Making sense of TVs: “How big of a TV should I get?”

TVs are often a large part of the home tech experience. There are a lot of options for TVs (size, LED vs. plasma, smart features, inputs, etc.), and therefore, usually a lot of questions about these options. In the coming weeks, we’ll look at common TV options and some tips on what to look for. First up, “How big of a TV should I get?”

TV_sizeIn the old days, TV size was easy. The picture quality of TVs wasn’t very good, so if you sat too close, it looked bad. There were easy formulas about how close you could sit. Pretty much all of today’s hi-def TVs have excellent picture quality, so its a bit more complicated. If you trust the gurus at THX (THX worked with George Lucas to create theatre standards), they’d want you to multiply 0.84 by your distance to TV (inches or meters) to ensure a proper presentation. This ratio will keep you far enough away that you don’t see individual pixels as well. So if you sit 10 feet from your TV, you’d be looking at 120 inches x 0.85, or approx. 100 inch diagonal screen. Wow, that would be nice!

THX_recoSo what do you choose? A general rule is that a TV is never big enough when its on, and too big when its off. That may sound wishy-washy, but it outlines a common decision process when making a choice. Start with the largest display that you can reasonably afford. Chances are that you’ll still be disappointing the folks at THX (but the rest of us will likely be impressed!) If you have a dedicated room or really love your TV, then you may be done with your size decision.

Most of us don’t have a dedicated room or don’t want to have the TV as the main focus in, say, our living room. The next step is to make the trade off of how big you’re willing to live with when its not being used. Sometimes its as easy as fitting a TV into limited wall space. Sometimes its your mate putting their foot down. Once you narrow this down, try putting an outline of the TV size on your wall using masking tape. Of course an actual TV will be more of a presence in the room, but it will give you an idea. Maybe you’ll be willing to nudge it one way or the other in size.

Today, in general, TV size is mostly about budget, preference and aesthetics, as TVs are very clear even fairly close up. Hopefully this helps your decision process on TV size.

Tune in the coming weeks for highlights of other TV features.