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What size TV should I buy? How to choose the perfectly sized TV

All things great and small

Sony Bravia TV

So, you're buying a new TV. You may know what resolution you want, what you're using it for, and how big a budget you can realistically spend – but when it comes to the size, what size TV do you actually need? 

The average television is getting bigger every year, and in turn our expectations of size and suitability are constantly changing. The 75-inch TV is the fastest growing sector of the market, but such huge sets wouldn't even get close to fitting in many people's homes.

2019 looks set to continue that trend, which is why we've put together this guide – to help you figure out what size of TV you actually need. 

Do you need a big enough set to appreciate 4K or even 8K resolution? A compact telly to fit in your student digs? Or something in between? For our full rundown of the different TV sizes you could want – and the best TVs in each category – read on below.

Samsung UN32M5300

Samsung UN32M5300

The small-size TVs (24-32 inch)

For those balking at the idea of picking a random size, have no fear. Television manufacturers tend to make their sets within quite rigid dimensions, meaning there are really only a handful of sizes you have to choose from.

At the smaller end of the scale, you can get 20, 24, or 28-inch sets, some of which are best placed on a desk or counter as a step up from your computer monitor. After that you have the 32 or 36-inch TV, which is compact enough to fit in tighter spaces than its larger counterparts without downsizing too much. 

These are good bets for single-person TVs or occasional-use sets in smaller residential spaces – or just for anyone on a budget, as a 32-inch TV can cost as little as £200-£300 / $250-$350.

What you gain in convenience, however, you may miss out in additional ports and the overall picture quality. Even 32 inches is too small for a 4K UHD display, meaning you're stuck watching standard HD/SDR quality content at either 720p (1,366 x 768 pixels) or 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). Most content is in HD/SDR, anyway, so it may not be much of a loss for you – but if you want more from your picture, you may want to jump a few sizes and pixel counts up.

Samsung MU7000

Samsung MU7000

The mid-size TVs (40-43 inch)

Remember when 40 inches was a whopping size for a television? Nowadays the 40/42/43 inch range of TVs is seen as the starting point for a 4K display, so usually offers a handy compromise between picture quality and price.

A native 4K television will enable you to watch Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) content, display 4K gaming from a PS4 Pro or Xbox One S/X, and input 4K UHD Blu-Ray DVDs – and will be the difference between a standard capability set and one primed for the future of TV resolution. (Onus on the future, there, as there isn't much 4K content available yet outside of these examples.)

The prices of these sets are usually between £400 / $500 / AU$700 and £800 / $1,000 / AU$1,400 for a 40-or-so inch LCD display. You're not getting the proprietary panel technologies seen at larger sizes, but this size is probably where you get most bang for your buck.



The big-screen TVs (55, 65, 75 inch)

For those after a truly home cinema experience, you'll be looking at a 55, 65, or 75-inch television. These sets are the best for entertaining large groups or families, watching football and sports matches on the big screen, and getting the full impact of 4K Ultra HD movies and DVDs.

We're lumping in the larger sizes here, as the benefits – and trade-offs – are pretty similar when you get to this scale.

The sets are more expensive, take up more space and have to work harder to display standard HD/SDR content on their massive displays. If you have room for them, however, they can be absolutely magical to have in the comfort of your own home.

Fifty-five inches is also the minimum for an OLED display: the high-end panel technology you'll find in only the most premium flagship models from Sony, Philips, or LG. If you want the very best picture quality at all costs – and there will be costs – this is likely what you're angling for.

In the end, whether you opt for a 55-inch or 75-inch may come down to what you can fit into your living room, and what your actual budget is. A 55-inch TV can set you back as little as £400/$500 for a budget model, and as much as £2,000/$2,500 for a higher-quality make. A 75-inch set is going to run you into several thousands of pounds or dollars.

There's also a number of 82 or 85-inch televisions for those truly ready to fork out for a super-sized screen. Those sizes are usually going to come with OLED or Samsung's competing QLED panel technology, if not a whopping 8K pixel display to boot.

Samsung QLED Q9FN (2019)

Samsung QLED Q9FN (2019)

...but size isn't everything

As much as we might be impressed by the ever larger screen sizes out there, it's important to remember that bigger isn't always better.

A larger screen can obviously display a larger image, but if it can't handle higher resolutions – or the upscaling techniques needed to enlarge low resolution content – you're just paying for a big, blurry image. You need more pixels for a bigger screen, after all, and those extra pixels need to be up to the heavy-duty picture processing to make either HD or UHD content look good on a big screen.

A larger screen is also harder to fit into cramped spaces, and can dominate the room it's in. That's fine if you want to give your TV pride of place, but worth considering before you jump for the biggest screen you can find.