It’s been a competitive year for affordable TVs, which is good news for shoppers on a budget. Two of the better mid-range TVs we’ve extensively tested recently are the Hisense U6H and the Sony X80K. While these budget-friendly TVs share many of the same qualities, one of them is a better, safer pick for most shoppers. Here’s everything you need to know about their price, performance, and features.
Being new releases, you probably won’t see either of these TVs marked down just yet. That said, they’re among the most affordable models you’ll see from both Hisense and Sony, and their price tags are low compared to some of the heaviest hitters in the TV business.
The U6H is available in four sizes ranging from 50 inches to 75 inches. Its largest model is priced over $1,000 when not on sale, but that’s relatively low compared to 75-inch TVs with better hardware and more features.
Let’s take a look at how the X80K compares.
The X80K is available in six total size options, with a counterpart to every size featured in the U6H series. The X80K series’ two additional options are its 43- and 85-inch models—perfect for shoppers looking for a more modest or ostentatious display.
Currently, the 55-inch models are priced the same. Sony offers cheaper 65- and 75-inch options, while Hisense offers a cheaper 50-inch option.
Unless you’ve got your heart set on a 43- or 85-inch TV, this one’s a wash.
Our pick: Draw
Before we dive into what separates these two TVs from a features and software perspective, let’s take a look at all of the features they share:
Both of these sets come with the Google TV software suite, one of our preferred smart platforms on the market today. There’s a ton of app flexibility here, and the navigational experience is simple and easy to learn.
Dolby Vision is supported by both models, but the Hisense U6H also accounts for HDR10+ (a royalty-free version of dynamic HDR similar to Dolby Vision), available on select streaming apps like Amazon Prime Video. Most TVs go with Dolby Vision or HDR10+, so the U6H is a pleasantly surprising outlier.
And while both TVs support Auto Low Latency Mode (a gaming feature that automatically optimizes the TV for low-latency gaming), only the U6H supports Variable Refresh Rate across all sizes in its series. Both TVs support 4K gaming at 60Hz, but if you want VRR, you’ll have to commit to the U6H.
Our pick: Hisense U6H
Being mid-range TVs, the U6H and X80K are understandably limited in their hardware. As such, it’s important to temper your expectations when it comes to their performance chops. Neither model will blow you away with brightness or infinite contrast, but there’s plenty to appreciate given their respective price points.
The Hisense U6H features a VA-style panel with full-array LED backlighting—a recipe for great contrast. The X80K doesn’t have local dimming, and its ADS-style panel, while great for wider viewing angles, doesn’t really get as dark as the U6H, even during dark scenes. Whenever bright picture elements are surrounded by darkness, the X80K struggles to isolate brightness and instead, it bleeds into the black. For these reasons, the U6H is a better pick for dark-room viewing.
Both TVs are bright enough to hold up in average-lit rooms during the day, but neither get as bright as higher-end HDR TVs. The U6H is slightly brighter than the X80K in both SDR and HDR. Their respective quantum dot color enhancements deliver rich, voluminous color for their class: the U6H covers about 93% of the HDR color gamut (DCI-P3) and the X80K clocks in at around 87%.
Despite the figures listed above, the X80K has a significant benefit in the form of Sony’s sensational image processing software. Its most accurate picture mode (Custom) is more accurate out of the box than Hisense’s most accurate mode, and the X80K does a much better job upscaling sub-4K content, which accounts for a high percentage of cable- and streaming-based content. Full-HD (1080p) content on the U6H often looks fuzzy.
The X80K’s motion software is also much better. In fact, my biggest criticism of the U6H has to do with its motion handling, which has the tendency to look deeply unnatural during sports and fast-paced scenes.
So while the U6H beats the X80K on paper when it comes to contrast and color, the X80K delivers a more natural look during both upscaled SDR content and HDR content. The contrast might not be great, but once your eyes adjust, the visual expression of the X80K (particularly motion) is easier on the eyes.
Our pick: Draw
These TVs are quite similar in their design approach. Each panel sits atop a pair of wide-set, boomerang-shaped feet. Neither model is dangerously wobbly once built, but neither plays the part of a fancy, premium piece of tech, either.
Each model offers ample soundbar clearance and each offers a basic cable management system. I prefer the X80K’s narrower feet and panel shape, both which do a slightly better job blending into their surroundings.
And if I had to choose between each model’s included remote control, I’d choose Sony’s every day of the week. The buttons feel better to use and the shape is slimmer.
This is a close category, but the X80K is a nicer overall package.
Our pick: Sony X80K
Despite the X80K’s superior image processing, sleeker design, and more-diverse selection of screen sizes, the U6H is a better fit for more people. It’s got better contrast than the X80K, and given its VRR support, it’s an easy pick for casual and dedicated gamers.
However, if you suspect you might be sensitive to the U6H’s spotty upscaling and judder-heavy motion handling, the X80K is a great fallback plan. Sony’s superb image processing software makes up for a lot of the X80K’s contrast woes, as its picture tends to look much better than our lab tests would indicate.
The U6H and the X80K are two of the best budget-friendly options we’ve seen so far this year, and both prioritize value above all else.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.