The best TVs under $500
A new TV doesn’t have to break the bank.
There are a few things you should think about if you’re buying a new TV this year. For example, you can totally grab a bargain by buying a 2019 model instead of one of the newly released 2020 versions. TV tech takes a few years to do anything truly groundbreaking, so last year’s tech will be perfectly fine until the next huge leap.
That also means that buying a larger screen is a better value than buying a smaller TV with slightly better image quality. Anything that makes it easier for you to feel immersed in your media consumption is great, and larger screens are part of that.
If you don’t like the smart features in the TV you want to buy, it’s not a dealbreaker. It’s easy and cheap to add a streaming box that will have the features you want, and then you’ll get updates more regularly than most smart TVs as well. We’re big fans of the Nvidia Shield range and anything from Roku.
Oh, and most TV speakers are terrible. You’ll want to invest in a soundbar or powered bookshelf speakers to go with your new TV if you don’t already have a speaker setup. You can get fairly good soundbars from around $100, so that’s where to start.
Here are KnowTechie’s picks of the best sub-$500 TVs
Okay, before we begin, there are a few things we should mention. No, you won’t get the best TVs on the market in this price range. I mean, that’s fine though cause the best tech is usually reserved for the $1,500+ range. With financial uncertainty looming everywhere, do you really want to spend that much on a new TV right now?
I didn’t think so. Read on to find the best of what a realistic budget will get you.
Best for in-built streaming
Roku is our favorite streaming platform here at KnowTechie, so it makes sense to buy a TV that has it built-in. This 55 inch, 4K ULED from Hisense brings extra color accuracy to the party, with Hisense’s version of quantum-dot technology.
It’s also got Dolby Vision for HDR support, all the control zones you need for local dimming that actually works, and a svelte design that makes whatever content you’re watching the star of the show. For $450, you can’t go wrong, but do remember to pick up an Alexa-enabled device if you want to use it with voice control.
For under $250, it’s hard to beat this 50 inch from TCL. I mean, you get Roku built-in, which means the TV is only $200 really. That also means you can use your smartphone as a remote, which will beat almost any bundled TV remote.
This 4-Series 4K TV might not have the color accuracy of the 6-series, but then you’re spending half the cash. With the cash you’re saving, you could even get a bundle with a soundbar and subwoofer for under $370 and still stay way below the $500 mark.
Best ultra-cheap smart TV
If you don’t care about 4K or if your budget says no, just over $200 gets you a 43 inch smart TV from TCL with Roku built-in. It’s got dual-band WiFi, three HDMI ports, and won’t break the bank – handy for paying for those streaming services that you’ll be watching.
You can also control it via Google Assistant or Alexa, play local media on USB drives, and you get the pretty decent Roku remote to control it.
The best for connectivity
If you can’t live without streaming from your smartphone, and you have a mixed selection of both Apple and Android devices, the Vizio V-series is where you should be looking. They’ve all got Chromecast built-in, but that’s not all – they’re also Airplay 2 compatible so you can cast from all of your Apple devices.
It also works with Apple’s HomeKit, so you can control it with Siri. Vizio also gives you access to over 150 free TV channels with Vizio WatchFree, has blazing-fast AC WiFi, Dolby Vision for HDR, and a full-array backlight. For $300 it’s a steal.
If you can stretch the budget a little
Yes, we know this one is ten percent over our budget here. It’s often on sale though, so if you wait a little bit it might creep back down under again. For the cash though, it’s still worth it at $550. You get Roku built-in for your smart TV, media streaming needs, full-array local dimming, and excellent overall image quality.
You also get deep black levels, great contrast, accurate color, and some eye-popping brightness levels with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support. The only thing missing? AirPlay or Apple TV support.
Now you’ve got an idea of what to buy, what about what to watch? We’ve got a few opinions (okay, we’ve got a LOT of opinions), but really it’s down to what you like to watch.
Got kids? Disney+ is a no-brainer. Like big-budget or foreign shows? You’ll probably do best with Netflix on that one. Hulu is great if you like older stuff or don’t want to pay for ABC’s own streaming service, and if you want anything DC you need their own service as well.
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