A few years ago, if you wanted to buy a decent LCD TV, chances are that you wouldn't 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 this price category.
The TCL 6 Series/55R617 2018 is the best TV under $500. Its price fluctuates around the $500 mark, so it might be a few dollars more expensive when you check it out, though it's still worth it. This TV has great picture quality and can get very bright both in SDR and in HDR. It has impressive HDR performance thanks to its wide color gamut and it can display HDR content with saturated colors and highlights that pop. Its dark room performance is also impressive. The TV displays deep blacks thanks to the high native contrast ratio and full array local dimming support. Gamers will enjoy a responsive gaming experience due to the low input lag. The response time is very fast, and motion looks crisp with little motion blur trail behind fast-moving content. This TV has very good motion handling features like BFI, motion interpolation, and judder removal.
Unfortunately, the image loses accuracy when viewed at an angle, and there have been reports that the TV had issues with gray uniformity, although gray uniformity wasn't bad on our unit.
Overall, this is the best 4k TV under $500 we've tested.
If you want something a bit cheaper than the TCL 6 Series/R617 2018, check out the Hisense 55H8F instead. This TV is great and has a very similar performance overall to the TCL. The TCL is significantly brighter, which is excellent if you have a bright room, and it has better motion handling. That said, the Hisense looks much better in a dark room and has better reflection handling.
For the best performance in under $500, get the TCL, but if you'd like to save some cash without compromising much in performance and don't need as bright a TV, get the Hisense.
If you have a room with a wide seating arrangement and don't usually sit straight in front of your TV, then check out the LG 43UM7300. It doesn't have the TCL 6 Series/R617 2018's size or dark room performance, and blacks tend to look like gray in a dark room. It also can't get very bright to fight bright room glare. On the upside, it has an IPS panel that delivers a decent picture quality with an image that remains accurate when viewed from the side. It has one of the lowest input lags we've measured up until now, and a very fast response time that'll keep gamers and those wishing to use it as a PC monitor happy.
If you sit straight in front of your TV, the TCL is the better choice; otherwise, if you don't need as big a TV, the LG will serve you well.
If you want to get the best value TV for the size for $500, then check out the TCL 4 Series 2019 65S425. It's a 65 inch TV that's priced around the $500 mark and offers a lot of screen real estate for the buck. It has a decent picture quality and with deep blacks thanks to the high native contrast ratio. It has a fast response time that delivers crisp motion, which is great for watching sports. The input lag is low, great for gamers, although you won't find any advanced gaming features like FreeSync. It runs the Roku TV smart interface that gives you access to thousands of streaming channels that cover every need and taste.
Unfortunately, like most VA panel TVs, the viewing angles are poor and the image loses accuracy when viewed from the side. Also, due to its standard color gamut, the TV can't deliver the richness in colors of HDR content.
Overall, this is a decent TV with a large screen that offers great value for the money.
If you like the Roku TV smart interface found on the TCL 4 Series 2019 but want a TV with a wide color gamut and don't mind compromising for a smaller size, then get the 55 inch TCL 5 Series/55S525 2019. This TV has a slightly better overall performance than the other TCL, and a wide color gamut that allows it to display HDR content closer to the creator's intent. Unfortunately, some small highlights aren't bright enough to stand out.
If you want more screen area for your money and don't mind the standard color gamut, go with the S425; otherwise, the S525 is a great alternative.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best 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.
10/29/2019: Replaced the TCL S Series 65S405 with the TCL 4 Series 2019 65S425, and the TCL 4 Series 55S425 with the TCL 5 Series/55S525 2019. Made changes to text for clarity.