Best 55-inch TV 2018: go big for the World Cup, whatever your budget

55 inches is the sweet spot when it comes to UHD 4K television upgrades. Here’s are the best big-screen deals out there, from bargain goggleboxes to championship performers

Best 55-inch TV. Go big and go home.

Right now, 55-inches is the most popular size for 4K UHD TVs, and there's good reason for that. A 55-inch TV may not be the absolute best size for UHD, but it is large enough to showcase all the extra resolution offered by 4K content, yet it won’t take over your living space, unless you literally live in a caravan, or hut.

With the World Cup in full swing, if you've been holding off buying a bigger screen, maybe now is the time…

Why buy a 55-inch TV?

Bezels are now so slim that the physical footprint of a contemporary 55-inch telly is equivalent to the space once required by a 42-inch model back in the early days of flat panels. So if you think you can’t accommodate a 55-inch model, you’re wrong. That’s all there is to it.

Thankfully, because 55-inch TVs are so popular, prices are incredibly competitive. The result is a happy hunting ground for TV upgraders. High-spec panels are astonishingly affordable (in comparison to their larger siblings), while the budget end of the market bristles with bargains.

But which 55-inch 4K sets should you be shortlisting first? Funny you should ask. This is our guide to the best 55-inch 4K TVs you can take home right now. They're in descending price order, starting with the most expensive (deals notwithstanding – you may see some anomalies as retailers start discounting)…

The best 55-inch 4K TVs, in descending price order.

1. Sony KD55A1

Best 4K UHD television under £2,500

Screen type: OLED
Other sizes available: 65-inch
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
USB: 3
Dimensions: 1228 x 860 x 78mm
Reasons to buy
+Superb visuals+Innovative 'in-screen' audio+Highly dramatic design
Reasons to avoid
-Android smart TV platform isn't the best

Sony's 55-inch A1 doesn’t use a conventional pedestal stand and doesn't have a standard audio system either. Rather, it reclines on a hinged support, which also contains an integrated, 8cm subwoofer, while the rest of the sound issues forth from the screen itself. 

Yup, Sony's Acoustic Surface technology creates stereo via two vibrating actuators at the rear, which is then bounced through the panel. Despite what you'd expect this both sounds great and has no effect on the visuals, which are absolutely stellar. Total audio output of 50 watts, and the end result is astonishing.

As noted, picture quality is also great, and that's true of both 4K and HD sources. With Sony’s 4K 'HDR X1 Extreme' image engine, you get deep blacks, lots of detail and wonderfully effective HDR (HDR10, DolbyVision and HLG are all supported). Video without HDR is also effectively 'upscaled', with boosted highlights.

Android with Chromecast is not as good as many rival systems but it does the job of letting you have at Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube's 4K content. For broadcast material, YouView combines live TV with catch-up TV services such as iPlayer.

In short, a true flagship, high-end 4K 55-inch TV. Prices ramp up rapidly if you want even bigger models, mind.

2) Panasonic TX-55EZ952

Best 55-inch 4K TV for cinephiles under £2,000

Screen type: OLED
Other sizes available: 65-inch
USB: 3
Dimensions: 1230 x 716 x 48 mm
Reasons to buy
+Truly cinematic 4K images+Beautiful build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Not the brightest HDR or best audio

This 55-incher is the entry-point to Panasonic’s Pro-4K grade OLED range, and given that it’s widely available for two grand or less, it’s quite a steal.

Build quality and finish are high; the EZ952 presents a cool, considered demeanour. The panel is extremely thin, which has implications for audio. Unlike the step-up EZ1002, there’s no flashy Technics soundbar provided, so you’ll want to budget for some level of external audio provision.

All four HDMIs are HDCP 2.2 compliant. There are also three USBs, an optical digital audio output, and an adaptor for component and composite AV. The tuner is Freeview Play, good for catch-up, while the smart platform is Panasonic’s catchily named My Home Screen v2.0. Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube all offer 4K streams.

The key reason to get excited about the EZ952, however, is image quality. THX-certified and tuned by Hollywood colourists, it’s sublimely cinematic and 4K detail appears extraordinarily sharp – it exhibits more bite than LG’s B7, for example, which is quite a trick. 

HDR support covers HDR10 and HKLG, with a firmware update for HDR10+ promised.

Overall, this screen is beautifully balanced when it comes to picture quality, and recalls the very of the best plasma screens of yore. A great 55-inch centrepiece for AV enthusiasts.  


Best value 55-inch OLED 4K HDR TV under £1,800

Screen type: OLED
Other sizes available: 65-inch
HDR: HDR10, DolbyVision
USB: 3
Dimensions: 1229 x 708 x 49 mm
Reasons to buy
+Impressive multi-format HDR+Dolby Atmos audio passthrough+Slightly more affordable than fellow flagships
Reasons to avoid
-Silver bezel is not amazing

The LG B7 is a brilliant buy for those looking for a state-of-the-art 55-inch TV. Combining top-notch picture performance with a leading edge smart platform and canny price, it’s a must-audition UHD television.

Although positioned below LG’s C7, G7, E7 and W7 models, the B7 shares the same panel and image processing technologies, with DolbyVision HDR on top of regular HDR10 and HLG support.

It also boasts a premium design. I think the  ultra slim silver bezel and crescent stand, complete with LG OLED branding, look suitably classy, but concede some may find the finish a bit overtly blinging.

Picture quality is excellent. In addition to perfect blacks, there’s great shadow detail and sensational HDR dynamics. This TV is a good deal better equipped to handle bright spectral highlights than LG’s 2016 OLED models. Colour performance is ravishing.

The set’s onboard sound system is a bit average, but there’s a hidden bonus here. The B7 can decode, and route out over HDMI, Dolby Atmos audio. Netflix has just begun to offer Atmos audio on LG OLEDs, and the pass through feature also works with Sky Q too. Just add an Atmos soundbar or AV receiver for fully immersive audio.

All all four HDMI inputs being HDCP 2.2 compatible, plus three USB inputs, one of which is a fast v3.0 input, a digital optical audio output and ethernet, connectivity is suitably cutting-edge. The Freeview Play tuner with integrated catch-up is another great feature so, all things considered, a superb TV and as near to a 'bargain' as 1800 quid tellies get.

4) Samsung The Frame UE55LS003

Best 'designer' 4K TV for under £1800

Screen type: LED **Other sizes available** 43-inch **HDR** HDR10 **HDMI** 4 **USB** 3 **Dimensions (with frame)** 1240 x 711 x 44 mm
Reasons to buy
+Doesn't look like a TV+Excellent visuals
Reasons to avoid
-You do pay a slight premium for the design

This usually costs the same as the LG B7 above and in terms of the visuals on its screen, it's not as impressive. For a certain style-oriented market, however, it may be preferable. That's because it has been designed to look not like a TV but rather, like a picture frame (with a TV in it). 

This sets it outside the norm, but it is kind of beautiful.

Obviously, this is a wall mount, although a pedestal is also available. Using Samsung’s No-Gap mount, you can hang the frame very close to a wall.  It connects to Samsung’s One Connect tuner box using an Optical Cable. 

Furthermore, in 'Art' mode the set doesn’t fade to black, but displays art and images instead. Samsung supplies a variety of pictures to display – wildlife, architecture, landscapes and so on – or you can buy more from the Samsung Art store, or use your own from a USB stick or cast from your mobile. 

There will be a power cable going up your wall unless you plan installation very carefully, of course. The overall image quality is a bit less than what you'd get from a 4K TV that isn't also a designer picture frame cum animated art gallery – it's not OLED and there's no Dolby Vision, for starters. Even so, it's still pretty eye-popping as LED panels go. 

Give us art for art's sake (and give us money for god's sake, as it's quite expensive).

5) Sony KD-55XE9305

Best 4K 55-inch TV under £1500

Screen type: LED
Other sizes available: 65-inches
HDR: HDR10, DolbyVision (after firmware update)
USB: 3
Dimensions: 1232 x 715 x 40 mm
Reasons to buy
+Bright, effective HDR handling+Superb SDR contrast 'upscaling'
Reasons to avoid
-Android TV OS, again, not our favourite

Ultra slim and refreshingly bright, this 55-inch Sony 4K HDR model is great value if you’re after a UHD set with genuine dazzle. It looks sensational with UHD-enabled games consoles, and will a terrific job with Sky Q, thanks to best in class image processing.

Sony’s X1 Extreme picture processor features three key technologies which have a big impact on image quality: Object Based HDR Remastering, which improves the precision of SDR upscaling for contrast and colour; Dual Database processing, which features Noise Reduction and Super Resolution processing, and Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR, the latest version of SBM which removes colour banding from lower bitrate content, like streaming services. 

HDR Remastering is on by default, and it works wonderfully well. The set supports HDR10 and HLG out of the box, with a firmware update for Dolby Vision HDR on the cards.

Audio performance is largely unremarkable, and the smart platform is Android, which isn't our favourite, but neither of those minor shortcomings can dampen our enthusiasm for this remarkable value, 55-inch 4K screen.

6) Hisense H55N5700

Yes, you can get a great 55-inch 4K TV for under £500

Screen size: 55-inches
Other sizes available: 43-inches, 49-inches
USB: 2
Dimensions: 1244 x 721 x 74 mm
Reasons to buy
+A lot of pixels for your pennies+HDR compatible
Reasons to avoid
-Budget build, understandably-Average audio

Hisense seems determined to corner the market in low-cost 4K screens. This 55-inch N5700 is a sub-£500 cheapie that appears to tick all the right specification boxes, despite the Tesco Value price.

The set is HDR compatible, and does its best to accurately tone map HDR sources (like 4K streaming services and UHD Blu-rays) to the brightness and colour capability of the panel, although there’s no local dimming onboard at this price. A 4K upscaler makes a good fist of adding extra density to regular 1080p content.

The connected OS here is the Hisense Vidaa U, which runs on a  quadcore processor. It’s a bit clunky but  Netflix, Amazon prime Video and YouTube all stream in 4K. Other apps include and Plex. 

If it doesn’t have Freeview Play when you unbox it,  you shouldn’t have long to wait for the firmware update that delivers it. Freeview Play is the latest iteration of the Freeview programme guide, and comes with integrated catch-up for all the main terrestrial TV channels – BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5.

A very solid effort then, given that the N5700 is as cheap as chips. Add condiments to taste…