Don’t go too big with your new HDTV

I was recently at a friend’s home and he had a new HDTV. It was entirely too big for the room where he was viewing it and the closer I sat to the large screen the worse the picture appeared.

People can incorrectly assume that “bigger is better,” but that isn’t necessarily true for an HDTV. When investing in an HDTV you definitely want to figure out the distance from which you will be viewing the television. Here is a chart via CNET that is pretty straight forward:

Generally, 30-inch and smaller sets are great for bedrooms or guest rooms but too small for the main living room. Sets with bigger screens are large enough for the whole family to enjoy and will probably be too much for most small bedrooms. Remember that tube TVs are also fairly deep and get bulkier as the screen size increases. You’ll want to pick out a deep-enough spot for the TV so that it doesn’t protrude awkwardly into the room.

Now, go forth and purchase a set that is right for your den and don’t let the large-size screens entice you into something you don’t need.

14 Comments for “Don’t go too big with your new HDTV”

  1. posted by T. Lord on

    Not sure what CNET bases their opinion on, but I’ve felt perfectly happy watching a 26″ screen from more than 6.5 feet away. Those numbers seem designed by the LCD Panel Makers Association 😉

  2. posted by James on

    I would definitely recommend a lot of research before buying your TV. I ended up with a Vizio a year ago and just recently convinced my friend to go that route over a Samsung that was 2″ smaller and $450 more. He’s been happy with the purchase. Even though I admit the Samsung is a nicer picture, you wouldn’t know it if they weren’t side-by-side. Once we got the TV in the house and hooked up to the HD it was awesome.

  3. posted by holly on

    or just fire your tv. It’s no good anyway.

  4. posted by reid on

    I grew up with a 13″ TV in the living room! Funny to hear that a paltry 30″ is relegated to the bedroom. Of course, I now have a 61″ in the living room that’s no doubt much too big for the space, so I’ve over-compensated….

  5. posted by missdona on

    I just ordered a 46″ and are on the short end of the viewing range, but it gives us room to grow. Right?

  6. posted by Richard on

    When our last TV died, we bought a video projector to replace it. It’s portable and has integrated DVD player and speakers, so it’s a multitasker. We’ve mounted a screen on the ceiling just in front of the bookcase, so we can roll it down when we want to watch something, and roll it back up to expose the bookcase.

    It’s not something to leave on all the time (it requires a darkened room, for one thing), but that has just increased the quality of our watching time 🙂 Now we’re either watching something or we’re not, none of this half-paying-attention “I wonder if there’s something good on” stuff.

    One nice thing about it is that the size of the image is flexible. When the image quality is low, we can dial down the size to get a nicer result.

  7. posted by verily on

    I’ve always had a 20″ TV in my living room and it has served me well for 10+ years. And I watch a lot of movies with subtitles; they’re quite clear and readable from a distance.

  8. posted by Marc on

    Sure, should you have a dedicated TV room, those are fine recommendations, but I don’t want my living room to be about the TV, especially when guests come over. My 29″ LCD is fine at 12′ and I watch a lot of TV. Purchasers should also consider brightness as it will help you see more pixels at greater distances.

  9. posted by Michael on

    I’ve noticed most of the comments are from people who aren’t big TV watchers, to whom I think this article was aimed at.

    I happen to agree completely with the chart, and used it when I got my latest TV a couple months ago.

    Something else to keep in mind, you can tweak the distance you are from your flat-screen by putting it on a stand or mounting it directly on the wall. I have a small living room, but I was able to get a slightly larger flat-screen because I flush mounted it to the wall (adding 18″ of viewing distance).

  10. posted by beth on

    This is particularly relevant concerning projection televisions, since from certain angles you can’t see what’s on the screen at all. But I have a fairly large plasma television in a small-ish area, and as long as I keep the tv area unlcuttered it doesn’t look bad. The advantage of plasma (and I believe LCD also) is they can be viewed from almost any angle.

  11. posted by Dave on

    Welll… there is information missing from this post. What was the resolution. If you get a big screen that’s 720p, of course the picture is gonna be terrible. You need 1080p for a big screen. Not 1080i, 1080p. The cheaper you go, the worse the picture, period.

  12. posted by missy on

    rule #2, no tv in the bedroom. marriages are saved by this grace alone. anything larger then 30″ then you should consider getting a LCD projector and a nice modelb pulldown screen.

  13. posted by Anonymous on

    interesting chart — I wonder why the ratio of (max viewing distance) to (min viewing distance) is so much different for the 55″ — I suspect a typo in the linked story …

  14. posted by Jim on

    Did you ever read David Pogue’s article in the NY Times about the responses he got about how far away one should sit from an HDTV? (subscription required).

    I love some of the responses from physicists.

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