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.
The Hisense 50H8F is the best budget TV we've tested so far. It delivers a great overall picture quality, with deep blacks in a dark room thanks also to the full array local dimming support. When in HDR, it displays vivid colors and bright highlights due to the wide color gamut and decent peak brightness. This TV has decent motion handling and supports motion interpolation up to 60Hz. It delivers an excellent gaming experience for most casual gamers thanks to the low input lag that makes it very responsive to your actions.
On the downside, the response time isn't as fast higher-end TVs and most serious gamers and sports fans might find the motion blur trail behind fast-moving content excessive. Also, just like all VA panel TVs, this TV doesn't have good viewing angles. The image degrades quickly when you watch from the side, meaning you'll enjoy it more if you sit straight in front.
Overall, this TV is a great choice for most uses and outperforms many more expensive TVs.
If you're a sports fan and you find the Hisense H8F leaves a lot of blur trail when you watch sports, then check out the LG 49UM7300. It's more expensive than the Hisense and can't get as bright. On the upside, it has a much faster response time and will display crisper motion. You can place it in a room with many small light sources, as it handles reflections excellently. It has an IPS panel with better viewing angles, so you can invite your friends over to watch the big game without worrying who'll sit on the side.
If you want the best overall budget TV, get the Hisense. If, however, viewing angles are of the essence, and you don't mind compromising on brightness, go with the LG, which will maintain uniformity when viewed from the side.
The best cheap TV we've tested so far is the TCL 3 Series/32S325 2019. If you're looking for a secondary TV that won't break the bank, this is a great choice. This TV is available in various sizes ranging from 32'' to 49'', one of which will match your needs as a kitchen TV or a garage TV. It has a mediocre picture quality with a high native contrast ratio and can display deep blacks in a dark room. Unfortunately, it's not suitable for a very bright room, as it can't get very bright to overcome glare.
The 32" model is limited to a 720p resolution (except for the 32S327 variant), and the larger ones have a 1080p native resolution. All models are equipped with the same Roku smart interface that is present in higher-end TCL models. The Roku interface gives you access to a large number of streaming channels, which cover almost any need.
Even though this isn't a 4k TV, it's a great option for those who are just looking for a secondary TV, and it will do the job.
If you don't need any of the Roku TV smart features found on the TCL 3 Series/S325 2019 and would prefer a larger TV just to watch Free-To-Air channels, then get the TCL 1 Series/40D100. It delivers a decent picture quality but doesn't have any advanced options to help you improve the picture quality. It completely lacks any smart features, but it'll serve you well as a simple display. If you want, you can connect an Android TV box or an Apple TV to turn it into a smart system. This TV will serve you well if you only have basic needs from your TV.
While the TCL 32S325 is the cheapest TV with a full set of smart features, if you don't care about smart features, the TCL 40D100 will do the job, and it's also larger.
The best value TV for the size in the budget category is the TCL 4 Series/65S425 2019. Despite being in the budget category, it's a 65 inch TV. It has decent picture quality, with deep blacks in a dark room but no local dimming support. It can't reach the brightness of the Hisense H8F, so it's more suitable for dimmer environments. It has good reflection handling, so a few more lights in the room won't be an issue. Its very low input lag makes it a great choice for gamers who aren't looking for advanced gaming features like FreeSync support. Sports fans will appreciate the fast response time that only leaves a small blur trail behind fast-moving content. The Roku Smart TV interface offers you access to many apps (streaming channels), which are sure to cover your needs.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a wide color gamut and can't display HDR content as well as it should. Also, due to the poor viewing angles, the image deteriorates when viewed from the side.
Overall, however, this is a decent 65" TV that won't break the bank.
If you find the smart features on the Vizio E Series 2018 lacking, then check out the TCL 5 Series/55S525 2019. It's a smaller TV, but it runs the same Roku TV smart interface. It has decent picture quality with deep blacks in a dark room, and it can get brighter both in SDR and HDR. It has a wide color gamut and will deliver HDR content with vivid colors closer to its creator's intent. It has a very low input lag, great for gamers, and incorporates a motion interpolation feature for the soap opera effect fans.
If you want the largest TV in the budget category, get the S425; however, if you want a wide color gamut and don't mind a smaller TV, the S525 is a better choice.
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.
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.