If you’ve ever sat in the front row of a movie theater, you understand the problem of proportions. You don’t want to stare into an actor’s stomach for most of a film (or maybe you do, but that’s a blog for another time). The size of the screen matters as does how far you are from it.
It’s the same for the size of your home TV screen. You don’t want to have to sit so close that you lose half the picture or too far away that faces are minuscule, or you can’t hear the sound accurately. You also don’t want such a large TV that it overpowers your living room.
Whether your TV will hang on a wall or sit on a console, remember that bigger is not always better: it’s a good idea to figure out the Goldilocks-right TV size for your room.
How to measure TV size
The size of a screen is measured diagonally from corner to corner — not including the TV’s “frame.” A 65-inch TV is actually about 55 inches.
Besides the physical size of the screen, you’re also measuring clarity, otherwise known as resolution. That comes from the number of pixels (think of dots) that make up a picture on the screen. Those Impressionist painters were onto something; the more dots the better the resolution. And think about how far away you need to stand to see the beauty of the whole picture.
Older TVs and some current 32-inch models have resolutions of about 1 million pixels (720p) and newer, larger TVs have more than 2 million pixels (1080p).
Many TVs over 50 inches have 8 million pixels, making them 4K Ultra HD (high-definition). And the latest and greatest and most expensive TVs have over 33 million pixels (8K).
Where to place the TV in your room
Sure, hanging a TV on a wall frees up space in your room, but it also may change the nature of the room. The TV, especially if it’s a large one, becomes the focal point.
Perhaps you have a great piece of art you’d like to rest your eyes on or a large picture window overlooking nature. A console TV, which would take up precious real estate in your apartment, might be a better choice if only because you can move it easily. But if you choose to hang your TV, and if it’s possible due to the size of your room, find a wall that may detract less from some other area you feel is more important to look at.
Should I hang a TV on the wall?
People often hang televisions above a fireplace. However, it is not the best choice as a gas fireplace generates 20,000 to 35,000 BTUs of heat. Heat and electronics are not good friends. Mounting a TV above an electric fireplace is not as bad since that type of fireplace generates less heat. According to Bob Vila’s Home Advisor site, “Only mount a TV above a fireplace if the temperatures in that spot do not surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Another reason you might not choose to hang your TV above the fireplace is that the TV will be too high, and you’ll have to crane your neck to see it. Plus, the viewing angle will throw off the picture quality.
TV manufacturers suggest mounting your television at eye level, but of course, the ability to do this depends on which room you’re going to watch television in. Will you be sitting in a living room on a low couch to watch TV? Lying in bed? Seated at tall bar stools at a counter?
In general, Samsung suggests mounting a TV 42 inches from the floor to the center of the TV, “should meet the approximate eye level of someone who is 5 feet 6 inches tall sitting on a standard couch.”
If you’re lying in bed, that’s a different story. You’ll want to put a TV on a tall dresser at the end of the bed or mount it to the ceiling.
No wall space? No problem
If you’ve really got a very small apartment and no wall to spare, maybe your apartment building does. Skip the in-home TV and watch movies and shows on your laptop. When you need a big screen, take yourself to your building’s media center.
How far away you should sit from a TV?
Base the distance you sit from the television on the TV’s size and clarity. And, of course, the room needs enough space so you will have enough space to sit those “x” number of feet away.
The electronic experts at Crutchfield recommend a viewing distance of 1.5–2.5 times the diagonal measurement for Ultra High Definition (1080p) TVs, and 1–1.5 times the screen size for a 4K Ultra HD TV.
For example, if you have a 40-inch 1080p TV, an ideal viewing distance is 5-8.3 feet. For that same size screen in a 4K version, you’d sit 3-3.5 feet from the screen. These measurements will make for optimum viewing.
What about the distance from the TV and sound?
TV is not just for seeing, after all.
The size of the TV doesn’t necessarily affect its sound output, but if you’re sitting too far you might have issues hearing. Rather than constantly bumping up the sound you might try a soundbar, wireless headphones or running the sound through your stereo speaker.
What’s the right TV size for my room?
Ultimately, there’s no magic formula, but you’ll want the largest screen you can get that doesn’t overpower your space and where its placement allows you to relax comfortably while watching it.