Best cheap TVs
By Martin Pratt
Though you could pay over £2,000 for the latest TV, you no longer need to sacrifice features for a cheap set, with 4K HDR models now available for less the £500.
Shopping for a budget TV is fraught with danger, however, and the sub £500 market is littered with Don't Buys and poor performing sets. Fortunately there are some stand outs that prove you don't necessarily have to pay top whack to get a good model, even if you have your heart set on a particular brand. Bear in mind, however, that the less you pay, the more the quality you'll get for your money can vary.
You don't have to settle for a small TV either. If you like the idea of having a big screen experience in your living room then you can. We've found top-notch 55-inch sets for less than £500. You won't get a newly launched TV for this price, but wait a few months and the price of most models will plummet.
Below we'll show you which models to spend your money on, and show you why the poor performers are definitely ones to avoid.
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Best cheap TVs
The equivalent range to this one from 2018 didn't quite make the Best Buy grade, but the improvements made has given it that extra push in 2019. Consistently good picture and sound, and an intuitive operating system are the key ingredients to its success.
We've got a huge range of expertly-tested televisions waiting for you in our TV reviews.
Cheap TVs to avoid
Get it wrong with a cheap TV and you could be faced with awful picture quality, tinny sound and a frustrating interface. Each of the TVs below was made a dreaded Don't Buy in our lab tests, and there are some very clear reasons why.
Cheap TVs to avoid
Cheap TVs: What should I look out for?
- Screen size: Typically, the smaller the screen the cheaper the TV, but, as you can see in the table above, you can find bigger screen models that impress in our tests. However, if you see a 50-inch TV or larger that costs less than £300 - it's unlikely to be a winner. Always check our reviews to find the best cheap TVs.
- Type: Most manufacturers now favour LCD TVs with LED backlighting (generally referred to as just LED TVs). These sets used to be expensive, but they've come down in price significantly and are now very affordable. Rival plasma technology is now dead and while OLED is emerging, sets with the screen technology are very expensive currently.
- Resolution: The vast majority of TVs released are 4K and most have HDR technology, too. The price of 4K TVs has come down considerably as a result, with many available for less than £400.
- Built-in tuner: Virtually all cheap TVs have a built-in Freeview tuner, allowing you to watch subscription-free digital TV, but try to go for one with Freeview HD. That means you can access HD channels such as BBC One HD and ITV HD without needing a separate set-top box.
What you won't get at this price
- OLED displays: OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode and it differs from LCD in that each individual bulb can be turned off, which makes for deeper blacks. OLED TVs are relatively new and still very expensive, the cheapest we've seen was still over £1,000.
- Twin tuners: Many TVs let you record programs onto a USB hard drive, but some with twin-tuners can record two different shows at once or let you watch one while you record another. You'll only find two tuners on premium sets.
- Smart remotes: Trackpads, pointer-control and microphones can all be found on smart remotes. LG's Magic Remote acts like a laser pointer, meaning you can zoom straight to the menu you want rather than flicking one at a time through the options. Generally you'll only find these remotes on more expensive TVs.
- Voice control: using your voice to jump to specific channels and search your TV for shows and movies alleviates the hassle of using onscreen keyboards and scrolling through hundreds of channels. Typically, you'll only find this feature on mid-range and high end sets.