Size up your screen
TVs come in sizes from 5 inches to more than 100 inches diagonal; however, we recommend a size of at least 32 inches for a bedroom TV and at least 40 inches for a living room or main TV. If you're replacing an existing TV set, those sizes might seem too big--tube televisions had a maximum size of 36 inches--but trust us, a relatively big HDTV is a wonderful thing. In fact, more than any other "feature" we discuss on the next few pages, we consider stepping up in TV screen size the best use of your money. One of the biggest post-TV-purchase complaints we heard is from people who didn't, well, go big enough.
Screen size versus your room
How big can you go? Your upper limit will be determined by your budget, taste, and by the space where you want to put the TV. If you want to fit an existing entertainment center, make sure you have at least an inch on the sides and top of the TV cavity to allow for ventilation, then shoot for a TV that can fill that space without being too big (usually too wide). HDTV width is generally 1 inch to 3 inches less than the screen size, so a 46-inch TV is typically 44 inches wide, whereas a 65-inch TV is 63 inches wide.
Can you go too big? Definitely. Depending on your decor, you might not want the TV to "dominate the room" too much. If that's a concern, it might be worthwhile to tape together a cardboard panel that's the same size as the TV you're considering and place it where you want to locate the TV so you can get an idea of its size.
Seating distance is also a factor, although from a picture quality perspective with high-definition sources, you can sit pretty close to the screen and still not see any loss in quality. In a perfect videophile world, you'd want to sit no closer than 1.5 times the screen's diagonal measurement, and no farther than twice that measurement to the TV. For example, for a 50-inch TV, you'd sit between 75 and 100 inches (6.25 and 8.3 feet) from the screen. Many people are more comfortable sitting farther back than that, but of course the farther away you sit from a TV, the less immersive feeling it provides.
Screen size versus your wallet
This table lists the average minimum price for a TV given its screen size, our estimated "typical" price for a mainstream model in that size, and, just to keep things interesting, the maximum price for that size; as you can imagine, the sky's the limit for high-end HDTVs.
|Screen size||32 inches||37 inches||40, 42 inches||46 inches||50, 52 inches||54, 55 inches||58, 60 inches|
At this point you can go to your favorite Web site, search for HDTVs, sort your chosen screen size by "lowest price," buy it, and perhaps be perfectly happy with your entry-level TV. It might lack the features, style, and picture quality of more-expensive models, but it will display high-definition TV channels and HD content like Blu-ray and video games with plenty of detail, and many people are perfectly happy with that. As we explain in HDTV 101, any high-definition television is an improvement in most areas compared with standard-resolution televisions.
However, if you're interested in spending more than the minimum to get more features or potentially better performance, you should keep reading.
- Panasonic TC-P60ST60
- Panasonic TC-P65ST60
- Panasonic TC-P55ST60
- Panasonic TC-P50ST60
- Panasonic TC-P50ST50