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.
Note: Since new TVs tend to launch at very high prices, it's unlikely that these newer models will become reasonable choices until the latter half of the year. Because of this, the 2018 models remain as picks in our recommendations.
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 leaves 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 you don't sit directly in front of your TV but have a wide seating arrangement, then check out the LG 49SK8000. It is smaller than the Vizio E Series 2018 and blacks tend to look like gray in a dark room. The LG can't get very bright and is more suitable for a dim room. On the upside, it has an IPS panel that delivers a decent picture quality that remains accurate when viewed from the side. It has a remarkably low input lag and a very fast response time which will keep gamers, and those wishing to use it as a PC monitor, happy.
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 55S517. 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.
The best value for size in the under $500 category is the TCL 55S405/55S425. It is a good entry-level 55" TV. It has a decent picture quality with deep blacks thanks to its native contrast ratio, but lacks local dimming support to further improve dark room performance. It has a very low input lag and a fast response time that delivers a crisp image with little blur behind fast-moving content. It is a good choice for use as a gaming TV, although it lacks some of the more advanced gaming features like FreeSync. The TCL runs the excellent Roku TV smart platform that gives you access to many apps and streaming channels, where you'll surely find what you need.
On the downside, it does not have wide viewing angles and can't deliver a great HDR performance because it can't get very bright and it does not have a wide color gamut.
Overall, the TCL S405/S425 is a decent TV, that will serve you well for its cost.
If you want an even larger TV than the TCL 55S405/55S425 and don't care much about the smart features, then get the Vizio D Series 4k 2018 D60-F3. You will not get the Roku TV smart platform, but instead, you will get a TV that can get much brighter to suit your bright room. The picture quality is decent and blacks are deep in a dark room, but its HDR performance is only mediocre. The Vizio has a low input lag and a very fast response time that will please most gamers. Overall, it is a decent 60" inch TV that you can get for less than $500.
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.