One of the most important decisions you have to make when buying a new TV is to choose among the available flat screen TV sizes. The diagonal screen size has a big impact on the price and, if you’re replacing an old TV, the wide screen measurements are different. The best way to choose is to decide what size is best for your normal viewing distance and for the picture quality you want. You can then adjust this size, so it fits into the room you have and to match the amount you want to spend.
Flat Screen TV Sizes and Viewing Distance
The recommended viewing distances for different flat screen TV sizes depend on the picture quality, what kind of programs you most often watch and on personal preferences. The Crutchfield website has some guidelines for viewing distances and TV placement. Ideally, you should view your TV from a distance of between 1.5 and 2.5 times the diagonal size of the TV screen. For example, if you are considering a 36-inch TV, you should sit between 4.5 and 7.5 feet away.
The smaller distance applies if your TV picture quality is high because you can then get closer without seeing individual pixels that distort the picture. When you have a high-resolution screen, at least a 1080p model, and watch high-definition movies and video, you’ll see more detail if you’re close to the screen. But if your TV resolution is lower, or if you have a high-resolution TV, but often watch shows that are not HD, you get a better viewing experience seated further away, where you can’t see small flaws in the picture.
Personal preferences and the size of your room also impact your decision. If your room arrangement is set and you usually sit at a fixed distance from your TV, you can divide that distance by a number within the range of 1.5 to 2.5 to get the ideal TV screen size. If you prefer large screens, use a number close to 1.5. If you don’t mind a smaller screen, use a number closer to 2.5. For example, if you’re usually at eight feet from your TV and you like large screens, you should get a screen size around 60 inches. With a smaller screen, you could still get a good viewing experience at 40 inches. Don’t forget that, with the larger screen, you need a higher quality image because the larger screen magnifies flaws.
Screen Size and TV Dimensions
While flat screen TV sizes are given as the diagonal screen size, that doesn’t help you when you’re trying to fit a TV into an available space or when you want a picture that’s the same size as an older model TV. You need the approximate height and width of a TV with a certain screen size to help you decide what will fit your requirements.
Old TVs had an aspect ratio, which is the ratio of width to height, of 4:3. Newer TVs are called “wide screen” and are designed to fit movies and videos that play on screens with an aspect ratio of 16:9. This means that the screen of an old 30-inch TV was 24 inches wide and 18 inches high. New 30-inch TVs have screens that are about 26 inches wide and 15 inches high. You can see that the new TVs have a picture that’s wider, but less high. To get the same picture height with your new TV as you had with the old one, you need a bigger model.
You can calculate the dimensions of TVs from their diagonals using simple factors. For the old 4:3 TVs, the width of the TV screen is the diagonal times 0.8. The height of the TV screen is the diagonal times 0.6. To get the approximate TV dimensions, you have to subtract about an inch because the bezel hides some of the screen, and add the width of the frame around the screen and the controls along the bottom. In this way, an old 36-inch TV has a screen about 29 inches wide and 22 inches high and the TV is about 32 by 26 inches.
The corresponding factors for the new 16:9 TVs are 0.87 for the width and 0.49 for the height. This means that a 60-inch TV has a screen width of 52 inches and a screen height of 29 inches. The bezel on flat screen TVs doesn’t hide much of the screen and the frame is narrow. A 60-inch TV might measure 54 by 32 inches. Using these factors lets you calculate what size of TV fits into your room.
If you’re replacing an old TV with a new 16:9 flat screen model, you may want to play old videos or programs that still have the 4:3 aspect ratio. In that case, your new TV has to have at least the screen height of your old one to get the same size picture. For example, the 36-inch TV has a screen height of 22 inches. To get a 22-inch screen height from a 16:9 model, you need a 44-inch TV. Your best bet is to prepare a table or spreadsheet on your computer and fill in the sizes of TVs you are considering, the dimensions of the TVs and some additional information such as screen resolution and features. Such an organized approach will help you make the best decision for your needs.
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