HDTV Seating Distance Chart

November 20th, 2006 · 50 Comments · Reference Materials

Below is the HD Guru HDTV Seating Distance Chart. It is based on human preception of detail. . Sitting at the optimum 720p distance using a 1080p display will yield no improvement in picture quality due to limits of our vision. In other words, if you plan to sit too far back from a given size 1080p, consider changing to a 720p HDTV or purchasing a larger 1080p HD set. Otherwise you will be wasting money by paying for higher resolution you can’t see.All screen sizes are in diagonal inches and all viewing distances are in inches. An example the 42″ screen size:

To see all the high definition of a 42″ 720p display requires a maximum viewing distance of 98.83 inches or 8.235 feet. If the 42″ display is either 1080i or 1080p the maximum viewing distance for full visual resolution is 65.89 inches or 5.49 feet. If you view at a greater distance you will not achieve full visual resolution of all the detail.

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Bottom line, you need to sit closer to a 1080 display than a you would with a 720p HDTV .

HDTV Viewing Distance Chart

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50 Comments so far ↓

  • Lynn McCormack

    I want to get the biggest 3D tv I can for my small room . I can only sit 8 ft away. What would be best between LCD, LED or DLP? Thanks, Lynn.

  • Lisa

    we are getting ready to buy an HD tv. we will be sitting 8 ft 8 in away from the wall it will be on, on a slight angle, the tv will be above a fireplace, and there are some big windows in our atrium that light up room. what size screen would you recommend for either 1080 0r 720, and, is plazma or lcd better over a fireplace and for the possible glare?

  • matthewc

    Kip,

    You are misunderstanding what the data is representing. Perhaps it is better to say the chart represents the minimum seating distances before you can notice the pixels that make up the image. In your example the image quality of a 52″ 720p television would look identical to a 1080i television of the same size, if you sat 10 1/2 feet away. If you sat any closer, say 7 feet away, you would notice the pixels on the 720p tv, on the other hand you would be able to see even more detail on the 1080i tv.

  • Kip

    I am baffled by charts like these which seem to favor 720p TVs over the same size 1080p TV. For example, according to the chart, a 720p TV will look great at 127-inches away, but the same size 1080p TV would have to be much closer. Shouldn’t a 1080p televsion also look great from that far away?

    Please unknot my tangled brain.

  • mary sanchez

    We recently bought a Sony Bravia 3D Tv but haven’t had it mounted on the wall yet. Wondering if the couches should be positioned directly in front of the TV for proper viewing or can they be perpendicular to the wall with TV?

    If I understand you correctly, you want to turn your head to the side to view TV? That does not sound comfortable.

    HD GURU

  • DangDude

    I am looking for a 32″ HDTV to play video games and watch sports. Iam going to be sitting 6-feet away from the screen. Is this an ideal scenario (or should I get a bigger TV) ?

  • aundrey

    My Seating to tv 7 feet so which plasma size will more comfortable to buy? And i will connect to my PC to watch movie and lives which type brand sure i buy it.
    Btw i was thinking buy Panasonic Plasma was it ok?
    Anyway thank you.

  • Bob Stone

    I prefer a rule for seating distance based on a multiple of the diagonal screen size.

    It seems to me you are recommending a seating distance of 1.6X for 1080 and 2.4X for 720p if a viewer wants to discern every possible pixel!

    BUT – the broadcasts/blu-rays we receive are hardly pixel perfect. They suffer from MPEG compression, etc. I’m not sure anyone wants to be able to discern every possible pixel.

    Also you seem to ignore the fact that a 1080 display will often be displaying 720p native content!

    Finally these charts ignore viewing angle – a rather important criteria in creating a cinematic experience.

    In my view these charts vastly over simplify the issues at hand

  • Jake

    Great info. Thanx!!

    For those who are a little confused, the diagonal column is a listing of the “Diagonal Size”(42 = 42″.
    The width & height are just that, the width & height of screen. Like it says on the chart, all is in inches.

  • Raymond

    I sit about 80″ or 6.7 feet away from my TV, which is currently a 32″ Sony XBR2 LCD. I am debating to go to a 42″ Panasonic Plasma (either a 720P or the 1080P). I’m a little confused about the optimal distance though. What do you recommend I do at my viewing distance? Am I sitting too close to get a 720P (ie, seeing pixels), and so should pay more for the 1080P? Or would 720P be fine, and it wouldn’t really be worth it to get a 1080P?

  • jim

    I’m confused about the seating chart. I will be sitting 11 feet away from the screen and am considering 3 tv’s. They are the Samsung hls7178w, the samsung hls6767w and the mitsubishi wd65831. I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

    P.S. I’m just finishing a new home and am also interested in the samsung lns4696d and the lns4096d for 2 additional rooms. Would you recommend waiting for their new models with the led backlit technology?

    1) While an 83″ set will be opitmal at that viewing distance you will see an improvement in image sharpness with a 1080p set over a 720p set as long is the screen size is 57″ or larger.

    2) The LED backlight units will provider better color gamut, contrast ratios and better black levels than the CCFL backlit LCD flat panels, though they will cost more money and expect higher power consumption.  BTW, for the best image quality the HD Guru recommends plasma over LCD 

    The HD Guru 

  • Dave

    Just a stupid question here, what’s the difference of actually connecting componet cables and actually using an hdmi cable? Is there any better quality, is it a higher pixal rate instead of like 1080 i and hdmi being 1240i or whatever..just a question you guys, if you guys could please comment back i am just wondering about this.

    In a perfect world with perfect products there would not be a difference. However, in the real world my tests have revealed that many HDTVs have a better bandwidth capacity with the HDMI input. This translates into more fine detail  seen on the HDTV screen. For simplicity and often better image, I recommend using HDMI ( a good cable is also only a few dollars, read my article on “What retailers don’t want you to know about HDMI”

    The HD Guru 

  • Bill

    Any help on speaker placement?

  • Ken Smith

    Thanks Guru for your quick reply. If I understand correctly though, should I get the largest size screen I can afford and enjoy? All equal, I would see more detail with a 65″ over a 50″ at the distance noted before?

    Thanks again.

  • Ken Smith

    Hello,

    It is around 16′(192″) from my sitting area to where the TV would go. According to your distance guide I would need a 81″-82″ screen for that distance? Am I reading your chart correctly? According to the distance charts on other sites, a 65″ inch screen would do. What would your suggestions be for that distance. Re-arranging is not really an option due to layout of room.

    Thank you.

    —————————————————————————————————

    This is the maximum distance to be viewing with a given screen size for your eyes to resolve all the detail within the image. You will still get a benefit of  HDTV over standard definiton images, sitting further from the max distance, it just not be a detailed as if you had the appropriate size screen or moved closer. Don’t worry be happy. The chart is a guide to let consumers know how close they should be to a given screen size to get all the visual joy of watching content in HDTV.

      Make an informed decision and enjoy the world of HDTV.

     The HD Guru

     

  • Bill

    I have a Mitsubishi 52 inch DLP it only has one HDMI slot what would be the best hook up to make?
    I have HD cable, Onko surround sound A/V Receiver,DVD (not HD)
    Great web sight!
    Thanks,
    Bill

    ———————————————————————-

    If your surround receiver has HDMI switching use it. Does your Mitsubishi accept CableCARD? If yes, switch to CableCARD and use HDMI for the DVD player . If not,  if you have an upconverting DVD player you would probably have to use HDMI to use its upconversion and use component video output from your HD cable box. or get an HDMI switcher.

    The HD Guru 

     

  • Leonard Faircloth

    Hi HD Guru,
    Great site & thanks for bring it up. Is it necessary to get a DVD player with an upconverter for a HDTV 1080p
    Thanks again,
    Leonard F.

    ————————————————————-

    If the upconversion is better than the one within the TV. 

    Check out my deinterlacing test resylts for guidence.

    The HD Guru 

     

     

     

     

  • Dominic

    Hi Guru,

    Based on your chart for distance, I’m wandering if you sit between the 720p and 1080p distance, how much detailed would be lost or seeing?

    For example, taking a 50″ and sitting at 8 feets. Would you recommand a 1080p or a 720p?

    Thanks for your help

    ————————————————————————————————————

    Sitting further than the minimum distance of 78.43″ from a 1080p display you will see less than all the detial but more  detail than you would see with a 720p display at the same 8 ft distance. The detail will appear equal at around 10′ from the screens (the minimum for 720p is 117″ ) 

    The HD Guru

     

  • Mike

    I don’t have a question. Just wanted to thanks for all of the information you have on this site.

    I’ve spent the last 3 days on the internet trying to educate myself on lcds, dlps and plasma tvs. There is a lot of confusing/useless and often times biased information out there.

    I got more facts here in an hour than I did in 3 days.

    Thanks Guru.

  • Steve A-

    I just found your site. It’s extremely informative and unbiased. Thank you for that. I’m in the market for a new T.V. to replace my old 36″ rear projection. I sit anywhere from 8′ to 13′ away and the T.V. sits above my fireplace. The center of the screen is 75″ high. I have been debating over the Sony KDLV46XBR2 and the Sharp Aquos LC46062U. Both are around the same price and are both 1080P. After reading your site I’m wondering if I should worry about the 1080P since the viewing distance is farther than 8′. The room is well lit with 2 sky lights. Any recommendations?

  • Igor

    Is your chart up anywhere in non-pdf format? Picture or text format? (Adobe continually messes up my PC, I removed it a while back)

  • WILKES-BARRE JOE

    Thank you for supporting my theory that turning my DLP TV on and off fifty times a day wasn’t good for it. I keep telling my wife to leave it on. Which up convert DVD player is a value?
    Great site. Thanks.

  • Alex M~

    Thank you for clarifying the downside of LED backlights. Guess I won’t hold out for one after all.

    Tellin’ all my friends about your website.

    A~

  • William

    Hi, Great site.

    I am really torn between a Sony 40in LCD 720p and a Panasonic 42in sub 720p Plasma. About the same price ($1,500). I have a fairly sunny roon with my seating position about 11 feet away. I have had both types before and know the pros and cons but I nned a pros advice. Thanks!

    ——————————————————————————–

    It really depends on your priorites.  The Guru would put up window treatments to eleiminate any refelctions from the light source in order to obtain the wider color gamut, faster response time, superior black level, and the wider viewing angles the plasma has to offer.

    The HD Guru 

     

     

  • Alex M~

    Guru Dude!

    Awesome!

    Would like to see an article on LCD’s with LED backlight.

    Thanks Man.

    A~

    ——————————————————————————————-

    Currently there are no new LED back lit LCDs on the market (Sony discontinued the LED Qualia line). The issue with LEDs today is that they are expensive in a declining price market and they are power hogs, requiring more juice than any other flat panel. The HG Guru expects to see some new high end models in 2007.

    The HD Guru 

     

     

  • Ron Ziotkowski

    I just visited your site for the first time and love it! It already answered a question that I had about optimal screen size compared to the viewing distance.

    My question is:
    I just bought a new xbox 360. I want to take full advantage of the high definition graphics and buy a smaller sized HDTV, between 27 and 35″. This set will be used about 80% of the time for playing games.

    Plasma TV’s usually are larger than I want so I have looked primarily at both LCD and the “old” style direct view TVs. The direct view TV’s in that size seems to have an even better picture and lower prices compared to the LCD’s . Also I don’t seem to see the slight blurring that I’ve noticed on LCD’s when there is a lot of fast motion on the screen.

    My major concern with the direct view set is about “burn in”. Games can have some elements on the screen for long periods of time. I’ve been told that, over time, this can damage the screen

    What kind of TV would you suggest?

    Thanks!

  • Ric

    Thank you for this site!!
    My question – at Best Buy, there was an LCD projector for aprox. $1800 that was talked up to be just as clean 1080P on the correct viewing screen, with larger size screen capabilities. What’s stopping me from going that direction, vs. a sony 40inch LCD. I also have DirecTV, with great results. I would view all sorts of programming with concentration on sports and movies. thank you

  • Evan

    I have a samsung 50″ 1080p DLP tv. After watching programming for approx an hour or so my eyes begin to feel strained. Is this because I am sitting too far away (approx 10 feet)? If so would changeing the resolution on my satellite receiver to 720p Help? mMy service is with directtv. Evan

     

    —————————————————————————————————————-

    Have taken the set out of its default “vivid” type showroom mode and moved it to standard or cinema (The hd guru doesn’t recall which is the best but he will check with Samsung)? Did you lower the contrast to around 50%? The Samsungs out of the box are blazingly briight and will produce a better image without eye fatigue if you change from  the defalut setting and lower the contrast control.

    The HD Guru 

      

     

  • Michael

    Hi, there. I’m back with another question. First, thank you for taking the time to answer my last question. Per your advice, I’m going to get the Pioneer Elite Pro-1140HD. What about HDMI cables? Do I really need them to watch cable televison, an occasional DVD or VHS tape? Are the benefits worth it? I’ve been told that getting HDMI cables can complicate matters. I’m not exactly sure how. Oh, and if you do recommend I get HDMI cables, I’ve read there’s no reason to spend more money for a more expensive cable. True? Is there a particular cable you would recommend? Thanks again for all the help. I really appreciate it.

    Michael
    Austin

  • Ralph

    What if one puts a small quality fan housed in a box constructed to hold a hepa type filter (to clean the air before moving the air through the hdtv), to add to the flow of home air conditioned air in addition to what air the hdtv fan already provides ? Have their been any tests of this kind done? I know for example that one can buy a system that a tower for a PC can sit in that is actually a small air conditioner/stand in one that directs the cold air through the PC and that it made the computers actually clock faster.

  • Lance

    Hi Guru Guy,

    1st of all…MOST informative site! I have recently purchased a 62″ Mitsubishi DLP 1080p and think that 8 feet away is STILL a little TOO close to it! Am I right with that assessment? Secondly, I would like to purchase a HD-DVD player to hook-up to it but don’t relish the idea of spending another grand to do so…..besides, will the “normal” DVD’s that are available through the various outlets show THAT MUCH of a better quality picture as opposed to a standard DVD player?

    Thanks

    Lance
    L.A.

  • Mike B

    Great site – thanks! I have 2 questions. I am still confused on the issue of 1080i or 720 and when they display the resolution quality like a multiplication problem such as 1365 x 768. I sit 10 feet from my TV. I enjoy watching football in HD. What size TV do you recommend, what resolution quality, and should I buy an LCD, Plasma or DLP?

    Second – I have a Samsung LCD 42 inch. HAve it for 2 years. Now the displays has grey streaks on it that show thru depending on the background color of what I am watching. Best way to discribe them is they look similiar to what happens when you press your finger against an LCD screen. It is always there no matter the input source. Any ideas?

    Thanks Mike

  • Michael

    First of all, great site. Thank you so much! I have a question about seating distance. I’m about to purchase a TV. I’m thinking of getting the Pioneer PRO FHD1. But the way my media room is situated, I would be sitting about 12- 13 feet from the set. Is that too great a distance and thus a waste of the FHD1s 1080p capability? Needless to say, it’s a very expensive TV. I’m willing to pay to get the best picture possible, but I don’t want to throw my money away. Thanks for taking the time to respond to mine and everyone else’s comments!

    Michael
    Austin

    —————————————————————————————————–

    Yes its too far. If you sit 12-13 ft you will not see the improvement of 1080p over 720p

    According to my HD distance chart the maximum distance to distinctly resolve  all 1080 lines is 78.43 inches

    to resolve 720 lines the distance is 117.65″ you will be 144″-156″ .

    You can easily confirm this by going to your local dealer and viewing the 1080p Pioneer at this distance (144+”) against any 720/768 display comparing detail.   

    The solution: go for a bigger screen size 1080p set, sit closer or buy the 1365 x 768 resolution 50″ plasma

    The HD Guru

  • michael

    i have a 47 inch panasonic rear projection hdtv for 5 years.is it expensive to replace the bulbs or should buy a new hdtv.from mike toronto canada thanks.

  • Bill

    I think this site is very informative. I recently purchased a Polaroid 26″ HDTV Digital TV. I didn’t know they made TV’s to be honest with you. The picture looks pretty good except some channels don’t look as sharp as others. I have it hook up to DishTV with a high def box running two HDTV’s. The primary one being my 57″ Hitachi rear projector which has a great picture. I found out that the satelite box doesn’t push HD programs to the second tv, but when on HD channels the picture looks great. The only problem I had with this set is one day it wouldn’t come on. I had to unplug it and plug it back into the wall outlet. Now it’s ok. I’m wondering if you ever knew Polaroid made LCD TV’s or had any dealing with them?

  • Richard

    You might want to fix your link in the reply to Jose
    Posted on 23rd November, 2006.
    For some reason the site can not be found as linked
    (www.www.hometheatermag.com/hookmeup/1106hook/)

    Try removing one of the “www.”

    I have a 52 inch Mitsubishi DLP 1080P system and for the past year have been very very happy with the high quality images I get. I can’t imagine anything being any better. I just found out that I have not been seeing the best picture I can see because I sit about 7 feet from the screen. Still looks good to me though.

    I just found your site and can’t wait to read it all. Please keep up the good work and excellent advice. Like the advice to keep the DLP projections systems turned on most of the time. I have run my set 18 hours every day for 380 days 6800 hours and the lamp is still working. I was told to expect a year if I used it less than 10 hours a day. Do you know what the life expectancy of the 135 watt lamp is supposed to be?

    Rich
    Palm Desert, Ca

    ——————————————————————————————————-

    My bad. I fixed the URL 

    According to display manufacturers tests its the on-off cycle that kills the lamp. I know a manufacturer that ran a projector 24/7 and got over 10K hours though I would never recommend it because these TV were not designed for that type of duty cycle and the electric bill would probably exceed the savings.

     Thanks for the comments.

    The HD Guru

     

  • Matt

    I have HD satellite tv service and an HD television. My receiver controls 2 televions, one HD and one SD. It also has a DVR. I called to order a different HD programing package from the very same company and was told I had to upgrade to a new receiver for $200. I paid $300 for the one I have now only 14 months ago. Does this sound correct? Is this true from a technical standpoint or are they just trying to sell equipment?
    Thank You
    Matt

    You don’t state where you are located or which satellite system you have. In some local markets today, you need a new 5 lnb dish and mpeg 4 hd sat receivers to get new directv hd local channels. if this is the case call directv customer service and ask for customer retention department and see what they can do for you. A friend of mine was offered the receivers for free if he stayed on directv.

    The HD Guru 

     

  • tony

    first off, great site! i have only one dumb question.Does hdmi really make a real noticeable difference?

    Most of the time it will produce a better image. You also get audio and video with a single connection saving clutter. Give it a try, it can’t hurt.

    The HD Guru 

     

  • Russ Orms

    I live in small town in Northwest Colorado and we have a Sony/Runco dealer. Do you know anything about these two. I am looking at 50-55 inch high altitude 1080p plasma.

  • Thierry Plouchart

    My 2006 Sony SXRD 50″ 1080P RearProjection HDTV isn’t quite 50″s diagonally but I can’t imagine getting within 6 1/2′ of it just to enjoy the maximum resolution it offers. When I first got it I thought it was too close at 10′ away. I guess it’s at about the right distance for viewing it optimally for the 4:3 ratio. Anway, wouldn’t you ruin your eyesight if you had to watch it all the time at the suggested distance?

  • Chuck

    First thank you for your site. HD cable cards, do they show better or the same as using a HD cable converter? I have heard bad things about cable cards nation wide, what do you think?

    Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, CableCARDs are great(Assuming you have cable service) for the following reasons

    Based on HD Guru tests of CableCARD vs. leased cablebox :

    1) you get a sharper picture on all sources. Why? The components inside the cablebox a poor, cable companies want to pay the loweset price from the suppliers so they put inexpensive and dated upconversion chips nd other circuitry. For HD, very mediocore performance with most leased cableboxes. CableCARD is a direct connection to your display and the upconversion of SD in the better is far better in many HDTV than the scalers inside cable company leased cableboxes.

    2) The TV supplied remote does it all.

    3) TV Guide On Screen v9 takes the place of the cable providers interactive cableguide and does a great job.

    I will soon be writing a blog entry about cablecard and why it is likely to make a big comeback in 2007

    The HD Guru

  • p hammond

    Re: 42″ 720p display – Seating Distance
    The 93.83″ viewing distance stated in your article conflicts with the Recommended Seating Distance Chart where the same display is given an optimum viewing distance of 98.83″. I think the chart is correct, but, the article is not.

    My Bad. Its a typo, now corrected. Thanks

     

    The Hd Guru

  • Bill Lawrence

    I have a projector and after it is on for about 2 hours a warning shows up saying over temperature. Is this a bulb problem or a fan problem. Bill

    I could not tell you what the problem is without examining the projector, assuming the exhaust vent on the projector is not being obstructed, you may have a clogged air filter in the projector .  Check your owner’s manual for cleaning or replacement instructions. Overheating is  bad for the bulb or the projector, and can lead to extensive damage, so you should check it soon.

    The HD Guru

  • Jose

    Is there a big difference in a 1080i and a 1080p? please explain, Thanks

    I do not know if you are referring to the display or the source. If its the display the difference is alternate horizontal lines are displayed with a 1080i TV, first odd then even and so forth.  The only interlaced displays are CRT projectors, CRT Direct view TVs and the 42″ Hitachi plasma. All other display devices are progressive.

    If you a writing about source material, the answer is a little long for the comment section. I will be posting a tutorial that explains this and other questions within the next couple of weeks.

    To be brief,  if the source material is film based and the display can properly deinterlace and perform 2:3 pulldown correctly, there should be no difference between the two in image quality. For more on deinterlacing see the HD Guru’s article in home theater magazine november issue or on line (http://www.hometheatermag.com/hookmeup/1106hook/) and Geoff Morrison’s discussion on the same website.

    The HD Guru

  • Mark

    what is the best way to lengthen the life of the lamp bulb in my DLP tv? I have heard you should leave the tv on rather than turn it off and on again a short time later.

    Turning off and on the bulb will shorten the bulb life. If you leave the room, planning to return  shortly, say  an hour or less, leaving the set turned on will  extend ithe bulb life

    The HD Guru

  • al

    What are the units for the chart-inches?, mm?, feet?

    Thanks

  • larry

    need to explain seating chart.
    when might you have some tv comparisons, as to quality, warranty, price and best picture quality

  • Geo. McDowell

    Hi

    Could you please label the columns and rows in the HD Viewing Distance chart, and add a little explanation to make it understandable?

    Thanks.

    George

  • John Pawlowski

    There is no “Chart”? Nor is there a “download”?

  • starkeep

    any ratings on the sony hd bsx lcddpl tvs???
    that are full 1080??

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