Best smart TVs for 2022
26 Dec 2021
If you’re looking to buy a new TV this year, make sure you can watch your favourite streaming services on it. Here, we test five of the best smart TVs around.
It wasn’t too long ago that your internet connection probably did little more than deliver your emails and let you browse web pages. Now, with your smart TV connected to on-demand and video-streaming services, it’s likely to be taking up more of your bandwidth than your PC.
To make the most of today’s streaming services, you need a decent smart TV. High-definition 1080p models were perfectly adequate when we received TV signals via rooftop aerials and satellite dishes, but today’s streaming services work up to 4K (3840×2160 pixels). They also use advances in contrast and colour reproduction – called High Dynamic Range (HDR) – to ensure that the pictures you’re seeing on your TV are exactly as the filmmaker intended.
These specifications used to be the preserve of huge sets that cost several thousand pounds. Now, you can get astounding picture quality in good-sized screens without having to pay a king’s ransom.
We’ve run each of these models through a series of tests, with the help of our colleagues from our sister title What Hi-Fi, to make sure we’ve found the very best screens you can buy for the price.
Samsung UE43 AU7100
This 43in LCD TV doesn’t provide the level of visuals you’d get on an OLED model, but for its modest price it delivers an impressively balanced, consistent and immersive picture. Dark scenes appear without the grey wash that so often mars pictures on cheaper LCD panels. It also has better viewing angles than we expected.
Of all the sets here, it comes with the best smart TV operating system (Samsung’s own one, called Eden) and the widest range of apps. The only significant absentee is Freeview Play, but you’ll get catch-up apps for all terrestrial broadcasters. Apps for streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Now TV, YouTube, Rakuten, Apple TV and Disney+ are also present and correct.
We think the Philips 48OLED806 is the best 48in OLED you can currently buy. During our tests, however, we realised that the default picture presets don’t do the screen justice, so you’ll need to adjust the settings to optimise what you see.
Philips uses a combination of Android TV 10 and Freeview Play to deliver all its streaming services, which does mean you aren’t using a single system, but it’s fine once you get used to it.
On the plus side, this mixed approach means almost total coverage when it comes to apps and services, with all the UK catch-ups present, along with streaming services Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ – all available in their highest-quality modes.
A 55in smart TV needn’t break the bank. This affordable 4K HDR TV from Chinese firm TCL comes with Roku’s fantastic streaming interface built in, which smoothly handles all the terrestrial catch-up services, as well as Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and Apple TV.
For the price the picture is excellent. It doesn’t have the wide viewing angles on more expensive OLED sets, but its colours are vivid and dark scenes aren’t too washed out, as long as you don’t crank up the brightness levels to maximum.
It also has four HDMI sockets, which is very generous for the price, should you need to connect several other devices.
Hisense Roku R50 A72OOGTUK
If you like the sound of the TCL model above but would prefer something slightly smaller, the Hisense Roku R50A7200GTUK could fit the bill (and your available space). The picture is great for the price, but you aren’t getting the quality you’ll see on more expensive sets like the Philips model below left.
As with the TCL model, the Hisense uses Roku’s software to power its smart TV services.This is arguably as good as streaming gets, including all
the major subscription services and access to all terrestrial on-demand options. It also comes with Freeview Play, which offers an alternative way to access free UK TV channels.
The XR-55A80J is a small step down from Sony’s flagship OLED TVs (the A90J series), but it knocks more than £ off the price and is still a stunning set for enjoying your favourite films and TV series. Its picture is sharp and detailed, and the speakers sound great and reduce the need for a separate soundbar.
However, it lacks terrestrial catch-up services, with BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 missing. You could add them with a relatively cheap Roku or Amazon Fire Stick, of course, but it’s disappointing that they’re missing from the TV itself.