Mile high screens, what’s wrong with this picture

March 20, 2006

sony plasmaOk pet peeve time again. I see this all the time whether it’s in print ad’s or in pre-existing installs that we’ve inherited and it’s annoying as hell. What I’m talking about is projection screens, LCD’s, or Plasmas that are mounted way too high on the wall.

I’d like to show you a few examples of displays that are obviously mounted too high on the wall, but doing so would force me to link to a bunch of sites that either condone the practice and/or just slapped up some stock images. So suffice to say I’m sure a lot of you have seen these ridiculous installs and scratched your head just as I did.

I’m not sure where the trend started, but if I can stop just one person from making this fatal system flaw this entire post will be well worth it. Let’s face it, no matter how aesthetically pleasing a display mounted high on a wall appears, after a while you’re going to get fatigued watching it, and in turn you’ll want to watch your new investment less and less.

Ok, now that we’ve described the phenomena let’s discuss where a LCD or Plasma really should be hung on a wall (I’ll get to projectors later). The general rule of thumb is to mount the display so that the center of the screen about level with the eyes of a seated viewer, seated being the keyword here. That is unless you plan on watching movies standing up, which is what a lot the installs in question seemed to be geared for.

Using the image above as an example, you’d have to be sitting on a barstool to make that screen positioning work. I don’t know about you but I’d much prefer a sofa or home theater recliner to a barstool. Of course there are variables and exceptions to this eye level/middle screen rule of thumb, but in the majority of my installs this method has worked just fine. Notice I haven’t mentioned viewing distance, that’s a whole other post for another day, but in general about 3 times the screen height to your seating position.

Earlier I said we’d get back to projectors so let’s carry on with that now. Screen height with projectors isn’t as easy to adjust lower or higher because you have limitations imposed by the projector itself. However in conjunction with dropping or raising the screen, you can (in many cases) drop or raise the projector via an extension to get the final desired screen placement.

Remember just say no to mile high display installs and the neck ache that goes along with them.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater How-to


Comments

  • HT-Guru

    Having worked in home theater for as long as I remember. Ive come across two phenomenon.

    1) Most televisions are best viewed when the bottom of the display is aprox 26'' from the floor and two when hanging on a wall it only looks NORMAL when it is higher up on the wall.
    if you are wall mounting 90% of the time it is for the asthetics of it, otherwise people would be placing them on stands all the Time.

    This is a throwback to the “Moving Hanging Picture” Dream from 80's hollywood, but as it was explained above this is impractical – it just looks good. So whether you are buying a plasma or LCD panel put it on a stand. You will save money from install and the bracket and you wont kill your neck.

  • I agree with you that many people are choosing what looks good instead of what is good for them.

    Having the screen at eye level makes perfect sense to me. This concept applies not only for the TV but also for computers.

    A lot of people seem to give attention to ergonomics when using a computer but don’t apply the same logic elsewhere.

    I have linked to your article from my blog, hopefully spread the word a little more!

  • I agree with you that many people are choosing what looks good instead of what is good for them.

    Having the screen at eye level makes perfect sense to me. This concept applies not only for the TV but also for computers.

    A lot of people seem to give attention to ergonomics when using a computer but don’t apply the same logic elsewhere.

    I have linked to your article from my blog, hopefully spread the word a little more!

  • HT-Guru

    Having worked in home theater for as long as I remember. Ive come across two phenomenon.

    1) Most televisions are best viewed when the bottom of the display is aprox 26” from the floor and two when hanging on a wall it only looks NORMAL when it is higher up on the wall.
    if you are wall mounting 90% of the time it is for the asthetics of it, otherwise people would be placing them on stands all the Time.

    This is a throwback to the “Moving Hanging Picture” Dream from 80’s hollywood, but as it was explained above this is impractical – it just looks good. So whether you are buying a plasma or LCD panel put it on a stand. You will save money from install and the bracket and you wont kill your neck.

  • B.Greenway

    Center could (within reason) be anywhere you want it to be, viewing height however isn’t so flexible. While artwork might be displayed at 1/3rd from the top, this isn’t ideal for something you’ll be watching for well over an hour, again neck/eye/back fatigue being the main concern.

    The center of the screen level with seated viewer’s eyes wasn’t something I was estimating, this goes back to early/current CEDIA training as well as various other home theater publications, home theater magazine etc etc.

  • B.Greenway

    Center could (within reason) be anywhere you want it to be, viewing height however isn’t so flexible. While artwork might be displayed at 1/3rd from the top, this isn’t ideal for something you’ll be watching for well over an hour, again neck/eye/back fatigue being the main concern.

    The center of the screen level with seated viewer’s eyes wasn’t something I was estimating, this goes back to early/current CEDIA training as well as various other home theater publications, home theater magazine etc etc.

  • shoobe01

    Center is the only thing that confuses me. In all other viewing aspects (hanging artwork on a wall, computer displays) the viewer’s eyes should be level with a point about 1/3rd from the top of the viewable area.

  • shoobe01

    Center is the only thing that confuses me. In all other viewing aspects (hanging artwork on a wall, computer displays) the viewer’s eyes should be level with a point about 1/3rd from the top of the viewable area.

  • tedbill

    I believe you are correct for the most part. When my parents hung their brand new 65″ plasma above their fireplace I thought they were crazy. But after spending a weekend watching sports and movies it changed my mind. The key is that they installed a bunch of recliners in the room to go with the TV. Once you are leaning back in the recliner it is a very pleasant experience. So the types of seats you will be using can also play into the decision of how high to mount the TV!

  • tedbill

    I believe you are correct for the most part. When my parents hung their brand new 65″ plasma above their fireplace I thought they were crazy. But after spending a weekend watching sports and movies it changed my mind. The key is that they installed a bunch of recliners in the room to go with the TV. Once you are leaning back in the recliner it is a very pleasant experience. So the types of seats you will be using can also play into the decision of how high to mount the TV!