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Choosing The Right TV Screen Size


Choosing the screen size for your television seems easy to most....just get the biggest TV Screen I can afford. But rather than focus on cost, you will be happier with your LCD TV or Plasma TV if it is the right screen for the location - in other words, deliver the right-size picture for where you sit relative to the screen.

In a smaller room, you only need a smaller screen. The downside is that the closer you view a TV screen, the poorer the picture quality, regardless of the type of television. It may also be straining on your eyes.

As a general guide, viewers generally feel most comfortable sitting at a distance between three and six times the width of the screen.


TV Size and Room Size

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.

If you're mounting the set inside an entertainment center, be sure it fits in every dimension; also, leave an inch or two on all sides so that the TV has enough ventilation.

If you're getting a bigger set, you may want to consider a dedicated stand; many TV makers sell matching stands that increase the aesthetic appeal of their hefty boxes.


Screen Sizes and Display Types

Most tube televisions have screens that measure between 13 and 36 inches diagonally. Above that, TVs switch from standard tubes to rear-projection or flat-panel models. Flat-panel LCDs can range anywhere from 5 inches to more than 60 inches diagonal, plasmas are between 37 and 103 inches, and rear-projection sets start at 37 inches and go to as large as 73 inches. These different TV types have their own strengths and drawbacks.

The charts below give you the recommended seating distances per screen size for both 4:3 and wide-screen TVs.

Size factors: Regular TV-viewing distances | Wide-screen TV-viewing distances |
Size and your room | Screen sizes and display types


Regular TV-viewing distances

Minimum and maximum viewing distances for regular 4:3 televisions.

4:3 TV diagonal screen size Min. viewing distance(in feet) Max. viewing distance(in feet)
13 2.6 5.2
19 3.8 7.6
20 4 8
24 4.8 9.6
27 5.4 10.8
32 6.4 12.8
36 7.2 14.8
40 8 16


Wide-screen TV-viewing distances

Wide-screen televisions showing high-resolution DVD and HDTV look better than regular televisions. This means you can sit closer and experience a more theater like picture. This helps viewers feel immersed in the screen action.

When viewing DVD or HDTV on a wide-screen set, you can sit as close as 1.5 times the screen's diagonal measurement and still not notice much of a loss in quality.

Sitting farther away than three times the screen size you start to lose that immersive feel.

Minimum and maximum recommended viewing distances for wide-screen sets.

16:9 TV diagonal screen size Min. viewing distance(in feet) Max. viewing distance(in feet)
26 3.3 6.5
30 3.8 7.6
34 4.3 8.5
42 5.3 10.5
47 5.9 11.8
50 6.3 12.5
55 6.9 12.8
60 7.5 15
65 8.1 16.2


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