Best 48, 49 and 50-inch TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best 48, 49 and 50-inch TVs you can buy in 2019.
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 small and as a result unworthy of the latest tech. OLED TVs don't come smaller than 55 inch, and neither does Samsung's flagship QLED range.
But what if a 50-inch screen is the maximum size 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, you can expect to get 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.
You can expect HDR, too, at least in HDR10 form but often in the more advanced HLG, Dolby Vision and/or HDR10+. Features should be strong across the board, so expect streaming apps from Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and more to come as a standard.
Read on for our pick of the best 48, 49 and 50in TVs.
How we choose the best 48, 49 and 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.
If you're looking for a high-end TV at a smaller size than 55in, the Sony KD-49XG9005 should be at the top of your list. It 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.
Read the full Sony KD-49XG9005 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
This is the smallest QLED TV Samsung does, 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's the first TV we’ve tested that 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
Philips is enjoying a good run of form with excellent value TVs, and this 2018 What Hi-Fi? Award winner is the best of the lot.
Like any TV at this sort of price, the 50PUS6703 has its shortcomings: a pretty lacklustre interface and the absence of HDR support within the Amazon Prime Video app are the big ones. But it more than makes up for that with an impressively punchy, dynamic and detailed picture and an effective implementation of Ambilight (lights that shine on the wall behind and to the side of the TV to enhance what you're watching).
Netflix (4K HDR) and Amazon (4K) are both on-board, and on the catch-up side iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and Demand5 all make an appearance. All in all, the 50PUS6703 is a superb TV at a startlingly low cost.
Read the full review: Philips 50PUS6703