A few years ago, if you wanted to buy a decent LCD TV, chances are that you would not be able to find any good models under $500. Although the best models are still priced higher, you can find models that can serve you well in that price category.
Note: Prices and availability fluctuate a lot at the beginning of the year as last year's models are gradually replaced by newer ones.
The Vizio E Series 2018 E55-F1 is the best TV under $500. It has a decent picture quality with great dark room performance thanks to the deep uniform blacks that the high contrast ratio delivers. Motion handling is decent and the fast response time only allows for a small blur trail behind fast-moving content. Gamers will enjoy the low input lag that makes the TV very responsive. This is very apparent when you use the TV as a PC monitor.
Unfortunately, the Vizio, just like most VA panel TVs, has bad viewing angles and is not a good choice if you have a wide seating arrangement. Also, it can't get very bright and is the best choice for those with very bright rooms.
Overall, the Vizio E Series 2018 is a good TV for the price, and it will keep most of its owners happy.
If your couch is not placed directly across from your TV but rather to the side, check out the Sony XBR43X720E. You will not be getting the large screen size of the Vizio E Series 2018 but rather a smaller 43 inch TV for a similar amount of money. Blacks are not as deep in the dark as the blacks you see on the Vizio. On the upside, the IPS panel of the Sony X720 will deliver a decent picture quality that remains accurate at wider viewing angles to suit your room setup. It has an excellent low input lag and will keep you happy if you are a gamer or use it as a PC monitor.
If you want a TV that can deliver better HDR performance than the Vizio E Series 2018, get the TCL 5 Series 49S517. Unfortunately, the TCL does not have a local dimming feature and cannot handle reflections as well as the Vizio. The S517 has a wide color gamut and can display HDR content full of rich colors and highlights that pop. The overall picture quality is decent with deep blacks and an optional motion interpolation feature. Finally, the TCL S517 is a good choice for gamers as it has a very low input lag.
If you want the best value for size TV under $500, then get the Insignia Fire TV NS-55DF710NA19. It is a basic entry level 4k LED TV that accepts HDR content although it cannot deliver the creators intent. It has a high native contrast ratio and a decent picture quality, but apart from the large size and the excellent integration with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, the Insignia Fire TV does not have many features where it performs well. It is, however, one of the cheapest 55 inch TVs available in the market.
Overall, it is a good choice for a large secondary TV where picture quality and performance are not the primary concern.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best 4k TVs under $500 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.