What Size TV Should You Buy? Hint: It Depends on the Room

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated March 7, 2022
 Friends playing video games on the TV
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

Highlights

  • You want to purchase a TV that falls within 30 to 40 degrees of your field of view for the most optimal viewing experience

  • The further away you are from the TV, the larger the screen generally needs to be.

  • The most common TV size in North American households is 55 inches but is expected to increase to 65 inches based on purchasing numbers.

  • Mounting a TV allows you to ignore entertainment system restrictions that could impact size selection.

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Between resolution, type of screen, and whether you need streaming access, there’s still one question at the top when buying a TV: “What size should I get?” There’s no go-to answer. The reality of the situation is that it depends on the room and its layout. Here’s how to make the best choice for your space. 

The Different TV Sizes

There’s simply not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to TVs. There’s also only a limited number of sizes on the market because TV companies are limited to how display manufacturers are able to cut the screen. Currently, you can find TVs with these increments:

  • 32 inches

  • 40 inches

  • 43 inches

  • 50 inches

  • 55 inches

  • 60 inches

  • 65 inches

  • 70 inches

  • 75 inches

  • 80 inches

  • 85 inches

There are a few options out there that will go above or below these sizes, but they’re few and far between. You may also find slight variations in size, such as a 61-inch TV, but these are often limited to brands and are not the standard. 

TV Size to Distance Science

Picking a TV selection is actually a little bit of science. It’s important to note that 4K TVs are considered the standard resolution for TVs now, so the science behind this section will pertain to this resolution only. Lower-resolution models are harder to find and are often limited to smaller TVs (those 40 inches and below) and you’re often going to be close to these TVs anyway to not notice a difference in quality.

The rule of thumb for TV distance and size is the further away you are from the TV, the larger the screen size you’re going to need. Generally speaking, humans have a 200-degree field of view and you want the TV to fall within 30 to 40 degrees from the center of your view, depending on what type of media you prefer to consume. Here’s a list of recommended viewing distances based on the TV size:

Screen SizeRecommended Viewing Distance at 30 Degrees
40 inches5.5 feet
45 inches6.1 feet
50 inches6.8 feet
55 inches7.5 feet
60 inches8.2 feet
65 inches8.9 feet
70 inches9.5 feet
75 inches10.2 feet
80 inches10.9 feet
85 inches11.6 feet

Now, you may be a movie fanatic and want the best possible theater-like experience. In which case, you’ll want to actually increase your recommended degrees to 40 and move closer to the TV. For those looking for this type of view distance, here’s a list of recommended distances based on TV size:

Screen SizeRecommended Viewing Distance at 40 Degrees
40 inches4 feet
45 inches4 .5 feet
50 inches5 feet
55 inches5.5 feet
60 inches6 feet
65 inches6.5 feet
70 inches7 feet
75 inches7.5 feet
80 inches8 feet
85 inches8.5 feet

Mounting a TV vs. Putting the TV on a Stand

A large TV in a minimalistic living room
Photo: imaginima / E+ / Getty Images

Almost all TVs on the market have two ways to display it: propping it up on its included feet, or using the mounting holes to mount it to the wall. One of the things you need to consider when purchasing the perfect TV is whether you have an entertainment system large enough to even have the TV. If you’re going for a 65-inch TV but your entertainment system only supports up to 55 inches, you’re likely to have to either buy a new entertainment system—or return the TV.

To avoid this, you have the option to mound the TV and forgo the worry of having enough space on or in the entertainment system. The cost of mounting a TV is around $265 if you decide to hire a TV mounting service near you.

Which Room Is the TV Going In?

While it’s common to have a TV in the living room of the home, you may want one in several areas of the home as well. This may range from the bedrooms to the bathroom. The smaller the room, the less space you’re going to have to work with, but this typically also reduces the viewing distance, evening itself out.

What’s the Most Common TV Size and Viewing Distance?

The most common TV size is 55 inches size for the family room or living room. This puts the optimal viewing distance in most households at around 7.5 feet, or 5.5 feet for those looking for a more theatrical experience. Though, there are trends pointing towards 65-inch TVs being the most commonly purchased in the last couple of years, so the average size is expected to increase.

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