How Big is Too Big? Finding the Right TV, Not Just Biggest

How Big is Too Big? Finding the Right TV, Not Just Biggest

Jason Yang
Aug 29, 2011

50", 60", 70", 80" - how high can you go? We'd like to think that the bigger the better when it comes to television screens, but in reality there are several constraints that dictate the ideal TV size for your space. Check out our tips on how to ensure your TV looks, fits, and feels right in your home.

Fitting a large television through the doorway might not be as bad as it was back in the days of big CRTs, but even so size is still a consideration. Many of us would like to think "the bigger the better" but simply going with the largest TV isn't always the best thing to do.

Consider the space and proportions
Most HDTVs are a 16:9 wide aspect ratio, so when buying a TV for your space you'll need to consider the available space. Although extremely rare, consider televisions that are extraordinarily wide 21:9 format need even more width for placement. If you're planning to mount your TV between two windows or inside a media hutch, consider the horizontal space you have but also think about the vertical - does the ratio of empty space look okay? If you're placing your TV above the fireplace or on a media console / table you'll need to measure your TVs horizontal width as well so that you're not stuck with a huge TV dwarfing or hanging over the sides of the fireplace or table.

Consider the viewing distance
Watching a big screen TV from closer than recommended can actually give you a poor viewing experience. We've all seen crappy image quality from the Best Buy showroom and often don't consider that we're standing a foot from the screen. Image quality for TVs is aided largely in part by visual perception. Consider a TV with a resolution of 1920x1080 (16:9 aspect ratio) if you're standing 1 foot away, that's a lot of detail up close. Backing up to 10 feet and those pixels start to blend together in your vision and mind. According to the THX standard, a 50" TV is optimally viewed from 6 to 7 feet away. A 60" TV is optimal at almost 8 feet. 70" is recommended at almost 10 feet and 80" and up even further. You start getting any bigger with your TV screen size and you might not have the space for your couch to go back far enough. For the argument between 720p and 108p, arguments can be made on the necessity but we say for the money difference (not much) just go for 1080p. View our buyer's guide to HDTV technology for the inside scoop on what specs mean what.

Consider the viewing environment
What's your viewing pleasure? Do you prefer super bright, super sharp content? Or do you prefer more subtle moody viewing with clear dark blacks. It used to be a big battle between plasma and LCD (and now LED) technology but the technology gap has closed quite a bit. Plasmas are giving way to LCD, but there's still plenty of case for buying them. For those watching in rooms that are fairly dark, plasmas might not be as bright as their LCD counterparts but they sure do make up for it with extreme black contrast levels. If you're watching television in an extremely bright room with no way of closing the blinds, then an LCD with its superior brightness may be for you. Learn your environment and your preferences and it will help guide you in making an educated choice on more than just bran, pricetag, and size.

More on viewing distance and space from Unplggd

More on TV mounting from Unplggd

(Images: Flickr user Joi under Creative Commons.)

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