Technology

The best TVs under $ 500 in 2021

The best TVs under $ 500 prove that there are deals to be found, even if you’re shopping for a bigger screen. You may not get the latest features or the hottest technology, but even on a budget you can find some great 4K smart TVs and get the TV you want with the savings you need.

Shopping for an affordable TV often feels like a game of “Gotcha!” as you see affordable prices go hand in hand with lackluster performance, disappointing features and crummy audio. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We review dozens of TVs every year, and we’ve found the budget-friendly sets that make the cut, giving you better-than-basic features and above average performance to help you get the best TV for your money.

What are the best TVs under $ 500?

When it comes to buying a TV on a budget, there are plenty of options, but they aren’t all good. Skip the buyer’s remorse with one of our recommended TVs.

The best TV under $ 500 is the TCL 5-Series Roku TV (S535), a 55-inch QLED TV that delivers great color and pops with excellent HDR capability, all with Roku’s superb smart TV platform.

Based on our testing, the best TV under $ 400 is the 55-inch Konka U5 Android TV (55U55A), which delivers a full-featured smart TV experience with Android TV, complete with Chromecast and Google Assistant built-in.

And for the best TV under $ 300, there’s the Onn 50-inch 4K Roku Smart TV. It’s a decent Roku-powered 4K set for the money, but it’s definitely a no-frills option for shoppers on a tight budget.

The best TVs you can buy under $ 500

TCL 5-Series Roku TV (S535) review

(Image credit: TCL)

1.TCL 5-Series Roku TV (S535)

Available Screen Sizes: 50, 55, 65, 75 inches | Screen Type: LCD with Quantum dot | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | HDMI ports: 4 HDMI 2.1 | Size: 48.4 x 28.1 x 3.0 inches | Weight: 32.6 pounds

Faithful colors

Built-in Roku smarts

Excellent price

Poor sound

Modest brightness

The TCL 5-Series Roku TV does what TCL does best, combining great features and performance with an undeniably excellent price. With the 55-inch model selling for right at the $ 500 mark, you get the category-leading color and brightness of QLED, as well as Roku’s easy-to-use smart TV interface, which puts thousands of apps right at your fingertips.

In addition to the excellent color accuracy and full color gamut offered by the QLED display, it offers top-of-the-line HDR support, with Dolby Vision in addition to basic HDR10 and HLG formats. With input lag clocking in at 13.1 milliseconds, it’s also one of the best gaming TVs you can buy for under $ 500. If you want the best cheap TV around, this is it.

Read our full TCL 5-Series Roku TV (S535) review.

Konka U5 Android TV (55U55A) review

(Image credit: Konka)

2. Konka U5 Android TV (55U55A)

Available Screen Size: 43, 50, 55, 65, 75 inches | Screen Type: LCD | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | HDMI ports: 4 | Size: 48.4 x 28 x 2.4 inches | Weight: 28 pounds

Good brightness and color

Android TV with Google Assistant

Plenty of ports

Poor contrast

Terrible sound

The brand name may not be familiar, but if you want an excellent TV for under $ 400, the Konka U5 Android TV is the one to pick. With great smart capabilities thanks to Android TV – complete with integrated Chromecast and Google Assistant capability – the Konka offers great color and brightness and a full featured smart experience for a budget-friendly price.

For a TV that sells for such low prices, the US delivers unexpectedly great performance, with rich colors and good brightness compared to other TVs in the price range. Contrast could have been better, and the sound quality will definitely benefit from adding a soundbar, but it’s more than serviceable for watching TV and movies, and short lag times make for a decent gaming experience. If you want the best TV available for under $ 400, look no further.

Read our full Konka U5 Android TV (55U55A) review.

Onn 50-inch 4K Roku Smart TV review

(Image credit: Onn)

3. Onn 50-inch 4K Roku Smart TV

Available Screen Sizes: 43, 50, 55, 58, 65 inches | Screen Type: LCD | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | HDMI ports: 3 HDMI | Size: 44.2 x 25.5 x 2.4 inches | Weight: 25.2 pounds

Affordable smart TV

Slim, lightweight design

Roku interface and remote

Poor performance

Poor black reproduction

Bad brightness

If you’re looking for the best TV under $ 300, you may want to temper your expectations, but Walmart’s Onn (stylized “onn.”) Line of Roku TVs is definitely within your price range. And what you get is better than most ultra-budget models have to offer, with full 4K resolution, a relatively sleek design and a smart TV experience that benefits from Roku TV’s intuitive interface and huge app selection. If you want a no-frills set that let’s you get a decent-sized 4K screen and all of your streaming options for under $ 300, the Onn 50-inch Roku TV is actually a pretty great bargain.

That said, this is definitely a case of getting what you pay for. The 4K resolution is just as detailed as we’d expect, but the set’s brightness, contrast and color reproduction won’t satisfy picky viewers. The speakers aren’t very loud, and the balance often leaves dialogue and music vocals a bit muddled. In the end, the Onn 50-inch Roku TV cuts a few too many corners for our liking, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything this affordable outside of a Black Friday sale.

Read our full Onn 4K Roku TV review.

Best 50-inch TVs: Hisense 50H8G Quantum Series

(Image credit: Hisense)

4. Hisense H8G Quantum Series (50H8G)

Available Screen size: 50, 55, 65, 75 inches | Screen type: LCD with quantum dots | Refresh rate: 60Hz | HDMI ports: 4 (1 ARC) | Size: 43.8 x 25.4 x 3.1 inches | Weight: 28.2 pounds

Great overall value

Accurate picture

Deep Google Assistant and Google Home integration

Remote isn’t backlit

Feet feel flimsy

Struggles with face-paced sequences

For a great value on a 50-inch TV, the Hisense H8G Quantum Series (50H8G) has plenty to offer. From the Android TV smarts to the QLED display and local dimming for great HDR support, the H8G is one of the best TVs you’ll find for under $ 500.

The quantum-dot screen boosts the color performance, and local dimming provides great contrast, but there are still some compromises made in the name of affordability. The 60Hz display and middling motion handling aren’t what you’d see on a more premium TV, and the color reproduction isn’t perfect, but it’s still among the best 50-inch 4K smart TVs you’ll find in this price range .

Android TV offers a great smart TV experience, with built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant providing plenty of flexibility to go with Google’s huge library of apps. With lag times under 14 milliseconds, the Hisense H8G is also one of the best gaming TVs you can buy for less than 500 bucks.

Read our full Hisense H8G Quantum Series review.

Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition NS-55DF710NA21 review

(Image credit: Insignia)

5. Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition (2020 model)

Available Screen Sizes: 43, 50, 55, 65, 70 inches | Screen Type: LCD | Refresh Rate: 60 Hz | HDMI ports: 3 HDMI, 1 USB | Size: 48.9 x 28.6 x 3.3 inches | Weight: 29.3 pounds

Responsive Fire TV OS

Alexa brings lots of tools and smart home integration

Wide sound

Less than accurate colors

Poor contrast

Amazon’s Fire TV Edition TVs are often the first to go on sale whenever Amazon has a discount event, making them some of the most affordable and popular TVs on the market. But if you want the best Amazon Fire TV, it’s got to be the Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition (2020 model). With the 55-inch model selling for $ 429 at regular price, it’s one of the most affordable 4K sets out there. The Insignia also outclasses other ultra-budget TVs with a decent port selection and decent performance, which is more than we can say for many of the other competing cheap TVs.

While it’s true that you get what you pay for – the performance isn’t top-of-the-line; the gaming support is middling; and the Fire TV platform is a little too Amazon-centric for our liking – it’s still a great option for casual viewers, and it’s priced to sell.

Read our full Insignia 4K Ultra HD Fire TV Edition (2020 model) review.

How to choose the best TV under $ 500

Scoring a TV for less than $ 500 means giving up some of the nicer features and design keys for a more affordable price. But you can still get some excellent features without blowing the budget. Here are a few things you can still easily find in your price range.

4K resolution: 4K resolution is so affordable, and the quality so much better than 1080p or 720p, that we always recommend going for 4K. Unless you’re on a shoestring budget, getting a proper 4K TV won’t even save you much money, but you will notice the difference.

Screen size: You may not always be able to score a premium 65-inch TV for under $ 500, but you can still get a decent 55-inch model, so don’t settle for some dinky 43-inch set unless it’s the right size for the space .

HDR support: If there’s one feature we recommend, it’s high dynamic range (HDR). Even basic HDR support provides better color, brighter highlights and richer shadows, giving you a better picture in every respect. If you can find a set with Dolby Vision, that’s even better, but you may pay more for that feature.

Connectivity: More HDMI ports are always better, so you don’t find yourself having to awkwardly swap plugs on the TV every time you want to fire up a Blu-ray or jump into a game.

Gaming: For affordable gaming TVs, we recommend looking for sets with higher refresh rates of 60Hz, but the latest Xbox Series X and PS5 consoles can actually go higher. Lag time is another concern, so check out individual reviews to find sets that have a lag time of shorter than 20 milliseconds for the best performance.

What features are worth paying more for?

While budget-friendly TVs are pretty good, there’s no denying that spending more will get you some features that you just won’t be able to find for less than 500 bucks. If any of the below sound like a must-have for your new TV, consider spending a little bit more.

Screen size: If you’re lucky, you will find one or two 65-inch TVs selling below the $ 500 mark during sales events. And going larger than that will always cost more. If you want something like a 75-inch TV, the only option is to pony up more money.

Picture quality: 4K resolution is great, but today’s premium TVs have taken picture quality to new levels of excellence with better color, brightness and contrast, not to mention super-smooth motion handling. If you want the best picture quality, you’ll want to consider paying more for technologies like quantum dots, mini-LED and OLED.

Sound quality: Today’s budget TVs do a lot of things well, but sound quality usually isn’t one of them. We recommend pairing your new TV with one of the best soundbars to get better audio than the tiny speakers crammed into a thin TV chassis could ever produce.

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