855 Comments


    1. If you’re shooting video, I imagine you might be saving it for posterity or historical documentation. That means it doesn’t matter what display technology provides today but more likely what it’ll be ten years from now. If you’re just shooting video for the web or for a commercial, you only need to display it for now. You’re not considering 2.5K (2560x1440p) or, for the sake of 3D, 5K (5120x2880p).

    2. As we have different eyes color (mine are blue), I think we are seeing differently. At 10 feet from a 42″ TV I can tell you what resolution and how many frames has the original TV signal (24p, 30i, 30p 60i, 60p and a clear mark for 120 Hz or more) (and even what image director shoot it).

      By the way, it is said that human eye have 120 Mpix native resolution – as media, but you have to understand that each individual have variations plus or minus.

      I saw few times a 4k (3840×2164) advertising, 60″ at about 20 feet, and it was a very clear plus difference compared with 1080p30 on an 42″ at 6 feet.

  1. Hi Carlton

    I am writing from Brazil and I read your article before to buy my 55 LED TV and I can say that helped me a lot.
    In fact, I have 8 feet in my room and I can talk that the better distance depends how the transmission is done.
    HD transmission or seeing Bue-ray dvds is fantastic. For others if is not good, bad also is not.
    Conclusion, I am satisfied with my TV and space that I have.
    Best Regards


  2. Interested in your thoughts on my current home build project. Foundation just poured but framing has not yet started The part of the basement I will be installing the theater is 45′ by 23′ with a ceiling height of 10’6″. Plan is to divide the space into two equal parts (bar area and theater) separated by a half wall. This would mean the primary theater seating will be 21-22 feet from screen. Would like to install the largest screen possible that would be comfortable to watch and that stays within my budget (projector and screen for under 10k). Ideas and suggestions welcome.

  3. Any thoughts on including 1440p or 2880p in your chart?

  4. Wow! Looks like you definitely know your stuff. I’m glad you did the work so others such as myself can apply the tools so we can make an intelligent informed decision before we buy a new TV. Yeah, I don’t like using nomograms so I just plugged in the TV diagonal size. Great work!

  5. I currently have a 46″ Toshiba Big Screen Tv. It is 8.5ft from where I sit and watch. I want to upgrade to Panasonic Plasma but it will be set back 2 ft. (10.5ft total) farther than this set is because it will be wall mounted and is thinner. So I am trying to figure out what size to get so I do not loose viewing size of what I currently have. Would 55′ look identical to this?


  6. sir I m confusing about my 50” LG Plasma tv, model : 50PJ350……sometimes during watching movies and other programs i feels that it is not showing full image from sides.

    many times i observe that character standing on side is not in view (like cinema hall screen).when i select letter box view in place of 16.9 (an option provided in my set top box)i can see the characters stand in sides also but on that time i cannot get 50” view it will be apprx. 32”

    what problem may be with this ??….is it any scaling problem from broadcasters ??…. is it any problem with set top box ??…. is there any idea to adjust the tv or set top box view scaling ??

    please advise me : )

  7. sir I m confusing about my 50” LG Plasma tv, model : 50PJ350……sometimes during watching movies and other programs i feels that it is not showing full image from sides.
    many times i observe that character standing on side is not in view (like cinema hall screen).when i select letter box view in place of 16.9 (an option provided in my set top box) i can see the characters stand in sides also but on that time i cannot get 50” view it will be apprx. 32”
    what problem may be with this ??….is it any scaling problem from broadcasters ??…. is it any problem with set top box ??…. is there any idea to adjust the tv or set top box view scaling ??….is it due to the resolution of tv (1368×720 instead of 1920×1080 full hd)??
    please advise me : )

    1. Dear Carlton Bale,

      please also reply on my query too. i m waiting

      please

      deepak rana

    2. Author

      Deepak, this is called overscan. Many broadcasts have overscan so that the static around the edge of the picture does not show up on screen; this is a holdover from old analogue broadcasts. Your TV might have an overscan or 1:1 pixel mapping setting to reduce this, or it may just be inherent on the material. But you should be able to view blu-rays over HDMI with zero overscan, assuming proper configuration of all devices.

  8. In using your chart the best tv would be a 60″ 720p. However I cannot find one that meets these sizes. We have a room that the viewing distance will be 13′. Plenty of room to put it on a wall or table. I have been looking at a LCD screen. Don’t want to purchase the wrong tv. Any suggestions

    1. Author

      I wouldn’t say 720p is best, but rather 1080p is innecessary but it wouldn’t hurt having it. So get 1080p if that is all you need.

  9. This is completely wrong. I entered this site because since 1080p became standard I went from a 65 inch diamond to a 46 inch 1080p with a viewing range of about 8.5 feet because of room and I am clearly too close. It looks great, but when I go to the dining room at 13 feet it reveals way more detail. Based on his thing I am already too far, and if so then going further back wouldnt yield that result.

    I was looking because a friend just bought a 1080p 60 and at 9 feet it is way way too close, so I was looking for an official standard while he still can return it for the right size because further isn’t possible.

    1. Here’s the problem Mitchell –

      What is not being adressed here is that the image quality parameters being discussed is more aligned with going to the cinema and viewing a top-of-the-line made film. Very nice, but the image quality (resolution in this case) will be 4X or higher. It’s just not fair; it’s comparing apples to oranges.

      What you have noticed is extremely important to viewing Enjoyment. The aspect ratio of modern (digital) televisions was not picked out of thin air. It was determined by a long study conducted at the Stevens Institute in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was found that human stereoscopic vision is best served by a 9X16 (1:1.7777) aspect ratio when seated at a given distance from the screen. What is that distance? Take a measurement in inches HORIZONTALLY across your screen from edge-to-edge; double your measurement (2:1) and that would be the minimum (and optimum for resolutions sake) distance you want your eyeballs from the surface of the screen (this applies to moving media, not computer screens with data). Why? Because if you sit any closer your eyes will start to wander around the screen trying to catch all the movement that goes on during the course of a normal movie; this in turn will detract from the enjoyment from which you seek to get from a story come to life.

      The bottom line is: buy the set with the highest resolution you can afford (hopefully 1080), at the correct size for the room it will be placed in (distance to seating). As an example, if the screen measures 52.5″ horizontally across on your 60″ 16×9 display (which it would), then you want to be seated at 105″ (8′-9″) from said screen.

      Your friend has the perfect sized screen for maximum enjoyment in the room he’s in.

      And just so you know, there is -zero- difference in resolution between 1080i and 1080p. Progressive scan just makes it a more natural viewing experience (field/field vs frame) for your mind and will fatigue your eyes less quickly.

      Richard E. J. Driskill, Electromagnetic Spectrum Authority/ retired

  10. What is your take on the Ipad craze. I feel like on a 10 inch screen, the human eye should have a very difficult time differentiating between 720P and 1080P. In fact I have read that under 32 inches, the eye really can’t differentiate. What do you think?

    1. Author

      I think the new iPad 3 with the retina display has all the resolution you could ever need in a 10″ screen and then some. More resolution will never be of any benefit in a screen that small.




  11. Hi,

    If I have 22′ LCD TV of 1080p. As per you chart, we need to sit at least 3 feets from TV to get full benefit.

    But does that harm to you eyes?
    What will happen if I sit 7-9 feet away for above combination?

    1. Author

      No, shouldn’t be a problem. People sit that close to computer monitors of the same size all the time.

  12. Its not just about seating distance when it comes down to 4K video, you will benefit with front projection systems because the fill factor will be less, this means if its an LCD there is less chance of pixels being visible should you wish to sit closer to your screen, any 4K video format would also likely have increased colour depth, just moving colour depth to 10bit would mean colour banding issues should become a thing of the past, its also better to get closer to the source material and with 35mm and 70mm and indeed 4K and 5K shot films you would get this benefit, now of course a lot of 35mm shot films may only have 2.5k to 3.5k of image information but its still worth it.

    Having said all that, i think the biggest improvements to current 1080p standards could come with ALL the studio’s making brand new 2K masters of their catalogue titles, new 4K film scans and brand new 2K masters, transfer them to blu ray using nice high bitrate encodes and DO NOT apply noise reduction, automated scratch removal ( do it manually ) and especially do not use edge enhancement sharpening, do it right and 1080p is more than good enough.

  13. Carlton,

    First of all, I wanted to congratulate you on this chart. This is a global reference for distance vs resolution and is almost unique. At our company we use this chart (we printed it in a 60x60cm paper an hanged it in the design room) for reference and design. I’d really appreciate if you could lend me the original chart in order to translate it to spanish (we’re a Colombian company, Crestron integrators) so we can show it to our clients. We’ll, of course, leave visible you copyright. If it’s possible contact me by email. Thanks once again for a wonderful resource!



    1. Author

      Entering the numbers in the calculator at the end of the article, you need to be 11 feet or closer to see the full resolution of 480p on a 39 inch screen.


  14. isn’t the calculator in saying “feet or closer for full benefit”?
    Shouldn’t it be “feet or far for full benefit”?

    1. Author

      Asseem, no, it’s correct. The farther you are away from the screen, the less detail you can see. For example, you can’t read a book from across the room because you can’t see enough detail to make out the letters.

  15. 10x now i know what screen size to chose for optimal results !

  16. Hi Carlton,
    I have some questions, i am experimenting with backing up my BR’s so …

    Q1: Up to what size TV can 720P encode be watched without the “Graininess”?
    For example like 42″ or 46″ or 50″ or …?

    Q2: Will the Graininess be way Visible OR you really have to look for it? Basically being anal about it!

    Q3: With 720P stuff will there also be “Blocking” in the dark parts?

    Thanks!
    Z!:)

    1. Author

      Zorro: 720P will look great on a 50″ screen, so resolution will not be a problem. The issue you can get into is over-compression. Even if resolution is high, if it is over-compressed, you’ll start to see compression artifacts (noise / mosquitoes in the background) or color banding (instead of smooth transition from black to white, you’ll see 5 distinct bands of progressively lighter shades of grey.) So be sure to test your encodes to make sure the bit rate it high enough not to have these issues. You should be able to spot them during playback on a computer.

      I don’t risk it, so I leave everything in the original resolution/format and just buy a lot of hard drives to hold everything. With 4TB drives out and smaller drives getting back to reasonable prices/GB, it’s not nearly as expensive as it used to be.

      1. Hi Carlton,

        Appreciate you taking the time and responding to my Q’s.

        Z!:)

  17. I’m confused. I have a 52-inch (diagonal) 1080p, and sit 12 feet from it. Using the calculator, it’s 15, 10, and 7 feet to get the full benefit from 480p, 720p, and 1080p, respectively. So at 12 feet, I’m not close enough to get the full benefit of 720p, let alone 1080p.

    I own several Blu Ray discs. The Blu Ray picture is noticeably better … more pleasing than my satellite provider’s 1080i broadcasts, and for the DVD’s I’ve upgraded to Blu Ray, the picture improvement ranges from “noticeably better” to “Wow!!!”. Thinking about them now, I’ll put about 50% in the “Wow!!!” category. Note: my old DVD player was a mid-level “up-converting” model attached via HDMI cable, and it displayed a fine picture imo, so it wasn’t some cheap, crappy DVD player.

    Why do my Blu Ray’s look so good to me? If I’m too far from the TV to get the full benefit of even 720p, why would I notice such an improvement when playing my Blu Rays?

    Thank you.

    1. Author

      John, it sounds like you may have vision that is more acute than the average person. It could also be that the improved contrast and color reproduction of Blu-ray is responsible for the better picture.

      Not all discs are encoded equally. Some of my DVD look horrible no matter the viewing situation. On the other hand, I can barely tell any difference between the DVD and Blu-ray versions of The Incredibles, even when very close to the screen.

      1. Thank you, that makes sense.

        My TV was top-ranked for its time (3 years ago now). There were a ton of reviews for it, 99% just gushing about how great it was. I specifically remember reviews stating the contrast ratio was top-of-the-line.

        I’m not up on the tech terms, but it would appear my TV has the necessary tech to display better contrast and color reproduction (if the source material provides it). Had I purchased a tv with ‘less tech’, I might be noticing little/no change without moving closer to the screen.



  18. I think these optimal viewing distances are way too close. I bought a 55 inch 1080 TV. Even at 9.5 feet back, it was just too big. I found my eyes darting around from one end of the screen to the other. The increased size actually took away from the immersive feeling because I couldn’t focus dead center on the screen and see everything. This was particularly bad when playing games.

    But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.


  19. Your calculator says that with a 60″ screen size the optimal distance for 1080p is 8ft or better. Then for 4k it’s 4 feet or better.
    By cutting your distance in half you have just effectively given yourself the same pixel density as 1080p. The visual acuity per pixel area is going to be the same and even though you’re going to be looking at a smaller area of the screen per pixel density. Wouldn’t the point be to remain at your same 8foot distance and get twice as many pixels to increase the resolution that you perceive, yielding a truer to life image?

    1. Author

      Paul, that would be the case if your eyes could resolve the resolution of a 60″ TV at 8 feet. But they can’t. So instead consider watching a 10″ 1080p display at 4 feet, noticing a resolution deficiency, and then benefiting from an upgrade to 4k at that same distance.

      On the other hand, if you were 50 feet away, any HD resolution would be pointless. The idea is to figure out how close you need to be to see the resolution you’re considering buying.

  20. I have viewing distance 7 to 8 feet in my room and i am going to buy 32 inch led or lcd tv, which you prefer lcd or led and HD ready or Full HD???

    1. Author

      At that distance, the TV resolution doesn’t matter. LED TVs are LCD panels, they just have LED backlights instead of compact fluorescent. LED may give more brightness, so it may be a better option.



  21. Thanks for your site and the great comments from all the visitors.

    So how do you calculate the best screen size if you will also be watching standard-definition programming (from cable and over-the-air) as well as HD programming? My viewing distance is 9′ and I am considering replacing my 32″ tube TV with a 46″ or 50″ LED HD set. I’m sure HD and Blue Ray will look great, but how about channels I won’t receive in HD (probably 60-70% of my cable channels). I’m concerned that those channels may look too grainy to be enjoyed on the 50″ screen?

    1. Author

      Mike, I don’t think a larger screen will make standard definition video look worse that it is. As the screen gets larger, you get to the point where you see all the resolution it has to offer. Although you won’t benefit from it being any larger from a resolution standpoint, but you will from an “immersive viewing” standpoint. You will be able to notice the difference between SD and HD, and that’s OK, that’s the point of HD. If you get a smaller screen, the benefits of HD would be lost. I would recommend a 55″ TV in your case, and even larger if it fits the room and your budget.

      1. Hi Carlton,

        So I took your advice into consideration and pulled the trigger on a 55″ Samsung HD set. Got an incredible Cyber Monday price on the set I had been considering. Wow! So happy with my choice.

        I’m loving the new set and the size is perfect for my space and my 9-10′ viewing distance.

        Thanks,

        Mike




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