The 10 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
Courtesy of Amazon.com
5

Chinese electronics company TCL is one 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 (Buy on Amazon), 43-inch (Buy on Amazon), and 49-inch (Buy on Amazon) 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 Budget: TCL 28S305 28" Roku Smart TV

TCL 28S305 28-Inch Roku Smart TV
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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” 2019

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

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 Picture: Sony KD43X720E 43" 4K Ultra HD Smart TV

Sony’s image quality has long been the stuff of television legend with an expectation of great quality at all price points. Sony’s KDX720E 43-inch 4K Ultra HD smart TV does not disappoint. Delivering some of the sharpest images in the budget arena, native 4K content looks spectacular. Sony even added its X-Reality PRO tech that upscales HD content to near-4K quality. High dynamic range (HDR) adds lifelike color and contrast that’s particularly noticeable in areas of extremely dark black.

The 60hz refresh rate is par for the course on budget TVs. Fortunately, Sony added MotionFlow XR that lets the TV keep up with action scenes with no motion blur. Of course, action scenes deserve good sound, so Sony added ClearAudio+. Immersing you right into the action, your movies' music and dialogue will sound crystal-clear with no distortion.

As a smart TV, this Sony model wouldn't be complete without some much-loved extras like quick access to Netflix and YouTube. Dedicated buttons for each smart channel are built directly into the remote. 

Check out our other reviews of the best Sony TVs available on the market today.

Runner-Up, Best Picture: LG 49UK6300PUE 49" 4K Smart TV

It's hard to find a great 4K TV that doesn't cost a fortune. Luckily, the LG 49UK6300PUE exists, a TV that's packed with features and attractively priced.  One of LG’s line of new “ThinQ” televisions, this unit has AI and intelligent voice control and is designed to be the hub for all the connected devices in your home. Capable of connecting to Amazon’s Alexa devices, the LG ThinQ can be managed using voice functionality to control light settings, check the weather and more.

While LG puts the spotlight on the smart features, the real highlight is the gorgeous 49-inch display with Ultra HD technology that gives you lifelike color accuracy and enhanced sharpness. The quad-core processor reduces video noise and ensures that HDR content, including HDR10 and HLG, are optimized for the best picture results.

When it comes to user experience, LG’s webOS Smart TV is navigation-friendly and makes it easy to quickly toggle between movies, TV shows, online content and additional programming options from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and more. When paired with LG’s Magic Remote, ThinQ television owners can quickly navigate through all their favorite programming with the flick of the wrist or with the press of a single button. 

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best 4K TVs under $1,000 can help you find what you're looking for.

Best Smart TV: 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 Design: Samsung NU7100

Samsung NU7100

 Best Buy

Sleek and stylish, the Samsung 43-inch NU7100 is thin and can fit unobtrusively into your existing decor. The TV has built-in WiFi and two USB inputs so users can connect USB devices like digital cameras. The three HDMI ports are all HDR-compatible to support any HDR movies or shows. The 4K UHD resolution and Dolby Digital Plus surround-sound create a truly immersive entertainment experience, while the 2160p resolution brings crisp, lifelike images to the screen.

Stream from your favorite services and apps, including YouTube and Netflix, or play games through Steam. To get access to more content, you can connect your own streaming box or improve the audio quality by adding a stereo bar. However, the TV does lack some of the features that its more expensive counterparts have, such as Bluetooth connectivity or local dimming. 

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.

Best Small TV: LG 22" Full HD 1080p TV

If you're in the market for a much smaller screen, LG hits a home run with the 22LJ4540 Full HD 1080p TV by nailing all of the basics. In-Plane Switching leads to accurate color reproduction and being able to view the TV from nearly any angle. LG also included its Triple XD Engine to ensure colors looked natural with deep blacks for sharp contrast. Even the inclusion of LED backlighting ensures that you’ll see richer colors. As a side benefit, LED adds greater energy efficiency for keeping monthly energy costs down.

Due to its size, there was little room for LG to include many smart features. That means the television lacks the webOS standard interface and built-in options for Netflix, Hulu, etc. Not all hope is lost for extras, however, as the rear of the television sports a single HDMI port. That’s good enough to attach a Chromecast, Roku or Fire TV stick to enable smart functionality.

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)

5

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.”