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The TV Positioning Guide: How To Find The Best Viewing Position

The TV Positioning Guide

Buying a new TV can be an exciting experience. With so many options on the market, from sleek flatscreens to giant curved models boasting the latest features, it’s tempting to just grab the biggest, flashiest set you can afford. But while a TV’s specifications are important, an often overlooked factor is the viewing position – how and where you place your TV within the room. Properly positioning your TV not only improves the viewing experience but can also help avoid eye strain and other issues. Follow this guide to find the optimal setup for your new TV.

Size Matters – But Not How You Think

When looking for a new TV, it’s natural to think that bigger is better. But while a larger screen can draw you into the action, size alone doesn’t determine picture quality. Today’s high-def displays pack millions of tiny pixels into the screen. If the screen is too large for the viewing distance, these pixels become visible to the naked eye. The result is a pixelated, blurry image.

So resist the urge to buy the biggest screen you can afford. Instead, consider the size and layout of the room, and where you’ll be sitting relative to the TV. Our eyes have a limited ability to distinguish detail at a distance. Sit too far from a smaller screen, and you won’t be able to appreciate the clarity. Sit too close to a large screen, and you’ll see individual pixels.

As a general rule, your viewing distance should be 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal length of the screen. For a 55” TV, that puts the ideal couch position 6’ to 9’ away. For larger home theaters, increase the ratio up to 3:1. Calculate your required distance before buying, and choose a screen size that fits the room.

Don’t Stuff a Big Screen in the Corner

It can be tempting to tuck a large TV into the corner of a room. But this arrangement makes it almost impossible to sit at an ideal viewing position. The angles are awkward, and you’ll end up sitting much closer than you should.

Place your TV on a flat, open stretch of wall with enough space in front to accommodate seating at the proper distance. This also leaves room for a sound system or speakers positioned optimally relative to the display.

Plan Ahead With a Cardboard Cutout

Once you bring your new TV home, don’t just slap it on the wall. First, make a cardboard cutout matching the screen size. Tape it to the wall where you plan to mount the TV. Sit where you’ll normally be viewing, and see how the screen size and position feels.

Does the TV dominate the room, or get swallowed by the surrounding space? Is the screen centered at eye level when seated? Can you comfortably view the entire screen without excessive head turning? Adjust the cutout until you find the sweet spot.

Bring Friends for a Second Opinion

Our eyes play tricks on us, adapting to a less than optimal screen position. Since you’ll be living with your new TV daily, bring over some friends before mounting to get a second opinion.

Have them hold up the cardboard while you sit in your usual spot. Tweak the height, left/right position, and angle while your helpers check the view from other seats. Don’t be afraid to make big changes – even a few inches can impact eye strain and neck comfort over time.

Mount at Eye Level Within 15 Degrees

Once you’ve nailed down the ideal position with your cardboard cutout, it’s time to drill some holes and hang the real thing. The normal seated eye level provides a neutral TV viewing angle. As a guide, mount the screen so the center sits around 42” off the floor.

Angling the screen slightly downwards within 0-15 degrees also improves comfort. Tilting above or below this range can lead to neck and shoulder pain over time. Extreme downward angles above 30 degrees force the eyes to look up, causing strain.

Bedroom TVs Can Break the Angle Rules

The above guidelines apply mainly to living room setups. Bedrooms are a different environment. Lounging in bed, the ideal mounting height may put the TV awkwardly high on the wall.

Here, a more extreme downward angle between 90 and 100 degrees works better. This sloped orientation lets you view from a reclined position without excessive neck craning or eye strain.

Mind the Viewing Distance for Screen Size

Earlier we touched on the ideal viewing distance being 1.5 to 3 times the screen size. But this varies based on TV resolution and screen type. Here are more specific guidelines for today’s modern displays.

HDTV Viewing Distance

Most households still enjoy their TV shows and movies in good old high definition 1080p. Keep the following viewing distances in mind for HDTVs:

  • 32” screen – 4 to 5 ft away
  • 40” screen – 5 to 7 ft away
  • 50” screen – 6 to 9 ft away
  • 60” screen – 7 to 11 ft away
  • 70” screen – 8 to 13 ft away

Of course, these are just general recommendations. Feel free to experiment within this range to find your personal sweet spot!

4K TV Viewing Distance

The latest generation of Ultra HD 4K televisions pack 4 times as many pixels into the display. This allows you to sit much closer than HDTV without seeing individual pixels.

For 4K sets, good viewing distances are:

  • 50” screen – 4 to 5 ft away
  • 55” screen – 4 to 6 ft away
  • 60” screen – 5 to 7 ft away
  • 70” screen – 6 to 9 ft away
  • 80” screen – 7 to 11 ft away

4K TVs are designed for smaller home theaters where you sit closer to the screen. Take full advantage by placing seating appropriately.

Consider Outdoor TV Viewing Positions

Installing an outdoor TV on your patio or poolside sounds like a cool idea. But these locations come with unique viewing challenges.

Outdoor screens need to be high enough that people standing or sitting at various heights get a clear line of sight. Tilt the screen downward between 30-45 degrees both to improve visibility and reduce glare from sunlight.

Bright daytime viewing also requires an especially bright display. Compare nits (brightness) when shopping for an outdoor TV, and look for at least 2000-3000 nits. Anything dimmer will appear washed out.

And don’t forget rain and moisture protection! Look for TVs designed specifically for outdoor use.

Position Your TV for the Best Picture

A television is a major investment and centerpiece in any home. While it’s tempting to focus on display size and specs, don’t underestimate the importance of positioning. Placing your TV properly for comfortable viewing in your space ensures you’ll enjoy the picture quality you paid for.

Follow these guidelines to find the optimal TV setup – measure the ideal viewing distances, use a cardboard cutout to test positions, mount at eye level, and tilt slightly downwards. And don’t be afraid to tweak positions to find your personal sweet spot! Taking the time to position your new TV properly provides enjoyment for years to come.

The TV Positioning Guide: How To Find The Best Viewing Position

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