Choosing which size TV to buy can make you feel like an indecisive mess. There are lots of options in TV selection but no decision feels more important than what size TV to buy. Will it be too big for the room? Will I regret getting the smaller option? Is it worth the extra money?
The vast majority of Americans end up choosing between a 55-inch TV and 65-inch TV and the general consensus is that bigger is better: buy the 65-inch TV if you can afford it. Rarely do people complain that their TV is too big and 55-inch TVs are no longer considered Big Screens for good reason.
We recommend following these guidelines and tips to choose between 55-inch and 65-inch TVs if you still can’t decide:
- Understand the math. A 65-inch TV is about 5 inches taller and 9 inches wider than a 55-inch TV.
- Try before you buy. Use painter’s tape to outline the size of both options on the wall to get a feel for each size.
- Viewing distance. If you’re more than 7-feet from the TV, you’ll want a 65-inch TV. If you’re less than 7 feet, 55-inches will do.
- Room type. For a dedicated entertainment/media room, always go bigger. For a mixed-use room, bigger is still usually better but consider smaller.
- 55-inch LED vs. 65-inch OLED. If you can only afford one upgrade – size or screen tech – go with the OLED screen for small rooms and size for bigger rooms.
- Next TV. If you’ll be upgrading another TV in your house in the near future (ex: bedroom TV), consider handing down to yourself.
- When in doubt- go bigger. Rarely do people regret buying a TV that’s too big for their room.
Understand the Math
When choosing a 55-inch or 65-inch TV you need to understand that the difference isn’t 10-inches. TV sizes are measured diagonally and our brains are trained to comprehend size differences in width and height.
Modern TVs have similar aspect ratios and small bezels which means that the TV size, TV height, and TV width will be about the same regardless of the TV brand or model.
|TV Size||TV Height||TV Width|
|55″ TV||26.9 inches||47.9 inches|
|65″ TV||31.9 inches||56.6 inches|
|Difference||5 inches||8.7 inches|
It’s much easier to visualize the difference between a 55-inch TV and a 65-inch TV when you consider the latter is about 5 inches taller and 9 inches wider.
Try Before you Buy
Now that you know the height and width of both 55-inch and 65-inch TVs why not see how they’ll look in your space?
Grab a measuring tape and some painter’s tape and recreate the size of the TVs on your wall. If you’ll be putting it on a TV stand and don’t have wall space to mark the dimensions, get creative- recreate the space (TV sizes and distance to couch) in another room or tape together boxes or printer paper to replicate the size to the best of your ability.
Having both TV sizes directly in front of you while being in the room the TV will go is a priceless tool in choosing between the two options.
Best TV Size by Viewing Distance
If you haven’t already determined the best TV size based on the distance from your couch, you’ve skipped perhaps the most important step of the TV buying process.
Living Rooms & Family Rooms
For mixed used rooms, measure the distance from your TV location to your seating location:
- If the distance is 7 feet or less, you’ll be fine with a 55-inch TV
- If the distance is more than 7 feet, you’ll want a 65-inch TV or larger
If this TV will go in a room exclusively dedicated to TV use where you’ll want a more cinematic movie theater-like experience- bigger is always better (with limits):
- 5 feet away or less, 55-inch TV will suffice
- 5 feet away or more, 65-inch TV is better
If you want to consider sizes beyond 65-inches you should calculate the best size TV by room size.
55-inch OLED vs. 65-inch LED-LCD
If you had an unlimited budget you’d pick a 65-inch OLED TV but money doesn’t grow on trees. You’re in a predicament: do you invest in upgrading the TV size (55-inch to 65-inch) or the screen technology (LED-LCD to OLED)? We’ll assume that you can’ t do both.
Generally speaking you should prioritize TV size over TV technology: first pick the right size and then buy the best TV at that size with your budget. In the case of choosing between a 55-inch LED-LCD or 65-inch OLED the upgrade depends on two things:
- Room size
- Viewing angles
If the room size calculations suggest a TV that’s 65-inches or larger then we recommend you spend on getting the bigger TV. It’ll be hard to enjoy the OLED technology if you’re constantly thinking about how you wish your screen was larger. Rarely do people wish their TV was smaller.
If the recommended size for your TV is 55-inches but you’re thinking maybe bigger is still better, stick to the size guidelines and upgrade to OLED. The compounded effect of “big enough” with a brilliant OLED display will wow you more.
If it could still go either way, consider this differentiating factor: OLED screens have much better viewing angles. You’ll get much better picture quality from seats to the side of the TV with OLED technology.
Hand-Me Down (To Yourself)
Do you plan on buying another TV in the next couple years (in addition to the one you’re shopping for now)? Maybe you’re considering adding a TV to a bedroom or den?
If so, you’ve got a backup plan! Consider buying the smaller TV now and then, in a couple years, moving that TV to the bedroom/den and upgrading your main TV.
This approach gives you greater flexibility and will help you afford an even better TV in a couple years. Each year the newest TV models are priced at outrageous premiums while the previous year’s models are deeply discounted. If you buy another TV in two years and move this one into a bedroom, you’ll have a better understanding of what size TV is perfect for your room while having a better selection with more powerful tech at a cheaper price. It’s hard to argue with that!
The Bottom Line
There are a mind-boggling number of decisions to make if you consider every feature, spec, option, and price point for every single TV. You’ll drive yourself insane simultaneously considering them all. You’re doing the right thing by choosing a TV size first and allowing your other decisions to follow.
- Choose a 55-inch TV if you’ll be viewing from less than 7 feet away
- Choose a 65-inch TV if you’ll be viewing from more than 7 feet away
- Consider even larger if it’s a dedicated entertainment space
When in doubt, bigger is better. You’ll often hear people complain that they wish they’d bought a larger TV but rarely do people regret buying a TV that’s too big.
Follow our size selection guide, consider if your TV will be in a mixed use room or if it’s a room dedicated exclusively to media, and enjoy your awesome new big screen TV!