Image Size vs. Audience Eyes – Is your flat panel display too small?

Home > Tech Tips > Image Size vs. Audience Eyes – Is your flat panel display too small?

Flat panels continue to grow and, in many cases, are becoming suitable alternatives to projection systems. Pick the wrong screen size, however, and your audience may be unable to make out the details.

As of this writing, the largest flat panel displays are up to 170-inches with similarly large price tags in the 6-figures. Compare this to projectors, where a middle-of-the-road model may produce a diagonal size of 170-inches. Bigger is not always better, but a screen that is too small will lead to content that is not legible.

What is the ideal image size for my presentation system?

Table 1. 4-6-8 Rule
Content Type Max Distance
Analysis. Detailed content like CAD documents, maps, medical imaging, detailed spreadsheets, and software code. SH x 4
Presentation. Typical presentations using default templates from programs like PowerPoint. SH x 6
Basic. Television, Movies, and General Video SH x 8
SH: Screen Height

Aspect ratio, content characteristics and other variables leave no chance of a standard answer. An important metric is the Farthest Viewer Distance (FV). Beyond this distance, content will begin to become too difficult to see for more distant viewers.

To figure this maximum distance, our industry developed the 4-6-8 rule which provides distance guidelines based on the type of content being viewed. Table 1, to the right, shows the relationship between the type of content and the maximum distance to the farthest viewer.

What does this mean for my AV environment?

Let’s consider how the 4-6-8 rule impacts some common integrated audiovisual system environments.

Table 2. Farthest Viewer by Screen Size and Content Type
Screen Diagonal Analysis Presentation Basic
84-inches 15-feet 23-feet 30-feet
76-inches 14-feet 21-feet 27-feet
72-inches 13-feet 19-feet 25-feet
66-inches 12-feet 18-feet 23-feet
60-inches 11-feet 16-feet 21-feet
54-inches 10-feet 15-feet 19-feet
48-inches  9-feet 13-feet 17-feet
Note: Calculations are based on a screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Measurements are rounded to the nearest whole number.

First, notice in Table 2 that for every 6-inches of diagonal screen size, you only gain 1 to 3-feet of extra distance to your farthest viewer.

Let’s consider an average boardroom of around 15-feet by 25-feet. For a space this size, basic content may not be discernible by your farthest viewer with less than a 72-inch screen whereas content for detailed analysis needs a screen greater than 84-inches.

Comparatively, for a smaller meeting room (around 15-feet by 15-feet), detailed analysis requires a screen size of 84-inches while a smaller 48-inch screen would work fine for basic content.

Leave It To Us

As we mentioned, there are other variables to figure screen size and placement. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act governs the protruding distance from the wall and the height above the floor. Ambient light and seating placement are also important factors.

You can see, picking the right display system can be complicated. The good news is that there’s no reason for you to sweat the details. You tell us your needs and we will design and install the best display system for your meeting space.

When everyone in the audience can see your content, everyone in the audience can succeed.

Contact Jay S. Stanley & Associates today to learn how our decades of experience can give your organization an optimized presentation environment.

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