Take a look at this chart. Chances are you’ve seen one like it before.
The math on these charts sometimes changes. but the bottom line is the same. They say that if you want to get the most out of a 4K TV, you should be sitting about 1.5 times the diagonal measurement of the TV. In other words, if you want to sit six feet from the TV, which isn’t really far, you need a minimum of a 55″ TV to make 4K worth your while.
But is this graph really worth it? Or is it just another thing that oldschool home theater folks like to lean on?
I think that chart is wrong two ways
First of all I think that you actually need to be closer than that to really enjoy 4K. Maybe I’m special but I find that I can’t tell much difference between 4K and HD on my 55″ television unless I’m less than four feet from the screen. I think it’s better to say that you need to be at least the diagonal measurement distance away.
In other words I’m saying that if you want to sit six feet from the screen you need a TV that is 72″ diagonal or larger. Otherwise it’s a waste of money.
I also think this chart is wrong because it assumes you are getting an awesomely pristine 4K picture. For a lot of people 4K doesn’t look a whole lot different from HD. This is due to the compression that is used on 4K programs in order to stream them effectively. As much as 95% of the picture data needs to be taken out of a 4K picture in order to fit it on a 20Mbps stream.
Is 4K really worth it?
For years I told people that they shouldn’t spend extra for a 4K TV. I said that because there wasn’t any 4K content and because 4K televisions were selling for a lot more than HD ones.
I changed my tune last year and told people they should buy 4K televisions. My rationale is simple: 4K is cheap enough now so why not.
The disappointment most people feel with 4K
The big problem with 4K has always been that it’s not a “wow” like HDTV was. You could see a big difference between a 27″ SDTV and a 37″ HDTV pretty easily back in the early 2000s. Today it’s really hard to know if you’re looking at a 4K picture. It’s not just because the TVs are the same shape. It’s because looking at a 4K picture just isn’t exciting.
I think this goes back to that size chart and I think a lot of people would be very disappointed with an 80″ HDTV if they’re sitting six feet away. I think a big problem with 4K, other than the lack of content, is that size chart. People think a fairly small (sub-50″) 4K TV will give them some sort of benefit and it just plain won’t.
So, I’m not going to use that size chart anymore. I’m going to recommend to people that they just flat out buy the biggest TV they can get at the price they want to spend. It’s very easy now to get 70″ TVs under $1,000. That’s a price point that 40″ TVs were at ten years ago. If you truly want a big-screen living room experience, the bigger the better. Don’t live with an old chart that may not help you. Just get the big one and you’ll be glad you did.
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