How to figure out what size TV you should buy

Is bigger really better? Here's how to figure out what size TV you need

TVs aren’t one-size-fits-all. Far from it, actually. Each room has its own Goldilocks zone, with several factors coming together — how far from the screen you’re going to be sitting and whether you’re going to mount the television on the wall, for example — to determine how large you can go. Even if you’re your funds are limited, you can still get a whole lot of screen real estate at a rock-bottom price. Although, you’re going to want to keep in mind that bigger is not always better, particularly when shopping for a supersized television on a budget. It’s all about striking the perfect balance.

Here’s how to figure out which TV size you should buy.

Will it fit in your TV room?

Before you start shopping, you’ll need to decide where you want your TV to live. 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 television 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 dimensions for an answer as to whether it will slot into the space available.

How wide is the stand?

The second size-related consideration is the television’s attached stand. If you aren’t going to mount your television on a wall, this will play a big part in how much space it takes up on your console table, and many newer TVs have feet at the far edges. You need to ensure that wherever you plan on placing the television is wide enough to accommodate the stand. You’ll want to be strict here, too. Often, people think it’s safe to let the corners overhang, forgetting that it’s been designed to rest on a flat surface. Fail to do so and the faintest breath of wind could send the whole thing tumbling over.

How far 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, there’s a simplified calculation that you can do to work it out yourself: Measure the distance from your seat to the television in inches and multiply by 0.84. This should give you the ideal screen size.

This method isn’t perfect, of course. For instance, 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 — make sure you’re sitting more than four feet from the television itself and you should get on just fine.

Size vs. quality

If you’re trying to maximize screen real estate on a tight budget, you’re going to have to have to sacrifice picture quality. As such, we’d recommend — as per our comprehensive TV buying guide — striking a balance between the two factors for long-time enjoyment. So instead of going for that massive 65-inch 4K TV from an up-and-coming brand that’s on the shelves for just $500, consider opting for the smaller 55-inch, big-name model next to it for $550. Chances are, it has a far better screen, and that’ll result in a much more immersive viewing experience, even more so when using HDR.

The video accompanying this article features the 65-inch Samsung Q9F 4K QLED TV, the BDI OLA stand, and the Sony A1E 4K OLED TV.

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