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Despite what your old mum used to say sitting too close to the TV screen won't make you go blind, sterile or mad but it might give you a bit of a headache, especially with today's mega-screens. Sitting too close can also ruin the picture, the nearer you get the more obvious the scanning lines become and you may find that you start noticing processing artefacts especially on satellite channels and DVDs and in extreme case it can be quite distracting. If you sit too far away the picture gets smaller (issued by the department of the bleeding obvious) and you start loosing fine detail in the picture, and in the end they're what you're paying for.


Over the years there have been a number of learned papers on the subject of optimum view distances for televisual display apparatus, there's even an old British Standard recommendation (BS 5876), which suggests you should multiply the screen height by six, though that was written long before widescreen was even a twinkle in the TV manufacturing and broadcasting industry's eyes.


Actually that's not a bad rule of thumb for 4:3 sets and most authorities on the subject come down in favour of viewing distances of between 5 and 8 times screen height. For 16:9 widescreen displays its a little less so try a distance of 3 to 5 times screen height. However, in the end it's up to you, so if you've just bought a big screen TV be prepared to shift the furniture around, until you get it right





R. Maybury 2001, 0307





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