There was a time when plasma screens reigned supreme in the 46-inch TV market. But in much the same way as a meteor strike killed off the dinosaurs, the second coming of the LCD TV is the invasive species that has done for plasma.
We're still huge advocates of plasma on TechRadar, don't get us wrong, but the tech is dying out at this size. Old-school CCFL tech has been replaced by LED backlight scanning and technical wizardry to make LCD tech viable in large sizes.
So the majority of TVs in this size bracket are now from the LED side of the wall, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. LED TVs these days are brighter than plasmas, they're thinner and there's a lot more variety on show.
So here's our selection of the best 46-inch and 47-inch TVs for your perusal.
Is there a better budget smart 3D TV?
The headline-grabber is the Smart Touch remote control, which has a touch trackpad to navigate the TV screens as well as a built-in microphone. The latter's voice control is a disappointment, as is gesture control, but that applies to all Samsung smart TVs. The Wi-Fi-powered Smart Hub sports the finest collection of apps around - including the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player (exclusively), 4OD and Demand 5 - and looks better than ever with its new five-screen treatment.
Picture quality on the Samsung UE46F6400 46-inch TV - delivered by Samsung's 3D HyperReal Engine - sport black levels that are a step down from Samsung's higher-end TVs, with less shadow detailing on show, but we were impressed by the TV's ballistic colours, decent contrast and fine HD detailing. A 200Hz panel and MotionPlus processing ensures smooth motion sequences, and helps the active shutter 3D system work, too - though only two pairs of 3D specs are provided.
Read: Samsung UE40F6400 review
Great-looking 3D mid-ranger
Two pairs of 3D specs ship with the Panasonic TX-L47ET60B 47-inch TV, though here that's bordering on rude since this TV uses the 99p glasses-compatible 'easy 3D' polarised flavour. Panasonic's luscious new My Home Screen pages are home to apps, browser shortcuts and other widgets, and customisable to multiple users - it's all a huge advance on previous incarnations. We'd judge it about as impressive as Samsung's, though perhaps more polished. Swipe & Share 2.0, an app-based feature that sees two-way file exchanges between the TV and your smart devices, works a treat too.
The True Cinema picture preset lends the Panasonic TX-L47ET60B an immediate dose of accurate colour, detail, smoothness and awesome upscaling right out of the box, though black levels and contrast are average - those polarised 3D pictures are easiest on the eye.
NFC niceties on this great gaming TV
£1,100: The Sony KDL-47W805 47-inch TV is an acquired taste. We've included it here because of its totally refreshed user interface, which is as clean and well rendered as anything else we've seen in 2013. Bright content looks great and the Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) smart TV platform, though not exactly stuffed with apps, contains the essentials. 3D works well and as a gaming TV there's few better, though native contrast is average and audio is uninspiring.
However, we're not convinced it's worth the slight premium over the the Samsung UE46F6400 and Panasonic TX-L47ET60B, which pile on apps and awesome usability while offering picture quality at least as good as this slightly overpriced offering from Sony's W8 Series. Those with NFC in their Android smartphone can begin a life of touch 'n' go streaming; a killer feature for sure, and possibly decisive.
Magic Remote puts Cinema 3D TV in control
A slinky design that can match any 47-inch TV issued in 2013, the LG 47LA740V has an extensive feature list that includes one of the most heavily populated and well-interfaced smart TV engines in town, as well as the sort of picture set-up subtleties normally reserved for high-end models.
The THX modes create an instant cinema-like picture, and though there are slight picture foibles - below par black levels and problematic local dimming - images are mostly bright and colourful. They also contribute to an excellent polarised 3D performance, but it's the smart TV antics that most impress. Laden with catch-up TV apps it may not be, but the user interface on LG TVs is the alpha male; its mobile device and digital media-savvy SmartShare software makes sure of that, but we also love its Magic Remote pointer-style controller.
Read: LG 55LA740V review
THX and ISF picture modes equal instant cinema
Once again it's hats off to LG for its stunning user interface - a simpler TV to use does not exist - though the LG 47LA860W 47-inch TV puts in a sterling picture performance, too. OK, so it lacks a touch of contrast, but colour is well saturated and natural-looking, while detail from HD sources is stunning even during fast-paced sequences. Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) picture modes are here, which once again work a treat at producing a brilliantly cinema-like image out-of-the-box, though there is a full suite of colour management tweaks for those who want them.
Unusually for a 3D TV, the LG 47LA860W has both great 24W speakers and can convert anything to 3D. From live TV to a DVD or even something you're streaming over the digital media software SmartShare, it's all fair game for 3D.
Killer smart TV and multiple tuners
The appearance of the smart My Home Screen on the high-end Panasonic TX-L47DT65B LED TV isn't the only big change for Panasonic in 2013; a polarised 3D screen adorns this beauty despite that fact that it was Panasonic that came up with the opposing active shutter 3D system. Inside this 47-inch TV is a dual-core processor known as Hexa by Panasonic because of the eight image adjustments it powers, though it also adds slickness to a smart TV platform that's far more joined up, polished and ambitious than in previous years.
A new voice interaction system is also attempted, but more impressive is a new touchpad controller that comes complete with touch-sensitive scroller, though an old-fashioned remote is also in the box. High-definition content benefits from dazzling colour and a blur-free picture, and while black levels aren't reference-level, most living rooms won't notice. Polarised 3D pictures are even better, though it's the dual Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners that prove crucial - cue second screen apps and live TV thumbnails of alternative TV channels.
Quad-core usability ideal for living rooms
Slimmer than the Samsung UE46F8000 by half a millimetre, this step-down 46-inch TV packs a punch despite its use of weaker speakers and a less advanced panel. Its quad-core processor is a revelation in terms of usability (everyday TV functions are performed very quickly), while the redesign of Smart Hub - as well as a host of slinky transitions, icons and live TV thumbnails - is as impressive as the all-round picture quality that extends to awesome 3D.
Out-of-box presets are overcooked and we did find some slight LED light leakage in the corners, but the latter is only noticeable in blackout conditions. Elsewhere that quad-core power helps produce a versatile, clean and smooth picture. Destined for use in the living room, the Samsung UE46F7000 rounds things off by putting in an active shutter 3D performance of stunning detail and depth.
Bravia blazes its way to top marks
Slim of waist and with a Triluminous panel that creates vivid colours that visually snap, crackle and pop as you watch, the KDL-46W905A 46-inch TV is the pinnacle of Sony's Full HD TV ambitions. An upgraded version of its X-Reality Pro chip offers industry-leading picture processing. Reds in particular have a look of purity unlike anything we've seen before, while even poor source material sports a nicely polished look. The only downside is active shutter 3D, which features some crosstalk.
Sony does not provide voice activation or gesture-based control, but it does add a mini remote that can pair to an NFC-equipped smartphone just by tapping them together. That's smart, though apps are a little on the light side. If the pictures are so astonishing, why isn't the Sony KDL-46W905 the brand's top dog? Ultra HD, that's why, though anyone after a screen smaller than Sony's 55-inch KD-55X9005A Ultra HD TV should audition this W9 Series Bravia TV.
The ultimate smart TV for bright living rooms?
Picture quality isn't quite so mesmerising as on the Sony KDL-46W905A, but Samsung's flagship 46-inch is nevertheless a thing of wonder. The Samsung UE55F8000's design is something else, with a gently curved desktop stand mounted mostly behind the TV. It peeks out at the corners, creating a floating look.
On the UE46F8000, Samsung proves that it's overcome backlight inconsistency issues, delivering outstanding pictures in both bright and dark room conditions, and with both 2D and active shutter 3D content. Its picture presets do frustrate, most of all because they don't suit serious film viewing in a darkened room, but the sheer brightness of the panel helps convince us that this is the best option for an all-round TV in the living room. And don't forget it's a quad-core processor-powered Smart Hub, which continues to provide the best choice of catch-up TV apps.
Read: Samsung UE55F8000 review
Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 11-46
Danish design prowess, but performance is all about audio
A luxury 46-inch TV with an eye-watering price designed like no other TV around. Yup, must be a Bang & Olufsen. A strikingly bold metallic-framed 46-inch screen paired with a potent speaker system, it can be mounted on a tilting bracket attached to a beautifully engineered, mechanically rotatable circular floor stand. Or it can be wall-mounted.
Active shutter 3D is an option if you pay for 3D specs, though the BeoVision 11-46 offers multimedia playback via USB or networked PCs as well as the option to add a built-in 500GB HDD recording system. There's even a slot on the TV's rear where you can attach one of the latest Apple TV boxes.
Incredibly well featured on the audio front, it's got a stunning six HDMI ports and delivers far and away the best sound you'll hear from a flatscreen TV. Its picture quality, too, is outstanding. Highly expensive, and highly recommended.