The UE48H5500 is the best 48-inch TV for the price-conscious living room. Impressing with good colour and contrast, and both apps and navigation speed, it's a superb all-rounder going for a sweet price – though it does lack 3D.
Accurate, natural colours
Smart Hub apps
Standard definition upscalinh
Only three HDMI & two USB
No 3D mode
Shiny plastic look
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The 48-inch Edge LED Samsung UE48H5500 has the most comprehensive smart TV app platform of all alongside a Full HD panel and a Freeview HD tuner, all for around £500.
But it is missing one thing: 3D. Oh, the horror! Though it's become almost a standard feature on TVs, the active vision 3D system that Samsung favours means battery-powered 3D specs, so perhaps it won't be missed.
The UE48H5500 suffers from an entirely plastic build quality, a trend that's noticeably creeping up the TV food-chain to encompass even so-called high-end TVs.
However, the UE48H5500 does remain reasonably lightweight despite its monster-big screen; I had no problem constructing the two-piece desktop stand, which requires eight small screws.
Although the desktop stand is basically a slab of cheap-looking black plastic, it's reasonably low profile, while the TV itself has a slim frame around the screen that measures a mere 8mm on the top and sides, and 18mm on the undercarriage. There's a slim plastic rim at the bottom, though not on the sides.
It's easy to think that all mid-range TVs are essentially the same, but while Samsung clearly thinks its brilliant Smart Hub apps will be enough to secure your cash, there's actually quite a few features missing from the UE48H5500 that might be on your shopping list.
It's a Full HD TV with a 100Hz Edge LED-backlit panel, built-in Wi-Fi and a Freeview HD tuner. Powered by a quad core processor, it also plays video files from a USB stick or HDD and makes a stab at voice recognition, too.
So what doesn't it do? There's no Freesat HD tuner, the 100Hz panel is perhaps slightly under-spec, and it possesses just three HDMI slots and a couple of USBs. If none of that bothers you, the UE48H5500 could be a real bargain.
The simple one-page grid of apps that graces the UE48H5500 is actually the least inspiring of the entire Smart Hub, but it's also its greatest achievement. The apps page is utterly comprehensive (unless you're after Sky's Now TV, that is) in terms of streaming media.
Grabbing the headlines are the likes of Netflix, Amazon Instant and the BBC iPlayer, but there are plenty more in the 40-strong collection including ITV Player, 4 On Demand, Demand Five, Curzon Home Cinema, Wuaki.tv, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Spotify, YouTube, DailyMotion, KnowHow Movies, AccuWeather, vTuner, BFI Player, TuneIn radio, Skype… the list goes on.
Ins and outs
As always on Samsung TVs there are ins and outs aplenty. A rear-facing panel on the back of the UE48H5500 sports a HDMI input alongside an RGB Scart and a set of component video inputs (one of which doubles as a composite video input). There's also stereo phonos, an optical digital audio output for taking everything (even Freeview HD sounds) into a home cinema system, a wired LAN slot, an IR out and an audio out.
Happily the UE48H5500 does have Wi-Fi, but for anyone with a flaky router or thick walls it's more reliable to use a wired connection if streaming video apps like the BBC iPlayer, Netflix or YouTube (all of which the UE48H5500 offers) are on the menu.
However, its side-panel is graced by all the key connections, housing two more HDMI inputs, two USB slots and a feed for the built-in Freeview HD tuner. Unlike TVs further up the Samsung food-chain there's no integrated Freesat HD satellite TV tuner, though that's really only a selling point if you're in a rural area troubled by dodgy Freeview HD signals.
Overall I'm happy with the ins and outs, though I'm conscious that anyone with a Blu-ray player, a set-top box and a games console – hardly a particularly high-end haul of AV gear – will be maxing-out those three HDMI inputs. Ditto those USB slots, too; the UE48H5500 is reasonably well connected, but there are much better endowed models just above it in Samsung's vast range of TVs.
There are no 3D specs nor the second 'smart' touch-pad remote supplied with all Samsung TVs above the UE48H5500's spec. Picture processing circuitry marks it down as a mid-range TV, most notably its 100Hz panel, which Samsung calls ClearMotionRate 100.
The UE48H5500 is joined in Samsung's Series 5 by the 32-inch UE32H5500 and the 40-inch UE40H5500. Both run on a quad core processor and offer Samsung's Smart Hub of apps and its S-Recommendation services, too.
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Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),