TV Screen Size Comparison - How Much Bigger is it Really?

Comparing Viewable Area vs. Manufacturer Diagonal Area


TV Screen Size ComparisonFor as long as I can remember television manufacturers have given the screen measurement as a diagonal measured from one corner to another. There is nothing wrong with measuring televisions this way but it doesn't really make it apparent how much larger or smaller one TV is than another, especially when comparing older 4:3 aspect ratio television vs. the newer 16:9 standard.

When people moved on from 4:3 CRT televisions to widescreen 16:9 televisions they found that a 32" 4:3 seemed much larger than a 32" 16:9 and it is. When watching 4:3 content the 32" "square" CRT has a total viewable area of around 491 sq. inches vs. the 32" widescreen TV which has 328 square inches viewable, a difference of 49%.

How much Bigger is One Screen vs. Another?

An example, you are shopping for a new TV and deciding between a 46" and a 55" TV, how much bigger is a 55 inch screen over a 46? At first you'd obviously think it's 9 inches bigger, that it is 20% larger. That is actually selling the 55" screen short by quite a bit. The viewable screen area of a 46" TV is about 906 square inches and the viewable area of a 55" TV is 1293 square inches, the 55 is actually 42% larger than the 46.

How about a 65" plasma vs a 50" plasma? If you just took the diagonal measurement that the manufacturer gives you would say that the 65" is only 30% larger than the 50" but when you look at actual screen area the 65" has 1809 sq. inches of viewable area and the 50" has 1068 sq. inches. The 65" is just shy of 70% larger than the 50".

Below I've compiled a chart of some common TV sizes compared to the next size up, so you can see the actual percentage increase in viewable size.

TV Viewable Area Comparison

TV Size 1 Viewable Area (sq. in.) TV Size 2 Viewable Area (sq. in.) % Difference*
32 438.02 40 684.04 56.2%
40 684.04 46 906.26 32.5%
46 906.26 55 1293.3 42.7%
55 1293.3 65 1808.73 39.9%
55 1293.3 80 2732.24 111.8%
42 753.96 50 1068.2 41.7%
50 1068.2 65 1808.73 69.3%
* Percent increase of larger size over smaller size
Chart © 2011 Consumer Electronics Advisory Group Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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