Last updated on July 1st, 2021
There are two schools of thought on whether a 55-inch or a 65-inch TV is “better,” and really speaking, the answer depends on the space you have available. There are interesting, complicated mathematical equations involved in what is the “right” size of TV for a room, and we’ll address them in a moment.
But in terms of consumer decision-making, it tends to break down also into a choice of mindsets. There’s the “Bigger is better, whatever size the space is” mindset, and the “Sometimes, more’s not better – sometimes, it’s just more” school of thought.
For the sake of satire, you should feel free to think of these as the “man” and “woman” perspectives, respectively.
There are of course lots of attendant decisions that will influence whether you only need a 55-inch TV or whether the 65-inch is a better bet all round – technology level, clarity, sound quality, etc.
But somehow – and under no circumstances let the fact that in mixed sex couples, this tends to be a retail decision in which the man finds himself strangely interested sway your assessment here – the simple, identifiable size of the TV often feels like the most important factor.
A kind of ‘Never mind the quality, check out the width’ mindset takes over here, which is why, if left to their own devices, men everywhere will come back from the store with the bigger of two TVs.
There’s a sense of ‘Rather have it too big, than regret having it too small’ logic at work there, and many a man’s eyeballs have been frazzled by a screen too big for the room in which they put it.
The trick to not making a colossal – not to say costly – mistake when you’re buying a big-screen TV is two-fold.
First, don’t buy solely based on size. Do your research into which is the best TV in each size category before you dare to walk into a store or an online sales environment. Don’t just choose between a 65-inch and a 55-inch TV.
Choose at least two of each, one as your primary choice, one as back-up, and be sure you’d be satisfied with any of them because of the features they have. To use an old saw, “Size may be important, but it’s what you can do with it that matters most.” Make sure you have options, but that you’d be happy either way.
Secondly, know your facts. Measure the room in which you want to put the TV. For handy reference, a 65-inch TV will be roughly 5 inches taller and 9 inches wider than a 55-inch. Also, remember the inch-measurement of TVs is diagonal rather than horizontal.
Use some painter’s tape to mark out where the boundaries of each size of screen would be on the wall you’re thinking of using and sit with them a while. Are you going to be comfortable in the room you’re using if you choose the smaller TV?
Take the tech-level into consideration. If say, one of your choices is OLED and the other’s just LED, go for the OLED in smaller rooms, but go for whichever is the bigger size overall if you have a bigger room. You’ll get more of a visual bonus from an increase in size in the bigger room than you would from a tech upgrade.
In the smaller room, the opposite is true – the tech upgrader will be of more use to you than a simple size increase.
And then, mark out the distance between the proposed position of the TV and the position where you and anyone else in the room will be watching it. Roughly speaking, if there are fewer than 7 feet between you and the screen, you’re going to be fine with the 55-inch.
More than 7 feet? Go for the 65-inch – again, the distance equates to a bigger percentage improvement in visibility from the increased screen size than you’d get from a higher tech level on a smaller screen.
What size room do I need for a 55-inch TV?
The golden rule on this is that if you have 7 ft of distance between yourself and the screen, you’re probably better off with a 65-inch screen.
So assuming you have a perfectly square room, 49 square feet would be the upper bounds of the room size that would serve you well with a 55-inch TV.
Ironically enough, the recommended minimum distance you should be sitting from a 55-inch TV is… 55 inches (4 feet 6 inches).
We’re not going to lie to you, that feels awfully close to us, but again if we assume a perfectly square room, that means you’re looking at a room of 21.65 square feet – in reality, with a little wiggle-room because we assume you won’t be sitting with your back up against the rear wall of the room. Let’s call it 22 square feet.
So for optimum viewing of a 55-inch TV screen, and assuming a square room, you’re going to need a room between 22-49 square feet in size.
It is of course worth noting that these are somewhat hazy absolutes. At 49 square feet you start to be justified in getting yourself a 65-inch screen, (7 ft x 7 ft room size), and you might be struggling to make out all the pixel-sharp action on a 55-inch model.
Similarly, at 22 square feet, you’re probably justified in going down the size scale and getting something smaller like a 50-inch screen, but ideally with a higher technology level, so the picture is crisper, the color clearer, and so on – go 4K and OLED if you can at that size. That will maximize the effect of the TV you have, even though the size will technically be smaller.
Ultimately of course, all the measurements in the world, and all the logic about tech upgrades, size upgrades and room sizes, will only ever be a guide. There are sensible limits to what you should do in any given room, but no one is going to come and take away your 55-inch TV if you put it in a tiny room. Ultimately, when it comes to TV sizes, you do you.
But at least within these guidelines, you should have an idea of what works best for the human eye, so you’ll know what the optimum room size for a 55-inch TV, and a 65-inch TV, should be.