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.
We've reviewed 96 TVs in the last two years, and below you'll find the best cheap TVs to purchase in the spring of 2019. See also our recommendations for the best TVs under $500 and the best smart TVs.
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, many of the 2018 models remain as picks in our recommendations.
The best cheap TV we've tested so far is the TCL 3 Series 32S325. 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 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'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), 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 a large number of streaming channels that 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 definitely do the job.
If you need a TV with wide viewing angles to serve a wide seating arrangement, then check out the Vizio D Series 2017. This TV has an IPS panel and the image remains accurate when viewed from the side. It has a 1080p resolution, compared to the 720p of the TCL S325, which is great. Unlike most Vizio TVs, this one has a more feature-packed smart interface, including an app store with a limited selection of apps.
This TV has been replaced by the Vizio D Series 4k 2018 and now by the Vizio V Series 2019, but unfortunately, the variants we have reviewed are not available in 32 inches and are slightly more expensive.
If you can afford to spend a little more, then the Samsung NU6900 is the best budget TV we've tested 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 isn't 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.
This TV 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 as the rest of the 2018 NU lineup but comes with a simpler remote.
Overall, this is a decent TV. However, if you're on a budget and the best picture quality is not your priority, it's the best cheap 4k TV we've tested.
If you want a TV that is larger than 43'', get the 50 inch Toshiba Amazon Fire TV 2018. It has 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 this TV 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 best value TV for the size in the budget category is the Vizio E Series 2018. It's a VA panel TV available in many sizes ranging from 43" to a whopping 75". This TV has good picture quality, and a great dark room performance thanks to the high native contrast ratio and local dimming support. Unfortunately, it's not a good choice for a room with a wide seating arrangement as the image degrades rapidly when viewed from the side.
On the upside, this TV has an excellent low input lag, which is great for gaming. The response time is very fast and fast-moving content looks good, with just a small blur trail behind them. It has an optional black frame insertion feature that helps make motion look crisper, but it doesn't support FreeSync or low input lag with motion interpolation like higher end TVs.
Unfortunately, the TV doesn't have a wide color gamut and can't display HDR content as good as it should. Finally, although the interface is nice and easy to use, the smart features are quite limited. There are only a small number of apps preinstalled and there is no way to add more. Overall, this is a good budget TV that delivers good performance for many uses.
If you find the smart features of the Vizio E Series 2018 lacking, then check out the TCL 43S517. You won't get the good dark room performance nor the great reflection handling of the Vizio. On the upside, this TV runs 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 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.