What’s the Best TV Viewing Distance?


A TV in a living room with an adventure movie on display.
Stokkete/Shutterstock.com

The distance you sit from your TV plays a significant role in getting an immersive experience. If you sit too close, you may notice pixel-level imperfections or strain your eyes, but if you sit too far, you may miss smaller details.

The Ideal TV Viewing Distance

But if you look for an ideal TV viewing distance, there is no single recommended standard. Instead, many suggestions on the topic, including those from industry groups and manufacturers, offer how much of the human field of view a screen should cover. Based on this, you can calculate the ideal distance for screen size.

Tip: If you’re unsure how big your TV is, learn how to properly measure a TV screen.

For example, one of the most commonly cited recommendations comes from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). It recommends a distance from which a display would occupy a 30-degree field of view. This distance comes out to around 1.62 times the display size of a TV. So if you own a 55-inch television, you should sit around 89.1-inch or 7.42 feet from your TV.

Screen size SMPTE recommended
distance
30-inch 4.1 feet
35-inch 4.8 feet
40-inch 5.5 feet
45-inch 6.1 feet
50-inch 6.8 feet
55-inch 7.5 feet
60-inch 8.2 feet
65-inch 8.9 feet
70-inch 9.5 feet
75-inch 10.2 feet
80-inch 10.9 feet
85-inch 11.6 feet
TV viewing distance
Samsung

Similarly, THX, known for its high-fidelity audio-visual standards, suggests a minimum distance from which the screen covers 40 degrees of your field of view and the maximum distance from which the coverage is 28 degrees. Therefore, to calculate the distance as per THX recommendation, you will have to multiply 1.2 by the screen size for the minimum and 1.8 by the screen size for the maximum distance.

Screen size THX’s recommended
minimum distance
THX’s recommended
maximum distance
30-inch 3 feet 4.5 feet
35-inch 3.5 feet 5.25 feet
40-inch 4 feet 6 feet
45-inch 4.5 feet 6.75 feet
50-inch 5 feet 7.5 feet
55-inch 5.5 feet 8.25 feet
60-inch 6 feet 9 feet
65-inch 6.5 feet 9.75 feet
70-inch 7 feet 10.50 feet
75-inch 7.5 feet 11.25 feet
80-inch 8 feet 12 feet
85-inch 8.5 feet 12.75 feet

While SMPTE and THX recommendations provide a reasonably decent estimate of how far you should sit from a screen and are great for a comfortable viewing experience, both were issued for cinemas. So they don’t take into account the high-resolution nature of modern TVs. To see and enjoy the detail UHD TVs provide, you need to sit relatively close to the screen. Otherwise, the higher resolution won’t matter.

Sony is one of the few TV manufacturers offering a viewing distance recommendation based on both screen size and resolution. According to the company, the ideal distance for watching a 4K TV is 1.5 times the vertical size of the screen. So based on this, if you own a 55-inch 4K TV, you should be sitting around 39.36-inch (3.28 feet) away.

Similarly, according to Sony, the recommended distance for HD and full-HD TVs is three times the vertical screen size and six times for standard definition (SD) TVs. As Sony doesn’t offer a viewing distance for 8K TVs, the recommendation for 4K TVs is a good starting point.

Among other manufacturers, Panasonic sides with Sony and has the same distance recommendations.

Screen size Vertical size Sony’s recommended
distance for 4K TVs
Sony’s recommended
distance for HDTVs
Sony’s recommended
distance for SD TVs
32-inch 15.7-inch 2 feet 4 feet 8 feet
40-inch 19.6-inch 2.4 feet 4.9 feet 9.8 feet
43-inch 21.1-inch 2.6 feet 5.2 feet 10.4 feet
50-inch 24.5-inch 3.1 feet 6.2 feet 12.4 feet
55-inch 27-inch 3.4 feet 6.8 feet 13.6 feet
60-inch 29.4-inch 3.7 feet 7.4 feet 14.8 feet
65-inch 31.9-inch 4 feet 8 feet 16 feet
70-inch 34.3-inch 4.3 feet 8.6 feet 17.2 feet
75-inch 36.8-inch 4.6 feet 9.2 feet 18.4 feet
80-inch 39.2-inch 4.9 feet 9.8 feet 19.6 feet
85-inch 41.7-inch 5.2 feet 10.4 feet  20.8 feet

TCL’s recommendations for HD televisions are similar to Sony’s but not the same, as the company suggests a range rather than a fixed distance. Additionally, it asks TV viewers to sit close to the TV for small sizes. TCL doesn’t share a 4K TV viewing distance but notes that you can choose to sit closer than the recommended HDTV distance to enjoy the higher resolution.

Screen size TCL’s recommended
distance for HDTVs
40-inch 3-3.5 feet
43-inch 3.6-5.4 feet
50-inch 4.2-6.3 feet
55-inch 4.9-6.9 feet
60-inch 5-7.5 feet
65-inch 5.4-8.1 feet
70-inch 5.8-8.75 feet
75-inch 6.3-9.4 feet
80-inch 6.7-10 feet
85-inch 7.1-10.6 feet

The downside to Sony, Panasonic, and TCL’s recommendations is that if you watch lower-resolution content on a higher-resolution TV, you will easily notice pixel-level imperfections. And this can be pretty common on 4K TVs if you watch cable, DVDs, YouTube, and older content. So you should keep this in mind.

RELATED: What Is “Upscaling” on a TV, and How Does It Work?

Other Key Factors

Watching TV with family
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

While the screen size and resolution provide a good baseline for picking the most suitable viewing distance, there are a couple more factors that you should consider before deciding, such as what you are watching and with whom you are watching.

It’s important to take into account what you frequently watch on your TV. For example, you may want to sit close to your TV if you play a lot of video games or watch movies to get the most immersive and cinematic experience. But if you typically watch TV shows or news, you don’t need to sit very close. Similarly, if you consume fast-moving sports while sitting very close to the screen, you may suffer from temporary eye strain or feel nauseated.

Moreover, if you watch with a group of family or friends, and your seating is too close to the screen, people seated on the sides may not get the best experience because of their viewing angle. So moving your seating arrangement slightly farther will allow everyone to enjoy the content equally.

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Which Recommendation Should You Choose?

As you have seen so far, a wide variety of recommendations exist. So it’s a good idea to take these recommendations as general guidelines and a starting point rather than firm rules. And, based on your personal preference, eyesight, and other related factors, you can choose the ideal distance for you.

The SMPTE and THX recommendations are suitable for people who aren’t seeking the most immersive experience or want to absorb every detail offered by high-resolution images. But if you want both of those things, Sony and TCL’s recommendations are better for you.





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