# How large of a tv screen can I have with a 9 foot viewing distance?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by james e m, Mar 12, 2003.

1. ### james e m Second Unit

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I'm looking for a new house and it looks like the viewing distance will be about 9' what size tv wouldn't be overkill?
Thanks!
James

2. ### Gabriel_Lam Screenwriter

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It really depends on your own viewing preferences and your source material.

Here's a good guideline to start from though.

THX & SMPTE Viewing Distance Calculator

With better source material, you can go bigger. With low quality source, you may want to go smaller. And, of course, there are your viewing preferences after that.

3. ### BrettisMckinney Second Unit

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I really didnt think size would make a difference! I bought a 32inch and was sitting about 3 feet away and it looked alright, but when i walked to the kitchen, way behind..wow the picture stood right out! Hard to describe, but the detail just stood out way more, and yeah..the closer you are the more susceptable you are to grain etc.

4. ### Todd_RIC Stunt Coordinator

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Individual preferences come into play as well as what kind of display you will be using, but the rough standard is the viewing distance should be 1.5 times the diagonal of your display... which from a viewing distance of 9 feet (108 inches) would equate to a 72 inch screen. So unless you are going into an FP situation, you should be fine. If you're going rear projection (big screen), then you need to calculate based on where the front of the TV is... they typically run about 2 feet deep, so your actual viewing distance is 7 feet (84 inches), which would equate to a 50 inch TV (49.3 actually). Good Luck...

5. ### sean_pecor Stunt Coordinator

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I'll add my opinion to this mix. I'm relatively new to the HT hobby, but I've read a great deal of conflicting opinion in magazines and on the Web, regarding viewing distance and the recommended size of the TV. This supports everyone's opinion so far, in that it's really up to your own subjective preference. I'll add some objective considerations from my geeky computer programmer perspective, all of which I've learned online, and some of which may be wrong because I'm not an HT guru:

1. The ideal viewing distance for standard definition "cable" programming is not the same as the ideal viewing distance for high definition content. Nor is it the same for DVD movie content.

2. Standard definition is a "low resolution" source, which is why some sources say you may want to sit about 8 feet away from a tiny 27" analog TV. If you sit too close, you see individual scan lines instead of a seamless moving image (read: your brain will find it harder to "suspend disbelief"). An RPTV's circuitry will be "blowing up" the standard definition content to take up at least 100% of the vertical height of the screen, and may also be zooming to 100% of the width as well. While there are neat algorithms in use for this, it is still very much like taking a 320x200 pixel jpeg photograph, and scaling it up to 640x480 in a graphic design application. Image imperfections may be magnified, and the original smaller image may end up looking nicer, even if it is smaller.

3. High definition seems to have at least twice the vertical resolution, and is also much wider than standard analog format. So, you can be closer to the screen, even though there is more information, because the individual scan lines are much smaller. This is why some sources will recommend you sit 9 feet away from a 65" screen. If you sit too far away, you don't take full advantage of the resolution, and your field of view is less than the recommended 30 degrees (according to THX spec).

4. You have to objectively assess your viewing behavior if you want to make the best decision on TV size. If 3/4 or more of your viewing time will be spent watching HD content and/or DVD films, then you'll want to lean towards a larger RPTV. The closer you get to 100% HD/DVD viewing, the closer to that THX recommendation you want to be (approx. 65" + for 9 feet). However, if you'll be spending more like 50% of your viewing time watching standard definition content (broadcast / cable / satellite etc), you may want to favor a somewhat smaller RPTV. Otherwise, your standard definition content will not look as good as on a smaller direct view TV, which seems to be a common complaint from folks who buy monster TVs. Another important issue is whether or not your cable is analog or digital. If it is analog, you'll want to lean even further towards a smaller TV, because the source quality is poorer, and a poor source will look even poor when it's "blown up" to fit the screen.

At 9 feet, a 42" 16:9 RPTV offers a widescreen field of view of ~ 19 degrees, and if you're watching regular 4:3 standard definition content in it's OAR (original aspect ratio), then the 42" emulates a 34" diagonal TV.

At 9 feet, a 48" 16:9 RPTV offers a widescreen field of view of ~ 22 degrees, and if you're watching regular 4:3 standard definition content in it's OAR, then the 48" emulates a 39" diagonal TV.

At 9 feet, a 57" 16:9 RPTV offers a widescreen field of view of ~ 26 degrees, and if you're watching regular 4:3 standard definition content in it's OAR, then the 57" emulates a 46 1/2" diagonal TV.

At 9 feet, a 65" 16:9 RPTV offers a widescreen field of view of ~ 30 degrees, and if you're watching regular 4:3 standard definition content in it's OAR, then the 65" emulates a 53 1/2" diagonal TV.

My subjective assessment of those who still watch 50% or more standard definition content, from 9 feet away, with a monster 65" TV, is that they are sacrificing their an optimal standard TV experience for an optimal movie experience. I suspect this would cause headaches for those with eyes that constantly try to focus the image on screen (blur increases as you scale up). Furthemore, those who buy the 42" TV and sit 9 feet away, are sacrificing an optimal movie viewing experience in exchange for a more optimal standard TV experience.

In either case, you can't just sit closer/further away depending on the content being viewed, without also sacrificing audio quality to some degree. Dolby suggests left/right main speaker placement to be within a 45 degree arc from the listening position; therefore, if you sit closer when watching movies on a 42" screen, then the arc increases beyond 45 degrees and you lose some of the immersive surround sound experience (left and right become much more distinct from each other). Also, you're no longer in line with the surrounds, which is bad too. On the other hand, if you sit further away from a 65" TV for standard format viewing you run into the same problem, only now your listening angle shrinks and left/right blends too much.

Someone once told me I have a tendency to
over-intellectualize things. I guess this is further proof

Hope this helps,

Sean.

6. ### Patrick Sun Moderator Moderator

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I've noticed that I like sitting in the back of movie theaters more ever since I've been watching films on my TV because I can take in the entire frame without having my eyes darting all over the place to take in the frame (if I were sitting close or in the middle of the theater).

When I watch my 56" 4:3 RPTV (yields a 51" 16x9 display), it's just about right, and I sit roughly 9 feet away. I think if the display was over 57" (16x9 form factor), it might be too wide.

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