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 best budget TV we've tested so far is the Hisense 50H8F. It has a great picture quality with deep blacks, thanks to the high native contrast ratio and local dimming support. You can easily place it in a bright room as it'll easily fight glare and handle reflections well. It has a wide color gamut, can get decently bright in HDR, and delivers HDR content with vivid colors and bright highlights.
It has decent motion handling and a very low input lag that makes it very responsive, which will please gamers. It comes equipped with one of the best smart interfaces. Unfortunately, it doesn't support any advanced gaming features like FreeSync or auto low latency mode. The viewing angles are typical of a VA panel, and the image loses accuracy when viewed from the side.
Overall, this is a great TV that won't break the bank and will please most. It's rightfully considered one of the best budget TVs currently on the market, and is the best cheap 4k TV we've tested.
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 can handle 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.
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), 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 definitely 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.
The best value TV for the size in the budget category is the Vizio E Series 2018 E55-F1. 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. 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 well 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 on the Vizio E Series 2018 lacking, then check out the TCL 5 Series/55S517. You won't get the good dark room performance or 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 which 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.