10 best 50 and 55-inch TVs in the world today
9th Jun 2014 | 04:00
Find out which is the best 50-inch TV to buy
10 best 50 and 55-inch TVs
The size where a home cinema turns from dream to reality, it's also at this 50-55-inch TV screen size that 3D starts to become immersive enough to convince and impress.
This size, last year dominated by full HD models, is now being overrun by Ultra HD 4K models.
While LED tech has gone a long way towards condemning plasma to a role on the outskirts of the TV industry, at 50-inches and above, plasma really comes into its own if you can find one. Most home cinema buffs still swear by plasma, with its cinematic colours and deep blacks making for a real movie-watcher's paradise.
But 2014 sees the first batch of 50-inch LED-backlit panels off the production line, a development that further marginalises plasma technology at one of the sizes it previously dominated.
If you're looking for a dream movie-watching experience, check out these home cinema beauties.
A great value 50-inch TV, but does it have great performance too?
At just £500, the 50L4353 wears its main attraction right out there on its price ticket. But to be fair, that's actually not the only thing it's got going for it. For starters, it's got more features than you might expect from a self-consciously budget TV, including multimedia playback from USB storage devices and DLNA networked computers, and access to Toshiba's Cloud TV online platform, complete with some handy content-finding features and a few video streaming services.
Its pictures benefit from 100Hz processing too, helping them look pretty tasty with bright content. A lack of contrast makes dark scenes less satisfying, though, while the smart TV platform could really use more video services.
Sony's W8 TV offers high-end performance at a surprisingly affordable price
It's difficult not to be wowed by Sony's 2014 W8 wunderkind. This TV delivers absolutely where it counts, offering a scintillating performance that belies its price tag. Indeed, image quality is so uncompromisingly good, coping well with everything from moody movies to sprightly sports, you'll probably find it difficult to justify spending more.
While Sony doesn't offer a full suite of catch-up, there's a broad selection of quality Internet TV services (at least those you'll actually want to use on a regular basis), plus excellent functionality in the shape of the Discovery search and programme suggestion bar.
Design and build quality is also high, if black metal minimalism is what you're after.
A great value 4K TV with a few compromises
Excellent 4K detail, luscious colour, a very slim design and an impressive HD upscaling performance from its 4K CEVO engine are the highlights from Toshiba's smallest foray into Ultra HD, but shouldn't all 4K TVs have a dual-core processor?
A blemished reputation for usability follows, though a ponderous navigating Cloud TV only finds a small selection of must-have apps. Though it uses the Active Shutter 3D system, the 58L9363's interpretation is stained with crosstalk, while the clean upscaling of SD to fit the enormous resolution panel is beyond its 4K CEVO engine.
Awesome 4K and great Blu-ray upscaling with the best TV sound around
With only slightly less wow factor than its big sibling, the far pricier KD-65X9005A, the KD-55X9005A is currently the best value Ultra HD telly around.
But it's not just the pin-sharp performance with (as yet non-existent) 4K sources that blew us away. As if to throw the AV world a few crumbs as we await 4K Blu-ray, Sony's provision of some awesome speakers flanking the 4K panel are a timely reminder of just how much cinematic impact is from sound.
Colour, too, is stunning, and the upscaling of Blu-ray is proficient. The downsides are a touch of motion blur and the somewhat ropey-look to upscaled standard definition sources, where the maths involved proves too much.
One of the best performers with Blu-ray, let alone 4K, the KD-55X9005A is a standout winner with 3D, too. The passive 3D system's loss of resolution here looks less like a compromise, and it's always smooth and bright. Until we wait for native 4K Blu-ray discs to drip onto the market, the KD-55X9005A has plenty to keep anyone satisfied.
A brilliant and highly-specified 4K TV
Samsung's UE55F9000 is another simply spectacular UHD/4K screen that also happens to bring the high-resolution technology in at more manageable price and size levels than any previous UHD model. Its slender design delivers an attractive alternative to the bigger look of Sony's 4K TVs, and its Smart TV service is unmatched in terms of the video streaming content on offer.
The UE55F9000 isn't necessarily better than Sony's X9005A 4K models, but it's certainly just as good, simply offering a surprisingly different approach to the undoubted joys of UHD.
Panasonic's flagship LCD TV is good but not great
The Panasonic TX-L55WT65 makes a startlingly strong first impression. Its sleek, glinting, airy, generally gorgeous design gets the ball rolling, but this is swiftly joined by a brilliantly friendly interface, a feature-rich series of content-access options and, most important of all, some really eye-catchingly sharp, colourful and beautifully nuanced pictures.
Longer examination, though, reveals some distracting clumsiness when handling dark scenes, a shortage of video streaming services versus some rival online platforms and a higher-than-average input lag figure. That adds up to more problems than we're comfortable seeing on a TV at this price.
A feature-rich but ultimately flawed midrange TV
LG has done a good job of serving up on the LG 55LA740V all the key design tricks and features users increasingly demand from a respectable mid-range TV. And it's put all of these design tricks and features on sale at a respectable price. LG has also clearly worked extremely hard on making its quite sophisticated smart TV platform feel easy and intuitive to use.
The TV's pictures know how to make an impact too, with their bold colours and high brightness and sharpness levels.
However, the LG 55LA740V sadly comes a bit of a cropper when asked to reproduce dark sequences, thanks to a below-par native contrast performance and a somewhat rough and ready local dimming system. Add to this a fairly high input lag figure, and you've got a TV that will likely frustrate both film fans and serious gamers - a fairly significant portion, in other words, of its potential audience.
Read:LG 55LA740V review
Sony's wedge-shaped TV is worth considering
The build up to the 55W955 really couldn't have been better. Last year's Sony 9 series TVs were outstanding, and the 50W829 got Sony's 2014 off to a belting start. The 55W955 shows all the right signs of living up to its pedigree too, thanks to its startling, sound-boosting 'wedge' design and an eye-catching feature count dominated by Sony's new and improved smart TV plaftform.
Some aspects of its pictures – especially colour - deliver on the 55W955's flagship HD model status too. But sadly the 55W955 is ultimately undone by a single but potent frailty: an inability to render dark scenes convincingly. This is so much of a problem, in fact, that ultimately I found I'd much rather watch Sony's cheaper W8 series.
Samsung's full HD TV flagship gets the curve
The 55-inch UE55H8000 jumps off crowded store shelves at you thanks to its curved screen design – and its rather eye-watering price for a full HD TV.
It works hard to justify this price with its feature count, though, which includes a sophisticated smart TV system with an effective content recommendation engine, more control options than any other brand of TV can offer and some potent picture technology in that new curved screen.
By far the best justification for its price, though, comes from its performance. For while the curve is less persuasive on this 55-inch TV than it was on the bigger, 65-inch Samsung UE65HU8500, its picture quality is supremely good, while its sound is startlingly powerful.
It's OLED. It's curved. It's bloody brilliant
With its amazing super-slim and subtly curved design and groundbreaking OLED picture reproduction system, there's truly never been a TV quite like the 55EA9800 before.
I sincerely hope there will be more like it in the future, though, for its picture quality proves that its beauty is way more than skin deep, serving up picture thrills the likes of which I've genuinely never seen before.
The decision to curve the 55EA9800's screen feels a bit like adding an unnecessary layer of controversy to its mostly seriously tasty proposition, but unless you've got a particularly large family fighting for seating positions the curve shouldn't represent enough of a problem to put you off buying into the 55EA9800's countless other charms. In fact, only the set's price and lack of 4K resolution count significantly against it.
Read:LG 55EA9800 review