The best 48, 49 and 50-inch TVs are where your viewing experience changes from 'television' to 'cinematic'. This size of TV is large enough to feel like you're going big-screen, yet aren't so big that they're tough to fit into more modest living rooms. You also get a lot of flexibility for balancing price and performance, because you can get some pretty premium TVs in this size, but also some beautifully budget-friendly ones.
The best 48- to 50-inch TVs offer a major step up in terms of total screen area when compared to the best 43-inch TVs, but aren't all that much wider – they're still good for most of the same size of rooms, though might be a too much for bedrooms or offices. The experience absolutely skews more towards the full-on televisual experience of the best TVs than anything that reeks of compromise.
Until recently, getting this getting size of TV meant that your only option was LCD TVs, but there are now OLED sets you can choose too. The best OLED TVs were once limited to the best 55-inch TVs and above, but now there are lots of options that bring the incredible precision of OLED to smaller rooms..
Even if you don't go with OLED, this size of screen is where you really start to see improved panel technology that can make the most of HDR. Technologies such as Samsung's QLED panels provide expansive colours, and bright screens with more punch than a high school disco in an ’80s comedy.
Obviously, with a nice large panel, you're more able to appreciate the extra detail that comes from Ultra HD too. Each of our picks here can handle upscaling from standard def with aplomb - and there's a little crossover with the best gaming TVs too, if that's something that matters to you.
Size doesn't mean spending big. This look at the best 48, 49 and 50-inch TVs includes some of the best TVs under £1000, best TVs under $1000 and even reaches as low as the best TVs under £500. Even if price isn't your biggest concern, we've broken these down by the areas they most excel, so you can prioritise those features which matter.
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 most TVs will limit you to one or the other).
Here in 2021, 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 from more expensive sets.
Best 48, 49 and 50-inch TVs: the list
Whatever you want to watch, view, or play, LG's 2021 C-series TV has you covered. It's a mid-ranger, but a brilliant one, adjusting the design of the CX (below) with a number of slight improvements, and ladling on every feature critical for tomorrow's TVs. We're talking about things like HDMI 2.1, VRR, ALL, 4K 120Hz support, the sort of functions that new games console really need to shine - and the sort of thing you'll be grateful of if any broadcast standards happen to change in the near future.
You also get the newest version of webOS, LG's fantastic smart TV interface, which switches things up to go full-frame and works even better for it, as well as adding in support for Freeview Play.
Perhaps its finest feature is the picture processor, LG's 4th-gen Alpha 9 chip, which is amongst the best we've ever tested in a TV. It's a fantastic hand at image processing, making things smooth and sharp and providing a super-convincing 4K upscale for FHD content. It is also a dab hand at HDR, getting superb results out of Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG content. No HDR10+ of course, but you can take that one up with Samsung.
Then, of course, there's the fact that this is an OLED, one of LG's new 48-inch versions; this means you get all of the benefits of OLED's self-emissive pixels, like supreme contrast and great brightness management. Check out our full LG C1 review to find out precisely why we loved the 65-inch version so much.
This is Samsung best TV of 2021 that doesn't include its QLED panel technology, which helps to keep the price lower. Yet the image quality is still really impressive, especially when it comes to 4K detail – this really makes the most of high-quality sources. It's actually just as adept at upscaling HD video too, meaning it's generally great with streaming services and Blu-rays, while also being an impressive gaming performer.
It also includes Samsung's class-leading smart TV platform, which is really easy to use, and very well-equipped for streaming services. The sound is a bit weak, but otherwise, this offers incredible bang for buck, and is a new model, so is well future-proofed.
The A series is LG's entry level range, and it's effectively a C1 without some of the more advanced features. It has the same deep blacks and vivid colours of the other LG TVs, and while it's not the brightest OLED TV you can make it more vivid by tweaking the picture settings. The reflection handling here is better than many rival TVs, but it's not quite as good as the anti-reflective screen of its sibling, the C1.
So where else have corners been cut? The A1 is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate and doesn't support variable refresh rates (VRR), but its game mode offers very low lag so you're unlikely to experience any latency in games. There's Dolby Vision and HDR10 but not HDR10+, and the HDMI ports are all HDMI 2.0.
If you don't need the more advanced gaming features of the more expensive LGs, this is a really good OLED option. It's not quite as brilliant as the C1, but it's very close and considerably cheaper. It's an excellent budget buy.
Want a truly cinematic TV sound and visuals upgrade in the most compact package possible? This offers you a 48-inch OLED TV with ultra-rich visuals, plus a stunning Dolby Atmos sound system built into its stand, complete with upwards firing speakers. It's like getting one of the best soundbars included in your TV for a low price. If you just want a single no-nonsense device to give you an instant living room upgrade, this is it.
The OLED screen is top quality, and Philips' processing really makes the most of OLED's colours and detail. Support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ means you can also be sure it's making the most of any footage you feed it. Meanwhile, those speakers are truly excellent quality, and means that Dolby Atmos soundtracks get the height and width they're supposed to have, though obviously it's no replacement for a true surround setup.
Smart TV features are handled by Android TV, which is comprehensive for streaming support, if not the slickest to use. When it comes to gaming features and performance, it has twin HDMI 2.1 ports and while its middling latency rate puts it behind the likes of the LG CX or C1, that's not a deal-breaker for such a great TV at a great price.
This is Sony's big mid-range blockbuster set for 2021, using its new 'XR Cognitive Processing' to deliver very well-balanced image quality for the price. The XH95/X950H above from last year is slightly better for movie performance thanks to a more advanced panel, but this TV is no slouch for image quality itself, and comes with some features that gamers won't want to miss out on.
A direct full array backlight means that you get some of the most powerful HDR brightness in its price range, but with local dimming helping to keep dark areas dark, making for an overall contrast that really makes the most of Dolby Vision HDR. There's no HDR10+ alas, but we can live with that, since Dolby Vision is more widely used. Motion handling and upscaling from HD to 4K are especially strong suits here.
Google TV provides a useable interface with plenty of streaming options, and HDMI 2.1 support means you can play games in 4K 120fps from PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X (though Variable Refresh Rate support is promised for a future update).
It's only weaknesses are that it's a bit more reflective than we'd like (though its high brightness does help mitigate this), and its wide-angle viewing quality isn't especially strong, so it's best if you can reliably sit straight in front of it. Otherwise, our full Sony X90J review was really impressed with the mix of features, image quality and price here.
As a TV, Samsung's The Frame 2021 is a stunning 4K QLED TV. But as the name suggests, it's no ordinary TV. It's also an art gallery, displaying your favourite artworks or family photos when you're not using it. Like other Samsung devices it's at its best when you also own something like one of the best Samsung phones, as this offers extra integration, but you don't need to own a Galaxy to want to own this TV.
If you subscribe to the Art Store, your The Frame TV will display masterpieces when you're not watching shows or movies, and it uses AI to suggest pieces based on your browsing history. It can also display your photos or other images you specify. There are customisable bezels so you can match your TV with the rest of your room, and they just snap on for instant customisation. There's a single cable and the Samsung One Connect box for USB, HDMI, Component and AV connections.
Inside the TV there's Samsung's Quantum Processor 4K and AI 4K upscaling to resample content that wasn't made for 4K resolution. The QLED display is much brighter than traditional LED TVs and delivers very impressive blacks, even at night. Samsung's Dual LED technology balances warm and cool tones to deliver excellent colour and contrast.
The only real downside here is the audio, which we found unimpressive. But if you're serious about your soundtracks, chances are you have a soundbar already.
If you think budget TVs can't be brilliant, the Toshiba 50UK3163DB will make you think again. In our Toshiba 50UK3163DB review, we praised the way it managed to pack in lots of premium features for an exceptionally low price: it delivers an "impressively aggressive performance that leaves many budget rivals looking boring by comparison".
All the key features are here: 4K, Dolby Atmos, HDR including Dolby Vision, Alexa and Google Assistant and direct LED lighting. The image processing is good for the price and the response time is fast, although if you're a gamer it's important to note that the three HDMI 2.1 ports don't support most of the game-friendly HDMI 2.1 features you'd expect: they offer low latency mode switching and that's your lot.
The Smart TV software here is straightforward and well designed, and it includes most but not all of the essential apps: at the time of writing Disney+ and Apple TV are absent.
We found the Toshiba 50UK3163DB to be a pleasant surprise: it's not up there with the very best TVs but it costs a fraction of the price and delivers an impressive all-round package for a very small price tag. As we said in our review, it's the best TV to wear a Toshiba badge that we've seen in years.
Because you’re on a tight budget, you might think that a decent 4K television set is out of reach but it’s not. The Toshiba UL21 is a prime example of how you don’t need to spend thousands to get impressive UHD resolution and room-filling sound.
This Toshiba UL21 TV packs it all into a sleek set that won’t cost you the earth. Granted it’s not going to win any awards for best picture or sound quality but with HDR10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, it is excellent value for money.
Not only do you get a decent viewing experience but there are also a few handy smart features like quick access to streaming apps like Netflix and Prime Video as well as voice control through your Alexa or Google Assistant smart speakers. You can read more about it in the Toshiba UL21 review.
The Hisense A7500F isn't quite as bright for HDR images as the more expensive sets here, but when it comes to rich colours and sharp 4K images, it really impresses, making it a great buy overall. Support for Dolby Vision HDR really helps to make the most of what it can do.
It surprised us by being good for gaming too, with a really low input lag meaning that games feel as responsive as with really high-end TVs.
Audio is nothing special, and it loses some vibrancy quickly when you get away from viewing it straight on, but these aren't a surprise for a budget set. Our full Hisense A7500F review goes into more detail, but we really rate this TV's rich visuals despite its understandable budget limitations.