The 5 best 40-inch TVs of 2018

Don't settle for a second-class viewing experience just because you're tight on space. These 40-inch TVs picked by tech guru Jon Porter are the way to go...

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Choosing a new TV? Forget the massive living rooms most TV manufacturers seem to think we own, here in the real world we're lucky if we can find enough space for even a modestly-sized television. But, thankfully, even if you're tight on space there's no need to settle for anything less than a fantastic-looking TV. Welcome to our guide to the best 40-inch TVs available in 2018. 

What the options?

At this size, you won't get the latest and greatest technologies like OLED panels or amazing HDR; but you can still get some surprisingly good televisions in this form-factor. 

Since it's unreasonable to expect top-of-the-line tech, we've focussed this guide around the TVs that are packed full of the most functionality at this size. 

First and foremost, a decent Smart OS is pretty essential in this day and age if you have any intention of watching streaming or catch-up services on-demand. We're also fans of the Freeview Play ecosystem as an easy-to-use means of accessing catch-up services, so we've prioritised sets that have it built in. 

Resolution starts to be more of a concern at 40-inches. Ultra HD sets at this size are increasingly common, but, ultimately, until you get to around 55-inches the rule should always be quality over quantity when it comes to pixels. 

Finally, having the ability to record to an external USB drive is enormously helpful for those programs that, for one reason or another, fail to end up on streaming services.

One final note is that we've allowed ourselves a pair of 43-inch TVs in those instances where a manufacturer doesn't offer any 40-inch sets.  

Looking for something slightly smaller? Read our expert buying guide on 32-inch models.

1. Panasonic TX-40EX700B

A 40-inch TV that ticks all the boxes

Specifications
Tuner: Freeview Play
Resolution: Ultra HD
Panel type: LCD (VA)
Smart TV: My Home Screen
USB Recording: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Freeview Play+USB recording
Reasons to avoid
-Only edge-lit

Our pick for the best 40-inch TV available right now is the Panasonic TX-40EX700B. Functionally, there's just so much to like about it; the top being the Panasonic My Home Screen operating system inside. It's fast to navigate, easy to customise, and features all the apps you could possibly want in a modern television. 

If you don't want to navigate using the My Home Screen interface, the TV is also equipped with Freeview Play to offer convenient access to catch-up services from within the electronic program guide (EPG). 

In terms of its raw picture quality, things continue to look good as the TV offers several important features when it comes to displaying HDR content. From Ultra HD resolution, to more importantly a VA LCD panel to get more impressive levels of contrast than competing IPS panels. However, unfortunately the Panasonic TX-40EX700B is similar to the rest of the TVs in our list, and features an edge-lit backlight rather than a more capable full-array backlight. 

For those who are worried about it fitting with their home decor, that will be the least of your worries; its simplistic chromatic bezel creates a minimalist design to fit right in to your home, whatever your style. 

Looking for a TV this size can be hard, but we think the Panasonic TX-40EX700B offers the best overall experience for a 40-inch, bar none.

2. Samsung UE40MU6400U

The best looking 40-inch TV you can buy

Specifications
Tuner: Freeview HD
Resolution: Ultra HD
Panel type: LCD (VA)
Smart TV: Tizen Smart Hub
USB Recording: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great image quality+Snapping Smart OS
Reasons to avoid
-No Freeview Play

If you want the absolute best picture quality available in a 40-inch TV, then the Samsung UE40MU6400U should be at the top of your list.

A slight price premium over our top pick, but for the extra money you're getting a remarkably good looking image with great colours and contrast. It also has a remarkably responsive screen, with input lag being so low as to be almost imperceptible. 

We're also a big fan of Samsung's Tizen operating system, which like My Home Screen in the Panasonic set offers easy-access to all the major streaming services available. 

A good choice for those who don't have a small budget, and even better for those who use other catch-up services than Freeview Play; the Samsung UE40MU6400U is a better looking set, it just depends if it has everything else to suit your TV watching needs.

3. Philips 43PUS6262/05

Ambilight is a great addition to this 40-incher

Specifications
Tuner: Freeview Play
Resolution: Ultra HD
Panel type: LCD (IPS)
Smart TV: Linux
USB Recording: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Ambilight impresses+Great looks
Reasons to avoid
-Screen could be brighter

Calling Philips' televisions 'eye-catching' is something of an understatement. For the last couple of years the veteran TV manufacturer (now owned by TP-Vision in Europe) has equipped its TVs with a technology known as 'Ambilight', which uses sets of rear-mounted RGB LEDs to project light onto the wall behind them. 

This additional light complements the images on screen and works to reduce eye strain, which you can experience if you watch a bright TV in a dark room. 

Elsewhere there's a lot more good stuff to say about the Philips 43PUS6262/05. Its IPS panel offers great viewing angles (without quite the same level of contrast as the VA panels in our top two choices), and clarity is also good. 

Unfortunately, although Philips use the full-featured Android TV operating system further up their range, the Smart OS on the 6000 series is a much more limited affair. You still get access to most of the services you'd need, but it's just not quite as extensive. 

Still, if it's an eye-catching design that you want, you'll find plenty to love here. 

4. Sony KDL-40WE663

HDR isn't just for 4K

Specifications
Tuner: Freeview Play
Resolution: Full HD
Panel type: LCD (VA)
Smart TV: Linux
USB Recording: Yes
Reasons to buy
+HDR in an HD set+Neat cable management
Reasons to avoid
-Only Full HD

HDR has generally been an exclusive feature of 4K TVs, but in 2017 Sony took the plunge and added the technology to its Full HD sets, meaning that in theory, you'll be able to enjoy its benefits without having to fork out for a premium TV. 

Unfortunately however, it does mean doing without Ultra HD resolutions which, although not essential at 40-inches, would still be nice to have. 

Elsewhere, functionality is good as Freeview Play is on board to offer easy access to catch-up services, and you can of course record to an external USB drive. 

Similar to the Philips TV above, the Sony KDL-40WE663 doesn't feature the Android operating system featured on the more premium Sony sets, but you'll still get a decent selection of apps built-in, albeit without having the ability to expand them too much further. 

5. LG 43UJ750V

The delights of WebOS on the small screen

Specifications
Tuner: Freeview Play
Resolution: Ultra HD
Panel type: LCD (IPS)
Smart TV: WebOS
USB Recording: N/A
Reasons to buy
+WebOS is a delight+Slick design
Reasons to avoid
-Difficult to find at a good price

Amongst the various smart operating systems available on TVs, we've long loved the sleekness and simplicity of LG's WebOS.

Using your remote as a pointer you can very easily hop between apps, and even set favourites as bookmarks on your remote's number pad so they can be reached as easily as possible. 

So the LG 43UJ750V's interface is well designed, and thankfully it's contained within a nicely designed chassis as well. 

Unfortunately, this functionality just isn't enough to justify the price premium that this set is currently commanding (if you can find it on sale at all). 

Nevertheless, if it's a decent interface you want then this set could certainly be worth a look. 

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