What size TV do I need? How to buy the perfectly sized television for you

All things great and small

Sony Bravia TV

What size TV is the right one for you? 

Televisions are so common in homes today that they're generally seen as part of the furniture. But the varying specifications between different sets can make purchasing a TV, or at least choosing which one to purchase, a hellish and confusing experience.

The average television size 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.

With Black Friday sales around the corner too, many a canny shopper will be looking to November as the time to bag a decently discounted television. Whether you're upgrading from an old set or making your first television purchase, we've put together the guide you need to figure out how big a TV display you actually want.

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. 

Samsung UN32M5300

The Samsung UN32M5300 offers full 1080p images and Tizen OS at an affordable price

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.

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.

Samsung MU7000

2017's Samsung MU7000 is a winning combination of picture quality and value

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 and £800/$1,000 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.

Sony A9F OLED

Sony A9F OLED is a stunning flagship OLED – if you can afford it

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.

...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.

To help you pick the best TVs of any size – whichever one you choose – we've put together these quick round-ups of the best choices out there. Just check out one of the links below for your chosen category, and happy watching.

The best TVs in each size, as chosen by TechRadar