A new TV is a fantastic technological update for your home, but it can be rather costly, even costing more than your car. If you’re on a tight budget, there’s good news: 4K smart TVs start at under £500/US$500, and we’ve tested a variety of low-cost models.
There’s a lot more to TV specs than resolution and screen size, which might be bewildering in this market.
You’ll get a 4K (Ultra HD) resolution and, most likely, HDR capability in some way or another. There will obviously be trade-offs, but they will usually only be noticeable to tech-savvy people. If you need more information on what to look for, see our in-depth buying recommendations below the chart.
What you consider to be ‘cheap’ depends on a number of factors, but we’re aiming for the best TVs under £500/$500 here – though we may include some that are slightly more expensive if they are particularly good, and keep in mind that larger sizes cost more, so smaller options may be the only ones that fall under the limit.
If you have a bit more money to spend, we have a list of the finest smart TVs. In our shopping guide, you’ll find the finest Samsung TV for you. The budget TV market has never been better, so you’ll be able to discover a low-cost set that’s appropriate for you among the options below, all of which have been thoroughly evaluated by our specialists.
- 1 The Best budget TVs
- 2 TCL RP620K Roku TV
- 3 Samsung The Frame (2021)
- 5 JVC Fire TV Edition
- 6 Samsung TU7100
- 8 Hisense Roku TV (A7200UK)
- 10 Hisense U7QF
- 11 Panasonic JX850 (2021)
- 12 Toshiba UK31
- 14 TCL C715K
- 16 Toshiba WK3C
- 18 How to Select a Low-Cost Television
The Best budget TVs
TCL’s Roku-powered TV appears to be identical to Hisense’s, but the RP620K outshines it with slightly superior brightness and Dolby Vision support — the HDR standard suited for lower brightness panels.
Upscaling from HD could be better, but aside from the price, there’s a lot to appreciate here. The image from a UHD source is sharp and vivid, with good sound quality.
It’s fantastic for consoles because of the low input lag, but the Roku platform, with its user-friendly UI and nearly limitless streaming options, is the real star here.
Many of The Frame’s selections are out of your budget, but the 32in Full HD model is a great buy.
Of course, you’ll have to put up with its small size and lesser resolution, but Samsung’s QLED technology ensures it’s still crisp and vivid. Kitchens, playrooms, and bedrooms will all benefit from it.
There’s no Dolby Vision and the speakers aren’t great, but the Tizen OS offers plenty of streaming alternatives, the Ambient Mode can display artwork while the TV isn’t in use, and the bezel can be customized with various colors and materials.
This JVC-Amazon collaboration embeds Amazon’s Fire TV operating system directly into a TV, eliminating the need for a separate streaming stick.
The specs are good for the price – though keep in mind the difference in display quality between the 40in and the 49in and 55in models – and the audio is adequate, but the software is what this TV is truly about.
This device has a lot to offer, including built-in Alexa support, voice search, and simple access to a lot of apps, making it one of the better budget choices.
Despite being a 2020 model, the Samsung TU7100 (TU7000 in the US) is a steal for anyone searching for an inexpensive TV. It comes in a wide range of sizes, starting at 43 inches, and larger options are still under £500.
The fact that there are just two HDMI connections is one of the major drawbacks to consider, albeit this can be mitigated with the use of a splitter or an AV box.
With Samsung’s Crystal UHD technology, you get decent picture quality, and budget purchasers are unlikely to be harmed by the drawbacks. The biggest flaw here, as with other inexpensive TVs, is the lack of brightness.
You’ll also receive Tizen OS, which has a simple UI and one of the best selections of streaming services, so you might not need to buy anything to connect in.
Another cooperation between Hisense and Roku for 2021 has resulted in another one of the greatest affordable TVs available.
Even if the lighting is a little variable, this is still outstanding picture quality for under £500 and good sizes. Because of the lack of brightness, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision aren’t supported, which isn’t a big deal.
While the JVC still outperforms the A7200UK, it is highly recommended because to its Roku software, which allows for simple plug-and-play streaming. It also has a reduced input lag, making it an ideal option for gamers.
TCL’s version is only brighter and supports Dolby Vision.
The U7Q, like so many other Hisense TVs, allows you to purchase an amazing TV without breaking the bank.
Aside from the fact that you can purchase a handsome set in large sizes for under £500, the U7Q features exceptionally good HDR performance, which is generally reserved for much higher-end TVs. You’ll be wowed by Quantum Dot panel technology, Full Array Local Dimming, Ultra Smooth Motion, and wide HDR standard compatibility.
Gaming performance is also good, even if it doesn’t support 120 frames per second for next-gen consoles. The sound quality isn’t great, but that’s to be anticipated, and the combination of Freeview Play and Vidaa U4 OS provides lots of entertainment – albeit without Disney+, Apple TV, or Sky Now TV.
Panasonic’s mid-range LED JX850, which may be aimed at individuals looking for a cheaper alternative to Samsung and LG, is an intriguing choice.
Its brilliant panel, powerful HDR performance, and extensive HDR standard compliance make it an excellent choice for individuals who watch in bright environments. However, with letterbox content at night, the edge light can create visible pools.
The new HCX Pro AI processor and AI picture mode do an excellent job at image adjustment for you.
In addition, the My Home smart platform provides a diverse selection of streaming and catch-up options. The speakers are loud but basic, and the input lag is low for gaming, but you won’t achieve 120Hz at this price point.
The Toshiba isn’t going to win any beauty contests, and it has a basic plastic build, but it has a lot to offer at a low price.
It, like the U29, allows you to get a big screen – up to 65 inches – without breaking the bank, and it does it with good picture quality overall thanks to brightness, Dolby Vision HDR, and low input lag for gaming.
Upscaling to 4K is also good, and there’s a good selection of streaming providers to choose from, as well as Alexa support. However, poor viewing angles and the lack of Disney+ may lead you to look elsewhere.
This is the best TCL set we’ve seen so far, thanks to the addition of QLED technology at such a low price.
There are plenty of additional positive features, such as extensive HDR compatibility, Freeview Play integration, and the great Android TV operating system. It’s also quite fashionable.
However, the C715K isn’t perfect, and given the price, something has to give. It’s being limited to three HDMI connections and experiencing poor performance when utilizing the interface in this case.
At this price point, there’s a lot of competition, so competitors like Hisense and JVC can provide a more well-rounded experience.
Even though it only has a 720p resolution, the WK3D isn’t fighting for a place in the living room.
Instead, this television is a wonderful choice for anyone searching for a screen in the kitchen, bedroom, or a child’s playroom – however it lacks built-in Disney+ functionality. It’s quite economical and comes in a variety of sizes, including 24in.
The incorporation of HDR is somewhat hampered by the lack of brightness, but there are a good number of streaming apps, as well as Freeview Play, and the TV can even be used as a Bluetooth speaker.
How to Select a Low-Cost Television
As previously stated, inexpensive televisions are better than ever before, but you will still be missing out on some features and quality when compared to more expensive models. Even if the manufacturer or store is able to make it appear otherwise.
HDR and 4K
All of the TVs reviewed here are 4K (also known as Ultra HD or UHD), which is four times the resolution of Full HD, and if you’re considering buying one, something is wrong.
It’s common to get a low-cost TV with this quality, but not all 4K TVs are created equal.
They usually have a lesser brightness and don’t have local dimming (this means the TV can dim small areas of the panel to make blacks darker). Alternatively, if they do, they do not have as many zones as high-end devices.
Because a good backlight is required, HDR performance is limited with lower brightness. Also, keep in mind that there are several HDR standards: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HGL are the most prominent.
Netflix prefers Dolby Vision, although Amazon Prime Video supports HDR10+. So, if you utilize a particular streaming service more than others, verify the specifications.
When you’re impressed by HDR standards, it’s easy to forget about dull ports, but it’s worth checking simple things like how many HDMI connections a TV has.
To save money, TV manufacturers may only offer two or three ports, which is inconvenient if you wish to put in a lot of gadgets.
Also, keep in mind that HDMI versions vary, and you may be limited to older ones, or only one port may be a more modern version.
HDMI 2.0 is ideal for 4K at 60 frames per second (frames per second). HDMI 2.1 is required for complete support of next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X for gaming at 4K at 120fps, however it is currently out of reach for affordable TVs. More information on console TV compatibility may be found here.
Apps and operating system
Things are undoubtedly better than they used to be, and all of the televisions here are’smart’ in some way.
In a nutshell, they all feature Wi-Fi internet connectivity and operating systems (OS) that provide a user interface and apps for watching content like as BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
While some may ship with Android TV, others will ship with a unique operating system. Make sure to read all of our evaluations to see what they’re like and if there are any important services missing.
If it’s rudimentary, you can always add a streaming stick or box to improve things without spending a lot of money.
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