Best Cheap TVs

Find the best TV for your budget with our detailed features comparison and product reviews of value priced LED TVs from brands like Sony, LG, Vizio, TCL and Insignia.

What We Considered

To evaluate the models in our price range, we pored over TV reviews on sites such as Reviewed.com, which conducts extensive testing. LCD TV Buying Guide similarly reviews and recommends TVs based on editors' firsthand experience. It compares many different models and often goes into great technical detail. High-profile technology sites such as CNET and PCMag have also tested and reviewed some of the TVs on our list.  

We Looked At

This is a critical element of picture quality. The colors on the screen should be vibrant, not under-saturated, and neither too warm or too cool; skin tones should look natural. Perfect color accuracy is hard to find even in pricier TVs, and many cheap models struggle on this front, reviewers say. The colors may be just a little off, but most of the budget TVs we recommend have pretty good color accuracy from the get-go and require very little fine-tuning.

This is another steep challenge for cheap TVs. Most budget models have at least a little inconsistency, meaning that some parts of the screen, usually around the edges or corners, appear a smidge brighter or darker than other parts of the screen. This can obviously be distracting and is noted in reviews by experts and some discerning buyers.

Smart TVs are now firmly entrenched in the budget price range. Almost all the TVs we reviewed are smart TVs, although the platform varies depending on the brand. Roku-based TVs, such as those from TCL and Insignia, provide the best overall smart TV experience, according to most experts. The simple and responsive interface allows users to control the TV's settings and manage thousands of apps and streaming channels with ease. Vizio's low-end D Series TVs rely on the brand's proprietary VIA Plus platform. Other Vizio models feature the SmartCast platform -- essentially Google Chromecast built into the TVs. SmartCast requires users to download an app to a mobile device and isn't as well-liked as Roku.

Don't expect too much from any budget TV's audio system. The audio quality is usually middling, and in some cases it's simply not good at all. Regardless, no one will mistake TV speakers for a home theater system. Any cheap TV will benefit from the addition of a good sound bar.

Our Picks

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.

  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

Vizio D55-E0

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.

  • 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.

Samsung UN50MU6300FXZA

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.

  • 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.

Insignia NS-50D510NA17

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.

  • 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.

Samsung UN55J6201AFXZA

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.

  • 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.

Other Products We Reviewed

Vizio E50-C1

Vizio E50-C1 Reviews

Vizio has shown time and again that it's possible to make very good TVs for budget shoppers. The latest iteration of the company's budget-friendly E-Series runs the gamut from 24 inches to 70 inches. The 50-inch Vizio E50-C1 sits just under $500 (starting at $498, Amazon). This smart TV connects wirelessly to a home Internet connection. On Reviewed.com, Vizio E50-C1 review reports that Vizio's interface is user-friendly. And unlike many Roku-based smart TVs, the Vizio models include a good selection of picture controls, so viewers can calibrate the image just right.

Speaking of which, the expert reviewer was impressed with the contrast, color accuracy, and black levels of the Vizio E50-C1. He says the viewing angles aren't that great, however -- viewers sitting off to the side will see distortion in the picture. A reviewer from LCD TV Buying Guide also comments on the narrow viewing angles. However, this expert admires the TV's screen uniformity, which he attributes to its full-array backlighting. He observes that the colors are just a little washed out, but not enough to fret about. Overall, Vizio E50-C1 reviews declare the entire E-Series a very good value.

Most of the TVs in the E-Series have full-array LED panels, with the exceptions of the 24- and 28-inch models, which are edge-lit displays. These 1080p TVs have an "effective" refresh rate of 120 Hz, but their native refresh rate is 60 Hz. The number of HDMI ports depends on the specific model. TVs smaller than 43 inches have one or two HDMI ports and the largest models have four. The Vizio E50-C1 and the other TVs from 43 to 60 inches have three HDMI ports. All the models have one USB port, and viewers can use a smartphone to cast video to the TV.

Once again, Vizio somehow manages to combine great picture quality with a budget price. The build quality is pretty impressive too. Reviewers say the E-Series models don't look or feel cheap and flimsy, as many budget TVs do. It's no wonder that the Vizio E50-C1 joins other Vizio TVs among the best available on a budget.

Sony KDL-48R510C

Sony KDL-48R510C Review

Sony, a titan in the electronics industry, knows how to make great TVs. Most are pretty pricey, but the R510C line is a welcome exception. An expert from Reviewed.com was especially impressed with the contrast on a TV in this series given the edge-lit display, which allows for a slim profile but typically doesn't perform quite as well as a full-array LED screen. The color accuracy is spot-on, and the reviewer noticed no problems with motion blur.

A Sony KDL-48R510C review from LCD TV Buying Guide expresses similar surprise at how good the backlighting is on the 48-inch model (starting at $464, Amazon). The TV displays nice, deep black levels and good screen uniformity (meaning the screen shows consistent brightness across the entire display, without any brighter or darker spots).

The Sony R510C series offers 40- and 48-inch screen sizes. Both are 1080p LED TVs with built-in Wi-Fi. They are smart TVs that include popular apps for streaming audio and video such as YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu. The Reviewed.com expert found Sony's smart TV interface a bit cumbersome to navigate, however. The R510C models also have only two HDMI ports, in addition to a component/composite port, two USB inputs, and an Ethernet port. Sony claims a refresh rate of 100 Hz with its Motionflow XR technology, but reviews confirm that the native refresh rate is 60 Hz -- typical for this price range.

The Sony KDL-48R510C is impressive for an edge-lit LCD TV. Where most edge-lit TVs struggle with contrast and backlighting, the R510C series shines. The color accuracy and black levels, two of the most important aspects of any TV, are both very good. The interface isn't nearly as smooth and simple as Roku's, but on balance this is an excellent TV for the price.

TCL 50FS3800

TCL 50FS3800 Review

TCL is one among several budget TV makers that have adopted the Roku TV platform, a powerful software interface that provides easy use and management of smart TV functions. That, plus the low price and good performance of the 50-inch TCL 50FS3800 (starting at $420, Amazon), make it one of the leading contenders among cheap TVs.

Reviewers universally admire the Roku interface regardless which brand of TV uses it. A TCL S3800 series review on CNET declares that Roku TVs are best for streaming video and managing apps. The interface was smooth and fast in CNET's testing and the menus were easy to navigate. However, S3800 TVs don't have a lot of picture controls, and the controls that do exist are buried in the advanced settings menu. The overall picture quality on the budget TCL TVs is better than average, though, with accurate, saturated colors, as well as respectable contrast and black levels, the reviewer says.

A PCMag analyst who tested the 40-inch model in the series found the colors a bit undersaturated. The contrast and shadow detail were very good, however, and the color accuracy was "impressive" right out of the box. The reviewer notes the simplified Roku remote control that comes with the TV. It has few buttons, and no number buttons to select specific channels, but it still works well.

The TCL S3800 series comprises 50-inch, 40-inch, and 32-inch sizes. These are full-array 1080p LED TVs. Although the specs for the larger models list a 120 Hz refresh rate, the CNET reviewer asserts that they are 60 Hz panels employing technology intended to smooth motion. The TCL 50FS3800 has three HDMI ports, a headphone jack, and a USB port. This Wi-Fi-connected smart TV also supports video casting from a smartphone.

The TCL S3800 series is one of the best deals in budget TVs. The Roku interface makes streaming video a breeze and offers a ton of apps and online channels. The picture quality is better than most budget models'. Add a surprisingly low price for the 50-inch TCL 50FS3800, and you have an excellent deal.

Insignia NS-48DR420NA16

Insignia NS-48DR420NA16 Review

Best Buy's Insignia is one of many brands incorporating the highly regarded Roku interface into its Wi-Fi-enabled TVs. The smart TV interface is dead simple to use, even as it accommodates up to 2,000 apps and streaming video channels. A CNET reviewer gives a thumbs-up to the DR420NA16 series for the Roku interface and the fact that models such as the 48-inch Insignia NS-48DR420NA16 (starting at $430) are so cheap. The reviewer appreciates the color accuracy of the 55-inch version the site tested and notes that its contrast is pretty good for a budget model. Its black levels are also on par with the competition, which is to say they're respectable though a little washed out. Another point in this series' favor, according to the CNET reviewer, is that the TVs have pretty wide viewing angles.

A PCMag reviewer is likewise very satisfied with the picture quality, although not wowed. He notes that the black levels aren't particularly great and users can't fine-tune the color, which is just a little off but still pretty good considering the price. Skin tones looked natural, although greens seemed a bit pale. This expert lauds the Roku interface and concludes that the DR420NA16 series is a good buy overall.

Insignia DR420NA16 series TVs are available in four sizes: 55 inches, 48 inches, 40 inches, and 32 inches. The 48-inch Insignia NS-48DR420NA16 is a 1080P LED TV with a 60 Hz refresh rate. It includes three HDMI ports, one component/composite port, and a USB port. The lack of an Ethernet port is common for a budget TV.

The Insignia DR420NA16 series is one of the better deals in TVs. The price for a 48-inch display is very competitive and the picture is just a little better than average for a budget TV. The Roku interface is probably the best selling point of the Insignia NS-48DR420NA16.

LG 42LF5600

LG 42LF5600 Review

The 42-inch LG 42LF5600 (starting at $350, Amazon) is about as simple as a budget TV can be in 2016, with no smart features or wireless support. Unfortunately, it looks like LG cut too many other corners in designing the LF5600 series for the sake of keeping prices low. An LG 42LF5600 review on Reviewed.com http://televisions.reviewed.com/content/lg-42lf5600-led-tv-review notes several shortcomings with the picture quality. The 42LF5600 has poor contrast and screen uniformity, and its shadow detail is lacking. There's also noticeable motion blur during scenes with fast-moving action. The reviewer does credit the TV for good color accuracy and wide viewing angles. This TV also has more controls for fine-tuning the picture than other budget models.

An expert from Rtings.com also pans the LF5600 series, however. Among the complaints: The black levels are too light, too gray, and the brightness isn't as strong as competing models. This reviewer also noticed motion blur at times and says the screen has poor uniformity. He recommends looking elsewhere for a budget TV.

The specifications list for the LG LF5600 is pretty short. This series is available in 32-inch and 42-inch sizes. Both are 1080p LED TVs with 60 Hz refresh rates. There are two HDMI ports and a component/composite port, as well as a USB port capable of transmitting MP3s and JPG photos, but not videos.

The LG 42LF5600 certainly has a low price, but it's not a great buy. Consumers can get a similar size smart TV for about the same price, with more features and a better picture. The LF5600 does have accurate colors and wide viewing angles, but that doesn't make up for its lack of features and shortcomings in other aspects of picture quality.

Sharp LC-50LB371U

Sharp LC-50LB371U Review

The 50-inch Sharp LC-50LB371U (starting at $430, Amazon) has two things in its favor: It uses Roku's smart TV interface and it's super cheap. Experts praise the Roku menu as simple and easy to use. But, like other Roku-based TVs, this one has limited picture controls, and they're buried in the menu interface. A Sharp LC-50LB371U review from PCMag notes that the color accuracy is a little off, and because of the limited controls, viewers can't fine-tune the color. The contrast is reasonably good, however.

A CNET reviewer likewise raves about the Roku interface and found the color accuracy to be off. The image quality of the Sharp LC-50LB371U simply isn't as good as competing budget TVs, according to this expert. Unlike other direct-lit LED TVs such as the Vizio E Series, this model doesn't have local dimming. The reviewer does appreciate the three HDMI ports. Many budget TVs have only two.

The Sharp LC-50LB371U also has a component/composite port, a DVI port, and a USB port. The Roku interface on this Wi-Fi-enabled smart TV includes about 2,000 apps, including popular streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. This is a 1080p HDTV with an LED panel and a 60 Hz refresh rate.

Sharp's decision to incorporate the Roku interface into this smart TV was certainly a good one, and a 50-inch TV for just over $400 is worthy of attention. But the picture quality of the Sharp LC-50LB371U leaves something to be desired. Reviewers agree its color accuracy is off, and due to the sparse picture controls, there's no way to dial it in just right.

072516 Samsung UN48J5200_250.jpg

Samsung UN48J5200 Review

Samsung is one of the best-known TV makers, but its products tend to be pricier than budget brands such as Insignia and Vizio. The company's competitively priced J5200 line is an exception. The 48-inch Samsung UN48J5200 (starting at $498, Amazon) compares favorably to most budget TVs. An expert from Rtings.com says this model produces solid, uniform black levels, a struggle for many budget TVs. Its color accuracy is very good, which is fortunate because, as this reviewer notes, there aren't any controls for precise fine-tuning. The reviewer notes that on-screen motion looks smooth during movies, but there is noticeable motion blur during live sports and in video games, which is certainly a disappointment. Also, the J5200 has a pretty narrow viewing angle before the picture begins to look distorted. Still, the reviewer says the overall picture quality is quite good.

The Samsung UN48J5200 is a smart TV, but rather than using the popular Roku interface, Samsung relies on its own interface. It includes many popular apps and streaming services and works very well, according to reviews by several Amazon shoppers, who found it easy to use. Consumers echo the experts in declaring the quality of the video to be very good, noting the deep black levels and sharp, clear picture.

The Samsung J5200 series is available in 50-inch, 48-inch, 43-inch, and 40-inch sizes. The Samsung UN48J5200 is an LED TV with full 1080p HD and a 60 Hz refresh rate. This smart TV with built-in Wi-Fi supports wireless mirroring, so users can cast content from a smartphone to the TV. The UN48J5200 has only two HDMI ports, but it does have an Ethernet port, which most budget TVs lack. It also includes a component/composite port and a USB port.

For the most part, the Samsung J5200 is a good buy. Its color accuracy, black levels, and screen uniformity are points in its favor. It may not use the popular Roku interface, but Samsung's smart TV interface satisfies most users and is easy enough to manage. The only real drawback is occasional motion blur when watching sports or playing video games. For consumers who primarily watch movies and TV shows, that won't be much of an issue. But dedicated gamers and sports fans will probably want to choose a different TV.

The greatest strength of the 50-inch Vizio E50u-D2 (starting at $498; available on Amazon) is its use of local dimming, according to an expert from CNET. This feature can significantly improve the TV's picture quality, with deeper black levels and greater contrast. It has 12 local dimming zones, which isn't a lot -- top-of-the-line models can have more than 300 zones -- but it's certainly better than none, and most budget TVs don't boast this function at all. Beyond that, the E50u-D2 is lauded for color accuracy, minimal motion blur, and little lag (about 37 milliseconds on its gaming setting). A Reviewed.com expert reports that the TV is easy to set up and use. The white balance is very accurate out of the box, and any colors that are a little off can easily be fixed with only slight adjustments.

Reviewers have few complaints about the Vizio E50u-D2. They note that the set doesn't support HDR, but this feature is not expected in a TV in this price range. More important to some, the Reviewed.com expert found the viewing angle to be pretty narrow. The Google Cast platform, though a boon, requires an app on a smartphone or tablet to navigate the TV's smart features. This won't appeal to everyone, but users can connect an external streaming device such as a Roku box or Amazon Fire TV stick if desired. Finally, Vizio's E-Series 4K TVs do not have a built-in tuner, so buyers who get local stations via an antenna would need to purchase an add-on -- or they might consider an alternative such as the Vizio D50u-D1 instead.

The Vizio E50u-D2 is a 4K LED TV with four HDMI ports, a component port, an Ethernet port, and two USB ports. The TV supports Wi-Fi connections, including 802.11ac, the latest standard. The TV has a 120 Hz (effective) refresh rate, and uses a pair of 10-watt speakers.

The lack of a tuner will deter a few potential buyers, and some may fumble with the Google Cast setup. Overall, however, most experts consider the Vizio E50u-D2, with its superior 4K picture quality, one of the best deals among budget TVs.

PCMag named the Vizio D-Series an Editors' Choice for entry-level 4K TVs. The 50-inch Vizio D50u-D1 (starting at $498; available on Amazon) is a slight downgrade from our top pick, the Vizio E50u-D2, but it boasts the same local dimming capability and premium picture quality as the E-Series, according to reviews. The Vizio D50u-D1 is said to have impressive black levels and contrast, as well as excellent color accuracy. A Reviewed.com expert enthuses that the colors are bright and vivid, with no adjustments necessary, although a bit of tweaking can make them look even better. In tests conducted by Rtings.com, testers claim to have been able to get the D-Series TVs' response time down to a mere 13.4 milliseconds, meaning they're good sets for gamers that need fast performance. The Vizio D50u-D1 supports a number of popular streaming apps on its smart TV platform, including Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, and so on. Unlike Vizio's E-Series TVs, this model includes a built-in tuner for over-the-air signals via antenna, a major boon for some.

There's not a lot to complain about with this TV, the PCMag reviewer says. The smart features might be a bit rudimentary compared with Vizio's E-Series, which uses Google Cast; the D50u-D1 comes with Vizio's more basic proprietary smart platform. The Reviewed.com expert also found that the viewing angle is pretty narrow, so it's best to position the TV so it can be seen straight on, or nearly so.

The Vizio D50u-D1 is a 4K LED TV with 12 active LED zones. This TV has a 120 Hz (effective) refresh rate. It has five HDMI ports, a combined composite/component port, an Ethernet port, and a USB port. It supports Wi-Fi, including 802.11ac connections. The TV is outfitted with a pair of 10-watt speakers.

The Vizio D50u-D1 is loaded with features and connection options, and it delivers excellent picture quality, with black levels and a contrast ratio that are superior to similarly priced competition. Though the smart platform might be a bit clunkier than some, this is a very fast TV for gamers.

A PCMag reviewer, and many consumers, as well, laud TCL for incorporating Roku's smart TV platform right into the 50-inch 50UP130 (starting at $472; available on Amazon). It's easy to use and offers a ton of streaming options. Even better, the included "Enhanced" remote enables voice search and even has a headphone jack. Users can also download a Roku smartphone app to control the TV. An expert from Reviewed.com points out that this TV includes four HDMI ports that allow for connection to 4K content from external devices like Blu-ray players. The color accuracy is also very good, and the overall picture quality is satisfactory, although it's not perfect, according to this review.

Experts say the black levels and contrast are a bit disappointing -- easily the biggest drawback of this TV. Apart from that, the Roku system doesn't include many controls to fine-tune the picture, although the color on this set is good enough out of the box that this isn't a serious issue. The uniformity could be better, according to testing by Reviewed.com, and users can expect some blurring. Finally, the input lag on the TCL 50UP130 is decent, at just under 46 milliseconds, but still slightly higher than some of its competitors in this price range. Serious gamers might consider going with a different model.

The TCL 50UP130 is a 4K LED TV with a 120 Hz (effective) refresh rate. In addition to the four HDMI ports, it has a composite port, a USB port, and an Ethernet port. It also supports Wi-Fi, including fast 802.11ac connections. The Roku platform provides access to a host of popular streaming apps, including Vudu, Netflix, Amazon, and HBO. The TV has two 8-watt speakers.

The Achilles' heel of the TCL 50UP130 is its overall picture quality. Expect less-than-impressive black levels and so-so contrast. The trade-off is that buyers get a 4K set with very good color accuracy and built-in Roku, which most experts say is the best smart TV platform out there. This model's strengths will likely outweigh its weaknesses for many consumers.

Insignia NS-50DR710NA17

Despite some shortcomings, there's a lot to like about the Insignia NS-50DR7NA17 (starting at $400; available on Amazon), a 50-inch 4K set from Best Buy's house-brand lineup. A PCMag expert found the colors to be bright and almost perfectly accurate without tweaking. This TV is also pretty fast, with a low response time. The Roku smart TV platform earns raves for its wealth of streaming content (including 4K menu offerings) and its simple-to-use remote and interface. A reviewer from CNET adds that the new Roku app offers more fine-tuning options to improve picture quality, which is a nice plus.

Like many TVs in this price range, the NS-50DR710NA17 has somewhat mediocre black levels, and the contrast leaves a bit to be desired, according to the CNET and PCMag reviewers. While the CNET expert considers this model on par with similar sets like the TCL P-Series Roku TV we picked, its overall picture quality certainly doesn't measure up to Vizio's budget lines. The screen uniformity is also a bit off, although the expert says most viewers won't notice. Consumers should note that this TV's standard infrared Roku remote lacks voice search and headphone jack; it also doesn't have the "point anywhere" capabilities of upgraded versions.

The Insignia NS-50DR710NA17 is an LED TV with a 60 Hz screen. It has four HDMI inputs, an Ethernet port, a composite input, and a USB port. It also supports Wi-Fi, including speedy 802.11ac connections. The Roku smart TV platform allows access to just about every streaming app there is. The TV has two 10-watt speakers.

The Insignia NS-50DR710NA17 is a good option for shoppers seeking a budget 4K TV with Roku's powerful streaming platform built in. Like many cheap TVs, it struggles somewhat with black levels and contrast, but it excels in other respects. Holdouts might prefer to wait on soon-to-be-released models with possible upgrades.

TCL 55FS3750

Ultra-HD video is an attractive feature for many buyers that's only recently found its way into the ranks of affordable TVs. But not everyone sees the value in it. The TCL 55FS3750 (starting at $448; available on Amazon) is a 1080p HDTV that experts say performs well. A reviewer from Rtings.com says it delivers solid picture quality, with sharp, detailed images and respectable black levels and contrast. This expert also notes that the color accuracy is very good, and the TV handles fast-moving content without motion blur. A CNET reviewer echoes most of these assessments and notes that, although some competing TVs have better image quality, they're also pricier. The picture on this low-priced line is "good enough" and, at 55 inches, this particular model throws a bit more screen into the bargain than our other picks. The Roku platform built into this set is the best smart TV option available, reviewers say, due to its excellent user interface and wide array of apps.

Experts don't have a lot of complaints about the TCL 55FS3750, but the Rtings.com reviewer does say this TV's audio is pretty bad even by budget TV standards. Distortion is apparent even at medium volumes. This TV also has a pretty narrow viewing angle, though that's also common among budget TVs. The CNET reviewer points out that the 55FS3750 doesn't have an Ethernet port, which may irk some buyers, but the Wi-Fi works well. This TV lacks some desirable features that are just starting to break into the budget TV range, such as local dimming and, of course, 4K resolution. The Roku TV remote is the standard version, as opposed to the "Enhanced" controller that includes voice search and a headphone jack. Despite all that, the CNET expert says the price is impressively low given the features this TV does have.

The TCL 55FS3750 is an LED TV that claims a 120 Hz (effective) refresh rate. It supports Wi-Fi (802.11n) and has three HDMI ports, a composite port, and a USB port. The TV has two 8-watt speakers.

Shoppers looking for a cheap TV who aren't committed to a 4K screen will want to consider the TCL 55FS3750. It doesn't have the best picture quality, but this 55-inch Roku TV offers a lot of value for the buck.

Sony's W650D lineup is geared toward shoppers looking for a smaller TV at a budget price, and the 48-inch model (starting at $448; available on Amazon) is an affordable 1080p set that garners its share of supporters. Buyers who have reviewed this TV on Best Buy.com appreciate how easy it is to stream content through the TV, which can also mirror the screens on linked mobile devices. They're fans of the color and picture quality, as well, and say the TV is simple to set up and use. A reviewer from Rtings.com says the black levels are okay, if not overly impressive, and show pretty good contrast. The audio is said to be a little better than average, and also louder than most. The smart TV features are fairly limited but include the most popular apps, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

The Rtings.com expert found a few problems with the picture quality on the Sony KDL-48W650D that some Best Buy shoppers didn't pick up on. The gray screen uniformity is uneven, with overly dark corners. The screen isn't particularly bright, either. The reviewer says the color accuracy is a bit off, and there are few picture controls to fine-tune it. There is some motion blur, and input lag is average, but the reviewer suggests this TV still could work for gamers. This expert also dings the KDL-48W650D for having a pretty narrow viewing angle, something Best Buy customers noticed as well. The most common complaints from those reviewers were that they'd prefer more inputs and a wider selection of smart TV apps.

The Sony KDL-48W650D TV is a 1080p LED model. It supports 802.11n Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct and also includes an Ethernet port. There are two HDMI ports, two USB ports, and a component/composite input. The TV has two 5-watt speakers. The display is 60 Hz (although Sony's enhances this refresh rate with Motionflow XR 240).

The low price of the Sony KDL-48W650D isn't enough to offset its mediocre picture quality when there are plenty of better budget options available. The TV may be fast enough for gamers, but gamers also appreciate video that looks good. The limited inputs and smart TV apps also make this TV hard to recommend.

LG is one of the best-known names in consumer electronics, and the company has several TVs to choose from. The budget 49UH6100 (starting at $547; available on Amazon), is one of the few affordable 4K TVs that supports HDR. According to user reviews on Amazon, the high dynamic range technology does, indeed, make for a sharp, clear picture, and this 49-inch TV delivers nice-looking color. Consumers also like the smart features of the LG 49UH6100. They say the interface is simple and the TV is easy to set up and use. According to an expert from Rtings.com, the LG 49UH6100 is speedy, with a fast response time and few issues with motion blur.

The Rtings.com reviewer notes a few important shortcomings with the LG 49UH6100. Its black levels and contrast are pretty poor, resulting in blacks that look more gray. The TV's uniformity is also not very smooth, with fluctuations in both black and gray. The colors are close to accurate out of the box but need a little calibration. Finally, this expert says the sound quality is pretty bad, even for a flat-screen TV; a soundbar is strongly recommended. Amazon customers don't have a lot of complaints about the LG 49UH6100 in reviews, but a few shoppers are disappointed by the limited app availability (especially compared with a Roku TV), and some complain of noticeable light bleed.

The LG 49UH6100 is a 4K LED TV with a 120 Hz (effective) refresh rate. It has three HDMI ports, a USB port, a component/composite port, and an Ethernet port. The TV also supports Wi-Fi connections (802.11n and Wi-Fi Direct). There are a pair of 10-watt speakers built into the display.

It's hard to find an HDR 4K TV at this price, and although the smart TV system may not be on Roku's level, it's certainly good enough to satisfy most reviewers. It's disappointing that the the LG 49UH6100 struggles so much with black levels, contrast, and sound quality, but many buyers still consider it a good value, particularly for an entry-level TV.

Insignia NS-39DR510NA17

If you need a spare TV on the cheap, perhaps for the kids or for a bedroom, this cheap 39-inch TV from Best Buy's in-house Insignia brand has surprisingly good picture quality for just a little over $200, and it's a Roku smart TV to boot.

  • Roku smart TV interface is favored among expert reviewers.

  • HD picture is clear and brighter than average.

  • Wide viewing angles.

  • Buyers are satisfied with the picture quality and overall value.

  • 1080p resolution feels dated, although experts say 4K wouldn't make a noticeable difference on a screen this size.

  • Color accuracy is a little off with the default setting, though much better when using Movie mode.

  • Backlight is a little dim around the edges and corners of the display.

For those who want a smaller but still sizeable smart TV with HDR and an impressive 4K display, the LG 43UJ6300 is a good choice. It's surprisingly cheap given its features, picture quality, and premium brand name.

  • Supports 4K and HDR content; many competitors at this price do not.

  • Picture is sharp with bright colors and good contrast.

  • Easy to set up and use.

  • Surprisingly good audio quality.

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 1,500 reviewers on the Best Buy website.

  • Picture deemed a little too dark in expert testing.

  • Settings may need to be tweaked to make the picture look just right.

  • Some reviewers find the instruction manual lacking.

  • WebOS smart TV interface includes ads.

The Vizio M65-E0 impresses experts with amazing picture quality, especially when showing HDR content. Although its streaming platform isn't as robust as Roku, this TV outperforms competing sets that cost much more. (For an even cheaper 65-inch TV, look to Vizio's D-Series and E-Series; the 65-inch models are bigger versions of our top budget picks from Vizio.)

  • Excellent overall picture quality for the price, with very good contrast and range of color in expert testing.

  • Support for 4K and HDR content, which looks great to experts' eyes.

  • Smart TV with built-in Chromecast system.

  • CNET Editors' Choice.

  • PCMag Editors' Choice.

  • Limited number of streaming apps available through the TV interface, although users can access more using Vizio's SmartCast on a mobile device.

  • No tuner built in, so no direct access to over-the-air programming.

  • Smart TV interface is a little sluggish.

Buying Guide

Choosing a TV

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.

TV Brands.

Manufacturers of cheap TVs include well-known brands, such as LG and Samsung, that automatically spring to mind when thinking of consumer electronics in general. However, our research suggests that buyers can get more value for their money with a name such as Vizio, the Chinese company TCL, or Best Buy's in-house Insignia brand. Expect more screen when moving beyond the mainstream, too: Whereas a 43-inch model from a big-name brand can push the $500 price ceiling, all our top picks deliver a minimum of 50 inches on the diagonal.

Pricey vs. Cheap TVs.

High-end TVs have larger screens, more inputs, and more smart TV features than budget models. Colors appear sharp and bright, black levels are deep and dark without losing detail, and rapid motion doesn’t blur on-screen. Meeting all these criteria is more of a challenge for entry-level TVs. Although the picture quality is better than ever, it’s important to keep expectations at realistic levels. The images, though sharp and rich on the best cheap TVs, simply are not what you’d see on a model costing hundreds of dollars more, experts say. Newer OLED TVs, which boast the very best picture quality, sit well outside our price range; our picks are all LED LCD TVs.

4K TVs.

One type of TV now available on a budget is 4K, also known as "ultra HD" or UHD. This technology promises amazingly sharp images with four times as many pixels as 1080p "full HD." In fact, 4K TVs have dropped so much in price that they barely cost more than 1080p HDTVs, and almost all our picks are ultra-HD TVs. Still, there's no reason to be wedded to this resolution upgrade. The fact is that 4K TVs don't boost picture quality as much as consumers might expect. Many experts maintain that it's hard to tell the difference between 4K and 1080p TVs. While some improvements might be noted on a large screen (say, 65 inches and up), in UHD TVs from 50 to 65 inches, gains over 1080p sets are hardly obvious, and in TVs 48 inches and smaller, they're pretty much undetectable.

HDR.

High dynamic range technology, on the other hand, noticeably improves color, brightness, and contrast, creating a beautiful, more realistic image, reviewers say. HDR also has recently drifted into the realm of cheap TVs, although the content options are still limited. For now, choosing an HDR TV will get you a relatively future-proof model with support for all the HDR shows and movies that are sure to be released in the years to come.

Features Comparison

Sort by:
Review Score:
Product Title
Screen Size
Resolution
HDR
Smart TV Platform
Inputs/Connections
Product Title
Screen Size
Resolution
HDR
Smart TV Platform
Inputs/Connections

TCL 55S405

$400
55 in.
4K
Yes
Roku
3 HDMI, composite, USB, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Ethernet

Vizio E55-E2

$500
55 in.
4K
Yes
Vizio SmartCast
4 HDMI, component, USB, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Ethernet

Vizio D55-E0

$498
55 in.
4K
No
Vizio Internet Apps Plus
4 HDMI, component, USB, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Ethernet

Samsung UN50MU6300FXZA

$480
50 in.
4K
Yes
Smart Hub
3 HDMI, component/composite, 2 USB, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Ethernet

Insignia NS-50D510NA17

$280
50 in.
1080p
No
None
3 HDMI, composite, USB

Samsung UN55J6201AFXZA

$497
55 in.
1080p
No
Smart Hub
2 HDMI, component/composite, 2 USB, Wi-Fi (802.11n), Ethernet

Insignia NS-39DR510NA17

$220
39 in.
1080p
No
Roku
3 HDMI, composite, USB, Wi-Fi

LG 43UJ6300

$327
43 in.
4K
Yes
WebOS
3 HDMI, component/composite, 2 USB, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Ethernet

Vizio M65-E0

$998
65 in.
4K
Yes
Vizio SmartCast
4 HDMI, component, USB, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Ethernet