Best 50-inch TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best 50-inch TVs you can buy in 2021.
There was a time when a 48-inch, 49-inch or 50-inch TV would have been considered huge – it's now considered by many manufacturers (and some consumers) to be almost small and, as a result, unworthy of the latest tech. It was only 2019 that the first Samsung QLED was released at this size, and it took until 2020 for the first OLED TVs at this size to arrive (and, as you'll see below, very good they are too).
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.
Features should be strong across the board, so expect streaming apps from Amazon, Disney+, Netflix, YouTube and more to come as a standard. You can expect HDR, too, at least in HDR10 form but often in the more advanced HLG, Dolby Vision and/or HDR10+, ensuring the best possible 4K pictures.
Read on for our pick of the best 48-, 49- and 50-inch TVs.
How we choose the best 50-inch TVs
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year – and that includes plenty of TVs. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same price category, and 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're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.
It's official: 48 is the new 50. Time was that you couldn't get an OLED TV under 55in, but then LG launched the world's first commercially available 48in OLED set. And now Sony has one of its own, too - and it's the best TV you can buy around this size.
Sony has embraced the smaller size, making the KD-48A9 (known as the XBR-48A9S in the US) as petite as possible thanks to its tiny bezels and low profile pedestal stand. It does have a rather large enclosure bolted onto the back (to house the speakers, processing hardware and connections), but you'll only notice if you look at the set side-on.
Sony's X1 Ultimate processor makes images suitably stunning, there's plenty of dark detail on show, and it serves up pretty much every streaming app you could hope for. Motion control is still industry-leading, and in terms of sharpness and detail, there's never been a better TV at this size. If you can afford it, this is a superb option, and certainly the best 48-inch TV that we've tested.
Read the full Sony KD-48A9 (XBR-48A9S) review
The OLED48CX was the first 48-inch OLED TV that we reviewed – and we were, and remain, very impressed.
Picture quality is superb. The perfect blacks and near-perfect viewing angles combine with bright, punchy whites and vibrant but natural colours. LG's motion processing was a big step up in 2020 and its upscaling of 1080p and standard-def content is among the best in the business.
On top of all that you get certified HDMI 2.1 sockets that support next-gen features such as eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), HFR (High Frame Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), and all current formats of VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). All of these are useful if you're looking to upgrade to the PS5 or Xbox Series X.
All of the UK's catch-up apps, including BBC iPlayer, were missing from LG's smart platform when we reviewed the set but these should be added with an update.
Read the full LG OLED48CX review
Move over old Sony (below), there's a new 49-inch TV to beat. The Sony HX may look very similar to the previous generation model but the performance has improved across the bar.
Inside is the new X1 Ultimate chip, which aims to improve definition and contrast, and provides a faster experience around the Android TV interface. You get all the apps you'd expect, from Amazon Prime Video to Disney+ and Netflix, plus support for catch-up TV apps, AirPlay 2, Dolby Vision and HDR10.
As for the picture, expect rich, punchy colours, excellent handling of fast motion and good black detail. It looks great with high-quality Dolby Vision and HDR video, while gamers will be happy with the lower input lag and overall vibrancy. Sound quality has taken a big step forward, too, with an openness and dynamism that's rare in a TV of this size and price.
Better picture, better sound, this is the best 49-inch TV we've seen.
Read the full Sony KD-49XH9505 review
The Hisense Roku R50A7200GTUK is likely to be the cheapest 50-inch TV we’ll see on sale in the UK this year from a major manufacturer. It promises a good-sized, punchy 4K HDR image and all the major apps and services you could need, without so much as an additional box or stick in sight.
It’s a pledge that Hisense delivered so well in 2020 with its R50B7120UK model that it has decided to leave the recipe pretty much as it was for its 2021 Roku TV.
Neither the picture nor the sound are perfect, but both are surprisingly good for the very low asking price. Add in a brilliant feature set and an unbeatable content offering, and you've got a great performance-per-pound proposition.
Read the full Hisense R50A7200GTUK review