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Are you in need of a television set that won’t cost you an arm and a leg?

How about one that can still blow you away with its detailed visual display and advanced features?

If so, continue reading to get a clear picture on the best TV under $500.

Best TV Under $500 2017

Below are our top 10 recommended TVs that cost under $500!

TV ImageTV NameSmart TV + WifiInputsPrice
Samsung UN48J5000 48-Inch 1080p LED TV (2015 Model) (Editor's Choice)No2 HDMI, 1 USB Check Price
Samsung Electronics UN40MU6300 40-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2017 Model)Yes3 HDMI, 2 USB Check Price
Sony KDL48R510C 48-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model)Yes2 HDMI, 2 USB Check Price
Samsung UN50J6200 50-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model)Yes2 HDMI, 2 USB Check Price
TCL 48FS3750 48-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV (2016 Model)Yes3 HDMI, 1 USB Check Price
Samsung UN50J5000 50-Inch 1080p LED TV (2015 Model)No2 HDMI, 1 USB Check Price
TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV (2015 Model)Yes3 HDMI, 1 USB Check Price
Samsung UN43J5200 43-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model)Yes2 HDMI, 1 USB Check Price
TCL 40S305 40-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV (2017 Model)Yes3 HDMI, 1 USB Check Price
Element ELEFW328R 32" 720p HDTV (Certified Refurbished)No3 HDMI, 1 USB Check Price

Be sure to also check out our TV Under $500 Buying Guide for the final things to look for before buying that new TV!

LED and LCD are the most popular TV screen types today, and even though LED is actually a special kind of LCD, you should take note of the differences. The main one is their lighting source – fluorescent lights for LCD and light emitting diodes for LED TVs. Generally speaking LED TVs offer wider viewing angles, better blacks and contrast if they’re lit from the back, have sharper colors and last longer. Ordinary LCDs are cheaper and more accessible.

This doesn’t help with picking out the right TV as much as you’d think. There are so many models to choose from and each has a different combination of stats and features that suit different kinds of people and their lifestyles.

I’ve gone through quite a number of TVs and endured countless hours of questionable programming before writing the guide, and the result is a selection of models from which anyone can pick a favorite. Once you do, be sure to also go over the buyer’s guide at the end. The TV tips inside will help you figure out what to focus on when choosing one.

So, don’t change the channel, err… leave the page, and get a taste of the best mid-ranged TVs available today.

1. Samsung UN48J5000 48-Inch 1080p LED TV (2015 Model) – The All-Around Best TV Under $500 Dollars

As one of the leading TV manufacturers in the world, Samsung strive to provide their consumers with a wide array of attractive models. I’ll be taking a look at some of them that offer impressive results for a very reasonable price. Kicking it off is the 48-inch UN48J5000, possibly the best TV under $500 when you weigh price with performance.

Its trademark modern look and extremely thin sides will make it the centerpiece of any living room, but aesthetics take a back seat to the cool features this TV comes with. The great way it handles motion blur is the best one – you can watch a baseball game or a football match on it without missing any of the action. A wide viewing angle is another one of its selling points, allowing the gang on your couch to enjoy the show without having to huddle together.

The picture you get on it is crisp and clear, especially when you hook it up to a Blu-ray player or are reproducing HD content from an external disk or USB. Due to its low stutter and high response times, the UN48J5000 is also a great option if you’re looking for a decent gaming TV that won’t set you back by much and won’t have a negative impact on your kill count either.

Since it has an IPS panel, a few problems with how the blacks look were to be expected. There’s not much you can do to make them look less gray, but you’ll notice this the most only in a completely black room, so if you like to turn the lights on or do most of your TV watching during the daytime, this won’t even be a problem.

That being said, this Samsung UN48J5000 TV, even without smart TV capabilities is a great all around TV. If you do plan on streaming content on the TV, all you need is a Roku, Chromecast, or an Amazon Firestick to get you going.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angle
  • Excellent response time
  • Sturdy base
Cons
  • The quality of blacks isn’t all that good

2. Samsung Electronics UN40MU6300 40-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2017 Model) – The Best 40 Inch TV Under $500

If you don’t mind giving up a few measly inches and investing a little more money into a TV of the future, Samsung have got you covered too. Their UN40MU6300 combines 4K, visually stunning HDR technology, and an intuitive smart approach to watching TV that’s slowly but surely becoming the norm.

Considering all of these features, saying this is the best 40″ TV under $500 isn’t outrageous. The 4k alone would have been worth it since you’re getting a picture that is four times as detailed as the current full HD standard. The TV also makes use of HDR, meaning that the picture isn’t only much more detailed, but its appearance is more realistic due to the way it simulates how a human eye would perceive it.

It’s also arguably the best 40″ smart TV under $500. Samsung’s Smarthub allows you to browse the web, stream content and keep track of your media service accounts. It is easy to use and brings the TV viewing experience into the current century while streamlining the use of additional devices via its remote control.

If you plan on hooking the TV up to your surround sound’s extra speakers, keep in mind that you’ll have to manually adjust each speaker’s volume since there’s no way to do this via the remote. Its built-in sound system is surprisingly good though, so you might as well take advantage of it.

All of these make buying the UN40MU6300 one of the best ideas you’ll ever have. A slew of features, superb picture quality and a future-proof design make it a serious choice for all your viewing needs.

Pros
  • 4k resolution and HDR
  • Smart hub capabilities
  • Great remote
Cons
  • Has no way to control external speakers

3. Sony KDL48R510C 48-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model) – The Best TV for Gaming Under $500

When online gaming becomes serious business, then the tools you need to propel you to the top need to step their game up too. There are probably some hard core gamers over at Sony who know what you need from personal experience, and have managed to equip the KDL48R510C to with some exciting features that are sure to help boost your stats.

Picture-wise, the quality is above average. I really enjoyed the brightness of its whites and the very good contrast. Even though there aren’t that many settings to tinker with, finding the right balance of color and contrast is quick and easy.

You can comfortably watch all your programs on the KDL48R510C, but its best use is definitely for gaming. A feature called LED motion takes care of blurry backgrounds so you can see far away enemies better, and when you switch the TV to gaming mode there’s a noticeable reduction of the input lag of your controller so your reflexes won’t be affected by slow response times.

The viewing angle is a bit too small. Here’s what I mean: It will do for a single person gaming or watching TV while sitting directly in front of it, but the colors start to degrade pretty fast the farther you move to the side, making co-op or movie nights with a lot of friends not as enjoyable.

Sitting down in front of the KDL48R510C and putting its gaming capabilities to the test was a blast. The crystal clear picture and nearly instant responsiveness really feel as if they’re giving you an edge. If you’re on the hunt for the best gaming TV under $500, you’ve found your mark.

Pros
  • Blur reduction
  • Gaming mode
  • Good color balance
Cons
  • Small viewing angle

4. Samsung UN50J6200 50-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model) – The Best 50 Inch TV Under $500

For those of you who aren’t hung up on how many pixels your TV can display, but who insist on a big screen, cinematic feel and sharp picture quality, Samsung have developed the UN50J6200, the best 50” TV under $500.

A common problem with modern TVs is their inability to display true black. Having said that, the UN50J6200 comes very close. It looks and feels like a substitute for the big screen of your local movie theater, and was designed to maintain its high picture quality even inside dark rooms very well. On the opposite end, reflections don’t pose a problem for it either.

Back when it first came out, this TV’s smart capabilities were cutting edge, and their functionality is still good today. You can easily discover new apps as well as video content by making use of it. There’s also onboard Wi-Fi so you can have access to all your favorite websites and take in a movie at the same time.

The smart features on this TV felt a bit sluggish. Since it is an older model, the options available and its overall responsiveness are beginning to show their age, especially since Samsung themselves have delivered some great improvements to this feature with their newer models.

Even so, this is the best 50 inch smart TV under $500 you’re likely to find. The large screen and the excellent quality of its display should be reason enough to grab one, and its smart technology is sure to stay relevant for at least a few more years.

Pros
  • Size
  • Cinematic feel
Cons
  • Slow smart features

5. TCL 48FS3750 48-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV (2016 Model) – The Best 48 Inch TV Under $500

You might not have heard of TCL, but once you experience all that the 48FS3750 has to offer, they might become your favorite TV manufacturer. They’re based in China and have achieved great success in their home market. For western audiences, they’ve partnered up with Roku, and the result is the best 48 inch TV under $500 that offers a functional, smart and enjoyable viewing experience.

By far the best thing about it are the smart features. The interface is easy to use and brimming with apps, channel options, and streaming services. Searching for your favorite shows couldn’t be easier. It even allows you to compare the prices of shows by different providers so you can always save some cash by choosing the cheapest one.

The display itself is solid. The colors are pronounced and balanced, the whites are bright and clear. You should have no trouble watching the TV in a brightly lit room because of this. There aren’t that many preset options to choose from, but those it does have get the job done.

On the other hand, the contrast settings and black levels leave something to be desired. Another downside is the limited remote. While it is great for navigating the TV’s smart features and adjusting its volume, the few buttons the remote does have make changing channels and operating your cable a bit clumsy.

This is a TV for the modern age, and it isn’t afraid to show it. Taking into account its price point and the Roku features integrated into it, the 48FS3750 is a steal you’ll get a ton of multimedia enjoyment out of.

Pros
  • Integrated Roku platform
  • Vivid colors and excellent whites
  • Great value
Cons
  • Limited remote
  • Blacks and contrast settings could be better

6. Samsung UN50J5000 50-Inch 1080p LED TV (2015 Model) – The Best Non Smart TV Under $500

Being able to watch YouTube or read this guide from the comfort of your armchair is neat, but when you want to save a few bucks without sacrificing on the TV’s size and quality, it’s perfectly reasonable to abandon smart functionality for the time being. The UN50J5000 might not be “smart”, but it doesn’t compromise on any of its other features.

It has most of the characteristics of the smaller UN48J5000, and a few of its own strengths. The way it handles reflections is better for one. There are no pesky rainbows around them and the mostly matte screen does a good job of softening the reflections so they aren’t as irritating. You’ll appreciate its generous viewing angle when a lot of people start crowding around the TV too.

One thing that might be off-putting to some are the slightly darker corners and a few darker lines noticeable throughout the screen. This is only obvious when the TV is displaying one single color and shouldn’t have an impact on normal viewing.

Ditching the smart feature has paid off for Samsung as focusing on this model’s other aspects allowed them to produce the best non smart TV under $500. Just hook Roku or Chromecast up to it and you’ll have all the smarts you’ll ever need, plus a really fine TV to make use of them.

Pros
  • Reduced glare
  • Wide viewing angle
Cons
  • Screen corners are darker than rest of the picture

7. TCL 50FS3800 50-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV (2015 Model) – The Best 1080p TV Under $500

Although TCL’s 48FS3750 is newer, the model that continues to be the best 1080p TV for under $500 is the slightly larger 50FS3800. Size plays only a minor part in that though, the picture quality makes a greater difference.

Honestly, the picture this TV is able to put out can compete with some much more expensive models. You can see this most clearly in the excellent blacks and a respectable contrast range. The quality shines the most when there are a lot of shadows on the screen, so you’ll get to see it in its full glory the next time you watch a Batman movie. The color palette is accurate too, displaying realistic skin tones and beautiful scenery with ease.

This model also comes equipped with Roku. Its functionality is exactly the same as with the other model I’ve already talked about, meaning that it adds excellent value to an already solid TV.

While there isn’t anything wrong with the TV’s outstanding functionality and display properties, there is one design flaw I found to be annoying. Its HDMI ports and a headphone jack are located at the back of the panel and face downwards. This is clunky and makes hooking HDMI cables to it harder than it has to be.

Once you hook everything up and turn it on though, the 50FS3800’s vibrant colors and advanced smart capabilities will make it worth the trouble ten times over. This is a TV you won’t regret purchasing and easily holds a perfect score in my book.

Pros
  • High quality display
  • Great looking shadows
  • Roku features
Cons
  • Awkward HDMI port placement

8. Samsung UN43J5200 43-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model) – The Best Smart TV Under $500 for Watching Movies

The last model by Samsung is the dream come true for movie buffs! It isn’t as big as some of their other models, but it more than makes up for that with the quality of its display, specifically targeted at people who want to recreate the feel of going to the movies while comfortably sitting on their couch.

There’s no need to tinker with calibration settings as this is one of the rare TVs whose factory settings you can use as is and not miss out. Even if you’re pedantic about such things, the UN43J5200 offers enough calibration options to make its screen highly customizable.

This model has one of the best blacks and contrasts out of all the TVs in the guide, and its black uniformity is second to none. This means that the darker portions of the screen surrounding light ones don’t brighten, preserving contrast and the original look of the scene.

When smarts are concerned, this model comes with the Tizen interface and an integrated web browser so you can scour IMDb for next movie night’s pick right after enjoying the last.

Pronounced motion blur is the only thing that might break your immersion. This isn’t a problem during static scenes. Fans of action-packed movies might find it a bit distracting though.

If you want your TV’s picture to be spot on for that Lord of the Rings marathon and take advantage of services like Netflix all the time, then this is the best smart TV under $500 for you, no questions asked. Just make some popcorn and it will let you experience the feel of a movie theater without the hassle.

Pros
  • Excellent blacks and contrast
  • Superb black uniformity
  • Integrated smart features
Cons
  • Problems with motion blur

9. TCL 40S305 40-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV (2017 Model) – The Best LED TV Under $500 for the Money

The smallest TCL model I’ve tested is also the most attractive in terms of what you’re getting for a price that’s out of this world. Yes, it isn’t nearly as big as the two models discussed above, and yet it goes head to head with them in every other aspect.

The most valuable thing about it is the built-in Roku Express. Its integration into the TV saves you $30, and the value you’ll get from the additional content this lets you access will pay for the feature in a matter of weeks.

The 40S305 is no slouch when it comes to performance either. It offers a bright, vivid image in well-lit rooms. The contrast and blacks are nothing to write home about, but are better than expected for this price.

If you’re planning on viewing cable over this TV, be aware that it doesn’t support volume adjustment through the cable’s remote. You’ll have to use one to change channels and the other for volume control, which might be a bit annoying to some.

As far as entry-level TVs that have more than just the basics goes, the 40S305 is the best LED TV under $500. Coming in at a price that you’ll have a really hard time beating while offering decent image quality and smart technology powered by Roku, it is a TV set that will find a welcome home in many living rooms, so why not yours too?

Pros
  • Great price
  • Smart technology
Cons
  • Doesn’t allow cable’s volume to be controlled by its remote

10. Element ELEFW328R 32″ 720p HDTV (Certified Refurbished) – The Best LCD TV for Under $500 for People on a Tight Budget

When the old TV gets broken and you need an inexpensive solution to hold you over, or are on a tight budget but don’t want to settle for the cheapest model possible, then the ELEFW328R is the price to performance king. Naturally, given its attractive price, you shouldn’t expect it to perform as well as some higher end models in the guide. Still, this model does have a few positive surprises up its sleeve.

Given that this is an LCD display, the viewing angle is surprisingly wide and on par with LED models. The same can be said about its color palette. It leans a bit to the blue side, but overall the balance is very well done.

Affordability comes with some compromises though. The HDMI slots are placed in the same way as with TCL’s 50FS3800 and are hard to reach. More importantly though, black uniformity is not that great on this model and you can clearly see differently colored smidges when the screen goes completely dark.

All of this can easily be forgiven when you take one more look at it price tag. Picking up the ELEFW328R will barely put a dent in your pocket, and if you aren’t too fussy about size or advanced features, it offers great performance and ease of use.

Pros
  • Excellent value
  • Great color display considering the price
Cons
  • Awkward HDMI port placement
  • Sub-par black uniformity

What’s the difference between LED and LCD TVs?

First things first, an LED TV is an LCD TV.

The old LCD TVs you’re thinking about are no longer around. Older LCD TVs used cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) to provide backlighting, whereas LED TV’s used an array of smaller, more efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the screen, which gave them a few advantages. Now, all LCD TVs use LED lights and are all considered LED TVs.

Source: Digital Trends

TV Under $500 Buyer’s Guide

Having a spending limit means you need to carefully go over all the aspects of your TV and determine your priorities. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Size – Unless you’re planning to buy a small TV for your bedroom or college dorm, going big doesn’t come with many drawbacks. As we’ve seen there are 50 inch TVs in this price range with fantastic features, so if you don’t mind forgoing higher resolutions or the latest smart tech, bigger definitely is better.
  • Display Features – TV manufacturers use a lot of buzzwords to convince you that the quality of their screen is greater than it actually is. While some proprietary technologies do offer small improvements, the most important things to note here are the resolution and HDR. 4k is a step up from full HD, but the difference isn’t as big as manufacturers would have you believe. On the other hand, HDR provides a more natural looking picture and is a feature you should seriously consider paying extra for.
  • Display Quality – The sharpest and largest TV you can afford might still not deliver the kind of picture you were hoping for due to a dull color palette or poor contrast. Online reviews are a good start in determining whether a TV is a good fit for you in that regard, but visiting a local electronics store and seeing it in action will give you an even better idea.
  • Smart Technology – Love it or hate it, smart is here to stay. It turns your TV into the true multimedia center of your house and makes it much more interactive. Not getting a TV which includes it is absolutely viable though, and it’s actually a good idea even if you want the features to buy a regular TV and a dongle from a service like Roku which you can then attach to a new TV when this one stops working.

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