What size 4K TV should I buy?
- 16 September, 2016 08:57
55 or bust. Mostly.
It’s well known that with many Full HDTV, you had to sit back to get the best experience. There were even formulas
to work out the optimum amount of distance between you and the screen.
Those days are now over. Modern 4K TVs (and the first wave of 8K TVs) are so high-detailed that you don't need to worry about sitting too close and seeing the pixels. In fact, the closer the better the experience. Within reason, anyway.
Nowadays, the question isn’t whether you should get a 4K TV. It’s about deciding what size 4K TV you should get. And when it comes to that particular issue, the biggest variable is price.
4K TVs aren't priced linearly based on their size and the dimensions involved can dramatically affect their market value.
If you plotted the prices of every Samsung, Sony and LG TV on a graph, you’d see that while, yes, the recommended retail price does rise with size, it does so in a very inconsistent and irrational way. What’s more, it can vary widely from brand to brand. Sometimes moving to a bigger size is great value. Sometimes it isn’t. In some situations, you get even better value if you don’t buy the next size up but buy the next two sizes up!
While going from a 65-inch Hisense R8 to a 75-inch Hisense R8 might cost you $50-per-inch, making the same jump from 65-inches to 75-inches with Samsung’s Q90 will cost you an extra $290-per-inch.
There’s a similar trend that can be observed when it comes to curved TVs but the effect is more pronounced and they, arguably, have a different sweet spot. More on them later.
As you can see from the graph, from 40 inches to 55 the growth is relatively flat – indicating a low cost per inch upgrade price. After that, things tend to head North. Fast.
Unsurprisingly, things tend to get a little insane at the super jumbo sizes. The (mostly standard) LED side-lighting of the LCD panels starts falling down around 70 inches because the screens are too dang huge to light from the sides. As such, you start getting more-complex rear-lighting and a completely different construction. Nonetheless, most companies say that these outliers are part of the same range despite having relatively-little in common with their siblings.
If you leave out the crazy outlier massive TV sets (with over several hundred dollars per inch upgrade prices) the average is $158-per-inch to go past 55-inches. If you include the outliers it’s an overall average $213-per-inch.
By comparison, going from 40-inches to 55-inches costs you, on average, just $68 per inch.
That being said, there are some notable exceptions which jump out at the bottom-right of the graph. LG’s 4K, mid-range, regular-LED TVs (UH8500 and UH7700 series) only go up by $20-$80-per-inch up to 65-inches and the prices are low to start off with. There’s high potential for upselling.
Meanwhile, Hisense’s Series 7 has a wobble in value where moving from 55 inches to 60-inches costs $150-per-inch but then moving from 60-inches to 70-inches costs $100-per-inch. Moving on up to 75-inches then costs $200-per-inch. As a result, the 70-inch model is something of an anomalous sweet spot in terms of value.
Things are harder to track in the world of curved TVs due to a lack of data. However, these generally-expensive TVs mostly increase at a rate of $200 per inch between 55 and 65 inches.
Then things go crazy: moving from LG’s already-expensive, $6,000, 65-inch EG Series OLED TV to its $25,000 77-inch variant comes in at a whopping $1,583 per inch.
Curved screens get less closed (curvy) the bigger they get meaning that more people can sit round them without seeing a skewed and distorted image. While $200 per inch isn’t to be sniffed at, it may be that 65 inches is actually the sweet spot for value here.
We completely realise that most people are constrained by budget first and foremost and that this investigation sounds very much like a first world problem and a half.
However, most people buy a TV at some stage, they’ll often use it for hours every single day and they expect it to last several years. So it’s worth knowing where the value sweet spot is not just for all TV ranges but for the TVs within a range too.
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