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If you haven’t upgraded your TV in a while, there’s a good chance you haven’t made the leap from 1080P (full HD) to 4K.
As the name suggests, 4K (or “Ultra HD”) TVs have four times as many pixels as a standard 1080p set, so they produce clearer, more accurate images. It was hard to find 4K video content for a while, but it’s readily available on paid streaming services like Hulu, and even YouTube.
Beyond the bump in resolution, 4K TVs support a lot of great tech features, to deliver more stable images with less banding or blurring on screen.
This is especially useful if you like watching sports or action films, which have a lot of quick cuts and fast movement. If you play video games — especially first-person shooters — having a TV with the latest and greatest tech is essential to having a good experience.
When paired with a good home theater system, or even a sound bar, a 4K TV can recreate the experience of going to the movies better than any an HD set can.
If you’re looking for your first 4K TV, we’ve found three great options that deliver exceptional picture quality, reliable performance, and smart features for under $500.
What Are the Best 4K TVs Under $500?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best 4K TV under $500 for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Size: 4K TVs are available in a wide range of sizes, and our guide features sets between 43 and 55 inches. Our largest TV recommendation is also available in a 75 inch size, which is great if you have space for a big home theater.
Inputs: A TV’s inputs (commonly called ports), are used to connect gadgets like game consoles, Blu Ray players, or media streamers to your set. All of the 4K TVs in our guide have at least two HDMI ports, which is the most universally used input available right now.
Smart Features: Some of the TVs in our guide have a smart assistant, like Amazon’s Alexa, built into the set itself. Others run an operating system developed by Roku or Amazon, which makes it easier to get to streaming services like Hulu without a media streamer.
1. Best Overall: TCL 55-Inch 5-Series 4K TV
TCL’s 55-Inch 5 Series 4K has a large screen, essential smart features, and plenty of inputs, which is why it’s the top pick in our guide.
This is a Roku TV, which means it comes preloaded with apps for popular streaming services. Roku regularly updates the streaming apps on its platform, and releases additional ones as new services launch. I’ve used a Roku TV extensively over the past few years, and found it extremely easy to use. Its interface is clean, and it’s easy to get to the input or service you want without much trouble.
If you want a no-compromise 4K TV, but want to keep yourself under a strict budget, TCL’s 55-Inch 5-Series is the one we recommend. It’s also available in 50, 65, and 75-inch sizes.
2. Entry Level: Insignia 50-inch 4K UHD TV
Insignia’s 50-inch 4K UHD TV is a solid choice if you’re looking for a pretty big TV with a lot of smart features.
Insignia says this TV supports HDR, but not Dolby Vision, so colors will look better than normal, but not quite as nice. This TV supports an audio technology called DTS Studio Surround, which modifies stereo audio to sound more immersive.
The company partnered with Amazon to make this a Fire TV, which means it comes preloaded with streaming apps just like the TCL set we recommend. Its “Alexa” remote has a microphone built in, and allows you to search for the content you want using your voice, instead of opening different apps individually.
It may not support every new video technology, but Insignia’s 50-Inch 4K UHD TV is includes most of them, and is the best value in this guide by far.
3. Best For Small Spaces: Samsung 43-inch Class Crystal 4K TV
Samsung’s 43-inch Class Crystal 4K TV is the set to get if you need one for a mid-sized bedroom or living room.
Although this set is smaller than the other ones we’re recommending, it’s not lacking in features. The only real technical limitation of this TV is that it doesn’t support Dolby Vision HDR, which you may not miss if you’re only interested in casual watching.
Amazon’s Alexa is built into the TV, so you can use the microphone in its remote to ask for the TV show sand movies you want instead of hunting through menus. Keep in mind this isn’t a Fire TV, so you’ll only have access to apps Samsung has written for its operating system. All of the major services will be present, but some niche ones may not.
This TV has three HDMI ports, three USB ports, a coaxial input, an Ethernet jack, one set of composite inputs, and an optical audio input. The selection of ports puts it on-par with every other TV in this guide.
Despite its smaller size, watching TV shows and movies on Samsung’s Class Crystal 4K TV won’t be a downgraded experience.