The 55-inch mark was once the pinnacle of TV-dom. It has now though become the latest battleground in the fight for space in your living room.
As people are upgrading their TVs they're looking to bolster their screen size too and the 50 to 55-inch mark represents the absolute sweet spot between brand new technologies, large screen sizes and great prices.
Right now, this is where it's at. For a great many of us the 65-inch TVs are far too big for our living rooms, but even just that little step down to 55-inch screens can make a big difference without compromising at all on quality.
But there's a huge amount of variety in this end of the market too, with OLED panels marking themselves out with the very best in image fidelity and 4K resolutions providing that all important future-proofing for an expensive new purchase.
There are some 4K bargains at this level too, but don't discount Full HD yet either. You can bag a great value 1080p screen at 50-inches now that the burgeoning Ultra HD market is grinding down prices at the lower resolutions.
So, here's our pick of the top 50 and 55-inch panels you can buy today.
1. LG OLED55C6V
"OLED screen technology is quite simply the future of television."
Screen size: 65-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 4K Ultra HD | Panel technology: OLED | Smart TV: webOS 3.0 | Curved: Yes | Dimensions: 1,225 x 714 x 48.9 mm
While there's always been a lot of excitement around OLED technology, it seems to have reached fever pitch this year, and it's easy to see why. Having already greatly improved the performance and affordability of its OLED TVs last year, LG – the only brand currently making full ranges of OLED TVs – is claiming further substantial performance boosts and key new features for its 2016 range.
That said, the OLED55C6V is quite simply the best OLED TV yet. It looks gorgeous, particularly if curved screens are your thing, and unprecedented black levels help to deliver picture quality that is, for the most part, dazzling, as LG continues to refine its technology.
Read the full review: LG OLED55C6V
2. Samsung UE55KS7000
"Fed a diet of Hi-Def or 4K HDR, the UE55KS7000 purrs."
Screen size: 55-inches | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 4K Ultra HD | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Tizen | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1225.0 x 710.0 x 44.3mm
Short on HDR content? Create it yourself. What Samsung calls HDR+ is the key feature to get excited about on this, its entry-level 'true' HDR TV – aka UHD Premium – which offers detailed and involving, yet subtle, images imbued with luscious colour and throughly decent black levels.
It's not perfect – restricted viewing angles and visible edge LED backlighting see to that – but fed a diet of Hi-Def or 4K HDR, the UE55KS7000 purrs.
Read the full review: Samsung UE55KS7000
3. Sony KD-55XD9305
4K UHD streaming backed by Sony's X1 processor
Screen size: 55-inch | Tuner: Twin Freeview and dual satellite | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1,239 x 717 x 36 mm
Sony has taken a bit of a gamble with the XD93, opting for an ultra-thin design that doesn't really lend itself to real HDR dynamics. But thanks to some ingenious engineering, it pretty much pulls it off.
There are caveats, but images (both HD and 4K) are nuanced and colour-rich, with poppy dynamics (keep the light sensor on to minimize grain). Excellent connectivity and integrated YouView add to the fun. Factor in a competitive price, and this set is well worth auditioning for the star role in your home entertainment centre.
Read the full review: Sony KD-55XD9305
4. Philips 55PUT6400
"It catches the eye with its price and size for a 4K UHD TV."
Screen size: 55-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LCD | Smart TV: Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 773 x 1239 x 266mm
The 55PUT6400 offers more screen inches per monetary pound than any other big brand 4K TV tested so far. It's also capable of delivering excellent pictures when it's set up right - especially with native 4K content.
The 55PUT6400 is a striking debut for Philips' new TV range. It catches the eye with its price and size for a 4K UHD TV, and in many ways its pictures grab your attention too. Certainly it's capable of doing more justice to native 4K content than you might expect for its money.
Read the full review: Philips 55PUT6400
5. Panasonic TX-50CX802B
"Far and away Panasonic's best LCD TV to date."
Screen size: 50-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED |Smart TV: Firefox OS | Curved: No | Dimensions: 687mm x 1121mm x 211mm
While there's room for improvement with its backlight and motion handling, the 50CX802 is far and away Panasonic's best LCD TV to date.
Its pictures benefit from a unique focus on colour and greyscale nuances that give it a genuine USP, and it backs this up with an appealingly friendly new Firefox smart TV interface and - following imminent firmware updates - both HDR and Freeview Play functionality.
All at what is, all things considered, an attractive price.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-50CX802B
6. Hisense LTDN50K321UWT
"Hisense's UK debut is far better than you've any right to expect for the money."
Screen size: 50-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Hisense | Curved: No | Dimensions: 702 x 1124 x 247mm
Hisense is clearly keen to arrive on the UK TV scene with a bang. At £499 the 50K321 is groundbreakingly cheap for a 50-inch 4K TV, yet despite its extreme affordability it offers a pretty impressive set of features.
The breadth of multimedia playback support, strong connectivity, a smart TV system, and some promising picture specifications are all as welcome as they are unexpected.
It has, at the first time of asking, established itself as a brand capable of operating at the budget end of the market while serving up a markedly better-than-budget level of performance and features. All of which makes it potentially the stuff of nightmares for the more established TV brands.
Read the full review: Hisense LTDN50K321UWT
7. Panasonic Viera TX-50DX750
An aggressively priced and mostly impressive 4K TV
Screen size: 50-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Firefox OS | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1115 x 707 x 316 mm
The 50DX750 scores big on shelf appeal. Its £1300 price is aggressive for a TV that supports both a native 4K UHD resolution and high dynamic range playback, its adjustable design is a breath of fresh air, and its smart TV system is both eye-catchingly attractive and a dream to use. For the most part it backs this initial attraction up with its picture and sound performance too, only coming up a little short when it comes to handling HDR's most extreme content.
With HDR playback support and Panasonic's Firefox smart system, and delivering mostly impressive performance, the 50DX750 is a great-value TV that will look great in any room.
Read the full review: Panasonic Viera TX-50DX750
8. Panasonic TX-50CS520
"Feels like a bargain for the quality, screen size and features on offer."
Screen size: 50-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: myHomeScreen | Curved: No | Dimensions: 690 x 1126 x 230mm
With HD (as opposed to 4K UHD ) TVs still apparently accounting for the major of TV sales from most retailers, the full HD Panasonic 50CS520 is a long overdue arrival on our now 4K-dominated test benches.
Especially since its no-nonsense combination of a friendly smart TV system; impressive picture and sound quality; and eye-catchingly aggressive price work together handsomely to keep the HD flag flying high.
Panasonic's mid-range HD model looks smart and modern, is well stocked with impressively customisable smart TV features, and delivers picture and sound quality that are both far, far better than you might expect of a £520 50-inch TV.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-50CS520
9. Sony KDL-55W805C
"Includes everything the TV needs to produce one of the finest pictures I've seen from an HD TV."
Screen size: 55-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 753 x 1230 x 210mm
It's a sign of how fast the TV world is changing right now that Sony's decision to launch a premium HD TV like the 55W805C in 2015 feels like a brave move.
Thanks to a rich specification list that includes Sony's ever-impressive X-Reality Pro processing, edge LED lighting driven by a local dimming engine, some potent motion handling and a content-rich smart TV system it delivers a truly high-end, big-screen experience.
So long as you don't see yourself being fussed about 4K for the next few years, the 55W805C is a compelling TV. Its engagingly slim form plays host to a long list of features that includes everything the TV needs to produce one of the finest pictures I've seen from an HD TV. It's well connected too, and while Android TV turns out to be a bit of a chore it's still got plenty of smart TV appeal.
Read the full review: Sony KDL-55W805C
10. LG 55EG960V
"If you're not yet lusting after OLED, you've got it all wrong."
Screen size: 55-inch | Tuner: Freeview HD and FreeSat HD | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: OLED | Smart TV: webOS | Curved: Yes | Dimensions: 760 x 1226 x 213mm
Is this is the best TV on the planet? Judged purely on picture quality, this 4K OLED has a jaw-dropping combination of total black, cracking colour, judder-free video, a reflection-free curve and an innate ability to make standard-def sources ripple with realism.
Self-lighting pixels are the future, as proved by the 55EG960V's spotless colours, awesome blacks, bright, pure whites and all-round utterly gorgeous images. 4K detail is mesmerising while even standard definition sources look clean and crisp. Self-lighting they may be, but it's when those pixels completely switch off that this OLED TV really stands out next to an LED TV.
Read the full review: LG 55EG960V
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