The 7 Best Cheap TVs of 2019

You don't have to pay an arm and a leg for a great TV

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: TCL 32S305 32" Smart TV

TCL 32S305 32-Inch Smart TV
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Chinese electronics company TCL is one of the largest TV manufacturers in the world and the fastest-growing TV seller in the United States. What to attribute to TCL’s recent success in the U.S.? Cheap and reliable smart TVs that outperform other low-end TV rivals.

The TCL 32S305 follows in the footsteps of previous smart TVs from TCL and delivers a heck of a deal for a 32-inch TV. For less than $200, this set offers 720p HD video, a 60 Hz refresh rate, and a Roku TV streaming platform inside the box, so you can watch videos from Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Vudu, YouTube, and more. For ports, there are three HDMI, one USB, one RF, one composite, a headphone jack, and an optical audio output.

TCL also sells 40-inch, 43-inch, and 49-inch versions of this model if you feel like going bigger but still want to stay on a budget. These larger sets offer 1080p HD video quality instead of 720p, so that may factor into your TV purchasing decision.

Best Smart Tech: Toshiba 43LF711U20 43" 4K HDR Fire TV

Amazon has fully immersed itself in the entertainment game with the Toshiba 4K HDR Fire TV, delivering high-quality visuals and access to a wide range of content at an accessible price. Over eight million pixels make contrasts more dramatic and enrich clarity for vivid, lifelike images. Stream instantly from services like Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, and Netflix, or connect an HD antenna to the device to watch shows live over-the-air.

The accompanying remote is minimalist and sleek, with a few buttons to control the basics, including app-specific buttons for its main streaming services, along with Alexa voice control capabilities, making the search for apps and shows even easier. You can also control Alexa-compatible smart home devices, or use the voice assistant to help with tasks like managing your calendar. Given its budget pricing, the TV has a fair number of ports, including three HDMI ports, one USB port, and a LAN connection. 

Best Small TV: TCL 28S305 28" Roku Smart TV

TCL 28S305 28-Inch Roku Smart TV
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If you need the absolute cheapest TV that will not fill you with regret, then you should take a glance at the TCL 28S305. We outlined our appreciation of TCL TVs in the Best Overall category earlier, and this TCL 28-inch set follows in that vein at an even lower price.

The TCL 28S305 is a 28-inch TV with 720p HD video and a 60 Hz refresh rate. Its best feature, no question, is that is has built-in streaming functionality from Roku. This means you can stream great content via more than 4,000 “channels” such as Netflix, Watch ESPN, HBO Now, Hulu and Vudu. For connectivity, this model has three HDMI ports, a USB port, a headphone jack, RF, composite and optical audio out. This means the TV is ready to go to connect to your cable box, digital antenna or standalone for streaming only. One last thing: this TV also lets you control its main functions via your smartphone, which is great if you’ve lost the remote in the couch again.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best TVs under $500 can help you find what you're looking for.

Best Value: TCL 50S425 50" 4K Smart TV

Sleek and unobtrusive, the TCL 50S425 TV gives you a lot of great features at an affordable price. With over 500,000 movies and TV episodes available through the built-in Roku interface, fans of all genres will find something they like. Pictures are vivid and dynamic thanks to 4K Ultra HD and HDR, along with direct-lit LED. Though it comes with an intuitive remote, you can also download the companion app onto your phone or tablet and use that to voice control your TV, or plug in headphones and listen to whatever's on TV without bothering others in the room. Game controllers can also be connected, and the image quality is decent for gamers, especially at this price point. The TCL 50S425 also benefits from Roku continuously adding new features. It's available in 43-inch and 65-inch models as well. 

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best smart TVs can help you find what you're looking for.

Runner-Up, Best Value: Insignia NS-55DF710NA19 55" Fire TV

The budget-friendly Insignia NS-55DF710NA19 incorporates Fire TV for a comprehensive entertainment experience. Featuring tens of thousands of apps and channels, including Netflix, HBO, and Hulu, the 55-inch Smart TV has 4K Ultra HD picture quality and over 8 million pixels to create striking, realistic images.

With an HD antenna, the device can also integrate live TV and channels to meet all streaming needs. Simple to set up, the TV comes with a voice-controlled remote featuring Alexa, enabling you to do everything from search for shows, launch apps, or even control compatible smart home devices. New features and Alexa skills are updated automatically over-the-air.

Gaming consoles and cable/satellite boxes can be connected to the TV, and the TV’s performance is fast and powerful, allowing for quick searches and negligible load times.

Best HDR: Toshiba 55" 4K HD Fire TV Edition

Toshiba’s 55-inch 4K HD Fire TV edition is the perfect example of a cheap TV done right. Boasting a 55-inch display, 4K resolution, and HDR, there’s a lot to love about this TV including its price. Overall image quality is strong with vivid colors and deep color contrast. But the real highlight is the smart capability. Amazon has built their Fire TV tech right into the hardware, which instantly adds a large number of streaming services and apps. HBO, ShowTime, and Starz are all on board as are regulars like Netflix and Hulu. There’s also support for live over-the-air television with a separately-purchased HD antenna.

As you might expect from an Amazon device, everything can be controlled through voice control. Volume, search and opening apps tie right into Alexa and the microphone-enabled remote control. Even smart home devices can be controlled directly from the remote.

Best for Gaming: TCL 55S517 55" 4K Ultra HD Roku TV

Gamers looking to stay on a budget with a television need to take a hard look at the TCL 55S517 55-inch 4K Roku TV. Not to be overlooked, the TCL is an ideal entry TV for 4K gaming while leaving enough money for actual games. Dolby Vision HDR gives you great 4K picture quality for the price. Colors are accurate and lifelike with deep blacks. Gamers will especially appreciate the 120Hz refresh rate for almost no motion blur, a critical requirement for a good gaming television.

The minimalist look of the hardware is welcoming. TCL creates a thin look that’s a stark contrast from other budget-priced options that often have larger, distracting bezels. That makes it even more attractive as the focal point of an entertainment or gaming center.

As with all TCL televisions today, there are thousands of streaming channels. The intuitive interface makes it easy to find anything on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and other popular channels.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 35 hours testing one of our readers' favorite cheap TVs. To get the most comprehensive results possible, they set it up at home and watched movies and TV shows for hours on end. We asked them to consider the most important features when using this TV, from its picture quality to its streaming features and capabilities. We've outlined the can’t-miss points here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Cheap TV

Picture quality - 4K is a buzzword when it comes to TVs, but how much does it really matter? If you’re buying a TV smaller than 55 inches — or if you know you’ll be sitting a good distance from the set — you probably don’t need to splurge on 4K unless you’re incredibly particular about sharpness.

Inputs - Many people use a receiver with their TV rather than hooking up their components to the set itself. But if you’re only going to use your TV’s internal speakers — or a wireless sound system like Sonos — you need to make sure that the television has enough HDMI and audio inputs for all your components. On the other hand, if you do use a receiver, ensure that the set has the outputs you need.

Streaming - Do you use an external streaming box like an Apple TV, a Roku, or an Amazon Fire Stick? If so, the streaming features and capabilities of the TV you purchase may not matter. But if you’ll be relying on the TV itself for all your streaming, looks into its ease of navigation, as well as whether it has your favorite apps built in.

Test Results: TCL 32S305 32-Inch Smart TV (Best Overall)


What We Like

  • High-quality display and audio

  • Mobile app remote

  • Easy to use

What We Don't Like

  • Short power cord

  • Remote buttons should feature more popular streaming services

TCL 32S305 32-Inch Smart TV
TCL 32S305 Smart TV
TCL 32S305
TCL 32S305 Smart TV

“If you're looking for a basic smart TV for your bedroom or a small living room, this one offers great value,” reported one of our testers. In particular, our reviewers loved its crisp display, clear audio, and mobile app remote: “It makes searching for specific shows and movies way easier because you don't have to click letter by letter through the virtual keyboard on your TV screen,” one tester noted. In terms of downsides, our reviewers felt that the TV’s power cord was too short, and they also wished the physical remote’s buttons were slightly different: “The remote has buttons for four streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, Starz, and Sling,” one tester explained. “I like having Netflix and Hulu, but I wish the other two buttons were for something more popular like HBO Go or Amazon. I personally don't know anyone who uses Sling and I know very few people who use Starz.”