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When browsing furniture catalog, I can't but notice how low most TVs are placed in living room solutions, e.g. in IKEA's catalog 1 2 (photos at the end).

I wonder, it there a UX reason for this? I understand that TVs get bigger, but even a huge 60" TV is only 33" (84cm) in height, with its top much below the height of my TV when placed on such low table. This means that both the top and the bottom edges of the TVs are lower than they used to be, by my experience, some 10-15 years ago.

So, is it purely a fashion, or are there some UX benefits of lower placed TVs?

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  • (This is my 1st question here, I hope it's in the scope. Certainly, comments are welcome.) – yo' Mar 17 '16 at 16:17
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    what about wall mounted TV brackets? as TVs become thinner and lighter, they are increasingly a popular option, and they are typically mounted much higher than a typical stand – Midas Mar 17 '16 at 17:07
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Standard health-and-safety advice is to have your eyeline level with the top of your monitor:

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So extrapolating that out to TVs - Typical sofa's have seat height lower than office chairs. ~40-45cm (17-18") off the ground.

Example (there are loads like this on Google Images):

enter image description here

So you need to have the TV lower to accomodate that, especially as they're much larger TVs than your PC monitor.

Basically - ideally you don't want to be bending your neck up / down to watch TV.

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    I'm not really convinced the advice is literally identical for monitors and for TVs. Most sofas are bend backwards so that you're half-lying in it, therefore "in line with eyes" is upwards... Or you're sitting in a chair, but then you're sitting higher than in a sofa... – yo' Mar 17 '16 at 16:54
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    @yo' If you're half-lying in in then that's even more reason to have the TV low down. I doubt the TV stands are designed for official health-and-safety reasons - more that they're designed for comfort of viewing. People wouldn't buy a TV stand if it meant their TV viewing was uncomfortable. – JonW Mar 17 '16 at 16:56
  • Sorry, people buy what they are sold, and not always what they want to. And maybe there is a misunderstanding, if one sits comfortably in a sofa, his neck is further away from the TV than his lower back, so the natural view is slightly upwards, not downwards... – yo' Mar 17 '16 at 17:00
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    I'm not sure that torso recline relates directly to upward gaze. It's anecdotal evidence, but I find that my head trends towards parallel-with-floor any time it is unsupported, regardless of recline. Until recently, many screens also introduced distortion as the viewer moves off-center, whether horizontally or vertically. It may not be true anymore, but I would imagine many people still assume that the best viewing experience is from perpendicular to the plane of the TV. – Phillip Quintero Mar 17 '16 at 17:57
  • Watching television is not the same as reading a monitor. With television, specifically movies, you are trying to immerse yourself into the field of view as if you are there. You want your line of sight to encompass the full field of view. – Rob Mar 18 '16 at 13:23
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It's best to ask the experts and I can't think of many who would be better than THX.

Vertical Placement

Make sure each seating position in your home theater has a clear site line to the screen. Try not to place the screen too high on the wall – viewers should not have to look up more than 15°.

enter image description here

The idea is to immerse yourself into the field of view as if you are there. Movie editors always watch their films projected on as big a screen as they can because they are fully aware that watching movies in a theater is completely different than watching movies on a TV; even a 60-inch HD.

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I imagine it is designed to put the TV at the optimal eye height of the viewers.

Ergonomics Data & Mounting Heights article explains that the optimal placement of the screen is having the top of the screen at or slightly below the users eye level.

The chart informs us that the average persons sitting eye height is 46.1".

Subtract the 33" of that 60" TV and you are left with just 13.1" to fit your TV stand.

Now, of course, those TV stands are not variably sized so they must account for all sizes of TVs, 60" probably closer to the top. So they can likely make their TV stands taller than the 13" quote and still accommodate most TVs.

Note: that chart may be about computer monitors which you would sit closer to, I do not know if distance from screen changes the data.

  • Your link really seems to be about "table solutions", where people sit or stand next to a screen and interact with it. I'm not sure this is the case of TVs. Also, chairs and sofas seem to have quite different ergonomics (or how is it called) – yo' Mar 17 '16 at 16:56
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You can easily understand why the TV should be low by going to the movie cinema and noticing two things:

  • most of the seats look down on the screen, not up

  • the few seats at the front that look up at the screen fill up last, they are the least-preferred seats.

People prefer to look down on a movie screen because it is more comfortable and less tiring physically for them to do so.

There are many articles that say proper ergonomic mounting of a TV is low. Here is one:

Both professional installers and ergonomic specialists have long discouraged mounting televisions above the fireplace because of the unnecessary stress it places upon the neck and shoulder muscles …

The Home Theater Mistake We Keep Seeing Over and Over Again

That article also shows the reason for mounting the TV high: because there is a fireplace or other fixture down low. Not ergonomics.

You also proved that looking down is more comfortable in your comment where you said you can half lie down on a sofa to look at a TV that is mounted up high. All you are doing there is finding a workaround that lets you look down on your TV even though it is mounted up high. You basically put the TV on the floor by laying down. That might work ergonomically in a bedroom, but in a room with couch and chairs you want the TV low.

Flip your question around: what ergonomic advantage is there to mounting the TV up high so you can bend your neck up to look at it? I can’t find any ergonomic study saying looking up for hours at a time is good for anyone. That is a position that we are advised to avoid no matter what the context.

  • I can't think of any movie theater I've ever been to where I look down at the screen. You can't suggest a TV be placed low to the ground based on the statement that TVs should not be placed high over fireplaces. – Rob Mar 18 '16 at 13:17

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