When shopping for the centrepiece of your digital lounge room, the first decision to make is the screen size you're looking for. Larger size LCD and plasma flat screen TVs are growing in popularity, but there are some important rules of thumb to keep in mind.
Our HDTV Buyer's Guide in the July 09 issue of PC Authority has expert tips, tricks and secrets to buying an HDTV on a budget, including the following advice about screen size:
Televisions are measured diagonally, and you'll want at least 37 inches to enjoy the benefits of high-def content. If you've only got around $1500 to spend, you might still get your hands on a 50in giant - but bigger isn't always better.
Be sure to take the size of your room into consideration. Videophiles insist the optimal viewing distance for Full HD 1080p content is around 1.5 times the size of the screen. A quick bit of maths will tell you the optimal viewing distance for 1080p on 52in Sony Bravia television is around 2 metres - which isn't really that practical.
Most people would find a minimum of 2 times the screen size more comfortable, pushing back to around 4x for standard-definition content.
So should you march out and buy a 50in giant if your lounge room is at least 2.5 metres wide? Only if you want it to dominate the room.
This might not bother you if you're setting up a dedicated home theatre room, but it might if you're dropping this giant television into a multi-purpose living area which you share with your ‘significant other'.
Also in this series:
How to Pick a Great Flat Screen TV, And Not Get Sucked In By Marketing Hype, Part 2: Refresh rates
How to Pick a Great Flat Screen TV, And Not Get Sucked In By Marketing Hype, Part 1: Brightness and contrast ratios
Also see our 5 tips for buying a digital TV set top box
And also see the lowdown on Freeview, and whether you should care
If you're new to Digital TV, or have yet to make the leap, start by reading Prepare yourself for Digital TV