The best 40-inch TVs might not be the biggest when it comes to screen real estate – especially when you put them next to the best 65-inch TVs. However, don’t underestimate this middle-of-the-road screen size. If you have limited space in your home, a 40-inch TV is a decent-sized set that should still pack in a number of top features.
Larger TV sets, like those at the flagship 55-inch size, or massive 75-inch screens, tend to get the most premium technologies. But 40-inch TVs still have a lot going for them. For example, you'll still see both 4K resolution and HDR compatibility, as well as smart TV integration and a range of inputs and outputs to connect all your game consoles, Blu-ray players and streaming boxes.
What’s more, if you’re concerned about a huge TV dominating your small living room, then a 40-inch display might be the best choice. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that a 40-inch flatscreen was the most premium TV your money could buy. For smaller spaces or even single-person use it can often be the best option. Smaller sets are certainly cheaper than their slightly larger cousins, too, even if you don't get as many TVs at the 40-inch size anymore.
If you're after a good 40-inch TV, we've selected the very best 40-inch models that have been reviewed on our site. You’ll also find some additional tips at the end of this article if you're not sure what to look for when you're hunting for a new 40-inch display.
(Editor's Note: the top pick isn't available in the US, so any North American readers should jump to the second slot to find the best choice for their region.)
Update: We’re expecting lots of new TVs to be announced during CES 2021 in January 2021. This is the biggest tech expo and, even though it’s taking place virtually this year, is often when all kinds of new tech is announced, including televisions. Be sure to check back in with TechRadar during CES when we’ll be collecting together the most interesting news and best announcements coming your way.
- 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.
What's the best 40-inch TV in 2020?
The best 40-inch TV in 2020? That accolade goes to the Panasonic HX800.
As the 2020 successor to the GX800 – which topped this list last year – the HX800 continues everything that made us fall in love with Panasonic's mid-range LCD offering in the first place, with a sweet spot of price, performance, and functionality all in one.
Panasonic gets a lot of goodwill by offering multi-HDR support – throwing in HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG in a single set – and is also unique in how this support is implemented across so much of its TV range. As a mid-range LCD, it's incredible that Panasonic ensures it has the same format support as higher-end OLED TVs like the new HZ1000 and HZ1500.
Add to that Panasonic's HCX processor, with filmic images and smooth action far beyond what we'd hope for at this price point, and you have a clear winner for the best 40-inch TV of 2020. Despite a bare-bones operating system, there's really very little to complain about.
You'll find the 40-inch model retailing at £799 at the time of writing, with a larger 58-inch model costing just £999 too. Panasonic doesn't ship TVs to the US, unfortunately, but for those of you in the UK, Europe, Australia or Canada, this is a no-brainer choice.
Read our full Panasonic HX800 TV review
The Samsung Q60T QLED occupies an important spot in Samsung’s TV 2020 lineup, being the cheapest of the brand’s QLED sets – and therefore, effectively, the worst best Samsung TV has released this year.
The main draw here is the price, with the Q60T starting at just $529 / £599 for the smallest 43-inch size (or AU$1,495 for a 55-inch model – you’ll find a full breakdown of the screen size/price options below). That’s a fraction of the cost of Samsung’s Q95T 4K QLED or flagship Q950TS 8K, and will no doubt ensure that the Q60T finds its way into more homes than its premium siblings.
You’re getting a drop in processing power compared to last year’s Q60R, with a Quantum Processor Lite chip instead of the Quantum Processor 4K used in most QLED models. Edge lighting, too – a lighting system that illuminates the picture from the sides rather than behind the panel – is a cheap way to light up a set’s images, but means there are issues with consistency of brightness, off-axis viewing, and the strength of HDR objects.
This isn’t a true HDR set, then, and you’re also going to have to swallow some mild motion blur in exchange for the Q60T’s low price.
Upscaling HD pictures to 4K is a strength of Samsung’s, though, and for the price you're still getting a capable mid-spec set.
Read the full review: Samsung Q60T QLED
If you're after a Samsung TV that won't cost the earth, look no further than the TU8000 series. This mid-range LCD comes in a compact 43-inch size for just £429 / $350 / AU$949.
It's a solid performer, with Samsung's characteristically good upscaling, and solid motion handling too. You'll find a crisp 4K picture here, as well as support for HDR10+ dynamic HDR.
It's a great choice for gamers, too, with just 9.7 ms input lag – which is pretty astonishing for the price. You're not getting all of the gaming technologies of some other sets in this list, as HDMI 2.1, VRR (variable refresh rate), or a 120Hz panel – but for the everyday gamer, this is a set that gets the basics very right.
This is an edge-lit set, meaning brightness isn't as consistent (or high) as on some higher-end QLED TVs. The lack of wide color gamut too, combined with middling brightness, means this isn't the best TV for HDR either – and those after a real step up in performance should look at the Q80T QLED instead. But for a solid mid-range LCD set, you could do a lot worse than the TU8000.
Read the full review: Samsung TU8000
The TCL 4-Series isn't as exciting as the company's 6-Series QLED with Mini LED, but it is a surprisingly good value at around $200.
The 4-Series is available in two different variations based on its smart platform - either Roku TV or Android TV - however, we strongly recommend opting for the Roku model for its smoother performance, usability and security.
Disappointingly, the 4-Series doesn't have all the latest specs (no HDMI 2.1, VRR, ALLM, etc...) but it does support HDR10 and HLG forms of HDR, has a built in 802.11ac wireless antenna and has one HDMI port with ARC, which is great for folks who want to cut down on the number of remotes in their house.
It's not the best TCL TV on the planet, but if you're limited to a 40-inch TV and want to have hundreds of streaming channels at your fingertips, the TCL 4-Series Roku TV is a smart bet and a very good value.
Read more: TCL TV 2020 guide
The V- in the Vizio V-Series TVs has always stood for ‘value’, but you could easily argue that it should stand for ‘versatile’ instead, as it’s one of the most feature-rich TVs in the budget category. With support for HDR (HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG) plus Chromecast built-in and AirPlay, the V-Series is a veritable swiss army knife of budget TVs.
Unfortunately, despite all these technologies, the V-Series is still a pretty budget-oriented set and its picture is only fair – contrast isn’t off-the-charts and its color saturation could use some work, too. Its biggest issue is that of awful off-axis viewing (more than 45 degrees) that turns what is a fine and acceptable picture to a really desaturated mess.
If you can stay perfectly in front of it, don’t mind less-than-stellar image quality and can deal with a few issues in speed and performance, however, it’s an affordable TV series that packs in a lot of the technology that makes the top TVs from Samsung, LG and Samsung the best in the world.
Read the full review: Vizio V-Series (2020)
How to choose
How do I pick out a 40-inch TV?
Unsure of how to choose? It may be 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.
Is a 40-inch TV enough?
It's worth remembering that 40-inch screens, while once the pinnacle of high-end TV tech, is now a pretty small size compared to what's out there.
These days, 55-inch 4K TVs are standard, with 65-inch 4K TVs quickly growing in popularity. Manufacturers can make bigger screens than ever before, and shoppers are cottoning on to how big TVs can actually get.
A 40-inch TV should come with 4K resolution, but you'll be able to see the benefits more clearly on a larger size. A 40-inch TV is a pretty decent size for a single viewer not sitting too far away, too, but for a family or group of flatmates it's less than ideal.
So don't sell yourself short: definitely do the work of measuring how big a TV you can fit into your intended space, and think over how big a TV you're willing to bring into your home. (To get the best of both worlds, with a small product that offers a massive picture, you might want to consider one of the best projectors too.)