10 best 40 and 42-inch TVs in the world today
22nd Nov 2012 | 11:40
Choose between the best 40 and 42-inch TVs
10 best 42 and 40-inch TVs
Our constantly updated list of the top 10 best 40-inch and best 42-inch TVs in the world today.
Once known simply as 'plasma screens' in the collective consciousness, the 42-inch size is where the flatscreen dream started in the late 1990s – and where it's still at its most innovative and best.
Now a lot more varied, with plasmas rubbing shoulders with (and quickly being outnumbered by) LED TVs, 40 to 42 inches is still the sweetspot for anyone not overly concerned with ruining the interior design of their living room.
As well as being the fastest growing sector of the TV market, this size also offers great value.
Serious home cinema addicts have moved on to 50-inch and bigger screens, leaving this category a swarm of slashed prices.
Arguably the minimum size where Full HD makes most sense and where a Blu-ray player is a must, the 42-inch size hasn't lost its allure, despite becoming affordable.
So here's our break-down of the current best 40-inch and 42-inch TVs today...
Get a Panasonic plasma on the cheap
£400: So here we have a 42-inch plasma TV from no less a brand than Panasonic, that can be yours for just £400. This is made all the more remarkable by the fact that despite its affordability it still retains much of the quality that's made Panasonic's plasmas so legendary over the years: deep black levels, no viewing angle limitations and crisp, sharp motion reproduction.
There are inevitably compromises to swallow. The Panasonic TX-P42X50 doesn't enjoy a Full HD resolution, doesn't accept 3D pictures, and doesn't have any smart TV features. Pictures aren't that bright, either. But if this is what we have to tolerate to get a Panasonic plasma screen for so little money, so be it.
A brilliantly balanced budget all-rounder
£550: If your average TV punter wrote a wish list of everything they wanted from a TV, it would probably be very similar to the Toshiba 40TL963. For starters, its design hits all the modern cues, combining a trim bezel with a slender rear. It's also richly featured, providing both active 3D playback and Toshiba's 'Places' online service. And best of all, its picture quality is way better than that of most other similarly priced TVs.
On the downside, you don't get any free 3D glasses, Places is content-lite compared with most online TV services, standard definition pictures are a bit noisy, and there's some crosstalk with 3D. But what did you expect for so little money? Perfection?
Step down star
£750: If you can't run to Sony's spectacular KDL-40HX853, the KDL-40HX753 is a highly satisfying compromise. Admittedly it doesn't benefit from the exceptional local dimming technology that helps make its costlier sibling's pictures so exceptional, but even without it Sony's handling of light and shade proves a cut above the LCD TV norm, helping the 40HX753 to produce contrast-rich, detailed and endlessly subtle pictures with both HD and 3D sources.
Pictures lack a little punch at times, especially versus the HX853 model, and standard definition pictures only look average. It's a pity, too, that you don't get any free 3D glasses. But overall this is still a mighty fine way to spend £750.
£800: Although the Philips 42PFL6007 is far from the cheapest TV in this top 10, it's certainly one of the best value. As well as rich, colourful and sharp pictures, your £800 gets you a surprisingly strong feature count that includes passive 3D playback with four pairs of glasses included, expansive multimedia playback features, Philips' potent Pixel Precise HD video processing and Philips' latest smart TV system.
Dark scenes lack a bit of shadow detail and Philips' online system lacks content - especially video content - versus the systems of most rival TV brands. But the 42PFL6007 is nonetheless a great reason to be thankful Philips is back in the UK TV game.
Read: Philips 42PFL6007 review
Samsung's super saver
£800: Just as Sony's 40HX753 offers a satisfying affordable alternative to the 40HX853, so the Samsung UE40ES6800 is a great option for people who fancy getting their hands on all of Samsung's exemplary online/multimedia features as well as a healthy chunk of the design flare and picture quality exhibited by the UE40ES7000, without spending as much money.
The main compromises in feature and performance terms are a slightly chunkier chassis, no gesture/voice control (which isn't actually a big loss), a little more motion blur, and a less sophisticated micro dimming system, which means it's not quite as assured with its contrast handling. But none of this prevents the UE40ES6800 from being a great mid-range option for tech fans.
A great passive 3D TV for all the family
£900: The passive 3D format sported by LG's 42LM660T is a great option for families, because the glasses it uses are so cheap you get five free. Passive 3D is also more relaxing to watch than the active system. You lose a little resolution, but only to a degree that's hard to spot on a 42-inch TV.
The LG 42LM660T isn't only about 3D, though. It also sports a wondrously slim design that rivals Samsung's TVs for sheer panache, and it enables you to access LG's huge smart TV online platform.
Picture quality is mostly strong, meanwhile, thanks to a local dimming edge LED lighting system. Our only niggle would be that the local dimming system can produce some noticeable stripes of light during dark scenes.
Read: LG 42LM660T review
The tech lover's choice
£1,050: With its ultra-slim black frame offset by an elegant see-through trim, Samsung's UE40ES7000 is yet another fashion statement TV from the world's most consistently stylish brand. But it's much more than just a pretty face. For instance, it's also the proud owner of arguably the TV world's most sophisticated and content-rich online service. It's also the first TV to support both gesture and voice control, and can play 3D as well as 2D, with two pairs of 3D glasses included for free.
Once you've calmed down its over-bright picture presets, moreover, it's capable of producing some startlingly rich, sharp, contrasty pictures, no matter what sort of source you throw at it.
The best pictures money can buy
£1,050: The Sony KDL-40HX853 isn't cheap for a 40-inch TV, there's no getting around that. But don't worry: if you're a connoisseur of picture quality then you'll be amply rewarded for your big spend with the finest LCD picture quality seen to date on a mass-market LCD TV.
The key to its success is Sony's mastery of edge LED lighting, with the 40HX853 using a local dimming system to groundbreakingly good effect. The set also enjoys an excellent online service, and even its sound is a cut above, thanks to the way its speakers are built into its elegant bar-like stand. No wonder it's our top 40-inch TV.
Read: Sony KDL-40HX853 review
The cinephile's TV of choice
£1,150: Plasma's fortunes seem to be on the wane - but that's certainly not because the technology lacks quality. Panasonic's TX-P42GT50 underlines just how good plasma TV can be when it comes to showing movies, delivering levels of cinematic contrast and black level consistency that no other technology can currently match. The GT50 also enjoys Panasonic's Viera Connect online service, and is equipped with excellent 3D playback.
If we had to find a fault, it would be that the Panasonic TX-P42GT50's pictures aren't the brightest, especially when you're watching 3D. But so long as you can dim your lights for serious film nights, the 42-inch TV won't let you down - that's why it's our top 42-inch TV.
A truly integrated multimedia experience
£1,400: The amazingly slim, beautifully built Panasonic TX-L42WT50 is both a design marvel and a feature powerhouse. Particularly outstanding is its multitasking, where the ability to switch between up to six different live apps at the press of a button makes smart TV functionality infinitely more accessible than it usually is.
The L42WT50 also enables you to screen share with iOS and most Android devices, while its pictures look spectacularly sharp, colourful and clean - even in 3D mode. It uses local dimming, too, which significantly boosts its contrast versus Panasonic's step-down DT50 models.
This local dimming system can cause a few distracting light blocks, and there's no denying that the L42WT50 is pricey. But if you want a glimpse of the future of smart TV right now, this is it.