Want a larger TV? Just sit closer (it’s all about viewing angle)

Want a larger TV? Just sit closer

Spending time on Amazon or taking a trip to Costco or Best Buy may leave you convinced that you really need a larger TV, but you may be able to achieve a similar effect simply by sitting closer to the TV you already have.

Let's start with viewing angles and viewing distances. The closer you sit to a TV of a given size, the greater will be the viewing angle. Sit too close and you might get a headache, sit too far away and your immersion suffers. With 1080p and especially 4K TVs, the pixel density is great enough that you shouldn't notice any visible pixel structure or distortion even at very close distances.

What's the ideal viewing angle? The Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) recommends a maximum viewing angle of 30 degrees. THX recommends a 36 degree viewing angle for a more theater-like experience. THX also suggests that a 26 degree viewing angle is as low as you should go.

How does that translate to viewing distances and TV sizes? A 55" TV, for example, should be between 6.1 and 8.7 feet away from you to achieve the recommended viewing angle. A 65" TV expands that range to between 7.3 feet and 10.2 feet. A chart is below.

TV Size
(Diagonal size)
Recommended THX Viewing Distance
(36 degree viewing angle)
Maximum THX Viewing Distance
(26 degree viewing angle)

Put another way, a 65" TV will appear to be the same size as a 55" TV if you sit between 1.2 feet and 1.5 feet closer to it. Even the experience of sitting in front of an expensive 75" TV at a distance of 8.4 feet can be replicated by sitting in front of a 55" TV at a distance of 6.1 feet.

In some places or rooms, it may not be possible to sit that close to your TV or the need for multiple seats may make it impractical, but in cases where there are just 1-3 seats optimized for TV viewing, a smaller TV placed closer to the viewers may be all that is necessary to enjoy a theater quality experience at home.

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