The best TV under £500: 4K UHD tellies for considerably less

Affordable UHD 4K television bargains from 40 inches to 50 inches

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Can you get a great TV for under £500? You'll be pleased to know, the answer is, 'Yes, and in fact here is a buyers guide of all my favourites in that price bracket, what I have written.' Happy days.

There are some quite orgasmic tellies for a grand and up, boasting 4K UHD resolution, advanced HDR and wide colour gamuts for images that really pop, but you don’t have to forgo all the toys if you want a more affordable TV. 

You might not get HDR, but there’s a tempting selection of well-specified UHD TVs available for less than £500, offering a surprising level of feature finery. 

From Ambilight mood lighting to 50-inch panels, what was once the preserve of the upper and midrange has made it down the 4K food chain.

What is the best TV for under £500?

For image quality and overall excellence, my pick of the gogglebox bargains is the Philips 43PUS6262/05.  

For sheer value for money, it's also hard to beat the Hisense N5300 range, and the 50-incher is now under £500. In terms of inches-per-pound, that's hard to beat.

Of course, the ever-fluctuating nature of prices means that the best TV under £500 can change, as slightly older tellies that were in the £500-£1000 bracket get discounted. So keep an eye on our other TV buying guides as well.

Buying a sub-£500 telly: what you need to know

So what should you look for when buying a cheap 4K telly, and what compromises can you expect to make?

Screen sizes obviously vary dramatically, depending on brand and price. A growing number of manufacturers are now pushing out smaller (40-43-inch) panels to meet booming demand. Just don’t expect to see a huge jump in resolution over Full HD at this size. 

There’s an insurmountable relationship between screen resolution and viewing distance that means at a normal TV viewing distance, you’re unlikely to benefit from those extra pixels.  Step up to 50-inches or thereabouts though and you’ll begin to appreciate the extra clarity that UHD can offer.

All TVs worth their salt are net connected, via Wi-Fi or ethernet. Be sure the smart platform on your favoured set offers what you need in terms of catch-up TV and streaming services. It’s also worth double checking that your shortlisted set has enough HDMI ports for your games consoles, Blu-ray players and set top boxes – this is an area where compromises are often made to get the retail price down.

Freeview Play is a handy bonus as it serves as both your programme guide looking forward and also lets you seamlessly delve into catch-up TV that you might have missed, without needing to load up separate apps.

HDR (High dynamic Range) compatibility is a bonus, although 350-nit, entry-level sets typically won’t be bright enough to dazzle with spectral highlights in the same way an 800-nit Überpanel will. 

Okay, ready to buy? Let’s go window shopping.

The best TVs under £500, in order

1. Philips 43PUS6262/05

Best TV under £500, complete with HDR 10 and UHD 4K

Specifications
Screen size: 43-inches
Other sizes available: 55-inch
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 971 x 575 x 77mm
Reasons to buy
+Two-sided Ambilight light show+Freeview Play
Reasons to avoid
-Not ultra bright

Combining UHD resolution with Philips' patented Ambilight mood lighting, this highly affordable 6 Series Philips TV is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. While I'd expect 2160p resolution to migrate down the price range, it’s nice to see Ambilight at such an affordable price. 

The set’s design is fuss-free, with a slim bezel and simple, rather plasticky, pedestal. A clicky IR remote and quadcore processor combine to offer easy navigation, while Philips' own Smart Portal offers a variety of streaming diversions, led by the ubiquitous Netflix. 

As well as three HDMI inputs, there's a digital optical output to feed a soundbar or other AV system. 

Best of all, image quality is excellent for the price, with crisp Pixel Plus UHD detail and punchy contrast. The set recognises an HDR10 signal when it sees it, and uses Philips own HDR Plus to effectively tone map for the best results. Recommended.

2. Hisense H50N5300

Best 50-inch UHD TV under £500

Specifications
Screen size: 50-inches
Other sizes available: 43-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch
HDR: No
HDMI: 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 719 x 1129 x 256 mm
Reasons to buy
+A lot of TV for your buck+Freeview Play
+Neat smart platform, with Netflix and Amazon
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR

Chinese TV giant Hisense is infiltrating the UK TV scene with some tempting tellies for the tight of purse. Could the budget jumbo-panel, the N5300 be its biggest mainstream seller yet? 

Certainly, this super-saver looks the part. You get a lot of screen for not much cash, and it appears suitably attired for a sub-£500 trolly-dash, with a Freeview Play tuner (landing via over-the-air firmware update by the end of September), the brand’s own Vidaa Lite smart OS, which is pleasingly minimalist,  and an a strong assortment of streaming apps, including Netflix 4K, Amazon Video, YouTube and Wuaki TV. 

Like others in this guide, the panel is standard 8-bit, and not wide colour. It’s also SDR (Standard Dynamic Range only). But given the screen size, we’re not complaining.

There are three HDMI inputs, plus an option for component hook-up for legacy gear. Audio comes via dbx-tv processing technology, with virtual surround sound, but there’s an optical digital output for a soundbar if the onboard sound system doesn’t move you.

3. LG 43UJ670V

Best Smart TV platform under £500

Specifications
Screen size: 43-inches
Other sizes available: 49-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch
HDR: HDR10, HLG
HDMI: 4
USB: 2
Dimensions: 974 x 571 x 79 mm
Reasons to buy
+Excellent webOS platform+Freeview Play+HDR HLG compatible
Reasons to avoid
-
Smallish screen size


Shop cannily and you’ll find this high-spec 43-incher for a sniff under £500. It comes with HDR-emboldened 4K visuals and LG’s rightly rated webOS 3.5 smart platform – just you and a clickable bar, that's our kinda night in. 

The set also boasts a Freeview Play tuner, with integrated mainstream catch-up. Streaming apps include Netflix 4K, Amazon Video, YouTube and Now TV.

The IPS panel used here means you’ll enjoy good off-angle viewing. For the best black level performance, view in a room with some ambient light, rather than full dark room conditions. A contrast booster provides a lift to SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) sources. 

The set supports standard HDR10 and HLG, although there’s no sign of Dolby Vision, which is favoured higher up the LG range. Ultra Luminance, a local dimming technique, is used to maximise peak highlights. 

Design amounts to an ultra thin bezel and curved pedestal stand, but I like it. To make the most of the integrated sound system, a DSP processor offers virtual surround effects. Connectivity is solid, with four HDMI inputs, a legacy AV connection, plus a digital optical audio output.

All in all, a formidable 4K package for the price tag.

4. JVC LT-43C862

Solid, affordable 4K TV option

Specifications
Screen size: 43-inches
HDR: No
HDMI: 4
USB: 3
Dimensions: 553 x 965 x 89 mm
Reasons to buy
+Freeview Play and Netflix 4K+Four HDMI inputs
Reasons to avoid
-Ordinary audio-No HDR

This UHD 43-incher will save frugal buyers a pretty penny, yet is equipped with a Freeview Play tuner with 7-day roll-back programme guide, ensuring key catch-up TV ( BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5) is always to hand. A 4K enabled Netflix app is also included.

Admittedly this screen isn’t the prettiest model on the catwalk. It’s a little on the chunky size, and screen trim is rough around the edges. Connectivity is upmarket though, with four HDMIs, which offers plenty of scope when it comes to system building, an optical audio output, plus assorted legacy inputs.  

The main menu is presented as a vertical strip, while a Quick menu whips you to a smattering of sub menus, including video and audio presets.

UHD resolution is good with all viewing presets – set the adjustable contrast to Low for the best impact. Despite the small screen size, Daredevil on Netflix 4K looks gritty and cinematic, while HD catch-up shows have a photographic smoothness, a consequence not of resolution but pixel density.  On the debit side, the set isn't HDR compatible, so there is backlight splotchiness, and it doesn’t go fully black.

Audio performance could be diplomatically described as functional. There’s DTS TruSurround DSP on hand to boost bass, but in truth there’s little to work with here. Some caveats then, but given the price it seems churlish to moan. 

5. Samsung 40MU6120

Best looking 4K TV under £500

Specifications
Screen size: 40-inches
Other sizes available: 50-inch, 58-inch, 65-inch
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 904 x 520 x 54 mm
Reasons to buy
+HDR compatibility+
Solid app support
Reasons to avoid
-40-inches is considered  small, these days-No Freeview Play

In more upmarket circles, Samsung is all about QLED, its metal-coated marketing alternative to OLED. But glance further down the range, and it’s clear the brand hasn’t abandoned the mainstream buyer. 

This 6 Series screen combines above average good looks with a specification that’s firmly forward facing; not only is this 2160p set HDR enabled, but it offers voice functionality via the slim remote.

It’s an 8-bit panel (standard at the budget end of the market), but Samsung offers a raft of colour enhancements, dubbed Active Crystal Colour technology, to really make hues pop. 

Design wise it’s on-trend, with a thin bezel, hairline finish and angular pedestal. Connected functionality is via the brand’s 2017 hub, which offers YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Video amongst other streaming apps. The TV also supports smartphone to screen mirroring, and DLNA media playback. 

Audio is via two downward firing speakers, with 20W of amplification. There’s a trio of HDMIs, plus an optical output for an external digital audio system. Small, but perfectly formed.