Is your TV too big?
Screen sizes are inching up, but going big may not be in your best interest. You have to consider the ideal amount of space between the TV and the people watching it.
This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site MarketWatch.
With TV watchers immersed in college and professional football games, Major League Baseball playoffs, and season openers for hot shows like "The Walking Dead" and "Dexter," it's relatively easy for manufacturers and retailers to make the case for increasingly bigger big-screen TVs.
Shoppers may not want to buy into the hype, though -- a bigger set can often mean a worse viewing experience.
Industrywide, the screen size of the average TV produced has grown by 2 inches over the past year, to 36.8 inches as of August, according to DisplaySearch, a division of research firm NPD Group. Sharp has the biggest average size of panels shipped, at 48.3 inches -- and the biggest jump from last year, when that figure was 39.1 inches. Samsung screens are averaging 39.4 inches versus 37 inches last year, while LG-brand screens have increased to 38.9 from 36.2 inches last year.
The bigger the sets available, the bigger the sets consumers tend to buy, particularly in the U.S., where shoppers are typically more interested in screen size than features, says Paul Semenza, senior vice president of DisplaySearch. "It's about, how big of a set can I get into my room?" he says. The Consumer Electronics Association projects a 27% increase in sales of sets 60 inches and bigger next year, versus 6% for 55- to 59-inch sets.
Plus, as set prices drop, it's easier to get a bigger and better set for the same price during your next upgrade. And deals tend to be on larger-than-average models. Right now, manufacturers are pushing 46- and 47-inch models the hardest, says Louis Ramirez, the senior features writer for sale-tracking site Dealnews.com. "We're predicting the 46-inch category is going to be the new 42-inch," he says.
That was previously the sweet spot for pricing, which could entice more shoppers to buy even a little bigger. At the same time, shoppers may find smaller models -- like 32-inch sets -- less attractive, too. Most bear lesser-known brand names and lack the features of bigger models, like built-in Wi-Fi, he says.
But going bigger often isn't better for viewers. Retailers and installers often reference "optimal viewing distance" -- the ideal amount of space between a set and the person watching it. The bigger the set, the more space you'll need. The Consumer Electronics Association's rule of thumb is to sit at a distance of two to three times the screen's diagonal measurement. In other words, for that 46-inch set, viewers should be at least 7.67 feet away, but no further than 11.5 feet. For a 60-inch set, the span widens to between 10 and 15 feet.
Problem is, many people with fixed living room setups don't have that kind of space. That leads to a viewing experience that can be outright bad. "It's the same amount of pixels spread out over a larger viewing area," Semenza says. "On these really big sizes, you get anywhere near the set and you can see the pixels." Sitting too close can also cause eyestrain, points out Ramirez.
Assuming shoppers aren't buying that new 80-inch set for the great room of their mansions, they have two options: One, rearrange furniture to get maximum viewing distance, and buy the biggest set that works for that space. Or consider being an early adopter and springing for one of the new 4k TVs, which have four times the resolution of 1080p sets, Semenza says. (That solution has its own problems, including price tags in the neighborhood of $20,000, and no ultra-high-resolution content to take advantage of all those extra pixels.)
Even shoppers in the market for a smaller set may want to wait another month or two, Ramirez says. Those 46-inch sets, currently priced about $400, could see price drops of as much as 25% by Black Friday. "If you can hold off, definitely hold off," he says. "Holiday sales could save you a few hundred dollars."
More on MarketWatch and MSN Money:
"I've got 13 (hundred) channels of S*** on the TV to choose from"....
I bought a brand new 35" a few years ago and asked my mother if she wanted the old one. She got mad that I hadn't bought her a new tv.
get the set you want.
don't tell your mom.
I can't believe this article with its false information!
They are claiming one should sit at 3x the screen diagonal when the HD enthusiast sites recommend about half that (1.5 : 1 - 2 : 1). I also use computers and computer sites recommend that one doesn't get closer than 1.5 to 1 for the distance away vs. the screen diagonal and that advice applies here too. A 20" diagonal screen should be no closer than 30" from your eyes (about the length of your arm). A 40" screen should be 5 feet away.
In reality, you should look at the diagonal angle you feel comfortable with viewing at the movies and use that ratio (you can use fingers and thumbs outspread at arm's length to get the angle while at the theater) at home. Measure the distance from your eyes to the screen location at home so you can test that vewing angle correctly at the store. Most of you will find that is about a 1.5 : 1 to 2 : 1 ratio.
I could understand this if there were any good TV programs to watch. But other than the news and PBS, I find most TV insulting, boring and just plain dumb.
And then the commercials - do they really think we are that stupid?
I still have my old analog TV, have cable and get some 250 stations - and 5 are worth watching.
I use it more for the music channels than anything else.
Instead of larger TV's how about better Programs?
What I want to know is what moron decided on the 9 x 16 aspect ratio of all "wide-screen" displays?
No TV programming or any DVD's use that ratio!
No matter which display format you choose, something is either blank, clipped or distorted.
The dimensions of a HDTV are deceptive. While older TVs had a similar diagonal measurement, the picture area was greater than that of a HDTV. Someone who had a 32" older TV would have to buy a 37" HDTV to get the same impact. Resolution becomes a factor too when you can sit closer to the HDTVs and not see horizontal scan lines. Larger is better with HDTV. It might upset some stupid interior designer who knows nothing about how real people appreciate their media, but those designers are still designing pretty little rooms with light carpeting and a reading nook and a precious quality that doesn't function well in the real world. You don't even have to have a special room if the space is designed correctly. I have a 47" HDTV I sit 10 feet away from. It is not too big. I want a 60" because I love movies.
My guess is that there are still a few folks who haven't 'upgraded' to a flat-screen TV. The article provides good information relating to the size of the TV in proportion to the size of your living space. However, many folks don't realize how easy it is to end up with a 'smaller' picture when upgrading from a standard screen TV to a wide screen TV.
Here's something you NEED to know: Preserve the screen height when upgrading.
(A wider TV might have an overall larger 'diagonal' screen measurement, but you might actually loose height. It is like watching a wide screen movie on a standard TV; the top and bottom are blacked out so the width of the picture fits.)
The TV screen size is the measure of the diagonal of the screen. So, you really don't know the height of your screen unless you measure it (or work it out mathematically). If you have a 27 inch standard screen, you will lose picture height if you purchase a 27 inch wide screen TV. In fact, to keep the same picture height, you will need to purchase a 42 inch wide screen TV or bigger.
If you think it through, it makes sense. A wide screen TV adds substantial width. The additional width increases the 'diagonal' measurement without necessarily increasing the height.
So, before going to the store, measure the height of your screen. Then take your tape measure or yard stick to the store and measure the height of the wide screen TV you like. You will insure that you do not downgrade to a smaller picture while upgrading to a larger and more expensive TV.
(If you like math, a standard TV has a screen with a height to width ratio of 4:3. A widescreen TV has a ratio of 16:9. I think that is generally the case on wide screen TV's.)
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