In a competitive, consumer-driven market you can get your hands on just about every TV size imaginable. Your TV cabinet and setup will likely dictate what size set you should opt for. But if you are wall-mounting a flatscreen then you have fewer limitations. 

Subconsciously we have this underlying idea that bigger is better. The manufacturers have cottoned on with TV ranging from 16-inches up to 85 and beyond. But how big should you go? Is there such a thing as too big and what factors should you consider first? 

To enjoy television you are going to want a decent-sized screen. If you aren’t shopping for a bedroom set that doesn’t need the entire family sitting around it then go big.

To keep it simple, the rule of thumb should be to buy the largest your budget allows for. However, room size and seating distance play an important role and ultimately affect your decision. So, we have dug up all the relevant info to help you.

TV Industry recommendations 

Those in the know will advise you to always measure your seating distance. They advocate having an ideal field of view. This is because the further you sit from your screen the smaller it appears. But it appears how big the field of view should ideally be isn’t an exact science. Many societies and industrial experts have different ideas and none seem to be agreed upon. 

Mathematically speaking, you need to multiply the seating distance to find the recommended diagonal measurement. The folks at THX suggest multiplying the distance by 0.835. This means if you are seated 9-foot away you should be looking at a screen with a 90 inch diagonal!

However, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers propose a more conservative 30-degree viewing angle. Multiplying your distance by around 0.625 which is far less.

The subject is a hot topic for debate. So viewing distances should be considered more of a guideline rather than a fool-proof rule. In reality, you have to think about other factors such as resolution, audiences, and the surrounding environment.

Resolution Considerations

While smaller and cheaper models may still be operating in (1080p or 720p) HD, Ultra HD 4K resolution is the new norm. If you have a modern TV chances are that will be your minimum resolution. Some models are now offering 8K resolutions to boot. 

To be frank, the resolutions available are overkill. To see the details they are capable of reproducing you would have to sit very close to a small screen or have a screen well over 100-inches. Your average big TV at a recommended 9-foot distance wouldn’t show the resolution details it made for. 

That means the resolution of any modern TV is going to be sufficient. Unless you are opting for home cinema sizes you don’t technically need the 8K resolution in the first place.

How good the picture looks on your end is dependent on the quality the content was shot in. So it is important to remember that lower-quality footage will look worse on a large TV screen. A big TV will enhance any flaws such as blockiness, pixelation, blurs, and fuzziness. In short with a large TV you will need to feed it 4K streaming and source UHD Blu-ray content to enjoy it.

Space Constraints

A big TV can either complement a room or overwhelm it. How your TV changes the appearance of the space it is in and how much you care about it is subjective. But a giant looming Tv can take over a room. So think about how much TV you watch and remember to consider what it will look like when it is not in use. 

Geoffrey Morrison describes this factor as ‘Room Domination’ and has some good ideas to share. He suggests taping a piece of cardboard with the dimensions of the set you are considering to see how you feel with its presence.

As someone who once owned a 12-foot projection screen, he loves a big screen but warns that it can dominate a space and isn’t to everyone’s taste. For more, you can head over to cnet and read what Geoffrey Morrison has to say on the subject

You need to decide if it is your television room or your ‘television’s room’ and pick a size that suits your lifestyle and home environment. 

In a smaller space, a large screen could take up most of a wall. If you can’t sit away from it you aren’t going to find you can relax and unwind with a bit of TV time comfortably. You may even find it hard to concentrate and use the space for other things when it is switched off. So think carefully and be honest with yourself.

Larger than Life Possibilities

Larger screens can be easier on the eyes for longer. A smaller screen only takes up a portion of your field of view. This means the brightness is not as uniform as a larger surface area. 

Sony Master Series Z9G 98-inch. Image credit: lifestyleasia.com

This is more apparent if you watch TV in a darkened environment. The difference between the space around the screen and the screen itself taxes your pupils and can cause fatigue. A Big screen gives you a larger field of view and means the light is evenly distributed within your field of vision. 

Although the SMPTE and THX give a distance recommendation. In Geoffrey’s article, he confesses that it isn’t something he subscribes to. He also believes the majority of consumers want more. So, If like him you want something bigger, what exactly are the limits?

Well, just as food for thought; He owns a 2.35:1 screen with a 128-inch diagonal. If he sits at a 9-foot distance pixels are slightly visible with a 1080p projector at full width. When he views it in standard 16×9 at 102-inches that isn’t the case. In 4k it looks great and he thinks anyone who wants a larger than average TV should just go for it, space and budget allowing.

He also adds that a projector produces less light so helps to minimize fatigue. For LCD TVs you can turn backlighting down if you like to watch TV in the dark.

The Crux of it All

At the end of the day, TV size boils down to a balance between personal preference and the budget you have to play with. If your lifestyle is centered around TV then your TV should be the heart of the room. A 50-inch sounds large but with modern resolutions and ultra-high-definition broadcasting you might find it too small to enjoy. 

The majority of buyers opt for a set between 65 and 75-inches and they are much more affordable than they once were.

Our real advice is, think about the space you have. If you fancy something over 88-inches for your viewing pleasure why not consider a projector?