Best 40, 42 and 43-inch TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best 40, 42 and 43-inch TVs you can buy in 2022.
Manufacturers are so desperate for you to buy one of their biggest and most expensive TVs that they dedicate almost no effort to promoting their smaller and more affordable sets.
But for many people, a 65-inch TV is too big and even 50-inch is a stretch. That's where the 40-, 42- or 43-inch TV comes in.
Lest we forget, just a few years ago this was considered large for a television, and a TV in one of these sizes can still be fairly cinematic without turning your lounge into an Odeon.
Unfortunately, flagship specs are rarely, if ever, available at sizes such as these – heck, the first sub-55-inch OLED was launched only a little over a year ago – so if this is as big as you can go, you're going to have to accept that your new TV will probably be a little less feature-rich than the biggest and best sets out there.
As mentioned, you won't find an OLED at this size, so you'll be looking at LCD models with LED backlights, generally of the edge variety. Direct LED (also known as full array) backlights aren't unheard of at these sizes, but they are fairly rare.
It's now common to find 4K on 40, 42 and 43-inch sets, even at the budget end, and support for HDR formats (including HDR10+ and even Dolby Vision in some cases) is usually included, too. Peak brightness and colour depth are often a bit limited, though, so it's generally best not to expect the sort of dazzling HDR performance that you get from bigger, more expensive sets.
TVs at these sizes almost always have a smart platform that gives access to streaming apps. The operating system might be a little stripped-back compared to that of more premium TVs from the same brand, although Samsung in particular is good at offering more or less all of its smart features across all of its TVs. If you're not going with Samsung, you should ensure that Netflix and Amazon Video are on board at the very least, plus Disney+.
Got all of that? Then here are our favourite 40-, 42- and 43-inch TVs for your delectation.
Look up ‘unassuming’ in the dictionary and you’ll probably find a picture of the Samsung UE43AU7100. This 43-inch LCD TV doesn’t flaunt a particularly flamboyant design, doesn’t sell for a particularly outrageous price – either high or low – and its features list is certainly no Lord Of The Rings-style epic.
You don’t have to spend long in the UE43AU7100’s company, though, to realise that a TV doesn’t have to be an extrovert to stand out from the crowd. Solid processing and a thoughtful, balanced picture that actually seems to have had some care and attention lavished on it can be more than enough.
While inevitably for its money it’s not without its limitations, the UE43AU7100 delivers an impressively balanced, consistent and immersive picture. Particularly great to see at this price point is how deep its blacks are. Dark elements of mixed light and dark images enjoy rich and deep black tones, while full-on dark scenes appear with startlingly little of that grey or blue wash over them that so often blights such scenes on relatively affordable LCD TVs.
Good black levels are often accompanied by good colour, and so it proves – mostly – with the UE43AU7100. Colour blends are delivered with impressive subtlety and practically no ‘banding’. And while the set isn’t bright enough to drive colours off the screen with particularly spectacular volumes, there’s still an agreeable sense of daylight lustre to the tones of sun-drenched HDR woods, vibrant blue skies and busy city streets.
The UE43AU7100 even proves a little more tolerant of wide viewing angles than most budget LCD TVs, wrapping up a picture performance that trades showiness and aggression for immersiveness and consistency in a way we wholeheartedly endorse.
On top of the surprisingly mature and accomplished picture performance, you get arguably the best, most app-packed operating system available at any price. Connections run to three HDMIs and one USB port.
The only cutting edge gaming graphics feature the HDMIs support, though, is Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which allows the TV to switch into and out of its Game mode depending on the sort of content an ALLM-capable device is outputting. There’s no 120Hz or Variable Refresh Rate support, but that's no surprise for a TV of this size and price.
One HDMI supports eARC, allowing the TV to pass lossless Dolby Atmos sound to a compatible soundbar or AV receivers, one of which you should certainly budget for if you're able. If you're determined to stick with the in-built speaker system, you'll find that the AU7100 sounds only passable, with a lack of volume and projection that makes for a presentation without much impact. That said, while it's hardly cinematic, the presentation is certainly good enough for everyday TV-viewing – just don't expect a rousing rendition of action movie soundtracks.
Ultimately, while the UE43AU7100 certainly can't hold a candle to a top OLED or QLED, it's superb for its size and price.
Read the full Samsung UE43AU7100 review
This is one of the cheapest 4K TVs that Samsung currently offers. But fear not, it still boasts Samsung's core performance and feature set, at a smaller size and a lower price. In short, it's pretty much the best cheap TV you can buy.
Most 43in TVs offer about a tenth of the features of a bigger set, but not this one. The Tizen operating system is identical to that found on pricier sets, with the same winning UI and stacked app selection. It's 4K, naturally, HDR formats are well catered for (with the exception of Dolby Vision, which no Samsung sets support), and it supports Auto Low Latency Mode, which switches the TV to game mode when it detects a gaming signal. That's a feature missing from many much pricier sets, such as the 48in Sony in the top spot on this list.
The contrast ratio isn't as impressive as an OLED or QLED TV, of course, but that's to be expected. The blacks are actually surprisingly deep for a TV this affordable, and there's a hefty amount of punch. The TU7100 is a sharp and detailed performer, too, and it handles motion with a good balance of smoothing and authenticity. It's an excellent picture performance for a TV of this size, and you'd have to spend a fair bit more to get a significant improvement.
Read the full Samsung UE43TU7100 review