The 4 Best 43-inch TVs of 2023

Pick a smaller screen without sacrificing great features

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Smart televisions with 43-inch screens are perfect for smaller living rooms, bedrooms, and college dorms. And even though they're smaller, that doesn't mean you have to give up on cool features. Many offer excellent 4K resolution with HDR support and upscaling of non-4K content. Others use Dolby Atmos audio technology to create more immersive, virtual surround sound.

We've rounded up our top picks for the best 43-inch TVs available and broken down their features to help you decide which is suitable for your home.

Best Overall

TCL 43S435 43-Inch 4K Roku TV

TCL 43S435 43-Inch 4K Roku TV

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • 4K HDR

  • Voice controls

What We Don't Like
  • Need app or smart speaker for voice controls

  • No Dolby Vision

If you want to upgrade your living room or home theater or buy your first smart TV, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better one than the TCL 43S435. This TV uses the Roku platform to give you access to thousands of streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video to stay up-to-date on all of the latest shows and movies. The LED screen produces excellent 4K resolution with HDR support for cleaner details and richer colors. With an HDMI ARC input, you can connect a soundbar or stereo receiver for enhanced audio. The TV works with the Roku mobile app to turn your smartphone or tablet into a voice-enabled remote, or you can connect it to a third-party smart speaker for use with Alexa or Google Assistant. This TV is also one of the more affordable 4K smart TVs on the market, with a price point that will fit all but the tightest budgets.

Screen Size: 43 Inches | Panel Type: LED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: HDR | Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Best for Gaming

Hisense 43R6090G 43-Inch 4K Roku TV

Hisense 43R6090G 43-Inch 4K Roku TV

Amazon

What We Like
  • Hub menu

  • Plenty of inputs

  • Dolby Vision

What We Don't Like
  • No VRR support

  • No Bluetooth

If you're a console gamer, the Hisense R6090G is the perfect TV for your gaming space. This model uses the Roku platform to give you access to streaming services and keeps all of your consoles and playback devices in one convenient home menu for easier access; no more memorizing HDMI input locations or navigating frustrating menus.

It also features RF and composite inputs for older hardware, making it ideal for retro and vintage game collectors. The screen gives you excellent 4K resolution with Dolby Vision HDR to take advantage of current and next-gen gaming tech, and with a refresh rate of 60Hz, motion blur is a thing of the past.

The speakers work with DTS Studio Sound technology to give you crisp, clean audio and a more immersive experience without needing a headset. You can connect the TV to a smart speaker with Google Assistant or Alexa for hands-free voice controls over the TV and connected devices so you can turn on your new PS5 or Xbox Series X with just a word.

Screen Size: 43 Inches | Panel Type: LED | Resolution: 4K | HDR: Dolby Vision | Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Best Budget

TCL 43S325 43-Inch 1080p Roku TV

TCL 43S325 43-Inch 1080p Roku TV

Amazon

What We Like
  • Good picture

  • Budget friendly

  • Voice controls

What We Don't Like
  • Not 4K

  • No Bluetooth

If you want to upgrade your home theater on a shoestring budget or get a second TV without spending a fortune, the TCL 43S325 is an excellent option.

This entry-level TV sells at a reasonable price point that even the most financially savvy customers will like. But just because it's one of the cheapest smart TVs out there, that doesn't mean you have to skimp on features. It uses the Roku platform for streaming, meaning you'll get a simplified hub menu to keep your favorite apps and playback devices in one place and an easy-to-use remote; you'll also be able to connect your Google Assistant or Alexa devices for enhanced voice controls.

You'll also get excellent 1080p full HD resolution to make everything look great, and the 60Hz refresh rate reduces motion blur for cleaner images. If your new TV is in a shared space like a bedroom or dorm, it features a headphone jack for private listening so you won't disturb others while you catch up on your favorite shows.

Screen Size: 43 Inches | Panel Type: LED | Resolution: 1080p HD | HDR: N/A | Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Best Full HD Pick

TCL 43S305

TCL 43S305

Amazon

What We Like
  • Budget friendly

  • Built-in Roku TV platform

What We Don't Like
  • Not 4K

If you want to go toward the truly affordable end of the spectrum for 42-inch TVs, you can forego 4K Ultra HD in favor of Full HD. TCL’s 43S305 is a budget-friendly pick that costs much less than most of the competition.

The TCL 43S305 is a smart TV using the Roku TV platform on all of TCL’s best TVs. It gives you easy access to the most popular streaming channels, like Netflix, HBO, and more. This TV also offers a 120Hz refresh rate, which can be helpful when gaming or watching sports and content with a lot of fast movement (though it’s not ideal for TV shows and movies).

Though this is a budget TV, it has a simple, low-profile stand that doesn’t look cheap. It also offers a dual-band wireless connection for fast connectivity.

The Ultimate 42-Inch TV Buying Guide

When you look at the gargantuan TV sets at your local electronics store, it’s hard to believe that there was a time not long ago when a 42-inch TV was considered more than big enough for just about anybody. Now, even though you’ll still find a few smaller ones, the 42-inch class sits at the bottom end of the standard range of sizes for modern TVs

The fact is that not everybody needs a massive TV screen. Whether you live in an apartment, a condo, or even a small bungalow, or you’re simply looking for a second set for your cottage or another room in your home, 42 inches can be a great size for a TV that will let you enjoy the latest shows without becoming the piece of furniture that defines your entire living space.

One of the other great things about TVs in this size range is that you’ll find that there are a lot of options, including some pretty solid and affordable brands, but this also doesn’t rule out premium sets that can provide the kind of quality you want for watching the latest feature films. Still, even when picking a smaller set it’s important to really think about how you’re going to use it, and where you’re going to put it. Is this going to be hooked up to a home theatre system for watching action/adventure films, or is it a secondary set used simply for watching news and daytime television shows? There’s no point here in spending more money than you need to for features and quality you’re not going to use, so it’s good to think about some of these things before shopping for a new TV in any size range. 

Insignia NS-43DF710NA19 Fire TV Edition
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Is 42 Inches the Right Size For You?

As we mentioned earlier, the 42 inch class is now pretty much the smallest size you can get among the premium TV models, which in many ways is a good thing, since it means you can get all of the same features and quality from larger sets packed into a size that’s more appropriate for your living space. 

When picking a 42-inch class of TV, however, you shouldn’t just think about whether it fits into the wall or cabinet space that you have for it, but also consider how far away you plan to sit when watching it. This will also be part of deciding whether you should go with a 4K or 1080p HD set.

For 4K, the ideal viewing distance is between 1x and 1.5x of the screen size. Any more than that, and you won’t see enough detail to really appreciate the 4K resolution, and if you’re too close, then you’re going to see too much detail. At 42 inches, this doesn’t give you much room to work with—if you’re sitting more than 5–6 feet away, you may not get enough of a benefit from 4K in this screen size to justify the extra expense of purchasing one. 

On the other hand, a 1080p HD 42-inch set is good at almost twice that viewing distance—up to almost 9 feet away, although there’s a minimum distance to consider here as well. 1080p HD has an optimal viewing distance of between 2x and 2.5x the screen size, which means that if you’ll be sitting closer than 7 feet, it won’t look nearly as good. 

Ultimately, however if you want to be able to appreciate full 4K quality from a longer distance, then a 42-inch TV may not be right for you, and you may want to consider stepping up to a slightly larger screen size. 

What about HDR? 

That said, there are other reasons to go with a 4K set than purely the resolution. Almost all modern 4K UHD TVs offer support for some flavor of High Dynamic Range (HDR)—a feature that will give you way better colour and contrast ratios, and one that’s not available on 1080p HD sets at all.

There are a few different versions of HDR, including Dolby Vision, HDR10, and others, but to take advantage of HDR, you have to be watching content that uses it, and that’s not true of all 4K content, and of course it’s not even available for 1080p HD material, even on a 4K UHD TV with HDR support. In practical terms, this means feature films in 4K from Blu-ray discs, streaming services like Netflix, or digital stores like iTunes. You’ll also find that many of the original shows from streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+ are also encoded in 4K UHD, but don’t expect most content recorded for traditional cable networks to follow suit, and even those that do get broadcast in 4K don’t necessarily offer HDR. 

So if you’re buying a TV to watch premium 4K content like this, then you’ll definitely want to make sure it has good HDR support, and we recommend going with one that includes Dolby Vision, as this is what most of the content on streaming services uses these days, and sets that offer Dolby Vision also usually offer wide support for other HDR formats as well, so you’ll be getting the best of almost all worlds.

On the other hand, if the TV you’re getting is just for watching stuff like news, sports, and shows for your kids, you’re not going to find a lot of that in 4K, much less 4K HDR, so none of this will be nearly as important, and you can probably save a few bucks by not worrying about HDR.

Screen Quality

If you’re shopping for a new TV, you’ve probably heard the alphabet soup that describes different screen technologies, and it’s easy to get caught up in a lot of hype about whether you should pick an OLED, or a QLED, or a Nano Cell or an LED/LCD.

For example, you may have been told that OLED is the best screen technology going, and while this is technically sort of true in the sense that it’s the most advanced screen technology, it’s not going to be the most suitable for every purpose. For example, OLED screens offer ridiculously deep black levels—when a part of your screen is black, it’s black, not that slightly washed-out “black” that LCD/LED screens offer. This makes OLED great for watching feature films and even action/adventure type shows, especially in 4K HDR, but you may not care as much if all you’re really into is sitcoms and talk shows. 

Plus, in addition to being more expensive, OLED isn’t always the most ideal if you’re putting a TV in a brightly lit room. If your 42-inch TV is going in an upstairs family room for your kids to watch, or you’re mounting one in your kitchen to watch while you’re cooking, you’ll probably be better off with an LCD/LED set, as many of these can get much brighter, and there have been some nice advances in this area too.

For instance, Samsung’s sets with their QLED displays provide a much wider color gamut and even higher range of brightness levels than most LCD/LED screens, and while they can’t compete with OLED on black levels, the depth and quality of their color reproduction is actually at least on par with OLED, and can even surpass it in some cases. They’re also a lot cheaper, especially in the 42-inch class, where OLED sets are starting to become less common as manufacturers focus on saving the technology for larger screens. 

LG 84LM9600 and Toshiba Prototype 4K UltraHD TVs at CES 2013
Photo of the currently available LG 84LM9600 and Toshiba Prototype 4K UltraHD TVs at CES 2013. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Sound Quality

If it’s been a while since you’ve bought a new TV, you may be surprised at how great the sound quality has gotten from the built-in speakers. Sadly, this is something that you won’t be able to experience in most electronics stores unless you actually visit a more boutique-style home theatre shop that offers small demo rooms, but even then it’s not going to be quite the same as what you’ll hear at home.

We’re not going to mince words here; a two-speaker sound system built into your TV will never compete with a full 5.1-channel positional audio system hooked up through a dedicated home theatre receiver, but chances are if you’re buying a 42-inch TV, getting that kind of movie theatre sound quality probably isn’t too high on your list, and you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at how good the built-in speakers on most modern TVs are these days, especially for more casual watching. 

This is especially true since most TVs have support for multiple streaming services built right in, so manufacturers no longer expect users to already have an external cable box, Blu-ray player, or sound system. The TV has to be able to handle it all, and as a result TV makers have had to up their game when it comes to built-in speakers. Many sets now offer “virtual” Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, which uses advanced acoustic engineering to give you the sense of a surround experience even though you only have two speakers on the front of your TV. 

How well this works will vary a bit based on the design of your room, but unless you already have an external speaker system you plan to use, we’d suggest checking out the audio specs on your TV sets of choice, listening to the TV as best as you can, and then deciding from that if you need to add external speakers. 

That said, don’t limit your options—make sure the set you’re buying has the necessary audio outputs should you ever decide to add an external sound system later on, which generally means looking for a digital optical audio output or HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) connection that can be used to hook in a home theatre receiver or soundbar. Also, while some TVs do offer Bluetooth support, this is generally only great for pairing up wireless headphones for more discrete listening or an external Bluetooth speaker if you simply need more volume, but not necessarily better quality.

Smart TV Features

These days getting up and running with a new 42-inch TV is even easier than it used to be, since so many of the sets are effectively all-in-one devices that give you everything you need right out of the box. While many people who pick up larger sets are prepared to add accessories to build out a bigger home theatre system, chances are that in the 42-inch price range, you want something that will just get the job done without a lot of extra fuss.

This is where smart TV features come in. Unless you’re specifically looking for a “dumb” TV, any set you buy is going to have the ability to stream from services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and likely a dozen others. This saves you the trouble of buying a separate Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV set-top box, as pretty much everything you need should already be there.

In fact, you’ll even find many brands now include the actual Roku or Amazon Fire TV systems built right in, meaning that you’ll get the exact same features that you would if you bought a separate box anyway. However, even those popular brands like Samsung or LG that use their own proprietary smart TV operating systems will provide support for all of the same streaming services, and sometimes even a few more.

For example, although Apple hasn’t licensed its tvOS platform to smart TV makers (unlike Roku, Amazon, and Google), it has licensed key apps like its TV+ app to a number of vendors to include in their own platforms, and Samsung even goes one step further with support for buying and renting movies and TV shows from Apple’s iTunes Store. Most also include the ability to add more apps to support newer services as they become available, such as Disney+ or NBC’s Peacock, plus support for Google ChromeCast and/or Apple AirPlay to let you stream just about any video or audio directly from your Android phone or iPhone to your TV. 

In addition to streaming services, many smart TVs also come standard with support for voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant, allowing you to do things like turn your TV on or off or bring up streaming services with your voice, although you should note that there’s a difference between a TV that includes the actual voice assistant built into the set or the remote, and those that simply respond to the commands issued to a smart speaker on the same network, so make sure you read the fine print if you’re looking for a TV that has a voice assistant built-in.

Samsung UHD TV Example

Samsung

Internet Speeds

If all you’re doing is hooking up your TV to cable or an over-the-air antenna, you won’t even need to worry about having an internet connection at all, but if you’re planning on taking advantage of the built-in smart TV features to stream Netflix in 4K UHD, you’re going to need to make sure that you have the internet speeds to handle it.

This means not only paying for a fast internet connection with high enough data caps, but also having a wireless router that can deliver those speeds to your TV. Streaming from services like Netflix in 4K UHD requires a 25mbps internet connection, and can burn through 10-12GB of data per hour. If your home internet plan isn’t up to the task, you’ll still be able to stream Netflix, of course, but you won’t get the kind of quality that your 4K UHD TV can take advantage of. 

Further, even if you have a fast internet pipe, if you have a big home and your TV is farther away from your router, you’ll need to make sure there’s a strong enough Wi-Fi signal. This might mean needing to upgrade to a longer-range router or mesh Wi-Fi system. In some cases, a Wi-Fi extender can also be an option, and although most smart TVs rely exclusively on Wi-Fi, if you get a TV with an Ethernet jack you have the option of running a cable from the router to your TV or using a Powerline network adapter.

Note that unless you have networking experience, there’s no reliable way to test this with any certainty until you actually get the TV up and running, but be sure to plan for the possibility of needing to upgrade your router if you don’t already have good coverage and your TV is going to be more than a couple hundred feet away or on a different floor of your home.

FAQ
  • How do I know if a 43-inch TV is right for my space?

    You'll want to measure the distance between your couch and where your TV will be wall-mounted or placed on a stand, then divide that distance in half. A distance of around 7 feet (84 inches) will tell you that a 43-inch TV will be just right for your space.

  • Can I use Netflix with this TV?

    As long as your TV is capable of connecting to the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, you'll be able to download Netflix and stream your favorite shows and movies. Though many new smart TVs have it already installed so you can get started right out of the box.

  • Can I connect a soundbar to this TV?

    Check your TV's operating manual to see if it supports external sound equipment through Bluetooth connectivity or an HDMI ARC port. Either option lets you connect a soundbar, but Bluetooth is best for a wire-free home audio setup, while HDMI ARC is better for anyone looking for a no-fuss soundbar connection.

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