Over the years, the size of mainstream TV screens has increased, and we are now in a situation where a 55-inch set is affordable for most consumers for use as a main set, however, there are certain scenarios, such as where space is limited or rooms are small or oddly shaped, where a smaller set is required. The good news is that there is still an abundance of sets in the smaller sizes, and when it comes to 43” sets there is little sacrifice when it comes to specifications.
You may not see the range of features available in flagship models, however all the featured sets have a minimum of full HD 1080P resolutions and smart features including catch-up TV services. While most sets have 4K these days, for smaller sets this is not necessarily a feature that will offer much improvement as the size of the screen will reduce the effect of an increased resolution to a minimum in practical everyday use, especially when you consider that most content is still HD only.
One thing to note is the stand – if you do not intend to wall mount the unit then be aware that most sets are either supplied with a central stand or separate feet on either end. Models with feet will require a wide surface for placement due to the distance between the feet usually being wider than a stand, so its important to consider placement requirements carefully.
Another consideration is smart features – while all these units offer some services, the experience varies, and it may be better to use an external device such as an Amazon Fire TV stick which is available at low cost and offers far more flexibility than any built-in facilities.
LG 43UN81006LB 43 Inch UHD 4K HDR Smart LED TV
- Stunning 4K Ultra HD picture quality with sharp and detailed images
- Immersive sound quality (Ultra Surround)
- Stylish design and sleek crescent stand
- Award-winning easy to use smart platform LG webOS
- Use your voice to find your favourite programs and control your smart home - in-built Google Assistant and Alexa
This model from LG has a metal finish bezel and a nice stand instead of the usual feet that most sets are supplied with these days which makes it suitable for placing on a smaller footprint stand or other surfaces. Using the LG Web OS smart platform, it has access to a range of connected catch up services including Netflix and Amazon as well as Freeview Play.
Connectivity wise, this set has 4 HDMI ports with two on the rear and two on the side, 2 USB ports with one on the rear and one on the side for easy access, a LAN socket, a full set of composite inputs, RF and Sat coaxial sockets, SPDIF and optical. For wireless the set has both Wi-Fi (2.4 & 5gHz) and Bluetooth 5.0.
This set has a smooth operation and moving from menu to menu using the supplied LG Magic Remote is slick with little of the operating system delay we see with some sets. This is due to the presence of a fast quad core processor. The remote unit also offers natural voice recognition which allows you to command and control your Home IoT ecosystem and is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant. For gamers, the set has a low input lag, allowing you to take control of your games without delays. The set is Bluetooth Surround Ready whereby you can create a surround sound effect by connecting any two Bluetooth speakers for a more immersive and live atmosphere.
This model has full 4K compatibility with HDR10 Pro and HLG and can upscale standard or 1080P resolution content to 4K. There are various picture enhancements available including Filmmaker Mode where the processor automatically turns off motion smoothing allowing you to watch films with the cinematic experience preserved.
Most users are happy with the picture and sound, although some have mentioned that the backlighting is not very uniform and varies across the screen. This is usually only visible in darker scenes. Some customers have mentioned that there is a lack of apps for some common services, for example BBC iPlayer was not available (although it is now) and the situation with ITV hub is unclear.
Philips Ambilight 43PUS8545/12 43-Inch LED TV
Philips Ambilight 43PUS8545/12 43-Inch LED TV (4K UHD, P5 Engine, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, HDR 10+, Freeview Play, Works with Alexa, Android TV) Mid Silver/Light Silver (2020/2021 Model): Amazon.co.uk: TV
- With 3-sided Ambilight, films and series feel more immersive. Benefit not only from a cozy atmosphere, but also from less eyestrain when the 4K TV is the only light source in the room.
- The Philips TV supports Dolby's premium sound and video formats. That means HDR content you watch will look and sound gloriously real.
- The P5 Perfect Picture Engine and HDR 10+ of the 43-inch TV guarantee crisp contrast and smooth motion. Bright surfaces will shine. Colours will be truer.
- The Philips Ambilight TV is equipped with Android. Visit the Google Play store, browse Netflix, or Amazon Prime for the latest films and series. Thanks to Alexa, you can ontrol the TV with your voice.
- Included in delivery: Philips 43PUS8545/12 43-inch LED television (2020/2021 model); remote control, batteries, power cord, quick start guide, legal and safety brochure, table top stand
Philips does not normally get as much attention as the likes of Sony, LG, and Samsung; however, it has a trick up its sleeve that differentiates it from other sets and that is their proprietary Ambilight technology. Ambilight illuminates the area surrounding the TV with light effects that mimic what is happening on screen which creates an attractive ambience than compliments on-screen action. This particular set has three-sided lighting, which is towards the middle of the range, with basic sets having only two sided and the most expensive having a full four-sided lighting. Not only does it create an attractive effect, but also reduces eye strain and makes for a cozy environment and can highlight room features if customized correctly.
The Ambilight feature on this model has various modes – you can get the light effects to follow either the video or the sound (pulsing effect), alternatively it can be set to a be a lounge light with a fixed colour, it can be controlled via an app, turned off completely, or, surprisingly, it can project the image of the flag of various countries onto the wall behind the set.
This 4K UHD Philips set has Android TV which means there are hundreds of applications that can be downloaded and some degree of futureproofing due to the ability to have firmware updates, although rollout of these is sometimes variable. This model has Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for excellent picture and sound, and all major streaming service have applications available. DTS Play-Fi is a feature that allows the sound to be played on any compatible speakers you have in any room. This set can be controlled using voice commands via either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
This set is attractively designed with a metallic finish, light weight, and very slim bezel which makes it ideal for wall mounting although it does have an attractive and minimalist stand. Inputs / outputs include four HDMI ports, 2 USB, optical, DVB-S and DVB-T antenna inputs (Freesat enabled), LAN, AV and headphone socket which should be sufficient for most needs. For wireless access this set includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connecting external sound devices such as speakers and headphones. This set can be wall mounted using a 200mm VESA mount.
Most users are satisfied with both the picture and sound quality and are impressed with the Ambilight effects. There are many positive comments about the operating system and the range of services on offer. Some users have experienced problems with the reliability of the Wi-Fi connection and there are reports that the sets software can be buggy, requiring occasional resets and often HDMI connected devices do not perform as expected until the set is restarted. Most of these issues could potentially be fixed with a software update.
Samsung Q60T QLED TV
- Q HDR powered by HDR10+: experience exceptional picture detail, just as the film makers intended
- 100% Colour Volume and Dual LED: get genuine cinematic colour, made from over a billion shades thanks to 100% Colour Volume, and discover bold contrast and accurate colour with Dual LED
- Crystal Processor 4K: adapts to give you the very best 4K picture and targeted sound
- Adaptive Sound: perfects every sound for what you're watching
- What's in the box: Samsung 2020 43" Q60T QLED 4K Quantum HDR Smart TV, One Remote Control, standard remote, batteries, user manual and power cable
This is the cheapest QLED TV offered by Samsung, however it is feature rich and barring a few compromises such as only having edge lighting and a slightly slower processor than the other models in the range, it offers an excellent performance for the price. This set has low-key aesthetics with a slim bezel forked side stands which are removeable for wall mounting. The frame is black, and while this looks minimalist the set lacks some of the premium touches that the best sets offer. For connectivity, this set has 3 HDMI ports (one of which is e-arc compatible), satellite and antenna inputs, AV in, ethernet, optical out and 2 USB ports. For wireless connectivity both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are present.
Samsung employs a system called “Quantum HDR” which reproduces pictures as the director intended – detail is very crisp and clear and there are improvements with shadowing and black levels. Samsung’s QLED technology is certified to deliver 100% colour volume. QLED technology, unlike others, can transform light into breath-taking colour without degradation over time. Standard resolution can be upscaled to 4K with good results. An adaptive sound system dynamically alters the output to match the scene which should help reduce the annoyance experienced during particularly quiet sections of some programs, however due to the limited size of the speakers an external sound bar may be required.
As is customary with premium Samsung set, you are supplied with two remote control units – a fully featured remote and a basic one with just the essential functions. Buttons for direct access to both Amazon and Netflix are present on both units. Using the Tizen operating system, the smart TV features are well organised with an extensive range of catch-up services. You also have a choice of which smart assistant to use as this set is compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Samsung’s own Bixby system. AirPlay2, which is used for connecting Apple devices, is also present.
Users are impressed with the picture quality and range of features on offer, although some users have commented that there is slight motion blur in certain scenarios (although this is common to all sets that do not have 120Hz refresh rates – a feature that costs a lot more), and that when used with HDR content the images lack brightness. Some customers have noted that the fact that this unit has legs instead of a central stand makes it unsuitable for use on some surfaces because the span between the legs may be wider than the surface.
Panasonic TX-43HX600BZ 43 Inch 4K
- 4K HDR Premium design with a great viewing experience, the HX600 LED TV delivers amazing 4K HDR pictures.
- Panasonic supports advanced Dolby Vision, along with all of the regular formats HDR 10 and Hybrid log Gamma, allowing the viewer to have brighter highlights and a wider range of colour detail.
- Enjoy a cinematic sound experience, bringing you closer to the shows and movies you watch. Dolby ATMOS is supported by the TV speakers up to a max output of 20W.
- Access a wide range of Apps, videos on demand, games, or just browse the net with the built in browser.
- Works with Alexa (FreeviewPlay) and the Google Assistant - control your TV with your voice, allowing for hands free operation of the TV using one of these virtual assistants.
This Panasonic set is not the best aesthetically with a slim black bezel and a rather square shaped stand; however, the stand is narrow so it can be mounted on a smaller surface if required. The set is however full of features including 4K multi-HDR compatibility and it has both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos with good energy efficiency.
This set has 3 HDMI ports (one of which is e-arc compatible), satellite and antenna inputs, AV in, ethernet, optical out and 2 USB ports. For wireless connectivity both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are present. The smart features include access to Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, most UK catch up services and it has a web browser. The app store is more limited than those offered by Android TV equipped sets, however it has all the basics, and an external streaming stick can be added to enhance functionality if required.
The refresh rate is 60Hz, making the set suitable for gaming as there will be limited lag. Panasonic supports advanced Dolby Vision, along with HDR 10 and Hybrid log Gamma, allowing the viewer to have brighter highlights and a wider range of colour detail. Dolby ATMOS is supported by the TV speakers up to a max output of 20W which allows you to enjoy a cinematic sound experience, bringing you closer to the shows and movies you watch. There is a range of image and sound enhancements available with extensive menus for full customisation.
This set works with Alexa and the Google Assistant – you can control your TV with your voice, allowing for hands free operation of the TV using one of these virtual assistants. The remote control has quick access buttons for Netflix and Freeview play and is easy to navigate.
Users are generally impressed with both the picture and sound quality and are happy with the range of connectivity options available. Some have mentioned that they have had issues with non-HD content being fuzzy (DVD’s etc) and the sound output is limited, and some have said that the sound output fluctuates depending on the content being played requiring frequent adjustment.