Thursday, December 27, 2007

HDTV - What size screen should I buy?

The first thing you need to decide is how large a screen you want. Usually, the largest screens cost the most, but regardless, the TV should deliver the right-size picture for where you'll sit relative to the screen.

Sitting closer to a smaller TV means you won't have to spend as much on a big screen. But if you sit too close, the picture will look poor.

Regular TV-viewing distances

Most viewers feel comfortable sitting away from the set at a distance that's between three and six times the width of the screen. The following chart can give you a rough estimate of the minimum and maximum viewing distances for normal 4:3 televisions.

4:3 TV diagonal screen size Min. viewing distance (in metres) Max. viewing distance (in metres)
13 0.8 1.6
19 1.2 2.3
20 1.2 2.4
24 1.5 2.9
27 1.7 3.3
32 2.0 3.9
36 2.2 4.5
40 2.4 4.9

Wide-screen TV-viewing distances

You'll notice that we said normal televisions. Wide-screen TVs showing high-resolution DVD and HDTV look better than normal sets, allowing you to sit closer and experience a more immersive, cinema-like picture.

With wide-screen sets showing DVD or HDTV, you can sit as close as 1.5 times the screen's diagonal measurement and not notice any loss in quality, while sitting farther away than three times the screen size means you're likely to miss out on the immersive feel. Here's a rundown of minimum and maximum recommended viewing distances for wide-screen sets.

16:9 TV diagonal screen size Min. viewing distance (in metres) Max. viewing distance (in metres)
26 1.0 2.0
30 1.2 2.3
34 1.3 2.6
42 1.6 3.2
47 1.8 3.6
50 1.8 3.8
55 2.1 3.9
60 2.3 4.6
65 2.5 4.9

Size and your room

Generally, 24-inch and smaller sets are perfect 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 traditional tube TVs are also fairly deep and get bulkier as the screen size increases. You'll want to choose 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 centre, be sure it fits in every dimension; also, leave several centimetres 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.

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