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Here's how to measure a TV before you put it in your home
Some people assume that you can look at the advertised screen size of a new TV to figure out if it will fit a room. That’s not the craziest line of thinking, but in practice, what’s advertised isn’t enough information to go on. In this guide, we’ll show you how to measure a TV to get a more accurate reading and place it in your room with confidence.
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To get a true sense of a TV's size, it's time to bring out a measuring tape or app, or dive into full specifications. Advertised size usually only describes the screen diagonal, and may or may not include the bezel and/or frame. It never factors in any stand a TV might come with. You may also want to measure planned viewing distance to gauge how big a TV you need.
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TV screen sizes
The most important part of measuring a TV is figuring out its actual screen size. TV manufacturers typically measure screens diagonally, from the top corner of the display on one side to the bottom corner on the opposite side.
Things can get complicated, however. If you see a TV advertised as having a “55-inch” display, it’s possible that the actual screen size could have as much as a half-inch difference. Some TV makers include the frame and/or bezel, which might help with room placement, but is maddeningly inconsistent with industry standards.
Most new TVs include actual display sizes in their official specs. If you find a TV you like on a website like Amazon, we’d recommend trying to locate specs on a manufacturer’s site. If you’re visiting a physical store like Best Buy, Walmart, or Target and find something you like, bring a tape measure or use an augmented reality phone app to get the most accurate data.
You can also use a tape measure to gauge a screen’s height and width, which are always smaller than the diagonal. Nearly all smart TVs have a 16:9 aspect ratio, mainly because most movies and TV shows have settled on that format. There have been a few attempts to sell TVs with a 21:9 ratio, but they’ve been discontinued due to low sales. Some large PC monitors support 21:9, primarily for gaming and productivity.
TV frame sizes
As mentioned, TV makers sometimes combine screens with frames or bezels to get to an advertised size. The obvious issue is that some TVs have bigger frames and bezels than others. Older TVs usually have enormous bezels, whereas modern ones barely have a frame or bezel, despite a larger screen area. Again, when you want to measure a TV, check out the official specs (if available), which could reveal frame size and screen information. It’s always good to have a tape measure if you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.
If you’re not going to mount your new TV on a wall, you’ll also need to take some stand measurements. Some stands are placed squarely in the middle under a TV’s frame, while others are located towards the outside edges. Some stands can push the height of a TV by as much as three inches, which is sometimes a deliberate decision to make room for a soundbar.
Using specs or a tape measure, check the height of a TV with its included stand setup, and compare that against your table or entertainment center. It’s recommended that you have at least two inches of space between your TV and any framed space in an entertainment center — that includes the depth of your TV.
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Whether you have a table, entertainment center, or wall mount, you’ll want to buy a TV that’s big enough to deliver quality viewing. In a living room or bedroom, use a tape measure to find the distance in inches between your TV’s niche and your sofa, chair, or bed. Divide that distance by two, and that’s probably the best screen size for your TV. For example, if there are 120 inches (10 feet) between your sofa and entertainment center, you’ll want a 60-inch TV.
Some people prefer maximum immersion, in which case they can certainly move furniture closer and/or buy a bigger TV, assuming space and budget allow. You don’t want to be too close — if your eyes are constantly hunting around images, or viewers on the side are getting faint lighting and/or distorted colors, something’s wrong.
Final placement takes a little bit of guesswork. However, if you measure a TV and your room size accurately, you can get a pretty good idea of how it’ll look when you set things up.
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