If you thought a highly capable Smart TV with 4K resolution had to cost a fortune, think again.
Best Buy's bargain house brand Insignia will be the first to offer Roku TVs with 4K resolution, and they're among the least expensive 4K TVs anywhere. There's a 43-inch model for $399, a 50-inch model for $499, and a 55-incher for $649, all on sale now.
That's cheaper than Vizio's entry-level 4K TVs, the D series, with a much better Smart TV experience. The flipside is that we expect the D series sets to deliver better image quality, thanks to their use of local dimming, a picture enhancement that worked well in the E series.
Like the non-4K Roku TVs we liked so much, these new Insignia models boast the best Smart TV suite in the business. It delivers more apps than any competing system, the most agnostic, price-centric search, and a simple, highly customizable interface.
The main difference on the app side is that the 4K sets offer access to the 4K streams from services like Netflix, Amazon Video and Vudu, as well as Roku's excellent "4K spotlight" app, which gathers 4K videos, TV shows and movies from various services. The TVs aren't compatible with HDR, but we don't expect that for these prices.
Of course, just because they're 4K resolution doesn't mean they'll look any better than standard HDTVs. In our review of the Roku 4 streaming box, we had a tough time telling the difference between the 4K and non-4K streams from Netflix, for example, and that was on a very large (75-inch) TV. At Insignia's sizes, any improvement in picture quality will be much tougher to discern.
Since the 55-inch non-4K version is now selling for $479 at Best Buy, for example, we doubt it will be worthwhile for most people to step up to these 4K Roku TVs.
Unlike the Roku 4 with its fancy voice-search-capable remote that never gets lost, these Insignia TVs have standard Roku TV clickers (hopefully they've scrapped the Rdio button). They can be connected to external 4K devices via HDMI, such as 4K Blu-ray players, and have 60Hz refresh rates.