You wouldn't have to venture that far back in time to a point where a 40-inch TV would be considered massive. But, admittedly, that was towards the end of the CRT era when our TVs were both heavy and incredibly thick.
Well, those days are now long behind us. In a short time, room-dominating 65-inch TVs have become the main staple of American homes (with Europe lagging not too far behind).
The problem with this big thinking (besides the price) is that as we all get used to bigger and better displays in our homes, it's easy to assume that 40-inch TVs are a thing of the distant past.
- If you have a small budget, or small home, then it might make more sense to check out our list of the best 32-inch televisions on offer right now instead.
But for many of us without big living rooms and big budgets, that's just not the case. Most people will find that upgrading from a 32-inch television to a 40-inch screen is a much better option, as it’s less likely to suddenly overwhelm your living room - not to mention your budget.
The biggest drawback with choosing a 40-inch screen rather than one of the bigger options is that you don't always get the latest tech built into a 40-inch TV – like OLED panels or often 4K or HDR. TV manufacturers tend to save the best performance for the biggest models in their range.
But the good news is that we know not all TVs and TV brands are created equal. There are a number of exceptional 40-inch TVs with 4K HDR at a reasonable price and we've done all the hard work and research for you. The result is a list of 40-inch TVs we’ll be constantly updating that we think represent the best 40-inch TVs on the market right now.
How do I pick out a 40-inch TV?
Before we dive into our recommendations, it's worth going over what we look for when we're reviewing and recommending TVs here on TechRadar.
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. If you take your time and really look at a picture – especially if that picture is using High Dynamic Range – you will 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, as the cost can 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 Stick 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. 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 exactly what you're looking for in a brand new 40-inch screen, here are a few of our favorite TVs that we think would be a great addition to your home entertainment center.
What's the best 40-inch TV in 2019?
Samsung NU7100 Series
New for 2018, the NU7100 has awesome upscaling, UHD dimming and 4K resolution
Samsung has long led the way in the mid-range and until very recently was almost unchallenged for the throne. While TVs like the TCL 5-Series and VIZIO E-Series offer much fiercer competition than we've ever seen before, Samsung still beats all the rest with its NU7100. While it doesn't offer as colorful HDR as the TCL or VIZIO, Samsung's NU7100 does a significantly better job upscaling content, which means those of you still rocking HD content – cough, cable, cough – will appreciate this TV's ability to make 1080p content look great in any circumstance.
While the TV suffers from limited viewing angles and is slightly more expensive than the rest of the TVs you'll find on this list, the NU7100 is our pick for the best 40-inch TV in 2018.
Read our full Samsung NU7100 review
TCL 5-Series 43S517 (US only)
Great Smart TV features on a budget
OK, so the TCL 43S517 isn't exactly a 40-inch TV – it's 43-inches. But look, you can get three extra inches for less than some 40-inch screens! Beyond the extra size, however, the TCL is an extraordinary value. It packs Dolby Vision HDR into a 4K TV that's built on top of Roku TV. Not only does that save you from buying an external streaming video device, but Roku TV is one of the best platforms on the planet.
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 stuff to watch, it's all 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.
If you're after the best deal, you can do no better than this.
Read our full TCL 5-Series review
Philips 6-Series 43PUS6753/12 (UK only)
The first port of call if you want a high-value flatscreen
The Philips 6-Series is a 4K HDR television that offers fantastic value for the price, with Philips' patented Ambilight technology that displays onscreen colors all around the set when in use.
When playing music, the set will pulsate its Ambilight LED lights with the beat, while gaming can make your room positively throb with colour. It's a neat parlor trick, with the technical specs to stop it feeling like a mere gimmick.
Philips Pixel Plus UHD image processing ensures clarity and a decent level of contrast. The TV’s pixel dense screen brings a pleasing smoothness to both Full HD and UHD sources – while Freeview Play gives you access to plenty.
The TV is compatible with HDR10 – though not Dolby Vision – and has the brand’s own HDR Plus processing on top. It isn't, however, particularly bright, meaning that it doesn't quite do justice to the HDR compatibility it promises. But the PUS6753 is still a far better picture performer than you’ve any right to expect from such an affordable 4K TV.
Read our full Philips 6573 TV review
This is Panasonic's dirt-cheap designer 4K LED TV
Entry-level UHD is a hot category for TV makers in 2018. This year, every major brand want a slice of this booming budget market. But can the cheapest 4K HDR sets really deliver all the thrills that 4K HDR is capable of?
Panasonic reckons so, and has loaded its incoming FX600 Series with some impressive technology - including HDR10+ dynamic metadata support. Dynamic metadata allows a screen to more accurately tone map high dynamic range images, even though it lacks the native light output to really do HDR justice.
With a combination of sharp design, hassle-free smart portal and crisp imagery, this is one of the best entry-level panels on the market.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-43FX600
Vizio D-Series D40f-E1 (US only)
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, but considering that VIZIO's screen usually costs less than $300, we're more than happy.
- Looking for the best screen, period? Here's the best TV of 2018