Last Updated: November 2, 2013
Best Cheap LCD TV Sets
For Home Entertainment - 2010 Update
Budget-class HDTVs within the sub-$500 to $1,000 price bracket
Up to not long ago, a cheap LCD TV option still meant an expensive purchase. Things changed and both CCFL and LED LCD TV prices are at the lowest ever. In particular, prices of CCFL LCD TVs are very much in line with corresponding plasma TVs.
Mind you, plasma still carries a small price advantage at this price bracket in particular at 720p resolution. With plasma, a 42-inch 720p HDTV sells for just under $500; with LCD, it is a 37-inch 720p LCD TV that sells for the same price.
Despite the relatively inexpensive price, you still get an HDTV capable of a relatively solid picture suitable for most home use.
You see, 'cheap' does not imply poor product quality, it just means these HDTVs cost less as a result of a reduced feature set.
As expected, there are differences in features and performance between the different budget-class HDTVs that make one better than the other for different needs. That's where this 2010 cheap LCD TV Roundup comes in - to help you pick up the best cheap LCD TV option for your home entertainment.
The New Samsung mid-range
F6300 Smart LED TV
Samsung's new mid-range LED TV for 2013 is the TV for mainstream home entertainment. It is available in a wide range of screen sizes, and comes with what many consider as the best Smart TV platform presently available, apart from a great TV picture for the price - one characterized by bright saturated colors and deep blacks.
No 3D or a Smart Touch remote, but at the present reduced online pricing, lack of such features is surely not a deal breaker!
Cheap LCD TV Sets
What about a 32-inch or 37-inch for under $500, or a premium 46-inch with Internet TV access for less than $1,000?
Well, the latest reduced online prices for CCFL and LED LCD HDTVs make this a present day reality. Admittedly, at under $500, you mainly get medium size 720p HDTVs though a few brands still managed to squeeze a 1080p pixel count even at this price bracket for screen sizes up to 37-inch. A case in point is Panasonic with its 37-inch TC-L37U22 1080p HDTV; as expected, this cheap LCD TV from Panasonic is a bare-bones HDTV.
This is generally not an issue with most consumers at this price bracket since primary interest here is mainly price versus TV size.
While TV brands like Panasonic and even Sony generally deliver a reduced feature set for the price, TV makers like LG and Samsung generally manage to deliver more. LG's LD350 and Samsung C450 series reviewed on our site are typical in this respect.
Interesting is that at the sub-$500 price bracket, you have a wider choice of TV brands as more first-tier TV makers have joined in to target that part of the market segment generally dominated by the less expensive TV sets from second-tier brands. On the other hand, moving towards the $500 - $1,000 price bracket gives you more choice in terms of features - including Internet TV access, and a larger screen size. But in terms of TV brands at this price bracket, the cheap LCD TV market is mainly LG and Samsung. These are the TV brands that generally offer more features for less. In other words, these are the TV brands to opt for if you want to get the best feature set to price deal while still enjoying relatively solid picture performance.
These are also the TV brands to look for if you want an edge-lit cheap LED TV even though brands like Sony still manage to fit in a few models. But be warned that even with what qualifies as cheap LED TVs, you get less screen estate for your money. You see, budget-class LED TVs are still relatively expensive with respect to mainstream CCFL LCDs. A 37-inch LED TV such as the LG 37-inch 37LE5300 would cost you some $300 more than a CCFL LCD equivalent - and this mainly for the LED backlight!
Editor's Note: What follows is our selection of the best cheap LCD TVs within the sub-$500 and $500 - $1,000 categories, as well as some of the best cheap LED TVs within the sub-$1,000 price bracket; included is a short summary of the main features/characteristics, and links to related reviews appearing on our site.
For many, choosing an HDTV is often a matter of brand. Definitely, it's hard to go wrong at this price bracket with cheap LCD TVs from major brands; after all, these are all capable of doing a remarkable job in delivering a relatively good picture for your home entertainment.
But there still remain differences in features and performance between the different HDTVs, so do your research and do not confine yourself to a specify brand. Doing so may very well deprive you of the best deal. Here is our selection for your consideration.
LG 32-inch 32LD350 720p 60Hz HDTVs
LG 32-inch 32LD350
Presently selling online at a under $340, the 32-inch LG 32LD350 is the LG LCD TV that is among the best selling LG HDTVs for 2010 and among the top-selling LCDs for 2010 irrespective of brand.
It is also one of the best rated HDTVs at this price bracket - averaging 4.5 stars out of 5 in more than 38 customer reviews posted on amazon at the time of this write-up.
The LG LD350 comes with extensive features and a comprehensive set of user-adjustable picture controls - more than one would expect to find on entry-level sets. In contrast, Panasonic equivalents are bare-bones HDTVs.
The LG LD350 is capable of a solid picture after calibration despite the less than perfect performance in issues like shadow depth. It also has a somewhat reduced viewing angle with respect to similar priced sets from Samsung and Panasonic. But otherwise, it is a solid LCD TV that delivers the best bang for your buck.
Some may skip over this 32-inch LG LCD TV because of its 720p resolution. But if feature-wise it delivers what you are after, moving on to a 1080p LCD HDTV at this screen size is waste of money. At anything smaller than 50-inch, it would be hard if not impossible to notice the difference in picture detail afforded by the higher pixel count of 1080p HDTVs with broadcast content.
For more information on the LD350 series, please refer to our LG review here.
32-inch TC-L32U22 60Hz 1080p LCD
Despite being Panasonic's entry-level 1080p series, the U22 is among the best rated in customer reviews - thanks to its solid picture quality.
Main features apart from 1080p resolution include extensive connectivity with 3 HDMI and a VGA-type PC input; what is lacking is a USB port. These TVs also include the Viera Image Viewer with JPEG support for the integrated SD card slot, and Viera Link to control HDMI connected devices via the TV remote.
These relative cheap LCD TVs from Panasonic use the latest development in LCD display panel technology - In Plane Switching - or IPS; this delivers excellent light transmittance that enhances contrast, improve motion image response, and supports a wider viewing angle.
Panasonic 37-inch TC-L37X2 720p LCD TVs
Slightly cheaper is the Panasonic 720p LCD X2 series with its 22-inch, 32-inch, and the 37-inch TC-L37X2 featured here.
The 32-inch TC-L32X2 is selling online at $370; it is one of the cheapest and is also one of the top selling cheap LCD TVs irrespective of brand thanks to its inexpensive price and a solid overall picture performance; this is typical of Panasonic HDTVs. The larger in the series, the 37-inch is selling online at $480.
This pricing may lead some to the conclusion that the 1080p U22 series delivers more value but the X2 series is one of Panasonic step-up 720p LCD HDTVs and offers features not found on the 1080p series; the most significant being the included Universal Dock for iPod, which makes it possible to control playback of music and video stored on your Apple iPod or iPhone directly through your VIERA HDTV via the remote control and onscreen menu system.
As stated for the LG L350 LCD, do not just skip these cheap LCD TVs simply because they come with a 720p screen resolution. These Panasonic LCD TVs do deliver a relatively great picture for the price. In addition, you would not notice the difference at these screen sizes especially when viewing from what is considered normal healthy viewing distance with broadcast content. Unless you need the higher 1080p resolution for PC use, opting for a 1080p HDTV at these screen sizes is often waste of money. More on the issue of viewing distance and HDTV resolution can be found in our guides (1) TV Viewing Distance and (2) Understanding HDTV Formats.
Entry-level 720p 60Hz Samsung LCD TVs: Series 3 and Series 4
Samsung 32-inch LN32C450
Samsung Series 3 32-inch LN32C350 and Series 4 32-inch LN32C450 LCD HDTVs represent Samsung entry-level 720p LCD TVs for 2010.
Both series come with an almost identical feature set except for a few minor enhancements, mainly in the form of an improved connectivity for LNC450 HDTVs which includes an additional HDMI port.
At the time of this write-up, the 32-inch LN32C350 is selling online for $410 while its C450 cousin is selling at just $50 more. Despite the slightly higher price, it is the C450 model that is proving to be among the top sellers.
These TVs are capable of doing a relatively good job for HDTVs at this price margin - delivering deep blacks with good dark shadow detail, bright sharp images and good natural looking colors when handling HD material. Handling of standard definition is also good despite the presence of a few non-offensive artifacts while off-axis viewing is basically in line with similar LCD HDTVs from Sony and Panasonic, doing just a bit better than corresponding LG LCD TVs.
Entry-level 1080p 60Hz Samsung LCD TVs: Series C530
Samsung C530 HDTVs represent Samsung entry-level 1080p LCD HDTVs. The C530 is more expensive than the Panasonic equivalent, almost $100 more. In fact, with Samsung, it is only the 32-inch LN32C530 that falls within the $500 price bracket. With the Panasonic, you can get a 37-inch. But then the Samsung comes with a somewhat superior feature set.
As already expressed earlier on, a 1080p HDTV at this screen size is not much of a gain for the extra cost. But the Samsung C530 series still represents a cheap LCD TV option for those looking for an entry-level 1080p HDTV especially at the larger screen sizes within this series, namely 37-inch LN37C530, 40-inch LN40C530, 46-inch LN46C530, and the 52-inch LN52C530. Prices vary from $625 for the 37-inch, to $1250 for the 52-inch.
Feature wise, the most significant enhancement over the less expensive Samsung series apart from 1080p resolution, is the presence of Samsung light sensor; this helps reduce the power consumption by automatically adjusting the brightness level according to the light level in the room.
Samsung Series 5 LCD TVs do deliver a relatively decent picture for the price, but their real key over the competition is in delivering one of the best cheap LCD TV packages for those looking for a 1080p HDTV, striking the right balance between affordability, overall good picture quality, an interesting feature set, and equally important for those that care about their room decor, more refined styling than most of the competition.
Sony: EX308 and EX400 Series
It is definitely refreshing to see Sony competing at this price bracket with two solid yet cheap LCD TV options. The E308 and E400 are Sony's most affordable HDTV series.
The 32-inch Sony LCD TV within these series is more expensive than the 32-inch competition, but these relatively cheap LCD TVs come with a superior feature set, and this apart from a solid picture - one that is in line with what we expect from a top-tier TV maker.
Sony KDL-32EX308 Entry-level 720p 60Hz LCD TV with Internet TV access
Sony 32-inch KDL-32EX308 with Internet TV access
The Sony 32-inch KDL-32EX308 is a black clone but one that hides a great feature set at this price bracket behind its uninspiring design. It is also one of the few HDTVs at this price that come with Internet TV access and DLNA support, features generally found on premium HDTVs.
Included is also Sony's Wi-Fi adaptor which makes for easy Interment access, something which comes at an extra cost on most of the competition.
Connectivity is more than adequate and includes a USB port - missing on corresponding Panasonic LCD TVs. These Sony LCD TVs also come with Bravia Engine 3 for improved video processing. The 720p resolution is definitely not a handicap at this screen size as further detailed above. DLNA support is rather limited in terms of file support but picture performance is good.
As stated, it is not among the cheapest 32-inch LCD TVs - but with an online price of $490, this is the cheapest Sony LCD TV to go for if Sony is your brand and you want Internet TV access.
Sony KDL-32EX400 Entry-level 1080p 60Hz LCD TV
Within the same price bracket of the EX308 is the Sony 32-inch KDL-32EX400; it delivers 1080p resolution plus a few extras - but no Internet TV access. It is the cheapest 1080p Sony LCD TV for 2010.
Key features include Sony's Ambient Sensor and LightSensor technologies to automatically adjust the color and backlight based on the room lighting, a USB port with support for photos, music and video playback, and a full connectivity suite complemented by four HDMI inputs and a VGA-style PC input. But it also lacks a few others like a sleep timer and as is often the case with the few HDTVs that come with PIP, its picture-in-picture feature comes with a rather limited functionality.
Overall, the EX400 delivers a decent picture and sound even though when connected via the VGA PC input, picture quality is not among the best; you will have to connect your PC via one of the HDMI inputs to enjoy the best picture these Sony LCD TVs can deliver. Otherwise, it is a solid cheap LCD TV for those Sony fans looking for a 32-inch LCD for general home use.
If there is a brand one cannot leave out at this price bracket is Vizio. Vizio is the largest American TV maker. Many often associated Vizio with cheap LCD TVs as Vizio main market is the budget HDTV category thanks to its aggressive pricing.
But Vizio is not only cheap LCD TVs. Suffice to mention the latest Vizio LED TV with local dimming, the XVT3SV. It is the least expensive LED TV with full array local dimming technology but it is also the one that has been described as the best Vizio HDTV ever - delivering one of the very best TV pictures irrespective of brand, and numerous features including 3D, and built-in Wi-Fi. Picture quality is also exceptionally good and screen uniformity - an issue with most LED TVs - is better than what one finds on most of the competition.
But Vizio flagship apart, Vizio has various cheap LCD TVs options for 2010. Top of the list is the Vizio E320VL 32-Inch LCD TV, which at $360, falls within the same price bracket as the 32-inch LG 32LD350; the LG however delivers a bit more both in picture-related features and picture overall performance.
Interesting at the sub-$500 price bracket is the Vizio 32-inch E322VL 1080p LCD TV.
This is the only other 32-inch other than the Sony already referred to above selling at the $500 price bracket that comes with Internet TV access and built-in wireless support for easy Internet access.
This Vizio is proving to be a great seller thanks to Vizio Internet Apps - rated as one of the very best for 2010. Connectivity is also among the most completed with 3 HDMI, 1 Ethernet, 1 USB, 1 component, 1 composite, and a VGA-type computer input. Included is also Vizio's Ambient Light Sensing technology which automatically adjusts backlight levels to the brightness of your room.
Overall performance is great for a TV at this price bracket, with a good overall picture that is in line with that from major TV brands; sound is also relatively very good for a flat-panel TV - better than that found on most flat-panel HDTVs.
Vizio is definitely the TV brand that delivers more for less even at the 1080p category. The Vizio E370VA 37-inch 1080p 60Hz LCD TV is presently selling only for $480; this is possibly the least expensive 37-inch 1080p HDTV within the cheap LCD TV category. It comes with Vizio basic feature set but still includes the ambient light sensor and four HDMI inputs; the latter represents an extra HDMI over most of the competition at this price.
At this price bracket, you have more LCD HDTV options both in terms of brands and models. But when it comes to cheap LCD TVs, the dominant TV brands are LG and Samsung. And this applies irrespective of whether you are after a cheap CCFL-backlit LCD TV or an edge-lit LED TV.
This is no surprise; these are the TV makers that offer among the most valid HDTV options in terms of value for money, whether it is a cheap LCD TV or a LED TV. But if it is a cheap LED TV you are after, include also Sony in the equation; Sony offers some of the best affordable LED TVs at this price bracket.
LD450 Series 1080p 60Hz CCFL LCD TVs
With sets such as the 42-inch 42LD450 and the 47-inch 47LD450 selling online for $500 and $640 respective, these are the TVs that deliver extensive user-adjustable picture settings, solid picture quality and 1080p resolution at a price that is among the lowest around.
Read full product review here.
LD550 1080 120Hz LCD TVs with LG NetCast Internet TV access
With sets such as the 42-inch 42LD550 and 46-inch 46LD550 selling online at $750 and $900 respectively, the LD550 series is the least expensive LG series that comes with Internet TV access.
This is the LG series that offers more for less in that you get practically the same picture performance of the more expensive LG LD650 240Hz series; you see, difference in performance between 120Hz and 240Hz LCD TV systems is such that it you will not perceive it with the unaided eye.
LG 42LD550 42-inch 1080p LCD TV with NetCast Internet access
This is the CCFL LCD TV series that comprises the largest number of screen sizes, from 32-inch to 60-inch; the latter is among the most affordable at such a massive screen size.
For more information on the LG LD550 series, please refer to our review here.
Like LG, Samsung LCD TV lineup is always characterized by an affordable range of HDTVs - a good number of which falls within the cheap LCD TV category.
Popular series include the C530 60Hz 1080p HDTVs already referred to above, as well as the C630 series 120Hz 1080p LCD TVs. However, it is the latter series that delivers the best bang for your buck.
Main upgrade over the C530 is 120Hz refresh rate technology but it is also the series that practically delivers the same picture quality as the somewhat more expensive Samsung LNC650 series; what is missing on the C630 series is Samsung Apps Internet TV entertainment platform.
Bestselling HDTVs within these series include the 40-inch LN40C630 ($800) and the 46-inch LN46C650. The latter model just falls within the sub-$1,000 price bracket; it is not exactly a cheap LCD TV but it is among the bestselling and most affordable premium HDTVs for 2010.
For more information, please refer to our Samsung LCD TV review here.
Among the best in the sub $1,000 price bracket, one finds the LG LE5300 1080p 120Hz LED TVs and the LG LE5400; the latter adds LG NetCast Internet TV access to the LE5300 feature set.
Popular sets within these series include 42-inch 42LE5400 and the 32-inch 32LE5300 selling online for $900 and $600 respectively. For more information, please refer to our LG LED TV review article here.
Equally popular within the cheap LCD TV category is Samsung C4000 and C5000 LED TV series. Bestselling Samsung LED TVs within the sub-$1,000 bracket are the 32-inch UN32C4000 720p LED TV ($580), the 32-inch UN32C5000 ($690) and the 40-inch UN40C5000 ($890) 1080p 60Hz LED TVs; the latter is Samsung's entry-level affordable LED TV option for the home theater on a budget.
Definitely, one cannot leave Sony out of the LED TV market. Sony is one of the leaders when it comes to LED TV technology. Do not expect to get the best in features and design at the budget class category but Sony LED TVs still deliver. Popular edge-lit LED TVs within the 'cheap LCD TV category' include the 40-inch KDL-40EX600 60Hz LED TV - which at under $800 is one of the cheap LED TVs from a top-tier TV maker, and the 32-inch KDL-32EX700 ($700) and the 40-inch KDL-40EX700 ($850) 120Hz LED TVs.
But despite the somewhat more expensive price, it is the latter EX700 series that delivers the best deal from Sony's LED TV lineup for 2010; this is the series that manages to bring you the same picture quality of the NX800 and NX700 series and almost the full features set of the NX700 but at a significantly cheaper price tag.
More on these Sony LED TVs can be found in our LED TV review here.