2 men watching tv on a couch

Understanding TV Viewing Distance (Complete Guide)

Last updated on September 22nd, 2023 at 05:51 pm

When most people install their TVs, they go big and install them as close as possible to their seating area. 

After all, you want to feel as if you’re in a movie theater!

Well, TV screens are very different from theater screens. So, a larger and closer TV unit isn’t always the best option.

Understanding TV viewing distance and how to get the best watching experience will help you position your TV properly.

It’ll also help you arrange your living room’s layout seamlessly.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about TV viewing distance and how you can calculate the best position for your TV.

Couple Watching The Television

Why TV Viewing Distance Matters

When you think of mounting a TV screen, what first comes to mind is the interior of your room, and how the screen will look. However, many people neglect TV viewing distance.

Though installing the TV on the wall opposite your living room couch is an excellent idea, it might not provide the best viewing experience, especially if you’re a sports fan or a cinephile.

The viewing distance is also paramount for the screen’s performance. You might think you’ve made a bad purchase, yet the issue might be with the distance between the screen and your seat.

Here are all the reasons why TV viewing distance is crucial:

Optimal Experience

You might think that the closer you are to a TV screen, the clearer you’ll see. Yet, it’s the other way around.

That’s because TV screens are made up of millions of pixels. While you can no longer see these pixels due to technological advancements, they’re somewhat visible the closer you get.

Even if you have a top-notch 4K screen, which has about eight million pixels, if you get close enough to the screen, you’ll be able to identify the individual pixels, instead of viewing the movies or TV shows the way they were intended to be viewed.

Rear View Of Couple Watching Film In Living Room

Field of View

There’s a reason the front row at the movie theater isn’t a popular choice. No one wants to spend two hours straining their neck, only to see one-tenth of the screen at best.

Well, the same goes for your at-home theater or living room. You need to position the TV at a comfortable distance so that you won’t be struggling to see the whole screen.

Eye Strain

Fortunately, most modern TVs don’t pose any risk to our eyes. However, if you watch TV up close, the excess brightness will lead to eye strain and headache.

Since we rarely get a break from screen time, whether it’s on our phones or at work, it’s best to give our eyes a break when watching TV.

For this reason, optimizing the TV distance can be particularly helpful. The best part is you’ll get rid of the dreaded screen headache, so you can binge-watch your favorite TV shows for longer!

Abstract spirally stripes background, optical, op art pattern.

Factors Affecting TV Viewing Distance

The viewing distance of the TV is crucial for the best experience. This distance depends on numerous factors. For example, you can get away with positioning a screen at a distance if it’s large enough to be viewed from afar.

Here’s everything you should consider before deciding on the viewing distance of your TV screen:

Resolution

A TV screen resolution is simply the number of pixels that it has. The higher the resolution, the more pixels.

In turn, high resolution means the pixels are less recognizable. So, you can watch TV from a closer distance without ruining the viewing experience. 

That said, higher resolution equals more brightness.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need the highest TV resolution. In fact, if you have a small room, an OLED or 4K screen would cause an imbalance. These screens are too bright for smaller rooms, making watching TV uncomfortable.

Screen Size

Even if you have the highest resolution, the screen size is what ultimately determines the viewing distance.

While the screen’s resolution and viewing angle are important, you don’t want to be too close to a larger screen, so that you only see half of it, or too far from a small screen.

Viewing Angle

Usually, setting up your TV right in front of you gives you the best picture quality. 

To be precise, the ideal tilt of the screen is anywhere between 0 to 25 degrees. This depends on the height at which the TV is mounted, the viewer’s eye level when seated, and the design of the TV and its stand.

To ensure the best viewing experience, ensure the TV screen is perpendicular to the viewers line of sight.

If you live alone, positioning the TV directly adjacent to your seat shouldn’t be a problem.

CHECK OUT  How Long Do Refurbished Laptops Last?

In contrast, if you live in a larger household, people sitting on the sides of the living room might struggle while watching TV.

This is where field of view becomes important.

In this case, you can expand the viewing angle by distancing the TV from the seating area.

How to Calculate TV Viewing Distance

To calculate the TV viewing distance, you need to know 2 things.

  • TV size
  • Screen resolution

You must start by measuring the TV itself, if you don’t already know its size.

TV screens are measured diagonally from the corners. Keep in mind that you’re measuring the viewable area of the screen, so you should exclude the bezel.

According to Sony, the recommended viewing distance for a 4K TV is 1.5 x the TV’s vertical screen size.

For high definition models, they recommend a viewing distance of 3 x the TV’s vertical screen size.

For standard definition models, they recommend a viewing distance of 6 x the TV’s vertical screen size.

For example, a 55-inch 4K TV with a height of 28 inches, should have a viewing distance of 42 inches.

A 60-inch 1080P TV with a height of 30 inches, should have a viewing distance of 90 inches.

That said, this is an approximate distance, so you should still adjust the position of your screen to your liking.

4K TV Viewing Distance (approx)
43 inch35 inches (2.95 feet)
49 inch39 inches (3.28 feet)
55 inch39 inches (3.28 feet)
65 inch47 inches (3.94 feet)
75 inch55 inches (4.59 feet)
85 inch63 inches (5.25 feet)
HD TV (1080p,720p)Viewing Distance (approx)
22 inch31 inches (2.59 feet)
26 inch39 inches (3.25 feet)
32 inch47 inches (3.92 feet)
40 inch59 inches (4.92 feet)
49 inch75 inches (6.23 feet)
55 inch83 inches (6.92 feet)
60 inch90 inches (7.55 feet)

* Please not that the actual height can vary for the same size TV. Therefore the viewing distance shown in the charts are approximate.

If you’re still unsure about the best viewing distance for your TV, we’ve got you covered. You don’t need to know all the parameters of your TV screen to optimize the viewing distance. All it takes is the screen size.

Fortunately, modern TVs are pretty technologically advanced. This means that a couple of inches wouldn’t really make much of a difference in terms of viewing experience.

For this reason, you can use any viewing distance that manufacturers and screen retailers set. If you’re a casual TV watcher, these viewing distances will typically work for your TV screen, regardless of its resolution.

However, if you’re a videophile, an avid sports fan, or just picky about your TV’s distance, you might want to be more specific.

The following are the average recommended TV viewing ranges for every screen size:

Screen SizeDistance
40 inches3 – 3.4 feet
43 inches3.6 – 5.4 feet
50 inches4.2 – 6.3 feet
55 inches4.6 – 6.9 feet
60 inches5 – 7.5 feet
65 inches5.4 – 8.1 feet
70 inches5.8 – 8.75 feet
75 inches6.3 – 9.4 feet
80 inches6.7 – 10 feet
85 inches7.1 – 10.6 feet

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to mount my TV on the wall or place it on a stand?

If you have space on your wall, it’s best to mount the TV screen. For starters, mounting the TV on the wall can save up plenty of space. Additionally, the mounts keep your screen securely in place, preventing it from getting knocked over by pets or kids.

As for the viewing experience, mounting the TV on the wall gives you a better chance of getting the optimum angle.

What is the best TV size for my room?

There isn’t a specific TV screen size that’s superior to others. It all depends on your needs. That said, the most popular TV size in North America is 65-inch screens.

Since a standard living room is about 15 x 20 feet, a 65-inch screen would be ideal. The distance between you and the screen would be anywhere between five and eight feet. So, you’ll still have enough space in your living area to play with the interior design.

Depending on the size of your room, you can use the following formula to determine the best TV size for your room.

The Society Of Motion Picture And Television Engineers (SMPTE), has set a standard for us to use when calculating TV viewing distance.

They discuss how your TV display should fill 30 degrees of your field of vision.

tv field of view

Formula:

Viewing distance in inches (seating distance) x 0.625 = recommended TV size

For example, let’s say

For example, let’s say we have a room that measures 10×10. We measure the distance from our chair or sofa to be 7 feet or 84 inches to the wall where a TV will be placed.

84 inches x 0.625 = 52.5

Based on this example, a 52-inch is the recommended size to choose.

You could go with a 55-inch TV as well.

Is a bigger TV screen harmful to your eyes?

Sitting too close to the TV or having a large TV screen isn’t bad for your eyes. This common misconception dates back to before the 1950s when TVs used to emit harmful radiation.

However, TV screens emit blue light. While this light isn’t harmful, it’s way too bright for our eyes. Accordingly, excessive exposure to the bright light through a larger TV screen can cause your eyes to strain, but it won’t permanently harm them.

young man sitting too close to a tv while pointing a remote at tv

Wrapping Up

Not only does understanding TV viewing distance make for much more enjoyable viewing, but it can also relieve your poor eyes.

The optimal distance for your TV screen depends mainly on its size. The larger the screen, the further you can place it. However, the viewing angle and screen resolution also play important roles.

All in all, if you want a simple method to figure out the best viewing method for your TV, you can simply go for the recommended distance set by the manufacturer. Alternatively, the recommended distance range should work for most TV screens.

Similar Posts