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Best TVs under $500

There was a time when purchasing a ‘budget’ flat screen TV meant giving up on performance, features, and even brand names. No more. As technology has advanced, the mid-to-entry level HDTV segment has enjoyed continually improved picture quality and added a bevy of other options once reserved for the premium tier. To help you get the best bang for your buck, we’ve picked out our favorite TVs in the under-$500 category.

This year, we’ve highlighted one TV as our top pick, though any choice from our list will bring you big bang for not a lot of bucks. So whether you’re looking to outfit your bedroom with a TV, or catch up with the times and upgrade to HD, we’ve got your best bets right here.

Have more than $500 to spend on a TV? Check our our picks for the Best TVs under $1000

The Best

Vizio E48-C2 48” 1080p Smart LED HDTV ($470)

Vizio-E48-C2

While the 48-inch version of this value-packed TV rides below the $500 line, you may find your eyeballs will want to opt for the 50-inch version (E50-C2), which offers even more awesome for just a bit more scratch. Apart from a  slightly bigger screen, the E50-C2 employs 12 zones of Full Array Local Dimming, which allows the set to create deeper black levels, thus improving contrast. In comparison, the E48 offers half that amount of zones, and, as a rule, more zones = better performance.

Vizio’s E-series offers a 120Hz panel for high-quality motion resolution, a relatively intuitive smart interface with plenty of apps, and solid overall picture quality, though you may have to make a few adjustments to get things just right. You may have noticed Vizio’s E-series dethrones its own M-series as our top pick this year, as the M-series now features 4K UHD resolution and, thus, slightly higher prices. And while it may be tempting to opt for a 4K display right now, budget buyers will find that the difference between 4K and 1080p at screen sizes under 55-inches is negligible, if not entirely unnoticeable.

Screen size 48 in
Display technology LED
Backlighting Full-array
Refresh rate 120 Hz

Buy it now on:

Amazon Walmart B&H Best Buy

The Rest

Samsung UN40J6200 40” 1080p Smart LED TV ($428)

Samsung-UN40J6200-40-inch-TV

Praised for its uniform black levels, smooth motion resolution, and rich colors, the J6200 is the best way to get into the Samsung family below the $500 line. With a thick plastic bezel, a plain-Jane stand, and a panel that doesn’t stand up well to off-axis viewing, there’s no doubt this TV breathes budget. The smart functionality also leaves something to be desired — it’s a little slow when compared to more modern sets. But, as part of the Samsung lineup, the J6200 does boast the best app selection in the industry, and tying that into the rest of the package makes this an excellent starter or bedroom set.

Screen size 40 in
Display technology LED
Backlighting Edge-lit
Refresh rate 60 Hz

Buy it now on:

Amazon Walmart Frys B&H

LG 42LF5600 42” 1080p LED TV ($384)

LG-42LB5600

Not everybody wants to spend $500, and if you’re going leaner, the 5600 is a viable choice from LG’s less expensive offerings. There are no smart TV apps on board, but what this TV lacks in options it makes up for in sheer dollar value, offering solid performance for a pittance of the price of most newer sets. And hey, you can always add a Roku Streaming Stick, Amazon Fire TV Stick, or a Chromecast to smarten this set up on the cheap.

Screen size 42 in
Display technology LED
Backlighting Edge-lit
Refresh rate 60 Hz

Buy it now on:

Amazon Best Buy Walmart B&H

Sony KDL40W600B 40” 1080p 60Hz Smart LED TV ($472)

Sony-KDL40W600B

This sweet little bargain from Sony is fully loaded, including a smart platform, 4 HDMI inputs, and that incomparable Sony glow. While Sony has shifted its focus almost entirely to premium displays, the 600B is proof it still has some great deals at the lower tier. With a well-designed exterior, and high marks across the board for performance, the W600B brings the noise.

Screen size 40 in
Display technology LED
Backlighting Edge-lit
Refresh rate 60 Hz

Buy it now on:

Amazon Walmart B&H

Sharp LC-48LE653U 48” 1080p 60Hz Smart LED TV ($460)

Sharp-LC-48LE653U

Sharp’s LE653U isn’t packed with the kind of features that will knock your socks off, especially when it comes to the smart apps, which are fairly limited. That said, one thing Sharp has always done well is creating vivid, accurate color reproduction, and this TV is no exception. Though we’re slightly bummed that Sharp trades the full array backlighting of last year’s LE551U for an edge-lit display here, the TV gets high marks for its above-average contrast, and solid black levels. Those who are already saddled with a quality streaming device will find a lot of value here for the money.

Screen size 48 in
Display technology LED
Backlighting Edge-lit
Refresh rate 60 Hz

Buy it now on:

Amazon Walmart B&H Frys

Hisense 40H4C 40″ LED 1080p HDTV w/ built in Roku TV ($300)

Hisense-40H4C

You may not have heard of Hisense yet, but the rising brand out of China is clawing its way into the conversation. Though its performance may not stand up to high scrutiny, the deciding factor for the H4C’s place on our list once again this year is its built-in Roku interface, which is one of the best smart UIs on the market.

Screen size 40 in
Display technology LED
Backlighting Edge-lit
Refresh rate 60 Hz

Buy it now on:

Best Buy

TCL 50FS3800 50” 1080p Roku Smart LED TV ($480)

TCL-50FS3800

While this year’s model is an update of our previous pick from the second top brand out of China, many of the same rules apply. Like the Hisense, this display is unlikely to wow you with a premium picture, but its proposition of a 50-inch screen with Roku baked in, all for a price below the magic $500 watermark makes this TV an enticing choice.

Screen size 40 in
Display technology LED
Backlighting Edge-lit
Refresh rate 60 Hz

Buy it now on:

Amazon Walmart

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