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.
We've tested 18 TVs currently available under $500 and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy in 2018.
The best TV we’ve tested that is available under $500 is the Vizio E55-F1. The E Series 2018 is a good 4k UHD TV. It has an excellent contrast ratio and remarkable black uniformity (better than the more expensive TCL R617) that allow it to display deep dark scenes well. Motion handling is decent, and the response time is fast, so only a short blur trail is visible when watching sports or playing games. It also has a low input lag that gamers will appreciate.
Unfortunately, the picture quality deteriorates when viewed from the side and the local dimming isn’t very effective at further improving picture quality. Also depending on your TV's panel, some might experience slight gray uniformity issues.
Overall, it is a good TV that will keep most people happy considering the price tag.
If you have a large room with lots of seating space, the viewing angles of the Vizio E55-F1 might not be ideal; we then suggest going for the Sony XBR43X720E. However, the screen size is 43 inches compared to the Vizio’s 55 inches, for approximately the same price. You also won’t be able to observe deep blacks due to the sub-par native contrast ratio and there is no local dimming feature on this IPS panel. Nevertheless, you will still get a decent picture quality and excellent low input lag if you choose to go with the Sony X720E.
If you want something with better HDR capabilities, get the TCL 5 Series 55S517. The S517 is much brighter in HDR and SDR and is better able to overcome glare in a brightly-lit room. It is able to display a wide color gamut, so colors are more realistic in HDR. Like the TCL S405, the S517 doesn't have a local dimming feature, but it performs decently and should please most people.
If the Vizio E55-F1 is out of your budget, the best value for size under $500 TV is the 55 inch TCL S405. Since this TV is less expensive, it’s normal that it won’t come packed with features. It doesn’t have any local dimming (note this feature doesn't perform well on the Vizio E-Series), has poor viewing angles and doesn’t get very bright, which isn’t ideal for a well-lit environment, but will do fine in a darker room thanks to its great native contrast ratio.
On the other hand, it runs Roku TV, a user-friendly smart platform that allows you to easily get direct access to streaming channels on the TV instead of using a mobile device like you would have to do on the Vizio.
Overall, the TCL 55S405 is a decent entry-level 4k smart TV for mixed usage.
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.