The 9 Best TVs to Buy in 2018 For Under $500

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

For many, buying a new TV means saving up and choosing wisely. And shopping for a new TV can be an overwhelming experience with all the new technologies, extra features and available add-ons to consider. You’ll need to look at screen size, screen resolution, refresh rate, available connectors and screen types (LCD, LED LCD and OLED). To help, we have put together the top nine TVs under $500, and all are packed full of great features, so continue reading to see which is best for you.

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.

Best Budget: Samsung UN32J4000 32-Inch 720p LED TV

The fact that you can buy a decent 32-inch TV for less than $200 these days is pretty astounding. You’ll have to make some sacrifices, of course, but Samsung’s no-frills J4000 knows what’s important. Its Wide Color Enhancer provides an enriching color experience and its quick 60 Clear Motion Rate and processing speed keeps up with all the action you could want in HD720p. Perhaps the J4000’s best feature, though not typically a talked-about one, is its viewing angle; you can watch it from wide-off angles and still get a great picture.

The J4000 struggles when it comes to producing deep black levels and it’s not a smart TV like many cable-cutters look for nowadays. Still, the built-in audio system will offer an immersive surround sound experience that can be enhanced by its somewhat limited connectivity options: two HDMI ports and one USB.

See more reviews of our favorite Samsung TVs available for purchase.

Best Smart TV: Element 43-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED Fire TV

A relatively new entry into the television market, Element’s 43-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED Fire TV edition is quickly becoming a crowd pleaser. With true-to-life 4K picture quality, there are over eight million pixels allowing for terrific colors, contrast and clarity. Fortunately, the outstanding picture quality only glosses over the surface of what this TV is capable of and that’s where Amazon’s Fire TV comes into play.

With the Fire TV experience built directly into the Element televisions, buyers will get over 15,000 channels right out of the box, Alexa Skills and over 140 channels and apps, including Prime Video, HBO Now, Netflix, Hulu and more. An included voice remote app with Alexa combines with an easy-to-use and navigation-friendly interface. The remote also allows for live TV playback, app launching, music, controlling smart home devices, input switching and more. Setup is just as simple as the remote and interface. Plug it in, connect to Wi-Fi and enjoy the shows even as automatic software updates download in the background for an uninterrupted experience.

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

Best Picture: Samsung UN40KU6300 40-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

Ringing in at just shy of $500, Samsung UN40KU6300 not only produces the best picture, but also looks pretty attractive itself. The 40-inch LED screen is framed by a half-inch of brushed gunmetal and it sits on a Y-shaped base (which unfortunately doesn’t pivot). Its 4K UHD resolution means it has 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, which is four times sharper than the 1,920 x 1,080 pixels found in a full HD TV. The PurColor feature enhances color to bring out life-like details while the UHD Dimming scans the image and adjusts brightness to deliver deeper darks and brighter whites. “It virtually eliminates the ‘halo’ effect and image distortion, so you’ll enjoy a crystal clear picture,” claims Samsung.

Several Amazon reviewers say the TV doesn’t stand up to its UHD Dimming claims, but it might be something you have to look carefully for to notice. Either way, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many other unhappy reviewers on Amazon, as the TV has earned an impressive average rating of 4.5 stars, thanks in large part to its picture quality.

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

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 Connectivity: Samsung 40-Inch UN40MU6300

Samsung televisions continue to be a model for the competition to follow and the 40-inch UN40MU6300 is no exception with its 4K Ultra HD LED display. With Samsung’s UHD color management in tow and four times the pixels of regular TVs with a 4K display, colors are vibrant and clear with the result being a lifelike experience that’s sure to please a buyer. Beyond its picture quality, the Samsung shines with its connectivity options, including the OneRemote, which is a single access point for all your connected devices that requires absolutely zero manual programming. A simplified remote with less than 10 buttons on the front whittles down the options to just the necessities.

Samsung’s Smart Hub brings all your favorite TV shows, sports, movies and music to your fingertips with the press of a button along with downloadable apps through Samsung’s App Store. Samsung smartphone owners will also find the televisions SmartView mirroring service quite handy because they can mirror the content from their smartphone directly onto the television.

Best Wireless Connectivity: TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV

This 50-inch LED TV comes with built-in 802.11ac dual-band WiFi that easily connects to your home network. Unfortunately, there’s no ethernet connection, but unless you struggle with getting a consistent connection in your home, that shouldn’t be a problem. For the budget price, you’ll be pleased with its 1080p resolution and 60GHz refresh rate (120Hz CMI) that produce accurate colors and solid contrast.

The TV itself has a pretty basic design, but its remote and on-screen menus stand out for their superb usability. Central to the remote is the familiar purple cursor control of other Roku devices. It has just 20 buttons (half that of a standard remote), including shortcut buttons to four popular apps: Netflix, Amazon Instant, and Vudu. Aside from those, very few other buttons are necessary for navigation. The on-screen menu has tiles that make it easy to jump to your favorite apps, but if you’re more of a cable fan, you can set it to always power on to a designated input like your cable box.

Best Small Screen: Sceptre E246BD-SMQK 24”

“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: HiSense 50H6C 50”

New 50-inch TVs are few and far between at the sub $500 price range, but this model from Hisense fits the bill and includes gorgeous 4K resolution to boot. The Hisense 50H6C can confidently fill up a living room or office with its 2160p resolution that displays picture in gorgeous 4K Ultra-HD display. It even upscales current HD to UHD for the best picture available in all media.

It is wall-mountable and looks great in all light conditions. The included speakers even offer rich sound, although it pairs great with a soundbar or home theater system to make your living room come alive. Hisense includes wireless connectivity for streaming via WiFi, as well as smart functionality. While the UI is not quite up to par with the big-name competitors, it feels great to access popular streaming content from the TV menu at such a small cost.

Read more reviews of the best HiSense TVs available to purchase online. 


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