Tracking down the best 40-inch TV can be a tough job. While it's a perfect sweet spot size for those that want to be able to, well, see their television (any smaller gets a bit puny), it's simply not a focus point for TV manufacturers. With great screens at large sizes easy to mass produce at affordable prices now, it's become their bread and butter.
That can make for a frustrating buying experience if you're on the market for something smaller than 43-inches. While they're out there if you dig far enough through your local A/V emporium's wares, manufacturers like LG and Sony usually only offer a couple of models at that size each year.
But don't lose hope! 40-inch fans will find joy with manufacturers like Samsung, Vizio, Hisense, TCL and Panasonic, each offering a handful of screens this year that present themselves well in the 40-inch size category.
To help you narrow down your search for a great 40-inch TV, we’ve done all the ground-work to find out everything you need to know about screens and display technology. What you’ll find below should not only help you pick out the 40-inch screen of your dreams, but also educate you on the modern audiovisual landscape. It’s a win-win.
What TVs does TechRadar recommend?
Ahead of the main event, let’s quickly go through what makes a good 40-inch screen.
To begin with, the most important things to keep an eye on is the inclusion of a great smart TV \os onboard so that you can hook it up to the internet and stream shows and movies from Amazon, Netflix and YouTube; at least an FHD (Full-HD) panel, if not 4K; and how many inputs a TV has.
That sounds like a lot to take into account, I know, but I promise picking out a screen is as easy as can be. Let’s break it down one attribute at a time.
Ultra HD vs. Full HD: A common misconception in the TV industry is that you can’t see a difference between Full HD and Ultra HD on a screen smaller than 55 inches. Now, I’m not saying those people are flat-out wrong, but I can promise that if you take your time and really look at a picture - especially if that picture is using High Dynamic Range - you’ll see a difference.
To that end, I’d recommend picking out a TV with 4K Ultra-HD and HDR if you can find one. They’re a bit uncommon in this screen size because the cost might outweigh the benefits for someone shopping for an ultra-cheap TV, but if you’re serious about video, 4K is vital.
Operating system: It used to be that many of the TVs in the 40-inch range didn’t come with an operating system. These dumb TVs were incredibly cheap to make, and therefore cheap to buy, too. But there was a problem: As Netflix and YouTube became more and more popular, people wanted to stream those services on their TV without resorting to a streaming video device like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Chromecast.
These days, it’s fairly common to find an operating system on a 40-inch TV. All but the most bare-bones of screens will have them. But what you’re looking for, ideally, is a well-maintained operating system like Roku TV, LG’s webOS or Samsung’s Tizen operating system. If you go with a TV that uses a proprietary operating system (basically an operating system exclusive to that one TV) you might have some serious issues down the road.
Inputs and outputs: I know, I know, this sounds boring. But trust me, this is something most folks don’t think about until they bring the TV home and get it all connected, only to realize their great new TV only has one HDMI port.
Having multiple HDMI ports (along with options for optical audio out and RCA connectors) will really allow you to connect most - if not all - of your devices. This will save you time in the long-run as you won’t have to get up and switch the cables around any time you want to change the input.
Phew! Got all that? Good.
Now that you know what to look for in a TV, here are a few screens that we think might be a good addition to your burgeoning home entertainment center.
Samsung MU7000 Series
Samsung's 40MU7000 is a winning combination of picture quality and value
Sitting at the top of our list is Samsung’s 40-inch MU7000. In the UK, it goes by the designation UE40MU7000T while in the US, it’s called UN40MU7000. We love this screen for so many reasons, not the least of which are its bright 4K HDR images and low price tag.
It’s not without its flaws, but no other 40-inch TV we’ve tested that sits around this price point is even close to the MU7000 - what it’s able to do with native 4K resolution content or, especially, content shot in HDR, is simply amazing.
If we’re being picky, High contrast scenes can look slightly grey, there aren’t as many color tones as you'd get with a more expensive 10-bit panel, and viewing angles are limited. But these concerns aren’t going to be fixed on a 40-inch screen. For the money, this is the best 40-inch screen money can buy.
Read the full review: Samsung MU7000 Series
Samsung MU6300/MU6400 Series
Samsung's 40-inch 6-Series screen is a good runner-up if you can’t find the MU7000
This might seem a bit confusing - another Samsung TV that comes right after our top pick - but hang in there with us: The MU6300/MU6400 is part of Samsung’s 6-Series TVs - which, on the good, better, best scale, the MU6300 is good.
The UN40MU6300 (or UE40MU6400 for UK folks) offers good performance and value, but there’s definitely better out there - cough, the MU7000.
Between the two, there’s not a major difference - they both offer 4K HDR, and a smart OS - but the MU7000 has Tizen, Samsung’s licensed, well-upkept OS while the MU6300 has something a little less powerful.
If streaming isn’t high up on your list of must-have features and you don’t mind a drop in performance, you can save a bit of cash by going with this instead.
A fantastic 40-inch screen with 4K and HDR for the UK audience
UK residents don’t know how good they have it when it comes to mid-size TVs. Not only do you have great Samsung screens, but Panasonic - one of the finest panel makers out there - also makes high caliber 40-inch screens at an affordable price. For example, check out the Panasonic TX-40EX600B.
The screen is new for 2017 and packs both 4K and HDR into its 40-inch panel.
While long time Pana owners might be a bit concerned not to see the trusty Firefox OS at the helm of the screen, don’t worry - My Home Screen 2.0 is almost the same thing, but developed entirely in-house by Panasonic.
Add to that three HDMI ports and you have a pretty fancy screen without a fancy price tag attached to it.
Vizio D-Series D40f-E1
Serious connectivity options in an incredibly cheap package
If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, and you live Stateside, VIZIO’s D-Series offers great FHD visuals for next-to-nothing.
This year’s model to beat is the VIZIO D40f-E1 (a catchy name, I know). The TV offers a 120Hz effective refresh rate, full-array backlighting and a 200,000:1 contrast ratio.
If that all sounds like gobbledygook jargon, it’s OK. Basically the TV looks good, has a great contrast ratio and can keep up with the action if you’re watching a game of football on Sunday. It doesn’t look as good as our top picks, the Samsung MU7000 and MU6300, but considering that VIZIO’s screen usually costs less than $300, you get what you pay for.
Panasonic's 2016 40-inch screen is still a star one year later
A follow-up to 2015's excellent 40CX680B, the 40DX600 is Panasonic's best value 4K TV. Four pegs down from Panasonic's flagship DX900 range –five, if you count its OLED – the DX600 series claims a 4K Edge LED-backlit panel with adaptive backlight dimming, 800Hz scanning and Quad Core PRO processor for super-quick smart TV navigation.
It also has both a Firefox OS (now My Home Screen) and a Freeview Play catch-up TV app, as do all Panasonic TVs for 2016, which lend it a smart, usable interface to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-40DX600
TCL S-Series 40S305
TCL’s S-Series is just fine for a 40-inch FHD screen
Look, we have nothing against Full HD. For some folks, Full HD is fine. They don’t want or need the spectacle of 4K HDR and can live without seeing shows and movies ooze color, flash light and be drenched in shadow.
If you’re not into that stuff, that’s fine.
If you find yourself in the “I don’t need 4K” camp, I’d like to introduce you to the TCL 40S305 - a FHD screen that makes up for its HD resolution with a killer operating system.
The biggest selling point of this screen (besides its crazy low price tag of $269) is its operating system. Far and away, Roku TV is the best smart TV platform we’ve ever used. Samsung and LG might have done an exceptional job improving their UIs over the years, but Roku TV is fast, responsive and packed to the gills with content - over 3,000 channels at last count. Not only does it have a ton of content, but that content is super easy to find thanks to its universal search feature that scans over 200 channels to find films and shows at their lowest possible price. Check and mate, other TV operating systems.
- Have a recommendation for us? Send an email to Nick.Pino@Futurenet.com.