Have you ever bought a new TV, only to find out that it was too small or too big for your viewing space?  Or maybe you have a room in your home and you want to know what size TV you should get for the space.  If you want an easy way to calculate the optimal viewing distance from your TV, look no further than this handy tool by Omni Calculator.

Optimal TV Viewing Distance Calculator

For the home theater enthusiast, figuring out screen placement and optimal viewing distance is crucial to maximizing the enjoyment of your investment.  You spent good money on a good device and want to enjoy the best picture quality possible.  This tool may help you estimate how far you should place seating from the screen.

All you have to do is type in your screen size and select the screen resolution from the drop down list.  Your optimal and minimal viewing distances are instantly calculated and displayed.  It’s just as easy as that!

But what if you don’t know what your screen size or resolution is?  You can gather that information from a variety of places.  Your TV might have a sticker on it, or if you still have the original box or instruction manual, it might be listed there.  And of course, you could look up the TV model online.  Sometimes, the model number itself will give you a clue to its screen size and/or resolution.  If you are interested in learning the secrets to decoding TV model numbers, check out this article posted by PC Magazine.

How to measure TV screen size

The size of a screen is the length of its diagonal measurement.  If you were to draw and measure an imaginary line from a bottom corner to the opposite upper corner, you would discover the screen’s size.  Screen size is always expressed in inches. For example, a 32″ screen has a diagonal length of 32″. If it has a regular aspect ratio of 16:9, then the sides of this screen are 27.9″ and 15.7″, respectively.  You can check our math with Omni Calculator’s Pythagorean theorem calculator.

A 32" TV screen with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
A 32″ TV screen with an aspect ratio of 16:9.

Naturally, the longer the diagonal measurement, the larger the screen. But does bigger mean better when talking about TVs?  Not necessarily!  To determine which TVs are the best, we also have to take into account screen resolution.

 

So what does TV resolution actually refer to?

By now, you may have seen or heard of marketing terms such as “HD” or “4K” used to describe the features of TV model.  These terms are often used in describing screen resolution – or rather, the number of pixels on the screen.  A pixel is the smallest “dot” on the screen can accurately display color information. If you look really closely at your TV, you will discover that the lines are a bit jagged because they actually consist of tiny squares.  What you are seeing are individual pixels of the screen.

Screen resolution is a measurement of the number of horizontal pixels times the number of vertical pixels along the edge of the screen.  A screen is really just a grid of tiny pixels, similar to the multiplication tables they used to teach students in elementary school.  Screen resolutions are typically denoted by the number of horizontal pixels across the edge of the screen.  Typical screen sizes are defined in the table below.

 

  • 480p – 720 pixels by 480 pixels
  • 720p – 1280 pixels by 720 pixels
  • 1080p or HD– 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels
  • Ultra HD – 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels
  • 4K – 4096 pixels by 2160 pixels
  • 8K – 7680 pixels by 4320 pixels

It is important to note that screen resolution has nothing to do with screen size.  There are 70-inch televisions with 4K resolution monitors as well as smartphones outfitted with 4K resolution screens.  So those high-end smartphones have screens with very tiny pixels, while the pixels on a 70-inch screen are much bigger.  The Jumbotron screen installed at the Dallas Cowboys‘ AT&T Stadium, measures 160 feet wide by 72 feet tall (49 m x 22 m), made to display HD resolution video viewable from the stands, has pixels that are roughly 1 inch wide!

 

Calculating the ideal TV distance

If you want to calculate the optimal distance between you and the TV, you should know that a typical viewing angle θ lies in the range between 30° and 40°, as depicted in the image below.

Viewing angle when watching TV.
Viewing angle when watching TV.

Armed with this knowledge, you can start setting up a room and the furniture within it to take advantage of optimal viewing distance.  Although optimal viewing distances can be quickly estimated, there is a science to it all, which involves some pretty involved trigonometry.  If you really want to learn the math and science behind proper viewing distance, read the full article by Omni Calculator.  Or you can just use the calculator at the beginning of this article and save yourself a bunch of time.

Or just ask the professionals!

Our installation technicians are experienced in mounting TVs and optimizing viewing distances in all kinds of room sizes.  Whether you just need a single TV mounted to a wall or want to design a home theater in a bonus room, contact us to learn about all the ways we can help you.  Headquartered in Pembroke, GA, we service Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas, including Skidaway IslandTybee IslandStatesboroPoolerRichmond Hill and Hilton Head SC, we install technology for both business and residential customers.