Britain may have some of the smallest houses in Europe, with floor space having shrunk by a third since the 1970s, but it still has a love of big TVs, and for the average living room, a 55-inch set is a good choice, especially as prices have recently come down.
The 55-inch set hits a sweet spot. The optimal distance to sit from a 55-inch TV is around 3.5 metres, which fits perfectly in the modern living room, especially as TVs are now so flat they barely intrude into a room at all, hugging the wall like a photo frame that suddenly bursts into life and shows you wildlife documentaries.
And while it’s possible to get a 4K TV as small as 43-inch across its diagonal, it’s in the larger sizes that the extra resolution really comes into its own. Add this to the extremely bright and colourful models available using OLED and other similar technologies that support multiple HDR standards, and UHD streaming services, or Blu-rays, will have never looked better.
And right now is a particularly good time to invest in a TV upgrade, as many major manufacturers have 55in sets available that blow their previous efforts out of the water. Here are some of the finest.
Take no notice of that RRP, this excellent set is often to be found for almost a grand less. The C2 is an OLED screen from the acknowledged masters of the technology - LG actually supplies the panels used in some other brands’ OLED TVs - and ticks all the boxes for being one of the best out there.
It’s bright and contrasty, with excellent colour reproduction. The 2022 C2 screens at 55in and above benefit from a new panel that boosts the brightness further over the already impressive C1. The C2 also benefits from a far-sighted approach to connectivity, with all four of its HDMI ports hitting the 2.1 spec, making it an excellent choice for gamers using one of the big new consoles.
The C2 also contains a brand new processor that can analyse the picture in real time, meaning things like motion smoothing (if you don’t switch it off) and upscaling are better than ever. Add to this LG’s easy to use WebOS smart interface and the Magic Remote that’s a bit like using a Nintendo Wii, and you’ve got a great combination.
Buy now £2199.00, Amazon
QD-OLED tech combines quantum dots - tiny particles which change white light into colours without losing energy in the process, so the screen stays bright - and OLED, which lights each individual pixel instead of using a backlight so you get proper blacks instead of a very dark grey. It’s like getting the best of both worlds.
The 55in 4K A95K uses Google TV as its smart interface, ships with two remote controls, and its new 2022 panel is extremely bright, packing scenes with detail and colour. It has a very natural look about its pictures, and upscaling from non-4K sources is decent too.
Sony also has some extremely clever speaker tech that attempts to offset the major problem with thin flatscreen TVs - there’s no room for decent speakers - without pushing you to buy a soundbar. The entire screen can act as a speaker, and there are subwoofers that fire out of the back of the set. It can even act as the centre speaker in a surround sound array. It’s excellent, but you do pay for the privilege.
Buy now £2699.00, Amazon
At a year old, the Samsung QN95A might be considered a bit long in the tooth by those sporting new-for-2022 panels and tech, but the Korean firm’s first 4K QLED TV with a mini-LED backlight will be a good choice for a while yet, and the price is extremely reasonable.
This is a quantum dot TV lit from behind by an array of tiny LEDs, meaning that while the pixels can’t light themselves like OLED can, this backlight allows more control of dimming for better, more detailed dark areas, and the small size of the LEDs means more can be packed in.
The quantum dots ensure that the Samsung QN95A produces excellent colour results, and while perhaps not as bright as some OLEDs, the picture is still excellent. It runs Sansung’s Tizen smart platform, for all your streaming app needs, and somehow manages to cram in a 4.2.2 sound system. The four HDMI inputs sit on a OneConnect box, which you can hide away, and this connects to the TV with a single slim cable, helping keep the TV small and the disruption to a minimum, especially if it’s wall-mounted.
Buy now £1100.00, Amazon
A lot of TV for £800, even if it can’t boast any of the new display tech that makes more expensive models look so good. New for 2022, this is a Crystal UHD 4K set from Samsung, which uses the older LED backlighting tech to provide light that shines through LCD pixels, which add the colours. This means it’s neither as bright nor colourful as more expensive OLED or QLED sets, but doesn’t leave such a dent in your wallet.
Still, you get a very nice picture if you feed it 4K material, with the set’s support for HDR apparent and no bright or dark spots thanks to the even LED backlight. Its upscaling, particularly from SD sources, can suffer compared with TVs that pack more powerful processors, and the presence of object-tracking adaptive audio means the small speakers that are contained within the chassis at least sound their best, though you may find yourself looking for one of the best soundbars to accompany it. You get two remotes, and Samsung’s Smart Hub platform is excellent for housing streaming apps.
Buy now £800.00, Amazon
A 2022 screen that uses Google’s older Android TV platform, this is actually the lower end of the 55in 4K OLED gamut from the Dutch manufacturer. We’ve included it here instead of the OLED936 that comes with a high-end Bowers & Wilkins sound system because the 806 is such a bargain.
The OLED panel is from LG, and predictably excellent, but Ambilight is all Philips own. The tech, which sees lights placed behind the TV to project colours onto the wall behind that match those on the screen for increased ambiance and immersion, and less eye strain, is fitted to all four sides of the 806’s chassis. It’s an easy technology to mock until you’ve seen it in action, after which other TVs can feel lacking.
You get four HDMI inputs, two of which are to the 2.1 standard, and the Philips P5 processor ensures that whatever you pipe into it is displayed beautifully, across all HDR formats, as long as you’re prepared to fiddle in the menus first, especially if you’re watching SD programming.
Sound sees speakers all over the chassis, including rear-firing woofers that add thickness to the bass. Overall, this is an excellent buy if you’re prepared to set it up manually.
Buy now £1600.00, Amazon
Budget manufacturer Hisense now makes quantum dot TVs, and we’ve seen this set available for £200 off the RRP. This 2022 model actually represents the middle of the Hisense range, and features a mini-LED backlight and the new Google TV interface.
It’s bright for a non-OLED set, thanks to all those little LEDs, and colour from the quantum dots is excellent. It supports all HDR formats, and two of its HDMI ports are to the 2.1 standard, so are perfect for the features employed by the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games consoles.
Using Google TV was a good idea from Hisense, as it’s a strong smart platform with plenty of streaming apps, and features Google Assistant voice control too. This is a colourful, contrasty set that’s available for a bargain price, and will probably make a lot of people happy.
Buy now £1099.00, Amazon
LG G2 Gallery OLED
LG’s Gallery TVs are super-thin (22mm) and designed to fit flush against the wall as if they were a framed picture rather than a piece of hi-tech entertainment equipment. For the best effect you’ll need to hide the cables somehow, putting them in a duct buried in the wall itself and painted over for example.
This is LG’s top-end TV for 2022, and 55-inch is where the series starts, going all the way up to 83in. It gets all the improvements in large OLED panels as the C2 above, but costs more and boosts the brightness even higher, using heatsinks to prevent it getting too hot. Upscaling and audio have improved processing, using AI features to produce a sharper picture from low-bitrate sources. LG doesn’t support HDR10+, but HLG and Dolby Vision are present and correct, and looking great.
Input lag is low, viewing angles are wide, and motion is handled well, though you can of course turn any smoothing off. This is a luxurious TV.
Buy now £2399.00, John Lewis
How much? For a 55in 4K TV? It’s true, this is available for £400, and gives a very respectable picture for the money.
The backlight is a standard LED model, but there are four HDMI ports (2.0b standard) and support for HDR10 and HLG HDR, but only a 60Hz refresh rate. The TV uses the Roku smart platform, which presents a simple tile-based grid of ‘channels’ (or apps) rather than the fancy scrolling interfaces you’ll find elsewhere. The remote is nicely tailored to it, and you can use an app on your phone as a remote too, along with voice commands.
The TCL is quite capable of producing vibrant colours and completely lacks motion processing, which some will consider a point in its favour. Like many LED TVs it can lose detail in dark areas of the picture, and the two small speakers don’t put out much power either, especially in the bass. Luckily, there’s an optical output you can use to hook up a soundbar.
Buy now £399.99, Currys
If 55-inch is the sweet spot for a TV in the average living room, then it’s no wonder the manufacturers have scrambled to fill the niche with as many choices as possible. The LG C2 is an excellent all-round TV that deserves its place at the top of the list, producing a superb picture and not costing too much, but all the others have something to recommend them too.
Whether it’s Philips’ unique ambilight, Sony and Samsung’s excellent processing, or TCL’s sheer cheapness, we’re spoiled for choice when looking at 55in TVs, and the market is a competitive one for money-off bargains too.