You don’t have to spend a small fortune to get a decent TV these days. There are many models, from well-known brands, at entry-level prices that still deliver a decent viewing experience. Whereas budget TVs used to be stripped-down versions with very little features, modern budget TVs have smart features and extras that are almost as good as the more expensive models. Budget TVs typically aren’t as bright as more expensive models, though, so room choice is a more important factor when choosing a budget TV.
best picture quality budget tv
Hisense 50H8F: The best budget TV
Other Sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch
The Hisense H8F is the best budget TV that we’ve tested so far. Despite the budget price, this TV delivers impressive performance that should please most people. It has great picture quality, decent motion handling, and outstanding low input lag. The smart platform is one of the best, so you don’t have to worry about buying a separate streaming device.
This TV has an outstanding contrast ratio and decent local dimming feature, great for dark room viewing. It also has great SDR peak brightness, but when watching HDR content, small highlights aren’t as bright as they should be.
Unfortunately, like most TVs with VA panels, this TV has bad viewing angles, so it isn’t as well-suited for a wide seating area, or if you like to move around with the TV on. Overall, though, it’s a great TV for almost any use, and it even outperforms many far more expensive models.
LG 49UM7300: The best budget TV for sports fans
Other Sizes: 43-inch, 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch
If you like watching the big game with a group of friends, the LG 49UM7300 is the best budget TV for sports fans that we’ve tested so far. It has good viewing angles, so everyone can enjoy the game regardless of where they’re standing, and excellent reflection handling, so glare shouldn’t be an issue in a bright room.
This TV has the same great smart features as the more expensive LG models, but the interface is a bit slower. It has the same great app selection, though, including many of the most popular apps for streaming sports.
Unfortunately, this TV has a low contrast ratio, so it isn’t as well-suited for watching games late at night in a dark room. Overall, though, it’s a good budget TV that should please most people.
TCL 32S325: The best cheap TV
Other Sizes: 43-inch, 50-inch, 65-inch, 70-inch, 75-inch
If you just want a cheap TV, check out the TCL 32S325. Although it doesn’t deliver very good picture quality, it’s a cheap choice for a bedroom or office, with very low input lag, decent motion handling, and excellent accuracy with our pre-calibration settings.
Despite the budget price, this TV runs the latest version of the Roku smart interface. This easy-to-use smart platform isn’t the fanciest, but it’s fast and has a huge selection of streaming apps. Unfortunately, there are ads, and they can’t be disabled.
Overall, this is a pretty basic TV. It doesn’t support HDR, has a relatively low resolution and delivers mediocre picture quality. There are larger sizes available that have a higher resolution, but we haven’t tested them, so we don’t know exactly how well they perform.
Vizio E55-F1: The best value for size TV
If you want a larger TV on a budget, the Vizio E Series E55-F1 offers the best value for size. This is a good TV for most uses, and is a great choice for gaming or for use as a PC monitor. It has good picture quality, decent motion handling, and excellent low input lag.
This TV looks great in a dark room, as it has outstanding contrast and excellent black uniformity, but the local dimming feature isn’t the best. This also improves the appearance of HDR content, but it isn’t bright enough to really show off HDR content.
Unfortunately, the image degrades when viewed at an angle, so it isn’t as good as the LG UM7300 for watching sports with a group of friends. The smart interface is also basic, with a very limited selection of streaming apps, so it might not be a great choice for cord-cutters.
TCL 55S517: Best value for size TV with better smart features
Other Sizes: 43-inch, 49-inch, 65-inch
If you like the performance of the Vizio E Series 2018 but want something with better smart features, check out the TCL 55S517 instead. This is a good TV for most uses, with low input lag for gaming, a wide color gamut, and an excellent contrast ratio.
The 5 Series TVs, like most U.S. TCL TVs, feature the great Roku smart platform. Although the interface isn’t as polished as some of its competitors, it’s extremely easy to use, fast and has a huge selection of streaming apps, called Channels on Roku. Most paid streaming services have apps available on Roku, and there’s also a great selection of apps with free streaming content.
Unfortunately, like most TVs with VA panels, the image on this TV degrades when viewed at an angle. It also can’t get very bright in HDR, so small, bright highlights in some scenes don’t stand out as much as they should. Overall, though, it’s a great TV that should please most people.