What's the Right TV Screen Size for My Room

The original TV screen size guideline for standard-definition televisions was to get a television with a screen size three to six times smaller than the distance where you'd sit. If you sat 12 feet (or 144 inches) from your standard-definition television, you'd want a television with a screen size between 24" and 48".

For high-definition screens, the rule is significantly altered. Because the resolution is so much better on high-definition screens, you can sit much closer to the television and still enjoy good picture quality. The rule for HD televisions is to get a screen size 1.5 to 3 times smaller than the sitting distance. If you're sitting 6 feet from your HDTV, you'll want to go with a screen size 24" to 48". You can sit twice as close to your HDTV as you could with your old standard-definition television. If your budget doesn't support the television that your room warrants, you might want to move your couch closer to your new television.

Choose Your Size, and Then Go Bigger
Many television shoppers complain that they wish they'd gotten a bigger TV after they've had their new television for a few weeks. If you're teetering on the edge of two television sizes, get the bigger TV. It's much less common to have buyer's regret over a television that's too large than one that's too small.

Consider Your Source
Some HDTV users complain that standard-definition sources really look bad on their new televisions. Because HDTVs have such a high resolution, standard-definition sources look worse on a new HDTV than old standard-definition televisions. If you use primarily standard-definition sources, consider getting a smaller HDTV. With a smaller screen, the imperfections of the standard-definition source material are less prominent. If you choose to get a smaller television, think about whether you'll want to upgrade to high-definition sources in the near future. If you currently have SD cable but want to upgrade to HD cable in a few months, it may be worth getting the large television and suffering through the poor signal quality until you upgrade. However, if you're using primarily HD sources, you'll appreciate the impressive visual quality of a large screen.

Be Kind to Your Eyes
Sitting too close to a large television that requires you to visually scan across the picture to see the whole screen can cause eye strain and fatigue. The best way to determine if your television is a good size for your room is to measure how far your seating area is from your television, go to a store, stand at the corresponding spot and look at the displays. Can you see the entire screen without moving your head or eyes? Does it physically look too large in your range of sight? All the calculations in the world can't beat the good old fashioned physical viewing, so try to find a model of similar size to check out before you make a purchase.

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