Help Me Decide on a Flat Screen TV--32" or 50+"

We’ll be buying a flat screen TV soon, and are trying to decide on the size. I know, I know, this should be a no-brainer, but as usual, the situation has complications…secifically, our existing entertainment center. It’s an older one, but solid oak and very nice. But it was made back in the pre-wide screen TV days.

So the opening will take up to a 32-inch TV, but no more.

I thus have 2 options. I can get a 32-incher and keep the entertainment center, or I can get a 50- or so -incher and buy a new stand just for it. (I couldn’t justify buying an entire, new, wide screen capable entertainment center.)

Naturally, I would prefer the larger screen, but we really don’t have to have it, a 32-incher would provide a more than adequate display.

So, Dopers, what is your opinion? Would you be happy with the smaller TV as your primary, in the family room TV, or would you feel you were missing out on too much by forgoing the big screen “experience?”


I couldn’t go back. I have a 47" LCD. There are a lot of unimposing pieces of furniture out there, and I had never been a fan of entertainment cabinets.

But if you think the asthetics of the room will really suffer by having a visible television set, then there’s your answer.

How far away will you be sitting from it?

check out the hdtvguru website - they give info on the proper size/viewing distance ratios so you don’t end up seeing individual pixels

Thanks, I’ll definitely do that. To answer your question, about ten - twelve feet away.

Which do you like to look at more - your furniture or your TV?

No snark intended. If your TV is in a tastefully decorated room where the entertainment center fits perfectly, and you only use it to watch the news and occasional sitcom, then the 32" will be adequate. But if you like to dedicate an hour or two a day to watching a movie or sports or Discovery channel in glorious High Definition, and really enjoy it, a 50" screen will be much better than a 32". 10-12 ft is plenty far away enough for a 50" screen - I sit 13’ away from mine, and I wish it was bigger.

For what it’s worth, when Consumer Reports has done their reports on flat-screen TVs, they almost always mention that their surveys have shown that consumers have regretted not buying the biggest television they could have afforded.

Thanks, I really appreciate the input so far. It is really helping me in the decision.

…and it’s not looking good for the entertainment center…

We did this thread a while back and the most telling comment was along the lines of: A year later, nobody ever wishes they have bought a smaller set.

In my own case I was going to get a 38" and settled for a 52" Now I wish I had gotten a 60 or larger.

OK, everybody, I got some good feedback and I don’t ask for advice without listening to it with an open mind.

Many, many thanks to everyone who replied. I believe I will avoid remorse over a too-small set and just figure out something to do with the entertainment center. Maybe relegate it to another room or put it on craigslist.

It’s funny, some of the peripheral info I got. Like, we were also wondering if it wasn’t time to modernize & minimize the furniture, and some of you made that point, too. We are tired of carrying around eight million pounds of furniture with us and have been talking about simplifying.

So once again, thanks, all! I am grateful for all of the good advice.


Just as an idea for anyone who might dearly want to keep a piece of furniture - look at TVs with the speakers under the screen, rather than on the edges. Or, if you have a surround system with its own speakers, no speakers at all on the TV - I believe some models out there have detachable speakers.

You can easily waste a foot of width with speakers, which is silly if you’re not using them.

You said your cabinet fits a 32" TV. Was that a 32" standard set or a 32" widescreen set? They both have very different dimensions. A 32" widescreen TV has a screen about 2.5" wider than the old 32" sets.

I know that’s true for me. I bought a 46" set about nine months ago to replace a 27" CRT television and now wish I’d gotten a 52" set instead. (The 46" set cost about $1,500 then and my brother just got a 52" set for about the same price.)