Best Cheap TVs
TVs have become more packed with features and less expensive than ever. Not only are internet-connected smart TVs available at prices that appeal to even the most frugal buyers, but consumers searching for an ultra-high-definition 4K TV can find many such models on a budget. Cheapism has tapped expert and consumer reviews to put together a list of top picks that offer a bevy of sought-after features for $500 or less.
Our Top Pick
TCL 55S405 Review
- Built-in Roku streaming platform is easy to use and offers access to lots of content.
- Inexpensive for a 4K TV that includes HDR, which delivers very good contrast.
- Excellent color accuracy, according to expert reviews.
- Screen uniformity is a little uneven; some parts of the screen appear brighter than others.
- Not as bright as competitors overall.
Takeaway: The 55-inch model in the TCL S405 series is our pick for the best TV under $500 overall. It's widely praised by reviewers because of the excellent Roku streaming platform, many features for the price, and very good picture quality.
Vizio E55-E2 Review
- Excellent contrast helped by full-array local dimming.
- HDR content looks especially bright and colorful on this cheap 55-inch TV.
- Vizio's SmartCast interface supports Google Home voice commands and is updated more frequently than most built-in streaming platforms.
- Excellent color accuracy and outstanding screen uniformity, according to reviews.
- Recommended by Digital Trends.
- SmartCast requires a second screen, such as a smartphone or tablet, and isn't as well liked as the Roku streaming platform.
- No tuner, so there's no support for over-the-air channels.
Takeaway: Our other pick for best cheap TV has a better smart TV platform, but the 55-inch Vizio E55-E2 has the most impressive picture quality among the models we researched. HDR and full-array local dimming contribute to the best-looking screen under $500.
Vizio D55-E0 Review
- 55-inch screen with 4K resolution.
- Full-array local dimming helps improve contrast and overall picture quality.
- Supports popular streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon, and Google Play.
- Built-in tuner for over-the-air signals via antenna, a major boon for some consumers.
- Vizio Internet Apps Plus streaming interface feels outdated to expert reviewers.
- Picture quality is middling in experts' eyes; colors are sometimes undersaturated and limited in range.
- Input lag, the time it takes the TV to display a signal from a source such as a video game console, is higher than average.
Takeaway: The Vizio D55-E0 is one of the few cheap TVs that includes full-array local dimming, although it has fewer zones than pricer models. Spending a little more to step up to our pick from the brand's E-Series also gets you a better streaming platform and HDR -- but no tuner.
Samsung UN50MU6300FXZA Review
- Supports 4K and HDR content and does a nice job upscaling 1080p content to 4K, experts say.
- Reviewers admire the color accuracy and screen uniformity.
- Smart Hub streaming interface offers many popular apps and supports voice commands.
- Display isn't especially bright.
- HDR content isn't as vibrant as expected.
- Lower contrast than cheaper competing TVs.
Takeaway: Samsung is one of the most respected TV brands, and the 50-inch MU6300 model offers lots of features at a competitive price, including 4K resolution and HDR, which amps up contrast and color for a better, more realistic image.
Insignia NS-50D510NA17 Review
- Very low price for a 50-inch HDTV.
- Easy to set up, buyers say.
- Sharp, clear picture, according to reviews.
- Simple, easy-to-use remote.
- Better overall quality than expected for the price.
- 1080p display feels dated now that 4K resolution is available under $500.
- No internet connectivity or smart TV streaming features.
- Color is okay but not great, experts say.
Takeaway: This cheap 50-inch TV from Best Buy's Insignia brand may not be a 4K smart TV, but at less than $300, who cares? Experts say the difference between 1080p HD and 4K is hardly noticeable on a screen this size, and buyers can add streaming capability with a device such a Roku Streaming Stick for less than $50.
Samsung UN55J6201AFXZA Review
- Overall picture quality is very good, reviewers say -- sharp and clear with dark black levels.
- Pretty good sound for a budget TV.
- Easy to set up and control.
- 1080p resolution; most TVs these days are 4K.
- Relatively limited number of streaming apps and outdated 802.11n Wi-Fi.
- Only 2 HDMI ports.
Takeaway: The 55-inch model in the Samsung J6201 series has great picture quality, buyers say, but only 1080p resolution. With 4K TVs being so cheap and offering more features, it makes little sense to spend $500 or more on this model.
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