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TV sizes and viewing distance

How to choose the right screen size for your room

Julie Govan is the Brand Manager at Crutchfield, and has been writing about consumer electronics since 1999. Her areas of expertise include home theater, surround sound, digital cameras, and HDTV. In her spare time, she also writes book reviews and fiction. She earned a B.A. in English from Davidson College, and went on to receive a master's degree in English literature from the University of Virginia.

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Three TV sizes

Choosing the optimum TV screen size should be based on how far you'll be sitting from it, and what you'll be watching, as well as on your own viewing preferences.

In a Nutshell

Sitting up close to your TV gives you a more immersive, theater-like viewing experience. The image fills up more of your field of vision, so your eyes are less likely to stray from the action.  

For 1080p HDTVs, we suggest a viewing distance between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 times the screen's diagonal measurement. You can sit even closer to a 4K TV — 1 to 1-1/2 times the screen diagonal.

You're sitting too close if you can make out the screen's "structure" — those rows and columns of pixels that look like tiny dots. 

Full Story

The expression "bigger is better" actually makes a pretty reasonable guideline when you're trying to decide on TV screen size.

Go with the largest screen your room, viewing distance, and budget will accommodate.

We occasionally hear people wishing their TV's screen was bigger, but rarely hear them wishing their screen was smaller.

For HDTVs, we suggest a viewing distance between 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 times the screen diagonal.
Screen size Viewing distance range for 1080p HDTVs
40" 5.0-8.3 feet
43" 5.4-9 feet
50" 6.3-10.4 feet
55" 6.9-11.5 feet
60" 7.5-12.5 feet
65" 8.1-13.5 feet
70" 8.75-14.6 feet
75" 9.4-15.6 feet
80" 10.0-16.7 feet
85" 10.6-17.7 feet
To see the extra detail of 4K TVs, you should sit closer — we suggest from 1 to 1-1/2 times the screen diagonal.
Screen size Viewing distance range for 4K Ultra HD TVs
40" 3.3-5.0 feet
43" 3.6-5.4 feet
50" 4.2-6.3 feet
55" 4.6-6.9 feet
60" 5.0-7.5 feet
65" 5.4-8.1 feet
70" 5.8-8.75 feet
75" 6.3-9.4 feet
80" 6.7-10.0 feet
85" 7.1-10.6 feet

Shop by TV size

Viewing distance and picture quality: two parts of the screen size equation

Old-school tube TVs typically had screens 36" or less, and you didn't want to sit too close because if you did you'd notice the screen's scan lines. But with current TV models, sitting too far away may mean you miss some of the high-def detail you paid for.

But you also want to avoid sitting too close to your TV. You're too close if you find yourself distracted by the screen's "structure" — those rows and columns of pixels that look like tiny dots.

If you're not sure which screen size is best for your room size and viewing distance, use our charts as a guideline. It might also tip you off to how your current  viewing distance lines up with industry recommendations.

You'll notice that we provided a range for each screen size, rather than a hard and fast number. That's because the viewing distance you prefer will depend on your personal tastes, as well as what kind of material you'll most often watch.

If you watch lots of high-quality video — like Blu-rays, over-the-air programming, or 4K streams — you can sit at the closer end of the range.

On the other hand, if you'll still be watching lots of lower-quality sources, we recommend sitting at the higher end so that you'll notice less of the image's flaws.

4K Ultra High Definition TVs have much higher resolution screens, with the ability to show four times the detail of a 1080p screen. The pixels on Ultra HD screens are incredibly small — even standing right next to the screen it's hard to discern individual pixels. This means you can sit much closer to an Ultra HD TV than to a regular HDTV — as close as 1 times the screen diagonal.

A few more tips on TV placement

Viewing angle

Viewing angle is another factor that affects TV picture quality. No matter what display technology your TV uses — LCD, plasma, OLED — it will look its best when viewed straight-on, at eye level. With that in mind, you'll probably need a TV stand to support your TV and raise it to the correct viewing height.

Today's skinny, lightweight flat-panel TVs give you options: you can either go with a stand, or use a TV wall mount for on-wall placement. Wall-mounting saves considerable floor space and gives your home theater a nice, finished look. See our guide to wall-mounting your flat-panel TV for more detailed on-wall TV placement tips.


Choose a stand or wall mount that's made to accommodate your TV's weight and size. An old coffee table may not be able to stand up to the weight of really big TVs.

Also, be sure that your TV is placed properly on your stand, and that it's balanced left to right, and front to back. If you have small children, wall-mounting your TV is a good way to reduce the chances of an injury caused by a TV tipping over. Or, if you're placing your TV on a stand or other furniture, a TV safety strap is a smart safety option.

Rather than the traditional pedestal stand, many new TVs are supported by two legs placed out near the edges of the screen. You'll want to be careful not to place your TV so that the legs are close enough to slip off if the TV is bumped.

Since TVs tend to be heavier towards the front, you should avoid setting them too close to the front edge of the stand.

You'll also find detailed safety tips for wall-mounted TVs in our in-depth wall-mounting guide.

Room lighting and your TV's picture

Light from lamps and windows can also affect your TV's picture.

Properly done, it can have a positive effect, helping to prevent eye strain and providing deeper-looking blacks. But in a lot of cases, it can have a negative impact, creating on-screen glare and making your TV's colors look faded and washed out.

If your viewing room has a lot of ambient light from lamps and windows, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent it from negatively affecting your TV's picture.

TV placement and room lighting

Controlling your room's ambient light with window treatments and lamp dimmers can help your picture look its best at any time of day.

  • If you can, take room lighting into consideration when choosing a spot for your TV. A little furniture shuffling might be worth it if it means your TV won't be directly across from West-facing French doors that create afternoon glare.
  • Windows that let in bright sunlight should have blinds, shades, or curtains to keep reflections off the screen.
  • Light from a window behind the TV makes it difficult for your eyes to adjust to the very different brightness of the TV screen. For watching during daylight hours, consider treating these windows with curtains and blinds.
  • If you're concerned about glare in your room, consider an LCD TV — their bright, anti-reflective screens generally hold up the best in well-lit rooms.
  • With just about any TV (except a projector), it's best to have a little bit of light shining on the wall behind it. If you watch in total darkness, the TV's range of brightness can cause eyestrain.
  • Use dimmers in your home theater room to precisely control the amount of background light for optimum viewing comfort. For the greatest convenience (and the biggest "wow" factor), look for dimmers that are remote-controllable.
Last updated November 02, 2016
  • C B Gordanier from Seattle

    Posted on 5/16/2015 12:19:20 PM

    I flush mounted my 42" flat screen into a 6'X8' mini wall, popped-out 1-1/2" into the living room; then, backlit the 'floater's' perimeter with recessed LED strip lights controlled by the home automation system. The whole effect is quite pleasing, lessening eyestrain and expanding the entertainment experience in our small condominium. My current project is to display background images (similar to a PC) onto the screen when present but not viewing. This is in lieu of a big black hole staring back at me.

  • Terry Roy from St Perersburg, Fl

    Posted on 8/13/2015 6:48:35 PM

    Very informative piece, a lot of very good information.

  • none from London

    Posted on 8/31/2015 3:20:20 AM

    hate when everything is given in feet. You know, my feet is bigger than yours, you should get and start using some standard, such as SI

  • Steve

    Posted on 10/9/2015 4:52:17 PM

    Is the distance measured from tv to eyeballs or to edge or back of sofa....thanks

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/12/2015 1:48:26 PM

    Steve, I'd say if possible measure from where you're sitting on the couch (or your eyes).

  • Bionicwoman from Missouri city

    Posted on 10/24/2015 9:22:45 PM

    Trying to not put my 65 inch over the fireplace, but its center of the room. Have any other ideas?

  • Louise Fontaine from Rockville

    Posted on 11/29/2015 10:15:37 PM

    Bought 50 inch TV How far shoud be distance to watch and how high or how low should you recommend should be placed? Thank you.

  • Tom Weeks from Loganville

    Posted on 12/27/2015 11:26:43 AM

    It will make my age apparent but I can remember when the Sony 27in was the biggest screen in town. I had two of them and would watch them from 14 feet away and was just delighted. My first flat screen was a 50in Pioneer Kuro and my wife thought I was crazy because we watched it from about 12 feet away.

  • Rookie from Okinawa

    Posted on 12/29/2015 2:35:08 AM

    Hey CB, please share how your next project went: display of background images onto the screen when present but not viewing.

  • carl weil

    Posted on 1/24/2016 1:56:36 PM

    I am old enough to remember family's 8" tube in the 1950 my 24" flat screen is fine in my 16' x 16' family room is just fine from 10' away big is better is an American silliness- want big? i go to the theater

  • kerry from cherry hill

    Posted on 5/3/2016 4:50:58 PM

    I'm looking to buy a 65".....But now not sure a 1080 or a 4k?? Viewing distance on the L couch is 9'-12',.... Thoughts?

  • Jerry VanAlstyne from Gloversville

    Posted on 8/25/2016 11:56:52 AM

    I remember when all the tv's were on the floor. Now they are all up on the walls or on stands Is there a recamended height for the tv's of today

  • Joel from Bellrose

    Posted on 9/9/2016 7:05:48 AM

    4k for me all the way

  • Gus from Austin, TX

    Posted on 2/1/2017 11:02:50 AM

    Wonderful.. the future is having everyone move the loveseat to different distance from the screen for different sources. A 75" screen displaying native 4k w/HDR is mildly wasted if your eyeballs aren't appx 8 feet away. (THX viewing angle compliant) Same 75" screen will expose compression and resolution flaws closer than 14' watching 720p Fox/ABC/ESPN. Native pixel display for 720p on a 4k tv is 1/9th of the screen in the center (tic tac toe center square). Thats a huge gap and the networks are years away from catching up. Games and streaming will pinch dinosaur networks when people catch on.

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