By Don Lindich
Week 5, 2021
Q. We are passing our basement television off to our son and are looking for a 40-inch to 50-inch TV to replace it. We have a 2018 55-inch LG OLED in our family room and have generally been happy with it, except for occasional problems with bright vertical lines crossing the screen (which require resetting the TV) and LG’s penchant for only updating its current model year TVs with the latest streaming apps. Because of this we cannot get Apple TV+, Disney+, etc. We now use a Roku to get those two services. We would like to keep the price under $1,000, actually well under that if it is practical. We would consider going up to 55 inches if there was a compelling reason. What are our best options?
-A.P., Minneapolis, MN
A. The very best TVs typically start in sizes of 55 inches and up, which limits your choices somewhat. I will provide options for 50-inch and 55-inch models, all under $1,000.
My top choice for a 50-inch TV is the $899 Samsung Q80T. It has the best picture quality of all the models I discuss here, but I do not think the interface is as intuitive as Roku and not as many apps are available for it. You can get Disney+ and Apple TV+ though, as well as the new and popular Discovery+. I have all three of these apps installed on my own 75-inch Samsung Q90R. I do have a 4K Roku connected also for some of the more obscure streaming channels I can’t get from the Samsung app utility, but I prefer the picture quality when using the TV as the source so I do not use the Roku as much.
I do love the Roku platform and that is one reason I am such a strong TCL supporter. TCL TVs also have excellent picture quality that competes with much more expensive models from other brands. Given your purpose and familiarity with Roku, at $429 the 50-inch TCL 5-Series is a strong contender. It includes QLED technology and local dimming for a premium picture, all for less than half of your $1,000 budget.
Moving to 55-inch sets, the Sony X900H is $999 and uses the Android TV OS. I still prefer the Samsung Q80T, but it is a great option if you are a Sony fan.
The $699 55-inch TCL 6-Series may be the value leader here. It is as big as you want to go and includes QLED and MiniLED backlighting, unique in this class. The TCL 6-Series gets you a large Roku TV that competes with the best, for well under your $1,000 limit.
Revisiting Locast: I recently mentioned a tip from reader D.J. Of Burnsville, MN, who gets his local channels via a streaming service called Locast. In his original email to me D.J. said, “Free, but I donate $5 a month for it.” In the column I wrote, “The service is free, but donations are encouraged.”
After the column ran I started hearing from readers telling me how strongly Locast encourages donations. Reader L.D. summed it up best, saying, “LoCast is really not free. If you don’t make the required minimum ‘donation’, every 15 minutes you will be bumped off to view an ad encouraging a donation and you will have to reset the channel you were watching.”
Please keep this in mind when considering Locast. If you can’t get your local channels via an antenna then the $5 per month may be worth it to you.