A new TV is a great tech upgrade for your home but they can be seriously expensive, potentially worth more than your car. If you have a limited budget there’s good news, as 4K smart TVs are available for under £500/US$500 and we’ve tested a wide range of cheap options.
Technology in this market can be confusing – there’s a lot more to TV specs than the resolution and screen size.
What you will be getting here is a 4K (Ultra HD) resolution and likely HDR support in one form or another. There will inevitably be sacrifices to make but often only things tech-savvy users will notice. Read our in-depth buying advice below the chart if you need more information on what to look for.
What you consider to be ‘cheap’ depends on various things, but we’re aiming for the best TVs under £500/$500 here – although we may include some that go slightly over that caps if they are particularly good and bear in mind that larger sizes cost more so it may only be smaller options that typically come in under the threshold.
We have a chart of the best smart TVs if you do have a little more to spend. Find the best Samsung TV or LG TV or Sony TV for you in our buying guide. The budget TV market has never been so good so you’ll be sure to find a cheap set that’s right for you from the selection below, all tested by our experts.
Best budget TVs 2022
1. TCL RP620K Roku TV – Best Overall
Excellent Roku platform
Upscaling could be better
On the surface, TCL’s Roku-powered TV is essentially the same as Hisense’s version but the RP620K pips it with slightly better brightness and support for Dolby Vision – the HDR standard best for lower brightness panels.
Upscaling from HD could be better but there’s lots to like here aside from the price. The image is crisp and vibrant from a UHD source and there’s decent sound quality, too.
Low input lag makes it good for consoles but it’s the Roku platform with its user-friendly interface and almost endless streaming options that is the star of the show here.
Read our full
TCL RP620K Roku TV review
2. Samsung The Frame (2021) – Best Full HD
Unique customisable design
QLED image quality
Tizen smart platform with Ambient Mode
No Dolby Vision
Largely unremarkable audio
Many of The Frame options are out of budget territory but if you opt for the 32in Full HD model, it’s a very good value purchase.
Of course, you’ll need to be ok with its compact size and lower resolution but the size means it’s still crisp and vibrant with Samsung’s QLED technology. It’s perfect for kitchens, playrooms and bedrooms.
There’s no Dolby Vision and the speakers are nothing to write home about but there are plenty of streaming options via the Tizen OS, the Ambient Mode can display artwork when the TV is not in use and the bezel is customisable with different colours and materials.
Read our full
Samsung The Frame (2021) review
3. Xiaomi F2 Fire TV – Best for Amazon Services
Integrated Fire TV OS
Poor gaming performance
No eARC support
HDR lacks impact
The Xiaomi F2 does everything you might expect given the very affordable price. It combines the content-rich Fire TV portal with a generally acceptable LED LCD budget panel, and exhibits cookie-cutter dress sense – so looks fine but nothing special. Consequently, it’s best thought of as a second set for a bedroom or kitchen space, or for non-critical viewing. Images look sharp with native 4K sources but not so much for upscaled HD, and it sounds clear enough for a budget-friendly purchase. Good value overall then, but gamers should take their consoles elsewhere.
Read our full
Xiaomi F2 Fire TV review
4. Toshiba UK31 – Best Value at Large Sizes
Bright room performance
Dolby Vision support
Low input lag
Off-axis performance dip
It’s not going to win any beauty competitions and it offers a basic plastic build but the Toshiba has a lot to offer and very reasonable prices.
Much like the U29, it provides a way of getting a large size – up to 65in – without breaking the bank and does it with decent picture quality on the whole thanks to brightness, Dolby Vision HDR and low input lag for gamers.
Upscaling to 4K is good too, and there’s a good range of streaming services and Alexa support to boot. Poor viewing angles and the lack of Disney+ could make you look elsewhere, though.
Read our full
Toshiba UK31 review
5. TCL C715K – QLED on a Budget
Wide HDR support
Android TV & Freeview Play
Three HDMI ports
This is the best set we’ve seen from TCL to date, largely thanks to its inclusion of QLED tech for such an affordable price.
There are plenty of other good things going on, too, such as wide HDR support, the inclusion of Freeview Play and the excellent Android TV operating system. It’s pretty stylish to boot.
The C715K isn’t flawless though and the price means something had to give. In this case, it’s namely being limited to three HDMI ports and sluggish performance when using the interface.
There’s tough competition at this price point so rivals from the likes of Hisense and JVC can offer a more well-rounded experience.
Read our full
TCL C715K review
6. Toshiba WK3C – Best for Small Sizes
Freeview Play & apps
It might be limited to 720p resolution, but the WK3D isn’t vying for a spot in the main living room.
Instead, this telly is a great option for those looking for a screen in the kitchen, bedroom or somewhere like a kid’s playroom – albeit without built-in Disney+ support for the little ones. It’s extremely affordable and comes in sizes as 24in.
Limited brightness means the inclusion of HDR is somewhat undermined but there’s a reasonable amount of streaming apps along with Freeview Play and the TV can even function as a Bluetooth speaker.
Read our full
Toshiba WK3C review
7. Hisense U7QF – Best HDR Performance
Good HDR performance
Limited streaming apps
As is so often the case with Hisense, the U7Q offers you the chance to own an excellent TV without breaking the bank, if you can still find one now it’s an older model.
Apart from simply getting a stylish set in large sizes for under £500, the U7Q has incredibly good HDR performance normally reserved for much higher-end TVs. Quantum Dot panel technology, Full Array Local Dimming, Ultra Smooth Motion and wide HDR standard support will leave you dazzled.
There’s good gaming performance too, even if it doesn’t support 120fps for next-gen consoles. Sound quality is mediocre but that’s to be expected and the combination of Freeview Play and Vidaa U4 OS gives you plenty to watch.
Read our full
Hisense U7QF review
How to choose a budget TV
As mentioned at the top, cheap TVs are better than ever but you will still be missing out on some features and quality compared to more expensive models. Even if the manufacturer or retailer can make it appear not to be the case.
4K and HDR
All the TVs tested here are 4K (aka Ultra HD or UHD) that’s four times the resolution of Full HD and if you’re looking at buying a TV with the latter then something has gone wrong.
Getting a cheap TV with this resolution is the norm but not all 4K TVs are created equal.
They tend to offer lower brightness and typically don’t have local dimming (this means the TV can dim small areas of the panel to make blacks darker). Or if they do, there are not as many zones as high-end models.
Lower brightness means HDR performance is limited as a good backlight is needed. Also, be careful about HDR standards as there a quite a few: HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HGL are the most common.
Dolby Vision is favoured by Netflix while HDR10+ is supported by Amazon Prime Video. So check the specs if there’s a particular
streaming service you use more than others.
It’s easy to forget about boring ports when being dazzled by HDR standards, but it’s worth checking simple things like how many HDMI ports a TV has.
To cut costs, TV makers might only offer two or three – not ideal if you want to plug in lots of devices.
Also, be aware of HDMI versions as you might be limited to older ones, or typically, only one port is a more recent version.
Ideally, you want HDMI 2.0 for 4K at 60fps (frames per second). If you want full support for next-gen consoles like the
Xbox Series X for gaming at 4K at 120fps, you need HDMI 2.1 but that’s out of reach for budget TVs at the moment. Read more about
console TV compatibility.
OS and apps
Things are certainly a lot better than they used to be and all TVs here are ‘smart’ in one way or another.
In basic terms, they all have internet access via Wi-Fi and operating systems (OS) providing you with a user interface and apps to watch content like BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
While some might come with Android TV, others will have a custom OS. Make sure to read our full reviews to find out what they are like and if any major services are missing.
If it is basic, you can always plug in a
streaming stick or box to improve things without spending much extra.