Once known simply as 'plasma screens' in the collective consciousness, the 42-inch TV is where the flatscreen dream started in the late 1990s - and where it's still at its most innovative and best.

With plasma tech now excelling at 50 inches, this smaller screen size is now almost totally dominated by Edge LED-backlit LCD TVs, and it's something of a sweet spot for the latest smart TV tech. With the availability of ever-cheaper bigger TVs, 40 to 42-inch TV models are in danger of being regarded as small screens, which just goes to show how disgustingly spoilt we've all become.

Serious home cinema addicts have moved on to 50-inch and bigger screens, leaving this category a swarm of slashed prices and some great value - though thoroughly advanced - options that can drag a living room or bedroom into the modern age.

Arguably the minimum size where both Full HD (now standard) and 3D makes most sense, and where a Blu-ray player and Freeview HD (also now standard) become a must, the 40-42-inch TV size hasn't lost its allure, despite becoming affordable.

So here's our breakdown of the current best 40-inch and 42-inch TVs today...

10 best 40 and 42-inch TVs in the world today

Finlux 40F8030-T

BBC iPlayer-toting 2D big screen bargain

10 best 40 and 42-inch TVs in the world today10 best 40 and 42-inch TVs in the world today

Why pay more when you can get the basics for less than £400? Exceptionally low-priced it may be, but this 40-inch TV television from Finlux - a brand that's been away from the UK for a while - is one of the best value options around. And with Freeview HD and apps for BBC iPlayer and YouTube, this budget big screen TV seems anything but.

Its four HDMI inputs are as many as any other TVs offer, while handy USB recording is also a bonus, though there are some clues that it's constructed around last year's tech. There's no dual-core processing, so the user interface can hang a little, plus streaming digital files can be frustrating, and there is a slight blur on the screen. However, taking its price into account, the Finlux 40F8030-T barely puts a foot wrong. Nervous? You shouldn't be.

Read: Finlux 32F8030-T review | Compare the best prices

10 best 40 and 42-inch TVs in the world today

Panasonic TX-L42E6B

Mid-range 2D marvel with a slinky silver finish

Best 40-inch TVs updateBest 40-inch TVs update

Best bought for My Home Screen - 2013's finest smart TV innovation - this 42-inch TV is also seriously good looking, with a super-slim frame and silver finish. The easiest-to-use smart TV we've tested to date, the multiple home screen approach provides a highly visual yet simple system. The picture has plenty of dynamism, too, with natural-looking images that are a notch above the Finlux's. It's a potentially brilliant gaming monitor, too, with low input lag and a spotless treatment of HD sources.

A surprisingly open-sounding mid-range and some well-rounded trebles are enough to convince us of the Panasonic TX-L42E6B's good value status, though if you're looking for something slightly smaller then you should consider the Panasonic TX-L39E6B, an almost uniquely 39-inch sized screen that's otherwise identical to this one, and sells for £510.

Read: Panasonic TX-L42E6B review | Compare the best prices

10 best 40 and 42-inch TVs in the world today

Samsung UE40F6400

3D and voice control are overshadowed by Smart Hub

10 best 40 and 42-inch TVs in the world today10 best 40 and 42-inch TVs in the world today

It may not be a patch on the Panasonic TX-L42E6B 42-inch TV looks-wise, but there's a lot to love about the Samsung UE40F6400. As well as Freeview HD, it packs in both voice control and active shutter 3D modes on top of a touchpad remote and awesome integration with Samsung Galaxy devices. Not bad for a mid-range TV, and though voice control of its S Recommendation search facility for on-demand apps isn't always spot-on, the search feature itself is excellent.

Pictures are a riot of ballistic colours, decent contrast and fine HD detailing, while the 200Hz LCD panel at the core ensures that everything is largely free from motion blur. However, all of this is overshadowed by Samsung's Smart Hub, which once again proves that it's the most app-packed around. Nicely designed for 2013, its exclusive hosting of on-demand apps for all UK terrestrial broadcasters makes it hard to beat.