The 8 Best 48-Inch TVs of 2020

When it comes to TV size, 48 inches is the sweet spot

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: TCL 49S515 at Best Buy

"If you're looking for a mid-sized 4K UHD TV, this TCL provides excellent value for the price without cutting corners."

Best "Dumb" TV: Westinghouse WD49FB1018 at Best Buy

"For the smart-TV averse, Westinghouse's WD49FB1018 is a good, reliable pick."

Best Samsung: Samsung QN49Q70 at Amazon

"Going with a smaller TV doesn't mean you have to sacrifice great picture quality."

Best Sony: Sony X900F at Amazon

"Sony's 49-inch X900F offers the same great design and features as its larger siblings in a package that won't overwhelm your living room."

Best Fire TV: Toshiba 49LF421U19 at Best Buy

"Gives you everything you'd get by adding a Fire TV Stick without the additional expense."

Best LG: LG 49SM8600PUA Nano 8 Series at Amazon

"LG's Nano series offers wider viewing angles than most LED screens, along with Dolby Atmos sound and other perks."

Best 1080p: TCL 49S325 at Amazon

"Offers solid picture quality with impressive color and dynamic contrast levels for a 1080p set."

Best Style: Samsung The Frame Series QN49LS03 at Amazon

"If you prefer a TV that blends more into your decor, Samsung's Frame series is worth a look."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: TCL 49S515

TCL 49S515

 Courtesy of TCL

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Great color

  • Roku Smart TV built-in

What We Don't Like
  • No voice assistant

  • Low peak volume from internal speakers

We've been consistently impressed with what Chinese TV manufacturer TCL has on offer, and if you're looking for a mid-sized 4K UHD TV this one provides excellent value for the price without cutting corners. 

The 48.5-inch screen provides you with full 4K 2160p Ultra HD resolution, with Dolby Vision HDR and a wide color gamut so the colors pop off the screen along with deep blacks and bright whites. Two eight-watt speakers provide good stereo sound with Dolby Atmos support, although you'll probably still want to consider a soundbar as the peak volume doesn't get very loud, and the 178-degree viewing angle means that everybody in the room can enjoy the great picture.

In addition, TCL's sets include built-in smart TV features powered by Roku, one of the most popular smart TV set-top boxes available, which means that you'll not only be able to take advantage of the usual big-name streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, but even great new services like Apple TV+ and Disney+ and hundreds of other more niche apps. There's also support for AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, so you can beam content from your iPhone or Android smartphone.

Looking for more smart TVs? Check out our list of the best Roku TVs of 2019.

Best "Dumb" TV: Westinghouse WD49FB1018

Westinghouse WD49FB1018

Courtesy of Best Buy 

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Good Full HD picture quality

  • Lots of inputs

What We Don't Like
  • No Smart TV features

  • HDMI ports don't support MHL

  • Only 1080p

Let's face it, even with all of the advanced smart TVs out there, sometimes you really just want an inexpensive TV that just presents whatever you plug into it on the big screen. Maybe you already have your own Apple TV or Roku box, or a gaming console like a PS4 or Xbox One. In this case, the smart TV features are at best an unnecessary frill, and at worst can actually impede usability.

Considering that almost every major TV manufacturer now builds in smart TV features of some kind, it can be hard to find a good "dumb TV," but fortunately there are still reliable brands like Westinghouse that haven't embraced the smart TV revolution and simply make good, solid HD panels. The WD49FB1018 is a great example of this, a no-frills Full HD set that offers three HDMI ports so that you can plug in everything from cable and streaming boxes to gaming consoles. The image quality and sound, powered by two internal eight-watt main channel speakers, is surprisingly good for a TV in this price range. This is a TV focused purely on providing a great picture and not worrying about software features. 

One caveat is that while this TV does offer a nice collection of HDMI ports, they don't support the Mobile High-Definiton Link (MHL) standard that's needed to directly power HDMI smart accessories like an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku Streaming Stick, or Google Chromecast, so if you plan to use one of these you'll need to spring for an adapter, or simply pick up a set-top box that has its own power supply, like the Roku Express or Apple TV. There's also a USB input that can be used to supply power, plus plenty of other options, including VGA for connecting a PC, component and composite video, and an optical digital audio output for connecting to an AV receiver or soundbar. 

Best Samsung: Samsung QN49Q70

What We Like
  • Great colors

  • 4K upscaling

  • Apple TV+ support built-in

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • QLED is not OLED

  • Bixby voice assistant is fairly basic

Going with a smaller sized TV doesn't mean you have to give up great picture quality, and manufacturers like Samsung who are known for making great large-screen TVs also use many of the same technologies in their smaller screens like the QN49Q70.

This is in every way a Q70 series Samsung TV, just in a smaller form factor. This means that that you get the QLED Quantum Dot technology that's about as close as you can get to OLED in an LED screen, with over a billion shades of color and precision-controlled LED backlighting for a uniform, high-contrast image. Samsung's Quantum 4K processor is here too, which means that full HD 1080p content gets brilliantly upscaled to crisp, high-quality 4K with even better colors. 

It's also got all of the smart features that Samsung's TVs are known for, including its Bixby voice assistant and access to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube. It's among the first TVs to fully embrace the Apple ecosystem, not only offering AirPlay 2 streaming, but Apple's TV that lets you access iTunes movies, TV shows, and the Apple TV+ streaming service. 

Looking for more Samsung TVs? Check out our list of the best Samsung TVs of 2019.

Best Sony: Sony X900F

What We Like
  • Bright screen

  • Expansive Android TV platform

  • Elegant design

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Smart TV user interface can be cumbersome

Sony has a reputation for elegant design in consumer electronics and nowhere is this more apparent than in its Bravia TV sets. While they're available in a wide range of sizes, Sony's 49-inch X900F offers the same great design and features as its larger siblings in a package that won't overwhelm your living room.

The X900F offers great 4K Ultra HD picture quality, with deep blacks and rich colors, thanks to Sony's proprietary X1 Extreme chip, and it gets so bright you may want to wear shades. Even better is the clean minimalist design. Sony eliminates the black plastic frame found on most flat-panel TVs, surrounding it instead with a thin and classy brushed black metallic bezel, showcasing the picture and not the frame.

Under the hood, Sony has packed in Google's Android TV platform that opens you up to a world of apps that few others can rival. You basically have the entire Google Play Store at your fingertips, offering not only apps for the big streaming players like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube, but also a whole range of gaming and utility apps. Naturally, since it's Android, there's also Google Chromecast support, as well as Google's Assistant, which can be called up from the remote with the press of a button. You can also pair it up with a Google Home smart speaker for full hands-free voice control. 

Looking for more Sony TVs? Take a look at our best Sony TVs of 2019

Best Fire TV: Toshiba 49LF421U19

Toshiba 49LF421U19

 Courtesy of Best Buy

What We Like
  • Powerful Amazon Fire TV platform built-in

  • Amazon Alexa voice remote

  • Good sound

What We Don't Like
  • Only 1080p

  • 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. 

Best LG: LG 49SM8600PUA Nano 8 Series

What We Like
  • Wide viewing angle

  • Deep blacks

  • Good sound

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Best 1080p: TCL 49S325

What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Roku TV built-in

  • Versatile input options

What We Don't Like
  • Only 1080p

  • Limited remote

  • 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. 

Interested in more 1080p sets? Check out our list of the best 1080p TVs of 2019.

Best Style: Samsung The Frame Series QN49LS03

What We Like
  • Looks great hanging on a wall

  • Art Mode lets you display artwork when not watching TV

  • Customizable frame to match your decor

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Complicated to wall mount

  • Input ports are on a separate "One Connect" box

A lot of people are quite content to have their television set as the centerpiece of their living room, but if you prefer something that blends more into your decor, Samsung's Frame series is worth a look. It's a 49-inch TV with a design aesthetic that blends beautifully into the background like a picture you'd hang on your wall. You can even customize the frame to match your decor. 

Make no mistake, though, it's still a Samsung TV, so you're getting the same great picture as all of Samsung's other QLED sets, with Quantum Dots that offer up a billion shades of color, 4K UHD HDR10+, and precision LED backlighting for deep, rich blacks. It also has all of the same Samsung Smart TV features, with a Bixby voice assistant, and support for major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and even Apple TV+ and AirPlay 2

What sets The Frame apart is how it transforms into a gorgeous dynamic picture frame to showcase works of art, with a motion sensor to detect when you're within viewing range. A built-in Art Store even lets you subscribe to a library of works so you can always see something new and fresh. It blends in so well, in fact, that your guests will wonder what you've done with your TV. 

Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular 48-inch TVs on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 12 different 48-inch TVs overall, screened options from 9 different brands and manufacturers, read over 15 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 2 of the 48-inch TVs themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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.