You can still get good TVs for under $500. They tend to be a bit lighter on features compared to more expensive models, but they can still offer some pretty good picture quality. New TVs are very close to coming out, but it's going to take a while for them to come down in price. Here are our recommendations for the first months of 2017:
Best picture quality under $500
The Samsung UN40KU6300 UHD TV is simply a step above every other model under $500. It’s a versatile TV with good picture quality.
It has a great native contrast ratio, which helps achieve deep even blacks. It also gets quite a lot brighter any other TV under $500. It’s a great gaming TV since it has low input lag that stays low even when playing HDR games and great handling of motion.
It does have a few shortcomings, though: For this price, you can only get the smaller 40” model, and you do have a fairly narrow viewing angle, but this is an inevitable trade-off for the deep contrast that this TV has. Overall, it's hard to find a better TV at this price available today.
Best value for size under $500
For a large TV that is also very affordable look no further than for the TCL 55FS3750 1080p TV. It’s great value and has an excellent smart platform.
Its picture quality is good, and it handles reflections than some of the more expensive models. That, combined with the good response times and decent brightness makes for a good TV for watching sports. Beware, though, it’s viewing angles is especially narrow so consider that if you plan to place it in a wide living room. It’s also only 1080p, but this shouldn’t be too big of a drawback for most people.
If you’re looking for an affordable and large TV, the TCL 55FS3750 offers value that is difficult to match.
Our recommendations above are what we think is currently the best TV under $500 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper TV wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no TVs that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
A few examples of budget TVs that didn't make the cut:
- TCL 50UP130. Pretty much the same as the 55US5800, but you end up paying extra for the fancier remote. See our review
- Samsung UN40J6200. A great 1080p TV but stocks are hard to find due to its age. See our review
- LG 43UH6100. Bad picture quality for the price. See our review
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here are the list of all our reviews of TVs that are less than $500. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no TV is perfect, most TVs are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.
Questions & Answers
Update: Ok, you can stop upvoting this question. We heard you. Our first review of a TCL TV will be posted next week!
I'm looking to get a 40" TV for my bedroom (pretty dim room, only lamps, has no overhead lighting) (Only one bigger window, but it has blinds that can darken it out).
I've looked over the two recommendations: the Samsung UN40J300 and the Vizio E series. For some reason I'm leaning towards the Vizio. I would like to get the best budget option (I know that's cliche.) It seems the similar performance in Vizio is enough to justify not bumping up by ~70 bucks.
Although, I also heard good things about the SONY W600B (I read your review, but don't see it on the suggested page - only by searching). Is that TV outclassed now? The ratings in each category were higher for that Sony TV than the other ones - so I was wondering why it's not the recommended pick? Is the scale universal? Or overtime, does it get more competitive (Meaning a 7.2 now means more than a 8.0 did a year ago?)
Also, since this is important: My use case will be: mainly streaming HD video (Fire Stick, Chromecast, and my laptop via HDMI cable - so mainly Netflix and Prime Video and other streaming sites), as well as some TV, and the occasional gaming. I would say 50% HD streaming/some type of HDMI device, 40% TV/Sports (definitely equal balance), 10% gaming.
With those - which TV is recommended? The Samsung? Vizio? Sony? Or is there a newer model I'm missing out on? (1080p under 475 if possible, preferably under 425/450)?
For your uses and price preference, the Vizio E is the best choice. The J6300 is better at displaying lower resolutions (so it's a bit better for sports), but the E-series has really good picture quality for HD video, and it has low input lag, so it's a good choice for gaming as well.
You should only get this if you need a small, cheap TV with a wide viewing angle.
Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.