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How to Select the Right Display Size

Whether your team wants to showcase business benefits for a product launch, an instructional video for a college course, or hymn lyrics for a worship service, the audience needs to easily see and comprehend the presentation content. If media content is not clearly visible or the text is unreadable from the back of the room, it’s too challenging for the audience to engage if not enjoy the content. For collaborative sessions, poor visibility and readability correlate with unproductive meetings.

Your decision to use a flat panel or a high lumen projector—usually a laser-based solution that projects 6,000+ lumens—impacts your audience’s ability to read and engage with content. By using a high lumen projector, content is visible on large displays with brighter colors, crisper images and zero-glare potential. In addition to choosing the right projection technology, meeting planners, AV and media service pros and IT administrators must carefully determine the best display size for each event.

Here are two common methods used to determine the right display size for a meeting space:

4/6/8 Rule

This method, which is the AV industry standard, calculates the smallest recommended display size where the person sitting in the furthest seat will still see clearly. If the attendee is farther than eight times the display height, they will not be able to clearly see text and images on the display surface. Use this rule to determine the screen size required for an event in a larger conference room, auditorium or corporate training room.

Here are the top three industry recommendations based on content:

  • Analytical Viewing (Maximum 4 Times Vertical Display Height): Attendees must be able to see small fonts and image details in the content, such as spreadsheets, charts and web content, to make critical decisions.
  • Basic Viewing (Maximum 6 Times Vertical Display Height): The audience needs to be able to make basic decisions that are not dependent on critical details in the images, which include presentations and multimedia. This size is often recommended for corporate training rooms with viewing distances greater than 18 feet, and total room length can be up to 45 feet.
  • Passive viewing (Maximum 8 Times Vertical Display Height): Viewers want to passively understand the content, such as video conferencing, videos or one-to-many presentations. They should be able to recognize basic imagery.

4/6/8 Rule In the Classroom

Classrooms should also use the 4/6/8 rule to determine the best seating configuration for the students’ desks. The two key factors for selecting the right display are the potential size of the display and the distance from which the students view the display, both of which are typically limited by the physical layout of the room. However, seating arrangement can make a big difference in readability and visibility, with both a 65- and 100-inch display.

Here are a couple of quick room configuration guidelines, by number of rows, to ensure maximum visibility and readability in your classroom:

  • Square classroom – 6 wide x 5 deep
  • Wide classroom – 8 wide x 4 deep
  • Deep classroom – 5 wide x 6 deep

Desktop Equivalent Visibility (DEV)

This method for determining the proper projection display setup uses the role of human eyesight to create an optimal viewing experience and focuses on ideal ergonomics. DEV is an option for huddle spaces—small and medium conference rooms that are often used for collaboration. It is based on the concept of an employee’s ideal desktop ergonomics, which is a viewing distance between 20 and 30 inches from a monitor, and then uses the same ratio to determine the best display size for an event.

DEV uses the Snellen vision chart and is based on the size of a character a person with normal vision can read from 20 feet away. If someone is 40 feet away, the characters or images need to be twice as big. When using the 4/6/8 rule in a collaborative space, attendees often end up too far from the display with a display size that’s too small to truly comprehend what they’ve seen. Using the DEV method, the ideal display size for the space translates to the ratio of a 21-inch or larger diagonal desktop when viewed from 28 inches away or less.

Start by measuring the distance from your eyes to the desktop, which is typically 18 to 30 inches depending on the monitor size, and then the height of the display. Use these measurements to calculate the viewing ratio of distance divided by height using the formula.

Special Considerations for Video Conferencing

During video conferences, participants must be able to see remote attendees and pick up visual cues from their responses and attentiveness, which makes the display scale and resolution critical. Industry standard recommendations match up with the DEV method: replicating an optimal desktop experience in a meeting room. However, using the 6 times the vertical display height metric recommended by the 4/6/8 rule for this type of event, the distance ends up being longer than recommended by the organization’s and DEV methods.

While it’s important for meeting planners, school administrators and IT administrators to consider the room size, the type of content and meeting should be the top consideration. By carefully determining the best display size for the event, the audience will leave thinking about the content instead of wishing they’d had a seat closer to the display. To learn more about the the 4/6/8 and DEV methods, and other helpful tips on maximizing the use of your projector, check out Epson’s Display Size Matters whitepaper.

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