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Sizing up your TV

The Formula—Helpful or Bogus?

Theoretically, there’s a formula for calculating “ideal” screen-to-viewing distance. Ideal because some experts say it’s the distance you should sit from you TV so that you see the whole image without seeing the lines or pixels used to create it. But you know how theories can be. Nevertheless, it looks something like this:

Trouble is, some say the equation should be 5 times the size of your screen, not 2.5. On top of that, TV technology has advanced to such a remarkable degree that larger screens can now accommodate much shorter viewing distances.

So what’s a shopper to do? Keep the formula in its proper perspective and follow the steps below.

Figuring Your TV Size

  1. Pull out a measuring tape and measure the viewing distance from your favorite spot to where the TV will be.
  2.  Divide the viewing distance by 5. This gives you the smallest screen size you should consider. Dividing the viewing distance by 2.5 suggests the largest screen your space will accommodate. The results of these two calculations give you the range of TV sizes you should be considering.
  3. Compare the TV experience you desire to the TV experience you can afford. Price ranges look something like this:

    Direct View TV: $150 – $2,500

    LCD:   $500 – $20,000

    Rear Projection TV: $800 – $5,000

    Plasma TV:  $1,500 – $70,000

    Front Projection TV: $1,000 – $150,000

  4. Make a decision. Take it home. Set it up and take a seat. Leave the final judgment up to your eyes. If you can see dots and lines the TV is probably too big or you should consider a higher resolution TV. If you feel like you’re in the back row of a movie theater, you’ll want a bigger TV. Bottom line: buy from a retailer that has a trusty return policy. It’s your prerogative to not be merely satisfied, but absolutely ecstatic.


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