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 be announced (and, as you'll see below, very good they are too).
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 48-inch, 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, 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.
And with the LG 2021 TVs, Samsung 2021 TVs and Sony 2021 TVs all announced and on their way, you can expect to see prices drop on some of our favourite TVs released last year - so it's a great time to pick up a bargain. 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
This is the best in class 50-inch TV for those on a tight budget. Despite the price, the feature set remains impressive, with cutting-edge features such as ALLM, eARC, 4K and three formats of HDR supported to ensure the best possible pictures. The Tizen OS is the same as seen on Samsung's flagship TVs, which means a slick user interface and apps galore.
It comes with Samsung's standard remote, plus its One Remote, which is more ergonomic and has a stripped-back selection of buttons that cover all of the bases. Voice controls are handled by Amazon's Alexa or Samsung's Bixby personal assistants, with Google Assistant due to land soon via a firmware update.
Picture-wise, it blows most of the similarly priced competition out of the water, with deep blacks and bright whites. On the motion side of things, it displays a satisfyingly natural degree of smoothing, and manages to dig up plenty of detail. At this price, we haven't seen anything better.
Read the full Samsung UE50TU8500 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 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
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 was 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