A few years ago, if you wanted to buy a decent LCD TV, chances were 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 best 4k TV under $500 we've tested so far is the Hisense 55H8F. This is a great Android TV that delivers an impressive picture quality that's suitable for nearly any type of room setting. Its VA panel has an outstanding native contrast ratio that's further enhanced by its full-array local dimming, and its black uniformity is also exceptional, making this TV an amazing choice for dark rooms. It gets bright enough to fight glare and reflection handling is decent, but you may want to avoid having direct sunlight shining on the screen. Unfortunately, it has poor viewing angles just like most VA panel TVs, so it's not the most ideal for large rooms.
This TV has a pretty decent color accuracy out-of-the-box. Lower resolution content is upscaled well without any obvious issues, and gray uniformity is okay, although there's some dirty screen effect that can be distracting when watching sports or any content where there are large sections of uniform colors. Response time is acceptable but there are noticeable blur trails in fast-moving scenes, and input lag is outstanding, which is great news for gamers. The downside is that there's no support for any variable refresh rate technology and it doesn't have an 'Auto Low Latency Mode' either.
As mentioned, this TV runs on Android. The user interface is fairly easy to understand and navigate, and the Google Play Store is packed with apps, so you shouldn't have any issues finding what you need. The remote has a dedicated button to summon the Google Assistant, allowing you to use voice control to search for content, which is quite convenient. Overall, if you're looking for a great TV below $500, this one is worth a look.
If the 55 inch Hisense H8F is too big for you and you're looking for something smaller, then check out the Samsung UN43TU8000FXZA, which is also available in a 50 inch size. It doesn't have a local dimming feature and can't get as bright as the Hisense, but it has better gaming features with much quicker response time and an incredibly low input lag. Although it supports HDR content, it unfortunately can't display a wide color gamut. Due to its small size, it's great for use as a computer monitor since it can properly display chroma 4:4:4, which is important for reading text.
If you want the best TV under $500, check out the Hisense, but if you're looking for something smaller and don't mind losing some features, then look into the Samsung.
If you have a room with a wide seating arrangement and don't usually sit straight in front of your TV, check out the LG 55UM7300PUA. It doesn't have the Hisense H8F's dark room performance, and blacks tend to look 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 don't have a wide seating arrangement, the Hisense is the better choice, but if you do, the LG will serve you well.
The best value for size TV under $500 is the TCL 5 Series/65S525 2019. This TV is along the same lines as other TCL TVs, as it has a VA panel that can produce deep blacks, great for dark room viewing. It has an impressive color accuracy right out of the box, so you likely won't need to calibrate it to get accurate color reproduction. Unfortunately, while it has a good peak brightness, it may not be enough to fight glare in very bright rooms, and it's certainly not enough to deliver a convincing HDR experience.
Like most VA panels, the viewing angles on this TV are sub-par, so images look washed out when viewed from the side. There are also some gray uniformity issues, as there's vignetting at the corners of the screen as well as some dirty screen effect. On the upside, this TV upscales lower resolution content well, its 10-bit panel has great gradient performance, and its response time is excellent, resulting in very short blur trails behind fast-moving objects. Gamers should be happy with its low input lag, but there's no FreeSync support and the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz.
If you often use streaming services, then you're in luck. This TV runs on Roku OS, which is a very user-friendly platform that has a large selection of apps available. It runs very smoothly and takes very little time to launch apps, however, there are ads and suggested content on the home screen, and they can't be disabled. Overall, though, this TV is a great bargain and is definitely worth considering.
If you're on a very limited budget, the TCL 4 Series 2019 65S425 is a good option. It has similar features to the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019, but it doesn't have a motion interpolation feature and doesn't support Dolby Vision. You get the same outstanding contrast ratio thanks to its VA panel, and it has a remarkably low input lag for gaming. The biggest downside of this TV is its peak brightness, as it's bright enough for a moderately lit room, but may struggle in well-lit rooms. It can get a bit brighter in HDR mode, but not enough to make HDR content an enjoyable experience. Last but not least, if you care about color accuracy, this TV has a rather disappointing performance compared to the other TCL.
Overall, there's very little difference in price between the two models, which makes the 5 Series a better choice for most people, but if you want to save a few bucks, the 4 Series is a decent choice.
05/29/2020: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
03/31/2020: Replaced the TCL 6 Series 2018 with the Hisense H8F as main pick, added the Samsung TU8000 as alternate. Updated notable mentions to reflect market prices.
01/02/2019: Made the TCL 65S525 main pick for 'Best Value for Size', with TCL 65S425 as 'Slightly Cheaper Alternative'. Changed LG 49UM7300 to LG 55UM7300 and Hisense 55H8F to 50H8F to reflect recent price changes.
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.
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.