The best 42-inch TVs are understandably popular – along with the 40-inch and 43-inch models – because they all hit close to the same sweet spot when it comes to size: not too small, but not overly big (or expensive) either.
They also provide excellent picture quality on the whole, especially regarding the best OLED screens you can find on the market. If you're shopping for a television set in this sort if price bracket, it's easy to see why.
Okay, TVs measuring 42 inches (or close to it) don't always come with the latest and greatest features, but they're invariably at least HD quality and smart enough for a modern home. On the other hand sound quality, as with most thin TVs, means you might want to upgrade with one of the best soundbars.
To see what's on offer in the slightly higher-end tiers, check out our round-up of the best 48-to-50-inch TVs and the best 55-inch TVs – these do have significant differences but you will see that reflected in the price. Our recommendation to get the best deal is to purchase one of the older makes and models.
The best 40, 42 and 43-inch TVs in 2023: The top 3
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The best small 42-inch OLED TV is the LG C2, which delivers stunning picture quality and is pretty much future-proof. It supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 Pro, and while the panel isn't quite as good as the one in LG's much bigger models, it's far superior to anything else in this size.
The best cheap 43-inch TV is the Samsung 43AU9000. As with other Samsung models there's no Dolby Vision but the 4K picture is excellent, the smart TV software is very good, and it's good for gaming too.
The best 42-inch TV for picture quality is the Panasonic LZ980, which uses OLED technology and support for just about every HDR standard out there to produce a remarkably good picture, no matter what your connected devices (you've got four different HDMI ports to play around with).
Let's get the bad news out of the way first: this C2 doesn't have the same super-bright panel as its larger siblings. But that's all the bad news, because the smallest of LG's superb OLED TVs is a spectacular performer with all the gaming features and future-proofing you need alongside a truly stunning display.
The C-series is LG's mid-range model, offering the perfect balance of price and performance. It has the same A9 Gen5 AI processor as the more expensive OLEDs in LG's 2022 range, and it supports 120Hz refresh rates and HDMI 2.1 with VRR, ALLM and GeForce Now. Refreshingly its HDMI 2.1 features aren't limited to a subset of the HDMI ports: all four are next-gen HDMI.
In our LG C2 review we praise the image processing and the ports, and while you can't expect stunning sound quality from such a small and thin TV, it's still pretty good by flat-screen standards. But this TV is all about that picture quality really, and by bringing its OLED displays to the smallest sizes yet LG has created a TV that outperforms every other panel of the same size.
This is Samsung's highest-end TV from 2021 that doesn't include its QLED panel technology. This brings the price down nicely by comparison, but you won't feel like you're getting budget image quality.
When it comes to detail especially, this really takes advantage of being a 4K set – everything is beautifully sharp and crisp. It's also really strong at upscaling from HD, so the majority of stuff on streaming services still looks great on all those pixels. Colours and contrast are handled better than you might expect for the price, while motion control is also impressive.
Samsung Tizen smart TV platform is one of the best around, combining comprehensive app support with being really easy to use and navigate. Connectivity here is solid, and the extremely low response time in the gaming mode will be really welcome to gamers. It's just a really impressive package overall, with the one exception being the sound, which is average at best. Here's our full Samsung AU9000 review.
Make sure you check out our Samsung discount codes for ways to get a cheaper deal.
The Panasonic LZ980 speaks for itself, on the whole, though we're happy to offer up a few words on it as well. It's one step up from entry level, which means you get a great combination of value for money and top-tier features, and a picture quality that's really impressive (especially considering the price).
With OLED technology, you know sharpness and superior contrast is guaranteed, and the case for this television is helped further by the way that every single HDR standard that you can think of is supported. The excellent HCX Pro AI picture processing engine is here too, to make sure that whatever you're watching always looks fantastic.
You get four HDMI ports too (though only two support HDMI 2.1), and there are plenty of 4K tech goodies included as well. We found the TV to be a subtle, faithful, and remarkably refined maker of pictures, and we don't think you're going to be disappointed by this set.
Best 40-to-43-inch TVs 2023: The best of the rest
If you can get past the rather high price for this 42-inch (or 48-inch) OLED television, you'll find lots to like: the picture quality is outstanding, there are a host of connectivity options (including Apple AirPlay and Google Chromecast), and 4K content really shines on this set as well.
The Sony A90K (XR-42A90K) is also to be commended for the way in which it attempts to tweak the picture quality on the fly, thanks to an integrated Cognitive Processor XR chip (which can also be found in Sony's bigger, even-more-expensive TVs). It's particularly good for maintaining the quality of gaming experiences.
There are some areas where the TV is less than stellar – including brightness levels and audio quality – but when everything is taken into consideration it's undoubtedly one of the best television sets at this size that you can buy. We like the simple and rather understated design aesthetic too.
Samsung's QLED displays have dazzled ever since their release, and the Neo QLED variation is the best yet: it delivers truly exceptional image quality (just like the QN95A) that similar-sized LED rivals really struggle to match. That's thanks to Samsung's use of Mini-LED tech, which means many more tiny lights are used behind the pixels, providing brighter highlights, and allowing for the brightness in individual sections to be dimmed more easily, making for deeper black levels. Combined, you get astonishing high dynamic range (HDR) performance, beyond what other TVs at this size can offer.
It sounds good, too. Samsung's Object Tracking Sound Lite adjusts the speakers to make audio sound like it's coming from specific parts of the display, and it's compatible with the best Samsung soundbars that can use the TV speakers as part of a surround sound setup.
It's the best gaming TV at this size too, thanks to Motion Xcelerator Turbo Plus and its 120Hz refresh rate with FreeSync Premium Pro. This TV supports ultra-wide 21:9 and 32:9 ratios for truly widescreen gaming, and there are four HDMI ports with support for several HDMI 2.1 features: Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) on all four ports, eARC on one port and 4K 120Hz on another – ready for PS5 or Xbox Series X.
A stunning 43-inch set you should take a look at is the Samsung The Frame (2021) – it's one of the smallest TVs with Samsung's QLED technology.
The benefits of QLED are far-reaching but to sum it up, you get a wider range of colours, higher peak brightness, and support for HDR10+. It also boasts the AI-enhanced Quantum Processor to upscale HD and SD content, and get the best out of the 4K panel.
You’re guaranteed to be impressed by the image quality but that’s not what makes this TV so special. Samsung has put a lot of thought into making this a part of your living room decor and not an addition to it. Samsung The Frame (2021) has customisable bezels which you can match to your living room, and when it’s switched off, it transforms into an artwork or digital photo frame. You’ll no longer be plagued by a big unsightly slab of glass hanging on your wall, this is game-changing.
You can choose from 1,400 different pieces of art from the Art Store if you pay a monthly subscription fee. Or upload all of your favourite shots from your phone to the set.
So surely there must be a downside right? Well, the sound isn’t amazing. In fact, it’s pretty average, so it could be worth investing in a soundbar as well if you choose this set. Outside of that though, this is an impressive masterpiece of a TV, you can find out more about it in the Samsung The Frame (2021) review.
In the UK, the hugely impressive Sky Glass smart TV is available in a 43-inch size (alongside 55-inch and 65-inch versions), making it eligible for this list. It's a smart TV that aims to go beyond a smart TV, including a central hub for all your Sky content as well as your other streaming subscription services.
That's really where Sky Glass shines, in bringing all your movies and shows together in one place – but bear in mind that those monthly subscription costs can soon add up, and you're going to need reliable and steady internet for everything to work properly. There's really nothing else quite like it right now.
On the actual TV side, the set is well designed (albeit a bit big and heavy), and you get a picture that's bright, colourful, crisp and clear – you can really see the 4K Ultra HD detail here. While it's not for everyone (gamers for example), it's certainly going to appeal to streaming and on-demand content enthusiasts.
This set really belies its extremely low price. The image quality won't compete with the likes of QLED sets, naturally, but it's pleasant to watch, delivering composed 4K pictures with natural and convincing colours from HDR sources. It reaches reasonably deep for black levels, and white highlights are clean, though the brightness is limited – no surprise given the cost.
It handles upscaling from Full HD well, though SD viewing is more significant downgrade. That's again typical for the price, and it's no worse than most of the competition. Similarly, the sound is fine, but not fantastic.
But the provision of three HDMI ports and the Roku smart platform are real bonuses. The Samsung TV above only has two HDMI ports, so this is much more future-proofed for attaching multiple consoles/set-top boxes and so on. And Roku's software is absolutely wonderful – it's very slick, very easy to use, and is packed with essential streaming apps. Our full Hisense A7200G review talks more about it.
Where the Philips 8807 stands out is in its support for 4K 120Hz pictures, its brightness levels, and in the features that it offers to gamers (including a dedicated Game Bar for adjusting settings on the fly). It's an impressive overall package running on Android (with Google Assistant built in).
In its marketing, Philips refers to this set as "the one" – and it just about lives up to that bold claim when it comes to mid-range sets (check out our Philips 55PUS8807 review for details of the 55-inch version of this television). In terms of image quality and features versus price, it's one of the best options currently out there.
You get the Ambilight mood lighting system, you get compatibility with both AMD FreeSync Premium and Nvidia G-Sync, and you get latency that's nice and low too. It doesn't excel in every single area, but it does enough in most departments to make it stand out from the crowd.
This is Samsung's cheapest 43-inch TV from its 2021 range, and it's a very impressive performer for the price. Colours are rich thanks to HDR support (including HDR10+), its detail with 4K movies and TV is truly impressive, and it upscales from Full HD to 4K really well.
It struggles with standard definition content by comparison, and its black levels are more 'very dark grey' than 'black', but that's standard for budget TVs. This set makes sure that its very dark grey is even across the whole panel, though, which means it's very watchable overall – our full Samsung AU7100 review notes just how well it performs compared to anything else that's so budget-focused.
And Samsung has still packed in its excellent Tizen smart TV platform, meaning that it's just as capable as much more expensive TVs when it comes to streaming service support and ease of use. If you want a really low-price TV that feels like a more premium set when you're scrolling through the menus, this is perfect.
Best 42-inch (and 40-inch and 43-inch) TV: What to look for
For many people, a 43-inch TV is the perfect size for smaller UK living rooms. It’s big enough to deliver a detailed picture at a sensible viewing distance, but not so big that you feel you’re in the front row of the cinema.
As a general rule, the best viewing distance is around twice the diagonal screen distance. So for a 43-inch smart TV, you should ideally be sitting about seven to nine feet away, though these are only rough guidelines.
A 43-inch TV is the first screen size where you can really begin to enjoy the higher resolution benefits of 4K Ultra HD. LCD panel technology still dominates because the smallest OLED TV is 48 inches, but you will start to see manufacturers employing direct LED backlights and local dimming for a superior picture.
The HDR performance will also improve, with wider colours from technologies such as QLED, and increased brightness.
Some manufacturers will also include their full smart TV platforms, which is a bonus, since it gives you access to catch-up TV and streaming services without any additional boxes needed.
The one thing you shouldn't expect from many 43-inch TVs is blockbuster built-in sound. A few have more impressive speaker systems than others, but the small size and lower price means it just isn't a huge focus for most of them. Their sound will be perfectly adequate, of course, but not cinematic. Our list of the best soundbars has some excellent compact options in a range of budgets, though, if you want to upgrade the audio.