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How To Select The Correct TV Size for your Room

Choosing the right TV size for a room can sometimes be difficult. The salespeople usually encourage shoppers to buy the largest TV that can fit in a living space, but this is often not the best choice. Many shoppers have trouble choosing a comfortable TV size because they feel that the whole process is somewhat haphazard. If you’re in the market for a new TV but don’t know which size to get, consider these three things.

1. Viewing Distance

man sitting in front of television with remote in hand

Over the years, industry experts have tried to find a mathematical way to help people find

the right TV size. The formula is really simple, but it is more an estimate than an exact science.

First, measure the viewing distance. This is the distance between the TV screen and the viewer’s eyes. You then divide this number by one of three numbers. The number you choose depends upon a few other variables.

Divide by 1.5 if you tend to prefer larger TVs and if your new TV will be very high

resolution. You should also like sitting in the front section of the movie theater. If you’re using this TV for a home theater, bigger is usually better. Many salespeople will tell you to divide your viewing distance by 1.5 because they want to sell you a big TV. If you’re a bit skeptical about this TV size, however, try a different number

Divide the viewing distance by 2.5 for a smaller TV. This may be a TV that you rarely use

or one that is in a bedroom. If you don’t need the full cinematic experience but want a TV for the occasional show, divide the viewing distance by 2.5 to save yourself some money. In addition, consider a smaller TV if you’re in the budget for a lower resolution. This ensures that you won’t get distracted by pixelation. You will find a TV that is comfortable to watch but that doesn’t take over the room.

Finally, divide the viewing distance by 2 if your needs are somewhere in the middle. Most people find that this approach to the viewing distance formula yields the best results. It is a happy medium that works with all HDTV resolutions.

For example, a family with a viewing distance of 10 feet will multiply 10 by 12 to convert feet to inches. The total is 120 inches. For a TV in the happy medium, they should divide 120 inches by 2, yielding a TV size of 60 inches. The biggest TV that they should consider is 80 inches, and the smallest TV to consider is 48 inches.

2. Lighting

To prevent eye strain, it is best to choose a smaller TV for rooms that are poorly lit. With good lighting, a larger TV will not usually pose a problem. The ideal lighting situation to avoid glare and eye strain is to place lights behind the TV. Bias lighting, as it is called, helps the eyes adjust to the brightness of the TV without taking away from the home theater experience. Remember that the lighting at the store will usually be much brighter than the lighting at home. If you insist on getting a large TV but don’t have great lighting, change the brightness and contrast settings to help your eyes.

3. Test Drive

You wouldn’t buy a car before driving it, so why would you buy a TV without getting a realistic idea of what it will be like in your living space? When you’re at the store, stand or sit as far away from the TV as you will be in your home. Many people stand back and overemphasize the size of their living space, so bring a measuring tape if necessary. Use the viewing distance formula to get a general idea of which TV size to buy, but let the actual test drive sway your final vote.

In the end, the test drive is the most important step. Just like a car, a TV may seem perfect, but you won’t really know unless you experience it realistically. By taking into account the viewing distance formula and your home’s lighting, you can find the perfect TV.