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TV Technology Roundup

TechReport (UK)

Screen size

What size of TV screen do I need?

This has been an important question for many years and remains so now.

One school-of-thought has it that the viewer should buy the largest size of screen that they can fit into the space available (either stand mounted on a shelf / cabinet, or wall-mounted).

This is really not necessary however – the size of the screen should generally be large enough to fill the viewer’s field of view at the chosen viewing position – typically a sofa or chair. Any larger than this and the effect is wasted and the purchaser should save their money (or buy a higher specification, smaller model).

The other factor that needs to be taken into account is the resolution of most of the material that will be watched on the TV – the higher the resolution, the closer the viewer should sit to be able to take advantage of the superior detail, the lower the resolution, the further away the viewer should sit to avoid ‘pixelation’ (jagged edges etc, as the TV cannot show enough detail to ‘smooth out’ transitions).

The optimum screen size by the resolution being viewed can easily be calculated as per the chart below:

Thus, for a viewer watching mostly Full-HD source material (say BBC1-HD terrestrial television) sitting about 8 feet away from the TV screen, a screen size of between 42” and 60” would be optimal.

Although the viewing position is probably fairly fixed in most cases, it is likely that many will be viewing sources at various resolutions – for example, Standard Definition broadcasts (most Freeview Channels), some HD streamed content (720p), Full HD broadcasts / Blu Ray disks (1080p) and some streamed UHD content (Netflix). In these cases, it is probably worth focusing in on what is most important (say the 1080p live TV) and selecting an optimum screen size on this basis.

Next: HD or UHD?

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