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HDTV Screens – How Big Is It?

by | Sep 24, 2014

HDTV Screens

Looking at new flat screen TV’s can be confusing. Upgrading to a larger set isn’t nearly as intuitive as it should be. If you measured where you want to put your new TV, you know approximately how much room you have. But, I’ll bet you measured horizontally and vertically, didn’t you? All flat screens are sold using their diagonal dimension. That means that a 60-inch screen you may be considering is not 60 inches wide, but rather, it measures 60 inches from corner to corner, diagonally. Uh, oh.

Unless you remembered to bring your tape measure with you and don’t mind measuring TV’s in the showroom, you have limited options. You can try to find an associate that knows the width of the flat screen you are looking to buy or has a tape measure and is willing to measure for you. Good luck if you are at a big box retailer! You don’t want to go home empty handed and return with the tape measure. Sigh.

High definition, flat screen TV’s all conform to an international standard 16:9 aspect ratio.

Another option is to figure it out yourself. You surmise that there must be a mathematical formula to figure out the width and height, if you know the diagonal measurement and the width to height ratio. Unfortunately, High school was a long time ago and geometry is but a distant, foggy memory. Fortunately, you have one more option. I did a little research and I can help. Read on.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio is the relationship between the width and height of an object, in this case the screen you are watching.

When you go to the theater, the aspect ratios of the movies shown are either “Flat” which is a 1.85:1 ratio or “Scope” which is a 2.39:1 ratio. If your DVD player is set to play back movies in their native format, you should notice black bars at the top and bottom of your HDTV. If you look closely, the thickness of those bars will tell you the native ratio of the film. Very thin bars indicate “Flat”, thicker bars indicate “Scope”.

High definition, flat screen TV’s all conform to an international standard 16:9 aspect ratio. This means that the screen is 16 units wide by 9 units high. This aspect ratio also happens to be the same for your tablet and HD computer screens. The black bars mentioned above represent the difference between the 16:9 HDTV aspect ratio and the movie’s native ratio.

How Big Is It?

If you look at the following chart it starts with the diagonal measurement of the TV and gives you the width and height of that screen. All of the measurements below are for standard high definition TV screens. All new sets sold are high definition, so the screens should all have a 16:9 aspect ratio.

HDTV Screens

If you are at the store and did a quick Google search on your smart phone, you are all set. If you haven’t left your home yet, you can use this article to figure out which size HDTV you want to pick up. If you are anything like me and have a minor OCD issue, remember that the screens don’t go quite to the edge of the set. Allow for an inch or so for the frame when making your calculations.

Happy Shopping!


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About Brian Hill
Brian Hill is a home theater enthusiast who has an extensive background in sales. His interests include music & movies, F1 & NASCAR auto racing, hot rods (he has a '56 Nomad) and hockey — Go Sharks!
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