Mid-Week Poll: How Large Is Your Home Theater Screen?

I can remember the day when any TV over 25″ was considered almost obscenely large. I recall having trouble loading a behemoth 27″ model that I’d just bought into the back seat of my car. I had to take it out of the box to squeeze it in. It was so heavy that carrying it was a two-man job. We’ve come a long way since then, haven’t we? How large is your home theater screen today?

Televisions are much larger, lighter and less expensive now. The average screen size today would have been considered a “big screen” model in the past. Owning a TV less than 32″ is practically a conscious lifestyle decision, like some sort of demonstration that you can’t be bothered with such frivolities in your life as watching television.

Given that I’m writing this on a home theater enthusiast web site, I have to assume that most of our readers favor HDTVs or projection screens on the larger side. My primary display is a projector with a variable aspect ratio Constant Image Height configuration. I don’t usually think of my screen size in terms of the standard diagonal measurement. At its largest in “scope” mode, the screen is 6-feet wide. That would equate to a diagonal of just over 78 inches. Standard 16:9 content pillarboxed in the center of the screen measures a little above 62″ diagonal. I won’t pretend that this is the largest screen size I could have (many projector owners push screens over 100″), but in my small room and short seating distance, this is the most comfortable size for me. I also tend to prefer a brighter and punchier picture. The larger your screen size with a projector, the more trade-offs you’ll suffer in image quality. If I were to ever move to a larger space, I’d most likely upgrade to an 8-foot wide screen with a higher gain, but that’s probably as large as I’d want to go. For where I am now, I’m still satisfied with what I have.

What about you? What’s your screen size?

How Large Is Your Home Theater Screen?

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  1. To be fair, height wise, a 40 inch is roughly the same size as a 27 inch tube. I don’t have the exact specifications in front of me, but remember that TV sizes are measured corner to corner, so a 36 inch 4×3 is bigger than many modern day flat pannels.

    Both of my TVs at the moment are 42 inches. I could have went larger, but it was kind of ridiculous to because of the room sizes when I bought them. Now, currently, I am boarding with a friend in an extreamely large bedroom, and I think I could easily go 70 inches in here, but my next upgrade will probably be a couple of years down the road when I move into a permanate residence.

    Now, I do remember my first HDTV. It was a TUBE. Yes, they DID make Tube HDTVs. That thing was a monster. Even at only 32 inches, it took four guys to move. But man, did that thing have an AWESOME picture, and supported resolutions from 480i up to 1080I natively (it surprised be that it supported 576i and 576p, which was great when I hacked my DVD player to play PAL discs). I do miss that thing – just such a beautiful picture that LCDs and Plasmas just do not match.

  2. cardpetree

    I’ve got an old school 65″ Mitsubishi rear projection. The HD picture on it is really nice but I still feel the need to upgrade bad. The TV itself is just way too big and looks really out of date.

  3. HuskerGuy

    Upgraded from a 50″ to a 64″ in December and obviously love it. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the 50″ as the specs on the two are more or less the same, but I just wanted a bigger screen.

    I too remember a good 10-12 years ago or so when I bought what I considered a huge 32″ tube tv. That thing was and continues to be a beast to move. It was since pushed off onto the in-laws though thankfully.

  4. JM

    I almost bought a 34″ 1080i Sony CRT in 2004, but its ass was just too fat.

    50″ plasma in 2009 was the sweet spot of size-price-quality for us (the PS3’s blue laser made me crave it!) but every night I wish it was bigger.

    Projectors need to invent an LED that can shoot 10′ wide with lumens to spare.

  5. DrMaustus

    Why don’t we just whip them out, aside from JM of course — and compare?

    I have a 92″ screen. No, I’m not compensating for anything, as my eyes are just fine thank you.

    “but every night I wish it was bigger.”

    All together now: “That’s what she said!”

  6. Jason

    I just upgraded from a 6 year old 42″ 720p Sony RPT to an Epson 5010 projecting onto a 110″ 16:9 screen.

    I used painters tape to map out the different size screens I was considering and settled on 110″. When the wife came home and saw the tape on the wall she was speechless. Needless to say this is in a dedicated home theater room. I moved the 42″ Sony into the adjoining “media library.” Whenever we have people over and they say something about us not having a television in the living room my wife just laughs.

  7. Drew

    Brand new 3D projector with a projection screen of about 106″ in my primary home theatre. In my secondary home theatre (Great room), I’m using a 65″ VT30.

    I chose “over 100″”, but a vote for “61-70″” should also be in place.

    11.2 sound in my theatre room, and 9.1 in the secondary

    We should do a poll of projector use vs television use in our home theatres. Well, actually I guess the results of this poll tell us that most of us are using televisions, rather than projectors.

  8. Drew


    No. He didn’t. There’s no such thing as a 62″ LED LCD. He clearly meant DLP. However, what is a ” DLP LCD”?

    • Josh Zyber

      LED is a subset of LCD. The LED backlight is the light source for the pixels in that type of LCD display. All LED TVs are by definition also LCD.

  9. Drew


    Nothing that you just said about LED LCDs is relevant to this conversation. It’s also nothing new to anybody, or noteworthy. We are all well aware of the fact that LED televisions are merely LCDs with an LED backlight source.

    I’ll say it again. There is no such thing as a 62″ LED LCD television. No manufacturer has ever made or produced a 62″ LED LCD set.

    He clearly meant DLP. The question is whether he meant to include the “LCD” part of his comment. There’s obviously no such thing as a “DLP LCD.”

  10. Drew

    The 62″ screen size has never been applied to an LED LCD set by any manufacturer. Samsung did make a 62″ DLP set, however. Thus, it is evident that he meant DLP.

  11. Drew


    No tube/crt HDTV ever made, matched the picture quality of many of the current high-end Plasma and LCD televisions. It simply isn’t a possibility.

    Perhaps you just haven’t seen the right Plasma or LCD (LED) set. I owned what was considered to be one of the very finest, if not, the finest tube/crt television ever manufactured. Since that time, I’ve owned at least 5-6 Plasma’s and probably 3-4 LCD’s that blew that set’s picture quality out of the water.

    Hell, the Sony HX820 that is in use in my bedroom is head and shoulders above it. The fact of the matter is that a tube HDTV with the best possible picture quality for that technology, performs on par with an average middle of the road LCD. Almost any Plasma — even lower-end ones — will outperform the very best tube HDTV.

      • Better quote from CNET:

        “Native resolution: The physical structure of some types of displays, including LCDs and plasma panels, defines how many pixels can be displayed at once. The display produces the sharpest picture when used at its so-called native resolution. Other types of displays, such as CRTs, create pixels independently of the physical structure of their screens and do not have a native resolution. As a result, a CRT’s image quality is generally the same across a range of resolutions.”

  12. I remember getting my first flat panel, which was a 32″ LCD Bravia, when they first came out. It was early enough that the major advertising on TV came about six months after I’d bought it, and I got quite a few jealous comments from people about it. 😀 That thing was so expensive I had to pay it off over three years, but I’ve still got it, and the picture is still rather nice for an LCD.

    Fast forward to now, and that seems so ‘old’. I’ve got a 42″ Panasonic Plasma that cost a little more than a third of the Bravia. Admittedly, it’s only ‘HD ready’ (Which bugs the hell out of me), but the girlfriend would kill me if I bought a more expensive one or upgraded to anything bigger. When we got this one, I almost had to take it back to the shop, because she suddenly hated it so much when seeing it in the living room because it ‘overpowered’ everything. 😉

  13. Drew

    Jaded Chamberlain,

    I think you might be right. That would make sense. I do recall those sets. I had mostly forgotten about them.

  14. JM

    There are DLP projectors that use LED lights. Didn’t Samsung put that in a slim rear-projection HDTV?

  15. Drew


    Yes Samsung did make some DLP sets in which the light source was LED. Perhaps he meant, “DLP LED”, rather than, “DLP LCD.”


    The black levels achieved by tube televisions are nowhere near as dark as the black levels of many modern flat panels. I’ve owned two Pioneer plasmas, and three Panasonic plasmas, that are capable of producing a depth of black that no tube television ever held a candle to. I’ve also owned a few local dimming LED LCD sets that are capable of displaying black levels much deeper and darker than any CRT television ever could. There a few sets currently on the market that are capable of black levels that could never be approached by CRT. Look at the Panasonic VT30 and GT30, or this years “50” versions of them; The Sharp ELITE models; And the Sony HX929, HX820, and NX720. No CRT television could ever produce a shade of black that compared to any of these. Let’s also not forget that black level is not the only aspect of performance that determines superior picture quality. Moreover, when you discuss how tube televisions didn’t have a “native resolution”, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean they are able to exhibit better image quality than many flat panels.

  16. Drew

    Not having a native resolution merely means that a consistent image can be maintained across a variety of resolutions. It doesn’t mean that said image is superior.

    • It basically means that, when watching standard def material, its not being upconverted if you are using a standard DVD player, or watching SD stuff on TV. This is REALLY helpful on analogue stuff, which normally looks like crap on modern TVs.

      That being said, the upconversions on modern TVs and players is actually pretty good. But a conversion is a conversion no matter how you look at it, and you risk introducing noise into the picture.

      So, yeah, a CRT doesn’t hold up when doing high def material, but its better on SD and analogue material.

      As for the Local dimming on LCDs and plasmas, yeah, its better than what we had before, but I still can’t really say that it reaches CRT levels. The problem with local diming is that the screen is usually divided into sections, and they adjust the brightness level on said area. The smaller the sections, the better this effect is. Still, when watching something like Star Wars, going from the star background to the super-hot white ship suddenly coming into the shot seems to cause some issues. Granted, modern flat panels are MUCH better than they were a few years back (my new LCD handles Star Wars MUCH better than my 4-year old Panel does), but its still not perfect. Its BETTER than it used to be. Maybe in a couple more years, it will surpass CRTs (I can certainly see this happening).

      Let me see if I can reword what I originally wrote – when I BOUGHT the CRT, it was better than any LCD or Plasma out on the market. Flat pannels have come a long way since then, which is why, when my CRT went out (had a transistor melt, 3 days after the warrenty expired), I bought a Toshiba flatscreen. Four years later, I bought a Vizio for the other room (which has a superior picture quality than my Toshiba, although this is probably because of the age difference). Modern flat panels bypass CRTs in just about every category. The two areas that are left, I can see Flat Panels surpassing CRT in one of those areas in a couple of years (although modern advances do make them pretty good), and the other area is really only a necessary if you are running old analogue stuff or are not happy with how video gets upscaled.

      Does that make sense now? I am not saying that CRTs are superior to modern flatscreens, I am saying that there were a couple of areas that CRTs had advantages, but that gap is closing.

  17. Drew


    Yes, that makes sense. CRTs are capable of producing a more natural looking image when displaying standard-set or analog material. That’s what I was saying when I talked about a more consistent image across a variety of different resolutions.

    You’re wrong about the black levels of a CRT approaching the level of many modern flat panels, however. The best CRT ever made couldn’t produce a black level even 80% as dark as many modern plasma and LCD (LED) sets can.

    You’re also wrong about local dimming LED LCD sets not being able to handle a scene that goes from pitch-black to hot-white instantly. What you say, and the example that you cite was true of the first generation local dimming sets, but is not true when discussing the current ones, such as the Sharp ELITE models, and the Sony high-end local dimmers that I alluded to. On top of this, plasma sets have always handled dark to light transitions, like this, perfectly, while also exhibiting a depth of black that was unmatched by CRT.

    • In my defense, the local electronic stores do not sell the Elite models, and many don’t sell plasmas anymore (or at least, don’t in my area – my area is kind of economically depressed, and the $500 LCDs are what people buy). As such, I am judging by the Vizios and LGs that are on display.

      I did say that I believed that Black Levels in flat panels would get better. And they already are better than they used to be. A LOT better. I am just not completely happy. I think my issue is not necessarially with how DEEP black can be, but the levels of black (like when something is not supposed to be pitch black, or some areas are supposed to be blacker than others). Granted, though, its possible that this could also be attributed to crappy encodes. It is an issue I seem to have mostly with video.

      I also know that plasmas have better black levels than LCDs, but I will just throw this out – I am a plasma hater. Nothing you can say will really convince me otherwise. I just don’t like the picture. Really haven’t seen one yet that I liked. Granted, I haven’t seen many, as I said, most of the local stores don’t seem to stock them (most people around here prefer LCDs, so I guess I am not alone).

      In any case, I think that LCDs will get to a place where black levels are at a place that I will be happy with them, and its possible the Elite TVs you mention already have them. I just haven’t seen them yet, and am judging by what I have seen.

  18. Drew


    Starting at $7,900 for a 55″ model really drives down the level of anticipation. The performance is bound to be comparable to the Sharp ELITE models, and the best Panasonic plasmas. You can get a much larger one of these sets for much less money. I would even wager that the performance of the new OLED will be inferior to the models I mention, because every time I’ve owned a new technology, in it’s debut, there have always been many kinks and bugs that need worked out.

    If we were getting 4k resolution, or something completely game changing, the anticipation for the OLEDs would be much more significant.

    • JM

      Didn’t 50″ 720p plasmas first release at $20,000?

      I agree about the early-adopter tax.

      I understand that OLED will be able to reduce price and increase size and quality faster than all the other technologies, and thus win the race?

      5th gen 8K OLEDs of the 84″ size at $2000 would make my PS4 happy.

  19. Drew

    Yes. 50″ plasmas were $20,000.

    It’s a totally different economy, and the consumer market is completely different, now. I’m incredulous that LG really thinks they’re going to get 8 grand for any 55″ television that isn’t next-gen. If I’m going to drop eight large on a TV, it better damn well do something that no other television in existence does!

    I love everything you say about Mr. 84″ 8K OLED! I’ll take two, please! And possibly get rid of my projector.

    • JM

      In 2008 the Sony XEL-1, an 11″ 540p OLED, released at $2500.

      So we’re moving in the right direction.

      2012 it’s probably still a fetish product.

      Maybe LG plans to sell their 55″ OLEDs in packs of 16, so the Mark Cubans of the world can have 220″ uber walls in their penthouse lairs.

  20. Drew


    Black levels on LCDs have been better in every measurable way than CRTs, on many models, for years now. It’s not only the Sharp ELITE TVs that are capable of better black levels. The Sony models that I mentioned, as well as many other LCD models from various manufactures, have been exhibiting better blacks than any CRT ever did, for a few generations now. The Sony XBR8, which came out in 2009, I believe, exhibited black levels that would still be on par with almost any television ever made. The Samsung UNB8500, which came out that same year, or the following year, was capable of even better black levels. It’s been at least 4 years now that LCDs have been displaying better black levels than any CRT ever did. Not just deeper, darker blacks, but better in every way.

    Plasma sets have consistently exhibited better black levels than CRT for even longer. Not just high-end plasma TVs, either. Anybody that says they are a plasma hater has never owned a nice one, or has never seen one that was even mid-level. A mid-level plasma from Panasonic or even Samsung produces better image quality than all but the very highest-end LCD. I’m sure you have heard this, but Pioneer made plasmas that still haven’t been approached 4 years after they stopped manufacturing them. My biggest television regret of all time is selling my Pioneer PRO-151 set. At the time, I believed that the top 2010 Panasonic models were going to have image quality that surpassed the Pioneer, and they were 3D. I was happy with my VT25, and it was larger than my Pioneer, but if I had it to do over again, I would have never sold the Pioneer. The bottom line is, nobody says they are a plasma hater if they have ever owned a nice one, or even had the pleasure of watching one for a significant amount of time. The image quality of a nice plasma vastly exceeds anything that any LCD will ever be capable of. OLEDs will be the first technology that can produce a better image quality than plasma.

    • Once again, you just aren’t going to see mid-level or high-level plasmas for sale in my area. Maybe if I drove an hour or two to the rich side of town (its not 60 miles away, just that the whole city is under construction right now), I might see these newer sets. Around here, the only plasma I have seen in years was a 720p set selling at Wal-Mart. I had a couple of friends buy plasmas, but those were about 4 or 5 years ago, and even back then, I was not impressed.

      People have their prefrences. I like CRTs, LCDs and DLP (which you don’t see much of anymore either, unless you get a projector – people just don’t want some huge projection TV in their rooms anymore). Like I said, nothing you say can really convince me. If I see a plasma I like one day, I may consider it, but i can only judge on what I have seen, at stores, at friend’s houses, etc. I can read all the specs I want, read reviews, etc, but in the end, I can only judge on what I have seen.

  21. Drew

    You’re attempting to say that, “seeing is believing.” Didn’t you learn, a long time ago, that this is an erroneous way of thinking? There are always going to be many truths and things that are absolute fact, that you’re simply never going to witness. If you are knowledgable about plasma tech, and you have read many professional reviews that discuss their superiority over LCD, why would you choose to ignore this, and say that you haven’t seen it, so you will remain a hater? It makes no sense. You could have found a 51″ 3D plasma, that would outperform your new Vizio LCD in every way, for about the same cost. Plasma sets are more affordable, and outperform their LCD counterparts by a significant margin. Every performance characteristic you discuss that you wish you could get in your LCD, would be on display, in spades, on a comparably equipped plasma. You are robbing yourself of better performance, by choosing to close your mind.

      • Agreed. I am not just going to go out and blindly purchase a product online if I have never seen it in action.

        BTW, I went to the richer part of town today, and looked at their televisions at one of the big electronic stores over there. They only had one plasma, a 720p, and it wasn’t even on display, they just had them boxed up in the front of the store, trying to get them out the door.

        Seriously, if you are buying a television, and you care about picture quality, who the heck would buy one without first seeing it in the store? I just don’t have money to throw around on something I have never seen.

        The store also had many Sonys and Samsungs and Panisonics on display, some in the 2k-3k range, and maybe they just had the contrast or brightness blown out of proportion, but I wasn’t happy with the blacks on them.

        I honestly do not see why you are so bent on proving to me that black levels on the current gen televisions are good enough. They are BETTER than the previous stuff, but if I am not happy with them, that is my porogative. It didn’t keep me from buying one.

        Shoot, I could say that, since I do HD video editing, I wish that current generation PCs were faster, because it takes forever to render video. But its a hell of a lot faster than what I had before, so it’s not like I am not going to upgrade simply because I am waiting for something better. That’s just stupid.

        I am also not trying to talk anyone out of anything. If people ask my opinion, I tell them my prefrence, but I have never discouraged someone from buying a certain television – except in one case I convinvinced someone to pay an extra $50 to get the television that they really wanted over the cheaper one. I told them if they were going to spend that much on a product, to pay a few bucks extra and get what they wanted, rather than have buyers remorse in a couple of weeks.

        I have never talked anyone away from buying a plasma (except for today, when the only plasma the store even had was a 720p model). LCD is my preference. And why shouldn’t I buy the TV I want? And why shouldn’t they buy the TV they want?