While a common mantra is bigger is better, that isn’t always the case when it comes to a TV. Ideally, you want your television to perfectly fit in the place you put it in, and 50-inch models are just the right size for bedrooms and small living rooms where anything larger might take over the space.
Of course, once you decide on the size, picking the actual model presents a whole new set of obstacles. From choosing between OLED and LED options to the different lighting types and resolutions, the technical specs quickly become intimidating.
If you are looking for a top-of-the-line model, the Samsung QN90A Neo QLED 4K Smart TV immediately comes to the top of the pack. It has deep blacks and bright colors, so the images on screen really pop, and its slim design and narrow bezel offer an appealing aesthetic.
Buying a TV these days can be confusing. There is tons of technical jargon thrown around that can make it difficult for even astute consumers to know which is best. One of the first things to decide is what kind of TV you want to buy — LED or OLED.
LED TVs, which are actually LCD TVs that use LEDs for illumination, come in several options that range in price and picture quality. If you spend any time looking at the various models, you’ll see terms like edge-lit, backlit, direct-lit and full-array. Edge-lit LED TVs are the most affordable; however, because the lighting only comes from the perimeter of the screen, they have the dimmest picture and the least rich blacks.
Both direct-lit and full-array TVs are a form of backlit TVs that have LEDs spread throughout the display. This allows them to create better contrast, with a brighter picture and deeper blacks. Of these, full-array are the better option because they have zones that can be individually lit up or darkened.
To further confuse things, there is a third form of LED TV called QLED, which is often mistaken for OLED. QLED stands for quantum dot LED. These TVs utilize nanoparticles that, when hit by light from the LEDs, emit their own light of a different color that then travels through several other layers inside the TV, one of which is a liquid crystal display, to create the picture. QLED TVs offer high contrast and very deep blacks, so long as you buy a full-array QLED TV and not an edge-lit model.
Unlike LED TVs, which are just an updated form of an LCD TV, OLED TVs use completely different technology. In an OLED TV, a current passes through carbon diodes, which causes them to emit light. The most important thing to note is that on an OLED TV, light can be emitted on a pixel-by-pixel basis, and unused pixels can be completely turned off. This means that a bright white pixel can be right next to a black one, or one of any other color, which results in a much higher level of contrast and better clarity than what any kind of LED TV can produce.
The biggest downside to OLED TVs is they are considerably more expensive than most other options, which may put them out of reach for some consumers. Also, they have a lower peak brightness than some LEDs, so they may not offer as good of a viewing experience in brightly light rooms.
Screen resolution should play a major role in your decision-making process when buying a TV. The two most common resolutions in 50-inch TVs are 1,920 x 1,080 and 3,840 x 2,160. The former is known as full HD, and the latter is known as UHD or 4K. Most movies these days are shot in 4K resolution, which means if you buy a 4K television, you’ll be able to watch them in the best possible quality.
There are also 8K televisions, which have 7,680 x 4,320 pixels; however, these are very expensive. Also, considering that there is very little 8K content available to watch, and the difference between a 50-inch 4K TV and an 8K TV might not even be noticeable to the average person, it most likely isn’t worth buying one. The exception to this would be if you want to prepare ahead for when a lot of 8K content is being produced and you are buying a TV that is at least 75 inches.
Refresh rate is commonly overlooked by many consumers, but it is actually quite important. The refresh rate refers to the number of times the image refreshes per second. The more times it refreshes, the smoother the on-screen movement will be. Currently, the majority of TVs either have a 60Hz or 120Hz refresh rate, with the latter being a better option for gamers and those who watch a lot of sports and other fast-action content.
A high-dynamic range should be considered a must-have feature. It allows the TV to produce brighter highlights, a wider range of colors and more contrast. In order to realize these benefits, you must be watching HDR content (most is these days) on a TV that supports it.
Unless you are on an extremely tight budget or don’t have a fast internet connection in your home, there is little reason to buy a TV without smart functionality these days. It is becoming a standard feature and the cost difference is nearly negligible at this point. The smart functionality may be powered by Roku, Android, Tizen or other operating systems, but all support the most popular streaming apps.
Depending on the specs and the type of TV, you can expect to spend anywhere between $200-$1,500 on a 50-inch TV.
A. There is no right or wrong answer to whether you should wall-mount your TV or not. It all depends on your situation and what you are trying to accomplish. If you want a clean look and want to save a bit of space, wall-mounting is a great idea. However, you will also need a plan for concealing wires and you’ll need a TV with ports on the side so they will still be accessible. Also, if you have small kids in the home, mounting a TV on the wall can be a safer alternative to setting it on a TV stand.
A. Just like any other device connected to the internet, a 50-inch smart TV can also get a virus. To help avoid this, make sure you are only downloading apps and other content from reputable sources and keep your TV’s software up to date.
What you need to know: Thanks to mini LED technology, this model from Samsung offers excellent contrast, and the HDR10+ dynamic tone mapping ensures vivid colors.
What you’ll love: It has a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth action, a wide viewing angle and an anti-reflective screen to reduce glare.
What you should consider: The high price tag may put it out of reach for some.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: Though it may not be the newest model, the TU8000 has a beautiful slim bezel and offers impressive specs for the price. It will more than satisfy the average consumer.
What you’ll love: It upscales HD content to 4K and has built-in voice assistants, including Amazon’s Alexa and Bixby.
What you should consider: It does not support Dolby Atmos.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: The 5-Series from TCL is a good choice for streamers and gamers alike, with dedicated features for both.
What you’ll love: It automatically adjusts settings for an optimized gaming experience, and the Roku OS provides access to an endless amount of content.
What you should consider: It only has a 60Hz refresh rate.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.