What Size TV should I Buy?

Whether gathering friends at your house to watch the Big Game or getting ready for the upcoming Olympic broadcasts, this is the perfect time to make sure you are getting the best picture from your big screen TV. It’s also a great excuse to upgrade to a new big(ger) screen HDTV.

Choosing a TV Size

Just a few years ago, there was much discussion about what size TV you should buy for a specific room size. There were rules about the distance between where you sit and the placement of the TV. Most of those rules now can be ignored. Picture quality is excellent, as you can’t see pixels on a 1080p full high definition, 40-inch TV when you are sitting as near as five feet to it. The larger the TV, the more likely it will appear grainy as the pixels become visible. Still, there are rarely visible pixels at just over six feet from a 50-inch TV, and you’ll only need to move back to about eight feet for a 60-inch TV.

If you choose a new UHD (Ultra High Definition) 4K TV, you can sit closer than four feet from a 70-inch TV and still have a crystal clear picture. The bottom line is: If you have a 1080p or 4K TV, you probably don’t have to worry about sitting too close to it unless you get a huge 80-inch or larger TV. This also means that it’ll be fine to set up chairs close to the TV for guests to watch the Super Bowl.

The bigger determinant, in what size TV you buy, might be the “wife acceptance factor” (or in my case, the “boyfriend acceptance factor”). If a TV is so big that it dominates the interior design of the room, your better half might not be happy. A TV that is 60 inches is closing in on a size that would quality as TV dominance in most small living rooms. A larger great room, or a room dedicated to your home theater, may be able to handle a 65-inch and above screen, but a 70-plus-inch TV should be reserved for enthusiasts or for home theater rooms.

TV Placement—Mounting vs. Media Center

Many people mount their TV on a wall, often over a fireplace. This is not the optimal place to put your TV for two reasons. The first is that you will be looking up at the TV, which could cause neck strain. The second problem with this placement is that there is loss of picture quality when the TV is placed far above eye-level. When mounting on a TV on a wall, consider placing it no higher than head level. It is also true that apparent picture quality can drop if you sit to the far right or left of the screen, so it’s not optimal to place a TV in a corner unless the couch is facing it directly, at an angle.

Get the Best TV Picture for Sports

Before you put out the chips and dip, make sure you optimize your TV to get the best picture.

* Change the picture mode to “Sports.” Most TVs have preset modes for movies, sports, etc. The Sports mode offers vivid colors to make the grass greener and the jerseys brighter.

* If your TV has a “refresh rate” of 120Hz or more, be sure that it is turned on. In the picture menu on your TV, there will often be a setting to turn this feature on, or to turn it high or low. Choose high for sports to reduce the chance of blurring as the player runs down the field or the bobsled speeds down the course in the Olympics. Samsung calls this Clear Motion Rate and Sony calls it MotionFlow (choose Clear Plus).

* Closing shades or curtains (blackout curtains are best) will decrease the ambient light. This reduces glare and makes the picture look dark and rich. Some TVs have an ambient light feature that can enhance picture quality in bright rooms. If your TV has it and you don’t have curtains, turn on the feature in the picture menu of your TV’s settings.

You’ll find the best picture quality when the blacks are darkest and all colors are deep and rich. Plasma TVs don’t have the problem with sitting off-axis as much as LCD or LED LCDs. Better TVs have a wider “field of view” where the picture quality is still good.

Barb Gonzalez ~ The Simple Tech Guru

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