Plasma TV Size & Optimal Viewing Distance

Tags: Resolution, Screen Size, Viewing Distance


Probably the most important decision you must make before buying a plasma TV, other than the budget, is to chose the size you wish your plasma TV to be. Most plasma TV models have sizes from 42" up to 65" and the bigger they are, the higher the price is. But the cost is not the only factor you should use when deciding what size your plasma TV should have. One very important thing you have to know, is how the plasma TV size, resolution and the viewing distance relate with the amount of picture detail you are capable of seeing. The goal is to match the plasma TV size and resolution with the distance between you and the plasma TV in such way that you will benefit from the best viewing experience. In simpler words, it means that knowing the distance between where you will be sitting and where your plasma TV will be installed, you have to figure out what size and resolution your plasma TV should have so that you see the highest level of detail possible. We can have this problem the other way around too. That is, having a plasma TV of a certain size and resolution to find out how far from it we should sit in order to have the best viewing experience.

The Old Formula

The problem of finding the best TV size for a given viewing distance is not new. Moreover, it is a problem that applies to all kind of displays - LCD, DLP, Projectors and CRT (the old tube TV). Since the CRT TVs are the oldest it’s only natural that the answer to our question has been given first for this type of display. But the important thing you must understand is that the formula used for a CRT TV doesn’t apply to the new high definition displays. The reason for that is the much higher resolution that high definition displays have and also the fact that HDTVs don’t all have the same resolution. Just in case you are curious, the rule of thumb for CRT TVs is that the viewing distance should be at least 2 times and at most 5 times the diagonal size of the display.

If you happen to find a guide that tells you what is the optimal viewing distance or range for each size of TV but does not also tell you the resolution considered, you should know that those figures are inaccurate when reported to HDTVs. That’s because one important variable (resolution) was not used in the calculation. Those numbers are correct only for old CRT TVs or HDTVs that display very low resolution content (480p). The same is true in the case of the numbers (or charts) that are referring to HDTVs but don’t specify the resolution because you don’t know if the number refers to 1080p displays or 720p displays. The latter is more accurate than the former though.

Viewing Distance and 1080p vs. 720p

One important note to make, is that, depending on the viewing distance, you may not see any difference between 720p and 1080p. To explain this better, imagine that you have in front of you two displays of the same size. One has 1080p resolution while the other has 720p. If you sit close enough to get the best detail from the 1080p display you will probably notice the pixels of the 720p display (which ca be very annoying). On the other hand, if you sit far enough to get the best detail from the 720p display, you will no longer see the full detail from the 1080p display (the image will look the same on both). Knowing this might just save you some money when shopping for a plasma TV. If for any reason (e.g. limited budget or space) you settle on a certain plasma TV size, and you realize that your viewing distance is optimal for 720p, then buying an 1080p display will give you no advantage in picture detail. Of course, that is true only if you don’t intend to move your armchair closer every time you watch a 1080p movie.

Size & Viewing Distance for High-Definition Displays

As I said above, in order to determine the correct size based on viewing distance we must also take into consideration the resolution of the display. Below is a table with the recommended viewing distance for each popular plasma TV size. There is of course, one recommended viewing distance for 1080p displays and another one for 720p displays. Since most of us know the viewing distance and need to deduct the best plasma TV size, we can use the recommended distance column and see what size of plasma TV suits us best. There’s a great chance you will not find your exact distance in the table, but that’s not a big deal. Just look for the closest match.

Plasma TV Size
(inch)
Optimal Distance
for 720p (inch)
Optimal Distance
for 1080p (inch)
42 99 66
50 118 79
55 130 86
60 141 94
65 153 102

Make sure you also read Plasma TV & HDTV Resolution because it is related to this guide.

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Comments:
  • Great article and info. I will be sitting about 120″ from where my HDTV (probably a 50″ screen) will be. Based on your article, it seems there is almost no question that I will not see any benefit with a 1080p over a 720p if I get a 50″, as 118″ is the optimal distance for 720p. Am I right? Also, this would also hold true even if viewing a Blu-ray showing at 1080p, if I do not plan on moving in any closer than 120″ to view a 50″ screen, correct? Thanks.

  • @JF: correct!

  • Really go article. So I am about to buy a 50″ Plasma. 1080p. I only have 8 feet of viewing distance. Is the TV too big?

  • @ML: if you want to watch SD content (broadcasts, regular DVDs, etc.) choose a smaller size. If you want to watch HDTV (broadcasts, Blu-Ray disks) 50″ is ok. As you see from the table you’re in between 720p and 1080p optimal distances. That means if you have very good eyes you might not find 720p broadcasts optimal but 1080p blu Ray disks will look great. To be sure, go in a store and look with your own eyes.

  • I view my tv at 17′ away, my living room where the tv is located is 22′ x 26′… I’m looking at the 50″ plasma for budget purposes. At this distance with a 50″ tv,does it make a difference on clarity from the 720p to the 1080p? On the above chart at this distance I need a much bigger tv but finances keep me from purchasing such. Will one outperform the other at this distance? Or will it be a mute point at this distance? I have dish network for cable.

  • @Joe: From what you have said, I’m assuming you will be sitting at 20 feet or more. In that case, as it turns out from the table above, you won’t be able to see any difference. You’re way too far to actually see the full detail (even for 720p content). At your distance if you plan to watch HDTV you might also want to consider DLP TVs - they offer more size for the buck, but don’t look as great as some of the best plasma TVs.

  • I plan to purchase a TV and I’m having a hard time deciding on whether paying the extra $$$ for 1080p tv is worth it. Also, I’m still undecided if I should get a plasma or LCD as well. I can tell you that the TV I plan on purchasing is for my kids who will be mainly playing video games and watching movies (blu ray and dvds). I understand I will experience “burn” with a plasma, but in terms of pricing, I’ve noticed plasmas tend to be slightly cheaper than LCDs. I want to get something in the 40″ - 46″ range. The TV will be placed in our den, where outside lighting will be little to none.

    From what I’ve learned so far, based on my room setup, a plasma should work because I don’t have to worry about lighting and reflection being a problem. From shopping around at local stores in my town, my fred meyers has a 42″ Samsung 720p Plasma for $699 and I wanted to grab it but something inside told me to research and little and see if paying more for a 1080p is worth the money. In terms of pricing in my town, a 1080p 42″ Samsung is well over $1000. Quite honestly, it seems like the plasma would work just fine, but I wanted to get your opinion….

  • Very interesting page;
    thinking of getting a Pioneer krp 600-a to watch blu ray, sky hd, sky sd, and upscaled dvd.
    Viewing distance is about ten feet, what do you think.
    Thanks.

  • i like the article but have a couple questions and was wondering if someone could help me. me and my husband want to buy a new tv, so im looking around to find out how my husband will get the best tv in size and picture for playing his games and so we can watch movies. We are thinking about getting a 50″ or 52″ plasma or LCD we going to be viewing it from about 9 Feet away, i also would be using it as a PC screen when my husband gets Deployed so he can see his son grow up.

  • @bianca: I’m not sure what your question is. If you plan to play games a lot and use it as a PC screen, get an LCD. Best models are listed on http://www.thebestlcdtv.com grouped by size.

  • We have a question. We have a finished basement with no natural light. Viewing distance looks to be about 11 feet. Should we buy a 58″ or 63″ plasma? Kids will be playing video games on it but movies and tv will be primary use. My husband believes we can go higher than 63″. Help!

  • @jennifer: if you want to watch only Blu Ray movies you can go for a larger (65 inch) model. If you want to watch 720p HDTV broadcasts (most if not all sports channels are 720p) 58″ might be better for that. It also depends how good your eyes are - the distances can change if you have better or worse than average eyes. If you also plan to watch regular DVDs (480p EDTV resolution) or SDTV broadcasts, then a smaller size is better because that content will not look to bad as with a large TV. The answer is pretty easy as it resides from the size/distances table in the guide above. You just need to figure out what you prefer - full detail for HD content and poor SD content, or both types of content at an average level of detail.

  • I’m confused. I get the size/viewing distance thing. However, I have Sky HD and a PS3. The PS3 plays bluray at 1080P but Sky HD only broadcasts at 720p from what i understand. On top of that the majority of Sky channels are standard definition, e.g. Sky News. So effectively thats 3 difference broadcast resolutions you have to deal with.

    How can you pick a TV thats optimal for all 3 broadcast resolutions at a fixed viewing distance? And will SD broadcasts look inferior on a 1080p screen? If so, you are paying a higher price for a TV that actually gives you a worse picture on some channels than a lower resolution TV.

    I will be watching TV mainly, some HD and some SD. I will only play games or watch Bluray occasionally. From what is advised on this site, i’m under the impression that a standard 720P HD TV will be best for me, as i will be watching a 720P source most of the time, and a 1080P screen will make the SD chaneels on Sky look poor. Am i right? Or will a 1080P tv give me the best picture whatever i watch?

  • @Louie: Unfortunately you can’t get the best of all worlds. You have to choose what’s most important for you. SD content can is likely to look BAD on a 1080p TV viewed from the 1080p optimal distance because the picture is very large while the quality is very low. In a way is almost like a low quality YouTube movie seen fullscreen from up close. So your best choice is probably a 720p. You can buy a 1080p but you should choose a screen size that is optimal for 720p or lower resolution content for your maximum viewing distance. That way even though the TV is 1080p, 720p looks optimal and SD looks good enough. But why would you buy 1080p if 720p is enough? You may want a high quality picture, and almost all TVs that can offer you that are 1080p. Also, you can get a chair and sit closer when you’re watching 1080p content (Blu Ray). I have a friend that has a very large room, recommended TV size for 1080p was over 65″ but he didn’t had the money for a high quality 65″ screen. So he bought a smaller one and when he wants to have a quality time watching a Blu Ray movie, he just pulls the armchair closer.

  • This site is very very helpful. I just had my garden level basement finished as a theater and I am now
    shopping for the actual projector system. The screen size will be 100 to 110 inch diagonal. Considering
    that the recliners are in two rows with different distances from the screen (6 feet and 10 feet), and all
    my sources including satellite, Xbox 360 and DVD’s are in 720P, would the additional cost of a 1080P projector
    be worth the money. Is the screen door effect significantly reduced in a 1080P projection of that size,
    even though the signals from the Xbox 360 is in 720P, for example, to warrant the additional
    expense? Movies, sports, gaming and HD channels will be the majority of the programming being watched.
    Please advise and thank you in advance.

  • Hi! I’m doing a science project about how watching TV for periods of time affects your regular vision and peripheral vision. For this experiment I am using a Sharp Aquos 42″ HDTV. I will have my subjects sit between 6.5 and 8.25 feet away. Is that correct? What should my subjects be watching for this experiment, 1080p or 720p, and what channels are they featured on? Do you have any somments or suggestions that will be helpful to my project? Thanks!

  • PS: I have COX digital cable, and we get almost all the 0-900 channels. Which ones have 1080p or 720p? What is the difference?

  • I want to buy a new tv. I watch alot of sports so i know a plasma is better than lcd for that. What i’m not sure about is 720 vs. 1080. i’ll be 8-9 feet from the television. thinking about a 42-46″. please help!!

  • @Bill: As long as your sources are 720p, an 1080p projector will not offer any advantage. The only advantage would be if you plan to buy a Blu Ray player which outputs 1080p. Also, regular DVDs are not 720p (HDTV) but 480p (EDTV).

    @AS: Distances seem OK for HDTV sources. Since you already have the TV you can just go with the eyeballing technique - see how close you can sit in order to get the best/most detail. I have no idea which channels are 720p and which ones are 1080i. Note the “i” as no broadcasts exist in 1080p, only in 1080i. For 1080p the only source is a Blu Ray Disk Player. I can’t help you with anything else as I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish exactly. One tip I can give you is to do the experiment once with ambient light and once in darkness because I think the ambient light affects the perception.

    @joshua: Yes, a plasma is generally better, however an LCD with 5ms response time (or lower) has pretty much the same sharpness/crispness. Most if not all of the sports channels broadcast in 720p. 1080p gives you an edge only if you’re watching Blu Ray disks (1080p) and to a certain extent 1080i broadcasts. A 42″ HDTV is the right size for that type of content (720p) and viewing distance.

  • Thanks for the comprehensive answer. It has confirmed what i was thinking which is that you can’t have a single viewing distance and Tv size that is optimal for all sources.

    I have now bought a Panasonic 46″ 1080P and can see exactly what you are talking about. My sofa is about 10ft away. The SD looks decent and HD looks very good. Haven’t tried bluray yet as i dont have any films but the ps3 games look amazing even from close up. Only disappointment is that i didnt realise the game itself has to also be 1080P. Not all games are.

    Overall I’m happy with the setup. The thing that will be nice now is if more Sky channels gradually change to HD, as once you get used to HD, SD feels like a compromise. It almost starts to affect the type of TV you watch. I watch more wildlife programs now! And i find myself watching films that I’ve never really liked that much but look good on HD, like The Beach.

  • Sorry I have another question. Does Sky HD have better sound quality than Sky SD? Assuming it does would i get the full benefit if i connected the Sky HD box to my stereo amplifier and speakers via phono lead? Or is there some sort of audio HDMI cable i should be using? I only have a standard amplifier but am intending to purchase a proper AV amp.

    One more question, i know its not plasma related but…do you consider the PS3 blu ray player to be as good as a current standalone player?

    Thanks for your help so far. This is an excellent site for getting those technical answers that have always bugged me!

  • @Louie: HDMI carries both audio and video signal. Sky HD has an optical audio out connector that you can connect to a surround sound system. So you can connect HDMI to the TV (for video) and the optical to your amp (for audio). PS3 is very good as a Blu Ray player (better than some standalone players).

  • I plan to splurge on eithr a 50″ or 60″ Pioneer Elite Plasma (1080) partly because I like the styling better than the PDP model. I will abe watching about 60/40 cable TV / DVDs. My viewing distrance is about 10 feet. Which would give me better picture quality…the Elite or the Kuro PDP….50″ or “60″. thank you so much.

  • @charlene grogan: Since you’re watching EDTV and SDTV and not HDTV go with the 50″ model. Regarding Kuro PDP vs Kuro Elite PRO, the Elite model is certainly better. The PDP doesn’t have accurate colors, which you may not notice or you may, depending on how picky you are. From what I have heard it can be calibrated properly by entering the service menu but I’m not sure if it is true. Also Elite series has more to it than just accurate colors. If you have the money, get the Elite.

  • about to buy plasma for my entertainment room. watch a lot of sports. viewing distance from couch is 9-11 feet. room is large with a lot of wall space where tv would be. leaning to pioneer 60inch 1080p (6010). do u think too large?? if too 60inch is too large, should i go to the 50inch pioneer 1080p or Sony 52 inch xbr-5?

  • @JackV: if you can’t answer that question yourself, I definitely can’t. If you watch Blu Ray a 60″ TV is not too big for that distance. If you watch DVD or SDTV it is. Sony XBR5 is an LCD, Pioneer is a plasma - each has advantages and dissadvantages. XBR5 is not a new model. Basically the XBR5 doesn’t have a great viewing angle (if I remember well) and black levels are not as good as those of a Pioneer plasma. Unless you want to use it as a PC monitor, latest models of Pioneer are better. They resist burn-in well and also perform exceptionally in bright environments. It basically comes down to what is important for you and which of the TVs match your requirements better. I hope my answer helps.

  • Thank you for your answer. I do acutally have HDTV thru comast cable….since that is true would you advise the 60″ or is 10 ft viewing distance too close? Also, do ou have any comment regarding buying plasmas from online stores like butterfly.com?

  • @charlene: I really can’t decide for you. It is not a straightforward choice but you have to make it yourself. If you get a 60″ you might find DVDs not to great but 1080i broadcasts will look better. Also, if you buy a Blu Ray Disk Player in the future you will get the best of it. On the other hand, on the 50″ model 720p content (e.g. sports) will look just as good as on the 60″ and DVDs will loo better than on the 60″ model. The best thing to do is go in a store, find 2 models - one 50″ and the other 60″ - and see how they look from 10ft away. Test both standard DVDs, broadcasts, Blu Ray so you see how each looks. That will help you a lot with the final decision. It also matters how good your eyes are. For example I don’t have good eyes, so I can sit much closer than it is normally recommended, or watch SDTV and EDTV on a bigger screen, without finding it unpleasant. You really can’t have the best of all worlds. I recommend buying online as long as you trust the store. Most of them have free shipping. Generally on Amazon.com you will find good prices on HDTVs, and it is a big store with a good reputation. butterfly.com redirects me to a golf site…

    Good luck ;)

  • we have a newer samsung crt tv that is advertised as hdtv will i be able to view 720p movies on it

  • @ROBERT HANSON: I haven’t the slightest idea. Read your TV’s specifications and see what input it accepts and what native resolution it has. If it accepts HDTV 720p, 1080i or 1080p then it can display such content.

  • Hi, maybe you can help me. I have a rather large living room. My couch is maybe 14 feet away from my TV. I am thinking of buying either a Samsung PN58A650 plasma (58″) or the Samsung PN63A650 (63″). I watch a fair amount of blu-rays, HD TV (mostly 720p), and some non-HD content as well. I also play X-Box 360. Are these sets good choices, and if so, what size? Also, is burn-in still an issue? Both of these sets have anti-burn-in technology. Thanks!

  • Thank you for your response…it was very informative. Best, Charlene

  • @Ric: If you want to get the most of 1080p, you may want to get a TV larger than 63 inch. TVs that big are commonly rear projection TVs (DLP TV) but they don’t look as good as plasma TVs. You can also get a big picture with a projector but that looks good only if you have no light in the room. If you choose a plasma, the bigger the better - so the 63 inch one is best. Burn-in is still a problem but only if you play games a lot and for longer time than you watch TV programs and movies. If you mix the content, you’ll be OK. Pioneer, Panasonic and Samsung are the most burn-in resistant plasma TVs, but from these three, Samsung is the least resistant from what owners say. Make sure you read Plasma TV Burn-In guide. Do the break-in and make sure that pixel orbiter is always turned on.

  • I totally get the chart but… I watch mostly SD (cable)/720p content, and I sit 84 inches away from my tv… Thats not even close to the 99 inches for the 720p optimal distance. What size screen and other suggestions do you have?

    Also LCD or Plasma? I play NBA 2K9 (basketball) on Xbox 360, watch NBA basketball, and a DVD 2wice a week.

  • @Aaron: You can buy an LCD. They come in smaller sizes (32 inch). It will also be a better choice if you play games a lot (more than you watch TV). See http://www.TheBestLCDTV.com and/or http://www.BestHDTVScreen.com for best LCD TV models. For differences between plasma and LCD read that specific guide. Also read the “burn-in” guide and its comments to figure out if you risk getting burn-in from playing games. If you end up preferring a plasma, you can always go in a store and see with your own eyes how SD and 720p on a 42 inch TV looks. If you like it it’s great, if not you can buy a smaller size LCD.

  • Sorry but hitted the return button while writing.

    I own a Pioneer PDP-508XD, and watch at SDTV & some HD/BR contents. I have basically come to the conclusion that while there’s almost no minimum distance for HD contents (check out THX recommendations), there could be some problems with SDTV.
    I’m quite picky, and I have to admit that sitting too close to the panel with SDTV signals, shows artifacts, noise, etc.
    At the moment my small TV room has some constrains with a maximum viewing distance of 3,35mt (131″) and I have to admit that I can notice some defects due to scaling and poor bandwidth…
    In the meanwhile Pioneer closing it’s TV facility is rising my temptations to buy a 9G before the shortage.. I am very tempted by the 60″ model, the KRP-600A..
    My only concern is about SDTV…. if my 508 shows it’s limits at 131″ viewing distance, what will it be with a 60″? Defects galore? Or the new electronics in the KRP-600A are so good that SDTV defects, particularly with low quality sources, are minimized, compared to my 50″?
    I went recently in a Pioneer TV shop and had to opportunity to play with the KRp-600A, sitting at the same distance as in my TV room and couldn’t notice more defects than I do with my 50″, say the same “amount”…..

    What do you think?

  • @Luke: You really can’t get the best of both worlds - HD and SD. No matter how good the TV is, it will not be able to do miracles. SD content is poor quality and a big screen acts as a magnifying glass for the flaws. I seriously doubt that the video processing system of KRP-600A is so much better. I am not familiar with this model, though. Video processing can at best reduce noise and enhance the picture a bit. It can’t make it look too good. No matter how good the TV is the SD picture still looks soft, noisy or if the video processing is overdoing it, unreal/artificial. At 60 inch, theoretically flaws should be more visible, however since 50″ is very big for SDTV as well from close distance, the difference in reality is not very big. So, 60 inch is probably not going to look a lot worse. If you’ve seen them both, trust your eyes.

  • I’m thinking of purchasing the Samsung LN52A650 and currently sitting a viewing distance of 8 to 9 feet. 9 feet is the max for my living room…it’s kind of small. Many times I hunch forward when watching tv probably to about 7 feet. I will be watching blu-ray and playing ps3 games on it but it will mostly be used for regular hd tv. Will regular tv - 720p and 1080i look ok at this distance or am I better off getting the LN46A650? thanks in advance for your help.

  • Hi there - just a quick question. I just bought a Pioneer Kuro LX509a (Australian model - LX5090 overseas I believe). Having read around the net of late, I see a lot of fuss being made around calibration of the TV itself. What are your thoughts on this? From what I have seen, the major consideration is ensuring that the calibrator is employing ISF techniques.

    By the way, I really appreciated the content in the above article when making my decision on TV size.

    Many thanks.

  • @AB: It’s a great TV. I have reviewed PDP-5020FD (US model) and I can say that in this price range it is the best. You can find the review on this site. The only problem is that colors are not perfect (green especially). However, you can see this only if you are looking exactly for that and not with regular content (movies). In a side by side comparison with a TV that has perfect colors you may say the Kuro has the green a bit too vivid, but otherwise it is not noticeable. Some complain about it but I personally think that it isn’t a deal breaker. And if you take into consideration the overall quality of the picture, and you’re not an extreme purist, I would say it is better than anything else.

    Regarding the calibration, I have heard that if you use the service menu you can fix the problem with the colors. Unless you actually have a problem with how the TV looks, I don’t think you need a professional to calibrate it. I don’t have ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) training. When I calibrate them I do it from the user menu (as any regular owner). Some people said a professional isn’t worth the price, others were satisfied by what the technician did for them. My best suggestion, if you’re not happy with the image, is to go to http://www.avsforum.com and look for Pioneer Kuro (9th generation) owners thread. Ask there specific questions about the TV, how to use the service menu, etc. Only then, if you’re still not happy, think about paying a technician.

  • @Jay: I’m starting to get bored answering “I sit at X feet, what size is best for me?”. As I have said before in some other answer, you can’t have best of all worlds. As you see from the table, 52 inch is not too big for 1080p (1080i) at your distance. For 720p, 52 inch is bigger than the optimal distance and 46 inch might be better. However, in real life you can’t really get the exact optimal size for your exact distance and for multiple resolutions of the content. If the TV has a 1080p native resolution, 720p will not look pixelated if you sit too close (maybe just a bit softer), so you can go with the 52 inch model.

  • I have read the above posts twice, but I think I am still confused. I am looking at buying the new Panasonic TC-50PG10 plasma. Now I think I need 720p instead. We sit 18 feet away from the TV and I can barely see my 38″ CRT right now. I do not have good eyesight either…One contact lense for close up and one for far away. I think this may be a problem with anything I buy. We watch regular TV and DVDs, but are soon buying a Blue-ray player. No cable, satellite, or video games, just regular TV broadcasts that I think are in HD. No natural light in the living room, so plasma seems the best for us. With the 18 foot distance should I get a larger size 720p or the 50″ 1080p? We do watch a lot of movies on DVD, so I am sure blue-ray will soon be our favorite movie source. Thank you for your help in advance.

  • @Patti: At 18 feet (216 inch), as you see from the table, you are too far for any of the screen sizes and resolution combinations. 65 inch TVs at 720p are best viewed from 13 feet. In conclusion, the bigger the TV the better. With your poor eyesight, thing are even worse. I also have a poor eyesight (-3.5 diopters glasses though I would need -4.0 diopters) and I can see closer than the recommended distance in the chart. The 50 inch screen is ideal for that distance for watching SDTV and EDTV (DVD), but it is too small to get the most out of a Blu Ray movie or HDTV broadcast. I suggest you to buy the largest screen you can afford (65 inch) for a better Blu Ray experience.

    You can also find TVs larger than 65 inch. They are rear projection TVs (most common are DLP type). Their quality is not as good as plasma but you can find good enough models.

    I hope my answer helps. Good luck.

  • Thank you for your help. Would LCDs be any better for optimum viewing distance or should we stick with plasma?

  • @Patti: LCD models come in smaller sizes than plasma. Though you might find LCDs bigger than 65 inch, most good ones go only to 52 - 55 inch. Also, the bigger LCD TVs are more expensive than plasma TVs of similar quality.

  • 5-7 Ft. Viewing Range. PS3 owner, play games when I’m free or have friend/ friends over, I purchase every other new blue-ray that comes out. My LCD met an unfortunate fate. This website convinced me to go with a Plasma.

    Questions:
    (1.) Are the better picture quality plasmas offered only in 50″ & up?
    (2.) Which do you recommed: 42″, 46′, or 50″ (I’m leaning towards the 46″).
    (3.) Could you provide me with the top 3 better picture quality plasmas for the recommended choice (March 2009)?
    (4.)1080p or 720p.
    (5.) Does the Top Dog for 50″ best the Top Dog of 46′, Picture Quality Wise? (With Viewing Range in mind)?
    (6.) Are the regular 46″ Plasmas better then Top of the Line 46′ LCDs, picture quality wise?

    * $2,500.00 Give or Take is the most i’ll spend for a Plasmas. Better bang for buck is always better to me. (Technology changes frequently)

    Thanks for any answer you might give me, I just want the best bang for my bucks. =)

  • Hello, I want to buy a small 37 inch size plasma, for SD content, because I have some space restraints. The viewing distance is about 140 inch. I’m looking also to a 42 inch one. Is the 37 inch one too small? Thank you.

  • @Bogdan: It is not too small. For SDTV (480i), at your distance the optimal screen size is 32 inch. Anything between 32 and 42 inch works for you. Even though for 42 inch the recommended distance would be 15 feet, if the TV has good video processing you won’t see a big difference. Consult this HDTV viewing distance table which has more sizes and resolutions.

  • @Saiko C.:
    1. Pioneer models are available only in 50 and 60 inch sizes. They are the best. Next best models (for 42 or 46 inch) are from Panasonic PZ800U and PZ850U series. So the very best plasma TVs are only 50 and 60 inch. Panasonic models are great, but they are just not exactly at the same level with Pioneer.
    2. I can’t recommend you a size. You know better. Is blue ray most important and most viewed type of content? Go with 50 inch Pioneer then. Do you watch HDTV a lot and you have very good eyesight? Get a 42 or 46 inch Panasonic. It’s a matter of what you prefer.
    3. They are on the homepage.
    4. 1080p - you are watching Blu Ray so it will be useful. Also, the best models are all 1080p so is not really a choice.
    5. Yes it does. Pioneer Kuro Elite vs Panasonic PZ800U - Pioneer Elite is certainly better.
    6. Depends how you define “regular”. Generally speaking, in the same price range plasma tops LCDs. If you want to play games on you PS3 a lot, make sure you read the “burn-in” guide on this site and think well what to choose between plasma and LCD.

    Best bang for the buck for you is a model from Panasonic PZ800U or PZ850U series (46 inch is probably the best) - they are reviewed on this site.
    Best picture quality and burn-in resistance (if you play games a lot) comes from Pioneer models. Kuro Elite version is better than the regular Kuro (actually it is the best HDTV in the world) but more expensive (a bit out of your budget - see price on Amazon).
    Enjoy it, whichever model you will get ;)

  • I am considering purchasing the LG 50PS60. It will be $1500 which I believe is a good deal but I’m unsure of two things. The TV will be going into our family room which is full of windows and has a railing behind where we sit. On our current TV this results not only in a glare but also a reflex ion of the railing onto the TV. This is why we are purchasing a new TV. I have read that with plasmas there can be a glare issue but also a wider viewing angle and our other sofa sits at an angle (up to about 160 degrees or so). I know that the TV I am considering is a newer model and it has an auto adjustment to light conditions. We will be sitting about 11 ft from the television. I really need help ion deciding if this TV will be a good purchase. I feel like we have so many things to take into consideration, I don’t know which one will be the best fit. In summary - 11″ from TV, lots of light, glare and reflex ion on current TV, need wide viewing angle. Any help I could get would be greatly appreciated.

  • @Ron: 11″ (inch) from TV? I assume you mean 11 feet. I haven’t seen the 50PS60 but the 50PG60 has pretty good anti-glare properties. I would say it is just as good as the Panasonic plasma TVs from this point of view. That means, from the plasma TVs, only Pioneer models perform better in this area. The glare problem is possible with LCDs as well. It’s just that it is more frequent with plasma TVs for low to average priced models. I can’t tell you if it will look good for your particular setup, but I can tell you the 50PG60 is better than most TVs (including LCDs) at handling glare. The 50PS60 is also a high-brightness model which will help with this. If it looks bad, probably no TV will completely satisfy you (since it is one of the best when it comes to glare).

  • Hi, I will be sitting about 9ft. Witch one should i buy and will i notice a difference in resolution? Panasonic tcp50×1 or the Panasonic tcp46s1? Thanks.

  • Hi,

    My viewing distance from eyes to screen is 10′ (120″). I watch everything from standard tv to HD broadcasts to DVD’s. No Blue Ray

    The optimal Plasma for me would be a 46″ 720P and not a 1080P?

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • @Chris: At your distance, the bigger the better. Panasonic TCP46S1 is 46 inch and 1080p so it is to small to offer the advantage of Full-HD/1080p for you. Panasonic TCP50X1 is 50 inch and 720p and in fact it is optimal for your distance (see the distances table above).

  • @Mike Rogers: Correct. You can also buy a 720p 50 inch HDTV if you want better quality for HD. For better coverage of all the contents you watch, 46 inch is probably better though.

  • Hi,

    As mentioned before, my viewing distance from eyes to screen is 10′ (120″). I watch everything from standard tv to HD broadcasts to DVD’s. No Blue Ray

    I see now that 720P would be best. Since these tv’s are so affordable, what would be a top of the line reccommendation in a 46 or 50″ HDTV?

  • @Mike: Panasonic PX80U series (2008) or Panasonic X1 series (2009).
    Panasonic TH-50PX80U - 50 inch, 2008 model.
    Panasonic TC-P50X1 - 50 inch, 2009 model with lower power consumption.

    I don’t know of any 720p 46 inch plasma TVs. Especially good ones.

    The 46 inch models on the homepage are my recommendations. They are from Panasonic and all are 1080p. The models in PZ85U or PZ80U series are pretty inexpensive. Of course, if you want top notch picture quality you will want a more expensive model (Panasonic PZ800U or PZ850U series or Pioneer Kuro). All high-end / high quality plasma TVs are 1080p.

  • I’m overwhelmed as I want to purchase 2 TVs - one for my bedroom and the other for my living room. I’ll be watching the bedroom TV 10′ away and mostly in the dark, regular cable tv channels, HD channels and DVDs. In the living room, there’s a lot of sunlight, and I’ll be watching it 12′ away, again regular cable tv channels, HD channels and DVDs. For both rooms, I’ll also be purchasing Blu-Ray Disc players. Can you please help me decide if LCD or Plasma and what sizes for each room? As an aside, I’m not a sports fan! Any help you can give me in this decision would be very appreciated. Thank you.

  • @Cris: Unless you plan to play games (XBox, PS3, PC) on the TV a lot, you are safe with a plasma. You need a large one, especially if you want to get the most of Blu Ray movies. 60-65 inch models are best for Blu Ray at your distance. The nasty thing is that you can’t have bot Blu Ray and regular DVDs or SDTV look good on the same TV from the same distance. That is, if you want a TV that looks great for Blu Ray it will look almost bad for SDTV, because the upscaled SDTV will have every flaw magnified and even DVDs that don’t necessarily have artifacts will have a soft image (also because of the upscaling). So choose based on which type of content you watch most of the time or which type is more important to look good. Of course, your budget will probably limit your choices in size a lot. For large screens, plasma TVs are probably a better deal. Regarding plasma vs. LCD, read that specific guide on this site.

  • just purchased a 46″ Panny for our bedroom and the viewing distance is between 8 ‘ and 16′. the picture is great for what it is for hd and bluray (we can see the diiference between the two even at that distance) but as you’ve stated before SD content is terrible. We’re now in the market for another set and we’re considering a 58″ Panny. The room is 12′x12′ and the seating configuration is a gally with the sweet spots being at 10′ off axis. The closest viewing position would be 5′ off axis. One factor in our choice fo a 58″ Panny is price there is actually a deal for a 46″ and 58″ plasmas (th-46pz80u which we already have and a th 58pz800u) for $2999. The question I raise is the HD/SD content at these distances. Can this work for us?

  • Hi to all of you!

    First of all, thank you very much for this article. I know everybody goes with their own situation and I’m about to do the same, but after reading/doing research for a couple hours, I’m getting quite an headache here and getting confused.

    I recently bought a Sony 40W4100 which is 1080p capable. My sitting distance is about 8-10 feet and I will have Videotron HD (Montreal/Canada). I’m still in my 30 days exchange/return period and there is a deal right now where I could pull the trigger for the exact same model but in 46 inches.

    While the possibility of getting a bigger/more immersive screen is very tempting, I’m afraid of picture quality loss, so I’m really hesitating on my move right now. Is there a huge difference between 40 and 46 inches? What would be your call on this?

    Thank you so much in advance.

  • Great website! Moving into a new house which has a viewing distance of about 13 to 14 feet. I realize that there wont be much of a difference between the 720 and 1080 at that distance, but I’m getting 1080 because in the future I might want to move the tv into another room with a much smaller viewing distance. My question is what size tv do you think would work best for a viewing distance of 13 to 14 ft? I was pretty sold on the 52′ samsung LN52A630 (semi-matte screen to decrease the sun glare in the room). Is that going to be an adequate size or should I bump upto the Sharp Aquos LC65D64U 65-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV (which is breaking my budget and seems like an inferior tv compared to the samsung with a much lower contrast ratio, 2K vs 40K) Thanks for your help!

  • @brett: SD should look ok on 46 inch at 16 feet. If you don’t like it, you probably have very good eyes. Between 5 and 10 feet you have quite a range. At 5-10 feet, a 58″ plasma TV will work well for 1080p and 1080i HD (for this resolution and size the optimal distance is 7.5 feet) but SD will be bad. It is actually a bit too big for 720p (most sports HDTV channels) which has the optimal distance at 11.3 feet for this screen size. You can’t have both great HD and great SD. You either have one looking great and the other bad or both looking average. Think at what you’ll be watching most of the time and/or what is most important type of content for you. 46″ is more recommended if you want better SD compared to 58″. But then again, you’re buying a HDTV and soon all programs will be HD, so you probably prefer better HD.

  • @Max: Basically it comes down to what you’re watching. Videotron HD offers HDTV (at least the name implies it) so I would assume that HDTV is your primary type of content quality an SDTV or EDTV (DVDs) have a smaller percentage of your overall TV watching time. For this type of content, 46 inch is better. It is not too big. As a matter of fact at 8-10 feet, for 1080p (Blu Ray movies) and 1080i (HD channels) optimal distance is 60 inch or larger. For 720p (most HD sports channels) optimal distance is 42 - 52 inch. Even SDTV and EDTV don’t look significantly worse on a 46 inch than on a 40 inch screen because for this type of content the size difference is not that big. Now, regarding your actual question - “Is there a huge difference between 40 and 46 inches?” - it isn’t a huge difference. It is an improvement but not huge. Probably big enough to worth it, however.

  • Thank you very much for your answer! Your time and dedication is appreciated.

  • @RD: At that distance, if you’re watching HDTV (either 1080p, 1080i or 720p) you need a 65 inch screen to get the most of it. 52 inch is just too small. On 52 inch DVDs will look good but you will miss a lot of what HDTV has to offer (DVD resolution is not HDTV). Best 65 inch plasma TV is Panasonic TH-65PZ850U and it is probably way over your budget. LCD TVs of this size are not too great and are have poor price to quality ratio compared to plasma TVs. Since, just as many other people, you’re limited by your budget, you have to make a compromise. Better picture quality (a smaller screen of higher quality) or better detail (bigger screen with relatively inferior quality). There is also the option to buy the smaller but better TV and to pull a chair closer to the TV when you want to enjoy it 100%. Unfortunately there is no easy answer and you have to decide yourself. Go in a store and look at TVs. See which approach you like more - the high-quality small screen or the lower quality big screen. If you’re feeling unhappy to make such a trade-off, there is always the solution to wait for a couple of months and in this time save some money. I personally saved money for six months before I had enough to buy my dream TV. I consider it was worth the waiting. Those are all the suggestions I can give you. Unfortunately, the decision is still yours to make.

  • 720 vs 1080. I was told by a salesperson yesterday that some broadcasting such as EPSN, will be going to 1080 in a couple of years. Is there any information (timetable) that refers to this ever happening? I know it would be very costly to cable companies to go to this technology, but are we talking a couple years, 10 years, never happening?

    This is what is holding up my decision to go 50 inch 720 verse 50 inch 1080, because I plan to use it for a long time. Any thoughts or input would be greatly appreciated.

  • The forum that I so DESPERATELY need:

    About to get Satelite TV, and was also looking to get the Panasonic TC-P42X1 (720p) plasma all within the next few days. I’ve researched tv’s so much that I want to scratch my eyes out. My viewing distance from the couch is about 8 ft. I sometimes sit on the floor at about 4 to 6 feet. I’ll probably still just watch DVD’s and I’ll get some HD package from whichever satellite provider I choose. It’s a 1 bedroom apartment. My question is, do you think I have the right distance and television set up going on? If not, I’M ALL EARS. Also if you have an opinion on Direct TV vs Dish Satellite, I am on one knee to absorb your knowledge. Thank you, thank you, thaaaaaaank you.

  • I currently have a 36-inch Sony Trinitron CRT TV (flat screen tube), and DVD’s look great on it. I’d like to upgrade to plasma, and I’ve been looking at a few 50-inch models. I sit about 8 feet away from my current TV. Someone told me that a 50-inch plasma might actually look smaller than my CRT, because I’m used to the 4:3 ratio, and a wider screen would “fool” my eyes into thinking it’s smaller because of the widescreen ratio. First, is that a possibilty, and would a 50-inch, 720p be sufficient for my sitting distance?

    I will not be connecting my computer or playing video games on the TV. I watch lots of DVD’s and SD TV.

    Thanks!

  • @John: I am sure that some day there will be 1080p broadcasts. However I personally don’t know of any specific time frame for this. 1080p screen is also useful for 1080i broadcasts. 1080i channels can look better on a 1080p display than on a 720p display if you sit at the right distance. There are also Blu Ray movies which are 1080p.

  • @Dan: From 4-6 feet 1080p will look great and from 8 feet you will be able to get the most of 720p which might not look as great from 4-6 feet. 8 feet is also a good distance for DVD viewing, though DVDs will not look as good as 720p or 1080p/i since they are EDTV (Enhanced Definition - lower resolution than HDTV). I would say that since you are comfortable moving closer or further away from the TV, you can get the best of all resolutions. In conclusion, 42 inch is probably the best screen size. However, since TC-P42X1 has 720p native resolution, only 720p content will look great and sitting closer (4-6 feet) will not allow you to get the most of 1080p/i content as it is still displayed as 720p (because that’s the native resolution of the TV). In other words, you would have to buy a 1080p TV and sit on the floor at 4-6 feet, in order to get the most of 1080p (Blu Ray movies, if you plan to buy a Blu-Ray player) and 1080i HDTV broadcasts from your satellite TV provider. Your TV choice is OK, however a 1080p model could offer a better experience with 1080i HDTV broadcasts (as long as you sit on the floor) and Blu Ray movies if you ever buy a player for them. Sitting on the floor (4-6 feet), you are too close to a 42 inch TV if you’re watching 720p or lower resolution content (it will look better from the couch). I hope my answer was clear enough and helpful.

    I don’t have an opinion about satellite TV providers but I recommend you SatelliteTVGuru.net where you can find a comparison.

  • @Craig: According to the formulas for recommended viewing distance, a 50 inch plasma is too big to watch DVD and SDTV from 8 feet. As a matter of fact, even your 36 inch TV is a bit too big for that type of content. I take it that you either have a somewhat poor eyesight or for some reason you’re not finding it disturbing to sit that close for that screen size and type of content (and here I’m referring especially to SDTV which is very low quality). My best recommendation is that you actually go in a store and watch SDTV and DVD on various sizes of plasma TVs from 8 feet. See which screen size you like most from that distance.

    Regarding the aspect ratio fooling your eyes, it is true. The equivalent of 4:3 32 inch TV is a 16:9 (widescreen) 42 inch TV (in order to have roughly the same height of the image). In practice, DVDs will look bigger on a widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) because the movie on the DVD is actually widescreen and will fill the whole TV screen, while on a regular 4:3 TV you would get black bars above and beneath the actual picture. The opposite happens when you watch SDTV which is 4:3 content. When displayed on a widescreen, the 4:3 SDTV content will appear with black bars on the sides. So in order for this content to have the same displayed size, the height of the widescreen TV must match the height of your current TV. That means the widescreen TV must have a longer diagonal than your current 4:3 TV.

    As a conclusion, a 50 inch TV might actually look worse than your current TV. Go in a store and watch DVD and SDTV with your own eyes to see if you like it or not.

  • yeah that makes sense. but since I’m getting satellite so I’m assuming I’ll watch more HD content than standard, and I’ll be watching DVD’s until I choke up for a Blu ray. You seem to think 42 inch at 1080p would be right but every single knuckle head i talk to says go big like 50″. And I keep telling them that’s too big. So would a TC-P46G10 be a better size and choice since it’s in the middle? Or will that amplify the lower dvd and hd feed? ANd am I in the right arena going with a panasonic plasma? Thanks again.

  • Actually, my 36-inch CRT looks great from where I sit. And, no, my eyesight is fine:). I went to Best Buy and stood about 8 feet from a 50-inch plasma, and it did not look too big at all. As for SDTV, I still record all my TV shows on VHS - and that looks fine too. I would be getting a 50-inch plasma mainly for DVD’s. I watch a lot of movies and would love to see them even bigger than on my 36-incher. But, I’ll take what you said into consideration and see if I can get the store to show me SDTV on a plasma.

  • Re: 720 vs1080p what happens when you only watch movies and TV that is broadcasting in 1080p?..surely you will lose out if you only have a 720 set???

  • I’m trying to decide between a 46 pz800 and a 50pz80 from Panasonic. My family room has viewing distances from 4 ft to 13ft. The average distance being 9ft or more. We mostly watch TV (we’ll be getting an HD Box), but will probably start watching movies on Blueray. Which TV do you suggest?

  • @Dan: From your previous message I assumed the 42 inch 720p HDTV is a choice forced by budget. 1080p/i looks perfect from 6.5 feet on a 50 inch TV. That means you can get a 50 inch TV if you plan to watch mostly HD on it. For SD and DVDs it is a bit too big, however you must understand you can’t get the best of all worlds. 46 inch could be a solution that offers a balance in quality across all types of content you watch. You have the numbers from the table, you know what you like and how you use the TV. The choice is yours. There’s no way to make both HD and SD look great using the same distance/size constants. Pioneer Kuro is the best plasma TV (they exited the TV business but you can still find their models in stores and online). Panasonic comes next and not too far away. Look at the top on the homepage. I have not made the top with 2009 models, but they are similar in terms of picture quality. Even if you buy a Panasonic, the quality varies a lot across different series. Some are entry-level (cheaper, 720p, not perfectly accurate colors) others are high-end (expensive, better colors).

  • @alex: Yes you will, but only if you sit at the optimal distance for 1080p (closer) when you are watching the 720p TV. It is a matter of 3 measures - picture resolution and quality, distance, screen size. You get the full detail/quality from a 1080p TV only if you watch 1080p or 1080i content from the right distance (close). Even if you have a 1080p TV, if you sit too far it won’t make any difference compared to 720p.

  • @Sonja: From “9 feet or more” any of those is too small to fully benefit from the detail in HD content. The PZ800 has better quality but the PZ80 is slightly bigger. It’s not an easy decision, I know, but only you can make it. It’s a matter of choosing size vs quality or the vice-verse. The PZ80 has a nice picture. Not as good as PZ800 but very good. So, unless you’re a purist when it comes to colors and picture quality you will like the PZ80 just fine.

  • This is a bit off the subject but you seem pretty knowledgeable when it comes to plasmas. I recently bought one and I was told to have some sort of surge protection. I changed the wall outlet to one of those fused ones that will kick off if there is something wrong. Is this enough or should I buy a cheap surge protector power bar to go along with it?

  • @Dave: I don’t have a surge protector or power conditioner and I don’t know enough about this to give you an advice. My power doesn’t fluctuate. I am sure you will find information about this on home theater forums (e.g. http://www.avsforum.com).

  • Not to beat up a dead horse or anything but this seems the place to ask my question. I planned on purchasing a 50″ Plasma - the viewing distance will be about -15-20Ft, the TV hung on the wall in a daylight basement. I have Directv and am not eligilbe for HD(too many trees southward :-() so my viewing would be standard satelite and DVD’s on my Bose Receiver and of course some VHS. I’m wondering if a 50″ will be too small after reading above (i could be misunderstanding).
    I haven’t made a decision as to which brand to buy yet but if you could give me some basic things to look for (based on my info above) it might be easier to decide and purchase. I’d be happy to give more info if needed, just not sure exactly how to ask for what I need.
    Of couse i would like to the picture to be as good as possible without HD and will need to purchase one that I can hang, the old projection TV just can be set where we’re relocating the TV (the kid is happy with that - he gets the 50″ Projection)
    Any info you can provide is very much appreciated.
    Michelle

  • @Michelle: 50 inch is a good size for SDTV/EDTV and that distance. Best brands are Panasonic and Samsung. Since you plan to watch SDTV/EDTV, a TV with exceptional quality won’t help much since the quality of the content is low. That means, for you less impressive models (LG for example) work as well. Find a TV that has good video processing for low quality sources (SDTV). That means good noise reduction, and features helpful for SDTV. Also, buy a 720p model because with a 1080p model you would waste money. There aren’t many plasma TV manufacturers left, and for what you need you should focus on specific models not brands. You are looking for a low-end - middle-end model, or one with average quality rather than an expensive/high-end model. The 720p models are few. Probably the best choice would be a model from Panasonic X1 series (from Panasonic’s 2009 lineup). Panasonic might also have C1 (also 720p) series in mass-market stores. These are cheap models and not as good as X1. So i think, the best is an X1 model. There are also the 2008 720p models - Panasonic PX80 series. Now, since you’re looking for a 50 inch plasma TV, you will find out that the number of 720p models of this size are very few.

  • Thanks for the info - we actually were able to make a purchase based on the info you provided. We did decide to go with the X1, got a great price and we’ll see how it all pans out very soon.
    Thanks again!

  • We have a finished basement with recessed lighting our viewing distance is going to be 9 feet. We are interested in a HD 1080p Plasma Panasonic Viera- what would you recommend for size?

  • @Stephen: Consult the distances table. It depends what you plan to watch on it. For 1080p/i 65 inch is best, for 720p a 50 inch model is better. Since you want a 1080p model I assume you plan to watch 1080p/i on it so the 65 inch one is probably best.

  • Thank you so much for your informative articles. Unfortunately, as was the case with some others, I have become confused. I want to purchase a Panasonic and I intend to sit about 9 feet from the TV screen. (maybe even 9.5 feet) That distance does not show on your chart. Additionally, I intend to use the TV solely for viewing regular DVDs and about 75-80% SD television (I record alot on a DVR and it seems that SD takes up much less space than HD) and about 20-25% HD television. As DVR hard drives become larger, I certainly would switch to recording in HD. I have COX cable and believe they up-convert all signals to 1080i? So, given this viewing distance and my viewing habits, do I go 720p or 1080p and which size. Based on your advice to others, I would like to have a decent viewing experience for all the above. I understand I may not get the best HD experience, but I don’t want a bad SD experience either.
    Thank you very much.

  • @CraigB: basically you would choose the closest distance from the table. It depends what you want most - good HD or good SD/DVD. So I would recommend 720p. The distance for SD/DVD to look acceptable and still get some advantage from HD as well would be 42-46 inch. The recommended size for SD would be 32″ but you might actually be OK with how SD and DVD looks on a 42 or 46 inch TV. Best would be to actually go in a store and see both SD and HD from 9 feet and pick the size YOU like better.

  • Thank you very much for your reply. One more question. If I changed my viewing habits (not viewing distance) and told you that I will record and watch as much as I can with Cox Cable HD instead of SD would your advice to me change at all? Would you still recommend 42-46inch 720p?

  • @CraigB: In that case, I would recommend 55-65 inch. 55 inch will work better for 720p content (most sports channels), and you can go as high a 65 inch to get the best of blu ray movies for example. So somewhere in the middle (58″ Panasonic or 63″ Samsung) is probably just fine for HD broadcasts. And of course, 1080p native resolution.

  • Hi,
    Edited version (apologies).
    I plan to watch regular digital TV (not HD, though may upgrade sometime in the future) from a distance of approx 9′, in a well lit room. What size and resolution would you recommend. Will be watching a lot of live sport. With thanks.

  • Lots of repeat questions…hopefully I won’t bore you by being redundant. I am about to buy our first flat screen and frankly have been resistant to spend the kind of money required to entertain myself with tele-vegitation. Times are changing so time to get with the program. Price is a major consideration and ever since I saw my first HD tv at the Smithsonian in DC some years ago I believed that plasma was the way to go. It appears since Vizio and Pioneer will no longer produce plasma units choice and selection as well as R&D will slow if not come to a screeching halt. So my question is will it be wise to invest in something that appears to be on it’s way out?
    ps I do have a Beta machine in the basement?
    MD

  • @Dricky74: If it’s SD, a 32″ 720p LCD TV is enough. If you plan to upgrade to HD, you should pick something between 46″ 720p up to 65″ 1080p - depending on how much money you have and/or what kind of HD content you watch most. Most sports HD broadcasts are 720p, so a TV with native resolution of 720p is enough. If you go through the guide and the comments above yours, I am sure you will figure out what is best for you.

  • @MikeD: I don’t think plasma is going to disappear too soon. With some exceptions (expensive ones) in LCD arena, Plasma still offers better quality for the price and better dollar-per-inch ratio.

  • I have just remodeled my fire place and plan to install a plasma screen just above the mantle. My main viewing sit is right at 10′,the tv will be mounted on a till mount , but being I’ll be viewing it looking at an angle will this change the size I’ll need to purchase? I’m looking at a 1080p 50in, or is this over kill? We do watch alot of movies over and standard tv.

  • I would like to buy a plasma tv and i heard from a friend that the plasma affect the eyes and it spend a lot of electricity , Is that right ?
    One more question please, what is the meaning of “burning an image on plasma screen”, i didn’t get that one ?
    and someone told me burning an image is one of the plasma defects ? is that right too ?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Hey so I just got a 50 inch V10 today. You helped me come to the conclusion on the size of my tv so I just had a question about the break in on a Panasonic Plasma. Do u recommend a break in DVD or Scrolling the white bars for a certain amount of time? Or just start watchin the damn thing. ANy advice would help me out alot. Thanks you.

  • First…AWESOME website!!!! ok, so I’m stuck with a maximum screen size option of 50″ and have the particular Panasonic in mind, but my question is 720p?? I have a viewing distance of 15ft, and it shows the optimal viewing distance at 118inches. I was considering a 1080p before reading this article, but would a 720p still be better in this application/setup that I have?? Thanks in advance for your time and expertise.

  • @jerry: I couldn’t say if watching from an angle affects the optimal distance/size. Probably not. 50 inch screen seen from 10 feet is best if watching 720p content. That means the 1080p is overkill. However, all good (high-end) TVs are 1080p, the 720p models being entry-level and of lower quality. So it depends what content you’re watching. If you’re watching HD, 50 inch is a good size. You could also go a bit larger. If you’re watching SDTV (that’s what I get by “standard tv”) you can go smaller. As I have said many times before, you can’t get the best of both worlds (HDTV and SDTV). In conclusion, 50 inch is probably a good size. Even if you don’t watch HDTV now, you probably will at some point in the future.

  • @Dan: Read Plasma TV Burn In Guide. Best way is to just watch regular content which is fullscreen and switch channels often so the same channel doesn’t stay on for more than a couple of hours. Best content to watch is DVD or Blu Ray movies in fullscreen.

  • @Fahad: No, a plasma TV doesn’t affect the eyes more than other types of TV. It does consume quite a lot of electricity depending on its size, how new the model is (latest models are more efficient) and in what power saving mode it is running (many models have power saving modes that when enabled consume less energy by reducing the screen brightness). Regarding burn-in, it is not a defect but a predisposition of plasma TVs to get damaged when “abused”. I suggest you read the “Plasma TV Burn-In” Guide (see the link in my reply to Dan, in the previous comment). The chances of getting burn-in with normal usage are small, however if you play a lot of games or watch mostly a single TV channel, it can happen.

  • @Fireman Dave: It depends what type of content you plan to watch. From 15 feet, if you’re watching SDTV (including regular DVDs) a 42-46 inch TV is best. For 720p HDTV (most sports channels) a 65 inch TV is best and for 1080p/i (Blu Ray and some HDTV broadcasts) you are simply too far to get an advantage from 1080p no matter how large the plasma TV is. In conclusion, you are sitting very far away so 720p is probably the best choice. Keep in mind however that all 720p models are either entry-level or mid-level so if you want the best picture quality you will have to go with an 1080p model anyway just because it has a better picture quality, even though the resolution won’t help. If you want a 50 inch model because that’s what you afford to buy, not even 720p will offer much advantage over a non-HD TV. You are simply too far from the TV.

  • Great board. I was planning on buying a 50″ plasma tv but wanted to touch base first to get your thoughts.

    The tv will be hung over my fireplace in our main living area. The room can be quite dark and dim but not completely void of light. The back sofa is 20ft from where the tv will be hung. The sofa to one side and the chair/ottomen on the other are both around 10 ft away.

    I was going with the 1080 just because, well it sounded better. Would I be ok with a 50″ 720p at that distance? What brand would you recommend, all I keep hearing is Panasonic. I know a larger tv would probably be best but my boss (wife) doesnt want to drown out the room.

    I have omnistat surround sound speakers (5) and all denon equipment.

  • well i measured my distance and i am at optimal distance from my 65″ panasonic Full HD Plasma.
    I watch mainly SDTV as most HDTV channels in aus are not that good anyway. i am about to get a bluray player but tossing up between building a pc with a tuner and a HDDVD and BD in 1 combo drive as the HDDVD are so cheap and still have some great titles.

    I know one thing is for sure, you cant go back to 42″ after having this massive 65″ suka lol.

    thanks for the info….

  • Thanks for the helpful and interesting information. My husband and I are definitely looking to purchase a new plasma TV. This will be our first flat screen TV, so we are newbies at this. We have a large, dark (not well lit) family room that has 3 viewing locations, at 134″, 152″ and 186″ distances. Our viewing consists mainly of SDTV and HDTV channels. We’re looking for recommendations on TV size and model(s) that would be appropriate for our viewing distances.

  • @Monica Doerr: It is pretty easy to figure it from the optimal viewing distance table - for 152″ best size for HDTV is 65 inch. Regarding models, the best ones are listed on homepage, but they are older models from last year. I have not made the top for 2009 yet. You can see the new models from 2009 in the brand lineups (models at the top are better than those at the bottom):
    Panasonic Plasma TV - G10 series is great but largest screen size in this series is 50 inch. V10 series has 65 inch models but I don’t think they have been released on the market yet. So, the 65 inch model from last year should be a good choice - Panasonic TH-65PZ850U (review link), Buy from Amazon.com
    Samsung Plasma TV - series 6 is best bang for the buck but largest model is 58 inch. Series 5 is also very good and has 63 inch models (see the link for more details).
    LG Plasma TV - largest size is 60 inch (see link for details).

    There are also the Pioneer models which are best, however the largest are 60 inch.

    Now, all that remains to figure out is which one of them fits in your budget.

  • Quick question. I’m looking to add a 37″ TV to my bedroom and I’m itchin’ to finally make the jump to Blu Ray. Is 37″ too small to really get the most of that format? I have a 42″ 1080i Panasonic in my living room, but I’m guessing that won’t be an optimum display for Blu content either. Should I skip Blu Ray altogether until I can afford a 1080p in the 50″+ range?

  • @Alex: Well, I have no idea at what distance you are sitting. Look at the distance table and see what size is best for your distance for 1080p. And by the way, your 1080i TV has a native resolution of 720p (but accepts 1080i input). There is no flat-panel TV with interlaced (i) native resolution, they just market them as 1080i instead of 720p because the number is higher and catches customer’s eyes. Blu Ray on a TV of the right size and seen from the optimal distance is simply fantastic. You have never seen anything like that. Do buy the right TV size because otherwise you will miss some of the fantastic quality of Blu Ray.

  • Thanks so much for the quick response. For the possible 37″ 1080p TV in the bedroom w/Blu Ray player, I’ll be sitting about 10′ away.

    Currentlly, I sit about 7′ away from the 42″ 720p (thanks for the correction!) Panny.

    My options then are to go Blu Ray on my 720p TV in my living room and buy an affordable 37″ for my bedroom to watch DVDs on, OR go the 37″ 1080p route for the bedroom and do my Blu Ray watching in there.

    Or move the 42″ into my bedroom for DVD watching, and go for broke with a 50″ 1080p set in my living room?

    (These decisions make me want to tear my hair out sometimes. Your patience is appreciated!)

  • @Alex: For a distance of 10 feet and 1080p, optimal screen size is 65 inch (even that is under optimal size). A 50 inch TV would be perfect for 720p not 1080p Blu Ray. This might be way over your budget (63 inch Samsung PN63B590 or PN63B550 are around $3000), however if you are really passionate about watching movies at top quality I strongly suggest you save money for a few months and buy the perfect TV because in the long run it is worth it. Otherwise, though you will enjoy it any way, it will not be the best you can get. The difference between 720p and 1080p is not huge, however if you are planning to buy this TV primarily for Blu Ray, get it so you get 100% Blu Ray quality. Of course, there’s also the cheap solution - pull a chair and sit closer to a smaller TV :) There’s another thing with 720p models: all of them are budget models (cheap and with average quality). If you want great quality you have to go with a 1080p model because the 720p models are not even close. Not because they are 720p but because of the picture quality on them. What can I say, quality has it’s price and you have to decide what’s more important.

  • Ok. I have been researching my first plasma TV purchase to death. My viewing distance is between 9 and 11 feet depending on if the TV sits table top or gets wall mounted, and if I sit back into my couch. So, I was going to get the Samsung PN50B860. But, now I am having second thoughts and, based on my budget, I think I should step down in quality, but up in size to the PN58B650. I watch 70% Verizon Fios HDTV, 30% Netflix DVDs (will try to rent Blu Ray as much as possible on my new TV), and absoltely no SDTV. Should I get the 50″ or the 58″?

  • @MikeW: Samsung PN58B650 is not inferior to Samsung PN50B860 in terms of picture quality. It only has fewer features. So, PN50B860 is a very good choice as it will offer you both superb picture quality and better detail (as it is closer to the optimal size).

  • My question deals with the angle in which you watch the screen at. My wife thinks that if I get a 720P that a person on the floor will not see the picture aswell, as if we had 1080P they would see it better. How much if any will the angle in which the screen is viewed at make a difference? Will it be enough to get a 1080p. Or would the Panisonic 42′ 720P work fine.

  • I understand the viewing distance and 720i vs. 1080i. But what about video games. usually people come closer to play video games. I got approximately 9 feet from my tv and im thinking about 42 inch plasma. but still wondering about 1080 or 720. im deciding which video game system im going to get. does it matter. and What brand of plasma is the best for the buck. im trying to get one under 800

  • @James Gilbert: When sitting on the floor the angle is not that big. So you shouldn’t even bother about this unless you mount the TV near the ceiling and you sit on the floor. A 30 degree angle for example will have no serious impact on the experience. Resolution will not affect the picture in any particular way when you watch the TV from an angle. This is not a special case that would require to reconsider the resolution. The only reason why you might want to consider 1080p is that the 720p models don’t come close in terms of overall picture quality and features. It has nothing to do with resolution, it’s just that manufacturers do not use latest and greatest technologies on budget/720p models. That being said, if you don’t have high demands from the TV, or you have a very tight budget, 720p will fit in your budget and give you a good picture for what you payed on it.

  • @HChairs: It doesn’t matter what you watch, the same rule applies. For 42″ at 9 feet, 720p is optimal. 1080p would only give you an advantage over 60″. If you’re a hardcore gamer (play games a lot and more than you watch TV or movies) you should get an LCD TV instead of a plasma. When playing games a lot on a plasma you can end up with permanent burn-in on it. Best plasma TVs are listed on homepage. Most resistant to burn-in are Panasonic models, followed by Samsung and finally LG which gets burn-in quite fast. See the burn-in guide for more on this topic.

  • Hi there:

    So I’ve read several of your columns in the process of my research, and I really think you know what you’re talking about! My question, however, is NOT related to plasmas, it’s related to LCDs, so I’m hoping (since you have mentioned them several times) that you might be able to provide some advice. The tv we are looking to get is (gasp!) only 37″. We sit about 6-7 feet from the tv. I understand 720p vs. 1080p and the optimization of either all depends upon viewing distance and screen size, and what kind of content you’re viewing. However, I haven’t seen anybody mention anything about 37″…it’s all been 40-42″ or above. With us sitting so relatively close to the tv, and with a smaller tv (compared to everyone else’s questions on this site), will 1080p really make a difference? We have direcTV HD, but we have a non-HD tv at the moment, so we have been watching the regular channels. We do not have any Blue-ray dvds, and have a Nintendo Wii that is played occasionally. I see you’ve said 1080p will be more beneficial if you’re at optimum viewing distance…but my head is just spinning! And I don’t really know how to apply your other advice to our smaller screen size at a closer proximity to the television.

    Thank you very much for any advice! :)

  • @Andrea: See http://www.besthdtvscreen.com/guides/hdtv-screen-size-viewing-distance for more screen sizes (as low as 32 inch). You’re in between 32 and 40 inch in that table which gives you 720p as optimal resolution for your distance and wanted screen size.

  • The viewing distance proposed relates to ability to ’see’ detail in the picture. But the resulting distances seem fairly “close” - won’t these lead to a need to constantly move one’s head around to following action across the screen?

  • @Geoff: Not really. You are not that close. You will however use a part of your peripheral sight more than in the case of a regular SDTV. Because of this you get a somewhat immersive sensation, you feel more into the action.

  • I have a panny 50 inch Plasma, sit approx 10 feet away, I feel it is too close. Too intense for my eyes. For some SD channels (including some digtital channels) the poor signal looks better at 12-14 feet. Even excellent HD is easier on the eyes at 12+ feet. Have a few channels coming in at 720p and at times can look better than 1080i. Quality of signal is most important. I have an upgrade (cheap) DVD player and sends 1080p to TV, TV says it is 1080p also. I think the DVD player over does it a little. Watching DVD one can sit closer the movies appear to be less intense than Cable channels. I think I would rather have a 46 inch.

  • We have direct tv and do not have the hd package, no blueray player, is 1080 needed? Will I be able to tell 8 to 9 ft. away, on a 50″ plasma?

  • @John Page: No, you won’t see any difference between 720p and 1080p since your source is SDTV (not even 720p). I however suggest you to get the HD package - you’ll never go back :)

  • Hello,
    I really enjoy reading this website’s articles. The knowledge you people have for TVs is so helpful for others to be able to read. Thank you so much for your efforts! Now I have a question that I would appreciate if you could give some thought if possible:

    I recently purchased the Panasonic TCP42s1, and I absolutely love it. I’ve been following the directions from this website very closely, and plan on taking care of my new TV (regarding burn-in, break-in, etc.). However, I am beginning to wish that I would’ve gone for the 46″ model, rather than the 42″ model. The specs of the TVs are virtually identical. The 46″ model would be $250 more, which is nearly 33% more cash for 4 more inches. I normally sit approximately 10 to 11 feet away from my screen.

    I realize that this would probably depend on what I’m using it for. For the most part, I will use this TV to watch SD and regular DVDs, with the occasional 720p station. I’m sure I will upgrade my viewing at some point, but this will be later down the road.

    Money is not too much of an issue, but I am just curious about your opinion……….is $250 worth the 4 more inches in panel size?

    THANKS!
    Jeremy

  • Great article! I’m looking for a tv for my living room but I’m not sure if plasma is the right decision. My main requirement is a tv that I can view comfortably from a distance of 18 feet. I watch some DVDs and sports, no video games or blue ray, and have been watching the same tv for 15 years. I’d like to sit on my couch, crack a beer after work, and not squint to see the set. Can you help me see my options? (Did I mention that I’m frugal?) Thanks!

  • I am looking at a Panasonic 50″ plasma TV. We sit about 18 feet away. This Tv is a 720p. We are elderly and cannot see the best but vision is repairable with glasses. Would this give us the quality in HD?

  • @Jeremy A: Well, for SDTV and DVD it is big enough. However only you can truly answer this question. If you don’t find the SDTV programs too “soft” looking because of the rescaling and you think you can go higher, maybe it is worth it. On the other hand, it won’t give you a big improvement. So why not consider switching to a HDTV provider and buying a large TV (54 - 65 inch) so you get the best possible experience? So, I don’t really have an answer as it would be very subjective.

  • @Andy D: Frugal and big flat screen TVs don’t go too well together :). That being said, at 18 feet, it comes down - as usual - to what you want to look better. From that distance, DVDs will look good on a screen that is at least 54 inch. If you have poor eyesight, go as high as 58 - 63 inch. If you don’t have HDTV programs then you’re set with this size. However if you watch HDTV you need a larger size. Much larger. HDTV sports programs have 720p resolution so you should probably aim for that to look good. Which puts you outside of the plasma TV size range. That means you need a DLP TV around or over 70 inch. Largest plasma TV is 65 inch and it is under the recommended size for your viewing distance for 720p programs (not to mention 1080p).

  • @Gary Parsons: NO! Optimal distance for 50 inch 720p screen is 9-10 feet. At 18 feet, in order to actually see the HD detail, you are in the same situation as Andy D to which I replied before. So you need a DLP TV around or slightly larger than 70 inch. Of course, you also need HD programs since the TV itself will not display SDTV signal at HD quality.

  • In responce to Andy:

    Your situation is not far off from mine a month ago. I got a Panny 50 Incher, and I now understand why people are so excited about the flat screen technology.

    At first I thought 10 feet was too close for a 50 incher, but no longer since my eyes have become accustomed to the details and intensity of the picture - signal quality could be an issue of concern.

    To “Experience the Image” at 18 feet even a 50 inch TV is or could be too small. At first, and after the change from the 15 yr old technology and (size?) a 50 inch TV will appear large enough, but after a couple weeks you may find it better to be closer. POOR SIGNAL will allow and perhaps force you to sit further away, eg, 18 feet just fine. But with the correct aspect ratio 4:3 and resized WS, you will NOT get the FULL screen filled. Therefore, you will NOT have full 50 inch or 64 inch, UNLESS you do not mind a slighly warped soft picture.
    I suspect for real cases, this is why one is advised (my opinion) to avoid smaller screens beyond 10-12 feet. HDTV channels IS FULL SCREEN, and it is possible to sit further away, and only loose some “experience.” However, SD channels (I like to say digital channels and Standard Def if you have cable) Will require you to resize the picture ratio IF you do not want a soft slightly warped looking picture. SD in full screen would/could look better far away, because the quality is just not there. I sit approx 10 ft away, and this allows me to use correct ratios and get near HD quality, but just smaller picture. YES with correct (but smaller picture) ratio the Panny allows Digital and many standard def (cable) look very clear and near HD!! HD is full screen WOW! I did not measure, but with WS in correct ratio, the scren size is 46 inch or even 42? Otherwise the look may not match the price.

  • Jeremy.

    I am just a reader, and learning too, I bought a Panny 50 incher a month ago, and sit approx 8-10 feet away. I can move around and do sit further away at times.

    I personally do not like the soft and slightly warped looking picture, so I use the correct aspect ratio. This means on SD channels the TV (did not measure) is approx four inches narrower, and in WS I loose size on all sides. USing full screen for SD channels makes it look soft and theater like…which can be cool. But with correct ratios SD channels look very close to HD !! At first I thought 50 inch was too large for approx 10 feet, it is intense at times, not when watching DVDs however, but after a few weeks I do not feel 50 inch is too large.

    If you get HDTV signal, then I would go with the 46 inch in a second. If you need not resize the picture with the 42 inch in SD and it looks excellent full screen, AND MOST IMPORTANT you feel you are experiencing the picture show, and it is out into the room and does not appear as being in a box or distant then 42 may be just fine. If money is no problem get the 46 inch. If money no prob and you will get HDTV I would consider the 50 inch. To me the picture is intense (getting used to it) and the first two weeks, my eyes felt like they were sun burned and tired just like I was out in the sun all day, after watching 3 hours of TV at approx 8-10 feet. I do not have the picture overly bright…it is the quality of detail and size. At first I enjoyed the soft full screen of SD, but at times at 8-10 feet I could see lack of focus (pix) so I decided to use correct ratio for SD, and this makes the picture size and distance perfect with the 50 incher. With HDTV it is full screen and full experience, but just yesterday I woundered how much MORE I could experience with a larger TV :-)

    If you feel like I generally do…TV is just for information and I can enjoy the CRT TVs for just that at times and keep the TV out of my personal space, the 42 inch may be ok. However, I would think…heck I may want to experiece a good DVD … now you would want at least 46 inch. You also could benefit from a good 720P or at least 420P dvd player …even one of those cheap $40.00 one if you do not have already.

    Yes, it is subjective, and your personallity..and if you have people come over to watch…perhaps vanity too. Want a little WOW and experience an evenfull picture show…GO LARGER and so-on :-)

  • I want to leave one last comment: I am sure people realize, as I did before getting a Panny (G10) to get your money’s worth you must have HDTV. So I order HDTV before the TV arrived. Without HDTV I feel there is very little cause to spend big bucks for a TV, the quaility will not be there.

    So, the real bad side is that Satellite and cable do not have TOO many HDTV channels. As I understand approx 3/4 of your channels will be other than HDTV. I have a set-top box (new to this also) and this is what I found best to use to set the aspect ratios. This means I loose approx (did not measure yet, yet) four inches on the left and right side with 4/3, and approx four inches all around with WS. I could allow the full screen, but the focus is off…..and picture may be warped.

    HDTV fills the full screen, and is excellent for the news channels. To add to the monitor’s point, HDTV is detail…ONE strand of hair standing on one’s head and skin details can be seen. To watch at a distance beyond the suggested distance removes the ability to see the detail, not that the picture quality is removed.

    For non HDTV channels where one sits does not matter, because the quality is just not there to start with. Moreover, SD channels in full screen may look better further away. However, a good signal in correct ratio can still make an SD signal look like real life photo quality picture. But because the size is reduced one must/should/will sit/watch at a close distance.

    In general I must sit 8-10 feet from TV, so I felt I had to buy a PLASMA and it must be 1080p for res, and color depths. I may be wrong, but I am under the impression that the 720p TVs do not have as high res and color depth..BUT I COULD BE WRONG.

    BOTTOM LINE ON THX video setting…I only use it for DVDs it DOES improve the quality of older DVDs, almost like an UPCONVERSION DVD player. As a matter of fact this allowed me to return the cheap DVD upconversion player…the THX mode works well enough. Plus older DVDs (from 90s and early 2000’s) in upconversion DVD player over compansates and worsens the picture quality. The THX greatly improved 480i DVD signals, and 480p signals from DVD player are more than enough for older DVDs —photo picture quality nice.

    That is all….

  • Hey great information on all these reports thanks for the help. i have recently purchased a 42PQ60 tv. I was wondering if there is or if it is necessary to update “drivers” for this or any plasma tv? Also is there a difference in types of calibration dvds; some better then others? Thanks for your time.

  • Hey, got a question. I got a 46″ Panasonic plasma. I will be setting it up soon. The space where it will be placed on the wall will be at about 52″ (at the bottom of the TV) from the floor. Does that change the veiwing distance? I am guessing so. Would you just find what is comfortable for yourself? I am thinking that the higher the TV sits the further back you will be, as well as you will be tilting the screen down a bit more so that you are not looking up so much. Any imput on this situation would be greatly appreciated. This is not for a theatre room, and the reason for the height is that there is a fireplace below.

    Thanks.

  • I forgot to mention what model I have. I have the TC-P46S1.

  • I have a Question:

    Thinking about my comments, an important question arose. If I get a blu-ray player will it be Full Screen like HDTV channels? Are HD DVD’s and players Full Screen?

    To me it was a revolution to learn that Quality is not absolute without HDTV, AND also, regular DVD’s WS are rather small if want a good picture… I hope Blu-ray is not just good picture IF only fills small area of screen. Hoping that Blu-ray is full screen excellent picture! If it is it appears foolish NOT to get blu-ray with large screen TVs.

    Thanks !

  • @John: In some cases the manufacturers release firmware updates to fix certain problems. This is not very common, however. You can of course look on the manufacturer’s site and see if they released any firmware updates. Regarding calibration DVDs, the ones we recommend are Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics (Blu-Ray) and Avia II.

  • @Mike: First of all, thank you for participating so intensely in the comments. I really appreciate it.

    Regarding your question, Blu Ray movies are not necessarily fullscreen. Usually you get the black bars on top and below the movie. That’s because they are filmed in cinemascope format or a format that is wider than the 16:9 of the HDTV screen. I totally understand your point, but I guess we have to live with this situation. You can however use the zoom function and make it be fullscreen at the expense of not seeing the sides of the movie anymore.

    Regarding your statement that 720p HDTVs are not as good as 1080p ones in terms of picture quality, it is true. All 720p models on the market are entry-level models. Pioneer was the last company to offer a high-end 720p plasma TV. If you want great quality (colors, black levels, features), you have to buy a high-end model and all of those are 1080p.

  • @DGA: In terms of amount of details you see, it does not change the recommended viewing distance. However, if you sit too close, as you seem to suspect it will be uncomfortable to look up. Ideally the center of the screen should be at the same level with your eyes. The higher the screen is and the closer you are sitting the more neck strain you will get. Sit on the couch and look where the TV will be, you should feel if it is comfortable or not. Also, make sure you properly isolate the wall so the TV doesn’t overheat.

  • “Also, make sure you properly isolate the wall so the TV doesn’t overheat.” What is the best way to go about this?

    Thanks.

  • @DGA: I don’t know. Never installed a TV over a fireplace. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, hire a professional TV installer.

  • Hello. What if the room is quite bright? There are big windows on the side and even behind the tv. But this is a large room so I need to be able to see it from almost 15-20 feet? I am not sure if a plasma or lcd would be the best? Any advice would be great!!!!

  • Recently purchased a 60 in. Pioneer Kuro KRP 600M. After reading reviews about how great the picture is supposed to be- I find myself truly disappointed. I had a Sony PFM 50 and was really impressed with the picture- especially sports. I am trying to figure out some configurations on the Pioneer to achieve the incredible results I had with the Sony.
    My gripe with the Pioneer is with 720p (I have a HD cable box). The pixel distortion is driving me crazy when I watch any sports (my old Sony was smooth- with no pixel distortion). Is there any way of getting this giant, expensive HDTV to look better when I watch sports? Am I missing a setting that would convert 720p into 1080i? Is that even possible?
    By the way the picture in 1080i and Blu-ray happens to be great-just really disappointed on Sundays. Football is not the same in 720p. Please help.

  • After some thought, I found a great deal on a 50″ (TCP50s1) and I could not be happier. I did adjust my furniture slightly, so now my viewing distance is at least 11-12 feet away, which seems to enhance my viewing experience (according to the website!).

    I want to thank the author(s) on this website for your input and response, and for your volutary help that you provide for everyone! I will definitely switch to HD/Blu-ray soon, and I’m sure that it will be worth every penny.

    I’d also like to thank Mike, too, for providing your input. I agree with most of your comments; with a larger TV (at optimum viewing distance), the SD picture IS so much clearer, and closer to HD than I would have imagined. Also, even though most of my viewing is for SD/DVD, I’ve always got the chance to upgrade, and then the sky is the limit!

    So, if you are a deciding on a TV, remember, bigger IS better! I know it sounds obvious, but you don’t know until you see it for your own eyes. Also, I would recommend going ahead and purchasing a 1080p screen over a 720p, simply because, even though you may not use the advanced pixel programs at first, you’ll always have the opportunity to upgrade. If you’re like me, buying a new television is a big deal and an investment, so why not get something that you KNOW you’ll enjoy for years to come.

    Thanks again!

  • Not to be a jerk, but you guys need to exercise some logic. The man writes a great article, gives you chart with optimal distances, and still….20 comments asking “will this resolution work at x distance??”. Come on guys. Look at the chart instead of wasting time and space.

  • WOW! Great site! Read through all these responses and many of the page links, but still have a question…..we have a rather small living area and typically there are 5 or 6 of us watching TV together. The farthest couch is about 10′, closest chair about 6′. There is plenty of floor space in between for the kids to sit or lie down and watch. We love movies and will be purchasing a blu-ray player with the TV. Also have DishNetwork and will be upgrading to HD. After trying to digest all the information here, I am thinking a 50″ Panasonic 1080….am I thinking correctly?

  • @Lily: It depends what model you buy. See reviews for details on how each model performs in bright environments. Also you sit very far and even the largest flat panel (a 65 inch plasma TV) is too small to get the most of HDTV. You should consider buying a 70″+ rear projection TV (DLP TV).

  • @jimmy: I have no idea. Never played with that model.

  • @Sharie: Yes.

  • I’m constantly changing my mind on what tv to buy…

    Budget is £800-£1000
    Viewing distance is 7-9ft, to be mounted on the wall.
    Looking to buy between a 46-50″ HD 1080i
    Mainly to watch football, buying the HD package aswell.

    What TV would you recommend? I was looking at a Sony 46v5500 or Samsung 50″…Any advise would be much appreciated. Cheers

  • @BobbyDazzler: See the top on homepage and the Cheap Plasma TV page. All my advice is there.

  • Awesome site, very glad I stopped by before I pulled the trigger on buying a tv. I just wanted to run this by you and make sure it sounds alright.

    Viewing Distance: 6-8ft
    Primary Use: HDTV, Netflix Streaming,BluRay, PS3, Occasional PC Secondary Monitor
    Solution: Go to store and compare 50″-52″ 1080p Plasmas

  • @Mori: Sounds good, except if you want to play games on it a lot and use it as a secondary monitor more than a few minutes each session, you should buy an LCD TV. A plasma TV could end up developing burn-in if used as a computer monitor or to play games a lot.

  • We have an L shaped couch with the front about 3 feet away from the wall and the rear 8 feet. I want to buy the samsun pn58b650 , we are going for the samsung bd 1200 bluray surrround sound system and hd comcast box. Is this 58″ tv to big or should we opt for a 54″? Any suggestions would help us Thanks

  • I am planning to buy a new tv . I red your artical . it is very good one . But I am still confused on selecting a tv. mY weiving distance is about 10 feet .
    What is the remended size of the tv for plasma or lcd tv?
    What is the recommended resolution ? 720p or1080p?
    I usually watch HD or Sd tv channal , some sports channals and movies on dvd players ?
    What type of tv is suitable for me? LCD plasma

  • Maximum viewing distance is 15′.

    Will be watching HDTV and SDTV

    Will be playing DVD and maybe someday very soon, Blue Ray.

    I am planning on buying a 58″ Pannny.

    Too small or just right?

    I KNOW you have been asked this type of question 1 million times, but can you indulge me wit a quick answer?

    Thanks,

    Mark

  • Ok.. I tried to read all the posts and make sense, but I must be getting brain overload. My viewing distance is between 9 and 10 feet. Up till I found this website, I was convinced that plasma was the way to go. However, now I am confused and I apologize if my question has been previously covered and I just missed it. Most of what I watch is sports. I am not on cable or sat as I just use and HDTV antenna and watch the hd broadcasts. I have a pc hooked to the current tv which is a 32 inch 720p. I stream Netflix and ESPN360 a lot. I use the tv as a pc monitor a lot. I do plan on buying a bluray player, which will probably be a ps3. Am I correct that I should be using a LCD instead of plasma? The tv is not left on with the same image on it for long periods of time. The budget is tight, so if you have a suggestion, I would appreciate it. I want the largest screen that will work, but picture quality is probably most important. The room is pretty dark and glare from sunlight is not an issue. So, assuming you say lcd, am I correct that the way to go is 120 hz? One last thing. In researching plasma’s, I ran accross Panasonic’s 24p Cinematic mode and a reference to 96 hz. What is that and does that really make a difference when watching dvds or streaming movies from netflix? I know this got long….THX for the info and clarification.

    Kevin

  • Great article.

    My comment is the minimum viewing distance should be set by when a 1080p picture starts looking grainy. Since all the 1080p sets have the same resolution a very large TV screen has the same picture quality whether it is at 30 inch or 65 inch. That means the pixels count remains the same but the pixels just get bigger. The bigger they are they grainier the picture will be if you are too close to the screen and it will look funny as smooth edges get jagged. You also start noticing the black spaces between each pixel. So picking the size should not be based on the content (SD vs 720p vs 1080p) you plan to watch. Watching the lower resolution content will result in the picture being a little fussy. It is my understanding that all 1080p TVs upscale lower resolution content that improves the quality of the picture quite well. If you plan on keeping your TV for say 5 years, it will not be long before all the content will be 1080i or 1080p so selecting a TV screen that is too small because of SD content would be a mistake in a year or two.

    I just bought a Blu-Ray DVD player and when I play my old SD DVDs they look much better as the Blu-Ray player up-scales the content.

  • @Kirby Kurasz: Yeah it is a bit too big, especially for those who will sit at 3 feet away. A 54″ will work better, even a 50″ if you want an even balance between those who sit at 3 feet and those who sit at 8 feet. However if you want perfection from blu-ray close to 8 feet, the 58″ is better. But in that case those who sit at 3 feet will find it too big even with blu-ray content, not to mention 720p broadcasts.

  • @anil: As I said in the guide, there’s a relation between size, resolution and distance. The only 720p sets are entry level. That means if you want top quality you have to buy a 1080p model even if you don’t need 1080p resolution. That being said, you probably want a balance between 1080i HD programs and DVDs. That means a 46-54 inch TV will probably work well for you. Plasma TVs have a better picture quality and look good from any angle as opposed to LCDs. Unless you frequently play games on the TV, a plasma probably looks better. However, except the fact that LCDs don’t look as good from any angle, you can find LCDs that have comparable picture quality (especially the LED backlit ones). It’s not a matter of choosing between plasma and LCD but more a matter of choosing between model X and model Y. That means you have to read reviews to see how models perform and find the one that best matches your needs and budget.

  • @Mark: Well, it depends. 58″ is a good balance between Blu-Ray/HDTV broadcast and DVD/SDTV. However if you are more interested in Blu-Ray and HDTV, a bigger size will offer more detail (while at the same time, DVD/SDTV will look slightly worse).

  • @Kevin:
    Yes you are correct. LCD is the way to go for you. If you use the TV as a computer monitor, forget about buying a plasma because it will eventually develop burn-in. 120Hz is just a buzzword. If a TV has 120Hz or 240Hz refresh rate it doesn’t mean it is better. The only theoretical advantage is that it can play Blu-Ray in 1080p/24 (cinema mode / 24 frames per second). However, just because a TV has 120Hz refresh rate it doesn’t mean it does a good job at playing 1080p/24 content. Most TVs have image artifacts when playing Blu-Ray in this mode. Panasonic’s 24p cinematic mode (and any brand’s cinema mode) means the content is displayed at 24 FPS (film frame rate) as opposed to 60 FPS (video frame rate). It is a mode that works only with Blu-Ray movies. Other than that is useless (so it makes no difference with DVD and Netflix). Regarding LCDs that I recommend, it depends on your budget. Samsung LED backlit LCDs from series B8500 and B8000 are the best. Then comes LG LH90 series and after that Samsung Series 7 (B750). I hope I haven’t missed any question :)

  • Thanks for the reply! Well….I made my decision. Actually, it was made Sat Nov 7. I got a really good deal (at least I thought so @ $1100) on the Panasonic TC-P50S1 and a Blu-Ray Panasonic DMP-BD80K as a combo package. My son (age 19) and I spent A LOT of time in the last few weeks researching and just looking at different lcd and plasma tv’s. We both just liked this tv - especially at the price since the $$$ were an issue. As for the burn-in issue, we have both been extremely conscious of not using the tv as a computer monitor for long periods of time - say more than 15-30 minutes before flipping to tv or something fullscreen. Netflix streaming and ESPN360 streaming is done full screen. We are really enjoying this combo….and I have been suggesting this web site to friends - note the shameless plug :-)

    Thanks again for the reply and taking the time to answer all my questions! I feel that I made an informed decision, especially with help from this web site and all those way smarter than me that offered opinions on all the different topics.

  • Hi. I may have missed one aspect of the decision people are facing in terms of choice of size in particular. In addition to the issue of the best picture quality and apparent resolution at a given viewing distance there is another factor that is important. That is the total viewing angle of the image from the viewing position. A smaller screen will have a smaller viewing angle… like sitting further back in a theater. A larger screen at the same viewing distance will have a wider angle for the same content. The subjective effect of this is pretty substantial. Too far away, and one is looking through a tunnel. Too close and one must literally flick ones eyes back and forth to enjoy all of the content. There is a sweet spot where one can be immersed in the content without eye strain. Is this not one of the first things a person should think about, considering where the folks will sit relative to the screen… then look at the resolution decision for that size (money aside for the moment)? What is that sweet angle? Are there charts about it?

  • A question i can not find an answer to anywhere on the web is…. What is the difference between Blueray and HDTV broadcasts on a 1080p HD TV. Are they the same quality or is one superior over the other?

  • im about to buy a 50″ plasma at a great price. but im wondering if i have enough room. i have about 7 to 8 feet of distance from where i wannna put my tv and the couch. 1080p are mor expensive bvut i was wondering if i have enough room for a 720p plasma, or should i get the 1080p instead? i plan on buying a blue-ray cause im a movie junkie

  • pavlos indianos nicosia

    Great website. i have a question 4 u and pls reply,i allways go 4 the best of the best and money is not a problem, i have a pioneer PDP435PE that i bought in 2005 when Blu Ray wasn’t invented yet and now i want something bigger and better .i will make a home theater so i want the best there is.question 1. what is the best HDTV in plasma especially if i want to watch Blu Ray movies and room is big also?.question 2 pls tell me which Blu Ray to buy to get the best quality and 3 which surround system to buy to get the maximum quality? hope i was clear in what i ask-I WANT THE BEST OF THE BEST AT THIS GIVEN MOMENT- NOVEMBER 21 2009. THANX A LOT!

  • I’m looking into getting a 50″ 720p plasma or 40″ 1080p LCD (both Samsung). The television will mostly be used for gaming as I rarely watch television (SDTV). I don’t have a Blu-Ray player, but have been considering one for some time.

    I’ll also be using a computer as a media center as well.

    The distance is roughly 7 - 10 feet.

  • I am interested in buying a 50″ Full HD screen (1080p) and bluray player. What happens when i play a DVD thru this combo? I assume this will happen: A) the image will be at best the same as that produced by a DVD player and screen of equilavent resolution, but might be worse, depending upon how well the image is upscaled or not; B) I will need to sit further back from the screen than i would normally because the image will not be Full HD. Is this correct? How can i make sure the image is upscaled as well as it can be? Is this a product of the player or the screen or both?

  • I just moved into a new apartment and am planning to purchase a new TV.
    The viewing distance will be at 8.5 feet with the tv being slightly above eye level
    as it will be mounted above fireplace. I am trying to determine which size would
    be best. This may be a first for you, but I had a Samsung 50″ plasma which I
    purchased 6 months ago. 5 days after Install, a shower pipe burst in the bathroom
    which shares a wall with this plasma. Long story short, Plasma is in a box in the
    garage. HomeOwners did cover most of the cost of the TV however during those
    5 days I felt the TV was wayyy to big and my eyes hurt watching it. After reading many
    reviews here it seems like that is common and I would get over it. Id love to go larger
    but Im really considering going 46/47 LED LCD. Is this a good choice or should
    I be going bigger???? I watch no SDTV, just HDTV, blue ray and Xbox. THANKS
    awesome site!

  • If I am viewing a from about 15ft away, would I be better to go with a 54 inch of a 58 inch plasma with 1080p?

  • @Edgar: Basically the same distances apply. If you sit at the recommended distance (which you find in the table) you should generally have the same angle no matter what size or resolution the TV is. That being said, you will notice a difference when switching from a regular tube SDTV set to a large Full-HD set and at the beginning you might feel you’re sitting too close, but after a while you get used to it.

  • @Frank: BluRay is 1080p. HDTV broadcasts are 720p or 1080i. “p” stands for “progressive” as opposed to “i” which stands for “interlaced”. Progressive means more full/complete frames per second and as a result sharper image when a lot of movement is shown (e.g. sports, action movies). So The BluRay content is better than HDTV broadcasts either because of the higher resolution (1080p vs 720p) or because it is progressive (1080p vs 1080i). Aside from that, HDTV broadcasts might have gone through a process of compression of conversion along the way which can further downgrade their quality. In worst case, you might watch a HD channel which actually broadcasts an upconverted (enlarged) SD signal. So, at best, a HDTV broadcast can be close to BluRay quality but it will certainly not equal or surpass it.

  • @luis: For 50″ screen and 7-8 feet distance you want to buy a 1080p set. This is quite obvious from the distances table present in this guide. Aside from the distance, you buy a BluRay so a 1080p TV will offer best picture, and even more, all 720p HDTVs (plasma or LCD) on the market are entry-level and don’t have a picture quality that can compare to mid-end or high-end models.

  • @pavlos indianos nicosia: Most important thing you have to do is figure out what is the optimal screen size for your viewing distance and buy a TV that is very close to that size. Largest plasma TV is 65 inch and happily the best model on the market comes in this size - Panasonic TC-P65V10. If you need a larger TV you will have to buy either a DLP TV or a home theater projector. I can only offer advice for flat-panel TVs (Plasma & LCD) so I can’t recommend a DLP or projector. So, the best plasma TVs are the ones in Panasonic V10 series, followed by Samsung B650 series.

    Regarding BluRay players, it depends what is more important for you - performance, features. Oppo BDP83 probably has the best performance but Sony PS3 can also be used as a game console (I don’t recommend playing games on a plasma though).

    Regarding speakers and audio systems, I am not very familiar with them so I prefer not to recommend anything.

    Now, if money is not a problem and you want the best thing you can get, probably the best approach is to build a dedicated home theater room with a high-end home theater projector, high-end audio, and generally high-end equipment. Such a project can cost up to $100,000 or more depending on what quality you want. In this case you don’t pay just for equipment but also for the home theater room design and setup - an expert installer will design the room to have perfect acoustics and pad the walls with special materials, etc.

  • @Drew:
    1. Don’t buy a plasma TV if you plan to play games a lot. You will end up with burn-in. Buy an LCD instead.
    2. For 7-10 feet consider a model 50-55″ in diagonal if you want to be able to see the extra detail offered by the resolution.

  • @Peter: Both A and B are correct. It can’t look worse than as on a DVD player. If you sit at the optimal distance for 50″ screen size and 1080p resolution, you might find the image better if you move a bit further. How much further depends on your own subjective feeling and how good the upconversion is in the BluRay, TV or both.

  • We are buying a Samsung 50″ plasma 1080p for christmas. My question is on the viewing distance. We will set anywhere from 7-11 feet from the tv. Is that a good distance to get the best viewing from this tv?

  • I just purchased a 50″ lgpqx20 720dpi (600 refresh rate) @costco for $650.00 dollars on sale. I’ve been watching tv now for a week . We use cable and sd. We sit about 10 to 13 feet the tv being on its stand. It seems that the sd is always soft and dvd are better of course but totally crisp. Can you offer my my mistake… is the LG of poor quality or its too big for viewing. We watch cable, and satellite ( dish) and the kids play the Wii once in a while…. Of course in the future we will see some blue ray dvd’s.
    Did we make the right decision with this unit or is there another unit you suggest… I can always take it back for a trade. I looked at your distances and it seems we fall betwen the cracks.
    Thanks, for your input , this site is fantastic.

  • Sorry… I meant to say that dvd’s are much better of course than SD but still not crisp….thanks again

  • What I meant to say was that DVD are better than sd of course but not totally crisp as I would of expected. thanks
    james

  • @Jared Bodner: Buy the size that feels right for YOU. The recommended distance should be used as a guideline, however in the end it’s what you like that matters. So, if you feel like a 46-47 inch TV is better for you, it probably is. That being said, after switching from an old SD tube TV to a large HDTV, it’s quite normal to find it too big for a while. In the end, you know best what you will like. So, only you can decide.

  • @Ryan: If you watch HDTV, the larger the better.

  • @Jerry: Yes, it’s a good size.

  • @James Romano: For your distance and considering you watch SDTV, the TV is indeed slightly big (42-46 inch might have been better) - that is why you find the picture soft. SDTV broadcast is of very poor quality and the TV can’t make wonders and transform it into great looking content. DVDs look crisper because though they are still SDTV their quality is much better compared to broadcasts (if you have an upconverting DVD player that is even better). Lastly, that specific model is a cheap entry-level TV so it’s performance is not too great (average at best) and aside from that the SDTV performance (noise reduction and other SD video processing) of this set might not be great (though most LG TVs do a good job with SD content). I haven’t reviewed this TV so I can’t tell you if it does indeed have poor SD video processing. For $650 you won’t find a good 50″ TV. You have to go over $1000 for a mid-end or high-end TV of this size. If you change it buy a Samsung (some Panasonic models are better overall but they don’t handle SD as well as Samsung). Also, if you plan to switch to HDTV or buy a BluRay, I recommend you to stick to this size or even buy a larger one in order to see the advantage, otherwise BluRay won’t offer any advantage over DVD. Keep in mind that you can’t have the best of both worlds - either HDTV/BluRay looks good or DVD/SD looks good. You can’t have both look good (unless you change the distance in every case).

  • I’ve read through the articles and am getting a pretty good understanding of the topics covered. However, based on several considerations, I’m planning to put a 1080P 56″ Plasma in a game room approxiamtely 20′ x 14′ for watching blu-ray movies and sports (despite the recommendations and the wife stating I should abandon this whole project). Some issues I’m concerned about are lighting. The room has a 9′ pool table in the middle with a 4′ double flouescent pool table light above it (about 5′ off floor). There are other lights as well, but virtually no natural light (in fact, will usually be none at all, or difused with curtains or blinds). Most viewing will be done from between 10 and 20 feet with this pool table light a periferal factor. How concerned should I be about the lighting? I’m also considering placing a plexiglass shield in fraont because it’s in a game room with a pool table. How badly will this impact viewing?

  • Quick question. Will watching 720p format on a 1080p stil look good. I am considering a 50″ plasma. Will sit somewhere around 10′ from tv. Mainly watch hd cable channels but watch sd channels sometimes too. Will be getting a blu-ray player sometime in the future. Or if I go with a 720p set will 1080p still look good. If I can watch 1080p format on a 720p set and still be pleased I may go that way and save some money. Like most people on here I’m probably asking a redundant question, but after awhile all the info. starts running together.
    Thank You in advance for taking the time to answer mine and others questions. This is a great website.

  • Greetings:

    I am amazed that the eye effect DOES simply go away after two weeks there about. I see the moderator stated the Panny V10 series is the best. I must assume it is the 20 flop thingy with DVD?? I Have G10 and I still have not seen anything better, of course I have not viewed the V10. The improvements of the G10 over the next step down may not have justified the additional cost for the G10. Not being an expert I canot say it is true, just logic and reality, plus the specs.

    I have a 50 inch Panny, sitting average 8 - 9 feet away perhaps a little closer, and 50 is NOT too large. In reality it may even be 7 feet. I certainly would not want smaller.

  • I purchased a 46″ Samsung LED8000 series for my den. It is way to small for the room and I wish I have purchased a bigger one (sitting @ 9ft). I am considering moving this 46″ to my bedroom and ordering a 55″. The 46 is a nice size TV but does not have that big screen feel as far as I am concerned. I think I was a little too cautious with this purchase.

  • Thanks for the reply….. we are hooked up to cable but will get on satellite real soon. So having said that at 9 to 13 ft is the 50″ screen at 720p good enough or should we trade for a panasonic g10 or g15 1080p… I’ve seen the g15 for $950. Time warner says they have HD channels but they charge a fee for there boxes. My plan right now from what you have indicated is that we are going to take this lg 20 back and get a Panasonic g10 . Thanks again , this will be my last question.. you’ve been very helpful.
    james

  • Hi I am thinking of buying a TV, but I am confused if I should buy a 720p or 1080p. Will I be able to tell the difference in a 32 inch model?

  • I am looking to buy my first flat panel TV. I think I have settled on Plasma because the room is moderately lit. My viewing distance is 112 inches so for 720p I fall between 42 and 50 inch. I will mainly watch cable non HD channels and ocassionaly non blu-ray DVDs. So if I get the 42 inch I should be okay - correct?

  • The new we were considering has a high end “media room” already built. It is fully equipped with a surround sound system.
    My question is with the video system, it is a projection 1080i unit with a 100″ screen. How does that compare with a full size plasma 65″+ or LCD in 1080p? Would I be better of passing on the video system and going with a flat panel unit? I would want to use a blu-ray player with this.
    Thanks,
    Alan

  • Amazing site!!!

    I will attempt to not rehash repetitive questions. I have two rooms complete… small sitting room with Pioneer PDP-4270HD (main viewing location presently), and the theater room purely for HD/BR content (Direct HD DVR, PS3) whether film or sports.

    I am in the process of finalizing a TV for a room that we would likely sit no closer then 8-10 feet away (armchairs) and likely no greater than 10-13 feet away (coach). The needs for viewing in the room will be SD and HD content on Direct TV, DVD/BR, possible VHS, family home movies/photos, potentially games. I cannot say whether this TV will relocate to another part of the house in the future. If I am being honest, this TV will be the 3rd choice of viewing locations in the house, but has the potential of being more, depending on the end result (room comfort, TV).

    I have been researching price vs performance Plasmas (I am a fan… better PQ, motion, viewing angle, screen tiny hands can touch and not ruin), and have narrowed down to a couple of select choices. Your review of the Samsung PN50B550 has me very interested for many reasons… currently price is very good, SD viewing good, is 1080p in case it does relocate, blacks decent (am used to the Pioneer), slimmer size if wall-mounting is an option later. I love the look and style of the Samsung PN50B850, but the price and ‘buzz’ factor I have read about are deterring me. Knowing that I will likely need to add a sound system of some sort (soundbar preferably, don’t want speakers all about) as the inboard speakers cannot manage a room that large, and considering that from the distances I will be viewing this TV, I am starting to consider perhaps that the convenient price of quality 720p plasmas (Panisonic, Samsung) may be all that is absolutely necessary in this room. This will afford extra money to spend on soundbar or PS3, helping to stretch my dollar to fully ‘complete’ the necessities for the room.

    That being said (finally!), what wisdom could you shed on:
    a) a recommended quality 720p plasma? Samsung vs Panisonic?
    b) any suggestions to offset or confirm what I have stated above with regards to the brand-name or size or native resolution of the display?
    c) open merchandise… what is your opinion there? If know there are a myriad of questions that need to be answered first (I took note of your section on the website dedicated to this… excellent!), but there is a Pioneer PDP-5020HD available locally ‘open merch’ for $1300.

    Much obliged!

  • Hi; great article. Everyone is talking about distance from the TV how-ever I was wondering what’s the best height and tilt angle for the viewing experience. Let’s assume I’m getting a 50′ Pana G15 and I will be 8 feet from the TV…how high should the center of the TV be and should it be tilted forward or not. Thanks
    Stef

  • Hi,
    I am looking to buy the Panasonic P46G15 46′ plasma, my viewing distance about 9 feet and 5 to 6 feet from the sides, watching DVD’s , SD TV & over the air Digital TV free channels , planning to go HDTV and blue ray later on sometimes in or after the summer of 2010.
    Is 46 the right size for my family and I ?
    Thank you for your help.

  • @David: Doesn’t the pool table light have a reflector to keep the light falling primarily on the table? If it does there will be no direct light going to the screen. If it is not the case however, I can’t give you an accurate answer as it depends on where you are sitting in relation to the light and the TV, as well as on the angle made by the light , the TV and your eyes. My educated guess is that it won’t be significant enough to distract you.

  • @James Romano: A Panasonic G10 will certainly be better than the LG if you get HDTV and/or a Blu Ray player. It’s not just the resolution but the actual picture quality (especially black levels) that is better. Also 50 inch is good with HDTV but a larger size - like 54 inch - will be better (if it fits your budget).

  • @Dennis: 1080p on a 720p screen becomes 720p :) while 720p on a 1080p screen gets upsampled (resized to fill the screen). Also 720p on a 1080p screen will look slightly better than on a 720p because of the TVs resampling algorithm and the smaller pixels. From your distance however, on a 50 inch screen you will get all the details of 720p but not all of the details of 1080p. That means, solely from the resolution point of view there’s no difference between a 720p and 1080p for you. That being said, there are no high-end 720p plasma TVs and that means you won’t find a 720p plasma TV that will deliver a picture quality similar to that of a mid-end or high-end model. If picture quality is important to you, buy a 1080p model, even if just because for a better picture and not for more detail. The cheapest 1080p plasma TVs (except Panasonic U1 which is an entry-level budget series) are visibly superior to any other 720p model.

  • Thank You for your response. Very helpful.

  • hi im looking to buy a plasma tv for my bedroom the room is 11x 13 im thinking a 50 inch would be good? ill be buying either panasonic or samsung when laying on my bed my eyes to the tv now is 15 to 16 feet away i would like you recamenations on what size and it will be 1080p i also have another room thats 19 x 19 im thinking either a plasma on the wall or a mitsubishi 60 to 65 ill be setting 10 to 15 geet away

  • @Harun: First of all, the 720p models are entry-level/cheap and not as good as the mid-end or high-end models. Second, I don’t know at what distance you’re sitting at so I can’t tell you if from the resolution point of view 720p is enough or if 1080p is better. If your budget allows it, buy a TV that is the right size for your viewing distance and is in a mid-end or high-end class (so that it has a very good picture quality). If you want to buy a cheap TV, then nothing will beat a 720p model when it comes to price.

  • @Alaina: Correct. Since you watch SD content, it will probably have a “soft” look because 42 inch is perfect for 720p content but regular DVDs and SDTV programs are of lower resolution and quality than 720p. If you don’t want the “soft” look, you should consider an even smaller TV (32 inch LCD TV). You have to choose based on what you think you prefer - bigger but softer picture, or sharper but smaller picture. Whichever size you go with, buy a TV that has good SDTV processing (noise reduction, upsampling). You usually find how a TV performs with SDTV material from in-depth reviews. As a rule of thumb (there are exceptions however), Samsung models do a better job than Panasonic ones at displaying SDTV and regular DVD movies.

  • @Alan: I can’t properly answer your question because there are things I don’t know. First of all you have to take into consideration the viewing distance. If the best screen size for your viewing distance is 100 inch, then you should not get a 65 inch flat-panel. Largest plasma TVs are 65 inch and largest LCD TVs are 55 inch. For larger screens you have to consider a front projector (like the one you have), a rear projections screen - DLP TV (max. 82 inch). I am not familiar with projectors and I don’t know what 1080i means for a projector. For a flat-panel (plasma or LCD) 1080i means that it accepts 1080i input but the physical resolution is 720p. High-end home theater projectors can cost over $10,000.

    In conclusion, figure out what is the best screen size for your viewing distance and then decide if you should get a new display and what type of display is best.

  • This forum is predominantly involved with the resolution of the relationship of size of screen, the resolution of the screen, and the optimal viewing distance so that the most detail can be appreciated given size, resolution, and viewing distance. There is another important aspect (no pun intended) which greatly influences viewing pleasure, as we all know when we walk into that soon-to-be extinct thing called a movie theater. . . that is the aspect ratio. This is essentially how much of our field of view (expressed in an angle) the screen takes up when we are viewing it. The closer we are to the screen (or the larger the screen) the more the screen takes up, the bigger the angle, and the more “immersive” the viewing experience. The further away we are (or the smaller the screen) the smaller the angle and the show can be like looking into a tunnel. This issue is important simply because different people prefer more or less of an immersive experience (more screen in their face). The hollywood industry has made some assumptions about what that angle should be in watching their films, and there is also a physiological issue. If the screen subtends too great an angle, one must dart ones eyes back and forth to catch all of the action. My point is that screen size, viewing distance, optimal perceived detail, and screen resolution are all related to each other in a fairly objective way (see the excellent table provided in this forum). But it would also be prudent to think about how wide you want your screen for your viewing distance based on the issue of viewing angle first and then use the table to optimize equipment. You will find that 1080p will be best particularly if your content is appropriate.

  • I am interested in buying a 50″ plasma 1080P TV and after reading above comments and viewing the distance chart (117″) the best value would to buy a 720P TV, however we have a tendency to keep our TV’s for a long time and I am concerned about future proofing our purchase. Do you think I’m wrong to buy the 1080P TV for this reason?

  • OK another sizing question with a bit of a wrinkle. My room is 10′ x 16′ long. We have a couch at one end ( so seating is 15′ or so) and another couch along one of the walls ( seating is about 8′ to 12′ on this couch). I’ve decided on a plasma for this room for movies and sports, no light problems.

    Will be watching mostly cable tv with some hd channels, blue ray movies as they come out and some older dvd’s on the blue ray player.

    At the 15′ seating, I’m not gonna benefit at all by going 1080p tv, 720p would be more than enough at about 58″ tv size. At the 8′ to 12′ couch 1080p would be beneficial at 58″ tv size.

    From other posts it looks like except for the blue ray movies, 1080p will be of no benefit for cable tv, the current hd channel qualities or the dvd’s and might make those inputs look even worse. Correct?

    I think 720p may be the way to go but will I regret it in a few years when better and more cable hd channels come online?

    Is there a way for me to buy the 1080p version and enusre good quality picture from cable tv by changing where I sit or adjusting a tv setting?

    Any other suggestions.

    thanks in advance,

    Ed

  • I currently own a sony xbr 57 inch hdtv and have had it for 8 years.Upgrade time, I AM 10 ft from the set,I have comcast HD a PS3 and watch sports,(football,hockey) I am leaning towards a 65 plasma I don’t need too many hdmi inputs,as everything run through my Denon AV receiver, and the one hdmi from the receiver goes to the TV,with optical audio, I was considering DlP,but it is just too close to what Ihave.Any sugestions? obviously looking for biggest bang for my buck.
    Thanks for the forum, it a very helpful read.

    Verne

  • @Eric:
    a) The recommended plasma TV models are on the homepage (grouped by size). Frankly all 720p models are entry-level/budget. If you value quality more than you value price, you should stick to one of the 1080p mid-end lines. They have significantly improved picture quality over the 720p models. As a parenthesis here, Pioneer 720p models (e.g. PDP-5080HD and PDP-4280HD from 2007) were the only top quality 720p models.
    b) Samsung PN50B550 is a good choice as you have noted. To balance between SD and HD, the size is right too. Naturally, for a great HD experience you would have to buy a 63 or 65 inch HDTV.
    c) I am not sure what you mean by “open merchandise”. If it is “open product packages”, they are OK as long as you can be sure the product is in fact new. I highly recommend against refurbished or used HDTVs (especially plasma TVs).

  • @Edgar: You have made a good point. I always recommend people to go and look at a HDTV with their own eyes before buying. However, some prefer to just research online and have the TV shipped to their home. In my opinion, choosing the perfect TV is a highly subjective process (as you have noted as well). Personally I have researched quite a lot before buying my TV (and any device for that matter). Some people however, just want a good TV without too much research and hassle.

  • @Stu: The major reason why you would want to buy a 1080p HDTV is the picture quality. All 720p models are entry-level and have decent but not great picture quality. Picture quality is more important than resolution fro the overall experience. So if you have the money for a mid-end or high-end HDTV (all those are 1080p), such a TV will offer you a better experience. Regarding future-proofing, most (not all) 720p TVs accept 1080p input so they can play Blu Ray and HDTV programs anyway. So, if you have the money, buy a mid-end or high-end TV because it is better overall not because it is 1080p.

  • @Stef: The center of the screen should be at the same level with your eyes. If you have to mount the TV higher, you can use a tilting wall mount, however if it is too high and you’re sitting close to the TV, it might be uncomfortable to watch it for extended periods of time, because your neck might be too stretched.

  • @Ahmed: Read the comments on this page and you will find answers to questions similar to yours. It is not a simple yes/no answer, and only you know what you prefer more. As a suggestion, if you will buy a Blu Ray player and eventually switch to HDTV, buy a bigger screen - maybe 54-58 inch. It won’t make a difference now, but it will when you watch Blu-Ray and HDTV.

  • @Steve Carter: It depends what content you are watching (HD or SD). Read the comments on this page. I have already answered almost identical questions.

  • @Ed: The largest 720p plasma TV models are 50 inch. There are no 720p HDTVs larger than that. HD channels (1080i and 720p) look better than SD and DVDs (480p). Also, DVDs don’t really look that bad either, they just have a softer image as opposed to the sharp and crisp image of HD programs and Blu Ray movies. For 15 feet, 58 inch is not big at all. You could even go as high as 65 inch if you put more value on how HD looks and you think you will eliminate DVDs in favor of Blu Ray, in the future.

  • @verne rind: Yeah, 65 inch sounds right. Check out the top of best 60-65inch plasma TVs on this site.

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