One of the first questions that arises when buying a new television is what size will best suit our viewing area. If we come from a very small television, it is very likely that we are even afraid to put a bigger television in case it “gets on us”. But the choice of the size of the TV is much more important than it may seem to us, since only by choosing a correct diagonal can we properly enjoy the image quality offered by the device . If we have a television that is too small, we will not see the details correctly. And if we have a television that is too large, it is possible that we see the pixels on the screen, which makes the experience not pleasant.
So what is the ideal size? This depends on several factors. One of the most important is the distance we have between the viewer and the television. Another is the resolution of the content that we are going to see. And we must not forget personal preferences, as well as visual acuity or possible vision problems of each person. But since we cannot control the latter, we are going to base ourselves on what the experts say to recommend the ideal TV size according to the distance to the main viewer .
Viewing distance, resolution and angle
Choosing the ideal size based on your viewing distance is key for several reasons. Images on the screen are made up of tiny dots of light or pixels. The higher the resolution, the higher the number of pixels and therefore the higher the level of detail. So it is not the same to see an image with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels than to see a 4K UHD image (3,840 x 2,160 pixels). The higher resolution the image we are going to see has, the closer we can get without losing sharpness .
But resolution is not the only thing to consider. When choosing the ideal size for our television, the viewing angle plays a key role . The field of view of humans is approximately 135 degrees horizontally and, according to the film industry, the greater the field of view covered by the screen, the greater the viewer's immersion.
And this is where there are some discrepancies. The Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) says that the ideal viewing angle for varied multimedia consumption is 30 degrees . That is, we must place ourselves at a distance where the screen occupies approximately 30º of our field of vision.
However, the company THX , which is the one that stipulates the audio and video standard for some cinemas, ensures that the perfect viewing angle for total immersion is 40 degrees . The difference between the two is that SMPTE talks about general content, while THX refers only to cinema.
So what is the ideal TV size based on the distance to the sofa?
The recommendations on viewing distances are divided into two classes . On the one hand, a fixed distance based on the size of the screen, easier to calculate. On the other hand, a range of distances also based on the size of the screen but which requires much more complex calculations.
As you can imagine, fixed distance recommendations are the most common. The problem is that most of them are somewhat outdated, since they do not usually take into account the new resolutions. In addition, as you have seen, even among professionals in the sector we have different opinions regarding how far the television should be placed .
With that said, let's see a quick way to calculate it. The distances are calculated for the correct display of images with FHD resolution. According to SMPTE , the correct viewing angle is 30 degrees, so to calculate the ideal distance we would have to multiply the inches of the TV by 1.6 . The result will be in inches, so we will have to convert it to meters. Here is a small table with the most common diagonals already calculated:
|Distance according to SMPTE (FHD resolution)|
|43 inches||1.74 meters|
|49 inch||1.99 meters|
|55 inch||2.23 meters|
|65 inches||2.64 meters|
|75 inches||3.04 meters|
|85 inches||3.45 meters|
|98 inches||3.98 meters|
The distance that the SMPTE marks is designed to be able to enjoy all kinds of content, be it movies, television programs or sports. But THX , a company that as you know has a lot of weight in the film industry, assures that, for cinema, it is best to have a viewing angle of 40º.
That is, to get the ideal distance to watch movies we would have to multiply the inches of the television by 1.2 . As before, the result will be in inches, so we will have to convert it to meters. Here you have the same table as before but with the ideal distances according to THX:
|Distance according to THX (FHD resolution)|
|43 inches||1.31 meters|
|49 inch||1.49 meters|
|55 inch||1.67 meters|
|65 inches||1.98 meters|
|75 inches||2.28 meters|
|85 inches||2.59 meters|
|98 inches||2.98 meters|
That is, according to THX we must get closer so that the immersion in the film or series is correct.
We can also set an optimal viewing distance that is variable depending on the resolution and size of the TV . The mathematical formula that calculates this distance is quite complex, so we have used a graph published by THX. This shows both the optimal distance at which we should place the television, and a small range in which we would not lose that feeling of immersion.
On the table, we have marked the most common diagonals with a red line . The red dot is the one that, according to THX, would be the ideal to enjoy all the benefits offered by each of the resolutions.
The distance is in feet, so it will be necessary to convert it to meters so that we can have it clearer. Here is a small table with the correct distances to view content with 4K UHD resolution :
|4K UHD resolution|
|49 inch||0.91 meters|
|55 inch||1.07 meters|
|65 inches||1.5 meters|
|75 inches||1.85 meters|
|85 inches||2.1 meters|
As you can see, the distance to view 4K UHD content is much less than what we need to properly view FHD content . However, although THX sets a “perfect” point, in the table we can see how within a not too large range we can enjoy the benefits of each resolution. For example, if we look at a 65-inch television and watching content with 4K UHD resolution, we will have a good experience placing the television between the ideal 1.5 meters and 2.2 meters.
In any case, you must remember that these are all estimates and what some of the experts say. If you look at the manufacturers' tables, they will surely give you other measurements, as well as those used by some sellers. And, of course, we have not counted personal tastes and experiences , something that also carries a lot of weight when choosing the size of your new TV.