How big is too big?

When it comes to TVs, manufacturers would have you believe that bigger is better – but does size really matter?

The average screen size of TVs purchased around the world is expected to creep up to 40 inches (102 centimeters) by 2016, from 22 inches (56 centimeters) in 1997, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Big screen TVs are expected to be one of the biggest draws to the CEA’s 2013 Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas this week.

While TV manufacturers still target more mainstream sizes of displays – there’s a trend showing how competing brands are targeting a “bigger is better” ethos.

Sony has revealed its mega 110-inch Ultra HD (UHD) LED TV, which is set to take on Samsung‘s 85-inch UN85S9 UHD giant as biggest boy on market.

Sharp has previous also risen to the big-screen challenge with its 90-inch Aquos LED TV, which held the title of biggest HD LED TV on market.

Quality over quantity

Viewing quality is a subjective measure based on a variety of factors.

Conventional wisdom says that the closer you are to a big screen with a low resolution, the worse the viewing quality would be.

Sitting too far away from a TV can also be a problem, as high quality detail can be lost.

Of course, it’s not also just about size. As TVs get bigger, manufacturers also up the resolution to improve picture quality – and Ultra HD is the new buzzword.

Ultra HD displays (also called “4K”) are displays with four-times the pixels (3840 × 2160) found in most flat-panel TVs today (1920 x 1080). Sharp is also said to be giving a glimpse at 8K technology (7680 x 4320 pixels) at CES 2013.

From the TV size, resolution and pixel density to the viewer’s eyesight and viewing distance from the actual TV – these factors impact the quality of image you’re viewing.

So when it comes to big displays, what is the perfect place to sit to enjoy optimal quality – and will the size of the display in question add, or detract from the viewing experience?

Getting practical

According to the Consumer Electronics Association – the group responsible for CES – there exists a standard to measure the ideal practical size of a TV, which takes into account the more quantifiable factors.

It is important to select a screen size that “fits” your room. Bigger is generally better, but sit too close and the picture may look grainy or fuzzy. Sit too far away and you may have trouble immersing yourself in the high-resolution picture.

Selecting the right size set for your room is easy using this simple calculation:

1. Measure distance from TV to sitting position.
2. Divide by 2 and then by 3 to get ideal screen size range.

The resulting numbers will be your ideal screen sizes.

Put another way, the ideal distance varies from about 2 to 3 times the screen’s diagonal width.

Considering the recent announcements coming out of CES 2013, Sony’s 110-inch giant would thus require a practical viewing distance of between 5.6 and 8.4 metres, according to this standard.

Panasonic‘s 152-inch TH-152UX1W monster would require a viewing range of 7.9 – 11.9 metres.

Displays with improved resolution, such as 4K and 8K, should allow users to sit closer to the screen without losing visual quality – but this new technology does not come cheap.

Presumably, though, if you can offord the price of a TV that large (with prices expected in the tens-of-thousands of dollars), you can afford the space to put it in.

How big is too big for a TV? Simply put – as big as your wallet and practical viewing space allow for.

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How big is too big?