The 4 best cheap TVs in 2021 – all under $500

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Flagship TV models are expensive, but there are many affordable smart TVs with solid performance.
  • The Hisense U6G is our top pick thanks to its fantastic balance between price and picture quality.
  • For more TV recommendations, check out our guides to the best 4K TVs and best OLED TVs.

TV pricing has come down a lot in recent years. Gone are the days when buying a 4K TV meant having to spend thousands of dollars.

Now, you can get a nice 4K TV with decent high dynamic range (HDR) support and plenty of smart TV apps for only a few hundred bucks. You can even find big-screen options in sizes as large as 65 inches without totally breaking the bank.

Of course, there are always trade-offs to keep in mind when buying a TV on a budget. A true home theater experience still comes at a premium, but choosing an entry-level TV doesn’t mean you have to settle for poor image quality, a small screen, or a dumb display without the latest streaming services.

I’ve been covering the consumer electronics industry for nine years, and during that time I’ve reviewed numerous TV models at various price points. Through research and testing, we’ve selected the best display models you can buy on a budget.

Here are the best cheap TVs you can buy:

The best cheap 4K TV overall

Hisense U6G 4K TV
Hisense’s U6G delivers impressive picture for the price.

The Hisense U6G Android TV uses local dimming and quantum dots to deliver some of the best picture quality you can get on a budget.

Pros: 4K with every major HDR format, local dimming, quantum dots, Google Assistant voice remote, solid brightness capabilities for the price

Cons: No HDMI 2.1 ports, 50-inch model has less dimming zones than larger versions

Buying a TV on a budget typically means you have to miss out on some advanced features found on more expensive sets. The Hisense U6G totally dispels that notion, and the 50-inch model is an especially great value at under $500. 

The U6G is the 2021 successor to the Hisense H8G. It carries over everything we loved about that model while keeping a similar low price. Meanwhile, our previous pick for best cheap 4K TV overall, the 55-inch TCL 5 Series, has actually gone up in price this year. The TCL is still a fantastic set but, for the money, the Hisense now edges it out. 

One of the most important image features you should look for in a new 4K TV is high dynamic range (HDR). HDR enables enhanced contrast and wider colors for a more realistic picture. The U6G offers some of the best HDR specs in its price range. It also supports every major HDR format so all your bases are covered.

It’s a little disappointing that the TV lacks Google’s newest smart TV system, Google TV, but the older Android TV OS is still a solid performer with easy access to tons of  services. Google Assistant is also supported via the included remote for reliable voice control.

I reviewed the 2020 version of this TV last year and this new model is expected to perform even better. Buyers who want more advanced features, like HDMI 2.1 for next-gen gaming, will have to pay more for the step-up U7G or U8G, but at this price, the U6G is a bargain.

The best cheap 4K TV for wide viewing angles

LG UP7000 4K TV
The UP7000 is a great fit for people who sit off to the side of their TV.

The LG 55-inch UP7000 offers better viewing angles than most budget TVs, enabling solid picture no matter where you sit.

Pros: Wide viewing angles, affordable price for a 55-inch model

Cons: Black levels and contrast aren’t great, doesn’t include a voice remote

Though many of the 4K TVs recommended on this guide offer solid picture performance, they all suffer from one pesky drawback: mediocre viewing angles. 

This means that colors and contrast wash out when you sit off to the side. Though that’s not a problem for people who can plop down on a couch right in front of their TV, it can be an issue for buyers who have to position their seats in other parts of the room.

If viewing angles are your main priority, then the 55-inch UP7000 from LG is one of your best options on a budget. This 2021 model is the successor to our previous pick, the UN7000. 

The UP7000 uses a special type of panel that’s designed to offer improved off-axis picture. This lets you sit off to the side of you display without the TV’s colors and contrast dramatically degrading. Picture quality will still shift a bit, but not as badly as it would on a typical LED TV. 

On the downside, TVs with panels like this tend to have worse black levels and contrast than other displays. This particular model also lacks local dimming or wide color support. So, while great for viewing angles, the UP7000 doesn’t have particularly good home theater performance in a dark room.

Like most LG TVs, this one offers access to many popular streaming services. HBO Max, however, is missing. Unfortunately, the UP7000 also lacks a voice remote, but you can use the TV with a separate Alexa or Google Assistant device. 

The UP7000 is also available in a few larger and smaller screen sizes, but we think the 55-inch model offers the best value. Also, keep in mind that only the 75-, 65-, 55-, and 43-inch models use panels with wide viewing angles, according to Rtings.

The best cheap 4K TV with a big screen

Hisense A6G 4K TV
The A6G 4K TV is an affordable 60-inch display.

The Hisense A6G is one of the most affordable 60-inch 4K TVs on the market, offering a big-picture experience for a budget-friendly price. 

Pros: Big display for an affordable price, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, voice remote included

Cons: Image quality is only average, lacks local dimming or quantum dots

Flagship big-screen 4K TVs can cost a couple thousand dollars, but that doesn’t mean that budget buyers always have to settle for smaller screen sizes. In fact, there are several worthwhile big-screen models out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg. 

Our previous pick for this category, the Vizio 65-inch V-Series, remains an impressive TV for the money, but stock is now hard to come by and its price has increased a bit since its initial launch. With that in mind, we’re recommending the more affordable Hisense 60-inch A6G in its place.

The 60-inch A6G is bigger than most TVs in its price range, and boasts a 4K screen with entry-level HDR and Dolby Vision capabilities. That should net you solid picture quality for casual viewing, but the display lacks local dimming and wide color support so you won’t get the most out of HDR videos.

Android TV is integrated for easy access to most major streaming services. A voice remote is also included with built-in support for Google Assistant.

Budget buyers who favor home theater performance over size will be better off going with the smaller Hisense 50-inch U6G for a similar price, but if you want a 60-inch 4K TV in this price range, the A6G offers good value for the money.

The best cheap 1080p TV

TCL 40 in tv
TCL’s 3 Series has very basic picture performance, but its low cost is appealing.

It doesn’t have 4K resolution or other advanced features, but the TCL 40-inch 3 Series HDTV is one of the most affordable 40-inch Roku TVs you can buy.

Pros: Very affordable, Roku TV platform with easy access to streaming apps

Cons: Not 4K, no HDR or wide color support, no voice remote, smaller screen size

The TCL 3-Series is about as basic as a smart TV can get. It’s the smallest display on this list, it features a 1080p resolution screen instead of 4K, and it lacks HDR support — but when it comes to overall value for the money, the TV is still a worthy option for budget buyers. 

This 40-inch smart TV uses a modest Full HD panel. While you won’t be able to watch 4K HDR streams from Netflix, the reality is, most  live TV content is still presented in SDR high definition. With that in mind, this 1080p screen is fine for casual viewing needs. 

Overall image performance isn’t as good as the more expensive TVs on this list, but at a screen size of 40 inches, it would actually be hard to see major benefits from an upgrade to 4K. The lack of local dimming is a bit more of an issue, but contrast and black levels are decent considering the low price.

While the included remote doesn’t feature voice control, you can pair the TV with a separate Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device.

This definitely isn’t a TV geared toward buyers looking for advanced picture quality. Instead, the TCL 3 Series is meant to appeal to people who just want a reliable 40-inch smart TV with easy access to their favorite apps. Thanks to the simple yet effective Roku platform, the 3-Series does just that.

Check out our other TV buying guides

The best OLED TVs LG CX

The best 4K TVs


The best OLED TVs


 

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