TVs are expensive. The acronyms are confusing and the specifications difficult to compare. Plus, with thousands of user reviews and lots of advice, from so-called experts, suggesting you should spend thousands, getting the best TV at the best price is anything, but easy. To start with, Verum recommendations are all under £500 – the cheapest costs less than £200.
By comparing the technology, gauging what actually matters and consuming the views of people who own the TVs, we have turned the long-list into a short-list. This gives you trustworthy recommendations ranging from 24-inch to 55-inch TVs.
Lots of the technology, such as the difference between HD Ready and Full HD (jargon buster below) are more than just marketing terms – they define how many pixels (or dots) on your screen and therefore how sharp your picture will be. However, technology like Full HD will only be noticeable on a big screen. Don’t pay a premium for a high specification small screen – you won’t see the benefit (unless you sit six inches away!). The recommendations below are in size and price order. Verum wants you to spend less, not more.
Start with size. How big is the room or more specifically, how wide is the space for the new TV? Watching television on a huge screen is a more immersive and pleasurable experience. Big is better, but don’t go mad! Choose a screen size that fits the space…
Best Cheap TV
Toshiba 24WK3A63DB 24-Inch
If you’re looking for a well-priced TV, that’s bang up to date with all the right technology for a 24-inch screen, then the Toshiba is the right television for you. The HD Ready standard (see below) is perfect for a crisp 24-inch picture.
Unlike many televisions at this size and price, the Toshiba is a Smart TV, meaning that you can connect it to the internet and stream all your favourite content apps, including iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video. Plus, Freeview is built-in giving you over 70 channels to choose from.
Connectivity is good with built-in wifi and all the required ports. Plus, this television has a headphone socket. This is far from standard with most TVs and can be extremely useful. It’s good in a shared bedroom, for a games player or for someone who’s hard of hearing and benefits from headphones. Another good feature of this TV is that you can plug-in a USB stick for TV recording.
Don’t expect the audio quality to compare to bigger TVs costing double the price, but users like the sound, as they do the image quality. This is a small television for a small price and if the size is right for you – buy this great 24-inch Toshiba TV.
HD READY | FREEVIEW | SMART TV | USB RECORDING | AERIAL INPUT | OPTICAL OUTPUT | HDMI x2 | BUILT-IN WIFI | (W)553 x (H)333 x (D)63
Toshiba 24-Inch | Verdict price £180 | Check price on Amazon
Best 32-Inch TV
LG Electronics 32LM630BPLA
For a few quid more than the Toshiba, this 32-Inch LG television comes highly recommended. The HD Ready (720p) standard is the right standard for the screen size. There’s always a temptation to opt for the highest possible specification, but on a TV of this size, a higher resolution simply doesn’t give a visible benefit – certainly when viewed from a sensible distance.
Bright whites, deep blacks and vivid colour are a standout feature of this TV. The High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a real treat at this size and price.
Owners of this TV say that it’s easy to set-up, has a good picture and quality sound. Freeview delivers 70 channels plus being a Smart TV, all your favourite Apps come pre-loaded. If 32-inch is right for you, this LG television will not disappoint. Plus, with HDR, it is excellent value at a few quid over £200.
HD READY | HDR | FREEVIEW | SMART TV | USB RECORDING | AERIAL INPUT | OPTICAL OUTPUT | HDMI x3 | BUILT-IN WIFI | (W)736 x (H)437 x (D)83
Best TV under £400
Samsung 43RU7100 43-Inch
This Samsung TV has it all. With a 4k display, HDR and a wide range of streaming apps, you can watch anything and everything with stunning clarity and sharpness. It’s arguable that 4k Ultra HD is over the top for this size screen, but getting this level of specification at this price, from a brand like Samsung is worth grabbing with both hands.
With HDR10+ (High Dynamic Range) you get bright whites, deep blacks and true-to-life colours. This means a brighter, more realistic picture, whatever you’re watching. Beyond all the standard functions, this TV also works with Alexa & Google Home.
Owners have lots of good things to say about this Samsung TV, raving about the picture, sound and how easy it is to set up. There are a few minor quibbles that while the picture is good viewed straight-on, it’s less so at an acute angle. In truth, to get wide viewing angles, you need OLED technology (rather than LED) which costs around a grand more!
It’s possible to spend a lot more on a new TV, but this Samsung 43-inch TV has it all. And for around £360 it’s not just a great television – it’s also a bargain.
4K Ultra HD | HDR10+ | FREEVIEW | SMART TV | AERIAL INPUT | OPTICAL OUTPUT | HDMI x3 | BUILT-IN WIFI | (W)970 x (H)563 x (D)58
Samsung 43-Inch | Verdict price £395 | Check price on Amazon
Best TV under £500
LG 55UM7510PLA 55-Inch
This big television has a 4K Ultra HD screen meaning it has four times more pixels and therefore four times better resolution than Full HD. At this screen size, you’ll see the difference with more realistic images and greater detail.
LG build lots of extra technology into their TVs. This model has what LG refer to as Active HDR. Essentially, this is an enhanced version of the recognised HDR10 standard, which will give you high contrast and rich colour. Another LG specific technology is ‘True Immersion’, which is designed to give you a wider viewing angle when compared to conventional LED TVs.
Owners of this LG television have good things to say about the picture quality, sound and usability. For many, a TV investment of this size means also buying a soundbar and should this be for you, all good. However, this television comes with good speakers and a decent built-in sound system.
There’s everything to like about this LG television – picture, sound, features and price.
4K Ultra HD | HDR10 | FREEVIEW | SMART TV | AERIAL INPUT | OPTICAL OUTPUT | HDMI x3 | BUILT-IN WIFI | (W)1234 x (H)717 x (D)84
LG 55-Inch | Verdict price £490 | Check price on Amazon
TV Jargon Buster – Specifications Explained
There are so many acronyms associated with televisions. Verum looks to cut through the jargon & give you sensible advice, in plain English. However, some of the terms do make comparisons easier and are worth referring to. These are detailed below.
HD Ready (1280×720)
In Europe ‘HD Ready’ means the device is capable of receiving and displaying High Definition pictures from an external source but does not have a digital tuner to decode the signal. The picture is usually displayed at 720p. This means there are 720 horizontal scan lines in the signal and therefore the picture. This is fine on a small TV (up to 32”), but more lines and therefore more pixels will give a sharper image. This becomes more evident on larger screens.
Full HD 1080p (1920×1080)
Full HD means 1080 horizontal scan lines. This will give a sharper and higher definition image, compare to HD Ready. This is good on a TV above 32” and should be standard on 40” and above.
Ultra HD 4k (3840×2160)
Also described as UHD, this resolution will give you four times more pixels than Full HD. With an aspect ratio of 16:9 (same as above), this specification means the device can receive and present video at a minimum resolution of 3840×2160 pixels. Good for TVs above 50” and essential for 60” and over.
HDR High Dynamic Range
Technically, a TV with HDR is capable of delivering brighter whites and deeper blacks. However, it’s often used to imply a wide colour gamut and a brighter, more vivid image.
The television panel is made up of tiny pixels which are illuminated by Light Emitting Diodes (LED). The backlit screens give good bright picture quality and are comparatively cheap.
This is Samsung specific technology. The ‘Q’ stands for Quantum-dot. Samsung claim this gives a brighter display and a wider colour palette.
Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLED) illuminate themselves rather than relying on being back-lit. This technology has numerous benefits and one significant downside. The screens are slimmer (no backlighting), they deliver a superior contrast ratio (deeper blacks simultaneously with brighter whites) and a wider viewing angle. However, they’re very expensive (starting at over £1000)
Access to around 70 channels (including BBC, ITV & Channel 4) via an aerial.
Everything claims to be Smart, nowadays. From lightbulbs to motorways it’s not always clear on the actual benefits. However, a Smart TV does make sense. By connecting the TV to your home wifi, you can stream Netflix, Youtube, iPlayer and alike. Plus, play videos from your phone on your TV. However, some TVs are smarter than others. Make sure you choose a model that’s capable of streaming what you want.
How To Choose The Perfect Television
Even if you know all the acronyms and understand the jargon, it’s still hard to decipher the specifications and find the right television for you. The big question is how big is too big…
TV Sizes & Viewing Distance
“Bigger is better” makes sense when buying a TV. A screen that fills your view will give you a more immersive and cinema-like experience. However, most of us don’t have a home cinema – we watch TV in the sitting room or kitchen. A huge screen can dominate a room. This is great when you’re watching the latest blockbuster, champions league final or playing Call of Duty, but less good when the TV is turned off.
When small is better
As a general rule, the bigger the screen, the higher the price. While it’s possible to buy an expensive small television, it’s rarely worth it. Paying extra for 4K Ultra HD technology, on a small screen doesn’t give a noticeable difference (unless you sit 6 inches away). It will, however, look awful on your credit card bill!
Sitting too close
To see the difference between Full HD and Ultra HD, you need to sit pretty close to the screen. Ideally, within a distance of 1 to 1.5 times the screen size. This means for a 40” TV you need to be around 1.25 m away to benefit from, Ultra HD, enhanced detail. On a 60” TV this calculation gives a viewing distance of around 2m – which is still pretty close.
Television Best Buys
Great TV for a low price
Toshiba 24-Inch | Verdict price £180
See price on Amazon
LG 32-Inch | Verdict price £200
See price on Amazon
High-end technology at a great price
Samsung 43-Inch | Verdict price £395
See price on Amazon
Everything to like
LG 55-Inch | Verdict price £490
See price on Amazon
What’s the right screen size?
Choose the biggest screen size that will fit the space. TVs are measured in inches on the diagonal. The width of the screen will be less than the given screen size. It’s, therefore, best to use the actual width screen dimension. This measurement is listed on each of the recommended TVs above.