It is rather unfortunate that the widescreen TV industry has decided to go down the route of an almost outright cheating of their customers, by marketing TV sets around their diagonal size.
Fact (1): Widescreen TVs aspect (ratio between width and height) is 16:9 , “normal” TVs’s 4:3. That is, a widescreen TV of the same height of a “normal” TV, is also considerably wider.
Fact (2): Apart from dodgy movies and panoramic documentaries, most TV broadcasts picture objects standing vertically, eg people walking or talking to each other. Even Italian footballers are shown standing on their feet, most of the time. Therefore, the height of the image is very important in the enjoyment of a TV show.
The above means that anybody buying a 28″ widescreen TV to substitute a 28″ “normal” one, is in for a nasty surprise: the new TV set will be shorter in height, and therefore all the objects on the screen will be smaller.
This may explain a generic sense of disappointment when looking at “small” sets in TV shops, with rather minute screens sporting unbelievable sizes of 19″ or 20″…
Some quick maths can provide guidance: it turns out that to keep the same height, a widescreen TV set’s diagonal size must be around 1.22 times larger than a “normal” one.
So if you want to replace a 28″ TV, don’t ever go for anything less than a 35″ widescreen; a 14″ set, buy a 18″ widescreen or larger; a 32″ “normal” TV, substitute with a 40″ widescreen at least.
Ah…and if you are dreaming of the 42″ widescreen TV sets I can tell you from experience…after two weeks, it will look as small as the old one.