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TV Size – How Big is Too Big?

As a rule, bigger is better when it comes to TV screens, but there is definitely such a thing as too big. In the days of boxier television sets, the ease of getting the TV in through the front door was a major concern when it came to choosing the right size. Modern flat screens make this less of an issue, but there are other things to consider to help you pick the right TV.

Of course, one thing to take into account when picking a TV is whether there is enough room for the screen in your home entertainment center. If you intend to place it between two windows, for instance, your choices are constrained by the amount of space between those windows. Likewise, if you want to put the TV on a particular wall, the width of that wall is a constraint on your choice. Take the vertical into consideration as well as the horizontal: If a given TV is too tall to be placed centered at eye level, consider a smaller TV that will fit your home’s dimensions more easily.

In addition to its height and width, consider the depth of the TV and compare it to the table or media center on which you intend to place it. The last thing you want is to have a huge TV hanging over the edge of the table and potentially falling off.

Another space-related constraint is the optimal viewing distance for your television. Larger screens need to be viewed from a greater distances; thus, they need longer rooms to be properly accommodated. A 50-inch television is best viewed from six to seven feet away, while a 60-inch screen should be viewed from about eight feet. 70-inch screens should be positioned almost 10 feet from the viewer’s seat and 80-inch screens need even more space than that. If you opt for a very large screen, you may run out of space to keep backing your couch up, forcing you to watch the TV from a sub-optimally close distance.

Even if there is enough room in your home entertainment center to accommodate one couch at the optimal viewing distance, a smaller screen may allow you to fit more seats and thus more people in the room. Think of your TV as the center of a semicircle with the optimal viewing distance as a radius; for the best view, people should sit around the edges of that semicircle. If that optimal viewing semicircle is larger than your TV room, some of that space may be occupied by walls instead of people.

Another concern with very large TVs is room domination. Even if it technically fits, a TV that exceeds a certain size threshold may become, figuratively or literally, the only thing in the room. Whether this matters at all is entirely subjective, of course; you might actually like the effect of a television dominating your home theater. Still, many people find a very large TV in a relatively small room overwhelming, so be realistic about how much of a screen your home entertainment center can reasonably accommodate.

Lighting is also a factor when it comes to choosing a good TV size. Many people find watching a small screen in a fairly dark room uncomfortable because the low light causes their pupils to become dilated. Since they fill the room with more light, larger screens can be better for watching in a dim environment. Conversely, if you typically watch TV and movies in a fairly well-lit room, the size of the screen is less of a factor. Again, personal preference plays a big role in this aspect of the decision.

The best way to find a properly sized TV is to try out an approximation of the screen before you make your final choice. Cut out a big piece of cardboard or construction paper, attach it to the wall where you intend to put your TV and take a look at its proportions in comparison to the rest of the room. See if you like the amount of empty space and the size of the picture as viewed from your typical viewing distance. Take all of the above factors into account, and you will find the optimal TV size for your home entertainment center.