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What is Your Viewing Distance?

As many of you already know, your screen size and optimum viewing distance are related. According to THX, the maximum recommended viewing angle—the angle formed by the sides of the screen and your seating position, as shown above—is 40 degrees. SMPTE (the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) recommends a minimum viewing angle of 30 degrees. This translates to a viewing distance from 1.2 to 1.6 times the screen's diagonal measurement. For example, if your screen is 50 inches diagonally, the optimum viewing distance is 60 to 80 inches, or 5 to 6.7 feet.

This is much closer than most people sit from their video display. How about you? To vote in this poll, follow these steps:

1. Measure your viewing distance in inches;
2. Divide your viewing distance by your screen's diagonal size in inches;
3. The result is the relationship between your viewing distance and screen size.

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice.

What is Your Viewing Distance?

msardo's picture

We had to move out of our house and had to move in with a relative. In the old place, my dedicated home theatre consisted of front projection and a 110 inch 16:9 screen with a viewing distance of 13 feet. In the new place, I have setup the home theatre in our bedroom with a 42 inch flatscreen only 74 inches away - due to the lack of space. (Just couldn't live without my home theatre :-))

If I used the above instructions properly, I came out with 1.8, which puts me in the "more than ..." category. This surprised me as I had felt that I was way too close to the TV in the new place.

If I may, may I please ask a related question? Is this poll question only focusing on viewing distance, or viewing AND listening distance (with respect to optimum speaker placement, etc.)?

As they say, video is only 50% of the home theatre experience. Personally, I enjoy the audio equally, if not even more so, than the video experience.

This is why I ask the question.


Mark from Upstate New York
aka "Son"

Scott Wilkinson's picture
You calculated correctly, and you're definitely not too close to the screen. 1.8 is close to 1.6, so that's pretty good. The poll question relates only to viewing distance, though the front speakers should be more or less at the same distance as the screen...not a lot closer or farther away.
DaleC's picture

I am forced by speaker placement (doors, windows, etc) to be much to far from my screen.

I guess I have a justification for a bigger screen. Thanks guys :-)

Serious question - Would viewing distance have a significant impact on 3D performance?

David Vaughn's picture
The closer you are to the screen, the more dramatic the 3D effect is, in my opinion. I'm at 1.5 screen widths with my setup and the 3D looks pretty good from that distance.
Scott Wilkinson's picture
It's even more important to sit close to the screen for 3D, as David says, for the immersive effect. However, that must be balanced with the black horizontal lines you can see if you sit too close to a passive 3D LCD TV. This is no problem with active-shutter glasses.
dmusoke's picture

I believe THX's recommendations could burn your eyes out!!!

Remember when your mum asked you told to sit too close to the TV???

My distance/TV size ratio is 2.8. I sit 14 feet away from my 60" Pioneer Kuro. Maybe, i could move 2 feet closer tops, but not much more. What's the rationale to be so close to the TV anyways?

Scott Wilkinson's picture the screen fills your field of view and provides an immersive visual experience. I sit 8 feet from my 60-inch-wide screen (the SMPTE recommendation for a 30-degree viewing angle), and it looks great! Also, the light output is not eye-searing (use Cinema or Movie mode, not Dynamic or Vivid!), so there's no eye strain.
Tony.K's picture

I think that with the bigger screen available there are more people who are not viewing television as close up as they did with the past television types. This is an interesting poll.

Ovation123's picture

I sit 8 feet from my 64 inch wall mounted PJ screen. I would sit a bit closer but my PJ is a 720p LCD and I see the screen door effect if I sit any closer. I've contemplated replacing my PJ with a 60-70 inch TV when it gives up the ghost (I don't really have room for a bigger screen on my wall and I went with a PJ back in 2007 because it was the least expensive way to get a 60+ inch screen at the time--today I can get a 60 inch 1080p plasma for what I paid for the PJ and I won't have to worry about bulb life).

When I get a 1080p display, I will be moving closer to the screen.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
The SMPTE and THX recommendations are for a 1080p display, not 720p, which you should sit farther from to avoid the screen-door effect as you say. Once you get a 1080p display, you can easily sit closer...6 feet from a 60-inch screen will give you a 40-degree viewing angle. As I've said elsewhere, just don't use the TV's "torch" mode! Use the Cinema or Movie picture mode and adjust the Contrast and Brightness controls with a good setup disc, and you should be fine.
LordoftheRings's picture

=> 1.66 here from my 60" 1080p 3D plasma.

Steve Caliendo's picture

9 feet from a 67" 1080p Samsung HL67A750 DLP or 1.61. I had it professionally calibrated and I use a CinemaQuest bias light. Works great for me.

jsagum's picture

Now it makes sense why I have to grab my glasses any time I want to watch tv. :) For the size of our television, our couch is placed too far away for optimal viewing. With our floor plan, it's not really an option to move our couches closer....time for a bigger tv!

Steve Caliendo's picture

A bigger HDTV is (almost) always welcome!

docrings's picture

For my 110" projector screen, my front row sofa is 132" away (11 feet). Nice size, without any visible pixels on my 1080p projector.

I sat in a 3D Imax theater, and noted that the HUGE screen completely filled the visual field subtended by my spectacle lenses. Any bigger of a screen and the movie would be outside the frames of my glasses.

When I sit in my home theater, it's about half the width and height of my spectacle lenses. So the IMAX theater has double the visual angle. To get the same effect at home, I'd have to have a 220" screen! That is pretty much my entire wall, from corner to corner.

But, my projector has no way to throw that kind of picture. And pixels would no doubt be visible.

mastemaybe's picture

First, I'm 10-11 feet from my 60" Kuro, so shame shame on me, but I cannot imagine moving 2-3 feet closer...not because it would be intolerable, but because it would simply be goofy and there wouldn't likely be one human who would walk into my living room without saying "why the he!! is the tv so dam close?!". Heck I get it now sometimes at 10-11'.

So- not that this poll perfectly (or even closely) represents society's viewing scenarios- you're trying to tell me that more than one of every 3 respondents here are 1.6 or CLOSER to the screen?

I must NEVER encounter these living rooms, lol.

That puts you ~6' 6" or closer to a 50" screen?

right. And I'll be delivering eggs to your kids next Sunday.


Shto's picture

I think the 1.5 times screen diagonal works well on larger projection screen above 100". In my view generally speaking the smaller the screen size, the bigger the ratio of viewing distance to screen size. This is why most people prefer to be at a 2 to 3 time ratio for screen sizes 70" or less.

shwami loki's picture
as you can see your viewing distance is a bit much, whats the point of resolution and size if you reduce them to a spec in your visual field and are unable to resolve all the detail because of the distance. but this kind of thing also shows how smaller screens like 32-42 are utterly absurd, and basically have no optimal practical viewing distance at all. just have to settle for meh at that point.