The 10 Best TVs to Buy in 2018 For Under $500

It's easy to buy a new TV without breaking the bank

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: TCL 55S405 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV

As one of the rising stars in television manufacturing, TCL continues to raise its profile with the 55S405 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV. The combination of 4K Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) results in excellent picture quality that offers lifelike clarity and color. Past picture quality, the real highlight of TCL’s television line is its integration with Roku’s streaming services. The Roku interface offers a natural way to navigate over 4,000 streaming channels, cable TV, gaming consoles and any other devices that might be connected via HDMI. Searching for your favorite title, actor or director can be done easily from the downloadable Roku app (there's even voice search, which allows for an even faster way to find your next binge-worthy show). The included remote offers another integrated method for navigating the Roku interface, and with just 20 buttons in total, menu routing continues to be a breeze.

Check out our guide to the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy today.

Best Budget: Toshiba 49-inch Class

Samsung UN32J4000 32-Inch 720p LED TV
Courtesy of Amazon.com

This Best Buy-exclusive is an excellent value if you are looking for a big screen Full HD TV at an entry-level price. The Toshiba sports 1080p resolution, bringing HD gaming, Blu-ray movies and television to life with bright, crisp images. The 48.5” screen is perfect to fill up a large living room or medium sized-theater space, giving you the opportunity to have a theatrical experience without spending too much. It also includes two 10W speakers with DTS TruSurround audio enhancement, bringing exhilarating audio to your house. Part of reason the TV is such a value is because it lacks smart functionality, but with three HDMI inputs it is easy to attach an Amazon Fire stick or Roku for streaming functionality. With over 150 reviews, the TV hits a 97% recommend rate, with most reviewers pointing towards their satisfaction of value for price

Best Value: Insignia Fire TV Edition

The Insignia Fire TV delivers top-notch visuals and a variety of special features at a surprisingly low price point. The Insignia Fire offers a 43-, 50-, or 55-inch screen, all of which deliver lifelike visuals in 4K ultra-HD resolution. It’s also the first line of Insignia TVs to support HDR (high dynamic range). This contributes to the striking picture quality, showcasing deeper contrast and a wider range of color.

Like most Smart TVs, the Insignia Fire provides access to top streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, Showtime, STARZ, and more. These online services integrate seamlessly with your live TV. Additionally, it comes with the voice-activated Amazon Alexa, which essentially turns your TV into a smart-home hub. You can search for titles, control smart devices, switch inputs, and much more—all without having to lift a finger. The Insignia Fire also offers three HDMI ports for connecting gaming consoles, a cable box, speakers, and more.

Best Picture: LG Electronics 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD LED TV

Finding standout picture quality in the budget television market is no easy task. Fortunately, the LG 49-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV delivers a picture quality that rises above the competition. Built with in-plane switching (IPS) technology, this model offers richer, more lifelike colors. IPS technology also provides an improved contrast ratio which assists with wider viewing angles.

This Ultra HD TV has 8.3 million pixels onboard — four times the resolution of Full HD. The result is a television that supports hundreds of 4K programs from streaming apps like Netflix or Hulu with more on the way. Looking for new content is easy using the webOS Smart TV platform. Brose shows, movies, and more with the Magic Remote.

To match its standout picture quality, the television delivers booming sound through its built-in speakers with LG’s Ultra Surround technology. Using seven virtual channels, the television wraps an entire mid-size room in an immersive sound. 

Runner-Up, Best Picture: Sony KD43X720E 43-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

Sony’s quest to deliver the best televisions around continues with the 43-inch KD43X720E. Its 4K display is nothing short of beautiful thanks to High Dynamic Range (HDR). Delivering outstanding detail, color, and contrast, this Sony provides a higher level of brightness than competitive models. The lifelike detail and clarity are also good for pre-4K programming which is upscaled through X-Reality Pro for better viewing quality. The result: some of the best viewing angles available. Say goodbye to that one “best seat in the house” — with this TV, each person will have the same viewing experience regardless of where they’re sitting on a sofa. The viewing experience is further enhanced by lifelike sound courtesy of the television’s ClearAudio+ and immersive sound from the included speakers.

Sony adds a variety of smart functions on the TV’s menu from Google’s operating system. Android users will feel right at home navigating through choices supported by Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and Netflix. Sony even includes direct access to the latter two on the remote control. 

Best Smart TV: Toshiba 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV - Fire TV Edition 

If you’re already a fan of Amazon’s Prime Video service, the Toshiba 55-inch Fire Edition television has everything you need. The Amazon platform is now built directly into the main menu, giving you access to thousands of channels including Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, STARZ and Amazon’s own Prime Video. Use the included Voice Remote to ask the TV to launch apps, search for television shows, play music or control additional smart home devices on the same Wi-Fi network. Echo Dot owners can also pair and manage the television through Alexa voice control.

When it comes to picture quality, the Toshiba has 4K Ultra HD resolution that really shines when viewing Amazon Prime’s available 4K content. Clarity, contrast and lifelike colors are all a highlight of the television’s overall performance. There are also a surprising number of ports for a budget TV: three HDMI inputs, an optical port, USB, Ethernet, and antenna/cable inputs. Amazon has also promised years of software updates to keep the programming fresh and the content mixed. 

Take a peek at some of the other best smart TVs you can buy.

Best Gaming: TCL 43S305 43-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV

TCL 43S305 43-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Gaming equipment can be expensive, but the 43-inch TCL 49S305 is proof that it doesn’t have to be. At 1080p, the picture quality won’t knock your socks off compared to more expensive options. Still, it’s pretty decent for the price. The refresh rate is 60Hz, which is perfectly suitable for gaming given that console video games are capped at 60fps anyway. Colors appear slightly undersaturated, though you’ll get good shadow detail.

With the stand, the Smart LED TV measures 38.3 x 24.4 x 7.5 inches and weighs 16.8 pounds. On a previous version, its connectivity ports awkwardly faced down on the back of the TV, but this model fixes that, so its three HDMI ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, cable/antenna connector, USB port and optical audio output take less maneuvering to reach. To save precious time, you can personalize the home screen to gain easy access to your favorite channels, streaming services, and of course, gaming consoles.

Best Wireless Connectivity: Insignia 50” 4K Smart TV

Insignia™ - 55" Class - LED - 2160p - Smart - 4K UHD TV with HDR Roku TV
Courtesy of Best Buy

Expect fast wireless connection at an affordable price with this 50” Insignia TV. With built-in high-speed Wi-Fi and an ethernet connection, you can expect to stream 4K content without a hitch for your viewing pleasure. The smart 4K TV also comes with the award-winning built-in Roku smart platform, which is prized for its easy-to-use interface and instant access to services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and over 4000 other streaming channels.

The TV also comes with great connectivity options, including 3 HDMI inputs that deliver 2160p 4K picture for video game counsels and other media. An LED screen presents a crystal-clear picture with deep contrast and popping color regardless of lighting conditions, while a 178-degree viewing angle makes the TV visible from anywhere in the house. Enjoy immersive virtual sound with two 8W main channel speakers that deliver a surround type experience. Finally, the TV comes with 1 USB input for hooking up cameras and a V-chip for monitoring access to content. 

Best Small Screen: Sceptre E246BD-SMQK 24”

Sceptre E246BD-SMQK 24”
Courtesy of Amazon.com

“Bigger is better” is the rule of thumb for TV screens, but sometimes you need to go small. For example, you might need a small TV in your RV to keep the kids occupied on long drives, or maybe you just moved into a small dorm room, or maybe you just want a small screen in the kitchen to have the game on when you’re cooking. For all of these scenarios, this 24” TV from Sceptre is a great buy.

It is just over $100 and has a sharp LED-backlit screen that displays in radiant 720p resolution at 16:9 ratio. Setup is simple and can be done anywhere with an HDMI input to stream high-definition sound and images. You can play media via a USB port or through the built-in DVD player. The brushed-metal finish makes this TV look nicer than the price tag suggests, but the speakers are on the quiet side. 

Best Big Screen: TCL 55S517 55-inch 4K Ultra HD LED TV

If you’re looking for a big screen on a budget, the TCL’s Roku-enabled LED TV fits the bill. Since Roku’s current catalog offers more than 500,00 movies and TV episodes, your viewing choices are extensive and easy to access through this TV’s built-in interface. Other apps like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and YouTube are also available to meet all your streaming needs. And if you’re tired of clicking through endless menus to find what you want, don’t worry — this TV comes with a voice control remote, so queuing up your favorite show is as simple as saying the word. 

Then sit back and enjoy all your favorite media on this TV’s 55-inch 4K Ultra HD screen. Dolby Vision HDR (HDR10) delivers lifelike colors and a superior native contrast ratio. Combined with HDR10, TCL’s NBP Photon technology provides true-to-life color reproduction. Gamers will find the screen’s dark shadows, bright highlights and low input lag to be among the best in the space. For gaming or other external hardware like Chromecast, stereo systems or DVD players, there are three inputs for HDMI 2.0 and a lone USB 2.0 connection.