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TV & streaming

Big mistake people make buying a TV is picking the wrong size. Here’s the formula to use.

Ready to pounce on a bargain-priced 4K television for your living room or (wo)man cave? Scoring a great deal on a TV this time of year is no big feat as discounted sets litter every department store and online retailer site.

Unfortunately, the low, low price entices you to pay for a supersized TV and when you get home, you discover it won’t fit through your front door, let alone in the space you designated. Take a moment, wave to the neighbors and let buyer’s remorse set in.

The good news is with a bit of homework, you can avoid the regret and the embarrassment when you send your dream screen back to the store. Here’s how to figure out what size to buy. Since you’re looking for a new TV, why not add a streaming device as well? Tap or click for our buying guide on the best streaming gadgets.

Expectation versus reality

While fitting a massive discounted 90” TV into your living room is your hope, there are several factors, in addition to room size and budget, you should take into account to ensure this setup can become a reality:

  • Television size
  • Viewing distance
  • Viewing angles
  • Screen resolution

Let’s take a look at how each can affect what size television you should purchase.

Related: FBI issues dire warning about smart TVs and hackers

Size does matter

If you’ve determined to mount your new TV, it’s time to measure the space’s height, width and even depth, if you have a surrounding entertainment center or something similar.

Because it’s typical for television boxes to list their screen sizes, remember this number does not include the outside dimensions. Make sure to include the frame when measuring the TV to ensure it fits in your home.

You must further consider the dimensions of the TV stand if you intend to situate the set on a cabinet or console. The stand or feet of the television must rest entirely on the furniture, as any part that extends over the edge could lead to disaster if bumped.

Note: The screen size of a TV is measured diagonally, either from the bottom left corner of the screen to the top right screen corner or bottom right up to the top left.

Come a little closer

The ultra-high definition (UHD) of today’s TVs translates to double the resolution of traditional HD sets. What does this mean for you as a viewer? You can sit closer than you would with an older model television and not discern individual pixels.

The higher pixel density allows you to watch a larger screen from closer seating, but if you want to get the best viewing experience, try this Home Theater Calculator. It helps you determine the ideal screen size for your viewing distance.

Remember to choose a television that meets your space measurements, regardless of suggested TV size determined with viewing distance calculators.

While it all boils down to personal preference, there is a simple formula that provides a good starting point: Viewing distance (in inches)/2 = recommended TV size. For example, if you usually sit 10 feet from the TV, that’s 120 inches (10 feet x 12 inches).

There’s not a bad seat in the house

If you plan on buying a standard HDTV, you need to consider viewing angles. This is especially true if you have multiple seating areas for viewing the television. To ensure the image quality doesn’t degrade for those sitting off to the side, look for a TV that offers wide-angle viewing.

While the viewing angle is an issue associated with LCD TVs, it should not be a problem with UHD/4K sets. Want to further tech out your living space? Tap or click here to check out our Smart gadgets holiday buying guide.

Bigger is not always better

Of course you want the most sizable screen for your available space and budget. The problem is if you opt for a cheaper big screen from a lesser-known brand, you may be forced to sacrifice picture quality.

The better choice would be to go with a big-name model that offers a smaller high-quality screen for a comparable price. You will find the better picture quality will make up for any loss in size.

With a small amount of homework, you’ll be ready to watch your perfect-fit TV, free of buyer’s remorse.

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