So, you’ve cleaned up the mess in your TV room and you’re ready for some good old-fashioned couch potato bliss. Not so fast! Before you hunker down, there are some easy functional things you can do to optimize your space further—for maximum TV enjoyment.
You didn’t spend a chunk of change on that flat screen for it not to be optimally utilized, right? Get the most for your money with proper TV positioning.
First, while placing the TV above the mantle may seem like a good idea aesthetically, in function it isn’t always conducive to a good TV experience. For starters, you can get a kink in your neck like sitting in the front row at a movie theater. Also, placing your TV too high (or low) can impact the viewing angle, leaving you with unwanted light reflections, glare, and shadows.
To get the ideal height, simply:
1) Sit how you would normally watch TV, comfortably.
2) Look at your TV. The center of the TV should be at eye level.
3) Mark on the wall where the center of the TV should be.
4) Adjust your TV accordingly.
Note: If you can’t move your TV any lower, you can help manage glare by tilting the top of the screen forward. However, the angle from your eye to the tilted center should not exceed 10 degrees.
Next, you need to establish the proper sitting distance from your TV. This is where that high school algebra you never thought you’d use comes into play. The minimum distance should be your screen size (in inches divided) by 8. That will give you the minimum distance away in feet. For maximum distance, divide the screen size by 4. Find a comfortable place between these numbers and you’re set.
Note: Calibrating your TV’s picture with adjustments to color, contrast, tint, sharpness, and other settings can make a big difference in presentation. A great tool to help is the AVS HD 709 file. Download the free file, burn it to a DVD or Blu-Ray disc (or stream it), and follow the onscreen tutorials to get the best picture quality.
Another oft-overlooked factor that can make a big difference on viewing is lighting.
Remember to make sure your TV is not immediately opposite a window, as natural sunlight can quickly wash out any TV picture. Furthermore, placing a bright light opposite the TV can create unwanted spotlights appearing on the screen, making it a nuisance to watch at certain angles.
One would think that moving the lighting to the same side as the TV—projecting outward to the rest of the room—would help. But then you can blind the viewer, which defeats the purpose. You can combat this by getting a floor lamp that projects light upward preferably bowl-shaped) instead of into the room. You can get inexpensive floor lamps at Target, but may be limited in variety. Overstock and LampsPlus have tons of floor lamps, for any budget, that match just about any living space.
If there’s any other area where you’re going to drop some cash in the living room, it’s in audio equipment. So you might as well make the most of the acoustics in your space.
Key to any multi-speaker sound system is speaker placement. For ideal sound, you should imagine that you are within a circle on the ground. Any speakers should be on the outside of that circle facing inward toward you. The audio experts at Crutchfield have a great article on this specific subject, with helpful pictures demonstrating ideal speaker placement for different situations and room layouts.
Another popular speaker alternative today is the sound bar, as they simulate surround sound without the hassle of multiple speakers. Sound bars should be placed directly above or below your TV and pointed towards the viewer, as well. They should not be too close to the ground, however, as furniture and carpet can absorb or distort sound. For ideal function, they should be at ear-level or just above.
There you have it. Based on all the tips from Part 1 and 2 you may have some work on your hands. But put the effort in, and you’ll get immediate, noticeable differences in your TV viewing experience.