TV Buying Guide: Does Size Really Matter?



Buying a new TV for the summer of sport? Check out our guide to screen size - where we show you why bigger is generally better and advise on choosing the right size set for your living room

Buying a new TV for the summer of sport? 

Screen size and quality are the number one priorities for people when it comes to researching a new TV. 

So we've created the ultimate guide to all things 'screen size' - where we show you why bigger is generally better but why choosing the right size set for your living room is even better.

'Bigger IS better' - the experts say...

Samsung Curved UHD 8500

Tech experts are unanimous on this - to get the best from your TV's picture quality you want a bigger screen.

Andy Clough, editor-in-chief at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, said: "We generally urge people to go for a bigger screen than they might be tempted to, especially if they're upgrading to HD."

Cnet TV guru David Katzmaier wrote in his TV Buying Guide that "more than any other 'feature' like Smart TV, 3D or higher refresh rates, stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money". 

BUT, don't buy a set that's too big for your room

LG 105inch UHD

Although the experts are clear that bigger is better, you must also have perspective on the size of your living room. If you live in a small house with a tiny living room, you're not going to want a huge screen just a few inches from your face.

Andy at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision suggested 32-inches as the absolute minimum size, but added that increasingly "people are upgrading to 40-42in".

This trend for bigger screens is evidenced by statistics from Ofcom with figures showing the number of people buying jumbo TVs of 43-inches upwards rose nearly 5% last year.

TechRadar says in its TV buying guide that the 40 to 42-inch category is the fastest growing sector of the market and "offers possibly the best value TVs around".

Viewing distance guide to get the right size TV 

To help you work out the right size for your living room we've created a handy viewing distance guide, linking screen sizes to how far you sit from the TV.

Screen Size                    Viewing Distance

Up to 32inch:                 Less than 1.5m

32-39inch:                     1.5 - 2m

40-45inch:                    1.5m - 2.5m

46-55inch:                     2.5 - 3m

Over 56inch:                 Over 3m


Interiors expert Oliver Health has been working with us on how to get the best TV for your living room.

He explained: "When watching HDTVs you can watch on a larger screen from a smaller distance compared to a smaller standard screen, as the resolution is better, so you'll be less distracted by the screen's pixels.  However bigger TVs, particularly HDTVS will offer a more immersive experience."

Bigger TVs are getting smaller (kind of)

Screen Size

Because TVs are now made with narrower bezels (the plastic edge surrounding the screen) they take up less space. This means a modern 46-inch LED TV is approximately the same size as a 40-inch LCD TV of 2008.

Andy Clough at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision explained: "With a lot of the newer models the bezel around the screen is now so thin that a larger TV will actually take up less space than you think.

"For example, I've just upgraded from a 42in to a 46in and although the screen size is bigger, the overall width of the TV is not that much greater, so it takes up a similar amount of space as the old 42in."

The hub of the living room for a summer of sport

Although we have other distractions such as laptops and tablets, the main TV is still the hub of the living room.

Figures from Ofcom show that 91% of UK adults gather in the living room to watch the main TV. But perhaps this will be even more the case this summer, when families come together to cheer on England in the football.

A look back at the TVs of years gone by...

Dixons _TVsize _1000heads _2014-04-10

If you have the family around for the match, you want a decent-size screen to watch it on.

James Thickett, Ofcom's Director of Research, said: "Our research shows that increasingly families are gathering in the living room to watch TV just as they were in the 1950s - but now delivered on bigger, wider and more sophisticated sets." 

Now you know what size TV you want, it's time to check out our guide to picture quality.