Where should I put my TV? Viewing distance, connections and more

There’s a sweet spot for watching TV where it’s not too high up, too close or far away, and where the lighting is perfect. Follow these four easy steps to viewing heaven.

Buying a new TV will help you to make the most of BT Sport in Ultra HD, or enjoy the latest 4K movies and dramas on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Do you need to move the sofa to find the best viewing spot?

[Read more: Six ways to watch 4K TV]

How far away should my TV be?

Getting the ideal distance between you and your TV is all about finding the spot where you're close enough to feel immersed in the action but far enough away to see it all without having to move your head around.

Fortunately, smart people have discovered that you want the edges of the screen to be about 15 degrees either side of you. This 30-degree cone is called your field of vision, although for movies it can be up to 40 degrees.

The most comfortable distance for watching TV is about 1.6 times the diagonal size of your screen, and it’s better to be slightly further away than very close. If you need to measure your TV, ignore the bezel - the frame - around the picture.

That’s about 4½ feet (or 1.3m) for a 32in TV, or 8.7 ft (2.6m) if you have a 65in giant screen.

Here’s a handy guide for the most common screen sizes:

Ideal viewing distance for HD TVs
Screen size (in) Viewing distance (ft/m)
32” 4’6” / 1.37m
37” 5’ / 1.52m
40”/42” 5’6” / 1.68m
50” 6’9” / 2.06m
55” 7’4” / 2.24m
65” 8’9” / 2.67m

 

4K and Ultra HD: get closer to the action

Ultra HD screens are more detailed, so you can sit sit closer to really enjoy the increased picture quality. The experts recommend a viewing distance of 1.2 times the screen diagonal.

As you can see below, this is good news for everyone who’s squeezing giant TV screens into their living rooms. Just remember that most TV is still in HD.

Ideal viewing distance for 4K TVs
Screen size (in) Viewing distance (ft/m)
40”/42” 4’3” / 1.3m
50” 5’ / 1.52m
55” 5’6” / 1.68m
65” 6’6” / 1.98m


A couple watch a movie in a darkened room, sitting on the floor

[Read more: What is 4K and what is a 4K TV?]

How high should my TV be placed?

You’ll also enjoy watching TV more if your eyes are level with the centre of the screen, and you’re viewing it as close to straight on as possible to the centre of the screen.

In the living room, this might mean placing the TV quite low for when you’re relaxed on the sofa, in your easy chair, or even on the floor. In the kitchen you're probably sitting in a higher chair or standing, so your TV needs to be higher up.

This isn’t just because you’ll feel more immersed in the experience; finding the right height will help you to avoid neck, back and eye strain. Your eyes are lot less comfortable looking up and down than side-to-side, so the best vertical viewing angle is just under 7 degrees up or down.

How much light should be on my TV?

If you’re a movie buff or a vampire, then ideally you’ll want the lights turned down as low as possible. Daylight’s not a bad thing for the rest of us though, but it does come with annoying reflections that can make it hard to see what’s on your screen.

Try to position the TV so neither you nor the screen are in direct sunlight or under bright lights. Avoid any bright lights directly behind or adjacent to your screen, as this can also strain your eyes. Bright lights behind you can cause very annoying reflections.

If you have a regular movie night, there are alternatives to just switching off the lights for a cinema experience. Smart light bulbs like Philips Hue can be dimmed from your phone and adjusted to a subtle red or orange light that lets you see people and enjoy your TV at the same time.

Don’t forget the cables and power

The final spot for your TV is usually a compromise between viewing nirvana and where you can conveniently connect it to power, aerial cables and your router.

There’s not much we can do about the power and aerial leads, but you can get closer to your router by using a Mini Wi-Fi Home Hotspot or a wi-fi extender.

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