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. Since the beginning of the year, most manufacturers have started releasing replacements for their TV lines. Usually, these TVs tend to launch at very high prices and it is unlikely that these newer models will become reasonable choices until the latter half of the year, thus keeping the 2018 models in our recommendations for a few more months.
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 a wider color gamut than the Vizio E Series 2018, then check out the TCL 5 Series 49S517. The S517 does not have local dimming or a BFI feature like the Vizio does, and reflections might be more distracting. On the upside, the S517 has a decent picture quality with deep blacks and a wide color gamut that can display HDR content full of rich colors but cannot get bright enough for highlights to pop. The S517 supports motion interpolation that will please those soap opera effect fans. Gamers, on the other hand, will appreciate the very low input lag of S517.
If you are looking for the best value for size TV under $500, then check out the Insignia Fire TV NS-55DF710NA19. It is a large 55" basic entry level 4k LED TV with decent picture quality and high native contrast ratio. It supports HDR, but there is not much benefit using it in this mode as it can not display a wide color gamut nor can it get very bright to display bright highlights. It has excellent integration with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, which is one of its strongest points. The Insignia Fire TV performs decently in most usages and it is one of the cheapest 55 inch TVs available currently in the market.
Overall, it can serve well as a large secondary TV as long as you don't care too much for picture quality and performance.
If you like the excellent integration of the Insignia Fire TV NS-55DF710NA19 with Amazon Alexa but want a slightly better TV, then get the Toshiba Fire TV 55LF621U19. It is slightly pricier than the Insignia, but you will get the same Amazon Alexa integration and more uniform blacks that enhance dark room performance. The Toshiba is also more responsive due to the lower input lag and faster response time. This is great if you play games, or use the TV as a PC monitor.
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.