1080p Wasted on Most Viewers
Referencing the Lechner Distance Chart at hdguru.com, the Gizmodo poll found that 60 percent of viewers were sitting more than six feet from 1080p/1080i screens under 40 inches. In the 40- to 52-inch category, 43 percent were sitting more than eight feet from the screen. And for sets of more than 52 inches, 35 percent were sitting from 8 to 10 feet away, and another 30 percent more than 10 feet away. In all these cases, that would not be enough to get the full benefit of the set's resolution.
However, when owners of 720p sets (still considered HD) were surveyed, a greater proportion were sitting at the optimum distance.
Of course, seating distance is not always decided upon technical merits. Even if you're sitting too far from your display, that's probably better than sitting too close, which would make video artifacts and pixel structure more noticeable.
But when you're shopping for a set, it certainly helps to know what the viewing distance will be, so you can choose the size that will give you the optimum resolution and best overall impact at that distance.