Selecting the Right TV Size

picture of a huge panasonic tv with a woman standing beside it

There are some who would say the TV above is a little excessive while others think it’s just what the Doctor ordered. Size isn’t everything though, as we’ll explain below…

When you go shopping for a new TV, you have plenty to consider. Above many of the other points that may influence your purchasing decision is going to be the screen size. The size of the screen can have a serious impact on the viewing experience, so it is something that you want to make sure to get right.
For most people, the idea is to go with the biggest screen size that they can get. This is generally a good rule to follow. With a bigger screen, you get a more immersive experience and you can appreciate the visual end of the program much more. However, you might want to take some time to consider some other points regarding screen size before you go out and buy the biggest TV that you can get your hands on. Getting a TV that is the right size for the individual consumer requires more thought than just going with the “bigger is better” mindset.

Space

The first thing that you are going to have to determine is the amount of space that you have to accommodate a television. If you have an entertainment stand that you plan to place the TV on or a specific wall space, then you are going to want to know the maximum dimensions that you can fit. This may not directly speak to the screen size that you should get, but it will give you the maximum measurements that can fit (bezel and all), and this will help to determine which screen sizes will work for your space.
Before you start shopping, get a tape measure and write down the maximum dimensions that you can fit. When you are shopping, compare these figures to the dimensions of the various TVs that you consider purchasing.

Distance

If the actual space to fit the TV is not an issue, then the distance from which you intend to view the TV will be the most important consideration. Ideally, you want a TV that fills as much of your field of vision as possible without the set being so big that it overwhelms the viewer. In other words, the best screen size increases as the viewing distance increases. In the same way, as the viewing position gets closer to the TV, the maximum size that you should consider gets smaller.
There is no hard rule for the correct TV size based on the distance, but there are some recommendations that you can follow. Most experts recommend a viewing angle that ranges from 30-40 degrees. The viewing angle refers to the angle from center of the primary viewing position to the left and right edges of the screen.
When you determine the viewing angle, then you know the size of TV that you can most comfortably fit into your field of vision from the primary viewing position. However, whether you go with a viewing angle that is based on 40 degrees, 30 degrees or anything in between is a matter of opinion. They might be based on the recommendations of experts, but it really comes down to what provides the best viewing experience for the individual.

As an example of how the varying of viewing angle recommendation can make for different TV size recommendations, consider the difference in optimal size for sitting 10-feet away at both a 30-degree recommendation and a 40-degree recommendation. With the optimal viewing angle being set at 30 degrees, the size recommendation is 75-inches, but when you change it to 40-degrees, the recommendation changes to about 100-inches.

Screen Resolution

The screen resolution is another factor to consider when you are picking a TV size. When you select a TV that fits in a category like HD Ready, Full HD or Ultra HD, it says something about the number of pixels the screen will have. Regardless of the screen size, a Full HD model is going to have the same number of pixels from the smallest screen all the up to the largest, and the same is true for models in the HD Ready and UHD ranges.
Using 1080p TVs as an example, they always have about 2 million pixels on the screen. If the TV gets bigger, that means that the pixels are going to get bigger. With that being true, the consumer generally wants to go up in resolution as they go up in screen size.

This is why you will not find many HD Ready models that come in sizes that are bigger than 32-inches. With a bigger screen on an HD Ready model, the pixels get easier to see and this can diminish the viewing experience. On a similar note, this is why you won’t see many UHD TVs that come in sizes below 40-inches. Any smaller than that and the viewer would have to be watching from an uncomfortably close position to see a difference in screen quality.

Budget

The one thing that all of these considerations leave out is your budget. Many people will not be able to afford the maximum optimal screen size for their viewing area. In this case, you generally want to go for the biggest TV with the best resolution that you can afford.

As an example, consider a situation where your maximum recommended screen size is 75-inches, but you cannot afford a 75-inch TV. In your budget, you have the choice between a 50-inch model that is Full HD and a 43-inch TV that is Ultra HD. In this case, the better value is to go with the 50-inch Full HD model. You are not sitting close enough for the boost in screen resolution to make a serious difference, but the increased size will provide a more cinematic viewing experience.