Best 50-inch TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best 50-inch TVs you can buy in 2020.
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 last year that the first Samsung QLED was released at this size, and it took until 2020 for the first OLED TVs at this size to be announced.
But what if a 50-inch screen is the maximum size TV that you want or are able to fit in your room? We've got good news. While a true flagship TV might be out of the question, you're in prime mainstream territory, where manufacturers and retailers sell the most models and where competition is at its fiercest. In other words, the best 49-inch and 50-inch TVs should deliver excellent value for money.
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, 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 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.
Move over old Sony (below), there's a new 49-inch TV to beat for 2020. The Sony HX may look very similar to last year's 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 Samsung UE49RU8000 is an example of the mid-range at its very best. This is a TV that offers most of the performance of the company’s excellent flagship 49in set with a significant discount. It is, in other words, a great buy.
In many ways, it has the look and connectivity of a flagship TV, with four HDMIs (one of which is ARC-enabled), two USBs, an optical output, aerial and satellite inputs, and an ethernet socket for those who prefer a wired connection to the built-in wi-fi. There's Bluetooth, too. The streaming library includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV and Rakuten in 4K and HDR; BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5 for all of your catch-up needs; Plex and VLC for local streaming; and Spotify, Tidal and Deezer for music. Last but not least, there's the Apple TV app.
The picture delivers detailed, sharp and clearly defined edges that render each scene with excellent depth and solidity. Colours are vibrant but realistic, and there's plenty of punch in the colours, even if it can't match the flagship models (as you'd expect). For an affordable TV that still delivers great performance, this is a bit of a bargain.
Read the full review: Samsung UE49RU8000
It might have taken a while, but you can finally buy a 4K OLED TV that's smaller than 55in. You guessed it, the OLED48CX is a 48in TV, and brings flagship OLED picture quality to this screen size for the first time.
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 is 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 this Christmas.
It's just a shame that all of the UK's catch-up apps, including BBC iPlayer, are currently missing from LG's 2020 smart platform.
Read the full LG OLED48CX review
2019's excellent Sony KD-49XG9005 gets most (but not all) of the features of Sony's bigger premium TVs and delivers an excellent picture for its size and price.
The Android TV operating system, while still a bit behind the Samsung and LG alternatives, is steadily improving and boasts all of the streaming and catch-up TV apps you're likely to need.
Brilliantly balanced, natural colours, lots of detail and super-sharp edges combine to deliver an excellent picture that's consistent across all sources. And it requires almost no tweaking to get the TV performing at its best. A great alternative to our top TV choice, above.
Read the full Sony KD-49XG9005 review
The Hisense R50B7120UK is the first Roku TV to land in the UK. The Roku platform has been available to UK users through the stick and box HDMI add-ons, but has never been built into a TV before. Hisense is a partner with a growing reputation, and the two companies have come together to produce a 50in, direct LED-backlit TV, with a 4K resolution, HDR support and all of the apps you could possibly need. And all at a staggeringly low price. And, the good news? It's excellent.
It may not look much but in terms of features and connectivity, it surely offers everything you need, from HDMI, optical, USB and headphone connections, to Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Freeview Play, Apple TV, Disney Plus, Spotify, and plenty more). The universal search could be better but the content is certainly there.
The picture itself is good straight out of the box, too, though tinkering a little with the contrast, brightness and colour settings will yield even better results. Motion is handled confidently, colours are bright and dynamic but never artificial, and while absolute detail in dark scenes can be bettered by more expensive TVs, any flaws here never distract from what is a watchable picture. We can't help but give a hearty recommendation for this super-cheap 50-inch TV.
Read the full Hisense R50B7120UK Roku TV review
This was the smallest QLED TV Samsung made in 2019 (there's a 43-inch in the Samsung 2020 TV lineup), which makes it a tempting proposition for anyone after flagship performance in a slightly smaller package.
It doesn't have a flagship design or Samsung's One Connect box for keeping all your connections separate but it does have a thorough selection of inputs, outputs and features. This Q70R uses full array backlighting for the ultimate picture performance and you can test that out on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Apple TV, Google Play Movies and more. Samsung's Bixby, Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant are all here, too, and you can seize control with the SmartThings app.
Performance wise, it's a strong showing across the board. It justifies its fairly hefty price tag with great detail, vibrant, intense colours, palpable solidity and three-dimensionality. It's a cut above the prevailing standard for sound quality, too.
Read the full review: Samsung QE49Q70R
A great, feature-packed TV, the delivers impressive performance on a budget. It supports both of the two competing dynamic metadata-based HDR formats, Dolby Vision and HDR10+. Panasonic (and other brands) claim that HDR formats with dynamic metadata are of more use to lower-end sets than flagship models, as they tailor the image to the specific capabilities of the set. It’s a compelling argument, and while this TV can't match the premium TVs, this is an undeniably great budget TV for the money.
Amazon and Netflix are here, in all their HDR 4K glory, as well as a whole host of the usual catch-up streaming TV apps, but no sign of Now TV or Spotify. There are enough HDMI and USB connections, plus optical and headphone outputs. The picture produced is natural, clean and free from motion judder. Black levels are pretty good, though they're let down by poor viewing angles, the picture losing brightness off-axis.
Still, despite typically lightweight sound from a flat TV (even with 'Atmos' mode on board) we still think the performance here is good enough to make it a great deal at this price. A simple but effective 50in 4K TV.
Read the full review Panasonic TX-50GX800B