/ Technology

Manufacturers are abandoning small TVs – are you doing the same?

The number of 32-inch TVs being released by leading manufacturers – LG, Samsung, Panasonic and Sony – has dwindled in recent years. Why have small TVs fallen so epically out of favour?

I have a 43-inch TV at home and even that would be considered small by today’s standards – though not when I bought it five years ago. I’m planning on upgrading to a Full HDTV this year and I won’t get one smaller than 49 inches. Budget permitting, I’d prefer one somewhere between 55 and 60 inches.

My reasons for abandoning small TVs are similar to the reasons why the top brands aren’t making them anymore. Big screen TVs are now cheaper to manufacture and buy and smart design and shrinking bezels means they aren’t such a dominating fixture of a living room. That means higher resolution content is wasted on small screens – and the quality of smaller screens is declining as a result.

Three reasons you need a bigger television

Everyone wants a bargain and getting a bargain TV used to mean buying a small one. That’s not the case anymore. By the time Black Friday and Christmas roll around, 49-inch and 55-inch TVs can be bought for around the £400 mark. And we’re not talking Polaroid and Blaupunkt either – the sales stretch to Samsung and LG, too.

While TVs have been getting cheaper, they’ve been getting better looking, too. Chunky black plastic bezels have been replaced by sleek brushed metal that are barely visible. This helps big TVs blend in with your room, meaning they aren’t the eyesore they used to be.

It also means they take up less space than you might expect. Look at the 49-inch Samsung QE49Q7F, its screen is 17 inches bigger than the 32-inch Samsung UE32J4000, but the entire TV is only 12 inches wider.

The final reason I’ll be choosing a bigger TV is also the most important. You don’t see the benefit of higher resolution content on small TVs. All that extra detail is lost. I watch most of my TV through streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Video, and most of their original content is available in 4K.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray catalogue is constantly growing too. So you can’t really get away with saying there’s no 4K content anymore. I can understand if your viewing is mainly broadcast TV, but it’s only a matter of time before the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have 4K channels and catch up services.

In defence of small TVs

Do I think 32-inch TVs should go away? No. People will always need smaller sets for bedrooms and the like, but for your living room you owe it to yourself to get a bigger TV that can display 4K content in all its glory. Want to know how big a TV your living room can accommodate? Use our free tool to see what size you should buy.

What size TV do you own? Perhaps you still have an analogue black and white set…? Will you be upgrading after reading this – or have TVs become just too big?


A male convo writer and – “size matters ” ?—figures . What people will need to watch out for is the many different types of screens coming on the market and that LCD is on the “way out ” and varieties of LED and others are on the way in . It means you should be able to buy a LCD TV cheaply as manufacturers will be promoting the latest innovations which like any other new product will be expensive to start out with , so dont pay too much for big screen LCD and dont think – this big TV is the “latest technology ” –it isnt . If you are stuck in the house and your major entertainment is watching TV then a big screen might help you enjoy it or maybe not but if it isnt then massive screens wont do it for you. Just be careful and dont fall for the old ploy of a company getting rid of old stock making it look like it was the “latest thing ” while all the time you have only a couple of years of apps if it is a smart TV and new technology TV,s come out making yours out of date very quickly especially if your the type of person who has to keep up with the Jones,s .

The solution to the App obsolescence is of course separates – a monitor screen with separate speaker system rather than a full TV – and run it off a silent PC. Initial outlay is a bit higher, but – just like Hi Fi of yeateryear, you can pick and upgrade your separates, er, separately.

I remember when we were quite happy to watch our 25″ CRT tv, until the picture went dark and shrank to about 7″. We then moved to a 42″ Pioneer plasma still going strong with a decent picture and sound, and dumb – so an Apple tv box fed from an iPad for iplayer etc. It still seems an appropriate size for our living room – which is fairly large – but then so did the CRT at the time.

We’ve 32″ tvs in a couple of reasonably-sized bedrooms that are quite adequate and would be pushed to find the space for much bigger ones. In new, minimalist houses with shrunken rooms I doubt you’d find room for a 32″ even – difficult enough to fit in a wardrobe as it is. Maybe better to watch tv on an iPad.

Until a couple of years ago I was still using a flat-screen analogue TV with a separate Freeview box that had lost some channels and was due for replacement. When I moved home I inherited a 40 inch Sony TV that is digital but the sound quality was not as good as the old Philips because it has such tiny speakers. I use a micro stereo and bookshelf speakers which greatly improves the sound quality.

I presume the previous owners were TV nuts because there are six aerial sockets including one in the kitchen. I am quite happy to listen to the radio in the kitchen. On the odd occasion that I want to watch TV in the bedroom a laptop and iPlayer are quite sufficient.

How about: just choose the size that suits youd needs and room/personal viewing distance/preference?

As if you need someone to tell you which size of screen to have! The only people doing that have a commercial interest in it.

Some people are movie/sport lovers who want the big screen experience at home, others just want the odd documentary and news, soaps etc and are perfectly catered for by smaller sizes.

A lot of people on enthusiast sites/forums bully (admittedly spineless) people into thinking “bigger is *always* better” quoting those frankly silly THX numbers, and the people who listen to those forums end up not being able to watch the news without moving their head all around the screen!

FWIW, 55″ has turned out to be the sweet spot for me in my apt’s 10x11ft living room, with an 9ft viewing distance.
I wouldn’t want to go any bigger, but could have easily settled for 50″ (being a movie buff means 55″ works out better for me though, watching a lot of 4×3 and 2.35 content).

Blinking flip, I think 32” is large. Perhaps I should wise up.

The TV that impressed me most was the 17 inch black & white model that my parents bought when I was six.

Previous to that Wavechange was 11/12/14 inch models and was followed by the “modern ” 19 inch and 23 inch models , the old range being 17 inch and 21 inch , rich people had the 23/25 inch TV,s which cost a fortune in those days , they usually had a car as well. Big TV,s took up a lot of space and were very heavy with a large number of valves in beautiful wooden cases all polished up. Then the age of the plastic cased TV,s came in as opposed to bakelite TV,s which weren’t called plastic in those days but wood was preferred to bakelite which was looked as “downmarket ” even though they are prized now. There were also the projection TV,s very small tube at a high voltage projecting the image onto a lift up “screen ” – projection screens TV,s MK 1 so it is not a new idea as well as TV/radios all in one . Young people don’t realize the amount of innovation we used to have , now a lot is imported , look at America a lot of the best minds now are from India/Pakistan because of the low brow big mac/fries /popcorn and soaps or sport on cable. Yes I remember when this country was “Great ” at innovation thats why I dont want it to end up like the USA, consumerists watching TV and being told what/how to think and buy.

That’s a little before my time. My parents’ TV had a smart veneered case, walnut I believe. The more expensive models had doors concealing the screen and speaker.

According to the Which? guide, when sitting on the sofa I should be watching a 65+ inch screen when viewing from my favourite chair, reduced to 55 inches if I sit on the sofa. No thank you.

See – even your parents’ TV was smart in one respect. Who said Smart TV is new? 😉

I had not thought of that, Roger. Just a different interpretation. 😉

A smart tv, in my book, would switch itself off when there is nothing worth watching- probably quite a lot of the time. 🙁

Agreed Malcolm. I could live without TV but would miss radio.

What !! Which guide says 65 inch + screen when viewing —where from the swimming pool ? come on its April isn’t it . Now if I knocked a hole in the wall sat in the garden it might just look alright . Sorry dont accept that -plain out and out advertising . Already there are complaints on websites about sore necks as in Wimbledon .

Screens too high can give sore necks especially with wall-mounted. Our TVs are on low-level cabinets, so no sore necks.

Alfa- I am watching the Ninth Gate for the fifth time on my PC in HD and high quality hi-fi separates on my Dell 24 inch ISP monitor . It is actually more inviting/personal than any big screen TV , I can “get into ” the film more emotionally . having to move your eyes to see whats happening at one side of the screen can give you eyestrain.

My 40″ TV does look too small now, although five years ago it didn’t. I’m not ready to replace it just yet, but when I do the new one will definitely be bigger.

I would agree with Roger P with regards to apps. I frequently connect my laptop to the TV because its apps either don’t work or are a pain to use. I don’t know what’s the biggest and best computer monitor you can buy in this country (Which? ?), but I’d be tempted to buy one.

Monitors are specialised now Sophie – gaming (fast ) – films/video- architectural /design- and standard. Obviously you want a big movie monitor and can go up to 34 inches (or more ) with a curved screen , then its a case of Quality which is big in my book forget LCD its out of date its LED now or OLED (coming out ) also IPS types are better I have a Dell IPS monitor . You want big then 38 inch curved screen by Acer XR382CQK is one to look at £861 -resolution – 3840x 1600 but there is a vast range out there and for Which to narrow it down would require a lot of checking out technical abilities , Dell Ultrasharp IPS are good as are Visonic and others then we have 4k -aka- UHD which has a better resolution than the Acer I mentioned but never forget quality .

Curved – I think – will be the next 3D – ie, a fad. Horizontal viewing angles are improving all the time; colour fidelity is too – and crucially so is the thin-ness of the bezel.

I wouldn’t mind betting that, in a decade or so, there will be standard building blocks, erected as a single, a foursome, a nine-some, a sixteen-some… And the emphasis – for all good reason – will be fidelity of colour and extreme resolution on the central screen(s) and extreme frame rate on the outer one(s). And with appropriate framework, a subtle horizontal curvature in 3 (or 4) straight lines will be achievable – and adjustable.

Although it doesn’t get watched very often, we have a 32″ in the bedroom, and I definitely wouldn’t want anything larger there.

Jeremy says:
16 April 2018

“its screen is 17 inches bigger than the 32-inch Samsung UE32J4000, but the entire TV is only 12 inches wider” odd comment from an alleged technology writer. The measures are surely not in the same place?

That makes it (approx ) a “50- inch TV -measurements of TV,s are taken diagonally across the screen -so 32 inch= nearly 28 inches – WIDTH and a “50 ” inch =43.5 inches -WIDTH -this applies to standard ratios so that makes it -APPROX – over 15 inches WIDER but remember non -standard aspect ratios could alter that including curved screens see https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/by-size-to-distance-relationship

My 32″ tv has an overall width of around 26″. A 50″ in the same proportions with the same surround size would be 38.7″ wide – an extra 12.7″. So nothing remarkable here. But a 50″ certainly would be wider than a single bed.

Recommended viewing distances have decreased substantially as pixel size has reduced. So you could sit in bed and watch a 50″ tv without discerning individual pixels.

If bedroom TVs were mounted on the ceiling they could be larger and you could watch TV lying on your back. Alternatively you could have them sideways on the wall and watch TV while lying on your side.

Having repaired a phone in a University Professors bedroom Wavechange, in his case it would not be possible above the bed because of another “unorthodox ” piece of household furniture residing there . Yes it took me by surprise and no I wont be naming the well known university.

In the 80s a schoolfriend’s brother used to work for Telefusion, a TV rental company. He told me some grim tales about the state of some homes he visited but nothing unorthodox. He was glad to leave and work for the Civil Service.

I’m surprised that we have not discussed projectors as an alternative to large screen TVs. A ceiling mounted projector and automatic roll-up screen are less intrusive than a huge TV, in my opinion.

Both my son’s used projectors and 10′ motorised roll-up screens in their leisure rooms. Not particularly expensive and a great viewing experience. Just a bit of work they needed to do to install all the bits and conceal wiring.

We have a similar set up. There are times when the big screen experience is great, and times when you simply want to watch a smaller screen, out of the corner of your eye, I find.

What a load of patronising advertising material.
I keep my TV in a cabinet so it can be completely shut away.
The cabinet won’t take a 32 inch screen and I don’t want the expense and inconvenience of getting a larger one.

TVs need ventilation to dissipate the heat they produce, especially those with plasma screens. Using them in a cabinet could lead to overheating and increase the risk of fire.

nickwilcock says:
16 April 2018

I watch a Panasonic 32″ TV from 10 ft and that’s the largest screen I’d ever want in the living room.

I also have a 19″ TV in the kitchen, but those are fast becoming impossible to find.

Nick you have hit a very good point here , I traveled over the web looking for DIRECT buys of new 19 inch LED TV,s in the UK -IE-NOT through all the well known foreign based/owned internet companies , very hard to find in the UK . Yes they exist but I then went to the USA /Australia/NZ/ India and guess what ? no problem sourcing 19 inch LOCALLY bought LED TV,s in all those countries . The outcome of US Globalisation applying third world commercial tactics to this country. Big screen-big profit – squeeze out cheap small screen . Dont say ah ! but 19 inch are “out of date ” NO they aint ! 19 inch LED,s easily available in the countries I mentioned .

Martin says:
16 April 2018

My lounge, in a new 4 bedroom house, is only 11 foot wide and we cannot get more than 8 feet from the screen without sitting down the other end of the room, so 32 inch is the maximum. It is time someone told the TV manufacturers that UK homes are getting smaller.

As you say in this months issue of which, homes are getting smaller than the 30s so why should anybody with a grain of sense want to get a tv that is out of proportion with the room size. It can only make viewing uncomfortable by having to move ones head from side to side to take-in the full screen.A tv screen should be completely visible without having to move ones head.

Exactly Colin but obviously somebody doesn’t agree with me and marked me down , now I wonder if it was a company selling big screen TV,s ? Its amazing how advertising and worrying about the Jones.s affects peoples sense of practicality and realism and the “mine,s is bigger than yours ” syndrome you would think finished at primary school.

I hate large TV’s, the number of homes I’ve been in and the TV is so big it completely dominates the room as well as being ugly with wires dangling all over the place looking completly ridiculous.

I much prefer my small screen which sits in the corner of the room, its big enough to watch the news and the odd film and descreet enough not to be a focal point of the room.

Perhaps there is a market for nice watercolours to hang over massive screens when they are not in use.

Or maybe they could have a wooden surround with “smart” bi-fold doors… 😉

The first colour TV we had was an ITT one which came in a lovely teak cabinet with slide across curtain style doors to hide the screen when not in use. Very Hyacinth Bucket! I have to confess that when the set died, we stripped out the innards and used it as a drinks cupboard for a while.

I’m hoping someone will link you to my “radiogram” post if you’re interested Colin – I;’m rushing off out.

Thanks. I still have grandfather’s Grundig radio from the 50s. I think it was one of the first to get VHF (FM) signals (assuming you had a roof aerial). It still worked on Long Wave when I last tried it a couple of years ago. 4 speakers, bass & treble tone controls, beautiful sound.
My other grandfather had a TV in the 50s which might have had the first remote control – a little box attached by a cable with thumb-wheels to alter the volume and contrast.

Edwin Armstrong patented FM radio in the 1930,s (among other ones like the superhet circuit ) Colin , we were way behind due to British “conservatism ” -IE- “fuddy duddies ” -old world thinking occupying positions of power . Not till -1955 did FM become a fact here in the public’s eyes. Grundig was a quality product and THEY had FM long before us (post war ) due to the mean attitude of the winning forces stopping Germany from having any useful medium wave frequencies so they went for FM to overcome restrictions on their broadcast activities ( shades of Lord – “Haw -Haw ” ) on Ultrakurzewelle – (UKW) – “ultra short wave ” . Conservatism played a big part in British power dogma – many committees , many “Standards Committees ” -cant have that old boy too innovative-re -designer of the Spitfire .

Back. Thanks to Wave for the link and to Duncan for the background Armstrong information. We do have quality informative posts in here.

My (brief) encounter with Grundig radio was a tranny – I think it was a Yacht Boy. One of my friends had it and it needed some minor attention. For a portable it was very heavy! My uncle had a lovely 5 3/4″ reel-to-reel Grundig tape recorder.

I have a Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder that has not been used for many years, but might be restorable. I had problems with it soon after I bought it, around 1970, and the retailer was unhelpful. I eventually resoldered a dry joint myself. Yes it’s heavily built but it was my first introduction to the fact that expensive products are not always well made.

I am guessing it is – nears as dammit – same size as the ones I remember, 1 1/4″ thick proppable/removable lid over a 6″ tall 20″ square (with rounded corners) chassis?

Several friends (and their parents) had these and I reckon I touched up dry joints on half of them, mainly around valve bases and their anode resistors!. Not just Grundig but the lookalikes… Philips, Elizabethen… The problem was that there was no fan cooling and all the heat used to collect in the top. There was one element of the design which – even for me as a 10 year old – was poor – the dropper resistors ran too hot. Bigger ones were needed to keep the temperature down.

The dry joint in my Grundig tape-recorder was on an Earth connection, so heat was not an issue. I took the opportunity to resolder other dubious joints. We often complain about the build quality of modern products but now that automated soldering has replaced hand-soldering, dry joints are rare.

jane says:
17 April 2018

Small is beautiful – especially if you have a small sitting room. Big screens take over the whole room. I want a 32 or smaller!

Jane-Thats the whole point , as I pointed out in my post -16-4-2018 its getting harder to go to your local store anywhere in the UK and buy a 32 inch LED TV or even a LCD version BUT not so in America- Australia-India-New Zealand – where you can walk into your local store and have a big choice – all down to globalisation and this country,s citizens being treated like third world ones by the business community .

Is there any chance that the decrease in number of 32 inch TVs could simply be a matter of demand, Duncan? Some people have multiple TVs and I can’t imagine that many would want them all to be large ones. Here are some figures for numbers of TVs in households: http://www.barb.co.uk/tv-landscape-reports/tracker-number-tvs/

I use one, but I’m not declaring the number of radios I use.

Demand is proportional to the amount of advertising in this country and the sub conscious- keeping up with the Jones,s . I know the power of advertising where even intelligent people are greatly affected by the “herd instinct ” or conforming to the majority which is used stealthily by the media . Beautiful people/beautiful surroundings / look at the SIZE – look at the shape – look at the feel -look at the width -apologies to Danny Kaye and the movie- The King,s New Clothes . Tie that in, in this country with technical innovation – LED TV,s OLED TV,s , curved screens etc etc and its a case of “must buy ” . I can see males being part of the “mines is bigger than yours ” syndrome but Females ?? who make comments like – big car-small ***** I suspect that to aim it at females its- look how “gorgeous ” it looks -the beautiful colours and how “nice ” it is “border-less” beautiful upmarket surroundings are shown .

Correct. I blame austerity.

Yep, our new TV is absolutely gorgeous. 😍

And hubby would say the same. 😍

What annoys me is that as the quality of the picture improves the quality of the content declines [but remains compatible with the quality of the sound which is also deteriorating].

In order to have half-decent speakers it would be necessary to have TVs that are wider to accommodate speakers at the sides of the screen and also deeper. That would mean a huge box, hence the move to using sound bars or a separate amplifier and speakers. In an old Convo we were told that Which? had changed its scoring system for sound quality of flat-screen TVs because the standard is not as good as in the days of CRT-TVs, which were deeper and could easily accommodate better speakers.

Ten years’ ago I’d have agreed with you. However, I truly believe now with DSP and Bose-esque plumbing in front of the speakers, this could be overcome technically within slimmer cabinets (perhaps needing a 2″ deep “power bulge”). But I bet there are swathes of “thank you for not doing so” back-handers flying from Sound bar/5.1 system sellers to the Samsungs, Sonys and Panasonics of this world.

Thats why I have a high -fi quality power amp connected direct to the analogue (stereo ) output of my flat-screen and hence to floor standing Tannoy speakers

There’s no doubt that the quality of smaller speakers has much improved but there’s a vast number of slim TVs with rotten sound quality. Like John, I’m disappointed, but as you point out there are solutions.

My first flat-screen TV had respectable speakers at either side of the screen. Now I use a separate amplifier and speakers.


I had better be careful – I may get an “off topic” slap here. Ten years ago if I could have afforded it I’d have gone for a decent pair of B & W speakers – not the snail-topped ones but the next ones down – driven by my own amp – which would have been rather simple actually – based on the Texan amp that appeared in one of Camm’s Comics back in the day – but with (then) modern VFETs in the output – and a prime mover supply with an enormous torroidal TX, full wave rectifier and a huge capacitor!

However, I now have Sonos everywhere – and love it.

Recent discussion is not entirely irrelevant because sound quality has been affected by the move to modern large and thin TVs.

You built “the Texan Roger ? thats legendary and VFET,s exactly as recommended using in his power amp designs by JLH in WW/EW -better sound quality in them which he went to great technical points to prove . I built his 80 W JLH designed power amp well advertised in a series of articles in the ETI magazine-circa -1984 , I also refined both mono bloc units to output – 20 W class A meaning a heavier power supply -again mono bloc and very large heatsinks adding in other stages to reduce THD -the COMP capacitor was critical I adjusted it with a very low distortion sine wave and watched on my scope at the output along with his latest designed preamp – again monobloc using his “approved ” SHUNT feedback but NOT approved by his “enemy ” Doug Self who insisted on series feedback who criticized him continually. I was a JLH “neophant ” converting to his Audio “religious ” philosophy completely including his tests on “audio grade ” capacitors , again well documented in ETI and WW/EW – starting with “rubbish” electrolytic,s (tone wise ) up to Polypropylene ( not wrapping grade but audio grade ) and better with Polystyrene at the top ( look at the price of them now )? Enjoyed every minute building them and ironing out the faults . While JLH used complicated power supplies , again heavily criticised by DS who advocated simple supplies , DS even attacked me when I sided with John.

I didn’t build it Duncan. One of my mates did though at Uni. I greatly admired it for its design – and performance, and vowed that, if and when I went up market with speakers, I’d use that PCB as a starter-for-ten, but with a beefed up supply and better output transistors. I’d add to that now better op amps!

I was impressed that my mate had the foresight to include two links of wire to twist together to short out the bias setting networks on the output stages to turn it firmly into Class B when he took it to Discos – great move as Crossover distortion at full tilt made not a hoot of difference in that environment and I’m sure he saved himself several toasted output transistors.

Oh – and for the record, I independently came to the conclusion for audio that shunt feedback kept distortion lower – and as for capacitors, I’d chuck a fair few different sorts in paralel – including the ubiquitous “donkey’s d**k” electrolytic, X7R ceramics, a few microfarads of polyprop – and the odd few hundred puff of Lo K ceramic to avoid the silly parasitic taxi effect (mind you ferrite beads around speaker wires do that quite well…).

Edited to add: I am NOT an audoiphile/freak – and would if required inject plenty of oxygen into my copper cables on one side and defy anyone to tell me which side was oxygen-free cabled.. 😉