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 17 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 are not happy with the narrow viewing angles of the Vizio E Series 2018 E55-F1 and want a TV that is more suitable for wider seating arrangements, then get the Sony XBR43X720E. It is a smaller TV than the Vizio in this price range. Because of its IPS panel, you will not get the deep blacks the Vizio offers. On the other hand, it has a decent picture quality and the viewing angles of the Sony are better than those of the Vizio E Series, good for people sitting on the sides of the TV.
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. The TCL 5-Series is able to display a wide color gamut, so colors are more realistic in HDR. Like the 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 too expensive for you, the TCL 55S405 offers the best value for the size. The cheaper price tag of the 55S405 comes with some compromises, as it doesn't have a local dimming feature (which isn't very effective on the Vizio E Series). The S405 also isn't as bright as the Vizio E Series, but for a dim or dark room, this shouldn't make much of a difference.
The S405 has slightly different smart features. Whereas the Vizio relies on an external device such as a tablet or phone to cast most apps to the TV, the TCL S405 has thousands of streaming 'channels' that are available directly on the TV.
Overall, the TCL 55S405 is a decent TV for mixed usage that should please most people if picture quality isn't the most important factor.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap 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.