A few years ago a 40-inch TV seemed massive. Nowadays it's classed as a small screen. What changed? TVs are just made bigger, but when most of our homes haven't a 40-inch TV can still be a great idea.
If you want an upgrade from a 32-inch set that won't suddenly have over your living room, a 40-inch TV is a great choice.
You get a better experience for movies and games. And you often don't have to pay all that much for a set this size.
The only stinger is you don't always get the latest tech with a 40-inch TV. You won't find 40-inch OLEDs, or ones with the latest, greatest processors inside.
That also means they are much, much more affordable, though. Below you'll find our top 40-inch TV picks.
As well as 40-inch sets from Samsung and Panasonic, we have other options from Vizio, Hisense, TCL. There are good models outside the household names.
Our TechRadar TV experts have tested these TVs to separate the duds from the hits.
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, do you want smart TV? We would. A TV with a smart interface and Wi-Fi will let you watch streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube.
You'll want at least a Full HD panel, if not a 4K one, to keep movies and games looking sharp. Also check out the connections on a set. Make sure the number of HDMI ports at least matches the number of devices you want to plug in.
Ultra HD vs. Full HD: That you can’t see a difference between Full HD and Ultra HD on a screen smaller than 55 inches is a common misconception. Now, we're not saying those people are flat-out wrong, but we 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.
We recommend picking a TV with 4K Ultra-HD and HDR if you can find one. They’re not the standard at 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: 40-inch TVs didn’t always come with a smart TV operating system in the past. 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 easy to find good Smart TV 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: Connections seem boring. But trust us, 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) 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.
Now 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
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. In the US, it’s called UN40MU7000. We love this TV. It delivers bright 4K HDR images and the price in temptingly low.
It’s not without its flaws, but no other 40-inch TV we’ve tested around this price is even close to the MU7000. What it is able to do with native 4K resolution and HDR content 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
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 if you can't afford the upgrade to the MU7000.
Between the two, there’s not a major spec 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 TV with 4K and HDR for UK buyers
UK residents don’t know how good they have it when it comes to mid-size TVs. Panasonic, one of the finest panel makers out there, makes high caliber 40-inch screens at an affordable price, like the Panasonic TX-40EX600B.
The screen was released in 2017 and packs both 4K and HDR into its 40-inch panel.
While long time Panasonic owners might be a bit concerned not to see the trusty Firefox OS at the helm of the screen, don’t worry - the My Home Screen 2.0 interface 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 high price attached.
Vizio D-Series D40f-E1
Serious connectivity options in an affordable 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. The TV offers a 120Hz effective refresh rate, full-array backlighting and a 200,000:1 contrast ratio. This ensures solid image quality.
The VIZIO D40f-E1 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, we're more than happy.
Panasonic's 2016 40-inch screen is still a star
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 called My Home Screen) and a Freeview Play catch-up TV app. It's a smart, usable interface that lets you watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-40DX600
TCL S-Series 40S305
Great Smart TV features on a budget
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're in the “I don’t need 4K” camp, check out the TCL 40S305. It makes up for its HD resolution with a killer operating system.
Roku TV is the best smart TV platform we’ve 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 - thousands of channels are available. Not only does it have a ton of content, that content is super easy to find thanks to its universal search feature. It scans over 200 channels to find films and shows at their lowest possible price.
- Have a recommendation for us? Send an email to Nick.Pino@Futurenet.com.