back to article Brits upscaling their TV buys

British homes may be generally smaller than those of, say, the US or Australia, but the nation's TV buyers are nonetheless increasingly keen on bigger and bigger tellies. UK TV sales fall into two broad categories: small and large. It's not hard to understand why. We buy small sets for bedrooms, bigger ones for the living room …


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  1. banjomike

    sweet spot ... 26-32in band

    That IS a surprise. Most people I know would consider anything less than 40 inches to be TOO small.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: sweet spot ... 26-32in band

      Probably because we're all buying more TVs per house. When I was a kid, my parents had one TV in the livingroom and that was it. We currently have three TVs, only one of which is really large in our livingroom, the others being bedroom and spare room sets and so in the 26-32in range. Having said that, I also watch TV on one of my PCs in the study with a smaller 21in monitor.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: sweet spot ... 26-32in band

        We have 1 in use a 46", the old 14" portable has not been used for about 5 years and the 17" caravan LCD is doing its second job of computer monitor

      2. Sooty

        Re: sweet spot ... 26-32in band

        That "sweet" spot does seem a little low for flat screens, certainly for a main tv but I suppose it depends on the size of your room. But generally tv size is something you get used to. Growing up I've had several tvs, starting with a 14 inch main living room tv. Each one seemed tiny after using the replacement, but fine while using it.

        As someone else pointed out, the switch from 4:3 to widescreen did have an impact. Widescreen tvs need to be a lot larger to be horizontally as high. Which means if im used to a large 4:3 tv I'll end up getting an even larger widescreen one as it will feel small if I don't.

        I have a 40 inch tv at the moment, and I've moved recently, in the new location the tv feels a lot smaller, so I'll probably replace it soon with a 50 inch or more, chances are that even from the same manufacturer it will be cheaper, lighter, thinner, better quality and have more features. Why wouldn't I get one as large as I can afford, that fits in the space?

        Additionally, as tvs rarely die, the old one will get shifted to my bedroom/hobbyroom

    2. LarsG

      The more features and the bigger a tv is the less it is used as a tv. If I bought a monster all singing and dancing tv, I'd never get the opportunity to watch it. Hence my basic flat screen 32" Sony keeps the wailing masses away and allows me to watch Great Railway Journeys in peace and without disturbance.

      1. MJI Silver badge


        Ours shows Great Railway Journeys as well - I do like the Portillo British ones as well.

        As to usage - I reckon around half the time the PS3 is supplying the source - BluRay, Iplayer, games, a tiny bit live the rest off our Humax HDR.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cost difference in the 22 to 27 inch range is negligible. Costs under 21 compared to 21 are not worth it and the costs above 27 have come down multiple times. This leads to the expected result - each household gets an enormous ugly idiot box as the centerpiece of the living room.

    I am tempted to extradite mine out into the "family room" just for sake of being contrarian. I got _NO_ TV in the living room in my summer house (everything revolves around the fireplace) and it is lovely so the idea is not so bad after all :))

    1. dogged
      Thumb Up

      We (me and the g/f, not a delusional "we") recently found when buying a bedroom set that a decent quality small panel was actually more expensive than a similar quality 32" panel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        You claim to have a g/f yet you were looking for a TV for the bedroom. I call delusional.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    small for bedroom, large for living room?

    I bought a 26", for the living room. It's big enough for most UK sized living rooms, without taking over the room. Otherwise people just have to face the TV, and lose the ability to communicate .... oh well

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: small for bedroom, large for living room?

      Mum! I didn't know you post on the Reg forums...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: small for bedroom, large for living room?

        You posted anonymously, so why address it to your mum, she won't know its you. Could at least have the courage to stand up for yourself at your age ... I'm sure mum taught you that ;-)

      2. Code Monkey
        Thumb Up

        Re: small for bedroom, large for living room?

        I agree with your mum. It's enough.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: small for bedroom, large for living room?

      Fully agree. The size of the TV should be chosen for the size of the living room. Buynig one just because it's 40" or whatever is being a bit a size queen. I say living room because I believe that unless you have a dedicated TV room then that's the only place you should have a TV.

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge


    My bet is that it's due to the cost of TVs dropping so much over the years. The fact that LCD TVs take up much less space in a room also means it's more practical to have a large screen TV in a room, without it eating up half the floor space.

    More screen, for less money, and less space. Bit of a no brainer, really.

    1. Craig 12

      Re: Price

      Less space did it for us, definitely.

      In the front room we replaced a 50" plasma with a 55" LED, and the set was physically smaller. In the bedroom, same thing with a 23" LCD and 28" LED.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Numbers Please not Percentages

    If the 2007 market was 1M sets and the 2011 market was 300K then the percentages are just stats.

    Only one person I know has bought a TV in the last 12 months and that was a Sony 3D because he is a technophone. Everyone else is far too skint to even think about buying a new set.

    1. Marty

      Re: Numbers Please not Percentages

      I have actually bought 4 tvs in the last year....

      one was for our daughters room to replace a ageing 12inch CRT set, it was replaced with a 19inch LCD, a bigger set would have only been fractionaly more expensive, but space wise and viewing distance, 19inch is fine...

      we got a 42 inch Toshiba 3d tv with 3d Bluray player for a bargain price of £500 with 8 pairs of 3d glasses.. the only interest I had in the 3d tv is the fact that in general they perform better at normal 1080p HD and the particular model came with a colour analyser, picture & colour quality is perfect (also, as it goes, sports in 3d is excellent!!) . We also got 2 sharp 32 inch TVs for the same room as the 3d TV.... it is our "living room" but in reality is is the Bar of our Guest house. as it can get quite full and guests like to watch TV, so to keep everyone happy tv's had to be added !!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "technophone"

      What's one of those when it's at home?

  6. G R Goslin

    It's a question of proportion

    Perhaps the buyers are hoping that the increase in size will offset the decrease in the quality of the programmes

    1. Fibbles

      Re: It's a question of proportion

      An audio technician friend of mine once told me that you can fool people into believing music is better than it actually is simply by increasing the volume. Maybe these people are on to something...

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: It's a question of proportion

        Or make better choices - still some good TV around, just need to find it.

  7. alan buxey

    no choice

    I think the consumers have no choice - last time I looked, if you wanted decent features (freeviewHD, HD ready display, DNLA or smartTV, etc etc you can only get those on the bigger panels.

    (there again, even bigger panels are missing vital features.... and I think they should have brought in a law to ensure that any HD TV sets that offer Freeview reception should have FreeviewHD receivers)

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: no choice

      Not always. We wanted a second set that could double as a PC monitor. Friend put me up to a deal that comet had for mobile payments giving %15 off the list price. Trawled their website for the cheapest TV they had and paid via mobile for not too much dosh. Was mightily surprised to find it had a USB slot *and* TIVO (if you put a usb stick in there). It would also play media from the USB. Speakers were rubbish (remedied with PC speakers) but the panel looked ok. That was a 24" set I think.

      The living room has a 37" sharp, I was happy with a 32 but when I bought it the prices were pretty much the same so I measured up the spaces and it was still ok.

    2. bob_bob
      Thumb Up

      Re: no choice

      I think that you are on to something. If you want to buy a "fully featured" new set, often 37 inches is the minimum screen size available.

  8. Andus McCoatover

    Smaller in the bedroom?

    Sorry, but I thought the most obvious reason was staring her in the face.

    OK, I'm getting my coat.

  9. SoaG

    People still watch TV?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      People watch TV in a bedroom?

      They must not have anything better to do, like sleeping... or pretty much any other activity that would be more rewarding.

  10. sueme2
    Paris Hilton

    biger 3D

    There is the aspect ratio, the old 21" CRT was square, the same viewing height in a panel looks like 32" now. How tall the picture is is more important than the diagonal. We bought a 50" 3D plasma to replace a 42" LCD. We are happy, the 2D is outstanding, the 3D sort of works, it is best on sporting events. Next time it will be plasma, unless the LED people deliver on those thin things with spectacular color which they have been promising.

  11. McMoo

    Smaller the income, larger the TV

    Large TV sets are vulgar. It often seems the larger the TV, the lower the household income.

    1. AOD

      Re: Smaller the income, larger the TV

      Do you have any research you could point us at to back up this delightfully Daily Fail bit of social comment?

      As for the generalisation that large TV sets are vulgar, well, I suppose one will just have to manage with the Pioneer 436SXE (43 inch) in one's master bedroom and the Pioneer Kuro 508XD (50 inch) in one's lounge.

      1. atippey

        Re: Smaller the income, larger the TV

        I don't know about the UK, but I volunteered in a program which does taxes for free for low income households during my last year of undergrad. Guess where the US Earned Income Tax Credit often ends up going. Seriously, more than a few of them brag about what they're going to do with the money, and this is one of the top choices. Meanwhile, I just pirate everything I want to see online and have a tuner card in my PC for the occasional over-the-air sports coverage. If you're poor, you probably can't afford a nice house or an awesome car, but dammit, you can usually scrounge up enough for a top-of-the-line flat panel to distract you from the depressing realities of your (often multiple) dead-end job(s).

        1. Hairy Spod

          Re: Smaller the income, larger the TV

          Drive out of your area after dark and notice the glow coming from your neighbours windows.

          Do the same in some poorer areas and get ready to put your sunglasses on.

          It doesnt mean to say that all those tellys are top line though, many will be trading features for size and will bear the 'HD ready' tag that most Reg readers would shun

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: Smaller the income, larger the TV

            Must be the same about rich people and range rovers. Having driven a range rover i'm sure it is a similar argument of trading size for features.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smaller the income, larger the TV

      Lol, hilarious bit of conceited Radio 4 listener-esque - I assume - parody there.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smaller the income, larger the TV

      Its true unfortunately, the poorer people buy big TV's, its not a cost thing, since I would probably spend twice as much a top of the range 32" LED than they spend on their 50-60" TV.

      And this is just by experience, the poorer people I know, have TV's too big for their room, the richer people, are more restrictive with tv size, it is less important, but if they do get a big TV, it doesn't fill the room, and costs way more as they go for quality as well as size..

  12. Anonymous Coward


    It's all very well people buying larger sets for the same money, but some of the panels on the cheap larger TV's are terrible. You are better off getting the best panel you can get for your budget, not the biggest size.

    Let alone the abominations that have image processing that turn a 24fps film image into 100fps making everything look like a cheap TV studio production. I want to see the image as the director intended, not the manufacturer!

  13. Why Not?

    Size matters and you get what you pay for

    First new living room TV I bought was

    1986 - 26" , CRT, RRP £900 and filled the space of one armchair.


    1999 - 32" , CRT, RRP £1000 and filled the space of one armchair


    2008 - 50" RRP £1100 and hangs on the wall.

    so you get a larger screen for same money.

    1990 - Bedroom 14" CRT £150 took up a sideboard

    2009 - Bedroom 22" TFT £130

    all large ones Panasonic, Pioneer or Phillips.

    no benefits here.

    but yes certain types of buyers find the money for the tv first.

  14. whiter

    The main reason tellys are getting bigger is HD more pixels per square inch, for a given size you can get closer with an HD set,

  15. Dick Emery

    How times change

    My parents purchased a 42" a few years back. Now they think it looks too small in the space it occupies. I have a 50" myself and I could always do with bigger. 100" would not be too big. I would get projection if it was not so expensive to run, noisy and does not work too well during the daytime hours unless you black out the windows..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: looks too small in the space

      26" on the sideboard in the corner of the living room, hardly takes any space and looks plenty big enough to me.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm very surprised. I finally replaced my old Ferguson 21" CRT from the mid 90's with a 51" Samsung Plasma and I just assumed that was just what everyone had these days. Maybe because I was overestimated how large friends' televisions were when comparing them to my old set or something. I barely watch TV and thought I was just catching up with the times, not being ahead of the curve.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    40" in a small bedroom - No problem

    I have 40" wall mounted Samsung LED flat screen in my small bedroom. I wouldn't have anything smaller. It's mounted close to the ceiling and tilts down slightly. A perfect viewing angle for watching from bed.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bragging rights and "keeping up with the joneses"

    Is what it mostly comes down to. Personally I go for comfortable viewing so a 32" in the living room, 23" in the study, and 19" in the bedrooms are perfect for me, anything larger would just be superfluous. So many people have ridiculously oversized TV's just for the sake of it, for most living rooms in the uk anything over 32-36" just makes for relatively uncomfortable viewing, where you can't take in the whole image without moving your head around or having large parts of the image outside you optimal viewing angles etc. As a well known stand-up comedian put it recently "if you've got a television that's 40 inches or bigger and live in a normal sized house or flat you're either a chav or have major insecurities!".

  20. Dropper

    Bed Potatoe?

    About 7 years ago I found myself switching.. now I buy big TVs for the bedroom and smaller ones for the living room, 46" and 32" respectively. Maybe it's because I'm English and live in the US...

    What amazes me though is the price changes. I got to cash in on an extended warranty for an $800 no-name 32" 720p LCD only a few months before it was due to expire. The store gave me $800 in credit because the TV no longer exists and I drove home with a 40" 1080p Sony Bravia. That was 3 years ago, god knows what I'd get for the same money now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bed Potatoe?

      > now I buy big TVs for the bedroom

      > god knows what I'd get for the same money now.


  21. alcopops

    Could it be HD?

    Back then there was hardly any HD content, so blowing it up bigger than 42" would make it look blocky. Nowadays HD means we need a bigger set to appreciate the better picture quality.

  22. 0laf Silver badge


    It's the price not much more I suspect. Ignoring the quality of the picture as many people do, you can buy a 50" screen for much the same price as a 32".

    Most people aren't looking at the small print of the picture quality just the headlines, brand + inches.

  23. This Side Up

    Not surprising

    I had a 25" full height tv until is expired last week. To get the same picture height on a low height screen I would need a 32" set (approximately - just use Pythagoras). But instead of the screen being at the front of a deep CRT it will be 18" to 2' further back on or near the wall. so to get the same viewing angle it will need to be bigger still. The next step is 37" diagonal.

    Of course all this "widescreen" hype is just a con to get people to buy new sets (plus is saves channels the cost of scanning cinema films). Most of the time you are watching one person speaking, singing or playing, or at the moment watching a tennis court from one end. The acres of space at each side are just wasted. A so-called "widescreen" set gives you a much smaller picture than a full height screen of the same diagonal size.

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