You don't have to spend a small fortune to get a decent TV. Today, even cheap TVs can deliver a decent viewing experience for most uses, and many of them have great smart features, eliminating the need to spend more on an external streaming device. Whether you're looking for a small TV for a guest room or a large TV on a budget, there's something for everyone.
We've reviewed more than 90 TVs in the last two years, and below you'll find the best cheap TVs to purchase. See also our recommendations for the best TVs under $500, the best TVs under $1,000, and the best smart TVs.
The best budget TV we've tested so far is the Hisense H8G. It offers very good overall performance and it's available in a wide range of sizes all with a budget-friendly price. Most people should be happy with this TV and it even competes with some higher-end, more expensive TVs.
This TV has a good overall picture quality. It displays deep blacks due to its VA panel and it has a decent full-array local dimming feature too. It gets bright enough to combat glare and it has decent reflection handling if you want to place it in a bright room. It displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, but it doesn't get bright enough in that mode to make highlights pop. If you're a gamer, you should be happy to know it has a good response time and a black frame insertion feature to help reduce motion blur. Even though it's limited to a 60Hz refresh rate and no variable refresh rate support, it has a really low input lag, giving you a responsive gaming experience.
Unfortunately, it has narrow viewing angles, which is typical of a VA panel, and it has some uniformity issues. There's visible dirty screen effect visible in the center, which could be distracting during sports. Overall, though, it has some good extra features and it comes with Android TV, making it the best budget TV we've tested so far.
If you tend to watch a lot of sports, then the LG UM7300 is a better choice, as its IPS panel has much better viewing angles than the Hisense H8G and it has better uniformity, with only some minor vignetting around the corners of the screen. The downside is that this TV has a much lower contrast ratio, resulting in blacks that look like gray when viewed in the dark, although this is typical of IPS panels. There's still no FreeSync support and the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz, but its response time is good and input lag is remarkably low. It has impressive reflection handling and if you stream your sports, LG's app store has a great selection of apps available to download.
Overall, the Hisense performs better for most content, especially for those who like to watch in a dark room, but for sports fans, consider with the LG.
The best value TV for its size is the Vizio M658-G1. It's a very good overall TV that's available in 55 and 65 inch sizes and both offer great value for its size and price. It displays great picture quality but it lacks smart features.
This TV has an incredible contrast ratio and its black uniformity is nearly perfect, one of the best we've seen on a LED so far. It also has a full-array local dimming feature to help further deepen any blacks. It has good out-of-the-box color accuracy and it has an excellent wide color gamut for HDR color, but sadly it doesn't get bright enough to bring out highlights in that mode. However, it has good SDR brightness and good reflection handling if you want to place it in a bright room. It's also a good gaming TV as it has a great response time and a low input lag, but its lag might be too high for serious gamers.
Unfortunately, it has narrow viewing angles, uniformity issues, and it doesn't upscale 480p and 720p content as well as other TVs. The SmartCast OS is laggy and you can't download any additional apps, but it does come with a ton of apps included. Overall, it displays a good picture, making it the best value for size budget TV we've tested so far.
If having a TV with better smart features is important to you, then check out the TCL 6 Series/55R625 2019. It does have as good out-of-the-box color accuracy as the Vizio M Series Quantum 2019, but it upscales lower resolution content a lot better. The Roku interface is easy to use and has a ton of apps available to download. HDR content on this TV also looks great as it displays a really wide color gamut and it gets bright enough to bring out highlights. Unfortunately, it has a slow response time, so fast-moving content has visible motion blur, but it does have a black frame insertion feature to help with that issue. It also performs well in dark rooms due to its VA panel and as is the case with most VA panel TVs, it has narrow viewing angles.
Overall, if you want the best value for size, consider the Vizio; if you prefer a better smart TV, look into the TCL.
The best cheap TV we've tested so far is the TCL 3 Series/32S325 2019. You get what you expect in a cheap TV as its performance is sub-par compared to other higher-end TVs.
The 32 inch model is limited to a 720p resolution (except for the 32S327 variant) while the 40 inch model displays 1080p. On the upside, all models run the same Roku smart TV interface found on the higher-end TCL models. The Roku interface is smooth, easy-to-use, and gives you access to a large number of apps to cover any need. This TV serves you well if you're looking for a secondary TV, especially for a room where space is limited. It has excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, which is great since you can't calibrate the TV.
Unfortunately, there's no HDR support or any advanced motion handling features like motion interpolation or a judder removal option. It delivers a mediocre picture quality with deep blacks in a dark room, but can't get very bright so it's more suitable for a dim room like a garage. Overall, this TV can't compete with higher-end models, but it's great as a secondary TV where top picture quality isn't required.
If you want a bigger TV with even better performance, then the TCL 43S425 is a great alternative. Its out-of-the-box color accuracy isn't as good as the TCL 3 Series 2019, however, its settings allow for calibration, so you can get adjust the colors to get them as accurate as possible. It's a 4k TV that upscales lower resolution content well and it displays deep blacks thanks to its VA panel. Unfortunately, it doesn't get bright, can't display a wide color gamut for HDR content, and has really narrow viewing angles. On the upside, it's a good gaming TV due to its low input lag and great response time.
If you're on an extremely tight budget and don't mind losing some picture quality to get a small TV, the 3 Series is a good choice, but if you want a bigger TV with better picture quality, check out the 4 Series.
06/30/2020: Replaced the Hisense H9F with the H8G, replaced the TCL 5 Series with the Vizio M Series, and added the TCL 6 Series as smart features alternative. Moved the 4 Series to replace the TCL 1 Series as a larger alternative to the best cheap TV.
05/01/2020: Replaced Hisense H8F with Hisense H9F.
01/07/2020: Replaced the 'Best Value for Size TV' to the TCL 5 Series 2019 65S525; changed the 4 Series 2019 65S425 to the 'Cheaper Alternative'.
12/06/2019: Reconfirmed the picks to reflect current market conditions; however, during the Black Friday period, prices fluctuate significantly making it hard to pinpoint the best choice. Make sure you check out the notable mentions as well.
09/10/2019: Replaced the 'Best Value for Size TV' from the Vizio E Series 2018 (E55-F1), as price changes allow the 65" TCL 4 Series S425 to fall in this category.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap TVs 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).
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is 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.