Best 32-inch TV for 2021


Not everyone has the space or budget for an enormous TV, but most of the TVs I review are 55 inches and up — and for good reason. So you shouldn’t be shocked that there are only two picks in my quest to find the best 32-inch TV.

I typically start with a 55-inch display for a number of reasons:

  • I always recommend getting a bigger TV if you can afford it and have the space.
  • A smaller TV is cheaper so people depend less on reviews and more on pricing differences.
  • Larger TVs are getting less expensive too, narrowing the price gap and making bigger sets better values.
  • A smaller TV has worse picture quality because TV-makers reserve their best tech for larger models. If you want great picture quality, the best possible wide viewing angle, industry-leading smart capabilities, top-notch screen resolution and sound quality and an HDMI port or USB port for all of your devices, a bigger screen size is usually the way to go.
  • If you’re a console gamer, the size of your TV makes a huge difference in your gaming experience, especially ones with low input lag and that are HD ready.
  • Readers overwhelmingly ask me to review larger TVs.

For all of those reasons and more (not least of all enjoyability when watching movies and TV episodes, flipping through the channels or streaming on Hulu, Netflix, or Disney Plus) 32-inch TVs are the smallest ones I review — and there are only two current models with this screen size worth recommending. Just like with 43-inch sets, the next-largest size I review, you won’t find the latest extras at this size — all 32-inch TVs still have HD TV (720-pixel or 1080p) resolution instead of 4K and none have picture-enhancing extras such as full-array local dimming. Instead, I prize smart TV features like built-in streaming apps and access to YouTube.

The list below represents the best TVs in the 32-inch size I’ve reviewed in CNET’s test lab, where I compare them side by side to see which ones are most worth buying. When I take into account things like viewing experience, display, refresh rate, resolution, remote control, smart features, streaming, sound, input lag and connectivity, there are only two I can recommend. So, if you’re unquestionably in the market for a small TV, here are a couple of good ones.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Remember how I said smart TV function is king at this screen size? Roku is our favorite platform for a live TV streaming service like Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and the rest, and it’s even better baked into this smart television. At this price buying a separate streamer for Roku is a significant investment — and juggling that streamer’s remote is a hassle — so if you must get a TV of this size to meet your viewing needs, this is our pick for the best 32 inch TV.

It has three HDMI ports, delivers high-quality images with 720 pixel high definition and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you don’t have to upgrade your smart speaker devices to interact with this particular 32 inch TV.

Read CNET’s TCL 32S325 Roku TV review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you’re looking for the best 32 inch TV with Alexa, this Toshiba features Amazon’s Fire TV system built-in, making it a direct competitor to the TCL’s Roku system. In general we like Roku better than Fire TV, thanks to superior menus and search, but this Toshiba has one cool extra the TCL lacks: built-in Alexa, available by talking into the remote. Note that the Echo Dot in the above image isn’t included.

This 32 inch TV also offers three HDMI ports, 720p HD picture quality and an LED display.

Read our Toshiba 32LF221U19 review.

 

More to know about buying a new 32-inch TV

Still with me? If neither of those TVs appeal to you my advice is that, at this size, just about any Roku TV that’s $130 or less is a good choice. Roku licenses its operating system to TV brands including Hisense, RCA, Sharp and others — and any of them will deliver the smart capabilities and smart TV advantages of my top choice above. If you insist on a small TV from another brand like Samsung, LG or Vizio that’s fine, but know that at this size you’ll probably be paying more for similar image quality and an inferior smart TV experience compared to the two TVs above.

Looking for more info? Here’s everything to know about buying a new TV in 2021


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Originally published earlier this year.



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