The best 48-inch, 49-inch and 50-inch TVs are where you can start to dip your toes into the wonderful world of big-screen entertainment. These are still small enough for most UK living rooms and tight apartments the world over, but represent a big jump in area from the best 43-inch TVs, giving you a cinematic experience closer to what the world's very best TVs give you.
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You'll see that our list of the best 50-inch TVs is dominated by 4K LCD panels, which is because until recently you needed to move up to the best 55-inch TVs before you could buy an OLED TV – though that is changing in 2020 with some of the best OLED TVs coming in 48-inch versions for the first time.
There tends to be a significant step up in image quality from 43-inch TVs with these bigger LCD panels, especially when it comes to HDR performance – bigger screens means more space for brighter backlighting in LCD models, which means more dazzling colours, especially from panel tech such as QLED.
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A bigger screen also means you get to see more of the detail that Ultra HD panels bring, and all our our picks are great at upscaling HD content to make the most of the extra pixels.
Our choices cover a range of prices, and we've made sure to say the particular areas where each of the TVs specialises, so you can pick a set that fits with your priorities perfectly.
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Best 50-inch TV: Is this the right size for you?
While 43 inches remains the most popular screen size, a 50-inch 4K TV is perfect for today’s living spaces if you want a big upgrade to your visual oomph. As homes have gone more open-plan, so the demand for a bigger screen you can see from a greater distance has increased. In general, a 48- to 50-inch Smart TV can be viewed well from 10 feet away or more, though if you're a little close, you'll get a a good eyeful of that 4K detail.
Best 50-inch TV: What to look for
At this screen size you should be looking for 50-inch LCD TVs that are fully-specified. That means you can expect a direct LED backlight and local dimming in higher-end models, which will give you more vibrant colours and brighter highlights plus greater contrast for dark scenes in moves.
To really elevate those parts of movies, you'll also want extensive HDR format support – particularly Dolby Vision and HDR10+ where possible (though many TVs will limit you to one or the other).
Here in 2020, we're also looking for AI-enhanced image processing, which improves the ability to upscale from SD or HD to fill the 4K screen. And we expect Dolby Atmos support, comprehensive smart systems, and additional gaming features – some sets here feature in our picks of the best gaming TVs.
Best 48, 49 and 50-inch TVs: the list
• Read our full LG CX review
The LG CX is the sweet spot in its 2020 range, delivering the highest level of 4K screen quality that LG makes (and LG is one of the best in this department), but at a price that puts it among the most affordable OLED TV sets.
This year is the first time LG (or anyone else, for that matter) has made a 48-inch OLED 4K set, and it's truly a breathtaking TV: the nuance it's able to produce in contrast-rich scenes is far superior to what the LCD TVs here can manage. Moody scenes have a realism far closer to what the eye can perceive, and OLED's ability to have bright highlights right next to dark areas with no bleed between them gives this a level of dazzle that nothing else in this list can quite match – and we really like the TVs in this list.
LG's processing is excellent at taking regular HD material and making it look close to real 4K, which great since a lot of what's on streaming services is still in HD. But with native 4K, and in Dolby Vision HDR, the set really gets to let its hair down… and boy, is that hair sharp and well textured.
On top of its unrivalled image quality, it also has a really friendly and understandable smart TV platform, with superb app support. And it's crammed with high-end technologica features, including all four HDMI connections supporting for all the latest special PS5 and Xbox Series X features, including 4K video at 120fps, Auto Low-Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rates (VRR).
• Read our full Sony XH95/X950H review
The Sony XH95 (or X95H in the US) is the company's flagship 4K LED TV for 2020, and it's gone to great effort to fit in tons of high-end image tech at a more compact size here. The result is truly impressive performance for a 49-inch 4K TV – the panel benefits from a direct full-array LED backlight with local dimming, and there’s a host of image processing features.
These include Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor for top-of-the-line processing (nobody does processing better than Sony, and this is Sony's elite-level chip) for upscaling from HD to 4K, making SDR look more like HDR, and combining with X-Motion Clarity tech for the smoothest and clearest motion you can get.
The XH95 is the ideal 50-inch smart TV for sports fans because of that, but just as much for movie lovers, thanks to its dazzling HDR performance and great contrast control. The images are bright, detailed and colourful, while the exceptional motion handling means you won’t miss any of the action. Our review called this TV the "best-in-class at this price range. It combines barnstorming sound with pictures that, for the vast majority of the time, are truly things of beauty."
Even the sound is good enough that you won't need to add a soundbar immediately!
The Android TV operating system includes Google Assistant built-in, but also works with Amazon Alexa, and while the choice of streaming services isn’t as comprehensive as LG or Samsung, the XH95 remains a great 49-inch smart TV.
The only real downside is that it lacks the latest and greatest PS5/Xbox Series X-ready gaming features, such as 4K at 120fps and VRR – but if you're not into having the very latest gaming features, that won't be a problem at all.
• Read our full Panasonic HX800 review
When it comes to performance and features, the Panasonic HX800 is the 50-inch 4K TV to beat. This model benefits from Panasonic’s extensive picture know-how to deliver breathtaking images of remarkable detail and accuracy.
The HCX processor gets the best out of every source using start-of-the-art upscaling and noise reduction, while the rich LCD panel and local dimming ensure a superior HDR performance. Best of all the HX800 supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, so you can enjoy both dynamic HDR formats.
The emphasis might be on picture quality – Panasonic is famous for tuning its TVs for accurate cinematic reproduction – but the gaming performance is also top-notch here, with incredibly low latency.
The My Home Screen smart platform is fairly basic, but it includes the main video streamers, along with Freeview Play, and also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. If you want add more apps, try one of the best 4K media streamers, which start from around £40/$40.
Throw an attractive design and equally attractive price into this TV's mix, and you’ve got the best-value 50-inch HDR TV.
• Read our full Samsung Q80T review
The Q80T is a great balancing of Samsung's range, packing every major feature the brand offers in 2020 – including a QLED 4K panel with local dimming, plus its top processing and smart TV tech, as well as the latest gaming features – into a 49-inch set. As a result, HDR is especially impressive, with beautiful colours, plenty of shadow detail and dazzling specular highlights.
Once you include the Quantum Processor with its AI-enhanced upscaling and image processing, you have a 50-inch HDR TV that can deliver an impressive picture regardless of what you’re watching.
It's a winner as an all-rounder for visual quality – QLED's colours make movies look lush, the upscaling is a dab hand at converting HD shows to take advantage of the resolution, and it acquits itself really well for motion too. There's no major weakness here, for the price.
Samsung even put in some notable effort to improve the sound, with speakers arranged around the edge of the display, meant to add some height and width to proceedings. They do a solid job, though the actual quality isn't mind-blowing, and the lack of Dolby Atmos support makes you wonder if they couldn't have done it even better had that been included.
The Q80T includes Samsung’s full smart system, which means a comprehensive set of video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Apple TV+, Disney+, and the UK catch-up services. Samsung's system is one of the best around for ease of use and for the features it includes, which number support for Alexa and Google Assistant control among them.
The Q80T is also a dab hand at gaming, thanks to low input lag. However, unlike the bigger versions of this model, this 49-inch version doesn't include support for 120Hz or Variable Refresh Rate.
The LG SM85 is a great example of an all-round 50-inch 4K TV, even if the screen size is actually 49 inches. It uses LG’s NanoCell technology, which basically means its an LCD TV with an LED backlight that’s capable of more colours and brighter images.
It also includes the AI-enhanced α7 processor, which is designed to upscale lower resolution content, resulting in cleaner and more detailed images. This 50-inch HDR TV also includes Dolby Vision, although as with all of LG’s TVs, HDR10+ is absent – the latter is the less common of the two advanced HDR formats (mainly used by Amazon Prime Video), so we can live with that.
The SM85 boasts a decent sound system and support for Dolby Atmos immersive audio, but it’s the smart platform that really impresses. Built around the ground-breaking webOS operating system, it’s responsive, intuitive, and a fully-function smart assistant thanks to built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
A comprehensive set of video streamers that includes Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Apple TV+, Disney+ and the UK catch-up services, makes the SM85 the smartest 50-inch TV you can buy.
The Philips 6814 is one of the best 50-inch 4K TVs when it comes to HDR, and runs a close second to the Panasonic GX800 in terms of performance and features. This LCD TV uses an LED backlight, and includes Philips’ excellent image processing to deliver a superior picture with SDR and HDR content.
However it’s the 6814’s performance with the latter that makes it the best 50-inch HDR TV, with support for every version, including HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. The 6814 also includes Dolby Atmos decoding, and uses processing to deliver a more immersive sonic experience.
It isn’t an Android TV, but instead uses Philips’ Saphi operating system, which is responsive and intuitive, if rather limited. Again, though, you can add a Roku Streaming Stick+ or one of the other best 4K media streamers for a small outlay.
There’s a host of picture settings, including an effective game mode to reduce lag. And as you’d expect from Philips there’s Ambilight to make your whole viewing experience more immersive. Ultimately the 6814 is a well-designed, well-specified and competitively priced 50-inch Smart TV.