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What Is the Recommended Viewing Distance on LCD TVs?

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/18/2010

Get the viewing distance right and you will be half-way to having the perfect home theater experience. This guide looks at how viewing distance can be calculated, and what factors need to be considered.

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    Get a Perfect Home Theater Experience

    However you have your home theater setup, it is vital to ensure that your seating is positioned at the perfect distance from your TV.

    Whether you’re using an LCD TV, plasma or even one of the last generation widescreen CRT models, whatever the screen dimensions you need to ensure that you’re seated at the optimum distance.

    Sit too close and you’ll be able to see a variety of visual phenomenon such as the various pixels or even the screen refresh. Conversely, if you’re seated too far from the picture source, the viewing experience is spoilt by peripheral artefacts. Note also that viewing distance on LCD TVs isn’t just about distance – it’s also about the viewing angle.

    This guide looks at how to position your seating at a perfect distance from your TV, covering how to measure the distance yourself based on the dimensions of your display as well as how to use a custom calculator designed to help you get the best out of your home theater.

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    Measuring the Viewing Distance on LCD TVs

    There are several ways to get the best viewing distance: you might browse Google for instance, visit avforums.com and ask a question – or you can quickly work it out for yourself with a tape measure (which you would need in any case to measure the distance from your display to your sofa or chair).

    Is the viewing distance correct? While you could extrapolate these guidelines for a widescreen 16:9 ratio TV:

    • 28-32" - viewing distance 2.5-3m
    • 36-42" - viewing distance 3-4m

    ...these only apply to widescreen TVs – 4:3 ratio displays require a slightly different viewing distance.

    However, it is a very simple method to calculate the optimum viewing distance on LCD TVs – all you need to do is multiply the diagonal dimension of your TV set.

    The diagonal dimension is the accepted display size as detailed in the device literature and advertising – as such for a device with a 32" display, you should be looking to position your seating 8 feet from the source (based on 32 x 3 = 96, 96 divided by 12 = 8).

    Using this rule of thumb you can suitably position your seating at the optimum range from any TV regardless of its size, ratio or display type.

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    Use a Calculator to Determine Viewing Distance On LCD TVs

    Alternatively, you can use a calculator. This viewing distance calculator at My Home Theater is a particularly good tool, requiring only your screen size and current viewing angle to tell you whether or not the current distance is appropriate and the viewing angle is suitable – this is usually recommended to be between 26 and 26 degrees.

    Getting the right viewing distance on LCD TVs can be difficult – using a calculator such as this will tell you what your viewing angle is based on the distance and screen size, as well as how your setup matches the recommended viewing distance as stated by industry standards like THX.