If you're looking for a new TV in 2022, you might assume that even the top TVs under £500 aren't worth it – but you'd be wrong. Sure, for under £500, you won't get the best specs, but there are plenty of great options that will give you a good picture, top features and some of the newest functionality.
Naturally, you'll need to wave goodbye to very large options, like the best 75-inch TVs, as well as the top TV tech, including OLED TVs and QLED displays (at least for now). But sub-£500 TVs can still offer up quality viewing for your money, whether you're looking for a capable small TV or even moving up into big screen displays.
The good news is that you don't have to miss out on Ultra HD. This image resolution is now built-in to many TVs under £500. Most TV makers have shifted the bulk of their production to 4K panels, though there are still plenty of models making a case for Full HD. So if you want a new gaming TV that can support (just about) 4K games on a PS5 or Xbox Series X, then you’re in luck.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that if you opt for a basic smart TV platform, you can always upgrade it with a good HDMI streaming device – like an Amazon Fire TV or Roku streaming device. This option will only add another £20 to £50 to your purchase and means you’re still getting a good bargain in the long-run.
- Want to push your budget higher? Check out the best TVs under £1000 instead
When it comes to design and build quality, you need to manage your expectations when you’re shopping at the entry-level end of the market. Expect bulkier-looking displays, as well as plastic and cheaper-looking finishes. Although getting a TV with a thin bezel and simple pedestal is likely to offset how much plastic you have to look at.
A contentious area when buying a budget TV is HDR (High Dynamic Range). While many cheaper flatscreens will technically 'support' HDR, they don't have the power to display the kind of luminous peak brightness that the best HDR can offer. This shouldn’t put you off, but the HDR quality you might have seen on one screen won’t always match up if you’ve gone for a cheaper alternative.
What’s more, audio quality is also likely to be fairly routine, with low cost drivers and limited amplification. But again this can be addressed at a later date, with a soundbar or separate audio solution that could still work out cheaper than going for a more expensive display from the start.
To get the most for your money there’s a lot to think about. But thankfully, you don't have to wade through reams of tech specs to discover the sharpest bargain buys. Instead, TechRadar’s guide to the best TVs available for under £500 will point you in the right direction.
What is the best TV under £500 in 2022?
Want to go cheap? Cello may be a humble British TV brand, but it knows how to cater to those on a tight budget. The Cello Smart Android TV starts at just £179 for a 24-inch size, and comes in at £199 for a 32-inch TV size.
For that price you're getting Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, and surprisingly comprehensive smart TV features. The Cello Netgem smart TV that preceded it made do with a very basic operating system – without even Netflix support – and the move to Android can only be an improvement.
Sure, there are better interfaces than Android for higher-end sets, but it's highly unusual at this price, packing in Chromecast, Google Assistant support, and most popular TV streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Rakuten. You even get Freeview Play – for the UK's terrestrial broadcaster catch-up services.
Picture performance is decent for the price, too, with consistently lit pictures and generally smooth motion from HD/SDR sources.
Read our full review: Cello Smart Android TV
If you're after a Samsung TV that won't cost the earth, look no further than the TU8000 series. This mid-range LCD comes in a compact 43-inch size for just £429.
It's a solid performer, with Samsung's characteristically good upscaling, and solid motion handling too. You'll find a crisp 4K picture here, as well as support for HDR10+ dynamic HDR.
It's a great choice for gamers, too, with just 9.7 ms input lag – which is pretty astonishing for the price. You're not getting all of the gaming technologies of some other sets in this list, as HDMI 2.1, VRR (variable refresh rate), or a 120Hz panel – but for the everyday gamer, this is a set that gets the basics very right.
This is an edge-lit set, meaning brightness isn't as consistent (or high) as on some higher-end QLED TVs. The lack of wide color gamut too, combined with middling brightness, means this isn't the best TV for HDR either – and those after a real step up in performance should look at the Q80T QLED instead. But for a solid mid-range LCD set, without spending more than £500, you could do a lot worse than the TU8000.
Read the full review: Samsung TU8000
The Toshiba WK3C Alexa TV is here to combine straightforward TV viewing and voice assistant functionality in one very affordable package.
The built-in (and hands-free) Alexa support certainly covers what you’d get from an Echo speaker, or hope for from a smart TV. We had no trouble using the Amazon voice assistant to summon apps, look for content, or power the television on and off – though it’s an always-on affair, without the easy mute functions of an Amazon Echo smart speaker.
The picture is surprisingly good, too, given the price and limitations of this HD resolution set. The processor handles HD sources, or those downscaled from 4K, very well. There’s a trace of motion judder that occurs across moving backgrounds, pictures far better in the foreground in general, but it’s a small issue that’s not overly noticeable on such a small TV. Freeview Play support is a great addition for UK viewers too.
All in all, the Toshiba WK3C is something of a steal for those who don’t need a higher-resolution screen. Just keep in mind that you're only getting HD (720p) resolution on both the 24-inch and 32-inch sizing options.
Read our full Toshiba WK3C Alexa TV review
You might be surprised to see a designer television in this list, but this art-minded new Samsung TV is a shoe-in – at least, after it introduced a new 32-inch size for the 2020 model, bringing QLED picture quality to its smallest size ever.
The Frame's main feature is to blend in with your decor, with an Art Mode that displays classic artworks and an Ambient Mode for moody screensavers. Customizable bezels mean you'll be able to fully control the appearance and color of your set, too, whether you're wall-mounting among some real picture frames or placing it on a bedroom shelf for some late-night watching.
The Frame is more expensive than most on this list – at a modest 32-inch size, it still costs you that upper limit of £499 – but you won't get anything quite this stylish for such a good price elsewhere.
Read our full review: Samsung The Frame (2020)
Toshiba is one of those electronics companies most at home in the sub-£500 space, offering budget panels with more features than you might expect at the price – even if it can't quite handle them as expertly as more premium sets.
2019 saw a new bout of Toshiba 4K TVs, including the UL5A listed here. The 5 Series television is a budget 4K HDR set with a unique Alexa accessory: a plug-in microphone you can attach to your TV via USB, as a workaround for a voice-compatible remote.
It's not quite as reliable as an Amazon Echo speaker, though, and has a tendency to unmute itself (presumably due to the basic spring mechanism used in the accessory). And while the set supports HDR, there isn't really the brightness or processing smarts needed to really make it shine.
The TV as a whole, though, offers a range of formats, features, and voice capability beyond its humble pricing, and is certainly worth considering for only £349 at the 43-inch size.
You may also want to consider the Toshiba VL5A, which has a quieter audio output but front-facing speakers for more direct sound – not quite enough to justify a different model, perhaps, but the option is there if you want it.
Read our full Toshiba UL5A TV review
Steve May originally contributed to this article.