32-inch TVs strike an excellent compromise when dealing with smaller spaces. For a studio apartment, guest bedroom, or dorm, these smaller LED sets take up a fraction of the space that a 40-inch or larger usually needs. A wide variety of 32-inch models are out there now at a bunch of different price points from cheap-as-chips to premium.
Whether you want a TV with built-in smart connectivity for your living room (with apps, or even just access to the usual suspects like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime) or a model that's just good enough to use as a secondary TV to have around the house, the big manufacturers like LG, Sony, Samsung, TCL, and Vizio all have offerings that can fit your needs.
We've tested all of the models below or related models in our labs, and we're here to tell you which ones are worth your hard-earned dollars. While none of these 32-inchers blew us away, there are a couple that are clear standouts if you want the best contrast, color, and overall image quality.
Updated July 29, 2016
Samsung UN32J6300best overall
Last year, the Samsung UN32J6300 won us over thanks to its fantastic picture quality and decorative build. The 32J6300 uses a direct LED backlight, which delivers a uniformly-lit picture with excellent contrast. Colors, too, are accurate and well-saturated, which makes up for the J6300’s relatively narrow viewing angle. The cherry on top of the sundae, however, is the inclusion of a stripped-down version Samsung’s Tizen-powered smart platform, which includes Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu. All told, the 32-inch J6300 is an attractive-looking TV whose picture and smart functionality won’t let you down.
Vizio D32h-D1best value
The Vizio D32-D1 might have a resolution of just 720p, but when you’re dealing with a 32-inch screen, the difference between 720p and 1080p/Full HD is a moot point. The D32-D1 features respectable picture quality right out of the box, mostly due to its better-than-average contrast. Cord-cutters will especially appreciate the inclusion of basic smart features like Netflix, YouTube, and social apps. Vizio’s 32-inch D Series is just a solid TV at an absurdly low price—the perfect companion for casual viewing.
When it hit the market in mid-2015, Sharp’s entry-level, Full HD LED TV—the 32LE653U—earned our Editor’s Choice award. It’s not a world-beating performer with all the bells and whistles you could ask for, but for its size and class, the LE653U offers excellent contrast and a simplified version of Sharp’s SmartCentral 4.0 platform. Simply put, the 32LE65U punches well above its weight class, and would make a welcome addition to the dorm or bedroom of anyone looking to maximize their dollar.
The E32-C1 isn’t the smallest TV in Vizio’s E Series, but its 32-inch screen is nevertheless compact enough for small bedrooms, dorm rooms, and kitchens. The E32-C1 tops out at 1080p (full HD) resolution, making it an even better value in this screen size. Its direct LED backlight produces deep black levels and bright highlights, its smart platform offers nearly all of the essential streaming apps, and its minimalistic design make it a good fit for every room.
The 32-inch Samsung J5500 may not be an ideal TV for a dim home theater, but for most well-lit rooms, it gets the job done better than most TVs in its price range. When we tested and reviewed the 50-inch J550, we praised it for its attractive-looking build, its user-friendly smart features, and its luminous color production. The 32-inch version lacks the punch of a big screen, but it’s good enough to please most.
TCL’s Roku TVs are a great way to score a reliable, inexpensive TV with all of the amenities most cord-cutters will ever need. The 32-inch FS3850 offers the stable performance and myriad streaming options you’d come to expect from TCL’s Roku TVs, but it also offers them in a host of fun colors, making it the perfect TV to accentuate a stylish dorm room. The one caveat is the FS3850’s lack of calibration options, but frankly, its out-of-the-box performance is good enough that it doesn’t so much matter in the end.
Hisense’s entry-level TVs haven’t historically been the best-performing TVs in their class, but what you lose in performance you make up for in sheer affordability. For instance, the 32H3B1 is crazy-inexpensive and provides users with a versatile selection of three HDMI ports. It’s worth noting, however, that this isn’t a smart TV, so if you intend to take advantage of, for instance, Netflix, you’ll need some other device to get to your favorite online services.
This Samsung is a divisive product. As a full-HD model with one of 2015’s better built-in smart platforms, you’re getting a great way to soak up 1080p content from sources like Netflix or Hulu without the hassle of connecting a laptop or—gulp—coaxial cable. But if you’re picky about picture quality, you may not go gaga for the J5205’s shallow contrast. It does have excellent viewing angles, however, making it a stellar choice for big groups of people watching together.
This bargain beater from TCL is, in theory, a great choice. It doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses where most content is concerned (such as movies and TV shows), but it struggles a bit with fast-moving or visually complex scenes, specifically things like live sports or video games. If you’ve got a massive DVD collection, this one’s a solid choice, but if your tastes range to the action-packed, you’re better off avoiding this TCL.
The LF5600 proved to be one of LG’s better value options from 2015. Thanks to a “Direct LED” backlight, this set boasts better contrast than a lot of options in this price range, though it isn’t quite as thin and minimal in profile. Combined with Full-HD (1080p) resolution, the LF5600 is definitely a cut above some of its cheaper competition. Just note that you're not paying for fancy frills like built-in smart features—this one’s all screen.
The 32-inch LB560B delivers a tidy combination of rounded, gunmetal design elements and reliable bright-room viewing performance that helps it stand out from the crowd. While nothing about the performance here will wow picture purists, this one’s a great value choice for the average shopper. Contrast is a bit shallow for very bright or very dark rooms, but you’ll love how this one looks—on or off—in most rooms.
This is one of the newest Sony TVs for 2016, and while it’s a little pricier than some of the competition, it makes up for it with intuitive smart features, Full-HD (1080p) resolution, and one of the lightest, slimmest designs around. Because it uses an IPS panel type, the 32-inch W600D is a great choice if you need generous viewing angles, but may not be a go-to option for gamers on the hunt for low input lag. For more general purposes, however, this one brings a lot to the table.
The 32-inch J4000 was one of 2015’s better entry-level TVs from Samsung. As an absolute value pick, this Samsung eschews the extras, but still delivers on picture quality. While it isn’t the best choice if you’re a film buff hunting for inky-black shadows, it’s a great “bright room” TV with vivid colors and very intuitive controls. The design isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s not chintzy, which is all you can ask for in a bargain set like this.
This very basic set from LG doesn’t really stand out in any way, but it also doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. You won’t get extra functionality such as apps or a web browser, but this TV still delivers fairly good picture quality for the price. It’s a great option if you can find it deeply discounted online, but as a jack of all trades kind of product, you probably shouldn’t pay full price.
Vizio’s entry-level E Series has been a heavy hitter in the budget category for the last few years. However, we found that 2016’s 32-inch E Series is not exactly a home run. The new “SmartCast” Google smart platform will appeal to more tech-savvy folks, but the picture quality here leaves a bit to be desired. Specifically, while all of the E Series TVs use “full-array local dimming” to achieve better shadows and highlights, the 32-inch doesn’t do the best job dimming and boosting its backlight, resulting in poor contrast. However, it’s not a bad choice for casual viewing, and the SmartCast functionality makes its $200 street price seem more than fair.
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