Streaming video is everywhere today, and 4K/UHD TVs are headed that way, too. Starting out as behemoths costing as much as a midsize car, 4K sets are now available at human scale, some priced below $500. Today Roku announced some of the cheapest smart TVs with 4K screens—available from Best Buy ranging from $400 for a 43-inch screen to $650 for a 55-inch set. By comparison, a 4K Vizio smart TV with a 43-inch screen sells for $500 on Best Buy’s site.
Roku, beloved by many for the uncluttered interface of its streaming-video boxes (including a newish 4K version), doesn’t make TVs themselves but works with manufacturers—in this case, Best Buy’s budget house brand Insignia. That brand has not been a star among TV makers, with some poorly reviewed models over the years. But image quality improved a bit when it partnered with Roku for HD smart TVs, with CNet calling the models “good enough” for the low prices. If Roku and Best Buy do as well with these 4K models, it gets some fairly fancy sets into people’s houses at pretty low prices.
For 4K, streaming is far more important than cable or satellite TV, which offer virtually none of the higher-res content. But many streaming sites, including Amazon, Netflix, and YouYube, provide plenty of 4K video.
Vizio, one of the big TV brands in the U.S., typically offers better video quality than rivals for the price, though Roku consistently wins the biggest kudos for an intuitive smart TV interface. And here the Roku sets are even cheaper. People who can’t decide on a new 4K TV can just wait a little while, as Roku says that more 4K sets, from other manufacturers, are coming soon.