What size TV do you need? It’s a simple question to ask, but a surprisingly tricky one to answer. Choosing the best TV for you involves lots of considerations beyond the sheer size of your new set. What’s the ideal viewing distance? What about picture quality versus TV size? And where do you even find a TV’s measurements? You may not have the cash for a super-expensive home theater, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the perfect TV for your home. Here are a few tips for picking what size TV to buy in any situation.
This is the first question to ask yourself before buying a TV. Before you start shopping, decide where you want your TV. Once you’ve chosen the location, measure the height, width, and depth of that spot; there may be limitations due to the size of an entertainment center or amount of space on a wall. Later, when shopping for a TV, you can match this up with the measurements of the TV itself, not its screen-size, to make sure the TV will fit. Some 55-inch screen TVs have cases that are physically larger than others, so always look at the TV’s overall dimensions for a concrete answer as to whether it will fit.
The second size-related consideration is the TV’s attached stand. If you aren’t going to mount your television on a wall, you’ll need to use the TV’s stand, and many of today’s TV’s have feet at the far edges. You need to ensure that wherever you plan to place the TV is wide enough to accommodate the stand.
Next, think about from where people will be watching the TV in the room. There are viewing distance calculators (here is another calculator) that can recommend a screen size based on where you sit. If you don’t want to bother with an online calculator, just keep in mind this simplified calculation that you can do on your own: Measure the distance from your seat to the TV in inches and multiply by .84. That should give you the ideal screen size. (Just use the calculator on your smartphone.)
This method isn’t perfect, however. For example, if you are sitting 8 feet from the TV, you would want an 80-inch screen, and that’s just not realistic for most of us. For that reason, we suggest that most living rooms will do best with at least a 50-inch screen size. You can technically go as big as you like, provided you don’t sit just four feet from your TV.
There’s one reason not to just shoot for the biggest TV you can get, and that has to do with picture quality. If you are trying to maximize screen size purely based on budget, you’ll find that you can probably get a TV as big as your wallet will allow, but you’ll have to make some sacrifices on picture quality. We find it’s best to balance size with picture quality for long-term watching enjoyment.
Finding the best TV for you shouldn’t be a hard process. With these tips, you’ll have no trouble finding a TV that will fit your home and give you the best quality. Just remember, find the TV’s measurements, calculate the ideal viewing distance, and balance picture quality with size. Now it’s time to focus on the rest of your home theater setup, like a proper surround sound system.