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The Best TV under $500

by on December 10, 2017
in TVs & Video Players, News, Music and Video, Blog, Money Savers, Top Picks :: 18 comments

Looking for the best TV under $500? The 55" TCL 55S405 is the way to go. Beyond its large screen size, the TCL 55S405 offers 4K resolution, HDR and built-in Roku TV, making it one of the easiest to use and most fully functional smart TVs on the market.

The TCL lists for $599, but it's currently available for only $399.99 on Amazon and Best Buy, making it an absolute steal.

Techlicious Editor's Pick

Best TV under $500:
TCL 55S405

TCL 55S405

Why the TCL 55S405?

If you have thousands to spend on a set, there's no shortage of excellent choices in a large screen TV. But that list drops significantly as you go below $1,000, and is basically non-existent below $500. In this price range, there are two brands worth considering - TCL and Samsung.

Samsung is offering its 50" UN50MU6300 for $477.99 on Amazon. Both the Samsung and TCL provide a 4K picture and HDR. Neither panel is back-lit, so they don't do full justice to HDR content as they are unable to produce the contrast and color gamut of higher-end panels, but the TCL has higher contrast than the Samsung in testing by PCMag and, among others. The Samsung panel also has a more narrow viewing angle, shows less color uniformity and more motion blur and a has a slower response time than the TCL. On the downside, the TCL doesn't have as high overall brightness and sound quality isn't great if you're listening with its built-in speakers. While Samsung is known if its high-quality TVs, the company's focus is on the high-end and it doesn't compete as well at entry-level price points.

In contrast to Samsung, the TCL 55S405 offers a larger screen size for the money - 55" versus 50" - and built-in Roku TV streaming and search. You have access to thousands of apps plus the ability to pull in searchable local listings if you attach an antenna (we like the Mohu Leaf, $14.99 for a 25-mile range or 34.95 for a 30-mile range). Having used many smart TV platforms, I can tell you that Roku is better than any of them. While you can certainly buy a separate Roku box and connect it to the Vizio (or any other TV), having it built into the TCL saves you $50 and makes for a more seamless experience. For someone who is looking for a simple to use, yet incredibly functional smart TV experience, you will be very happy with the TCL.

Owners have also been fond of the TCL, giving it 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Many praise the image quality and features for the price. 

In short, the TCL 55US5800 offers an amazing combination of features and value, which makes it our choice for the Best TV under $500. 

Low-cost Alternatives

If you're willing to spend an extra $100, you can take a big step up in picture quality with the 55" TCL 55P607 ($599.99 on BestBuy and $649.99 sold by Amazon). The 55P607 can fully display HDR, with the higher contrast and color gamut. It's widely acknowledged by reviewers as the best-quality low-cost TV on the market.

Beyond these TCL options, the Samsung 50" UN50MU6300 is really your only other viable option. But given its issues with motion blur, viewing angle and uneven colors, it's hard to recommend it over the TCL.

(UPDATED: 12/10/17 with new picks. Prices accurate as of  12/10/2017.)

Discussion loading



From forza on April 22, 2016 :: 10:21 pm




Vizio M43-C1 vs E50-C1

From Armand on April 22, 2016 :: 10:32 pm

Concerning the picture quality difference between the Vizio M43-C1 and E50-C1: granted 4K is irrelevant, more importantly the M43 has 28 active LED zones compared to 12 for the E50 and a dynamic contrast ratio of 20 million to 1 compared to 5 million to 1 for the E.



From Hank Arnold on November 10, 2016 :: 11:12 am

Sorry, not agreeing this story.  Go to a store and compare this TV to any major brand and you won’t be buying the TCL unless you’re really strapped for cash.



My research says otherwise

From Josh Kirschner on November 10, 2016 :: 12:04 pm

I reviewed what options were available from all the major brands at this price point, numerous professional reviews to build an overall consensus of the options, as well as reviews from actual owners on Amazon and other sites. While there are certainly many TVs that you can buy from major brands that will give you a better, sometimes a far better picture, there simply wasn’t anything else out there near this price point that offers anywhere near the value you get from the TCL.

To get under $500 with Samsung, you would need to go with the 50” J5200. It gets lower picture quality ratings from Rtings than the TCL, doesn’t offer the Roku smart TV interface and has a smaller screen size than the TCL. It’s also not 4K, though that doesn’t really matter. Anything else worth considering would be at least $200 more.

LG’s 49” UH6100 again gets slightly lower picture quality ratings, has a better smart TV system than Samsung, but still not a good as the Roku, and is a smaller display than the TCL. Though LG’s IPS displays offer better off-axis viewing than the TCL and the LG is also brighter. However, the LG 6100 is $600, putting it out of the price range.



A year later....

From Hank Arnold on December 11, 2017 :: 6:24 pm

....yes, a year later I couldn’t agree more.  Whether it was the stores I was viewing them in last year or what, I went out a couple of weeks ago after seeing the review in the Wire Cutter and I was blown away.  You can get better, but you’ll have to pay for it.




From Jewely on November 19, 2016 :: 11:51 pm

Did you look at the Westinghouse 50” that’s selling at Best Buy for $298? I don’t know much about tvs, but that seems like a good deal - especially if you’re not a gamer or totally obsessed with extreme picture quality (honestly, a 4K and 1080p look pretty close to my eyes)?



Wouldn't be our pick over the TCL

From Josh Kirschner on November 21, 2016 :: 9:17 am

We didn’t look at that specific Westinghouse model. Checking around, I don’t see any professional reviews for it, though Westinghouse is not a highly-regarded TV brand in terms of picture quality. has given previous models of Westinghouse TVs poor ratings. With the TCL, you’ll get a larger screen plus the excellent Roku smart TV features (the Westinghouse has no smart TV built-in, so you’ll need to spring additional money for a streaming device). Even at $200 more, I would opt for the TCL. And I now see the TCL on sale for only $399 on Amazon, which makes it a no-brainer over the Westinghouse.



not there anymore

From Micki on November 28, 2016 :: 7:06 pm

It must have been a good pick, because now, not quite a month later, the link leads one to a TCL 65US5800 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV (2016 Model) with the price listed as $849.99.  That’s quite a difference.  I tried to find the correct model number on Amazon but they only list 3rd party sellers.

I guess I shouldn’t be so far behind on my reading, right?  grin




From Will on December 11, 2017 :: 12:38 pm

If you’re going to compare ratings on anything, you really need to make sure of who tested them for one thing. Some are better than others when it comes to testing. ALSO, and this is just as important, if not more, Testing should be done using the exact same testing “battery.” Testing with different tests or sources for the tests can skew the results. Much like manufacturer contrast levels which tend to only be equal (on the same scale and done with the same tests) within the same brand.

yes, the cheaper the TV, usually the lower the specs/quality, especially with more features, or higher scale features (i.e. 4k over 1080p or 720p - the market has many 720p choices and smaller TVs for around $100-$200 that are 720p)

There is also the other side of the scale too… pricing at such a level the only thing you really get is bragging rights while you sniff your cork collection.

TCL can produce some high-end units, but the rest is regular Chinese hit-and-miss. (same with HiSense.) Polaroid, Westinghouse, RCA, they are but shadows of what they once were. They really only exist in name only and the quality is that of most inexpensive Chinese made stuff.



Your points are valid

From Josh Kirschner on December 11, 2017 :: 1:56 pm

The quality/consistency of the testing is vitally important, which is why only use sources that we know and trust (in many cases, we’re not only deeply familiar with the publications, we know the AV expert doing the testing, as well).

For under $500, you certainly shouldn’t be expecting the latest in cutting-edge technology, but you shouldn’t get crap, either. This particular model of TCL is able to deliver quite a bit of value for the price. If you want higher quality, the TCL 55P607 ( is a terrific choice, but it’s $450 more (yet still a great deal). And the Vizio M-Series also is a top performer at the lower price tier, but is over $500 for the 50” so didn’t make the cut for this article.




From Will on December 12, 2017 :: 3:10 am

Still, if the testers work for different places, their tests may be different, making it hard to directly compare without some reference between the two. If the tests are ran by the exact same standard set up by the publisher for multiple units, then they can be a direct comparison. But, say Brand A is tested by a Purch owned branded websites (TomsHardware/Anandtech/etc.) (and they do have good people with some solid tests for various things) and say the Brand B is a CBS/ZDNet/TechRepublic/CNet/etc. Assuming actual hands-on full testing reviews and not just the PR release on the item. Two different sources, two different sets of tests = poor comparison, regardless of how good the tests are or the people doing the testing.



True but...

From Josh Kirschner on December 12, 2017 :: 10:29 am

We try to find as many apples-to-apples comparisons as we can (e.g., Rtings has standardized testing procedures and covers a wide gamut of models). However, we don’t rely on one set of reviews precisely because we want to see how TVs perform across a range of testing procedures, and we also take into account the qualitative opinions of AV experts we know, along with owner reviews from Amazon and Best Buy (some products test great, but have issues crop up in real world situations).

p.s. I go the price wrong for the P607 above - it’s actually $649 if you buy direct from Amazon.


Spend that extra $100

From Robert Hall on December 12, 2017 :: 12:08 am

The TCL 55P605 at Best buy, $600. has top reviews all over the place. I liked the one here:  . Its for the 607 but the only difference I can find is it costs less and has a remote that isn’t as good as the 607.



Yes, another great option

From Josh Kirschner on December 12, 2017 :: 10:24 am

The TCL 55P605 is actually $200 more ($400 vs $600), but it is a big step up in picture quality, with true HDR. The only difference between the P605 and P607 is the remote. But I see Amazon has the P607 for $649 (, and I would spend the extra $49. The upgraded remote with a headphone jack, voice search and remote finder is worth the little bit extra.



General Consensus?

From Will on December 31, 2017 :: 5:51 pm

What is the general consensus on the LG 49UJ6200? MSRP is around $700, but it’s been around $400 or less this Christmas.



It's fine, but not as good as the TCL

From Josh Kirschner on January 02, 2018 :: 11:09 am

The LG 6200/6300 series is a decent entry-level 4K TV. It gets slightly lower scores on RTINGS than the TCL due to lower color accuracy and black uniformity. However, the LG does has a wider viewing angle, if that is important to you. Given the drawbacks of the LG and the smaller screen size, we still recommend the TCL.


Best TVs under 500 dollars

From Debbie Maynard Skidmore on March 13, 2018 :: 2:02 am

Informative article, however it only rates TVs 50’ or larger. We are interested in replacing a bedroom TV but space is limited to approx. 40”. What would be your recomendation in that size category.



40-inch TV recommendations

From Suzanne Kantra on March 13, 2018 :: 10:39 am

For a 40-inch TV, the Samsung MU7000 is widely acknowledged as the best. You’ll find it for $550 on Best Buy.

The much less expensive TCL 40S305 ($250 on Amazon) is also a good option. It isn’t 4K, but at 40 inches that’s not as much an issue, and the HDR quality isn’t as good as the Samsung, but you do get Roku built-in, which is an excellent smart TV interface for streaming services, as well as over-the-air programming.


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