The 6 Best 40-Inch Smart TVs of 2020

All the latest tech packed in smaller-sized screens

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"Bordered by ultra-thin bezels on all four sides, its 43-inch 4K panel renders pictures and videos with breathtaking detail."
"The voice-enabled remote has Bixby and Alexa built in, and also works with Google Assistant."
Best Budget:
TCL 40S325 at Amazon
"With the Roku app, you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a remote."
"Part of Samsung's "The Serif" series, it features a unique I-shaped profile that makes it look stunning from every angle."
"This model works with AMD FreeSync technology to automatically reduce input lag, optimize frame rates, and prevent screen tearing."
"Their OLED models use cutting-edge technology to provide crystal clear images, pixel-level dimming, and rich colors."

If your home theater is on the smaller side or you live in a dorm or apartment, a 40-inch smart TV is a great option that gives you all of the features you've come to expect for home entertainment packed into a screen size that doesn't overwhelm your space. Many models feature updated operating systems and CPUs that utilize the latest technology like artificial intelligence, advanced HDR support, and virtual surround sound audio to let you create a custom entertaining space. Most smart TVs from larger brands like Samsung and LG come packaged with voice-enabled remotes that give you access to integrated virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant so you can have hands-free control over your new TV and connected devices right out of the box. Those that don't can be connected to an external smart speaker for voice commands and to integrate your TV into your smart home network. 

You don't have to settle for standard HD resolution either; most new 40-inch smart TVs are available with excellent 4K UHD resolution so everything from the latest movies to classic TV shows look amazing on your new TV. Console gamers can now find TVs with integrated AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-sync technology to help lower input lag, improve response times, and reduce screen tearing that can ruin a session; some models, like those from Sony are optimized for specific consoles like the PS4, PS5, or Xbox Series X so you can make the most of your current and next gen games. So whether you're looking for second TV for your game room or bedroom or want a moderately sized smart TV for your living room or home theater, check out our top picks below to see which is right for you.

Best Overall: Samsung Q60T 43-Inch Smart TV

What We Like
  • Amazing picture quality

  • Universal remote control for all connected devices

What We Don't Like
  • User interface isn't the most intuitive

Samsung's TVs are regarded as being among the best out there, and the QN43Q60TAFXZA just goes on to show why. Bordered by ultra-thin bezels on all four sides, its 43-inch 4K panel renders pictures and videos with breathtaking detail. The TV uses Samsung's "Quantum Processor 4K Lite" chip to enhance content (both standard and HDR), resulting in deeper blacks and increased brightness levels. And with "Quantum Dot" technology, you get to enjoy over one billion shades of color that cover 100-percent of the color volume in the DCI-P3 space. Samsung QN43Q60TAFXZA runs Tizen Smart TV platform, which brings together content from numerous third-party services, including popular streaming networks like Disney+, YouTube, and Hulu. It can be used to manage (compatible) Smart Home devices, and also works with virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Bixby, and Google Assistant. As far as connectivity options are concerned, you get Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, HDMI, USB, Ethernet, Digital Audio, RF input, and more. Other noteworthy features include 20W stereo speakers (with Dolby Audio), mobile mirroring via DLNA, and a built-in program guide.

"With minimal side bezels surrounding its stunning panel - which can display more than a billion color shades and render HDR content in all its glory - Samsung’s QN43Q60TFAXZA delivers an immersive and rich viewing experience." — Rajat Sharma, Tech Writer 

Runner-Up Best Overall: Samsung UN43TU8000FXZA 43-Inch Crystal UHD

What We Like
  • SamsungTV+ live channels

  • Voice controls

  • Screen mirroring

What We Don't Like
  • No Chromecast support

  • Limited HDMI inputs

The Crystal UHD series from Samsung is a great second choice for anyone looking to buy a new 4K TV, but don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles that the new Q-Series models have. This 43-inch TV uses the updated Tizen operating system to give you access to preloaded, popular apps like Disney+ and live TV via SamsungTV+ so you can keep up with news, sports, and entertainment without a cable or satellite subscription. The voice-enabled remote has Bixby and Alexa built in, and also works with Google Assistant for hands-free control over your TV and connected devices like game consoles and Blu-Ray players. 

And if you're an avid console gamer, the automatic game mode detects when your console is on and adjusts picture settings to give you a better experience. Bluetooth connectivity lets you stream music and videos from your mobile devices or set up wireless speakers for surround sound audio. It also works with AirPlay 2 for screen mirroring your iOS or macOS devices.

Cyber Monday Deal

Best Budget: TCL 40S325 40-inch 1080p Smart TV

What We Like
  • Built-in TV tuner

  • Lightweight construction

What We Don't Like
  • No Bluetooth or Ethernet

Priced reasonably yet loaded with features, TCL's 40S325 is arguably the best 40-inch Smart TV you can buy today. Its 1080p panel offers enhanced brightness and contrast levels, thus making for an enjoyable viewing experience. That's all great, but the real star of the show here is Roku's Smart TV platform, built right into the TV. It allows you to access streaming content from a plethora of sources (e.g. Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, and YouTube) from a single, easy-to-navigate interface. And with the integrated TV tuner, you can enjoy a diverse range of content (e.g. news, live sports, and TV shows) from thousands of broadcast channels too. It also works equally well with cable/satellite TV boxes and gaming consoles. TCL 40S325 comes with a simple, 20-button Roku TV remote, which makes navigation a fuss-free affair. It can also be controlled using the companion smartphone app, which brings a lot of extra functionality (e.g. voice search) to the setup. Talking about connectivity and I/O, everything from Wi-Fi and HDMI, to 3.5mm audio and RF input is included in the package. The TV comes with 5W speakers, and is backed by a one-year warranty.

Best Design: Samsung 43-inch Class SERIF QLED

What We Like
  • Integrated NFC capability

  • Powerful 40W sound output

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Hands down the best-looking TV out there, Samsung's QN43LS01TAFXZA is as much a work of art, as it is an electronics product. Part of Samsung's "The Serif" series, it features a unique I-shaped profile that makes it look stunning from every angle. In fact, the TV isn't meant to be mounted on a wall, and comes with a detachable easel stand that lets you place it just about anywhere. Thanks to the built-in "Ambient Mode+" feature, it can also display a variety of content (e.g. custom-designed patterns, weather, photos) even when not in use. The TV uses Samsung's "Quantum Dot" technology to deliver more than a billion shades of color, covering 100-percent of the color volume in the DCI-P3 space. Its 43-inch 4K panel also works great for HDR content, and a built-in chip utilizes AI (Artificial Intelligence) to upscale lower-resolution content to 4K quality. Samsung QN43LS01TAFXZA is powered by Tizen Smart TV platform, which lets you conveniently access content from a multitude of sources, including streaming services such as Apple TV+ and Netflix. The TV also supports voice control (via virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant), and comes with all standard connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB, and Digital Audio.

“Featuring a truly gorgeous design, a plethora of connectivity options, and the ability to work with multiple voice assistants, Samsung’s ‘The Serif’ QN43LS01TAFXZA is arguably one of the most feature-packed TVs you can buy today.”Rajat Sharma, Tech Writer

Best for Gaming: LG LG 49NANO85UNA NanoCell 85 49-Inch 4K TV

What We Like
  • Plenty of inputs

  • AMD FreeSync

  • 4K upscaling

What We Don't Like
  • No Nvidia G-Sync support

LG may be best known for their OLED televisions, but their NanoCell series gives you a picture that can rival their cutting-edge cousins and make your console gaming experience even better than ever. This model works with AMD FreeSync technology to automatically reduce input lag, optimize frame rates, and prevent screen tearing to give you the best, most immersive gaming experience possible. It's built with a third generation a7 processor that uses artificial intelligence and Dolby Vision IQ to upscale non-4K content so even older games look great on your new TV. With 4 HDMI ports, an AV input, and RF connection, you can set up the ultimate gaming space with everything from retro systems to the latest generation consoles. 

You can also connect wireless speakers via Bluetooth for surround sound audio and a custom gaming space; if space is at a premium, the TV has Dolby Atmos built-in for virtual surround sound. The voice-enabled remote has Alexa built in and works with both Google Assistant and Apple Homekit so you can use Siri to search for walkthrough videos or turn on consoles so you can start racking up Fortnite or CoD wins. With the gallery mode, you can set up a custom slideshow of your best in-game screenshots or game images so your new TV can blend into your gaming space decor or show off your best moments.

Best Picture: LG OLED48CXPUB 48-Inch OLED 4K TV

What We Like
  • Excellent picture quality

  • Plenty of inputs

  • Voice controls

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Burn-in possible

LG is the undisputed king of picture quality when it comes to 4K smart TVs. Their OLED models use cutting-edge technology to provide crystal clear images, pixel-level dimming for enhanced contrast, and rich colors for more true-to-life scenes. The third generation a9 processor works with artificial intelligence to analyze movies and shows scene-by-scene for better upscaling of non-4K content and to implement Dolby Vision IQ HDR technology to give you the best cinematic experience you can get in a home theater. It also uses Dolby Atmos to create rich, room-filling virtual surround sound without the need to hook up wireless speakers; this is good news for anyone who lives in a dorm, apartment, or home where space is at a premium. 

With a refresh rate of 120Hz, you'll get buttery smooth motion that eliminates blur so you never miss a detail when watching sports, action movies, or your favorite shows. The voice-enabled remote has both Alexa and Google Assistant built in to give you hands free control over your new TV and connected devices so you won't have to navigate confusing menus or memorize input locations to use your game console or Blu-Ray player. You can connect your mobile device or wireless audio equipment via Bluetooth for more ways to share music and video or create a custom home audio configuration.

Final Verdict

The Samsung Q60T is one of the best 40-inch class smart televisions available. With the updated Tizen operating system, you'll get access to preloaded apps, integrated voice controls, and the ability to screen mirror your mobile device for plenty of ways to keep friends and family entertained. If you're in the market for the best picture quality, the LG CX is the only choice. This OLED television uses the latest tech to give you the clearest images and richest colors available for home theaters. It also uses Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos to give you the most immersive cinematic experience whether you're watching the latest blockbuster films or classic TV shows.

About Our Trusted Experts

Rajat Sharma has been in the field of technology journalism for a little more than six years now. Over the course of his career so far, he has reviewed and written about dozens of TVs (among other gadgets). Prior to joining Lifewire, he worked as a senior technology editor/writer with The Times Group and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited - two of India’s biggest media houses. 

The Ultimate 40-inch Smart TV Buying Guide

In an era of bigger and bigger screens, you may think that a 40-inch TV is too small, but believe it or not there was once a time when this was considered to be a massive television set, and unless you’re building a big home theatre system or need a TV to fill a huge rec room or family room, there are a lot of good reasons to opt for TVs in this mid-sized range.

Chief among these, of course, is price—you can get some pretty incredible deals on 40-inch sets, even with really high quality 4K UHD screens and sophisticated smart TV features—but at the end of the day it’s also important to consider what you’re looking for and not buy more than you need simply because you may have been led to believe that bigger is better.

When shopping for a 40-inch TV, you’ll want to consider things like screen resolution, what you’ll be watching on it, and where you intend to put it. Is this a secondary TV for a kids room or cottage? Are you looking for something for a dorm or apartment? Do you plan to watch the latest blockbuster feature films or do your tastes lean more toward sitcoms, news, and sports? 

TCL S305 Series Roku TV
TCL S305 Series Roku TV. Image courtesy of Amazon

Screen Resolution and Quality

One of the most important things to keep in mind when buying a TV of any size is the screen resolution you actually need, and in fact this is one of the key reasons to buy a 40-inch TV as opposed to something larger — there’s a point at which a screen can be too big if you can’t sit far enough away from it to appreciate the resolution.

The rule of thumb for this is that your optimal viewing distance for a 4K TV is around 1x–1.5x the size of the screen. This means that with a 40-inch set, you should be sitting between 40–60 inches, or about 3–5 feet away from the screen. Any closer than that, and you’ll see too much detail, and any farther away and the 4K quality will be wasted on your eyes. Since 1080p is lower resolution, this distance increases to a 2x–2.5x factor, which means 80–100 inches, or about 6.5–8 feet. 

So when shopping for a 40-inch TV, you’ll want to think about how far you’ll be sitting away from it, as 1080p HD may be more than good enough unless you’re viewing it from a particularly close distance. Of course, how you plan to use it will be a factor as well, since if you plan to hook in a game console or use it as a computer monitor, you’ll probably sit close enough to appreciate 4K quality. 

Keep in mind, however, that there’s also a lot more to a 4K UHD set than just the raw screen resolution. If you’re more of a film buff, you’ll appreciate features like High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Dolby Vision, which are exclusive to 4K sets and provide significantly richer colours, brighter whites, and deeper blacks than you’ll ever get from a 1080p set. The catch here, however, is that content has to be encoded in these formats to begin with, and if all you’re usually watching is broadcast and cable content, chances are you’re not going to run into much HDR stuff. 

Streaming Services

Almost every modern TV now comes with at least some “smart” features, but these can vary widely between manufacturers in terms of what they offer, and more importantly what streaming services they support.

Just about every smart TV on the planet supports Netflix, as that’s pretty much become the de facto standard, and you’ll also have a pretty hard time finding one that doesn’t also give you several other leading services like Hulu and Amazon Prime, although the services offered and exactly how they’re offered can vary a bit.

For example, many manufacturers are now offering built-in Roku capabilities, which means those TVs will give you the exact same features as the popular set-top box, built right into your TV. In this case, everything supported by Roku will be available on your TV. Other manufacturers use other platforms like Android TV or their own more proprietary smart TV operating systems. 

That said, almost all of these are app-based systems, which makes support by streaming services more up to the service than the TV maker. For example, Apple and Disney have been fairly aggressive over the past year at partnering with companies like Samsung and LG to get their Apple TV+ and Disney+ services on those screens, but keep in mind that they’re still not available everywhere.

So if you’re shopping for a smart TV, make sure that it not only supports the services you want to watch right now, but that it has a history of being embraced by new ones, since you don’t want to spend the money on a smart TV only to have to go out and purchase a separate set-top box later on just because your favourite streaming service isn’t supported by it. 

hisense-rokutv.jpg
Hisense RokuTV. Image provided by Hisense

Internet Speed

If you’re buying a 4K smart TV to stream services like Netflix you’ll want make sure that your home internet and Wi-Fi connections are up to par or you may find yourself disappointed with the results. 

Streaming services work over the internet, and pulling down a 4K UHD stream from Netflix requires around 25mbps of throughput, so a 4K UHD TV could be a waste—at least for streaming—if you don’t have a fast enough internet connection.

This also isn’t just about the internet speeds that your ISP provides, either. You’ll also need to have a good wireless router to match if you plan to stream over Wi-Fi, and if you have a larger house and your TV is farther away, you may even need to consider a long-range router or mesh Wi-Fi system. While most smart TVs work over Wi-Fi, some do provide an Ethernet port, which would give you maximum speeds—provided you’re willing to run a wire back to your internet router. 

It’s also important to note that if you have an internet plan with data caps, you may want to avoid 4K streaming, as it can burn through your data at an alarming rate. A single 4K UHD movie on Netflix can easily eat up over 20GB of data, for example. 

Smart TV Features

To be clear, smart TV features aren’t just about streaming services. Although that’s typically what you’ll want to consider first and foremost when choosing a smart TV, there are other factors such as whether it can integrate with your home automation platform of choice, and whether it also supports your favourite voice assistant.

For example, many smart TVs now offer some level of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant integration. For some TVs, this takes the form of having the assistant built directly into the TV, while others can simply respond to commands issued to an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker that happens to be on the same network. In fact, you’ll want to be careful with this one, since many TVs advertise integration with these assistants, but most of them don’t include the assistant built into the TV itself, so be sure to read the fine print lest you think you’re getting a TV that will let you talk to Alexa, only to discover that you also need to invest in an Amazon Echo speaker to make it work. 

Vizio S4251w-B4 5.1 Channel Home Theater System - Sound Bar Connections
Photo of the connections on the Sound Bar provided with the Vizio S4251w-B4 System. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Audio

Many of today’s smart TVs do a pretty good job of providing simulated virtual surround sound, but there’s really only so much you can do with the speakers that are built into a 40-inch TV, so adjust your expectations accordingly, and if you’re looking for better sound, expect to invest in a sound bar or surround sound speaker system. 

Most importantly, don’t be misled by TVs that advertise features like Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, as it’s impossible for them to truly give you 5.1 channel surround sound without actually having five speakers and a subwoofer in the room. That doesn’t mean the sound from your 40-inch TV might not be more than good enough for your needs, but there’s no way it’s going to compare to a true 5.1-channel sound system. 

So if you want a better sound experience, you’ll want to make sure that the TV you pick supports the necessary audio outputs to connect to an external sound system, which usually means offering a digital optical output that can pass the necessary encoded multi-channel audio stream to your sound system. 

Many smart TVs also offer Bluetooth support, but this shouldn’t be considered a replacement for a proper wired audio output, as you won’t get nearly the same audio quality over Bluetooth. Rather, this feature is more useful for hooking up a set of headphones if you want to watch TV without disturbing your housemates. 

Brands

One of the great things about 40-inch TVs is that you can find some great deals if you’re on a budget, especially if you’re willing to look toward less popular brands. While the big players like Sony, Samsung, and LG make fantastic TVs even in the 40-inch range, you’re going to pay a premium for these, and chances are you don’t really need to when buying a set in this price range. 

Lesser-known brands like TCL, Hisense, and Vizio make some great smart TVs, and in fact tend to rely on popular third-party services like Roku in order to provide their smart TV features, which means that you’re still getting a great smart TV at a wallet-friendly price tag.