Technology improves every day, it seems, which means there's likely to be a new type of television every year. To stay ahead of the curve (yes, you can buy a TV with a curve now), you could end up spending a fortune. However, there are some budget TVs that you can buy for less than $500 and still get the latest tech, or at least the last generation, anyway.
Best Budget High-Def Smart TV – Vizio D-Series Ultra HD Full-Array LED Smart TV
You can enjoy the best of the technology advances in televisions without having to drain your savings account with the Vizio brand. This TV gives you 4K, ultra-high definition and LED in a smart TV. What does all of that mean?
Ultra HD & 4K: Full high definition means a picture that has a tighter, clearer image, so ultra HD means it's going to be even clearer than 1080p. The less pixelated an image is, the more extreme detail and clarity you'll see – a 4K TV's resolution is going to be 3840 x 2160 – or four times as many pixels as regular old HD.
Smart: A smart TV means you don't have to buy a separate device to use streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu and Pandora. A smart TV is internet-ready so you get easy access to your favorite movies and shows. You still have to pay for a subscription to those separate services, though.
LED: This is almost not worth mentioning because most televisions are made with LEDs now. An LED TV lasts a long time, doesn't require a ton of power and offers a clear picture even in bright light.
Perhaps the best part about this TV, though, is that you can find it for less than $500, if you opt for a 40-inch screen. Size may be the only compromise you need to make. If you refuse to give up your dream of owning a giant TV, though, you do have options.
Best Budget Giant TV – LG 55" Class LED Smart HDTV
OK, so a 55-inch TV isn't likely going to cover your whole living room wall, but it's a significant step up from a 27-, 32- or 40-inch television. The best part about buying this TV is that you get a well-known brand and most of the latest in technology.
HDTV: This is the technology so many actors feared because it offers clarity that TVs of the past couldn't dream of – detail like pores on an actor's face. The picture is so clear because of the increased pixel density.
Smart: You can get access to all of your favorite streaming apps without buying a separate device to use them. This means the LG TV is internet-ready and you can use a single remote – the one that's included – to get to all of your favorite programs, if you subscribe to the services.
A cheap TV doesn't have to be of low quality, and LG proves it with this model. It's going to cost you less than $500, and if you wait for a big sale, you could get it for even less.
Best TV to Use as a Computer Monitor – Sony 40" LCD 1080p Wi-Fi TV
If you're a PC gaming enthusiast, you likely have an updated graphics card in your computer. If that's the case, then clear, high-quality graphics are important to you. One of the best ways to get the most out of those pretty games is to use an HD television as your monitor. The Sony LCD 1080p Wi-Fi TV is a good choice because of its high-definition clarity and built-in Wi-Fi capability, so it's easy to connect to your makeshift monitor to your home network.
Here's the thing, though: You may not get the clearest picture, unless you keep a few things in mind.
Pixel Density: This is what gives you a clear picture. So, more pixels is better, but it's relative to screen size. The smaller the TV, the clearer the image appears because of the pixel density.
Distance: You need to get some distance between you and your TV. If you set the television on your desk, you'll be too close to it and your games may end up looking pixelated. Hanging it from a wall helps, and sitting farther away helps, too. Otherwise, buy a smaller TV.
HDMI Hookup: Make sure your graphics card supports HDMI – it likely does, though, if you're playing the latest games. This is the best way to hook up this Sony TV to use as a gaming monitor.
One of the biggest benefits of the constant improvements to technology is that the advanced electronics and features become more affordable more quickly. It's a good thing you can find budget TVs because you're probably going to want to upgrade other electronic equipment, too.