If you’re replacing your current TV with a newer model, or you want to upgrade to a bigger one, you can base your decision on the size of the current TV. But if you don’t know the size of the TV, there are only two ways to tackle the problem: you can either check the manufacturer’s website for the make and model you have, or you can measure it yourself.
We’re here to help you figure out how to measure the size of your TV, as well as help you figure out how to appropriately pick a TV based on your space and needs.
How to Measure a TV’s Screen Size
If you’re looking to measure your TV to get just the screen size, then it’s not as simple as measuring width and height. That’s because modern TV screen sizes aren’t measured that way. Instead, screen size is measured diagonally.
To measure a TV’s screen size, first you’ll need to grab a tape measure. Now start at one of the corners, starting from inside the bezel. Then, run the tape measure to the opposite corner of the TV, again staying inside the bezel. This will give you the size of the screen.
How to Measure a TV for Your Space
Measuring the screen size can give you a rough idea of how big the TV itself is. But if you’re physically limited on space, then you’ll need to measure the entire TV, including the bezel. And for this, you’ll want to measure width, height, and depth.
That’s because while a 50-inch TV may have a 50-inch screen size, physically, it might only be 45 inches wide and 26 inches tall, including the bezel. You may also consider the depth of the TV, since the back of the TV may be bulkier in spots due to the hardware inside the TV.
How to Properly Pick a TV for Your Needs
When shopping for a TV, it’s easy to boil down your needs to physical and relative screen size, and resolution. After all, a bigger and crisper picture is always better, right? Well, not exactly.
Unless money is no object, or you’re looking for an absolutely basic TV experience, then basing your TV purchasing decision on those two factors alone leaves out a lot of nuances and can easily lead to overspending or under-speccing your TV.
In order to get TV more tailored to your needs, you’ll also want to consider a few other things – namely, your view distance, refresh rates, and I/O ports.
Determine Your Viewing Distance
Aside from getting an appropriately-sized display for your physical space, you should also spec out your new TV based on your viewing distance. The viewing distance, or the distance between you and the TV, can actually impact how your TV looks to you. This, in turn, can help you in figuring out how big of a screen you require, as well as what resolution you should aim for.
Obviously, if you’re in a larger room and plan on sitting back further, a TV with a larger screen is more appropriate. Likewise, a smaller TV could be more suitable for a smaller room, not only in terms of practicality, but also in terms of overall viewing experience.
The same also goes for resolution. Generally, a higher resolution requires a closer viewing distance to enjoy the extra clarity (though this correlates with the size of the TV).
So, for example, the recommended viewing distance for a 50-inch TV at 1080p is between 6.2 and 10.3 feet. Meanwhile, a 50-inch 4K TV has an optimal viewing distance of 5 to 7.9 feet.
That means that in order to fully appreciate the higher clarity of a 4K TV, you’d typically need to sit closer. At further viewing distances, you wouldn’t see as much of a benefit over a 1080p TV. And if you have a large room where you’re mostly sitting further back to view the TV, it means that spending extra on a 4K TV would be counter-intuitive, unless you’re also going to spend more for a larger TV.
All of this is to say that you should consider your budget and physical space before springing for a particular resolution or screen size. Spending extra for “bigger and better” might not have the impact that justifies the extra cost, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
Contemplating Refresh Rates
Another factor that is easy to overlook is the refresh rate. The refresh rate of a display is the number of times a display refreshes the picture on the screen per second.
If you’re using your TV to watch television and movies, this probably isn’t something worth worrying over too much. But if you’re planning to play games on your TV, especially fast-paced, competitive games, then the refresh rate of a TV can make a world of difference in your playing experience.
Many TVs on the market have a standard refresh rate of 60Hz, with some offering higher refresh rates (typically 120Hz). But you’ll have to be vigilant when shopping, as TV manufacturers aren’t above using marketing tactics to trick you into thinking you’re getting a TV with a higher refresh rate than you’re actually getting.
Consider What I/O Ports You’ll Need
Like refresh rates, considering inputs and outputs is easy to forget about until it’s too late. First, consider the number of devices you plan to connect to the TV. If you’ve got multiple game consoles and a HTPC, then a TV with a higher number of HDMI ports could be more ideal if you don’t want to fuss with aftermarket switches.
You should also consider the types of connections you’ll need. For example, not all TV’s come with optical I/O ports, so if you have a device that utilizes an optical connection, you’ll need to make sure your TV comes with such a port.