Bigger and closer is usually better when it comes to choosing the perfect television for your room. Not only is it the biggest factor affecting the price of a television, but it also has a huge impact on the perceived picture quality.
Since resolutions found today are almost exclusively 4k/Ultra HD, It takes a very big TV watched from very close to see imperfections related to the resolution. Because of this, one can appreciate their TVs from much closer for a more immersive experience. Think of it like a movie theater, the more a TV fills your view, the more captivating the content will be.
That doesn't mean you should be sitting a foot away from your TV. Not everybody prefers having the largest screen possible. The human visual system has an angle of view of about 135 degrees horizontally, and while it makes some sense for movies to get as large a TV you can get, content isn't produced to be viewed while filling the entire field of vision. This becomes very apparent if you try to watch sports from up close while fixating a single part of the screen, as it gets quite nauseating.
The Guidelines from the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers recommends sitting at a distance where the screen fills up about 30° of your field of vision as a minimum for a good experience.
This generally provides good guidance, but users that use their TVs mostly for watching movies might benefit from sitting a bit closer to get a more theater-like. The SMPTE "reference" position for movie theaters and the THX recommendation is about 40°. The minimum angle of vision works well for most usages though and sitting at a distance where the screen fills 30° of your horizontal field of view should be comfortable for most people.
|Screen Size||Recommended Mixed Usage Distance
|Recommended Cinema Distance
|25"||3.4' (1.04 m)||2.5' (0.77 m)|
|30"||4.1' (1.24 m)||3' (0.92 m)|
|35"||4.8' (1.45 m)||3.5' (1.07 m)|
|40"||5.5' (1.66 m)||4' (1.22 m)|
|45"||6.1' (1.86 m)||4.5' (1.37 m)|
|50"||6.8' (2.06 m)||5' (1.53 m)|
|55"||7.5' (2.28 m)||5.5' (1.68 m)|
|60"||8.2' (2.48 m)||6' (1.83 m)|
|65"||8.9' (2.69 m)||6.5' (1.98 m)|
|70"||9.5' (2.9 m)||7' (2.13 m)|
|75"||10.2' (3.1 m)||7.5' (2.29 m)|
|80"||10.9' (3.31 m)||8' (2.44 m)|
|85"||11.6' (3.52 m)||8.5' (2.59 m)|
Higher field of view was first made possible with Full HD resolutions, but 4k enhances that ability even more. Sitting close to a 1080p TV will often make it seem like you are watching your TV through a screen door, even if it is playing a high quality 1080p HD movie. By increasing your distance from the TV, the density of the details will also increase, producing a better image. This is the angular resolution: the number of pixels per angle. The farther away, the higher the angular resolution will be.
Since 4k TVs have such a large density of pixels, it is much more difficult for this issue to arise. You need to be quite close to a fairly large TV for it to be noticeably annoying.
The limit to which you can increase the angular resolution by stepping back depends on your visual acuity. At some point, your eyes are not good enough to distinguish all the details. Studies show that someone with 20/20 vision (or 6/6 in Europe) can distinguish something 1/60 of a degree apart. This means 60 pixels per degree or 32 degrees for a 1080p television. 4k UHD TVs double that to 64 degrees. Keep in mind that you can see a single pixel from further away (depending on its contrast with the rest of the picture).
For 4k, this distance is often too close for most people. This is because 1080p was designed around the field of view logic above. It is the cutting point at which both the optimal field of view and 60 pixels per degree meet. For lower resolutions, it meant sitting a bit further than preferable to not notice the pixels, 4k resolutions and higher give you a lot more freedom. Because of this, visual acuity isn't really the best way to find the right distance anymore, and it should instead be used as a way to figure out the closest point you can sit to a TV without hitting its resolution limitation.
|Screen Size||Optimal Distance
|25"||3.2' (0.98 m)||1.5' (0.46 m)|
|30"||3.8' (1.16 m)||1.7' (0.52 m)|
|35"||4.4' (1.35 m)||2' (0.61 m)|
|40"||5.1' (1.56 m)||2.3' (0.71 m)|
|45"||5.7' (1.74 m)||2.6' (0.8 m)|
|50"||6.3' (1.93 m)||2.9' (0.89 m)|
|55"||7' (2.14 m)||3.2' (0.98 m)|
|60"||7.6' (2.32 m)||3.8' (1.16 m)|
|65"||8.2' (2.5 m)||4.1' (1.25 m)|
|70"||8.9' (2.72 m)||4.4' (1.35 m)|
There are a few ways to read the chart. For example, let's say that you have a 50" television. Start at the bottom of the chart at 50". Up to 3', you are below the blue line. This means you can see the pixels of an Ultra HD resolution. If you go back a bit (up in the chart), between 3' and 7', an Ultra HD resolution does not matter anymore because you cannot see the extra pixels anyway. However, you are still too close for a 1080p resolution (it will not appear perfect). Above 7', the perceived quality will start to decrease for 1080p because your eye will not see all the details. You would notice the difference though, it if was 720p. For more than 10', it does not matter if it is a 720p or 1080p HDTV, your eyes are not good enough to see the difference. You will still see the difference for a standard resolution video, though, up to a distance of 18'. To summarize, you can see the pixels if you are below the line, but not when you are above.
To use your TV's resolution to its maximum, you want to be exactly on the line for your TV dimensions and media resolution.
This takes into account perfect resolution, which is never the case in real life. Even if you are watching an HD channel presented in high resolution, there will be some artifacts due to the compression algorithm. Artifacts can appear in multiple forms like noise, blurs or a pixelated image (see the picture to the right). You will be able to see artifacts from farther away, so consider the above numbers as being for perfect 1080p media. The numbers show the minimum distance at which you start losing the advantage of the resolution. However, 4k TVs are the most common nowadays, and we recommend using our FOV chart as angular resolution is almost a non-issue with UHD content.
You are probably now thinking something along the lines of "My couch is 10' away from my TV, which according to the chart means I need a 75 inch TV. This is insane!". Yes, if you want to take advantage of the full capacity of higher resolutions, this is the ideal size. This brings us to the main limitation for most people: the budget.
The price of a TV is exponential to its size, as shown in the chart. The chart shows the price range of 2016 LED TVs by their size. As you can see, the jump to a 70 inch TV is quite a big one. For example, check out the price of our picks for the best 70"-75" TVs and the best 80-82-85" TVs.
We recommend an angle of vision of 30 degrees for a mixed usage. In general, we also recommend getting a 4k TV since 1080p choices have become quite limited and lack modern features such as HDR. To easily find out what size you should buy, you can divide your TV viewing distance (in inches) by 1.6 (or use our TV size calculator above) which roughly equals to a 30 degrees angle. If the best size is outside your budget, just get the biggest TV you can afford.