How far away should you sit when you watch TV? Does it hurt to sit too close to the TV? While studies indicate that watching TV does have detrimental effect on the vision, the viewing distance has little to do with it. The viewing distance depends entirely on comfort and the screen size of the TV. Therefore, if you are planning to buy a big screen TV consider the size of the room where you are going to keep it.
There is no fixed rule that can correctly determine the optimum viewing distance. As a matter of fact, the best viewing distance is somewhat a personal preference. Some things are obvious though: if you sit too close to the TV, you may see the image breaking up – individual pixels or scanning lines. If you sit too far away, it will spoil the viewing experience.
The Viewing Distance Calculator helps you calculate the best viewing distance based on the recommendation of the The Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE), THX Certification and Electrohome.
Choose your screen type (4:3 or 16:9) and type the diagonal size of the screen to get a list of recommended distances. You can also input your current viewing distance to get your current viewing angle, but this is optional.
The best calculated result, in my opinion, is the one that uses Electrohome’s recommendation (the first result), which follows the rule: the minimum viewing distance should be no less than 3 times the width of the screen and the maximum distance for pleasurable viewing shouldn’t be more than 6 times the width.
The SMPTE recommends that the horizontal viewing angle should be 30 degrees. This corresponds to a viewing distance that is 1.9 times the screen width. That might not be a too comfortable distance for watching TV, but a good distance for a movie theatre. And I have found that it is ideal for computer monitors too.
Similarly, the THX certification standard too recommends a distance based on the viewing angle of 36 degrees. All these values can be obtained from the Viewing Distance Calculator.