Whoever said the best TVs have to be huge clearly hadn’t done their research into the current crop of 32-inch TVs on the market.
Despite the fact most manufacturers tend to push their biggest, and most expensive, TV sets to the forefront, if you’re looking to find the best 32-inch TVs for your home, then you’ve landed in the right place.
Whether you only have a modest budget to play with or you have limited room at home, a smaller, cheaper, 32-inch TV can be a better option for many people. We’ve brought the best 32-inch screens together for your consideration right here.
Be sure to keep checking back, as we’ll be adding to this list as new 32-inch screens are released.
- Want to know about the best 32-inch TVs of 2019? Our CES 2019 coverage starts January 7!
Before you get started, it’s worth pointing out that you’re unlikely to find the best of the best TV features in a 32-inch model. For example, OLED panels are off the table, and there’s little point in 4K resolutions at such a small display size.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t grab yourself a bargain with an excellent 32-inch TV set with a Full HD 1080p resolution, crystal-clear image quality and connected smart platform catch-up features. In fact, some 32-inch sets even offer newer features, like HDR.
The biggest difficulty for those in the market for a 32-inch set if that there are so many available at that size, which means it can be hard to know exactly which one is worth your money.
Luckily, our TV experts have tested and researched the best options, whether you’re in the US or UK. The best bit is they cost just a fraction of the price of a giant OLED TV like the LG C8 OLED. Read on for our pick of the best 32-inch TV bunch of 2019.
VIZIO pretty much rules the roost when it comes to high-quality value TVs in the United States, with the 2018 D32-F1 being the best of them all.
While the name might not exactly jump out at you, VIZIO’s small screen has a lot going for it – including a full 1080p resolution and an app tray full of the most popular streaming services (including Netflix, YouTube and Hulu). We’d recommend plugging in some speakers if you can, as the integrated ones aren’t great.
That being said, if you’re looking for something smart, small and affordable at a 32-inch size, you can’t beat VIZIO’s small screen wonder in our opinion.
Samsung has been a leader in the 32-inch TV space for years, and at the moment its top of the line model is is the UN32M5300.
Why? It offers full 1080p images and its Tizen operating system for a price that most folks can afford. This grants access to loads of apps, and the TV’s built-in Wi-Fi stops you from having to plug it into your router.
Sure, the UN32M5300 doesn’t have the most connection ports in the world, with just two HDMI slots to pick from. But hey, the small compromises are absolutely worth it.
Back in 2017, the TCL 32S305 was one of the best-selling 32-inch TVs. It was affordable, offered built-in Roku TV and decent picture quality considering the fact that it was limited to 720p.
Since then, a number of better-looking TV have come along (cough Samsung M5300) but, if price is your main criteria, then you can’t go wrong with 2017’s best.
If you have shelves full of DVDs or a habit of popping the latest bargain bucket DVD title in with your weekly shopping, this new Toshiba 32-inch model is one to consider, with its built-in DVD drive.
It’s not going to rival some of the other models here on all-round picture quality, and it isn’t Full HD either. But it still looks attractive despite its combi design, and supports the Freeview Play smart system in the UK, which adds up to a lot of features for its £229 price.
You also get three HDMI ports, one more than several other 32-inch TV sets in this round-up.
- This product is only available in the UK as of this writing. US and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Samsung UN32M5300.
The Sony KDL32WE613 is proof a 32-inch TV doesn’t have to miss out on newer tech. It supports HDR, usually only seen in much larger, more expensive TVs.
HDR isn’t equal across sets as it relies on a screen’s contrast and brightness, but it will let you squeeze more out of a top-end Netflix or Amazon Video subscription, or your favorite console games. The TV also offers recording over USB, Wi-Fi and access to BBC iPlayer, YouTube and a fistful of other apps.
The stinger is this 32-inch TV set is only 720p, not Full HD. If you’re going to watch close-up, the benefits of higher resolution may outweigh HDR.
If you came here looking for an outdoor TV in the 32-inch bracket, we wouldn’t feel right sending you off without mentioning SunBrite’s series of full-outdoor TVs.
The SunBrite SB3211 in particular offers a super-bright screen that can compete with the sun in any setting. Not only does it pack in 1,000 nits of brightness, but it carries a 1080p resolution and a weatherproof speaker bar.
The only drawback is that it’s crazy expensive – around $3,300 if you buy directly from SunBrite. That said, if you want the best 32-inch TV set you can keep outdoors to make your rental home (or real home) even better, this is it.
Which TVs does TechRadar recommend?
We know that shopping for a new TV can be a massive hassle, more so when you’re not sure what you’re looking for. But, don’t worry, the experts here at TechRadar are veterans at compiling lists that help you find out what features to check for when you’re looking for the best 32-inch TV for you.
With 32-inch TVs, one of the most important features to look for is ‘smart TV’ capabilities. When it comes to a TV for a second or third room, smart features can drastically improve the value and utility of TVs for the simple reason that it prevents you from having to purchase another set-top box or streaming stick.
Instead, all of the functionality of those devices is built right in, saving you time and money. If you’re looking for a TV to fill a bedroom or study, a set with Wi-Fi capability that supports video streaming and file sharing should be at the top of your list.
If you can, we recommend avoiding TVs with resolutions lower than 1080p. Sure, a 720p image will look fine on a smaller screen, but if you want all the details in the images, a 1080p TV is the way to go. Keep in mind that some retailers and manufacturers will try to mislead customers by labeling most 32-inch TVs as ‘HD Ready’, signifying that it features an HD resolution; however, even though the lower 1,366 x 768 resolution technically qualifies as ‘HD Ready’, it’s going to deliver an image that is muddier and less clear than TVs with a full HD 1,920 x 1,080 display.
One last thing to consider before you decide which 32-inch TV you want, is whether or not it has all the ports you need. Devices like the PS4, the Nintendo Switch and DVD/Blu-ray players will need HDMI inputs; the Nintendo Wii or other legacy game consoles will need a component or even composite video input; PCs, if they don’t use HDMI, will likely use a DVI or VGA input; and Sky or cable set top boxes will need an additional HDMI.
When you have a lot of different devices to connect, it will really make your life easier getting a 32-inch TV that has enough ports to support everything you want to do with it. Keep these tips in mind, and you should have no problem finding the small screen of your dreams.
- Head on over to page two to read more about 32-inch TVs!
Hopefully by now you’ve realized that you shouldn’t take buying a 32-inch TV lightly, even if it’s intended for a second room. An ‘impulse’ second room TV purchase – especially one based on just trying to get the cheapest model you can find – can often easily end in tears and a sense of money wasted, if a set doesn’t give you the features and performance traits your set up needs.
But what, exactly, should you be searching for beyond a 1080p resolution, a bevy of ports and smart functionality? Here are five more things to look out for.
While not often considered for TVs, Bluetooth support might also be handy – especially if you want to quickly stream music from your smart devices to the TV’s speakers. However, such support isn’t common in the 32-inch TV market, and so a TV not having it likely shouldn’t be seen as a deal breaker.
When it comes to built-in video streaming services, your 32-inch TV will ideally carry apps for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the catch up services of the UK’s four main broadcasters: BBC iPlayer, the ITV Hub, All4 and My5. Now TV may be a handy extra bonus too, if you can find it.
Finding all of these services – or even a good percentage of them – on a single 32-inch TV can be quite a challenge, though, if you try to save money and look beyond the main LG/Samsung/Sony/Panasonic brands (these all combine relatively strong app support with far more advanced and friendly interfaces than you tend to get with ‘b-list’ brands).
As the icing on the cake, you could also consider a 32-inch TV that carries either Freeview Play or YouView. These apps present the UK’s catch-up TV services in a convenient ‘wrapper’ that includes an electronic program guide you can scroll back through time as well as forwards, making it easier to hunt down shows you’ve missed. At the time of writing, though, we believe only Panasonic offers this sort of functionality (in the form of Freeview Play) on its 32-inch TVs.
Go beyond resolution
Like we mentioned earlier, resolution is important. However, resolution is only one part of a TV’s overall picture performance, so it is possible for a 720p TV with superior motion processing, color management and backlighting to produce better pictures than a low quality 1080p set. Try and consider a screen’s picture claims and features as a whole, rather than focussing on a single specification.
IPS vs VA panels
There are essentially two types of LCD panel technology out there for 32-inch TVs: IPS and VA. IPS panels offer slightly wider viewing angles, while VA panels support much better contrast.
With big screen ‘main’ TVs likely to be used for watching films, sometimes with the lights dimmed, the lack of contrast with IPS screens can become a big issue, causing dark scenes to look washed out. So if you’re looking for a 32-inch TV to go into a relatively dark environment, a VA panel is a must.
IPS panel contrast issues are less problematic in bright rooms such as conservatories and kitchens, though, and the (slight) IPS viewing angle advantage can also be handy in such large environments where viewers may be using the TV while walking around the room.
It can be hard to find out for sure what sort of panel a particular 32-inch TV uses, but it’s definitely worth pursuing if you’re a movie fan or gamer looking to use a TV in a dark room. To get you started, all LG TVs use IPS panels, and pretty much all Samsung TVs use VA panels. Other brands tend to use a mixture of IPS and VA panels across different parts of their ranges.
The 32-inch screen size is understandably popular with gamers, but some 32-inch TV sets handle gaming much better than others. Motion issues are particularly critical to gaming, so if you’re able to see a few sets running, look out for the motion-related issues mentioned in the previous section.
How quickly a 32-inch TV renders image data received at its inputs – something known as input lag – is also a critical issue for gaming. Unfortunately, though, this is seldom a specification that’s quoted by manufacturers, and while it’s something we cover in our TV tests, getting 32-inch TVs to test is proving next to impossible these days.
At the very least, though, any 32-inch TV a gamer buys ought to at least carry a Game picture preset. This shows that a brand has at least thought about gaming by providing a mode optimized for it – and usually one of the key features of such game modes is keeping input lag to a minimum.
Don’t get hung up on design
One strange thing about the second-room TV market dominated by 32-inch models is that people seem much more likely to get obsessed by specific design requirements than they do with the main living room TV – and that’s especially true when it comes to the set’s color (white, for instance, is in especially high demand for kitchens and conservatories).
Presumably some consumers think that with second-room TVs the usual picture quality concerns become relatively unimportant, as the TV will only be used casually.
Our advice would be, though, that you try not to let design conditions limit your TV choice since experience shows that actually, smart features and some aspects of picture quality – especially brightness and (with gamers) motion clarity – are even more important to the effectiveness of second room TVs than they are to main living room TVs.
Far too many 32-inch TVs treat sound as an afterthought, even though it’s a key part of any viewing experience. It can be tricky to judge a TV’s likely audio performance, though, without hearing it for yourself.
All you can do is look for rated speaker output specifications (even though these are notoriously unreliable) and clues in a TV’s design: forward firing speakers, built-in bass woofers, enough space on the rear to allow air to move around, and so on.
To DVD, or not to DVD
Finally, if you want to limit secondary kit clutter around a 32-inch TV in a second room, there are still a small number of 32-inch TVs out there that carry built-in DVD players. The 32-inch Toshiba 32D3753DB, the Bush DLED32265HDDVDW and the Cello C32227FT2, for instance.
However, none of the ‘big four’ TV brands support this feature any more, leaving you having to consider second tier manufacturers – with potential negative impact on picture quality and smart features – if you’re still a DVD user.
32-inch TV sets with built-in Blu-ray players are not available at the time of writing, by the way, so don’t forget that when you’re using a built-in DVD player you’re having to watch a standard definition picture being upscaled – often by rather average processing – to the TV screen’s HD resolution.