TV in Dorm Room.jpgMost students want to get the most entertainment they can for the least amount of money. The good news is that given the quality of TV technology these days, you don’t have to break the bank to get a great TV. Here is a collection of low cost TVs that are rated very highly by the toughest critics, end-users.

The criteria I used was to select nothing over $400 and at least 7 customer ratings, with one exception that I will explain later. I found a combination of brand-name TVs as well as some less-known brands but don’t let that fool you as they are still very good TVs and well rated and respected by consumers. Half the TVs are smart TVs and the other half are not. The smart TVs are a little more expensive, but if you already have a streaming device like a Roku or AppleTV there is no point spending the extra on a smart set.

Dynex 24" TV.jpg#1 Dynex 24” LED TV (DX-24E310NA15)

         Rating: 4.7/5.0 (7 ratings)

This Dynex TV is the highest rated of the low cost TVs because everyone has found it to be excellent value. Some customers start out skeptical of the “Dynex” brand because they are unfamiliar with it, but once they have bought it found the picture and sound to be excellent. Some have bought Dynex in the past and have never had a complaint about it.

The Dynex is the smallest of the highly rated sets, but it is also the least expensive. It doesn’t have a lot of features but some of the basic ones include a USB port, 3 video modes (game, sports, and cinema), and an Energy Star 3.0 rating.

James from Kitchener Ontario wrote:


Great TV, Great Deal

“This TV we bought boxing week is fantastic, works great and was the perfect price point. Picture great and sound good. We have another Dynex we bought several years ago still running great so didn’t hesitate to buy this one on sale. Very happy for what we got for what we paid.”

Insignia Roku Smart TV.jpg#2 Insignia 32” LED Smart Roku TV (NS-32DR420CA16)

         Rating: 4.6/5.0 (11 ratings)

The Insignia Smart Roku TV is also a great buy because it has the Roku smart streaming platform built right into the TV. This makes navigation and search even easier, and adds great features like Roku Feed. What Roku Feed can do is let you know as soon as a movie or TV is available to stream, and will even list the options in price order. It also supports voice search capability using the Roku mobile app.

The TV has quite a few features like a USB port, an optical sound port, 3 video modes (vivid, normal, and eco save), a remote control plus a free mobile device app that also can control the set. The Roku platform has the most content to choose from with over 1,400 streaming channels to choose from.

Samsung 28" TV.jpg

#3 Samsung 28” LED TV (UN28H4000)

         Rating: 4.5/5.0 (12 ratings)

This highly rated Samsung TV is not a smart set, but it comes at a very low cost so is excellent value. Customers really liked the picture quality, and felt the sound was generally pretty good as well. It comes with Samsung’s motion enhancement technology so it is good for playing video games as well. It comes with two HDMI ports so you can add another device besides the cable box, and it has a USB port for your personal media.

It also has Samsung’s ConnectShare Movie feature which allows the TV to be connected to an external hard drive so you can play your own library of movies or photos. It is also has an Energy Star 6.0 rating so it is very eco-friendly.

John from Calgary wrote:


Great TV

“This is a great TV for the price – excellent picture, as you would expect from Samsung, and the sound is pretty good. We bought it for our guest room and the size is perfect.”

Samsung Smart TV 28".jpg

#4 Samsung 28” LED Smart TV (UN28H4500AFXZC)

         Rating: 4.3/5.0 (7 ratings)

This Samsung TV is the same size as the UN28H4000 above, but is a Smart TV as well for only a few extra dollars. As a smart TV, it comes with both WiFi connectivity as well as an Ethernet port. It uses Samsung’s Smart Hub to stream a wide variety of available content from the Internet, as well as a variety of social media apps, web browsing capability, and games.

This TV has all the other features mentioned above for the UN28H4000 like ConnectShare Movie, a USB port, and motion enhancement technology for gaming. It’s a very good TV for the price with a great picture and lots of features.

Iman from Toronto wrote:


Love it

“I recently bought this TV. Very happy with how clear and easy to set up everything and manage the remote control, plus the quality of the picture is awesome, the sound and the other features. It’s just what I needed. I highly recommend it.”

Insignia TV.jpeg#5   Insignia 32” LED TV (NS-32D312NA15)

           Rating: 4.1/5.0 (26 ratings)

This Insignia is the same size as the NS-32DR420CA16 above but it is not a smart set, therefore it is less money. It comes with a wider range of ports so you can hook other devices like a media streamer and Blu-ray player. It has 2 HDMI ports, an MHL port, PC VGA and audio ports, an optical audio port, and a USB port. The one port it doesn’t have is a coaxial cable port.

Most consumer reviews talk very highly about the excellent value that this TV provides. For the price it is a great product with a good picture and decent design.

Erin C from Calgary wrote:


Great Value

“I just have to say, as far as lower priced TV’s go. This is one of the best. Ive had this same model for 5 years and have had NO issues with it. None! Its survived 2 moves and several move arounds and i gotta say. Its a fantastic TV for its price. Mind you 5 years ago it cost more, but even then the value was great. I definitely recommend as a buy!”

Vizio 28" E-Series Smart TV.jpg#6   Vizio 28” LED Smart TV (E28H-C1)

           Rating: 4.0/5.0 (4 ratings)

Although this Vizio TV only had 4 ratings I felt I had to include it because Vizio has built a reputation on bringing good value to consumers by providing highly featured smart TVs at a good price point. It comes with full array backlighting for a better picture, and has all the Vizio smart features that has made them the top seller of smart sets in the US.

The set comes with two HDMI ports, a USB port, built-in WiFi, and a PC VGA port. It is Energy Star 6.0 certified so it is eco-friendly. It’s a smart TV with a great picture and nice features for overall good value.

Commongtao from Toronto wrote:


Great TV in a small package

“For a 28″ TV, it has exceptional color quality and the sound is sufficient for small space.”

For the college student on a budget, or the parent with a budget, all of these sets are good options and vouched for by lots of customers as being very good value.

Tom Brauser
I love to try new technologies and I have a practical approach to techie stuff - it has to be easy to use and make my life better. I have my house fully wired, with a surround sound system in my family room for music and TV viewing, but also drive music throughout the house as well as outdoors. I Internet stream content on all my devices at home, which provides a huge variety of entertainment to enjoy.


  1. Some thoughts…

    • if you are on a budget, check out Over the Air (OTA) antenna options.  Depending on where you live, you might get several local broadcast stations in HD!
    • if these TV’s are so affordable… get a few of them to have in more than one room…. many cable services allow you to hook up more than one TV to your cable service at now additional charge.  Some providers offer wireless cable boxes so you get service where ever there’s a 120v outlet.  You no longer have to agree to watching the same program at the same time!
  2. With pretty much everything using HDMI cables these days, also consider a higher end computer monitor for around the same price as an entry level TV of the same size. As long as it has an HDMI input, you could get a HDMI switch and have the same functionality as a TV. You wouldn’t get the antenna channels or the dedicated apps like on a web-connected TV, but if you’re paying for digital cable anyway, and pretty much every peripheral these days (even standard ones like DVD or Blu-ray players, as well as Desktop and laptop PCs) have all of those standard apps available.


    Just another angle to consider to save a bit of money.



  3. I agree with the OTA antenna as a real cost saving option for students – the only issu with that is that the number of OTA channels is limited so most students might not like the limited content – they will need to augment it with streaming devices (have a look at my post on streaming options for students.


    Regarding using a higher end computer monitor is also a good option, but for a 32″ higher end monitor you might find that you are paying a lot more than you would for some of these similar sized TV’s.  The other option is to use some of these TVs with all their features as a monitor.


    The nice thing is that there are a lot of ways to save money and find a solution that works for you.

  4. True enough, @hootie!  Having been out of school for a long time, I guess I never considered that people are really starting to use 32″ and higher screens for their computer monitors on their desks.  If you’re like me and operate in the 23″-27″ spectrum, my advice should ring relatively true.  Getting into the bigger spectrum, absolutely, the cost savings drop considerably.



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