What size display do I need?

It’s Monday morning and you’re walking into your brand new conference space feeling excited and ready for a productive meeting. You take your seat with your coffee in hand as the presenter plugs their computer in and fires up their powerpoint. Uh oh, everything looks a bit… small? You can see the presented content, but you’ve got to squint and all of a sudden your motivational spirit is shifting to the dreadful conclusion that this is going to be a long meeting. How did this happen? Did no one take the time to figure out the right size display for this space? Unfortunately, that’s a scenario we encounter quite frequently and one that can easily be remedied with a bit of proper planning. Let’s walk through how to determine the right size display for your room and get your meetings back on track.

First, we need to start by answering a few simple but important questions regarding what will be viewed on your display.

1)      What type of content is typically viewed on the display?

  1. Basic content such as photos, cable TV, video conferencing (without PC desktop sharing), training videos?
  2. Detailed content such as spreadsheets, slideshows, documents, websites, flow charts, general schematics and plans?
  3. Fine detailed content such as medical imaging, architectural/engineering drawings, forensic evidence, image inspection?

2)      How far away are the viewing participants? Most importantly, how far away would the furthest potential viewer be sitting?

3)      How much wall space is available for installation of a display?

4)      Is there an opportunity to install auxiliary displays throughout the space to shorten the viewing distance if needed?

Now that we have the answers to these key questions, we can begin to determine the size that is right for the space with three simple formulas.

Here is the formula to use based on your answer to Question 1:  

  1. a) Screen Height = Distance to Furthest Viewer / 8
  2. b) Screen Height = Distance to Furthest Viewer / 6
  3. c) Screen Height = Distance to Furthest Viewer / 4

Let’s walk through a real example of how this works.

Your conference space is 28ft long and 15ft wide.

Your answer to question 1 is B, you’ll be displaying detailed content on the display. Your answer to question 2 is that the furthest potential viewer will be sitting 24ft away from the screen.

Your answer to question 3 is the wall for the display is 15ft wide and 9ft high. Your answer to question 4 is that auxiliary displays will not be needed in this particular room.

Based on the formula shown above, we’ll simply divide 24ft (the distance of the furthest viewer) by 6 which equals 4ft. This is the minimum recommended height of the screen for this room based on the distance to the furthest viewer and the type of content to typically be viewed. For reference, a 4ft high display is roughly 90” diagonal. In this example, there is plenty of wall space to install the 90” display at a reasonable viewing height, but you may be thinking “wow, that seems like a really large display for that size of space”. Well, if the answer to question 1 is a) basic content, then you would divide by 8 and a 3ft high screen would be recommended which is roughly a 70” diagonal display.

As you can see, the size calculation is not only dependent on the distance of viewers, but highly dependent on the content you generally view. I like to use the following example as people like to reference the size of the TV in their living room at home in reference to what should go into their conference room. While sitting 15-20ft away from a 50” TV at home and watching a movie is fine, but put a spreadsheet with 10-12 point font on that same 50” display and try to read it from your couch. You’ll find it a very difficult task.  Now imagine sitting there for a 2 hour meeting while trying to read it. This is why we calculate differently in the commercial environment than we would in a residential viewing environment.

Let’s try another example situation.

         Your training room is 54ft long X 25ft wide with a 10ft ceiling height

         Your answer to question 1: c) fine detailed content

         Your answer to question 2: 48ft to the furthest potential viewer

         Your answer to question 3: 25ft wide x 10ft high

         Your answer to question 4: not an option in this space due to structure and windows.

Divide 48ft by 4 which equals 12ft. As you’ve probably noticed, the calculation recommends a 12ft high display, however, the ceiling is only 10ft high. This is where we see that not everything is so cut and dry. While some businesses may have the ability to remodel the space to accommodate the recommended display size, most do not, and a conversation with the customer is necessary to set expectations. We would then have to compromise and design the largest display we can accommodate in the available space with the realization that viewing will be difficult from the back of the room. While it’s not always a perfect science, a general understanding of the requirements will go a long way in making sure you have what you need, based on your specific situation.

One important note: if you are planning to use a 4K UHD 3840×2160 display with a 4K content source (or other uncommon resolution), modifications to the calculations to adjust for the increased resolution may be necessary.  In regards to video walls and large format LED display systems where manufactures refer to pixel pitch, there is a completely different calculation which uses the distance to the closest viewer.

To wrap things up, if you’ve done any searching at all on the internet, you’ve probably noticed there are many different display size calculators, nearly all of which ask for slightly different information and vary somewhat in size recommendation. From my experience, most do not take into account the content type that would typically be viewed, so I encourage you to keep this in mind when making a decision on a display size. If you have stadium type seating, large windows, low/high ceilings or other unique applications, I highly recommend you contact a professional for assistance as other considerations may factor into the decision, but these simple questions and calculations will guide you to the appropriate display size in most typical conference, meeting and training room spaces.

Video Conferencing Systems Provider | VIcom is the Premier Video Solutions Provider for Business

We are Virginia’s premier technology solutions integrator for video conferencing, video meetings, and online school education.  Moreover, we are proud to serve clients throughout the mid-Atlantic region of Virginia. For example, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, VA.

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