Best 50-inch TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best 50-inch TVs you can buy in 2023.
50-inch TVs are one of the most convenient sizes for most small to medium-sized homes, which is why you’re likely on this page hunting for the best one to get right now.
And while there are plenty of options, it’s a good thing you found your way to What Hi-Fi?’s best 50-inch TV page as we can personally tell you, there are plenty of terrible sets this size doing the rounds at the moment.
Jump over to our reviews page and you’ll find plenty of examples of 50-inch TVs that may look impressive, but failed to deliver in key areas such as picture and sound quality when we got them into our test rooms and properly put them through their paces.
Which is why we’ve created this guide to help you find the best 50-inch TV for your specific needs and budget. We’ve personally tested every set in this guide to make sure it delivers in all of the areas you’d expect from a TV, only then making a judgement on whether it’s actually good value for money. In short, you can really trust our advice.
You can see a breakdown of the key things we look out for when testing TVs below, or scroll down a little further to see our picks of the best 50-inch TVs.
How to choose the best 50-inch TV for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .
But what if a 50-inch screen is the maximum size of TV that you want or are able to fit in your room? We've got good news: while a true flagship TV might once have been out of the question, the arrival of 48-inch OLEDs means that's no longer the case. At the same time, competition is extremely fierce at these sizes and that means there are also lots of aggressively priced mid-range marvels available.
When it comes to picture technology, almost all models at this size are now 4K, and there's no need to look for a Full HD model, because these 4K TVs are already very affordable indeed.
Without a doubt, OLED has become the premium TV technology of choice, thanks to its perfect blacks, extraordinary contrast and exceptional viewing angles. QLED, which combines LED (or Mini LED) backlighting with ultra-vibrant Quantum Dots, is a strong alternative, though, largely thanks to being capable of greater brightness and punchier colours. Standard LCD TVs (often, confusingly, sold as 'LED' TVs on account of their LED backlights) are more variable in overall quality but, if you shop carefully, can offer excellent bang for your buck.
Are you planning to combine your new TV with a dedicated sound system? You probably should, because most TVs sound passable at best, particularly at this sort of size. But if you are determined to keep things neat and rely on the in-built speakers, check our reviews to make sure that they are good – there's no point in a great picture if the accompanying sound is rubbish.
If you are a gamer, it's also worth considering the next-gen gaming features of your prospective new TV. Xbox Series X and PS5 gamers can gain a competitive advantage on certain games if their TV supports 4K 120Hz , while VRR support can result in a smoother gameplay experience. ALLM , meanwhile, simply ensures that you automatically get the best visual experience from both games and movies / TV shows. If you are a more casual gamer or not a gamer at all, you can pretty much disregard these features, and it's likely that doing so will save you a lot of cash.
The best 50-inch TVs you can buy
LG’s C2 range is going to be replaced by the LG C3 family of TVs later this year, but the new sets haven’t launched yet and we’ll need to get them into our test rooms before we can recommend them. In the meantime, the C2 models are just as brilliant as they’ve ever been and are currently more affordable than ever. This is why, for now, the LG OLED48C2 remains our most recommended 50-inch set.
LG’s 2022 C2 range proved to be near perfect during all our tests last year. Featuring a vibrant OLED panel, every bit of content we threw at it looked amazing, with great tonal details and an all-round punchy, engaging performance, despite the distinctly mid-range price tag.
We were particularly impressed when we ran No Time To Die in HDR10, with which the C2 proved to be an even better performer than the G1 – LG’s 2021 flagship 4K OLED. This makes the C2 one of the best performance-to-cost options we’ve ever tested. You simply can’t get better performance at this price.
As an added incentive we also loved its gaming features. Unlike a lot of sets in this size bracket, the C2 features four HDMI 2.1 sockets with support for 4K/120Hz gaming, VRR and ALLM . In other words, it is fully equipped to take advantage of all the PS5 and Xbox Series X ’s next-generation features, and the gaming performance was flawless during our tests.
Read our full LG C2 review
For reasons unknown, Sony didn’t launch a new 48-inch OLED TV last year. Instead, 2020’s A9 (A9S in the US) was tasked with holding the fort against increasingly large ranks of rivals for almost two years.
Thankfully, relief is finally at hand in the form of the Sony XR-48A90K – Sony’s flagship OLED for those who don’t have the space for its new A95K QD-OLED (above), which isn’t available below 55 inches.
Has the A90K been worth the wait? And does it deliver a true flagship performance? It’s a resounding yes to both questions.
The 48-inch Sony A90K OLED is a force to be reckoned with. It might not quite have the flawless gaming feature set of an LG OLED, but it’s close, and a very good gaming TV in its own right, particularly if you’re a PS5 player.
Where the A90K is almost flawless is in its picture quality. We have never before tested a TV this size that’s this good, and while we are yet to test the new 48-inch LG C2, it’s really going to have to go some to beat this Sony on pure picture quality.
Read the full Sony XR-48A90K review
The What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022-winning Philips 48OLED807 is one of the best TVs we’ve tested.
The most obvious feature that set it apart from the other sets in this list is the inclusion of Philips’ Ambilight technology.
Specifically, the 48OLED807 features the latest generation of Philips’ Ambilight system, which places smart LED lights around all four sides of the TV’s back. These LEDs can be set to extend the on-screen action as coloured light around the TV (even coordinated with Philips Hue lights, should you so wish), or switched so to provide bias or simple mood lighting.
The Ambilight system can be switched off entirely, too, and thankfully the OLED807 also delivers in the most important areas; picture and sound quality. In fact, the picture was so good during testing that it led our team of reviewers to report:
“Picture performance is glorious. Playing Top Gun: Maverick, the image pops from the screen in a way that even the superb Sony A90K can’t match. There’s a crispness that makes everything more solid and three-dimensional, and a punchiness to bright highlights and colours that dazzles in the best possible way.”
Dolby Vision HDR performance was also dazzling when we played Thor: Love and Thunder, with the set retaining detail in the brightest parts of the picture. No Time to Die delivered equally great results in HDR10, with the picture remaining crisp and bright throughout the movie.
The only slight downside is that the Philips isn’t the best option on this list for gamers. This is largely due to the fact that it only has two HDMI 2.1 sockets, one of which is also the eARC port. If you use that to connect a soundbar or AVR to the TV, you’ll be left with just one HDMI 2.1 socket, which will be a pain if you have two consoles and/or a gaming PC you want to connect. That’s why we recommend hardcore gamers consider a different set on this list – the LG C2 is the obvious choice.
Read our full Philips 48OLED807 review
Just because a TV is small by today’s increasingly expansive standards doesn’t mean it has to be boring. The 50-inch Samsung QE50QN90A is a case in point: here we have a relatively diminutive screen that throws everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at delivering a premium picture and sound performance to rival the best that its much bigger brethren have to offer.
While you need to tweak a couple of things to get the best out of it, a well set up QE50QN90A proves that Samsung’s Mini LED-driven Neo QLED technology is capable of elevating the brand’s TVs to new OLED-challenging performance heights even at a relatively mainstream size.
We reviewed the 50-inch version of the QN90A, but it's available in a huge variety of sizes, ranging from 43 inches right up to a whopping 98 inches.
Read the full Samsung QE50QN90A review
In the world of TVs, the old adage “you get what you pay for” has traditionally held a lot of truth. But that’s changed recently with a fresh wave of solid, affordable sets appearing. One of the very best of these is the Toshiba 50UK4D63DB.
Our testers were blown away by the value-for-money the Toshiba offered when we got it into our test rooms for review.
Though it obviously doesn’t match the picture quality of more expensive sets, particularly the OLED and QLED models further up this page, the Toshiba 50UK4D63DB was incredibly competitive and a step above anything else we’ve seen at this price.
The set delivered HDR pictures that were noticeably brighter than we typically see on sets this price. That was particularly true when we ran the TV in its Cinema preset, which is the picture mode we recommend most users run the TV in.
Unlike the motion processing of a lot of cheap TVs, the Toshiba’s Tru Flo processing’s Low setting also worked surprisingly well, sparing us from the “soap opera” effect we regularly encounter at this level. The soap opera effect is a horrid consequence of poor processing. TVs attempt to make movies or shows look smoother by inserting frames between those of the original source, and when it’s done badly the result is an image that looks artificial and rather like a poorly shot soap opera – hence the name.
The 50UK4D63DB punches above its weight when it comes to colour accuracy, too. With movies, the set achieved saturation levels we’ve traditionally only seen on sets nearly twice the price.
Be warned that there are some compromises, though. Black levels weren’t anywhere near as deep as those offered by more expensive sets, particularly OLED models such as the LG C2 and Philips 48OLED807. The TV’s max brightness was also noticeably lower, which led to generally less impressive HDR performance than was offered by the more premium models.
The Toshiba also lacks HDMI 2.1 sockets, so you won’t be able to take full advantage of a PS5 or Xbox Series X’s next-generation features, such as VRR and 120Hz gaming. That’s more than forgivable of a TV at this price, though, and we still recommend the Toshiba to any buyer on a strict budget.
Read our full Toshiba 50UK4D63DB review
How we test TVs
How we test TVs
Testing a TV is a long and complex process because a modern TV simply does so much. Not only does it need to handle a variety of content resolutions – standard-def, 1080p, 4K and sometimes 8K – and both standard dynamic range and high dynamic range (the latter in a number of formats), all of which need to be specifically tested, it also has a sound system with various advanced settings and a full smart platform. A TV is an all-in-one device in the best sense, but that also makes it a challenging review proposition.
As part of our testing process we manually check that every major app – from Netflix to All 4, Prime Video to Spotify – is not only present, but also outputting in the video and sound formats that it should. Just because there's a Disney+ app doesn't necessarily mean it's working in Dolby Vision and/or Dolby Atmos . In fact, in many recent cases it hasn't been.
We also connect both a PS5 and Xbox Series X in order to establish which advanced gaming features are and aren't supported, and on which of the TV's HDMI ports. Is 4K 120Hz supported? How about VRR? Is there a Dolby Vision game mode? Is there an HGiG preset for more accurate HDR tone mapping? We check all of these things, and measure input lag using a Leo Bodnar device.
We then test the TV's picture quality using a huge variety of content, from old DVDs to the latest 4K Blu-rays and plenty of streamed movies and TV shows in between. Every TV is tested against the best model at its price and size – we have a stockroom packed full of Award-winners for this very purpose.
We don't accept the out-of-the-box settings that a TV comes in either. While we intentionally don't go down the route of professional calibration (you shouldn't have to have your TV professionally calibrated in order to get the best out of it), we do spend hours adjusting settings using a mixture of test patterns and real-world content until we are sure we're getting the best out of a TV so that it has the best chance to shine.
While we almost always advise that a new TV is combined with a dedicated sound system such as a soundbar or AV amplifier , many people still prefer to stick with their flatscreen's built-in speakers, so we thoroughly test these too, using a wide variety of movie and music content and with great attention spent to the TV's many processing modes and individual settings.
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Bath and Reading, where our team of expert reviewers do all of our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. What's more, all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the best products to feature in our Best Buys. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you are getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.
How to choose a TV
How to choose the best 50-inch TV
Should you buy a 4K or Full HD TV?
This question is pretty much moot now, as the vast majority of TVs are now 4K. It's actually rather hard to find Full HD (1080p) models, even at sizes 50-inches and smaller.
If you're buying a TV below 32 inches and can save a lot of money on a Full HD model, by all means go for it (4K won't be a huge benefit at that sort of size anyway), but otherwise 4K is both worthwhile and, in all likelihood, your only option.
Should you buy an HDR TV?
High Dynamic Range is a really big deal, and certainly something you should consider before buying your next TV.
Essentially, the higher the dynamic range (brightness and colours), the more lifelike the picture. HDR offers greater subtlety and depth of gradations of colours, plus stronger contrast.
There are various types of HDR out there, and with different TV brands backing different variants, it can be a minefield trying to find the best option. Allow us to explain.
First up is HDR10, which is essentially the core HDR format that every HDR TV should support.
HDR10 is a static HDR format that applies the HDR values on a scene-by-scene basis (i.e. whenever the camera cuts to a new scene). Dolby Vision , on the other hand, applies this image information (called metadata) on a frame-by-frame basis. This dynamic form of HDR, when implemented properly, has the potential to improve upon the standard HDR10 presentation.
HDR10+ is a rival format to Dolby Vision. Created by Samsung, it also uses dynamic metadata but, whereas Dolby Vision is licensed, HDR10+ is a free, open format that any company can deploy as it sees fit.
Of these two 'dynamic' HDR formats, Dolby Vision is by far the most prevalent, both in terms of TVs and content, and if you have to choose between one and the other, that's the one we'd recommend. That said, you can now buy TVs from the likes of Philips and Panasonic that support both Dolby Vision and HDR10+.
Finally in our rundown of HDR formats is HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which was developed specifically for broadcasting by the BBC and Japan's NHK. It's used to deliver all of the HDR content offered by the BBC and Sky, so can be considered very important. Luckily, it's now almost as common as standard HDR10 in TV spec lists, so you should have little problem finding a model that supports it.
What inputs and outputs does your TV need?
These days, it's all about HDMI, which is used to connect everything from set-top boxes to video streamers, Blu-ray players to games consoles. Thanks to ARC/eARC (Audio Return Channel / Enhanced Audio Return Channel), a single HDMI connection can even be used to output sound to an AV receiver or soundbar at the same time as it receives a video signal.
Currently, three HDMI connections is standard on budget and mid-range TVs, while four is the norm for premium models.
The specification of the HDMI connections tends to differ depending on the price of the TV, too, with premium models now commonly getting at least one or two HDMI 2.1 sockets. These have greater bandwidth than their HDMI 2.0 counterparts and can support advanced formats such as 4K@120Hz. Fancy gaming features such as Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate are often supported via HDMI 2.1 sockets, too, though not always. It's sensible to check the specs thoroughly if there are particular features you're after.
After HDMIs, USB ports are the most abundant on modern TVs. You can use these to keep devices charged (often particularly useful for stick- or dongle-style streamers), and some TVs allow the connection of flash drives and hard drives for the recording of live TV content.
On the subject of live TV, you can expect practically every TV to have an aerial socket via which it can receive Freeview broadcasts, but many also have a satellite connection. Be warned, though; the presence of a satellite connection doesn't guarantee that there's a Freesat tuner on board. Without one, you'll receive only a patchy and disorganised selection of satellite TV channels.
Other useful connections include optical and stereo outputs, which can be used in lieu of HDMI ARC to connect legacy audio equipment. Physical headphone outputs are still relatively common, too, though Bluetooth is slowly killing them. Samsung TVs have done without headphone jacks for a while now and Sony is beginning to follow suit.
Lastly, while some TVs feature composite inputs (often via an adapter), most – even at the budget end – have phased out legacy connections such as SCART. So those clinging on to old video cassette recorders, for example, should be aware of that.
Which TV smart features and streaming apps do you need?
As with 4K, it's now hard to buy a TV that doesn't have a smart platform packed with streaming apps. Almost every TV will have Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on board, and Disney+ is fast approaching a similar level of ubiquity. Apple TV (which is great for pay-as-you-go movies as well as the Apple TV+ subscription service) is becoming increasingly common, too.
You'd have thought that BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and My5 would be present on every TV available in the UK, but there always seems to be one brand that's lacking (it was LG in 2020 and Sony in 2021) so do check before you buy if any of those are important to you.
Other apps that are less common but potentially worth looking out for include BT Sport, Now, Britbox, and music apps such as Spotify and Tidal.
Should you buy an OLED, QLED or LCD TV?
LCD TVs, which require a backlight usually made up of white LEDs to show a picture on the LCD panel, are available in a wide variety of screen sizes and, thanks in part to the technology's low cost of production, at affordable prices.
OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a panel technology that uses self-emissive particles – so there's no need for a backlight. This allows OLED TVs to be unbelievably slim, while also offering convincing pitch-dark blacks, strong contrast and superb viewing angles. LG, Sony, Panasonic and Philips are the big brands with OLED TVs in their line-ups and, broadly speaking, they're excellent.
QLED (Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diode), meanwhile, is Samsung’s response to OLED. A QLED TV is an LCD TV but with a quantum dot coating over the backlight. However, the quantum dots (tiny semiconductor particles) in current QLEDs do not emit their own light. So QLED TVs, like conventional LCDs, rely on a backlight. The advantages of a QLED TV? You tend to get brilliantly vibrant colours, plus bright, sharp and crisply detailed images. Samsung's QLEDs have got better and better over the years, existing as a fine alternative to OLEDs TVs. Interestingly, though, Samsung is set to launch its own OLED TVs in 2022.