Flat Screen Size vs. Watching Distance - How Close to a TV Should People Sit?

Flat Screen Size vs. Watching Distance - How Close to a TV Should People Sit?
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What Flat Screen Size?

Televisions have been getting bigger and the average screen size that people buy now is larger than ever before. There is a tendency to assume that bigger is better. Most people stretch their budget to get the biggest flat screen size they can manage. Before you buy a huge TV for your home theater, you should consider the size of the room and the optimum viewing distance. I’m not about to tell you that you’ll get square eyes if you sit too close, but if you find yourself getting distracted by the individual pixels, you could probably stand to be a little further away.

When you buy your television consider the size of the room it will be in first. It may be tempting to have a 50 inch flat screen a foot away from your bed, but it probably isn’t a great idea. For bedrooms, kitchens, and small rooms in general, you probably don’t want to go any bigger than 30 inches. For some really small rooms even that will be too big. When it comes to your lounge you can bring out the big guns and go for broke. If you have a large room and a big potential distance between your furniture and the screen, then you can go for the biggest set you can get.

Viewing Distance

The watching distance you choose is really about personal comfort. There is no perfect distance - just a rough guideline. Most people will find the picture looks better within the guideline distance but, depending on the quality of the device and personal preferences, you could be at either end of the scale. For a standard definition display you will want to be further away because if you sit too close the picture will look bad. For high definition displays you can afford to sit much closer. In fact with high definition the picture is so good that you’ll probably find that sitting closer makes it a more immersive experience.

Viewing Angle and Height

The other thing to consider for an optimum picture is the screen angle. This is especially important for flat screen televisions. Although the technology is improving all the time and the viewing angles are increasing, you will still get the best picture if you are facing the screen dead on. You also ideally want the screen to be at natural eye level so you can sit on the couch or armchair and be level with the screen. Most people care about the aesthetic layout of their lounge, so they may not be willing to apply these rules. They aren’t vital for enjoying your flat screen TV but if you have the choice grab the seat that most closely matches these guidelines first. If you intend to wall mount your TV then check out What is the Best Height for a Wall-Mounted Flat Screen?

Screen Size vs Watching Distance Chart

Here is a chart with the flat screen size vs watching distance.

The distances are quite a wide range and this is because you need to sit at a different distance depending on the quality of the picture.

For high definition 1080p go for the lowest end of the scale and sit as close as possible to get full advantage of the great picture. For high definition 720p go for the low to medium end of the scale and sit slightly further away. For standard definition sit closer to the top end of the scale, if the picture quality is poor then it is better to sit further away from the screen.

  • 26 Inch – 3.2 feet to 8 feet
  • 30 Inch – 3.8 feet to 10 feet
  • 32 Inch – 4.2 feet to 11 feet
  • 34 Inch – 4.4 feet to 12 feet
  • 40 Inch – 5 feet to 14 feet
  • 42 Inch – 5.5 feet to 15 feet
  • 46 Inch – 6 feet to 16.5 feet
  • 50 Inch – 6.5 feet to 17.5 feet
  • 55 Inch – 7 feet to 19 feet
  • 60 Inch – 7.5 feet to 21 feet
  • 63 Inch – 8 feet to 22 feet
  • 65 Inch – 8.5 feet to 23 feet