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 60 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 that we've tested so far is the Hisense H8G. It offers a 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. 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 also a 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 prefer a TV with a wide viewing angle, then check out the LG 55UN7300PUF. It doesn't display a wide color gamut for HDR content like the Hisense H8G, and it doesn't have a high contrast ratio either. The 55 inch model we reviewed has an IPS panel, but it appears LG also sells this TV with a VA panel, like the one on the Hisense. However, the IPS TV we reviewed provides wide viewing angles, great for watching sports or TV with a large group of people. It has a decent response time, but its 120Hz flicker may cause duplication in motion. If you use it in bright rooms, it doesn't get very bright, but it has excellent reflection handling. Unfortunately, this TV has some uniformity issues, which could be distracting during sports, but this varies between units.
All in all, you can't go wrong with the Hisense if you're looking for the best budget TV, but if you prefer a TV with wide viewing angles, check out the LG.
The best value TV for its size is the Vizio M658-G1. It's a fairly well-rounded TV, and for its price, it puts other high-end, more expensive TVs to shame. People who like watching movies in the dark should absolutely enjoy this TV.
It has one of the best native contrast ratios and black uniformity that we've seen on a LED TV. Combined with its good full-array local dimming feature, it displays deep and inky blacks, perfect for watching content in dark rooms. Even if you want to watch TV in a bright room, it gets bright enough to combat glare, and it has good reflection handling. It displays an extremely wide color gamut, but sadly, it doesn't get bright enough to truly get the full HDR experience. If you also want to use this TV for gaming, its response time is great, it has a Black Frame Insertion feature, and its input lag is low enough for casual gamers.
Unfortunately, like most Vizio TVs, it has trouble upscaling 480p and 720p content, so it's not ideal for watching DVDs or cable TV. Its SmartCast OS is also fairly limited because you can't download extra apps besides the ones it comes with. Luckily, you can cast whatever you like from your phone. If you just want great picture quality and don't mind having some of its issues, then the Vizio offers great value for its size.
If having a TV with better smart features is important to you, check out the TCL 6 Series/55R625 2019. It doesn't 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. However, if you prefer a better smart TV, look into the TCL.
The best cheap TV that 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 models.
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 option where top picture quality isn't required.
If you want a bigger TV with even better performance, the TCL 4 Series/43S425 2019 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 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.
08/28/2020: Replaced the LG UM7300 with the LG UN7300.
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.
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 TV reviews. 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.