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.
Best TV under $500:
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 Rtings.com, 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.
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.)