How much food can you eat before you get full? Obviously, that’s an impossible question to answer; if you ate a big meal two hours ago, your stomach will fill up a lot faster than if you’ve been fasting for 24 hours. The real answer to the question is “it depends.”
When you’re trying to figure out how big a television you should put into your beautiful new home theater, the answer is exactly the same: “it depends.” It depends on the size of your room, how far you usually sit from the screen, and even the type of TV you’re buying. Here are some tips from our expert DTV Installations pros.
Where Do You Like To Sit?
Let’s start with the obvious: the further you sit from the screen, the smaller it looks. For an optimal viewing experience you don’t want to be so far away that the picture seems small, or so close that you have to turn your head to the left and right to see everything. That means there’s an ideal “viewing angle,” putting the entire television screen in your natural range of vision. Even manufacturers disagree on exactly what that angle should be, but they agree with us that it’s somewhere between 30 degrees (for a normal experience) and 40 degrees (for a “cinematic” experience).
Thankfully, there’s an easy way to convert angles into real world measurements. Figure out where you like to sit and then measure the distance to where you’ll mount the TV. Take that number – in inches – and multiply it by 0.625 (for 30 degrees) or 0.84 (for 40 degrees). That gives you the optimal size of the television you should buy.
For example, we’ve found that the average person sits nine feet, or 108 inches, from the TV. For those who never passed algebra, multiplying 108 by 0.625 tells you a 67-inch television would be ideal for normal viewers; the calculations for the “cinematic” experience suggest a 90-inch screen would be the right choice.
Taking real world considerations into account, for most clients we recommend a 72-inch screen for viewing at a distance of nine feet. We’ll be happy to consult on the right size for you.
Type of Television
A major advantage to modern 1080p high-def televisions is that you no longer see individual pixels on most displays, no matter where you’re sitting. However, on all but the very latest Ultra HD TVs it’s possible that you’ll see some pixelation or video noise if you sit very close to the screen. If you like to get “up close and personal” with your favorite TV or movie characters on a regular basis, stick with 55-inches or smaller unless you’re getting an Ultra HD model.
- When planning, it’s important to remember that television screens are measured diagonally, not horizontally. So a modern 50-inch flat screen isn’t 50 inches wide, it’s closer to 44 inches wide.
- A television screen that’s too high will make the viewing experience uncomfortable. So even if your room is wide enough to accommodate an enormous 90-inch TV, pay attention to the height of the screen, too. You’re likely to have a sore neck if you have to watch at an angle higher than 15 degrees.
- The “right size” for a TV is also dependent on the size of your room; even if the numbers tell you that a 90-inch screen is perfect, your room may simply not be big enough to handle one.
- Finally, the comment we hear most often from DTV Installations clients, from Manhattan to the Hamptons, is “I wish I’d bought a bigger TV.” In our view, the best rule of thumb for a home theater television is “the bigger, the better – as long as it fits.”