When we go to buy a new television, many doubts arise, but one of the most recurrent is what screen size to choose taking into account the distance we have from the television. If we already had a large television, we will surely have it clearer (of the same size or almost certainly larger), but if we come from a smaller television, it is very likely that all the larger models will be huge. But the choice of screen size 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.
To determine the ideal size of the television we must take into account several criteria. The first, and one of the most important, is the viewing distance. You also have to take into account the resolution of the content to be played and even the view of each person. As the latter is impossible to take into account at a general level, we are going to focus on trying to find out what is the ideal size of the television according to the viewing distance.
Points to consider when choosing the ideal screen size: resolution, distance and viewing angle
A few years ago if you stood very close to the TV you could see “pixels like fists”, since the resolution of the content was not very high. However, with the arrival of 4K UHD this changed and other factors came into play, such as the viewing angle. Now you can be much closer to the television without noticing any type of imperfection in the image, which allows for a more immersive experience. This is what happens in the cinema, the large size of the screen manages to fill our field of vision, which translates into greater immersion.
Be careful, this does not mean that we have to sit with our faces glued to the television. As in the cinema, if we are too close, the experience is not pleasant either. Humans have a total horizontal field of vision of about 200 degrees, but much of this field of vision is what is known as peripheral vision.
The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommends sitting at a distance the screen occupies a minimum of 30º of the field of vision to have a good experience. Nevertheless, THX recommends that the screen occupies a minimum of 40º of the field of vision. This second data is the one used in movie theaters. So we could say that both 30º and 40º would be correct, with 30º being more correct for general content and 40º more correct for watching movies.
Returning to the issue of resolution, the human eye’s ability to see details in images is determined by visual acuity and distance. At a certain distance, depending on each person, we will not be able to distinguish all the details of an image. Thus, if we sit too far away we will not be able to see all the details of the image.
But what happens if we sit too close? This is where resolution comes into play. If we are viewing an image with a resolution of 1080p or less and we sit too close, that image will appear pixelated. By increasing the distance to the TV we will see a better image, but we will miss many details. 4K UHD TVs, however, offer a higher pixel density (4 times more), which makes it much more difficult for this problem to occur. With a 4K UHD TV, which is playing a 4K UHD image, we’re going to have to get extremely close to appreciate the pixels.
So, would it be better to buy 8K TVs? Yes and no. 8K televisions have a higher pixel density, so if we reproduce an 8K image it will be practically impossible for us to see the pixels. Nevertheless, this also makes the difference in picture quality between a 4K and an 8K TV practically imperceptible to the human eye. Always speaking only and exclusively about resolution, since other factors come into play later.
On the other hand, since we have a higher pixel density, we will have to sit closer to see all the detail of the image. So it can be stated that 8K only makes sense if we want a very large screen and plan to sit close to it. We repeat, this is only taking into account the resolution, since then many factors must be taken into account that can affect the image quality.
What is the ideal TV size according to the distance to the sofa?
In the graph that you have on these lines you can see the point where a resolution upgrade is worthwhile based on size and distance from the TV. Let’s see an example. With a 65-inch TV, the viewing distance at which the eye can see all the details of a 4K UHD image is approximately 1.5 meters. However, any distance between 1.4 meters and 2.4 meters will be enough to see the difference between a 4K image and a 1080p image.
Since it’s a bit confusing to rely on a range of distances, there are other ways to calculate the ideal size of the television according to the distance we have. But beware, as you have seen, not even the professionals in the sector agree. If we add to this the personal taste of each user, we can use these calculations as a guide to guide us.
That said, let’s see a quick way to calculate it. According to SMPTE, the correct viewing angle is 30 degrees, so to calculate the ideal distance we would have to multiply tv inches by 1.6. This will give us a result in inches, so we will have to pass it to meters to know the distance to place the TV. However, as we said before, the distance that marks the SMPTE is designed to be able to enjoy all kinds of contentbe it movies, TV shows or sports.
To get closer to the experience offered by theaters, we would have to rely on the calculations made by THX. According to THXto determine the ideal size of the television to buy we have to measure the distance between the sofa (viewing point) and the place where we will place the television. This distance we have to convert to inchesfor later multiply it by 0.835. The result will tell us what ideal screen size we need.
An example. Imagine that we have a distance from the television to the sofa of 2 meters. This is 78.74 inches, which multiplied by 0.835 gives us a result of 65.74 inches. Namely, the ideal screen size according to THX for a distance of 2 meters is 65 inches.
THX calculation can also be done with the SMPTE method. The difference is that we would have to multiply tv inches by 1.2 instead of by 1.6. As before, the result will be in inches, so we will have to convert it to meters.
Taking all this into account, and so that you do not have to take out the calculator, here We leave you a table with the most common screen diagonals and the calculated distance with both SMPTE and THX suggestions.
Ideal distance according to the size of the TV
|TV size||Distance according to SMPTE||Distance according to THX|
|32 inches||1.3 meters||0.97 meters|
|43 inches||1.74 meters||1.31 meters|
|48 inches||1.95 meters||1.46 meters|
|50 inches||2.01 meters||1.52 meters|
|55 inches||2.23 meters||1.67 meters|
|58 inches||2.35 meters||1.76 meters|
|65 inches||2.64 meters||1.98 meters|
|75 inches||3.04 meters||2.28 meters|
|77 inches||3.13 meters||2.34 meters|
|83 inches||3.37 meters||2.52 meters|
|85 inches||3.45 meters||2.59 meters|
|98 inches||3.98 meters||2.98 meters|
What do you think? Surely many of you will ask if “the eye doctor is included” with the television, but as we have mentioned, these distances are the recommended ones taking into account only the technical details. Here we are not going to assess personal tastes, visual acuity, room sizes, or many other things that must be taken into account.
Of course, from our own experience, we can tell you that when you change to a larger television at first you will see it enormous. But that feeling lasts less than a week, you’ll soon be used to it. Obviously without going overboard, because if we choose a television so large that we have to turn our heads to see the full image, the experience will not be good. We hope it has been helpful to you.
If you are looking for a smart TV, we recommend reading our buying guide on the 5 best televisions to buy this Black Friday.