Calculating the ideal screen size from your seating position

Calculating the ideal screen size from your seating position

The key to any home theatre setup is optimum seating placement. With it, you get an enjoyable viewing experience that makes watching high-definition movies and TV shows a pleasure. Without it, you may be left wondering what you're missing out on. By knowing how to properly calculate your viewing distances for plasma, LCD, LED and projector set-ups  you can easily set up your living room or home theatre to deliver an optimal viewing experience that is worthy of breaking out the popcorn.  

Size and Location Matters

Many homeowners use their dens or other similarly-sized spare rooms, although home theatre set-ups aren't just limited to these types of rooms. Many people opt to set up their systems right in the living room or family room. The size of these rooms usually dictates the size of the TV as well as where people tend to sit. The last thing you want to do is sit too far away or too close to your TV screen. For instance, if you're sitting too far away from a TV that happens to have a small screen, you won't be able to enjoy the type of viewing quality that you would get out of a larger screen. However, sitting too close makes immersing yourself in the viewing experience difficult and may also result in distorted audio.  

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Calculating the Distance

Projector Screen Set-ups:

Audio/visual company THX offers an excellent guideline for seat-to-screen viewing distances. To find your optimum distance, measure the size of your screen diagonally and divide that size by .84. Using that calculation, a 100-inch projector screen requires an optimal viewing distance of 119 inches or 3m from the screen. This formula is the generally accepted guideline for judging the optimum distance between the screen and your seating area.

  • 100-inch Projector Screens have an optimal viewing distance of 3m
  • 110-inch Projector Screens have an optimal viewing distance of 3.3m
  • 120-inch Projector Screens have an optimal viewing distance of 3.6m
  • 130-inch Projector Screens have an optimal viewing distance of 3.9m
  • 150-inch Projector Screens have an optimal viewing distance of 4.5m

HDTV Set-ups:

While this formula works for large rooms with equally large screens, your room might be a bit on the small side. To compensate for smaller rooms, THX offers an alternative that works best for HDTVs under 60 inches in screen size, which is what most people purchase for their living room set-ups:

  • 42-inch HDTV's require a recommended 1.2m to 1.8m viewing distance.
  • 50-inch HDTV's require a recommended 1.5m to 2.3m viewing distance.
  • 60-inch HDTV's require a recommended 1.8m to 2.7m viewing distance.

Factoring in Vertical Placement

Along with the room size and viewing distance, vertical placement also has to be taken into consideration. Seated audiences should be able to keep their eyes oriented at approximately mid-level with the screen, otherwise viewers may end up experiencing neck and eye strain due to an unnatural viewing position. In addition to having a clear sight line to the screen, viewers should be able to maintain a viewing angle of 15 degrees or less. Seating placement and screen position is absolutely important for any home theatre experience. By choosing the best viewing distances and vertical placement possible, you end up enhancing the overall enjoyment of your viewing experience. These guidelines are something to keep in mind the next time you're out shopping for your next projector screen or HDTV.