A central element of most living rooms, the television set is probably the most widely used electronic device, along with the smartphone. It's easy to see that a new purchase is not insignificant, especially since prices represent a fairly substantial budget. To get a clearer picture, we've prepared a little guide to help you choose the right screen size for your new TV.
Whether it's a compulsive purchase, a little pleasure or a real need, buying a new TV requires some thought before you put your hands on your wallet. Choosing the right one is all the more difficult as manufacturers redouble their imagination to offer the best definition, the best features and increasingly sophisticated interfaces.
Beyond these considerations, the main purchasing criterion remains size. For some, this is where things get complicated. It is difficult to assess whether a particular screen size will be sufficient for your living room. On the other hand, some people may dream of an 89-inch screen when they don't have the necessary distance to fully enjoy it.
Because the choice of a TV set is based on several criteria that must be perfectly combined. Size, definition, distance, field of vision, all these elements are important. So we'll give you a few pointers so that you don't make a mistake when you make your next purchase.
Choosing the right format
While manufacturers generally offer screens in 16:9 format, others are beginning to become more widely available. As a reminder, the different formats will determine the width of the black bands surrounding the image. While most content is optimized for 16:9, movies are shot in 21:9, the format of a cinema screen.
It's up to you to determine what appeals to you the most and, above all, what best suits your needs. If you're a movie fan, the 21:9 format seems the most suitable. Some brands such as Samsung even offer curved tiles, especially for video game fans. If they are more immersive, the reflections are also more visible. So be careful where you position it. Near a window, you may not enjoy the experience. Unless you only view your content in the dark, in which case this is no longer an issue.
How to calculate the screen size?
Once you've chosen the format, the question remains as to whether your living room will be able to accommodate your TV. While we're all tempted by ever-larger screens, it's important to remember that size isn't everything. To calculate the diagonal of a screen, you'll need to do a little math.
Indeed, since the advent of LCD screens, screen sizes are no longer expressed in centimeters, but in inches (thank you Anglo-Saxons). One inch corresponds to 2.54 cm. A 55-inch screen, for example, measures 137.5 cm diagonal. If you live in a small apartment, this diagonal is already very comfortable. In any case, another element will be determining in the choice of the size: the backward movement.
Knowing how to take a step back
Rather than starting from the TV set to get to the setback, we recommend starting from the layout of your living room to get to the TV set. If the TV seems to blend easily with your furniture, it doesn't mean you've chosen the right size. We therefore advise you to measure the distance between your sofa (or bed) and the location of the TV.
Although we don't have to keep a large distance between the seat and the TV, it is still advisable not to damage your pretty peepers. Forget about the distance of 4 times the size of the TV, which dates back to the era of cathode ray tube TVs. Nevertheless, you will have to find the right balance between screen size, recoil and definition.
Indeed, the distance between the TV and your sofa will not be the same depending on whether you opt for a Full HD or Ultra HD 4K screen (or even 8K if you feel like it). The lower the definition and the closer you get, the more likely you'll be able to perceive the pixels on the screen.
The good news is that 4K is becoming more and more popular and you can now find good quality tiles without breaking the bank. This has the advantage of not forcing you to take too much distance. The bad news is that you will have to be patient to calculate the distance to be respected, each manufacturer having his own magic formula.
For example, Samsung explains (for its 4K screens) that you just have to multiply the diagonal (in centimetres) by 1.2 to get the right distance. By comparing with other manufacturers we have established that a multiplier of 1.5 is a good average. So, if you don't have more than two metres between your sofa and your TV, we advise you to go for 4K screens of 55 inches maximum.
For a Full HD definition, we recommend a multiplying factor of 2 to prevent you from perceiving the pixels on the screen if you're too close. So, for this type of screen and if you are no more than 2 metres away from the TV and the sofa, we recommend a maximum 49-inch screen.
The importance of the field of vision
It should be noted that these values are by no means an absolute truth. Hindsight is only one indicator among others. To enjoy an optimal experience, you must also take into account the field of vision. The Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) explains that if the human eye has a horizontal viewing angle of 120°, a screen must cover a field of view of 30° to enjoy television and sports events, and 40° for movies and series.
So, while we recommend a 2-metre setback for a 55-inch 4K screen, the SMPTE says you need to stand at 1.7 metres to enjoy your movies. This 30-centimetre difference should not have much effect on your eye strain. So you can get a little closer.
Usage and content: does it matter?
Today, you can view content in different definitions. Television for example is broadcast in HD (some channels go up to 4K), game consoles support Ultra HD (PS4 Pro, Xbox One X), you can access SVOD services in 4K or even opt for 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
One could therefore fear that a television program broadcast in HD would be difficult to watch on a 4K screen. Don't panic. Newer TVs are equipped with processors that can improve the picture quality through a process called upscaling. Simply put, your TV show broadcast in 720p is converted to 4K by the TV chip. Be careful, the better the initial content, the better the picture quality. So, watching The Lord of the Rings in 4K Blu-Ray will be much more enjoyable than watching it on a Sunday night. In the end, it's up to you.
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