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Formula to calculate TV screen size vs where you sit to view

by Big Steve / January 9, 2015 11:26 AM PST

Is there a formula or formulas on the interweb that someone can use to calculate how big of a HDTV set they should buy based upon how far they will be sitting away from the TV to view it?

I've been sitting 10 feet away from my current entertainment cabinet for years trying to watch a 27" JVC analog stereo TV set which just died last night; I've already started looking at HDTV sets online. Some relatives have told me to look at LED sets instead of LCD sets.

I will probably have to buy a new TV cabinet to replace my old one which can only accomodate a 27" size analog TV or an HDTV set no wider than 29.5" inches so the cabinet's pocket doors will still be able to open and close and not rub against the side of the TV.

My cabinet which is nice but old; about 10 years old is about 6 feet wide by 5 feet high. I've ruled out putting a much larger HDTV on top of my current cabinet because it would be sitting too high in the air I think.

If I bought one of the newer lower profile cabinets that are out today; something no more than 3 feet high by 6 feet wide and if I sat in a chair roughly 10 feet away is there a formula to determine how big of a HDTV set I should buy? I might have to consider moving my chair closer to the cabinet; maybe 8 feet away instead of 10.

I'll have to go to a few retail stores to look at sets but there are no electronic retail stores here where I live that are set up with living room type areas where you can go; sit down and watch a TV. You go to a Walmart or a Best Buy or a Target or Sears where you'll stand and look at their sets on the wall. Feedback on my question would be appreciated.

Big Steve
01/09/15

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I sit 8 feet away from a 47" LED TV.
by wpgwpg / January 9, 2015 11:34 AM PST

It works well for everything except football where I wish I had a 55". That's what I'll buy when I have to replace the current one.

What difference does it make whether you're standing or sitting in the store? It makes none to my eyes, but if it's really important to you, you could always take one of those little folding chairs that some folks take to sporting events.

Happy shopping.

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Re: I sit 8 feet away from a 47" LED TV.
by Big Steve / January 9, 2015 11:53 AM PST

It makes a big difference for me right now to be able to sit down in a store to look at a TV after having total knee replacement surgery on my right knee 2 months ago but I found this good article by CNET which I should have read first before starting this thread. A follow up question; do most people buy a new HDTV set online or from a bricks and mortar store? .

Big Steve
01/09/15

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I've bought mainly in stores, but got 2 via online too.
by wpgwpg / January 9, 2015 11:18 PM PST

The TVs I'm going to spend a lot of time watching, I want to see in a store. My Visa card had a rewards program where you could get TVs with your bonus points, so I got one for the bedroom and one for the basement that way. Not before I'd gone to stores and seen what those models looked like though.

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Re: I've bought mainly in stores, but got 2 via online too.
by Big Steve / January 10, 2015 3:05 AM PST

wpgwpg:

That 47" LED TV set that you have; you sit 8 feet away from it to view it; is it a 1080p set and also is it a 60Hz or a 120Hz? After reading that article by CNET about what size screen a HDTV set needs to be for the best viewing if you'll be sitting "X" distance away from it to view it; does the 720p vs 1080p feature also need to be considered when you're determining how far away you'll be sitting from the set or should you only consider a 720p vs 1080p when you're considering buying a set with a specific screen size like a 32" vs a 47"?

Also should the set be a 60Hz or 120Hz depending on how far away you sit from the set? I'll probably move my chair to within 8 feet of my cabinet. Also if a 32" set which I already know is available in 720p; if it's also available in 1080p and I now know to sit no more than 8 feet away from a 32" set installed inside a cabinet; does it matter if the set has 720p vs 1080p if I'm sitting no more than 8 feet away from it to view it?

Big Steve
01/10/15

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My 47" is 1080P and 120 Hz
by wpgwpg / January 10, 2015 5:13 AM PST

On 32" and below it doesn't make much difference if it's 720P or 1080P, but on anything larger you definitely want 1080P. 120 Hz makes movement a bit smoother, especially in sports events, but like so many other things, I don't see as much difference as they say there is. It's hard to get away from advertising hype with anything you buy.
Two other things to check out are viewing angle and contrast. If you buy a LED set, you probably don't have to worry about contrast, but if you're tempted to buy some bargain LCD, just check it out. LEDs (actually LEDs are LCDs with LED backlighting) and LCDs are both subject to viewing angle differences, so check that out before buying.
Good luck.

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Re: My 47" is 1080p and 120Hz
by Big Steve / January 10, 2015 1:19 PM PST

wpgwpg:

I've been told by others to buy an LED HDTV set; not an LCD. When you mention viewing angel differences are you saying if you are seated straight in front of the set you'll get one level of picture quality but if you were to sit off to the side and view the pictures on the set from a different angle there will be a difference? Is your 47" set mounted on the wall or do you have the set on top of a low profile entertainment cabinet?

I'm sure CNET has other articles on what a consumer should know about HDTV sets before going out to buy one because I want to be better informed about these sets before I go to some stores and check them out. Some of the sales clerks can try to sell you more than you need. Did you purchase an extended warranty on your 47" set or just went with the manufacturer's standard warranty?

Big Steve
01/10/15

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You've got the idea about viewing angle
by wpgwpg / January 10, 2015 11:16 PM PST

I have a friend who just bought a HDTV. If you sit directly in front of it, you see a beautiful picture, but if you're off to the side at about a 45 degree angle, it looks very faded. So when you're in the stores looking, be sure to stand off to the side and check that out.

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Re: You've got the idea about the viewing angle.
by Big Steve / January 11, 2015 2:17 AM PST

wpgwpg:

Thanks for the feedback. I might try and go look at some sets soon; I can go either to my local Super Walmart; to a Best Buy in another town or to Sears here in town at a mall; that's about all that I have here. There is a Super Target across the bay from where I live but I don't want to go use a major credit card at Target. If I had to pick just one retailer to go to which one would probably have the best selection? I don't want to waste time going to a retailer only to find out they might be out of a specific size set or sets but they'll tell me they'll order me one as soon as I agree to buy one.

My town lost a very nice electronics superstore on August 29, 2005; the store was part of a company chain headquartered in New Orleans but Hurricane Katrina destroyed their store here and that retailer never built it back. It was a nice store which had several sitting areas where you could go and view different sized TV sets. Your friend who just bought the 45" HDTV set; do you happen to know how far back he sits from his set to view programming? I watched a video clip last night on distance calculation verses TV size; it went something like this.

If you plan to sit 7 feet away from a HDTV set take 7 multiply that by 12; 12 representing the number of inches in a foot; 7' x 12" = 84" divide 84" by 2; 2 being a constant that the video used so 84" divided by 2 = 42; 42" was the diagonal screen size HDTV set the tech guy in the video recommended to buy for the best viewing if you planned to sit 7 feet away from the set. If you planned to sit 8 feet away from the set using the same formula you should buy a 48" HDTV set. I don't know how accurate that formula is which is why I need to go look at some sets. Finally do you recommend purchasing an extended warranty on a HDTV set or not?

Big Steve
01/11/15

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Also look at the Carleton-Bale chart
by Pepe7 / January 11, 2015 4:52 AM PST

Steve-

This is the resource I find more useful, especially once you have narrowed down the exact size you intend on purchasing for a particular viewing space. Here's a link-

http://carltonbale.com/1080p-does-matter/

You really haven't provided a relative budget for this project You also haven't told us whether or not the viewing space is particularly bright (e.g. large bay windows, etc. nearby). That would help get a feel for what HDTV you might want to go with. Personally, if you can provide adequate room darkening shades/curtains, I would also seriously look at buying a plasma instead, since it will do two things. First, plasma can provide a better picture quality, sometimes even better than LED HDTVs nearly 3x the price. Second, it will more closely resemble the 'feel' of your old CRT, but improve both resolution, contrast, etc. (This I why I retained our old Sony Trinitron in a basement room w/ VCR.)

If there's a Best Buy you can check out nearby, or simply purchase online (which I recommend), look into the 51" Samsung PN51F5300. It's an incredible value, and unbelievably, is still actually available @ \$549 online. The 60" version I have not tested in person, but it may be overkill for your space possibly.

Personally, I wouldn't count on most of the 'in person' HDTV comparison to be particularly useful in the short term if you intend on buying the new rig soon. Not only are many of the models not on display, they are rarely if ever set up properly to maximize the picture quality you can get at home with proper configuration. I would use such in person comparisons as extremely rough data acqusition. Normally, the profit margins are higher on the LED 'smart TV' models, so that's what the stores will focus on selling/promoting. Plasma may still be a better option for you if you can spend more time assessing which device may be viable for your space. This may mean spending a few weeks reading on some of the web discussions forums such a @ AVS, etc.

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Re: Also look at the Carleton-Bale chart
by Big Steve / January 11, 2015 6:23 AM PST

Pepe7:

My entertainment cabinet is in my living room which also has a formal dining room included; it was my parent's home but now that they're gone it's my home which I've lived in since the day they bought it as a new model home back in 1962. The house faces south so I get a lot of natural sunlight in the living room during the summer months because there is this one huge window in the living room.

Without knowing the window's actual dimensions I'm going to guess and say the window; actually it's three windows together is probably about 12 feet wide by 7 feet high and this is just guessing but the whole window section is huge. The ceilings in this 1960's style colonial home are 8 feet high which was the standard ceiling height in most of the homes back then unless you owned a home on our beach and those had very high ceilings.

As far as budget goes I haven't decided right now if I'm going to buy something that will fit inside my current entertainment cabinet which was purchased from a Lazy Boy Gallery store about 10 years ago; it's really nice but if I decide to buy something that will fit inside that cabinet any set I go look at cannot be more than 29.5" wide which is the dimensions on the 27" JVC analog set that's in the cabinet now.

I've looked at a few Samsung 32" HDTV LED sets online on several websites and 2 that I looked at have a maximum width of 29.5". If the set is wider than 29.5" that won't work because right now there's only 1/4" clearance on each side of my JVC 27" analog set which allows just enough space for the pull out pocket doors on my cabinet to open and close. The cabinet is 5 feet tall so I've ruled out putting a larger set on the top of the cabinet.

I have another option; in the den area of the house is a Magnavox entertainment center from the 1960's; a beautiful piece of French Provincial furniture still; it takes 2 guys to lift it; none of the electronics work in it anymore but the cabinet is still in very good condition considering how old it is. My parents paid around \$500.00 for it back in 1963. It came equipped with a 21" black and white TV; a record player at one end and the TV's tuner and an AM/FM stereo radio at the other end all concealed under sliding doors. The TV had sliding doors which could be opened and closed as needed but this was well before the days of remote control; no remote came with this unit. The cabinet measures 7 feet wide by 32 inches high. I could probably put a larger set on top of it; I'm just trying to picture in my mind what it's going to look like. Thanks for the link which I'll check out later.

Big Steve
01/11/15

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Re: Also look at the Carleton-Bale chart.
by Big Steve / January 11, 2015 6:40 AM PST
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That might work on top
by Pepe7 / January 12, 2015 12:03 AM PST

You may have to shore up the middle though. YMMV.

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So without light control/good curtains...
by Pepe7 / January 12, 2015 12:03 AM PST

...it's probably safe to assume that you may do better with an LED. YMMV.

More practically though, I would advise you to think out of the box a little. The current cabinet you have is not well suited for a modern HDTV, both dimension-wise and location. Placing the HDTV along the floor is almost worse than placing it above a high fireplace mantle(!) Ideally, when comfortably seated in the viewing space, while looking straight ahead your eyes should be nearly gazing directly at the top portion of any HDTV. To get close to this with your current cabinet/stand, you would absolutely want/need to place the HDTV *above* the top and not place it inside where the old (square shaped) CRT was.

Regarding the overall size, I suggest buying the largest HDTV with the best PQ your budget will allow. There's always some amount of buyers remorse if you take home a HDTV that you find too small later on. I suggest starting with at least a 40" size since a 32 is barely larger than your current 27" CRT. The sweet spot is often closer to 50" when looking at pricing/size for higher quality rigs.

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I'd think the Super Walmart would have a good selection
by wpgwpg / January 11, 2015 8:23 AM PST

The local Best Buy stores in my area usually have good selections, but I hate dealing with them because they advertise things they don't have in stock.
My friend who got the TV with the limited viewing angle didn't buy a 45" TV, it was a 28" for the kitchen. I don't remember whether it was a Vizio or Samsung; it was one of the two - I think it was a Vizio.
I don't know about those formulas of yours. I'm a math major, but I'd rather let my eyes be the judge instead of some genius in an ivory tower somewhere.

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Re: I'd think the Super Walmart would have a good selection
by Big Steve / January 11, 2015 11:51 AM PST

wpgwpg:

The one thing I've heard about Best Buy; if you go in to purchase a big ticket item they're trying to force you to buy their extended warranty. So your friend didn't buy a 45" TV; it was a 28" TV; more like a bedroom size TV. Do you buy those extended warranties on big ticket items? The HDTV LED sets being sold today will last about 5 years under normal use? Thanks for the feedback.

Big Steve
01/11/15

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Time to pull up a chair ;)
by Pepe7 / January 11, 2015 11:52 PM PST

We are all adults here. Nobody's forcing you to buy anything you do not agree to. We do our research and buy what we need/want ;). Of course they are going to push a high margin product like an extended warranty- it only makes sense from a business perspective (especially retail, selling electronics that are popular 'feel good' items).

Bottom line is, the extended warranty is capable of provided the average consumer with a small hedge in case something goes wrong. These devices are somewhat delicate and are in no way built like the old tank-like CRT models we all use to own. Issues do happen sometimes, regardless of whether or not the item is an LCD, LED or Plasma HDTV. Of course the overall budget comes into play, which is why I often recommend using Square Trade instead of the ubiquitous Best Buy overpriced product. Right now, it can save the average buyer around 40-50% if you buy the 2 or 4 year product for a \$500 HDTV (ballpark). Again, doing research can lead you to choose this vs the same thing @ BB.

Also, you wouldn't even have to buy it while comparing models in store. Just order it online when you get home if you somehow feel 'pressured' to buy add-ons, etc.

Regarding lifespan, you should expect these to last a lot longer than 5 years, but it's not out of the ordinary for a repair to be needed inside that time. YMMV.

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I hardly ever buy extended warranties
by wpgwpg / January 12, 2015 12:36 AM PST

As far as expected life is concerned, my 47" LG TV has an expected life of either 20,000 or 30,000 hours, I don't remember which. You can divide that number by the average no. of hours per day you expect to have the TV on. I came up with 7 years. It's 4 years old now and I haven't seen the slightest sign of aging with it yet. It's the first HDTV I bought so I guess it'll be a few more years before I'll see one of my TVs crap out.

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I hear you on that ;)
by Pepe7 / January 12, 2015 12:51 AM PST

FWIW, I have only had two go bad. The first was an older Dynex (BB house brand). POS. The second was a Samsung LCD. Both were in kids/extra rooms and not in a primary/HT viewing space, so I didn't really get too riled up. The other eight I have purchased over the years for personal use/family gifts all performed with spec and some are still working AFAIK to this day (some sold/removed w/ upgrades). This excludes dozens I have bought for client installs though. Obviously I have no idea of the actual lifespans of those units, but I suspect there's nothing short of typical 'bell curve' performance out of most of those HDTVs. It can often be a random event such as a power surge when you aren't even home that wipes out or damages a particular device. YMMV. I honestly am willing to not worry so much about the extra cost when Square Trade can provide 4 more years of coverage for \$99.

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Yes, your eyes should assist
by Pepe7 / January 12, 2015 12:07 AM PST

Understand though, when you look at various HDTVs in the big box stores, you normally get some of the crappiest feeds, poorest configuration settings combined with atrocious lighting conditions. Hardly anything beyond a rough look here. (see my comments in context here regarding plasma vs LED/etc.)

The graph/chart doesn't lie regarding the resolutions/sizes/distances where you eyes (even air force pilots) aren't capable of discerning between additional resolution. In this regard, the chart is quite useful.

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I found the "typical life expectancy" for my TV
by wpgwpg / January 12, 2015 1:07 AM PST
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Re: I found the "typical life expectancy" for my TV
by Big Steve / January 13, 2015 11:16 AM PST

wpgwpg:

Would I be able to connect a 10 year old Pioneer Dolby Pro-Logic stereo receiver to any new HDTV set if I wanted to enjoy surround sound? I purchased my Pioneer received from a major electronics retailer by phone several years ago. I also purchased a nice pair of Infinity stereo speakers which are about 3 feet tall and matching stands; a smaller pair of Infinity stereo speakers which are about 12" tall and sit on matching stands which I have set up at the back of my living room and I also purchased an Infinity center channel speaker which is too large to place on top of any HDTV set today.

I watched a few videos on YouTube last night showing how to unpack and set up a 32" Samsung LED HDTV; one video pointed out that the set in the video had connections on the side of the set which might not work for me if I decide to install any new HDTV set in my cabinet but as long as the new set's width does not exceed 29.5" it should still fit inside of my cabinet. I could remove the sliding pocket doors from the cabinet but I'd rather not do that. I've looked at several 32" model HDTV sets online which have widths of just under 29.5"; several list their widths at 29.1". If I decide to buy something larger than a 32" set I'll just have to put it on top of my current cabinet which is 5 feet tall.

Big Steve
01/13/15

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You have the complete specs to my TV
by wpgwpg / January 13, 2015 12:04 PM PST

If you buy something different, you'll need to check its specs to see if they're compatible with what you have. They're all different, but I've been told that the optical digital output is a standard. You just have to do your homework.

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Re: You have the complete specs to my TV
by Big Steve / January 13, 2015 3:11 PM PST

wpgwpg:

I measured the height of my cabinet again tonight; it's 54" tall not 60" tall. Thanks for the feedback.

Big Steve
01/14/15

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Provide the model number of the Pio please
by Pepe7 / January 13, 2015 11:46 PM PST

That way we can check if it does output 5.1 surround sound, and has the correct inputs like wpgwpg mentioned.

FWIW, I still have an older surround Onkyo HT system in a den/guest room. The receiver lacks HDMI, but does have multiple digital inputs for proper 5.1 surround. Hopefully yours is similar(!)

Your issue will be the lack of a subwoofer, since you didn't list it, and without it, the surround system will not be complete.

cheers

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Re: Provide the model number of the Pio please
by Big Steve / January 14, 2015 2:08 AM PST

Pepe7:

The model number of my Pioneer stereo receiver is VSX-D602S.

Big Steve
01/14/15

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Could you double check the rear of the unit to see
by Pepe7 / January 14, 2015 2:25 AM PST
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Re: Could you double check the rear of the unit to see
by Big Steve / January 14, 2015 5:50 AM PST

Pepe7:

I'll check that out but my stereo receiver looks much cleaner than the one listed on Ebay. I'll check to see if mine has a HDMI connector on the back but I doubt that it does.

Big Steve
01/14/15

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