Gone are the days of dragging home a giant 50-pound CRT TV or endlessly adjusting your antennae during a live football broadcast. Today, you can get a crystal-clear flat screen TV for a fraction of the price of original models.
If you’ve been considering a TV upgrade, now is the perfect time to read our complete guide so you can find the best cheap TV.
Quick Look: Best Cheap TV
- Best Overall: TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4k TV
- Best for Gaming: LG 49SK8000PUA 4K TV
- Best 50-Inch TV: TCL 55R617 - 55" 4K TV
- Best 65-Inch TV: Hisense 2018 Model Roku TV 65" Class R6E
- Best 70-Inch TV: VIZIO D D70-F3 69.5" 2160p LED-LCD TV
- Best for Outside Use: Sony KD43X720E
Key Features of an Affordable Television
You can get a good-looking TV with all of your favorite features, usually at a low price. Unfortunately, not every low-budget television is of equal quality. TVs tend to release new models each year, but the truth is that most of the specs remain the same from year-to-year. There are a few features that you need to consider while you shop for a TV — especially if you’re working on a limited budget. Before you buy, make sure you check for these key features.
When you shop for a TV, one of the first things you should check is the resolution. In the world of TV,“resolution basically means clarity. Better resolution means the screen has more pixels and you get a better picture quality.
You’ll usually see three resolutions on sale when you shop: 1080p, 4k and 8k. 1080p is usually the lowest resolution sold in stores — it’s also the least expensive. On the other hand, 8k resolution offers a clearer picture at a higher price point and 4k is in the middle.
If you don’t want to buy a new television for a few years, you’re better off pitching in a few extra dollars to buy a 4k model. 1080p clarity is fine, but 4k resolution has become the industry standard and much more affordable since it was first introduced.
Even if you have more money to spare, you’re better off skipping 8k for now. Very few movies and broadcast channels are using it, so it’s better to wait until the technology becomes more common and drops in price. If you do happen upon a TV with a lower resolution than 1080p, it’s a good idea to skip that, too.
There are basically 2 types of displays available on the market today: LED and OLED. LED TVs, unsurprisingly, use a backlight and a layer of LED lights to illuminate the screen.
Advances in technology have made LED TVs much more advanced and able to differentiate between light and dark than before. No-frills LED TVs are even available at affordable prices in 4k resolution.
OLED TVs are the latest in television technology. Instead of using a backlight, OLED TVs used multiple layers of organic LEDs to light the screen.
This allows OLED TVs to achieve absolute black, stunning resolution, and a movie theater-level viewing experience. Unfortunately, because this technology is still in its infancy, OLED TVs are almost comically expensive — a 55-inch OLED TV will commonly cost upward of $4,000. If you’re working on a budget, stick with LED TV sets.
HDMI Ports To Spare
Every modern TV choice on the market has at least 1 HDMI port. But when it comes to HDMI options, more is definitely better.
You can save yourself the hassle of cable clutter by searching for TVs with at least 4 ports. Giving yourself plenty of port options allows you to keep your gaming systems, Blu-ray players and other add-ons plugged in at the same time — without crawling behind your TV to reactivate them when you want to switch devices.
When shopping for a 4k TV, make sure the HDMI ports support HD 2.0 so they work with future Ultra HD sources. There’s nothing worse than upgrading to the next generation of your favorite gaming console only to find that the TV you bought a handful of years ago isn’t compatible with the new hardware.
Our Picks for the Best Cheap Televisions
Now that you know what you’re looking for in an affordable TV, check out some of our favorite models.
Best Overall: TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4k TV
Who it’s for: Buyers who want to try Smart TV technology while also keeping up with the basic features they love at a price that won’t break the bank.
Price: From $299.99
When it comes to affordable TV options, there’s no better choice than the TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4k TV. The stunning 4k display is backed by LED technology, and at just under $300 for a 43-inch model, it’s very difficult to find a better TV at this price point.
Smart functionality comes standard with all sizes and gives you access to over 500,000 of your favorite movies and TV show episodes from the palm of your hand. The TCL 43S517 features 3 HDMI ports, each of which is future compatible so you won’t have to invest in a new model when you upgrade your sound bar or console set. With access to all of the top-of-the-line features at rock-bottom pricing, the TCL 43S517 is perfect for anyone shopping for TVs on a budget.
Best for Gaming: LG 49SK8000PUA 4K TV
Who it’s for: Gamers who need fast setups and upload times, fast motion handling and a reasonable price.
Price: From $522
The LG Electronics 49SK8000 is a gaming powerhouse, complete with crystal-clear 4k display and 4 future-compatible HDMI ports. It even has a Google assistant built right into the body of the TV itself, so if you have a compatible smart home device, you can control it without even getting off the couch.
This model is unique because it features sound devices from Dolby Atmos, a major manufacturer of state-of-the-art cinematic audio equipment. The combination of cinema-quality sound and fluid graphics makes the LG Electronics 49SK8000 perfect for total immersion in your favorite gaming universe.
Best 50-Inch TV: TCL 55R617 - 55" 4K TV
Who it’s for: Shoppers who want to get the newest technology for a reasonable price — and who need a TV around 50 inches.
Okay, it’s a bit bigger than 50 inches — but for the number of features you get at a price just under $530, this TV is worth clearing off a little extra space on your cabinet. The 55-inch model from TCL features full-array local dimming instead of edge backlighting. This makes shades of black appear deeper, colors more vibrant and shows a better and starker contrast between light and dark when both shades are featured on screen.
Reviews consistently praise the TV’s fast input, which means you can dip your toes into the waters of smart TV technology without spending hours setting up your screen. The system is also fully compatible with both Google Home and Alexa. With a range of cool features and a gorgeous display, the TCL 55R617 is an easy choice if you need a 50-inch TV.
Best 65-Inch TV: Hisense 2018 Model Roku TV 65" Class R6E
Who it’s for: Users who are looking for a clear HD picture and who want their TV to work without hours of setup.
This model from Hisense fits in spaces designed for 65-inch screens and offers a clean 4k display. At less than $500, the Hisense R6E is a steal — especially since it includes Roku TV technology, HDR-enhanced display and even Wi-Fi compatibility. The TV is designed with a simple setup in mind, so technophobes will love the display’s plug-and-watch home screen, sans setup and installation.
The R6E also features motion rate image processing, a recent development that makes fast movements look more fluid than the standard LED technology alone. If you’re a fan of sports, gaming, movies or even just a great bargain, the Hisense R6E is a great choice for your 65-inch TV.
Best 70-Inch TV: VIZIO D D70-F3 69.5" 2160p LED-LCD TV
Who it’s for: Buyers who want to go a little bit bigger without sacrificing picture quality or motion fluidity.
When you begin treading into very large TVs above 65 inches, you may start seeing distorted picture quality that makes your favorite movies and TV shows seem stretched and off-balance. This is especially true when you’re looking for something affordable. Manufacturers often cut corners in the LED layout department when they need a way to offer their TV at a lower price point.
However, this model from Vizio looks sharp and clear thanks to a full array of LED backlights. The 70-inch TV manages its size exceptionally well, offering HD 4k display as well as a high dynamic range for crisper movements and color contrasts. Like other smart TVs, the D70-F3 is also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. The complete package that looks as good as its price, the Vizio D70-F3 is an ideal option for TV buffs who want a larger TV without draining their bank account.
Best for Outside Use: Sony KD43X720E
Who it’s for: Outdoor showing enthusiasts who want to enjoy the same color quality and clarity of their indoor TV without dropping a few thousand on a special outdoor TV.
Price: From $695, depending on location
If you want to add a TV to your sunroom for outdoor viewings, don’t unplug your current model just yet — you can’t watch most TVs outdoors. Putting a normal TV outside will cause you to experience unsightly glare and dull colors while the TV is on, not to mention the possibility of damage from bad weather.
There are TVs specially designed to withstand the elements, but these are usually too expensive if you’re on a budget. One of the best ways to save money when choosing an outdoor TV is to pick a durable yet finely designed TV that focuses on reducing glare and using a coverage structure to protect it from rain, wind and pests.
The Sony X720E is one of the best budget choices because it can withstand the outdoors. You can get this TV with up to a 55-inch screen and the model’s wider angles mean it’s ideal for covering large outdoor entertaining spaces. Though this model from Sony still leaves a bit to be desired in the glare department, its grey balance is better than almost any other TV at this price point and its low-lag input means you can even use it for gaming.
Tune Into Great Deals on TVs
Unlike gaming consoles and laptop computers, TV technology doesn’t change on a year-to-year basis. Regardless of the fact that TV companies constantly introduce new models and change their specs, most of the important features remain the same across model generations.
As long as you choose a TV with the right HDMI ports and 4k visual technology, you can get away with using an affordable TV for years to come, but don’t be afraid to put off clicking “add to cart” until you compare a few models.
If you want to splurge for a more expensive TV (like one of the new OLED display options), you’re better off saving up using a budgeting app or financial planning program rather than putting it on credit — by the time you pay it off, you might find that the TV has dropped by hundreds of dollars due to technological advancements.