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10 smart TVs that cost less than $500

TV technology has improved to the point where most of the best features are no longer gated behind exorbitant prices. Features like 4K resolution, large screens, high dynamic range and a high count of ports can easily be found for under $500, though you may not be able to get all of these features together at that price point. The most cutting-edge features, such as 8K resolution and curved screens, aren't available for under $500.

In this article: LG Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV and TCL Smart TV.

Smart features

Smart TVs are so named because they can connect to the internet. They leverage that ability in different ways.

The main way is by streaming all your favorite content, usually by having an app for each service that can be downloaded from the TV brand's online store. Smart TV manufacturers without stores instead include pre-installed streaming curating services, such as Apple TV, Google TV or Roku TV.

Some smart TVs are also compatible with smart assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Using microphones in the TV or remote, you can tell these assistants to tune to certain channels or pull up a show from one of your streaming services without having to wade through several menus.

Size

TVs, whether they're smart or 20 years old, measure screen size on the diagonal. Size isn't a limiting factor for smart TVs under $500, you can find them as small as 25 inches or as large as 50-plus inches. That said, extra-large smart TVs might have lesser resolution to stay at a sub-$500 price.

Resolution

For smart TVs under $500, there are three resolution points to choose from.

  • High-definition: This is the lowest-resolution tier, but it is all you need if you're on the tightest budget. Most TV channels broadcast video in HD.
  • Full high-definition: If you want the biggest possible screen for under $500, you'll likely need one with this middle-tier resolution. Most streaming services offer HD and Full HD quality streams.
  • Ultra high-definition: Ultra HD, or 4K,  is the highest resolution you'll find in smart TVs under $500, though you'll likely need to sacrifice maximum screen size to get it. Ultra HD has four times the pixel count of Full HD, hence the "4K" nickname.

Other image quality features

Two of the current major image quality features are Dolby Vision and high dynamic range.

  • Dolby Vision lets a TV display images with greater depth, higher contrast and a wider range of color. Essentially, it makes your TV look closer to the quality you find in high-end theaters. However, the image also needs to be Dolby Vision-compatible. 
  • High dynamic range is similar but simpler than Dolby Vision and can be used in tandem with it. HDR improves the image's contrast. In other words: The darks look darker, and the brights look brighter.

Ports

Smart TVs are technically just extra-large computer monitors, though they have built-in technology that lets you use them without plugging in any other devices. But most people want to hook up devices like Blu-ray players, cable boxes and game consoles, so double-check the range of ports a smart TV offers to ensure you have enough.

The most common ports are HDMI, the current cable standard. Other ports to prioritize include USB to power devices, headphone jacks and LAN cables for wired internet connections.

Best smart TVs under $500

Amazon Fire 4-Series Smart TV

This TV has Ultra HD resolution and HDR support. The remote has a microphone and built-in Alexa compatibility. It has many ports, including four HDMI ports. It comes in 43-, 50- and 55-inch sizes.

Sold by Amazon

Hisense Smart TV

This TV has Ultra HD resolution and Dolby Vision and HDR compatibility. It has built-in Roku TV service and is Alexa compatible. It comes in 43-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch sizes.

Sold by Amazon

Insignia Smart TV

This is an excellent smart TV for those on particularly strict budgets, as you get a 32-inch screen with Full HD resolution, built-in Fire TV service and Alexa compatibility for less than $200. It has three HDMI ports and a USB port.

Sold by Amazon

LG Smart TV

This Ultra HD TV is built for console gamers with a 120-hertz refresh rate, low latency and a game optimizer. It comes in 43-, 50- and 55-inch sizes for under $500.

Sold by Amazon

RCA Smart TV

This 58-inch TV has Ultra HD resolution and HDR support plus a built-in Roku TV service. There are plenty of ports for hooking up a game console or Blu-ray player.

Sold by Amazon

Samsung Smart TV

This TV has Ultra HD resolution and HDR support, and it is compatible with a range of smart assistants. Ports available include three HDMIs and a LAN. It comes in 43-, 50- and 55-inch sizes for under $500.

Sold by Amazon

Sony Smart TV

This TV's 32-inch size and HD resolution make it perfect for channel surfing. The built-in Google TV service and Google Assistant compatibility make it equally well-suited to streaming if you don't pay for high-resolution content.

Sold by Amazon

TCL Smart TV

This 40-inch TV offers Full HD resolution and has built-in Roku TV service. Its ports include a USB, three HDMI (with one supporting enhanced audio return), an AV and a headphone jack.

Sold by Amazon

Toshiba Smart TV

This TV offers Ultra HD resolution and support for Dolby Vision and HDR. It has old-school RCA ports, four HDMI ports and two USB ports. It comes in 43-, 50- and 65-inch sizes.

Sold by Amazon

Vizio Smart TV

This 43-inch TV has Full HD resolution and is controllable by voice using either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. A mobile app lets you control the TV from your phone.

Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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