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The 48-inch size class for televisions is a sweet spot between the smaller format TVs and the super large screens meant for huge home theater spaces. But just because they're on the smaller end of the spectrum, that doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice any special features. Plenty of 48-inch class televisions offer smart functionality, virtual assistants, and Bluetooth connectivity; most even have 4K UHD resolution as the standard for picture quality. So if you're looking for your first smart television or shopping for an upgrade for your home theater or media room, there is a TV to fit your needs. We've rounded up our top picks from trusted brands like Samsung, Sony, and more to help you choose what's right for you.
Integrated cable management
No native iOS support
The Sony X800G is an excellent option for a mid-sized smart TV. It's built on the Android TV operating system, giving you access to thousands of apps, shows, and movies in one convenient hub menu. The LED panel produces stunning 4K UHD resolution, and with HDR10 and HLG support, you'll get enhanced contrast and detailing for a superior picture. The 4K X Reality Pro picture processing software intelligently upscales non-UHD content with an integrated noise reduction process for consistent picture quality.
The remote control has a microphone built in and is compatible with both Google Assistant and Alexa to give you voice commands right out of the box. With Bluetooth connectivity, you can set up sound bars and other home audio equipment for a custom home theater configuration. The TV also has Chromecast built in to let you mirror your smartphone or tablet for more ways to share your favorite videos. The X800G has integrated cable management channels and clips to help keep your home theater looking neat and organized.
Built-in TV tuner
Plenty of inputs
Not 4K UHD
Sometimes you want a TV without all the bells and whistles of smart functionality. Whether it's a secondary TV for the garage or basement workshop or something for the kids' playroom, the Proscan 48-inch LED TV is a great choice. This TV features three HDMI inputs as well as VGA, coax, RF, AV, and component ports so you can connect everything from a game console to DVD players.
The built-in ATSC tuner allows you to pick up over-the-air signals so you can watch local news broadcasts and other programming without a cable or satellite box. With a refresh rate of 60Hz and a full HD 1080p resolution, you'll get a clean, detailed, and colorful picture no matter if you're watching cartoons, the local news, or your favorite movies. The back of the TV features VESA mounting holes for wall mounting so you can place it wherever you need it to fit.
Adaptive picture mode
Object tracking audio
No composite/component inputs
The 49-inch Q80T is one of the newest models from Samsung. It features the new Tizen operating system with Samsung Bixby voice controls built in and compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant. The new operating system gives you faster response times for opening apps and works with the updated 4K processor to produce great picture quality with AI-assisted upscaling. The direct lit panel uses local dimming zones and HDR support for enhanced contrast by creating deep, inky blacks and brighter whites. It also uses an adaptive picture mode to monitor your room's lighting and automatically adjust picture settings.
The built in speakers use object tracking to produce virtual 3D surround sound that follows the action on screen for a more immersive listening experience. They also have an adaptive voice amplifier that monitors ambient noise and automatically adjusts dialogue volume so you never miss a line of your favorite shows and movies. With the new multiview function, you can mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV while simultaneously streaming movies and shows; this is perfect for checking sports stats and scores, news headlines, and stock market activity while keeping up with your favorite shows.
You can use Bixby Voice to manage almost all of your device settings, download, install, and use apps, initiate phone calls, send text messages, post something on twitter or facebook (includes photos), get directions, ask about the weather or traffic, play music, and more. - Robert Silva, Product Expert
No parental controls
If you're a loyal Sony customer, the X950H is an excellent option if you're looking to upgrade your current home theater or purchase your first smart TV. It features Sony's X1 Ultimate processor to produce great 4K UHD resolution as well as the proprietary X-Reality Pro and X Motion Clarity technology for silky smooth motion and enhanced color volume. The screen has a Netflix Calibrated Mode and an IMAX Enhanced mode that allows you to watch your favorite movies as they were meant to be seen. With built-in Wi-Fi and the Android TV operating system, you can download apps like Netflix and Hulu right to the TV.
The remote has a built-in microphone that works with both Google Assistant and Alexa to give you hands-free controls right out of the box. The dual 10 watt speakers utilize Dolby Atmos technology for virtual surround sound, and they also feature a voice zoom setting that boosts dialogue; perfect for news broadcasts or talk shows. The TV has support for both Chromecast and AirPlay2 to allow screen mirroring for more ways to share videos. With Bluetooth support, you can set up external sound bars and other audio equipment for the perfect custom home theater configuration.
Bluetooth uses less power and costs less to implement than Wi-Fi. Its lower power also makes it far less prone to suffering from or causing interference with other wireless devices in the same 2.4GHz radio band. - Melanie Pinola, Product Expert
Powerful Amazon Fire TV platform built-in
Amazon Alexa voice remote
Hands-free voice commands require an Echo speaker
Interface can be sluggish at times
Amazon's Fire TV Stick is a very popular smart TV add-on, but if you're a fan of the Amazon ecosystem, why not pick up a set with the Fire TV platform built-in? Toshiba has been one of the few manufacturers to embrace this with its 49-inch HDTV Fire TV Edition, which gives you everything you'd get by adding a Fire TV Stick at no additional cost.
There's a voice remote with full Alexa support that lets you use the well-known voice assistant to search for TV shows, play music, or even control smart home devices, although you'll need to pair it with an actual Amazon Echo if you want full hands-free control. You also get easy access to Amazon Prime Video, along with other streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO, and even Apple TV+ and Disney+.
The 48.5-inch screen outputs at 1080p, which many users will find more than sufficient for a TV in this size, and the quality is impressive with deep blacks and rich colors. It also features a pair of 10-watt Onkyo speakers with DTS TruSurround and Dolby audio, plus three HDMI inputs and one USB input.
Wide viewing angle
Edge lighting instead of full-array backlight
A bit of a learning curve to get started
LG is best known for its OLED TVs these days, but it also makes some great LED TVs in smaller sizes. That's courtesy of its patented Nano Cell display technology, which is the company's answer to Samsung's QLED screens. LG uses an IPS LED display, so it manages to offer a wider viewing angle that most LED screens. There's also full 4K Ultra HD resolution with HDR and Dolby Vision HDR10, local dimming to provide deeper blacks, and an impressive 240Hz refresh rate that makes it a good set for gamers and sports fans.
With Dolby Atmos sound, you also get a pretty impressive cinematic experience without needing to add a soundbar, especially since it packs in a pair of 10-watt stereo speakers and compatibility with 5.1-channel WISA wireless speakers without the need for an AV receiver.
When it comes to voice assistants, LG's webOS-based ThinQ smart TV platform also provides you with the best of two worlds, since it has both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, plus support for the usual wide range of streaming services, from Netflix and Hulu to Amazon Prime and YouTube, plus both Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast support for streaming from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
Roku TV built-in
Versatile input options
No voice assistant
4K UHD isn't as crucial when dealing with smaller TVs, so you may find that you're perfectly content with a full HD 1080p TV, in which case TCL offers a great option here as well. The 49S325 offers solid picture quality with impressive color and dynamic contrast levels for a 1080p set, plus a wide collection of inputs and smart TV features.
Unlike a lot of similarly-priced 1080p sets, the 49S325 also gives you a wealth of input options, including 3 HDMI ports, one which includes HDMI ARC, plus a USB media player connection, a coaxial antenna/cable port and composite input for older analog devices. There's also a headphone jack and optical audio out. While there's no voice assistant built-in, if you have an Amazon Echo or other Alexa-compatible speakers, or a Google Home, you can tie these in to issue voice commands to the TV too.
As with other TCL sets, this is powered by Roku TV, which means you get access to over 500,000 movies and TV shows thanks to the massive collection for streaming channels. Not only can you stream from the big players like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, the Roku platform also offers channels for a massive collection of more specialized streaming services. It's one of the first to support both the new Apple TV+ and Disney+ services right out of the box.
Chromecast/AirPlay 2 support
No component video
Whether you're looking to buy your first 4K UHD television or simply upgrade your current setup, the Sony X800H is the best mid-size 4K TV. It features Sony's X1 processor and proprietary Motionflow XR technology for superior picture rendering, silky smooth motion, and great color volume. With HDR support, you'll get enhanced contrast for better detailing. It's built on the Android TV operating system to give you access to thousands of apps as well as support for both Google Assistant and Alexa voice controls. The built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity supports both Chromecast and AirPlay2 screen mirroring for more ways to share videos and pictures with family and friends. The screen's narrow bezel gives you an edge-to-edge picture for a more immersive viewing experience.
The dual 10 watt speakers use Dolby Atmos and DTS Digital Surround technologies to produce virtual surround sound for a more cinematic listening experience. The TV also has the option to turn on closed captions for hard of hearing users or anyone who prefers to have subtitles and captions while they watch their favorite shows and movies. The TV has four HDMI inputs, including one with ARC connectivity, making it easy to connect all your playback devices, game consoles, and soundbars for the ultimate home theater setup.
About Our Trusted Experts
Taylor Clemons has been reviewing and writing about consumer electronics for over three years. She has also worked in e-commerce product management, so she has the knowledge of what makes a solid TV for home entertainment.
Melanie Pinola spent five years writing for Lifewire about telecommuting and mobile offices, She has more than a decade of telecommuting experience as an IT administrator and art director.
Robert Silva has been reporting on consumer electronics since 1998. He's focused more on home entertainment and home theater technology since 2000. He has made appearances on the YouTube series, Home Theater Geeks.
What to look for in a 48-inch TV
Price - A 48-inch TV can easily run you $1,000+, but it doesn’t have to. There are many affordable screens on the market, and some will even cost you less than a premium channel subscription package. Budget TVs often compromise on things like smart features and sturdiness, but some look just as good as their pricier counterparts.
Picture quality - Nearly every 48-inch screen will have a resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) or higher. This provides enough detail to watch HD content and is the most important factor in delivering optimal picture quality. Second to resolution is contrast ratio, which indicates the difference between the darkest and lightest pixels on the screen. Unfortunately, different manufacturers report this spec in different terms, so it can be hard to compare across TVs, but your eyes will recognize the difference.
Smart features - Regardless of whether you’ve completely cut the cord or not, you probably still watch a lot of TV shows and movies through streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. In that case, you’ll want a TV with smart features, which will make it easy to connect to your services over Wi-Fi, though some have more intuitive interfaces than others.