Top five best TVs under £500
£500 buys you a lot more TV than it used to. Smart TV features are now almost guaranteed at this price point, while not finding a Freeview HD tuner would be something of a surprise. You may also get 3D.
Spend much less than £500 and you probably won’t get all the bells and whistles – but spend it wisely and it’s still possible to get a good TV with some exciting features.
We’ve highlighted five TVs with plenty to offer, each costing less than a monkey.
Click the links to our LED, LCD and plasma TV reviews to see how they compare for picture quality, sound quality and ease of use.
What makes a Best Buy TV
We send more than 100 TVs to our test lab every year. Our ratings are based on technical measurements and expert panel assessments of ease of use, sound and picture. Overall we perform hundreds of tests on each model before we reach our total test score. But what makes a Which? Best Buy? TV. Find out in our video:
Find out more about how Which? tests TVs.
Top 5 best TVs under £500
LG 32LK450 – 32″ full HD set – £272
The LG32LK450 brings a 32″ Full HD, LCD screen to a price point where we’d normally expect a basic HD-ready one.
LG hasn’t put 3D or smart TV functionality on this model, but with an impressive 3 HDMI ports available you’ll be able to plug in a PS3 or internet-enabled blu-ray player for all those video apps.
There’s also a USB port. You can’t use it to record programmes, but you can view photos and playback images, audio and video.
LG 32LK450 review - Find out whether the Full HD screen measures up with more expensive models
Panasonic Viera TX-L32C4 – 32″ screen with Freeview HD tuner – £252
The Panasonic Viera TX-L32C4 is a bog-standard HD-ready model, so no 1080p resolution here, but it does have a Freeview HD tuner. This gives you access to four HD channels – BBC One HD, ITV 1 HD, 4HD and the BBC HD channel – on the set’s 32″ sceen.
Unusually for a cheap TV, one of the HDMI ports supports an ARC audio return channel for a convenient surround sound experience.
For visually or hearing impaired users, subtitles are available at a single touch of a remote control button, while audio description (AD) is conveniently just one menu choice away from pressing the Options button.
Panasonic Viera TX-L32C4 review - Find out if it’s a Best Buy
Panasonic Viera TX-P42G30 – 42″ plasma with Smart Viera - £479
Panasonic has brought out all the goodies for its Viera TX-P42G30. Not only do you get a Full HD 53 screen, a Freeview HD tuner and access to Smart Viera, but there are no less than three USB ports.
Why would you need as many USB ports as a laptop? You may want to playback video and photos, plug in an external hard drive for recording TV, and connect a keyboard for the smart TV functions.
There’s no web browser on this model, but the keyboard comes in handy when you’re chatting away on Facebook and Twitter.
Recording from TV using USB is a feature now trickling down from more expensive models. While you can pause and rewind live TV on the TX-P42G30, it’s not as fully featured or convenient as using a standard PVR box.
Panasonic Viera TX-P42G30 review - Some nice features, but do picture and sound quality hit the spot?
Samsung UE19D4003 – 19″ screen with impressive picture quality – £130
Now we’re getting into bargain basement territory. If you’re after a TV for a smaller room, the Samsung UE19D4003′s 19″ screen may make you smile. The £130 price tag (it’s currently available at Amazon and Dixons) may make you smile some more.
Let’s get what it’s not got out the way first. There’s no smart functionality or 3D, nor does it have a Full HD screen or Freeview HD.
But HD picture quality is rather good, while energy use is very low. There are two HDMI inputs, for HD sources such as a blu-ray player or games console, as well as one Scart for a standard-def source like a DVD player.
There’s a USB port for viewing Jpeg images and listening to MP3 audio files. It won’t work for playing back video, though. Note also that it also doesn’t have a VGA input, so you’ll be relying on one of the HDMI ports if you want to plug in a computer.
Samsung UE19D4003 review – find out more about its picture quality
Sony Bravia KDL-40EX723 – 40″ 3D TV – £470
The Sony Bravia KDL-40EX723 is one of the cheaper 3D TV’s out there. Unlike some inexpensive 3D sets, this one comes with active technology.
If 3D doesn’t float your boat, try Freeview HD, a 40″ Full HD LED panel, and smart TV functionality that has a strong focus on catch-up TV and video apps. A handy ‘internet video’ button on the remote takes you to these, while a web browser supplements all the pre-installed apps.
The Sony has sockets galore. Just one Scart, but no less than 4 HDMI slots.
You’ll need to shop around a bit to get this one for less than £500, but before you do, read our full review.
Sony Bravia KDL-40EX723 review - Find out what our lab testers thought of the smart TV functions, and our total score
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