Best 40-inch TV 2018: 4K and HDR televisions of precisely 40 inches across

Don't compromise on quality just because you have to compromise on size. These are the best 40-inch TVs with 4K and HDR for movies, gaming and beyond

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A 40-inch telly might once have been considered so large it was positively vulgar, my dear, but these days 40 inches is a popular entry-level and 'second TV' size. If you want a telly for the bedroom, kitchen or smaller lounge, a 40-inch panel should be a perfect fit.

Buying a 40-inch 4K television: what you need to know

4K is now a common fixture at this size, although there are still a number of HD models out there too. There are two key points to remember when auditioning 40-inch 4K TV models: you won’t really see any performance benefits with native 2160p material if you view from a respectable distance, so you might want to rearrange the furniture, and pull the sofa a little closer. 

Also, a lack of physical size inevitably, impacts what can be done with onboard audio, so budgeting for some sort of soundbar or soundbase will pay dividends.

Perhaps the best thing about a 40-inch TV is that it’s incredibly versatile when it comes to placement, and as we reveal in our countdown, there’s some real eye-catching designs to be had. So kick back and take notes, as we trawl through some fabulous forties. They're in descending order of price, but all highly affordable, apart from the first one maybe.

Best 4K, 40-inch TVs from most expensive to cheapest

1. Samsung UE40LS001AU Serif 4K

Best 40-inch TV for sheer style and pizzazz

Specifications
Screen type: LED 4K
Other sizes available: 32-inch, 24-inch
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 2
USB: 2
Dimensions: 928 x 561 x 174 mm
Reasons to buy
+Stunning design+Inspired 'Curtain mode' interface
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for the screen size, clearly-Only two HDMIs

Most 40-inch TVs are, by their nature, somewhat utilitarian, but not so the Samsung Serif. 

Created by the award-winning French design partnership of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, in conjunction with Samsung’s head of visual display design Yun-Je Kang, this is an extraordinary reinvention of the smaller TV, and it’s won several prestigious design awards.

This is the first technology project to come from the Bouroullec drawing board, which goes some way to explaining its unconventional style. The back panel is textile not plastic, and held in place by magnets. 

The set forms a serif-style “I” when seen in profile, courtesy of  a self-supporting frame – hence the name. The TV can stand on retro pedestal legs or be placed on a table or shelf. You can even use the top of the TV as a platform to showcase your Lego collectables and bowls trophies.  

Beneath the surface, there’s some decent TV tech too. The Serif TV featured here is a 4K model, although there are also two smaller, HD-only iterations, the Serif Medium and Serif Mini. 

We particularly love the Serif’s stylised Curtain Mode interface. When active, the display can become a clock, music player control or photo viewer. The TV also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, letting you pair it with a smartphone and stream to the integrated 20w sound system.

In addition to Samsung’s smart platform there’s also a fully featured USB media player onboard, for music, video and JPEG playback from USB.

Samsung’s Serif set is unique. A one-off. You don’t get to say that very often when it comes to TV design. We could perhaps ask for more than two HDMIs and two USBs given the price, but let's not be churlish, darlings.

2) Panasonic TX-40EX700B

Best 40-inch TV under £500

Specifications
Screen type: LED 4K
Other screen sizes available: 50-inch
HDR: HDR10, HLG
HDMI: 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 518 x 899 x 65 mm
Reasons to buy
+Superb finish+Excellent 2160p images
Reasons to avoid
-Audio is overly polite-Only three HDMIs

Compared to the Serif, this is more like what you'd expect a 40-inch TV to look, and also more what you'd expect to pay for a really good one. It's still one of the better lookers at this size, with Panasonic’s EX700 offering a high level of finish and feature. 

HDR10 and HLG compatible, the EX700 uses Bright Panel technology to improve contrast and colour richness. An HDR Brightness Enhancer is available for added dynamic pizzazz.

The set features a metallic frame, with curvaceous Switch Design adjustable feet that can sit in the middle or at the edges. Around the back, you’ll find three 4K-ready HDMIs, a trio of USBs plus a legacy AV input for plugging in your Sega Dreamcast.

The smart platform is Panasonic’s My Home Screen 2.0, which combines a deceptively simple user interface with all key streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube in 4K. As the set has a Freeview Play tuner, you also get  all the main catch-up channels to hand.

In all, a premium 40-something 4K TV for a by-no-means-unreasonable price. It's the step-up model to the EX600 (next up in this list), and as such offers a slightly higher performance level, particularly when it comes to motion handling. Arguably, the EX600 offers better value, but this is a better overall experience.

3) Panasonic TX-40EX600B

Best 4K 40-inch TV under £400

Specifications
Screen type: LED 4K
Other screen sizes available: 49-inch
HDR: HDR10, HLG
HDMI: 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 518 x 899 x 65 mm
Reasons to buy
+Deceptively expensive looking+Multi-HDR compatible
Reasons to avoid
-Not the brightest

The EX600 range is Panasonic’s jumping on point for 4K HDR, and this 40-incher is a sweet looking screen. The bezel is trim while adjustable, kinked-out feet fit different widths of AV furniture. Connections include three HDMIs and a trio of USBs.

The EX600 is built around a High Contrast panel and has adaptive backlight dimming. Resolution is blade-sharp 2160p, and Advanced Colour Processing keeps hues rich. HDR support covers both standard HDR10 and broadcast HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma). Motion handling is rated at 1300Hz BMR, which means it’ll do a fair job but don’t expect crystal clarity with sports. 

There’s no compromise on the smart platform. Panasonic’s My Home Screen 2.0 is intuitive and powerful, offering a welcome level of customisation. You can add channels and services to the Home screen, as you need them. Streaming services include Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, plus YouTube (all of which stream in 4K),  Wuaki TV, Vimeo and others. An integrated Freeview Play tuner ensures you receive all main catch-up TV services include BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, and Demand 5, as well as Dave, Really, Yesterday and Drama.

The set has standard downward firing speakers, rated at 20w. There’s plenty of volume, if not too much in the way of pronounced stereophonics. A solid proposition then, from a set that looks more expensive than it actually is.

4) Sony KDL-40RE453

Decent 40-inch HD with HDR TV for gaming for under £400

Specifications
Screen type: LED 1080p
Other screen sizes available: No
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 2
USB: 2
Dimensions: 910 x 543 x 70 mm
Reasons to buy
+HDR compatible+Good HD image quality
Reasons to avoid
-One more HDMI would have been nice

If you’ve got a PlayStation 4 and are starting to feel a bit left out with all this talk of High Dynamic Range games and UHD wotnot, then don’t despair. You really don’t need to invest in a PlayStation 4 Pro and a 4K TV just yet.

Sony has brought HDR compatibility to the world of 1080p TV, effectively creating a halfway house, to help you out. Given that all PS4’s now have the ability to display HDR games, you can understand the brand's logic.

The KDL-40RE453 may not have 2160p resolution, but it certainly looks sharp. With a thin bezel and faux aluminium finish, it’s fashionably minimalistic. In addition to HDR compatibility, picture sharpness is enhanced by X-Reality PRO image processing.  

Connectivity is frugal though, with just two HDMI inputs and a pair of USBs.

5) Samsung UE40MU6120

Best 40-inch, 4K TV under £350

Specifications
Screen type: LED 4K
Other screen sizes available: 49, 50, 55, 58 and 65-inch
HDR: HDR10
HDMI: 3
USB: 2
Dimensions: 904 x 520 x 54 mm
Reasons to buy
+Vivid images+HDR compatible+All the streaming services you need
Reasons to avoid
-No Freeview Play

This 6 Series 4K display offers everything you need from a low-cost 40-inch TV. It has 2160p resolution, won’t throw up incompatibility messages when you connect an HDR source, and has all key binge-watching TV services you want on tap, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

Few brands nail the mainstream TV market as well as Samsung, and this 40-incher is difficult to resist. It’s built to a price, but looks smart enough. The thin bezel, which has a hairline finish and angular pedestal, are just the right side of trendy.

The UE40MU6120 comes with a slim, friendly remote control, and has a simplified smart platform that’s easy to navigate. It would have been nice to have Freeview Play on board, but key catch-up services are to hand.

Obviously, this isn’t a Wide Colour Gamut panel, but vibrancy is boosted by the brand’s Active Crystal Colour technology. The set is compatible with standard HDR10, but don’t expect too much in the way of peak brightness.

Connections include three HDMIs, plus an optical output for an external digital audio system.  

If you’re planning to park it in a spare room or den, then the onboard  2 x 10W sound system will be good enough. If it’s your principal TV, a soundbar or soundbase of some description will be in order.