When it comes to screen size, there’s a natural inclination to follow the old adage of “bigger is better”. And while in the majority of cases this is true, the reality of things is a bit more complicated. This guide looks at how to calculate the right dimensions for your space and use, and demonstrates where size really matters when it comes to display installations.
Room dimensions, the distance of any seating from the main display screen and the purpose of the room in question will all prove important when identifying the best screen size for your space.
When it comes to form, there’s a simple set of equations that offer an excellent base point for selecting the right screen size for your space. Every requirement will vary, however, AV professionals tend to use this guide - known as the 4/6/8 rule - to determine screen size in relation to where viewers are sitting or walking through. Here’s how it works:
The greatest distance a viewer should be away from the screen is no more than four, six, or eight times the image height depending on what the screen is being used for:
For finer details and more analytical work, viewers should be no further away than the four times the image height
For larger text, viewers should be no further away than six times the height of the screen
For more passive viewing – such as films or large images – the viewer should be no further away than eight times the image height
It’s not perfect and there are exceptions, but the 4/6/8 rule is a strong starting point to narrow down your hunt for the right screen.
With this initial gauge established, it’s time to look at the purpose of the room and its display screen: the function. This has a considerable bearing on the size of screen required.
For instance, a display in an office reception space serves a very different role to that of a display in a conference room or collaborative huddle space. While it might look impressive on paper to be able to offer your team the biggest and best screen for their huddle room, in reality, do they really need that overbearing 90-inch display in a meeting room designed to cater to three or four people at a time?
In a reception space, however, the big screen stands out, makes a statement and reaches dozens if not hundreds of people everyday as they come in and out of the building; it’s worth the investment. You could consider video walls here too - as there is often an exponential price hike for screens over a certain size.
Let’s be honest, you’ve probably got a smartphone or tablet and are already enjoying the “retina” clarity and how vibrant the screens are. That’s actually more about pixel density than the size of the screen.
This is where gauging the size and resolution of your display at the same time is more beneficial than just looking at the diagonal dimensions of the screen. Take a look at our guide to screen resolution for the full details, but just to show you what we’re talking about quickly:
If you’ve got a 90 inch-screen at Full HD resolution you will only see 24 pixels per inch. But if you go for a 65-inch screen at 4k resolution you will be seeing 67 pixels per inch; that’s a 180 per cent increase on the 90-inch screen.
This demonstrates that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean clearer and if you’re sat relatively close to the screen, this will have a real impact.
For some people, rather than stretching the size of the screen but decreasing the clarity of the image, installing two smaller screens of 65 inches with 4K resolution could be a better solution, especially if your audience is sat closer to the screen, or you’re displaying detailed content such as spreadsheets or using high resolution devices.
When it comes to collaboration, sharing a main display screen with more than one person at a time can really open up the possibilities of what can be achieved working together. But what does this split screen functionality mean for the size of the screen?
Well if you’re dividing up a screen between two or even more inputs, you are cutting down the space that each person’s information has on the screen. So information that would be easily visible on a 50-inch screen is suddenly only allocated a fraction of that space and, if the information on display is highly detailed, not everyone will be able to see clearly what’s being discussed.
The obvious solution is to ensure that you instal a big screen whenever more than one person’s content is to be shared on the same screen. How big you go is of course going to be determined by the things we’ve touched on above: room size, content and the distance of the audience from the screen.
But remember, one big screen is not your only option. You can get clever with the budget and opt for multiple smaller screens that build into a single large video wall; this might be a good option to achieve high resolutions as well as keeping spend down.
Buying the right screen size will help keep teams focused and productive when it comes to the task at hand. Don’t forget to consider screen resolution in conjunction with screen size, however, and remember, buying one big screen is not always your best option, take a look at multiple smaller screens and see if a video wall might be more suitable for your room.