Modern smart TVs come packed with features. But finding the best smart TV under 500 dollars can present a number of challenges. Many brands offer smart TV products at a reasonable price point, but force customers to make tradeoffs in picture quality, connectivity, or features that we consider mandatory. Our team has evaluated the options surfaced the absolute best deals at the intersection of price and feature sets.
Read on to find the best smart TV in your budget
The TCL 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV is the best smart TV – Check price at Amazon.com
TCL may be a new name in the world of smart tv brands like LG, Sony, and Samsung. But you should get to know this growing value brand, because TCL packs in features the others charge a premium for at rock bottom prices. The included Roku is worth mentioning as well, which will consolidate your streaming services into one easy to access menu interface, while providing access to Roku’s exclusive lineup of channels.
Image quality is near-perfect. The TCL 55S517 includes standard a super crisp 55-inch Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) certified screen.
Contrast ratio is beautiful. Super dark blacks and bright colors help theTCL 55S517 punch well above it’s class in picture quality. Among the highest contrast ratio available outside of OLED models that start at 4 times the price.
Design conscious. A clean, luxe-looking bezel has the cosmetics of more expensive brands without the price tag. Added elements like Bluetooth connectivity and Roku native platform offer new ways to enjoy streaming, allowing you to integrate outside programming or use headphones that let you take calls over Bluetooth. You may also want to check out wireless surround sound speaker systems with your savings.
Weighed down by materials. Heavy at over 30 pounds, and requires you to know what you are doing if you plan to wall mount the TCL 55S517.
The Samsung 40-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV is the best mid-price TV – Check price at Amazon.com
Thanks to a competitive market in the smart and connected TV space over the past few years, the major brands have been cranking out the hits. Samsung’s UN40MU6290 40-Inch 4K seems to be their answer to the bargain segment, coming in at under $400 and offering the same screen quality typically only found in more expensive Samsung models. And let’s face it, when you go name brand in the smart TV space prices can skyrocket quickly. Samsung’s next size up of the same model puts us well above $600.
One of the best in class pictures. Samsung’s 4K HRD Pro screen technology pushes contrast ratio to the limits of what LED can offer, creating pitch blacks and vibrant colors. It’s similar technology to what is offered on their larger and considerably more expensive models, so getting in at the sub-$400 price point seems like a great deal to us.
Screen size could be larger. While our top TV in this list comes in at 55-inches, you’ll sacrifice some screen area for the Samsung name. It’s a forgivable offense when the screen is so gorgeous, but you may want to consider room size and viewing distance from the TV screen before sizing down to 40-inches.
No third party streaming hardware. It’s somewhat disappointing to use Samsung’s native Smart TV operating system when superior options are available from companies like Roku. And while other brands are including third party hardware and software standard, Samsung maintains their position of going their own way. It’s functional, but nowhere near as feature-rich and entertaining as using Roku. You can always buy a separate Roku streaming device, which adds a bit of cost.
The LG 43-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV is the best low cost smart TV – Check price on Amazon.com
That’s right, you too can own the best name in smart TV tech for under $300. There’s a few tradeoffs you’ll need to make, but in the end you will walk away with an incredible screen at a mind blowing low price.
The best screen in the business. Power users agree, LG has nailed it with their screens. Offering the best contrast ratio and overall performance, LG makes our list for this exceptional quality. Watching movies or streaming video on the LG is a dream come true, despite a slightly smaller screen size than our top performer in the under $500 category.
Elegant form factor. You know you’re looking at an LG smart TV thanks to a bezel that is sleek and subdued even on less expensive models like the 43LJ5500. With or without wall mounting, this smart TV will make a great complement to any decor.
No 4K support. The 43LJ5500 offers 1080p full HD resolution on a crystal clear screen, but that doesn’t completely make up for the lack of 4K support. Many argue it’s about the contrast ratio and overall color quality that makes a smart TV shine, and depending on what type of content you consume you may or may not care about 4K. That said, the current standard – even in the cheap smart TV segment – is to include 4K native support.
Proprietary smart TV operating system. The point of smart TVs is to integrate with streaming services, the web, and other wireless devices. We’re sick and tired of smart TVs that cling to proprietary operating systems that don’t play well with others. Often times updates are stale, and support goes unanswered. Companies like Roku are changing smart TVs for the better by including hardware and software designed for integration, but that only works if TV manufacturers include it.
The TCL 32-Inch 720p Roku Smart LED TV is the best cheap smart TV – Check price on Amazon.com
We’re ending our bargain Smart TV list on a high note. TCL takes a second spot thanks to superior value at every level. From Roku integration to the latest wireless technology to screen quality, TCL has impressed us with an end to end solution that simply delivers. The price is right too, coming in at well under $200 for what we feel is one of the best values in LED TVs.
Nearly all the features of bigger TCL models. Unlike other brands that seem to pull features on cheaper models out of spite, TCL generously includes all the extras. Roku streaming hardware and OS, superior contrast ratio and refresh rate mean you’ll be enjoying a crisp visual experience and an intuitive navigation.
720p HD resolution. 32-inches isn’t a lot of screen real estate to work with, and it makes perfect sense that 720p is the max resolution offered on the TCL 32S305. That said, many may find the lack of larger resolution an issue. Our suggestion? Go with a larger model if pixel density is your game.