How to figure out what size TV you should buy

What size TV do you need? It’s a simple question, but finding the right size for you can be surprisingly tricky. There are a lot of factors to consider. How far away from your TV will you be sitting? Are you going to mount it on the wall? There’s also your budget to consider, but even if you’re your funds are limited, you can still get a whole lot of screen real estate at a bargain these days. We’ve got a few tips to help you find your own personal Goldilocks zone when it comes to TV size.

Will it fit in your TV room?

Before you start shopping, you’ll need to decide where you want your TV. Once you’ve chosen the location, measure the height, width, and depth of that spot (there may be limitations due to the size of an entertainment center or amount of space on a wall). Later, when shopping, you can match this up with the measurements of the TV itself, not its screen size, to make sure it will fit. You’ll find some TVs have footprints that are physically larger than others of the same screen size, so always look at the overall dimensions for a concrete answer as to whether it will fit.

How wide is the stand?

The second size-related consideration is the TV’s attached stand. If you aren’t going to mount your television on a wall, the stand will play a big part in how much space the television takes up on your console, and many newer TVs have feet at the far edges. You need to ensure that wherever you plan to place the TV is wide enough to accommodate the stand.

How far are away will you be?

Next, think about where you’ll be sitting in relation to the TV. There are viewing distance calculators (here is another calculator) that recommend a screen size based on where you sit. If you don’t want to bother with an online calculator, just keep in mind this simplified calculation that you can do on your own: Measure the distance from your seat to the TV in inches and multiply by 0.84. That should give you the ideal screen size.

This method isn’t perfect, of course. For example, if you are sitting eight feet from the TV, the calculation calls for an 80-inch screen, and that’s just not realistic for most of us. Most living rooms will do best with at least a 50-inch screen size and, of course, taste and style are going to factor in heavily. You can technically go as big as you like, provided you don’t sit just four feet from your TV.

Size vs. quality

There’s one reason not to just shoot for the biggest television you can get, and that has to do with picture quality, which can include a variety of factors like black levels, brightness, Wide Color Gamut, HDR, etc. If you’re trying to maximize screen size on a tight budget, you’ll have to make some sacrifices on picture quality. We find, as per our TV buying guide, it’s best to balance the two factors equally for long-term enjoyment.

With these tips, you’ll have no trouble finding a TV that will fit your home and give you the best quality. Just remember, find the TV’s measurements, calculate the ideal viewing distance, and balance picture quality with size. Now it’s time to focus on the rest of your home theater setup, like looking into a proper surround sound system.

The video accompanying this article features the Samsung Q9F 65-inch TV, the BDI OLA stand, and the Sony A1E OLED.

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