some realism in terms of its space travel.
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