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TVs how big to go textAs we see the influx of superior TV screen technologies, consumers are given more options when it comes to choosing TV size. Although TV sizes get bigger our homes don’t usually grow at the same rate, so what size of screen should you chose?

Advances in LED, PLASMA and the new OLED types mean that bigger TV screens are becoming much better value. A 50-inch TV that was once pushing the £1000+ price, can be picked up for as little as £500. As larger TVs are such good value is it worth getting the biggest screen possible or can extra size be a waste?

Here’s a simple guide to the ideal screen size, It’s all about distance and size:

As a simple guide there is a mathematical formula for optimum TV size. This is:

DISTANCE from TV (in inches) ÷  1.5 = TV SIZE (in Inches).

tv guide size

Unlike old CRT TV’s, your optimum sitting distance from a ‘new style’ TV (LED/PLASMA etc) is actually much closer that it was before. This is because the TVs offer far better pixel resolution.

‘Immersion’ in TV is something that manufacturers believe is the key to enjoying your home setup. Watching a movie in the cinema is fantastic because your whole focus is on the giant screen. No distracting lights, a huge screen and surround sound mean you are fully immersed in the experience

Sitting too far away

If you sit too far away from a TV you’re going to miss that beautiful HD quality your set was designed for, it will be like watching a lower definition set It’s also easier for your eye to be distracted by objects around the TV- a window, clock or lamp. This subconsciously distracts from you engagement and immersion in the media.

Sitting too close

Conversely, sitting too close to a TV can also spoil the experience. Your eyes will pick up on individual pixels or horizontal bars where the pixels align on screen. If you are too close to a big screen it may be too hard to focus on the ‘whole picture’, like sitting in on the front row at a cinema.

34 COMMENTS

  1. By your calculations, my mum needs to go out and buy a 120 inch TV. That’s about £12,000, at current prices.
    That’s not going to be easy for her, since she’s retired. She won’t be happy! £12,000… Just to watch Eastenders?!!
    Which TV manufacturer came up with those ridiculous figures?
    Sitting that close to a TV, we’ll all need to wear glasses by Xmas. And we’ll be needing daily massages for neck ache, from trying to see “around” the whole TV picture. Just like the sitting in the front seat at the cinema.

  2. Distance from screen also depends on the resolution.

    A 4K display’s optimum distance is about 1.5 times the picture height.

    Thus HD should be watched from around 3 times picture height.

    Mike Cox
    Twickenham

  3. I am glad I’m not the only one who thinks these figures are ridiculous although I could use it as a lever to persuade my good lady that we do really need a 80″ TV I have my eye on 😉

  4. yes, and I’m not going to rush out and buy a 100″ TV or a set of cushions so the whole family can all sit on the floor huddled around our 32″ TV sitting only 4 feet away.

    I also don’t want a lounge that is totally dominated by a TV screen.

    What a stupid article.

  5. My father used to rent out TVs (CRT) in the 60s – 80s and because of the brightness and to reduce eye strain it was always 1″ of screen size (diagonal) equalled 1 foot of viewing distance; bearing in mind a ‘large’ TV then was 24″. Although that seems quite ridiculous to some now; it’s not as ridiculous as what is being pedalled here. You should view at what you find a comfortable distance in terms of fatigue arising from a combination of brightness and proximity. Time to get some Specsavers shares methinks!

  6. I don’t usually comment on these things. This is the daftest formula I’ve ever seen (and having a degree in maths means I’ve seen quite a few).

    Is it a cynical ploy on behalf of manufacturers to get us to buy ever more huge sets?

    OK – my wife sits about 10ft from our telly so she “needs” an 80″ screen but because we live in a real living room in a real house, I have to sit about 13ft from the telly so I now know that I need my own personal 104″ screen.

    Oh, and by the way, dividing by 1.5 is the same as multiplying by 2/3 so the formula actually says your ideal TV size should be 2/3 of the distance you want to sit away from it. Probably in most common living rooms most of us sit about 10ft away so do we all really need an 80″ TV cluttering up the corner? Perhaps we could all have our windows bricked up and replace with wall mounted TV. Then we can all go and sit on a sofa 10ft away.

  7. I forgot to say – we are quite happy with our current 37″ HD screen, even thought it does overhang the side of the window a bit!

  8. I’d still like to have some eye-sight left when I’m 75. On you formula I need a 120 inch screen, I’ve got better things in my living room than a totally dominant “one eyed god”. I think there’s a need to be practical rather than just use sales pitch to sell more bigger TVs, just to make more money.

  9. Do not criticise the article. These are the suggestions/values if your really want to immerse yourself in the movie. I can tell you that watching 4k House of Cards from 1.5 meters away from our 50″ feels much more interesting/immersing that any distance beyond that.

  10. C’mon guys, what’s all this about ruining your eyesight by sitting too close to a TV screen? I’ve been looking really closely at things for more than 60 years and my eyesight hasn’t been affected by it. In fact I’d go so far as to say our eyes have an autofocus mechanism that happily takes in 10” to infinity easily, in their stride, every day, all day long.

    So give Danny a break. It’s a good take on screen size vs viewing distance, and I’m right there with him.

  11. You’re all fucktards giving this writer grief for trying to help you. These things are worked out to get the most out of your tv, the human eye can only pick up so many points at any given distance, these figures will relate to that accordingly. If you go out and buy a 4K 32″ tv and watch it from a 10′ distance your eye will pick up the exact same image as it would if you were viewing an HD 32″ tv. Google this shit and dont be arrogant old stubborn men.

  12. The viewing distances are a bit too narrow. While my wife can’t see the extra detail on our 40″ 1080p display from 10′ away I can. The chart is based on a misunderstanding of 20/20 vision and digital resolution. Basically there are three things to consider.

    First, 20/20 vision is only an average. Most people actually have better than 20/20.

    Secondly, the idea of “minimum” distance tends to refer to the distance at which you can resolve individual pixels (which you don’t want to do). However, for 20/20 vision you need at least 120 pixels/degree to be able to display image content with 60 line/degree features. (Nyquist theorem). This is perfectly analogous to how CD’s have sample rates of 44kHz so that they can playback audio content with frequency content up to 20kHz (hearing limit). The better your vision, the further away your minimum distance will be.

    Thirdly, in practice there are perceptible benefits with even more pixels beyond the nyquist limit because real world anti-aliasing algorithms are imperfect and can still result in perceptible degradation of edge contrast at 120pixels/degree. In other words, digital reproduction of an image benefits from more pixels (but not made up pixels as in interpolation/up scaling).

    I don’t know where the numbers above came from but the maximum distance numbers about can be nearly doubled for people with good vision with a 1080p display.

    Finally, it is important to note that resolution isn’t the be all and end all of image quality. For me, in order, it is: 1) contrast ratio, 2) colour saturation, 3) colour accuracy and then, finally, 4) resolution. Also, since the majority of channels are still SD, how an HD display up scales them is also very important. I have seen impeccable and ghastly up scaling.

  13. What are you all going on about? it’s not saying that if you have a 40″ TV then you have to sit 4feet away.

    It’s saying that for optimal viewing, if your seating distance is no less than 4ft and no greater than 6.3ft then a 40″ TV is the best for optimal viewing pixel range.
    This equation isn’t something new for 1080P, it may need to be re-viewed now that there is 4K, but it still hold water for the majority.

    Obviously you will still need to find your own optimal Contrast, Brightness, etc.

    Then again, you buy what ever size TV you want if you can’t see anything wrong then don’t worry about it.

  14. This has been a known since the introduction of HDTV’s all those years ago. It was demonstrated clearly to me when we came to decorate the room and needed to pull the TV and cabinet away from the wall. Having a break and a cuppa, we sat down and turned on the TV. At that point I understood the need to sit so close to the TV. Sitting further away made an HDTV pointless as there is absolutely no benefit at all. However, I would only say that it is important for movies and the like. For soaps, news, etc. as you are.

  15. A lot of people are saying these distances are too close to the TV but have they actually tried them?
    I sit six feet away from my Full HD 55 inch TV and it is great. The picture almost fills my field of vision and it is a very immersive and comfortable experience. I wouldn’t want to sit any further away. It also allows me to use the TV as a computer monitor without ant strain at all.
    Those who think that sitting this close to a TV screen need to stop believing old wives tales and actually look at the medical science.
    If you want to see all the detail of a Full HD or 4K screen then you need to get close. Otherwise save your money and buy a lower resolution screen.

  16. Edit: I meant to say “Those who think that sitting this close to a TV screen damages your eyesight need to stop believing old wives tales and actually look at the medical science.

  17. C’mon, sitting too close to the telly gives you bad eyesight…..you’ve more chance going blind masturbating.

  18. What a bunch of wet blankets (the first 7 comments are sheer ignorance), I can’t believe people still think that sitting to close to a TV is going to damage your eyes long term. It’s been proven and fact that you may get eye strain from watching too much TV, but like anything done for a longer period of time, you can strain your muscles. The reason why in the 60’s kids were told not to sit to close to the TV was due to X-rays being emitted from the base of the old Cathode Tube TV’s and that was fixed shortly after. It had then stuck and due to peoples lack of knowledge of the technology it was assumed that it had to do with your eyes being damaged. So this, like most old wife’s tails, is a mixture of pure ignorance from a lack of understanding over a health worming then gets miss construed, now becomes fact overtime.

    Also don’t crucify the writer of the article, like most things this is a simple guideline and the keyword here is “guideline”. I’m also assuming this has to do with 4K screens and immersion! If you watching EastEnders, then this article doesn’t apply to you. If you are looking at buying a 4K TV and have a 4K Netflix subscription or something simpler then this is aimed at you.

  19. Wayne. You sounded so clever until you used the wrong ‘tale’ in ‘wife’s tails’. Sorry.

  20. The article might have more credibility if it included any supporting justification whatsoever, or if it quoted the reasoning behind the data or quoted reliable sources for its data. As it stands, it looks like just another unthought out opinion, without any supporting evidence at all.
    It takes no account account of the difference between 1080 and 2160 vertical pixel height – only 100% different. Unbelievably shoddy writing.
    QUOTE “It’s all about distance and size”
    No it is not. A moment’s thought would suggest that resolution is an absolutely essential variable which MUST be taken into account, yet it is not even mentioned. It is also about individual preference and comfort, not to mention purchase cost and running cost.
    QUOTE “If you sit too far away from a TV you’re going to miss that beautiful HD quality your set was designed for, it will be like watching a lower definition set”
    Absolutely not so. In fact the opposite. It is sitting too close, where you can see the individual pixels, that will make it look like a lower definition set.
    Sure, forget X-Rays, but why no account taken of the effect of GLARE on eyes, which is a very significant factor in “eye strain”. No mention of this important factor.
    Large screens can be very entertaining for certain purposes. I have one and would hate to bewithout it for movies and similar. But they are not suitable in many other circumstances, most definitely not as an all purpose viewing medium in an average home.

  21. The article might have more credibility if it included any supporting justification whatsoever, or if it quoted the reasoning behind the data or quoted reliable sources for its data. As it stands, it looks like just another unthought out opinion, without any supporting evidence at all.
    It takes no account account of the difference between 1080 and 2160 vertical pixel height – only 100% different. Unbelievably shoddy writing.
    QUOTE “It’s all about distance and size”
    No it is not. A moment’s thought would suggest that resolution is an absolutely essential variable which MUST be taken into account, yet it is not even mentioned. It is also about individual preference and comfort, not to mention purchase cost and running cost.
    QUOTE “If you sit too far away from a TV you’re going to miss that beautiful HD quality your set was designed for, it will be like watching a lower definition set”
    Absolutely not so. In fact the opposite. It is sitting too close, where you can see the individual pixels, that will make it look like a lower definition set.
    Sure, forget X-Rays, but why no account taken of the effect of GLARE on eyes, which is a very significant factor in “eye strain”. No mention of this important factor.
    Large screens can be very entertaining for certain purposes. I have one and would hate to be without it for movies and similar. But they are not suitable in many other circumstances and most definitely not as an all purpose viewing medium in an average home.

  22. Get real guys…there’s no telly that’s “too big”…any bloke half his worth will know that! The only formula you need is “find the biggest telly you can afford = buy it”. As it so happens “anonymous”, my wife has an honours degree in maths and when she said a 42″ is more than adequate I went out and bought a 55″ just to prove her wrong …now 3 years later she admits that my “formula” was correct. I’m eying a 65 incher that she will argue is too big and I’ll just have to prove her wrong again 😉

  23. I watch a 55″ 4K television at a distance of 10 feet. Most of what we watch is HD, not 4K, and this looks good to my 69 year old eyes whilst wearing spectacles. My wife considers that the telly is too big and dominates the room. I would go for something bigger but I cannot afford it on my pension and it would obstruct other things on the wall where it is placed.
    Buy the biggest and best that you can afford and can still fit it in the room.

  24. Just adding my two cents, I personally have a 48″ 4k TV and sit about 8 feet away and that is far too far away in my opinion. I’m moving soon and plan on vastly reducing the distance between the sofa and the TV. I think a lot of people are concerned with having a room dominated by a giant TV, and that is a valid concern if that bothers you. For me, it’s pretty much a case of bigger is better, I only have a 48″ because the prices start to become quite amusing above that size and I just couldn’t justify the extra cost. I used to have a 1080p projector and would frequently watch that from about 6 feet away at around 80-90 inches, and that was awesome. Not really for things like the news but fantastic for films/TV series. A lot of my friends have bought TVs recently and they’ve ALL, and I do mean ALL, found they’ve bought something they later think is too small. One guy sits about 12 feet from his TV and got a 42″, I practically begged him not to but alas. When you watch things you can’t see what is going on because everything is god damn tiny! I suspect people will continue to accept bigger and bigger TV sizes as they realise it gives a much better viewing experience once you’re used to it, my gfs mum is another case in point. Sits about 10 feet away, bought a 32″ *face palm*. Now she’s watched a couple of films on our TV she wants something much bigger.

  25. This article is a good reminder that distance/resolution/screen size are inter-related. But I see no mention of what resolution is being discussed (I assume HD). Even then I would take issue with the figures quoted; other sites suggest that for HD the minimum distance should be Screen Size multiplied by 1.6. So watching an HD 40″ screen from closer than 62″ is likely to result in you seeing pixels; whereas in above the quoted minimum distance is 48″ (on HD you will see pixels at this distance – I certainly do with this ratio on my screen).
    The other aspect is field of view/immersivity. And here there are different ratios, one is as low as 1.2 (corresponding to that 48″ figure). But most are 1.6 or higher; unless you are looking at 3D where other factors come into play and the figure drops to around 1.4.
    So if you can afford 4KTV (and can get media) then you can sit close to get the full immersive experience (assuming that is what you want). But if you are not that bothered about immersivity and are going to sit far away then why waste your money on 4K (or even HD)?
    As for health/eye issues – I am not aware of any with modern screens (though there are some reported dangers with small tablet screens). But no doubt how much TV you watch (rather than screen size) probably does have an effect on your health. Many people these days are looking at computer monitors for many hours a day and often at a viewing distance of only 1-1.5 times the screen size. Just remember to have regular eye checks!
    In my own case I sit around 10 feet from my 47″ 3D screen. That is too far away (I move the sofa occasionally if it is a film I really wish to be immersed in). How I wish I had gone for a 55″ screen!

  26. There’s nothing like a good excuse to buy a bigger tele no matter how obvious the sellers intentions

  27. This may be valid but it ignores the simple fact that most homes were never designed with optimum TV viewing distance and placement in mind. I have a 40″ set over the mantlepiece in my sitting room because that’s the only place in the room where it isn’t in the way – I could maybe replace it with a 50″ set in the same place, anything bigger and it’s wider than the chimney breast and gets in the way of shelves to either side. With even a 50″ set the top of the screen would be at least six inches higher. But this formula says I should have a 60″ set there, despite the fact that I’m already looking up as much as I want to when I watch TV. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but there are other considerations beside perfect pixel resolution – if I followed it slavishly the formula would give me a sore neck!

  28. This articles over two years old as are quite a few of the comments. IMO it’s the advertisers who are driving the manufacturers to make immersion TV in the hope that viewers don’t get distracted when the adverts come on.

  29. Hard to believe that you’re publishing this garbage again. Too expensive to write something meaningful?

  30. Agree, the guide is out of date to be of any real value, Plasma TVs what are they?

    1080p on a 50″ TV looks lacks definition e.g. Wimbledon when you sit close to the screen especially where there is movement and fine detail like blades of grass. Basically the image quality is not set by the resolution of the screen, but the resolution of the image being sent to the screen especially where the screen has to try to upscale 1080P to 4K. So if you mainly watch 1080P content on a 4K TV you are going to be better off sitting further away than if you are watching 4K content. Ultimately, the sitting distance is determined by the content played on the TV and the distance from you screen you feel comfortable sitting at.

    This blog is over simplistic to the point where it’s virtually useless.

  31. Come on guys you are all trying to be smarter than the next guy, get outside in the fresh air and meet people.

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