Reader Question: Screen Size

Q: I have a 24″ diagonal analog tv in my den. I want to buy a LCD HDTV widescreen to replace it. What size 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen HDTV will equal the screen size of my standard TV? I sit about 6 feet away from my TV. What is the largest screen size I should consider?
Joe Ficara

A: The 24″ SDTV has an image height of about 14″. A 28″ or 29″ wide format screen will have about the same screen height.

The pixels will be smaller on an HDTV, however, and you should plan to sit closer that you would to an SDTV of the same vertical height. In my book, I have a simple system that lets you multiply the viewing distance in inches by a single number to find the optimum screen size. The number you use depends on the resolution of the HDTV — something that few people seem to take into account — but for a 720p set viewed from 6 feet, the optimum size is 44 inches. This will have a vertical screen height of about 22 inches, which is considerably larger than what you have now.