Design Dilemma: How Big is Your TV Screen?
When it comes to TVs, how big is big enough?
For most people, there seems to be no such thing as a television screen that is too big. It used to be that the standard TV screen size was about 26 inches. That soon became 32 inches, then 46 inches. These days many of the people we know are buying 60 inch TV screens.
Talk to any TV salesman and you’ll hear the conventional wisdom: you should go with the largest screen your room, viewing distance, and budget will accommodate. Why? Because while people often later wish their TV screen was bigger, few complain about having bought a TV that is too big.
Following this standard wisdom, the following screen sizes are suggested based on viewing distance:
26″ 3.25-5.5 feet
32″ 4.0-6.66 feet
37″ 4.63-7.71 feet
40″ 5-8.33 feet
46″ 5.75-9.5 feet
52″ 6.5-10.8 feet
58″ 7.25-12 feet
65″ 8.13-13.5 feet
70″ 8.75-14.75 feet
While we’re sure you’ll be able to see the screen quite well if you follow the above guidelines, we’re not so sure you’re going to like the look and feel of your room. Let’s face it, TV screens are not beautiful to look at when not in use. A huge, hulking screen can’t help but take center stage in any room. Do you really want it that way?
Our own guidelines run something like this:
1) Gear your TV screen size to the importance and frequency TV viewing has in your home. Obviously, if TV watching is an important activity in your home, you want to be sure the screen is of adequate size.
2) Think of the room in which your TV will be used. If your room is a media room dedicated only to TV viewing, you’re safe choosing a large screen that will take center stage. But if a TV is to fit into a multifunctional room meant to accommodate many different activities, you might want to consider taking it down a notch.
3) Keep in mind viewing frequency when deciding on placement as well. If you’re a heavy TV viewer, you’ll want the screen placed at about eye level (from the viewpoint of sitting in a couch or chair). It’s best to place it directly across from the seating area. If you want to downplay the TV’s importance, consider placing it on an angle from the seating area. The viewing might not be optimal, but the TV will recede in importance.
4) Keep lighting in mind. Obviously a bright window across from a TV can create glare on the screen, no matter how big your screen. And bright window behind a TV can also cause problems, as your eyes may have difficulty adjusting to the difference in brightness. Don’t watch your TV in total darkness. A little bit of light shining on the wall behind the screen will reduce the chance that the TV’s range of brightness causes eyestrain.
And below, check out two different rooms that prioritize TV viewing in a different way. In the first photo, it’s obvious the owner is not a heavy TV watcher. We imagine a single person or a couple who seldom use the set, except maybe to catch the evening news. In the second photo, you can see that TV watching is more important and the set has been chosen, and the room designed accordingly. We imagine a family with a deluxe cable subscription settling down in front of the TV for regular movie nights. To each his own but don’t feel you have to stick to the rules or keep up with the Jones. When it comes to TV size, do what works for your lifestyle!