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Shopping for a cheap TV doesn't mean you have to give up awesome features. Top brands like Samsung, TCL, and Vizio have plenty of budget-friendly models with smart functionality, voice controls, and even dedicated gaming modes. There are even 4K UHD televisions with low price points so you can get great resolution on the cheap.
Different media rooms, home theaters, and living rooms require different features to get the most out of your viewing experience. Whether you want native virtual surround sound audio, local dimming for better contrast, or the largest screen that will fit in your space, there's a TV that will suit your needs. We've rounded up our top picks to help you choose the best cheap TV for your home or dorm.
Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant compatible
Integrated cable management
Bluetooth only supports sound bars and headsets
The Samsung UN58 is the best affordable TV on the market. With a price tag that's just over $500, it'll fit just about any budget. Even with the lower price, this TV still offers plenty of premium features. You can connect your Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices to it for hands-free voice controls while browsing and searching. The universal guide keeps all your favorite apps, shows, and movies all in one place for fast and easy access.
The LED panel delivers great 4K UHD resolution with HDR support for enhanced contrast and color volume. With a 60Hz refresh rate, you get silky smooth motion while watching sports and blockbuster action movies so you never miss a single detail. Like all newer Samsung TVs, this model features integrated cable management to keep your home theater setup looking neat and organized. With three HDMI inputs, two USB ports, component video, and Bluetooth connectivity, setting up the ultimate home theater is quick and easy.
Dual LED panel
Bixby/Alexa built in
No AMD FreeSync
The Samsung Q60T is an excellent option for an affordable, 50-inch television. It features a dual-LED panel that uses both warm and cool lighting to create more accurate colors and better saturation. With 4K UHD resolution and HDR10+ support, you get excellent contrast, deep blacks, and exceptional image sharpness. This model is built around Samsung's Quantum Processor Lite which gives you faster rendering and response speeds for optimizing contrast, color, and HDR settings for the perfect picture. It also has the Tizen smart features platform for a more streamlined experience when downloading and using apps or streaming your favorite shows, movies, and music.
With Bixby and Alexa voice controls built in, you get hands-free commands right out of the box; it is also compatible with Google Assistant devices for expanded smart speaker controls. The multi-view feature allows you to watch shows and videos while simultaneously mirroring your phone or tablet screen. This is great for anyone who wants to check their fantasy football rankings while watching the big game or keep up to date with stock tickers while listening to the news.
AirPlay 2 built in
No Chromecast support
Televisions with 4K UHD resolution may be the new gold-standard in home entertainment, but the LG Nano Series 8 55-inch TV takes it to the next level. This model features a direct-lit LED panel with local dimming zones for enhanced contrast and deeper blacks. The nanocell particles are thinner than a human hair and are packed together to produce over one billion different colors for better volume and saturation.
This TV is built around LG's second generation a7 processor chip with their proprietary ThinQ AI at the core of its power. The AI intelligently recommends optimal sound and picture settings as well as new movies and shows to watch. With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, you get hands-free control over your TV and can integrate it into your smart home network. The 20 watt speakers use Dolby Atmos technology to produce virtual 5.1 channel surround sound for a more immersive and cinematic listening experience. AirPlay 2 connectivity is built into this TV so you can share your macOS and iOS device screens for more viewing options.
60Hz refresh rate
Roku TV built in
Larger sizes available
Reports of vertical banding on screens
Reports of firmware issues
Reports of WiFi connectivity issues
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.
Intuitive interface for streaming apps
120Hz refresh rate
Reports of bad screens
Reports of units failing within first three months of use
Reports of backlight bloom
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.
Built-in Fire TV
Amazon Alexa compatible
Reports of DOA units
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.
Connect game controllers
May not be compatible with all wall mounting kits
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.
Our product tester was quick to note that this was easy to set-up and the quality is top-notch for the price point.
The colors pop in a vivid but not artificial way and yield realistic, even pristine, image quality.
Miracast and WiDi compatible
One year warranty
May not support all streaming apps
No Bluetooth connectivity
No USB ports
The LG 24LH4830-PU is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a TV to have in their dorm, bedroom, or who has a smaller apartment. This TV measures just 24 inches diagonally, making it great for rooms where placement may be limited or space is at a premium. While it's a small unit, it still delivers a quality picture with 720p resolution and over 16.7 million colors.
With the built-in WiFi receiver, you can download your favorite streaming apps and even stream directly from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop with Miracast and WiDi connectivity. If you're looking for a dedicated TV for a gaming space, this model has a super low input latency of 14ms. This means that you'll spend less time fighting lag and more time enjoying your games. LG backs this TV with a one year warranty that covers manufacturing defects and DOA units.
About Our Trusted Experts
Taylor Clemons has been reviewing and writing about consumer electronics for over three years. She has also worked in e-commerce product management, so she has the knowledge of what makes a solid TV for home entertainment.
Yoona Wagener has been with Lifewire since April 2019. With a background in content and technical writing, she has written for BigTime Software and Idealist Careers. She also has experience in tech support and help documentation as well as website building.
Working with a limited budget when shopping for a new TV doesn't mean you have to sacrifice cool features. A lot of lower-priced televisions still offer 4K resolution, voice controls, built-in streaming platforms, and even gaming modes. Some lower-priced televisions come packaged with voice-enabled remotes that work with Alexa or Google Assistant, or are able to connect to external smart speakers for expanded voice controls. Roku-based televisions use a dedicated app to turn your smartphone or tablet into a voice-enabled remote for easier browsing and searching. With 4K resolution becoming more and more mainstream, it's easier to find an affordable model that offers great picture quality. Some lower-priced televisions also support HDR technology for superior detailing and contrast.
If you're worried about a cheaper TV's quality, you don't have to be. Brands like TCL, Samsung, Insignia, and LG have several models of budget-friendly televisions in their line-ups, so you can buy from trusted manufacturers rather than obscure companies that may or may not be worth the money. Affordable televisions also have a wide range of screen sizes from as small as 32-inches to as large as 65-inches available, so you can find the perfect TV for your living room, home theater, or dorm room. We'll break down some of the most important factors to consider when shopping for an affordable TV to help you decide which is right for you.
Standing in front of a wall of televisions at a store like Walmart or Best Buy or Googling "cheap TV" can make it tempting to opt for an unknown brand simply because it fits your budget. However, you could run into problems with the TV model being discontinued and not supported by any warranties or customer service programs, or the brand may have a reputation for making sub-par products. It's important to research every brand you come across while shopping for an affordable TV to avoid being taken in by attractive sale prices. Fortunately, major brands like LG, Samsung, and TCL have several models of TVs in their lineups that are meant for more budget-conscious shoppers.
Of these brands, TCL is by far the most affordable option. Their TVs use the Roku streaming platform to give you access to thousands of apps, shows, and movies while maintaining low prices. TCL televisions keep their prices so low by giving you important smart features like streaming apps and voice controls while foregoing others like Bluetooth connectivity and screen mirroring. Samsung and LG models tend to be a little more expensive than their TCL counterparts, but they also offer more smart features and resolution technologies. Some offer Bluetooth connectivity, local dimming zones, and even Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound audio technology. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, it's worth springing for options from well-known brands to get the features you want and the customer support you need.
The screen resolution that is right for your home theater depends on how you get your entertainment. Do you still have a cable or satellite service? Or do you have an over-air broadcast antenna? Did you cut the cord and now exclusively stream your movies and shows? The best choice for those who still use cable, satellite, or over-air broadcast channels is 1080p full HD, while those who have cut the cord and exclusively stream their entertainment should opt for 4K. Televisions with native 4K resolution have become more and more popular as ultra high-definition content has become available for streaming and broadcast. These models also can upscale non-4K content for consistent picture quality; meaning your old DVDs or over-air shows will look just as great as Blu-Rays or UHD movies available for streaming. TVs that produce 4K resolution have four times the pixels of their 1080p HD predecessors, meaning that more detail can be packed on the screen. However, just because they're becoming more and more popular doesn't mean that 4K is the right choice for everyone.
There are affordable TVs that still use full 1080p HD. They give you all the smart features you come to expect, but they are made for those who prefer cable, satellite, or over-air broadcast to streaming. You still get a great picture with 1080p HD, including wide color ranges and good contrast, but the detailing isn't anywhere near as great as 4K.
When looking for an affordable, it's important to remember that smart features go beyond simply streaming content. There are lower-priced available that support hands-free voice controls with either voice-enabled remotes or with a separate smart speaker. You can use Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and even proprietary programs like Samsung's Bixby to control your TV. There are also several different operating systems and streaming platforms you can choose from when shopping for a television. Each platform and operating system offers something different. From a bevy of preloaded apps to screen mirroring, there's something for everyone. Some TVs feature an AI-assisted processor that upscales non-4K content scene-by-scene with a noise reduction process for a consistent picture. Some televisions offer Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound for a more immersive listening experience. Others have dedicated video game modes that automatically change picture and audio settings for smoother motion and enhanced detailing as well as reducing input lag for near real-time reactions on screen to your button presses.