After you’ve determined the room to place your new TV and audio equipment, you must then determine the best spot within this room to place it. This will help you further refine your thinking about the size and type of television to buy. If you already happen to have your complete home entertainment equipment, the proper positioning and placement will enhance the optimal picture viewing and sound quality. It also gives you a good excuse to renovate the room.
Viewing Distance and Angle
The proper viewing distance and angle make all the difference in creating the optimal viewing experience. In analog days, people traditionally placed their sets up against one living room wall and their couches against the opposite wall. Any closer, and the horizontal lines that made up the image would be distractingly visible.
Digital televisions on the other hand should be placed closer to the viewer, or vice versa.
The “sweet spot,” the best place to view, is about two and a half times the screen’s diagonal size, or three times the screen’s width. Thus, a 40″ HDTV (measured diagonally) is best viewed from 100 inches away, or just over 8 feet, at least when it’s displaying HD pictures. However, when watching up-converted video signals, you might wish to sit a few feet farther back, so the image artifacts are less obvious.
So, a DTV with same screen size as an old analog TV can be enjoyably viewed closer in. You can move the sofa or reclining chair nearer to the set, leaving more space in the room for other activities. Alternately, you can get a bigger screen for the same room without fear of visible scan lines. Some experts claim you should get the biggest screen you can afford, so you can immerse yourself in the total viewing experience. Others would argue that you needn’t buy a screen so big that it overwhelms the room — unless, of course, you want to.
Wall Mounting Issues
A wall-mounted flat-screen TV may look spectacular in ads and in store displays, but installing one on your wall or above your fireplace is a definite project:
• Make sure the wall area you’re putting it on can support the weight (which, with the bigger flat-screen displays, can reach 80 pounds or more).
• Use a stud finder (about $20 at any hardware store) to determine where to attach the mounting hardware.
• If you want the illusion of wire-less-ness as seen in the ads, drill a hole in the wall behind where the set will go, drill another hole closer to the floor, and fish the power and other cords down between these holes.
• Don’t mount your set too high up on the wall; instead, place the screen at or just above eye level to seated viewers.
• You can find brief instructions for all this at
• If it seems too daunting, or if you don’t want to risk damaging the screen, consider getting professional installation.
Room lighting can be more controlled in a home theater setting than in a room shared with other family activities; but even in a living room, you should pay attention to it. Even if you have an HDTV that performs well in brightly lit rooms, you may want avoid placing the television where external light sources could shine on the screen and ruin the screen visibility.
Typically, CRT televisions provide the brightest images in brightly lit rooms, while projection sets are best when viewed in dimmer surroundings — though these surroundings don’t have to be as dark as movie theaters, and they shouldn’t be completely dark. You should at least have a dimmer light or a small light source behind the screen.