You don't have to spend a small fortune to get a decent TV. Even cheap TVs today can deliver a decent viewing experience for most usages, and many of them have great smart features, eliminating the need to spend more on an external streaming device. Whether you are looking for a small TV for a guest room or a large TV on a budget, there is something for everyone.
Note: Since new TVs tend to launch at very high prices, it's unlikely that these newer models will become reasonable choices until the latter half of the year. Because of this, the 2018 models remain as picks in our recommendations.
The best cheap TV we've tested so far is the TCL 32S305/32S305. If you are looking for a secondary TV that will not break the bank, the TCL is a great choice. The S305/S325 is available in various sizes ranging from 28'' to 49'', one of which will surely 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 is not suitable for a very bright room as it cannot get very bright to overcome glare.
The 28" and 32" models are limited to a 720p resolution whereas 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 thousands of streaming channels that cover almost any need.
Even though the S305/325 is not a 4k TV, it is a great option for those who are just looking for a secondary TV and will definitely do the job.
If you have a wide seating area, the IPS panel on the Vizio D Series 2017 may be a better choice, as the image remains accurate at wider viewing angles. Unlike the TCL S305, all sizes except for the 24" model have a 1080p resolution, which is great. Unlike most Vizio TVs, the D Series 2017 has a more feature-packed smart interface, including an app store with a limited selection of apps.
The Vizio D Series 2017 has been replaced by the 2018 and now 2019 models, but unfortunately, we haven't reviewed them yet. We don't yet know what the differences between them are.
If you can afford to spend a little more, then the Samsung UN43NU6900 is the best budget TV out of the ones that we've reviewed so far. It has a decent picture quality with deep blacks thanks to the high native contrast ratio. It can get fairly bright for a dim room but can not fight the glare of a bright room. Although it supports HDR there is not much benefit in using it in this mode as it doesn't have a wide color gamut and can't get bright enough to display vivid HDR content with highlights that pop.
The NU6900 has an excellent low input lag that makes it very responsive, but the overall motion handling is just mediocre. It has only 2 HDMI ports and you might need an HDMI splitter if you wish to connect more than two external devices. The TV has similar smart features with the rest of the 2018 NU lineup but comes with a simpler remote.
Overall the NU6900 is a decent TV. However, if you are on a budget and the best picture quality is not your priority, it is the best cheap 4k TV we've tested.
If you want a TV that is larger than 43'', get the 50" Toshiba Fire TV. It has a decent overall picture quality and can get bright enough in SDR, but not in HDR. It is very responsive due to the low input lag and has a fast response time which leaves only a small blur trail in fast-moving content. The smart features of the Toshiba Fire TV 2018 incorporate the voice control features of Amazon Alexa which allow you to control the TV from your phone, through the remote, or by directly speaking to the TV.
The Vizio E Series 2018 offers the most value of any cheap TV that we've tested so far. It is a good 4k TV available in sizes ranging from 43" to 75". It has a VA panel, so it looks great in a dark room, but unfortunately, the image degrades when viewed at an angle, so it isn't as well-suited for a wide, bright living room.
The E Series is a great cheap gaming TV as well. It has excellent low input lag and an excellent response time, so fast moving objects in games look good, with only a slight blur trail behind them. It also has an optional black frame insertion feature that can help reduce persistence blur. Unfortunately, it doesn't support any variable refresh rate technologies like FreeSync, but very few TVs do.
The Vizio E Series doesn't have a wide color gamut, so HDR content doesn't look as good as it should. The E Series also doesn't have the most advanced smart features. It has a nice interface that is easy to use, but it has a limited selection of apps, and no way to add more. Overall, the E Series delivers decent picture quality that should please most people.
If you find the smart features of the Vizio E43-F1 lacking, then check out the TCL 43S517. You will not get the good dark room performance nor the great reflection handling of the Vizio. On the upside, the TCLS517 run the Roku TV smart interface which gives you access to many apps and hundreds of streaming channels, which should cover your needs. The TCL delivers a decent overall picture quality and has a very low input lag that is great for gamers. Overall, most people should be happy with it.
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.