How to buy a TV: everything you need to know to get a set that's right for you

Don't buy a TV without reading this first

Screen size

The range of screen sizes available today is immense, taking in everything from 14 inches to more than 100 inches. So how do you figure out the optimum size for you?

While some will always recommend going for the biggest screen you can afford that doesn’t spread over windows or doorways, there are a couple of different formula out there you may find helpful if you want a more scientific approach. 

According to THX, you should divide the diagonal width in inches of a screen you’re interested in by 0.84, with the result giving you the number of inches you’ll ideally be able to put between you and the screen. Using this method, if you get a 65-inch TV you should sit around 6.5 feet from it, or more likely you can perform the opposite calculation to choose a TV once you know how far you're able to sit from it. 

We suspect 6.5 feet will be a bit closer than most normal viewers will be comfortable with for a 65-inch TV, though. So another common calculation you could try is a seating position between 1.5x and 2x the diagonal width of your screen. Using this approach, a 65-inch screen would work for a viewing distance of between 8.1 and 10.8 feet. 

Time to get your measuring tape and calculators out, people.

Wall mounting

Many people think they’d like to wall-mount their new flat TVs. However, research suggests that when it comes down to it, precious few of us actually do.

If you’re positive this will work for you, though, there are a few things to consider. First, remember that the TV will be right up flat to the wall, so you might want to go up a screen size or two. 

Second, think about TVs designed to be used with ultra-low-profile mounts, so that they stick out as little as possible from the wall. Or, given that many TVs don’t ship with wall mounts included, if you want to be able to choose from a wide selection of mounting options at a range of price points, look for a TV with wall mount screw positions compatible with the ‘VESA’ industry standard.

One other thing to bear in mind if you’re thinking of wall-mounting a TV is a set’s realistic viewing angles – especially vertical viewing angles if you’re thinking of mounting a TV above a fireplace (which is not something we’d typically recommend).