How Close Should You Sit to the TV?

How many times have you heard sitting close to the TV will hurt your eyes? While watching TV from any distance can cause mild eyestrains, there is no direct correlation with sitting close to the television and permanent eye damage.

So, instead of deciding where to sit based on protecting your eyes, choose the spot that will give you the best viewing experience.

SD and HD makes a difference

720 and 1080 resolutions, commonly referred to as high definition or HD, have become the new norm for televisions. However, if your TV is more than 5 years old, it may be only capable of displaying lower resolutions, or standard definition. Even if your TV is suited for HD programming, some channels do not offer it, which means your picture will be of a lower quality no matter what kind of TV you have.

If you are watching TV with an SD picture, you’ll want to sit farther from the TV. The lower the resolution, the more pixilated the display will be, and the closer you sit to the screen, the more you will be able to notice these pixels.

So how far away should you sit from a standard definition TV in order to keep those unsightly pixels from spoiling your show? Roughly 3 times the size of the screen.

Here’s how far you should sit from your SD TV or programming:

  • 32 to 40 inches – 8 to 10 feet
  • 41 to 49 inches – 10.5 to 12.5 feet
  • 50 to 59 inches – 12.5 to 14.5 feet
  • 60 to 65 inches – 15 to 16.5 feet

Sitting closer than these recommended distances won’t guarantee an inferior viewing experience, but you may notice a more imprecise picture the closer you get.

The better the resolution, the closer you can (and should) get

HD’s increased number of pixels means sharper display and more fluid movement, enabling most viewers to sit about twice as close before noticing imperfections in the picture.

Here’s an estimate of where you should sit for the best HD viewing experience:

  • 32 to 40 inches – 4.5 to 5.5 feet
  • 41 to 49 inches – 5.5 to 6.5 feet
  • 50 to 59 inches – 6.5 to 8 feet
  • 60 to 65 inches – 8 to 9 feet

HD is great, but as of right now, 4K is the current leader in picture quality. With 4 times the number of pixels that you get with HD, 4K has become synonymous with “Ultra-HD”. This resolution is so sharp, you’d have to be bizarrely close to the TV, as in a matter of inches, to notice flaws such as pixilation.

For the best 4K viewing experience, you should sit about 1.5 times the screen height, not the advertised size, away from the TV.

It all looks the same if you sit too far away

There’s a reason you should sit closer when watching TV in HD or 4K. If you’re sitting too far away, your eyes will not be able to pick up on the substantial differences between the different displays. Plus, sitting closer to the screen gives you a more immersive viewing experience.

Of course the real determining factor for viewing distance should be what works for you. Don’t rearrange your living room furniture or re-mount your TV elsewhere if you’re comfortable with your current setup. But, keep these viewing distances in mind next time you go to purchase a new TV or move, and don’t be afraid to get a little closer to your TV.

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