The best TVs under £500 might surprise you with how much advanced technology and smart TV wizardry they're able to offer these days. The way that features trickle down from high-end to mid-range and ultimately to more affordable TVs means that there's some seriously clever processing and screen tech available. You can also get much bigger screens in this price range than you once could, because the cost of producing them as crept down too.
The best TVs under £500 are the models which have really brought that great technology down to an equally great price point. You can find something that offers incredible bang for your buck here, no matter whether you're looking for a TV for a family living room, a bedroom or office.
Yes, there's still compromise to be made. These won't always be as sleek or pretty as the absolute best TVs on the market. You're not going to find picture quality that bothers the best OLED TVs. 4K, though? Strong HDR, great contrast, essential apps? It's all here.
You can certainly put your budget towards a bigger screen – some of the best 55-inch TVs and best 50-inch TVs fall into this category – but you may find you get a little more for your monkey if you go smaller, and indeed pick up a screen more suited to the office, bedroom or kitchen. A large number of the best 43-inch TVs (and basically every one of the best 32-inch TVs) come in under five hundred notes.
Going older is also a decent idea. Last year's great TVs may have been superseded but they're still great, and many have seen their prices chopped to make room for the latest model. Sure, some of these have been built to hit that price point, but we wouldn't want you to miss out on a bargain.
While these are all very creditable screens, though, there's something to be said for spending a little more. If you can afford £100 or £200 more, check out our guide to the best TVs under £1000 – and there are plenty of short-term bargains to be found on our guide to the best TV deals!
On the other hand, spend a little less on the set and you might be able to budget in one of the best soundbars – audio is often an afterthought in more budget-focused sets, so a soundbar boost will be very welcome.
What is the best TV under £500?
Right now, our pick as the best buy for a TV under £500 is the Samsung UE43AU9000 – it's the strongest image quality that Samsung offers outside of its QLED TVs, and this set balances a well-sized screen with strong features and a nice design. And an upgrade to 50 inches is only a little more if you prefer (even if it does break our £500 limit slightly).
Though it's not QLED, it has some clever screen tech – a new backlighting system that uses two different hues for richer blacks, particularly – but it doesn't skimp on the features either. Samsung's Tizen smart TV menus are among the best in the business, and a very low level of lag means it's among the best gaming TVs for the price.
The best TVs under £500, in order
This is the fanciest non-QLED TV from Samsung's 2021 range, and while no QLED TV fits into our £500 category, you still get a level of care and attention from this model to match more expensive TVs, and a surprising number of sleek high-tech features.
HDR is catered for, from the live broadcast-friendly HLG to HDR10+ dynamic metadata, and the 4K UHD resolution is augmented by integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay 2 connectivity. The Tizen-based operating system is identical to that sported by the pricier QLED TVs, and a response time of around 10ms will appeal to gamers.
Best of all, performance could easily be from a more expensive screen. Samsung's innovative backlight keeps contrast looking dark without being washed out, and that. combines with a reasonably bright picture overall, giving things a lovely pop in either SDR or HDR.
It's quite a capable upscaler too, crucially – it takes HD streaming or Blu-ray up to 4K comfortably, and keeps native 4K looking crisp and sharp.
The audio quality is nothing special, but it works perfectly well, and the TV supports passthrough of Dolby Atmos audio, so you could upgrade it with a great soundbar later.
It's available in larger sizes for slightly more, if you can spare the budget – perhaps our full Samsung AU9000 review will tempt you.
This TV ticks an impressive number of technical boxes for the price: you get a direct backlight instead of an edge-lit one (for punchier HDR), Dolby Vision HDR support to make the most of that display, and Dolby Atmos support for more involving sound.
The result is some of the best HDR we've seen on a TV of this price, with highlights still managing to jump out even in bright scenes. It's equally accomplished at getting every drop of detail out of 4K sources, again punching above its price bracket. In our review, we said "Between them, the intense sharpness and surprisingly potent handling of HDR leave almost all of the Toshiba 50UK3163DB’s similarly priced rivals looking staid and dull by comparison." Its only issue for movies is that its motion processing is a bit aggressive, but if you turn it off, you see some judder in slow horizontal pans in 24fps content.
Its smart TV platform is also pretty good, thanks to being very easy to use – though it's a shame that it lacks Disney+ and Apple TV. And it's a good choice for gaming, thanks to really low latency in gaming mode. Here's our full Toshiba 50UK3163DB review.
This TV doesn't offer the strongest image quality of all the sets here, but it's packed with great smart TV features, plus Samsung's excellent build quality and looks, and enables you to get a high quality big-screen for a really cheap price.
Samsung's dual-LED backlight produces impressively true blacks, and contrast is solid. Crucially, since you're able to go for a bigger size with this TV, it offers really good upscaling, so whether you're watching a lot of native 4K or are streaming a lot of stuff that the set will have to punch up to 4K, it does a great job.
HDR looks good too, and HDR10+ support is good for making the most of its admittedly limited brightness, though we wish it had Dolby Vision support too, since that form of dynamic HDR is more common.
It's also well-equipped when it comes to smart TV, and the interface. Better than most budget TVs, this has the same options as more expensive Samsung TVs, though it's a little less smooth to use. But the important part is the feature list, including Bluetooth and AirPlay 2, and apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV and loads more. It's all presented in an easy-to-understand way.
The gaming mode is fast, and auto switches when it detects a console is connected, so it's among the best options at this price for gamers.
All in all, it's a fantastic-value TV – if you want to go big at a low price while still reaching for pleasing image quality, it's our pick, as our full Samsung AU7100 review explains in more depth.
Hisense continues to deliver superb value TVs for the middle market, and this model is incredibly well specified for the price tag: you're getting Quantum Dot LED (QLED), HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, 4K UHD, Freeview HD, Google Assistant and Alexa. There are even some gamer-friendly features such as Variable Refresh Rate, although there aren't any HDMI 2.1 ports here.
There are three HDMI 2.0, one of which is the eARC for your soundbar or sound system; one composite input; one USB 3.0 port; and one USB 2.0. There's also an optical audio out for connecting to home cinema kit.
It's a very impressive package for the money, and while it's not going to go toe-to-toe with one of Sony or Samsung's top QLED displays – the brightness isn't the best, although it's fine for everything but the darkest movies – it covers the basics very well. Just be aware that if you're going to be viewing content from apps or sources delivering SD-quality video, the upsampling isn't fantastic: it really needs Full HD sources to perform effectively. But that's a small niggle, and if you're looking to get the most TV for the smallest outlay this should absolutely be in your shortlist.
The Toshiba UL21 is a cheap 4K TV with loads going for it, you'll even be able to control it by voice using your Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker.
Whatever you're watching, the screen looks great. It supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10 both of which make for a decent viewing experience on a budget.
While it's not perfect, the screen is very bright and detailed with vibrant colours especially when you consider just how affordable this set is. The sound is even more impressive, it easily fills up the whole room and the Dolby Atmos support means you'll feel more immersed in the action than you would with some of the other options here.
You'll be able to access your favourite streaming and catch up services from this TV without a separate media device because apps like Netflix, Prime Video and BBC iPlayer come pre-installed on the smart TV platform. Admittedly, it's not as easy to navigate as more accomplished systems like Android TV or Roku but it's not impossible either. Find out more about it in the Toshiba UL21 review.
Got a hankering for a nice big 4K UHD TV (without the nice big price ticket that so often goes along with it) from a brand with proper credibility? Want a big slice of the performance that’s generally associated with more expensive alternatives? LG is ready to sort you right out.
The 49UM7400 is by no means the sveltest or best-specified TV in LG’s extensive line-up. But thanks to its 4K resolution, its support for the HDR basics, its full suite of smart TV apps and its eminently watchable picture, it just might represent the sweet spot of LG’s entire LED range.
There’s no denying the LG’s black tones could be deeper, but that should be balanced against the TV's great screen uniformity and smooth motion handling. Upscaling of sub-4K content is very well handled too, and gamers will appreciate the super-low 12ms response time. It even summons meaningful bass from its little speaker array, even if there’s not much width or separation to its sound.
This is full features, married with strong image quality, making it a great buy if you want a degree of future-proofing with your buy. Four HDMI ports is more than most of the sets here, and means you'll always have room for whatever new thing you need to connect. Dolby Vision support makes the most of HDR videos from key streaming services. Freeview Play and good smart TV app support makes it easy to actually stream those things (with the exception of Disney+, sadly).
Image quality is really good, if not quite excellent. As our full Hisense A7500F review says: "Its imagery is sharp and colour rich. It passes the T3 eye candy test. More discerning videophiles will be less enamoured with its limited contrast and brightness capped HDR performance – although it should be pointed out this is exactly where we’d expect a set with such budget-capped aspirations to sit."
Speaker quality is thoroughly middling – fine, but we'd recommend adding even a budget soundbar to give it an instant improvement – and the only real downside is that off-axis viewing struggles, so it's best in a living room where everyone gets to sit pretty much bang in front of the TV. Our Samsung TU7100 vs Hisense A7500F guide compares it to the closest Samsung model, if you want more on just those two.
Scaling back screen size when you're on a limited budget might not be the thing to do if you're furnishing a living room, but for anywhere else in the home a smaller TV can make a huge amount of sense. Particularly when it's something as neat as the LG 32LM6300, one of the highlights of our guide to the best 32-inch TVs.
You might look at it and think it unspectacular; we prefer 'functional', with a FHD display, a basic but very tidy design equally adept at wall-mounting and living on its stand, and a solid selection of connections including three HDI ports and built-in Wi-fi.
Delve deeper and you find some very solid processing tech, itself helmed by LG's excellent webOS smart platform. There's a quad-core processor which makes use of direct backlighting for some brilliant sharpness and colour reproduction. There's HDR support, covering HDR10 and HLG signals. There's even a low-lag gaming mode, covering what we'd imagine would be one of the key uses of a screen this size.
This is a great screen for streaming content, and it includes Freeview HD and satellite tuners too; the audio rocks, as well, with a virtual surround mode that really pops.
Our tips for buying a cheap 4K TV
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) 4K panels to meet booming demand.
All TVs worth their salt are net connected, via Wi-Fi or ethernet, so check whether they support all the streaming and catch-up services you want them too. But bear in mind that just because a set doesn't include everything, that doesn't have to be a deal-breaker – the best media streamers include a huge range of services, and cost from only around £40, so if you're making a big saving on the TV, you still won't break the bank.
It’s also worth double checking that your shortlisted set has enough HDMI ports for your games consoles, Blu-ray player, set-top box and maybe that extra streamer if it's – 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 these entry-level sets typically won’t be bright enough to dazzle with spectral highlights in the same way an 800-nit OLED panel will.
Another element that is usually majorly skimped on with cheaper TVs is the audio. So if you've got a few quid left over, consider buying a best soundbar or soundbase.