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Updated

Viewing Angle of TVs

What it is: Color accuracy when viewed from the side.
When it matters: Large living rooms with multiple viewing positions.
Score components:

The viewing angle we list is the angle at which a TV's picture quality starts to degrade when it is watched from the side. A TV will always have the best possible picture quality when viewed directly opposite of the screen. The farther you move to the side, the more the colors will fade the contrast gets reduced.

If you need a TV that looks good from various positions in a room – perhaps in a wide living room space – a wide viewing angle is very important. It doesn’t matter much, though, if you sit pretty much directly opposite the screen.

We measure each TV’s viewing angle ourselves through three metrics, as the angle stated by manufacturers is vastly inflated. We also provide video of the TV’s picture through different perspectives and verify the type of panel used by LED TVs.

Update 01/10/2017: We are now testing the viewing angles of TVs with a spectrophotometer using three different metrics: Color shift, brightness, and black level. OLED TVs are impacted the most by this update since they tend to show a shift in color at an angle. We retested most 2016 models.

Test results

For older models, see our results for 2013 and 2014 TVs.

When it matters

If you usually watch TV alone, you most likely do not need a wide viewing angle. You should just turn the television to face you directly. People with multiple couches or seats are most likely to benefit from a wider viewing angle.

Narrow room angleAny TV will do
Wide room angleYou need at least > 30°

For those setups that can benefit from wider viewing angles, the difference that they make is pretty significant. Compare a narrow viewing angle on the above left to a wider angle on the above right, and you can see how there is more leeway offered to sit, and enjoy good picture quality, outside of the TV’s axis.

Our tests

Our viewing angle measurements represent how wide of an angle a TV can be viewed from before the picture quality begins to suffer. A larger number represents the TV having a better viewing angle, up to a theoretical maximum of about 90°.

Video

Our viewing angle video demonstrates the comparative quality of a TV’s video played at different angles. If you want to get an idea of what a TV will look like at the precise angles required by your seating arrangements, this video will be a big help. Below are two examples, one of a very narrow viewing angle (left), and one of quite a wide one (right).

Narrow viewing angle
Wide viewing angle

For this test, we just display an image on the TV’s screen, film the TV from a fixed position, and rotate the TV so that the full range of angles is filmed. We always maintain the same distance-to-screen-size ratio of 0.15 feet per diagonal inch, as this allows us to compare TVs of different sizes fairly. For the sake of reference, this means a distance of about 8 feet for a 55" TV.

Color Shift

LG C6 color shift

What it is: Angle where the colors noticeable shift compared to when viewed from directly in front of the TV. 0 ° means directly facing the TV. Measurements are up to a maximum of 75 °.
When it matters: Large living rooms with multiple viewing positions.
Good value: > 50°
Noticeable difference: 10°

For the color shift, we measure a pure red, pure blue and pure green at 15° angle increments. The spectrophotometer then gives a Delta E (learn more about color accuracy here) reading which allows us to measure the perceptual difference in color. The results are normalized to the same level of brightness to represent the shift in colors explicitly. Our measurement is the angle at which the delta E reaches over 3 on any of the colors. Every TV's colors will change at an angle.

Brightness

Sony X700D brightness viewing angle

What it is: Angle where the brightness drops to 50% of the brightness directly in front of the TV. 0 ° means directly facing the TV. Measurements are up to a maximum of 75 °.
When it matters: Large living rooms with multiple viewing positions.
Good value: > 50°
Noticeable difference: 10°

For this test, we measure how much the picture darkens at an angle. We consider a loss of 50% to be the limit of the TV’s viewing angle. IPS TVs tend to be most affected by this type of deterioration.

Black Level

What it is: Angle where the black level drops to 50% of the black level directly in front of the TV. 0 ° means directly facing the TV. Measurements are up to a maximum of 75 °.
When it matters: Large living rooms with multiple viewing positions.
Good value: > 50°
Noticeable difference: 10°

Our black level measurement is the angle at which blacks double in brightness. This greatly deteriorates the picture quality since it effectively halves the contrast ratio and makes the blacks look gray. This is more of an issue on VA type LCDs.

LCD Type

What it is: Type of LCD technology used by the TV.
When it matters: Different technologies have different viewing angle properties.
Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle.

For LCD TVs, we also verify the kind of panel technology used. There are two main types: IPS and VA. The kind of panel technology is a big determining factor for how well a TV retains quality at an angle and represents a good starting point for people who want a TV that looks good from the side. You can learn more about the different LCD types here.

IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle. The picture only darkens when viewed from the side. The downside is that the contrast ratio in front is not as good as that of VA (see our contrast ratio measurements).

VA loses contrast at an angle, resulting in a dull/whitish picture when you watch the TV from the side. The upside of a VA panel is the deeper blacks you'll enjoy when sitting directly opposite the screen.

VA panel pixels
IPS panel pixels

There are a couple of ways that we conduct this test. We take a photo of the shape of the pixels (you can find those photos at the bottom of our reviews). For the most part, VA TVs have rectangular pixels, and IPS TVs have pixels that are shaped like little arrows.

The other is just to base it off of how wide the TV’s viewing angle is. IPS TVs have a viewing angle of around 30 degrees or more; anything lower is a VA TV. 

Additional information

LCD vs. Plasma vs. OLED

Because of the nature of the technology, LCD/LED TVs have problems with their picture quality at an angle. The LCD layer doesn't produce its own light, but rather filters the white light coming from the back of the TV (generated by the backlight). The LCD layer has a thickness, which means it blocks some of the light coming through, and more at an angle.

More specifically, VA LCDs will mostly be affected by their black levels being raised when viewed at an angle but also suffer the most from color shift. IPS TVs will instead have a constant black level but will lose luminance the greater the angle of viewing is.

Plasma and OLED panels do not have these problems because they emit their own light. OLED however, like LED TVs, will have color shift when viewed at an angle, so they aren't perfect.

Color shift of LG E6

How to get the best results

Unfortunately, you can't do anything to improve viewing angle on a TV. If you’re experiencing sub-par picture quality because the viewing angle of your TV doesn’t match your seating arrangements, you will need to move either the TV or your seats to improve the results.

Other notes

  • The vertical viewing angle is different than the horizontal one. It's close to the same for VA LCD TVs, but for IPS, the blacks lighten more at a vertical angle than they do horizontally, a phenomenon known as 'IPS Glow.'

Conclusion

The viewing angle of a TV represents the limit of its optimal picture quality. Sit at a position at a wider angle than that of its viewing angle, and you will experience worse picture. This isn’t important for people who sit right in front of their TV but makes a difference for setups with seating off to the sides, like some living rooms. We take video to illustrate TVs’ viewing angles, and then also verify what the type of panel technology is, as well as find the specific angle at which picture begins to degrade.

Unfortunately, there is no way to improve viewing angle on a TV. If you need a wide viewing angle, make sure to get a TV that meets that need. If you already have a TV that doesn’t cut it for viewing angle, the only option is to rearrange your setup.

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Questions & Answers

23 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
32
Why do Samsung TVs have such poor viewing angles, and what technically makes one TV better than another? Is it the panels?
Yes, it's the panel type. There are two main types used in LED TVs. VA panels (found in most Samsung TVs) have narrower viewing angles, but high contrast. IPS panels have wider viewing angles, but worse contrast. Unfortunately, no LED TV has both great contrast and a wide viewing angle.
21
I was planning to buy the Sony 42W670, and now they released a new one, the 42W700. I don't see much difference between them, but it is a new model and has some new features. The price is a little less for the 42W670. Which one should I go with?
Usually, the picture quality of new models is about the same as that of older ones. LED TV picture quality has plateaued in the last few years. If you do not care about the new features and the new look, get the old one.
12
There are no Sharp sets reviewed for viewing angle. Is there a reason, or have you just not gotten to any yet? I'm looking at a 70" SHARP LC70SQ15U. Thoughts?
We haven't got to them yet, so we can't really comment on that TV.
12
So if you were going to get a TV for a dark living Room, that has L-shaped seats (so other seats not directly in front of the TV), which would be the best: Vizio M-55", Vizio E-60", LG 60" Model: 60PB6650 plasma, Samsung 60" PN60F5300, or something different? These four are all about the same price. You seem to favor the plasma, but they have slightly fewer connections. Mostly it would be just me on couch, but with guests sometimes watching too.
In order: the Samsung PN60F5300, the Vizio E600i-B3 and the Vizio M552i-B2 (we didn't test the LG 60PB6650). If you are okay with plasma's downsides (ABL, dithering, flickering, etc), the PN60F5300 is the best choice in a dark room, especially in terms of uniformity. If you don't want a plasma, the Vizio E600i-B3 is great. The only real downside is the uniformity, but you can't see this when watching normal footage. The blacks of the Vizio M552i-B2 are just too gray for it to be good in a dark room.
10
Which 4K tv has the best picture quality and viewing angle, the LG49UF7600, the Samsung 50" JU6500, or Samsung 50" JS7000?
As far as picture quality, the JU6500 is definitely the better one with higher contrast ratio and deeper blacks but has poor viewing angle. The UF7600 and JS7000 are both IPS panels and suffers from grayish blacks and low contrast so won't have great picture quality but has great viewing angle. Unfortunately, none are able to be great in both departments so it's a matter of what is more important to you. Better picture, or better viewing angle.
8
Do your measurements for horizontal viewing angles also apply to vertical viewing angles? I'm considering buying a 55" - 60" LED, but the only place it will fit in the room is above the fireplace. Even sitting 11 ft. away, I will still be looking up more than I prefer, so I want to make sure I buy a TV that makes sense. Not looking to spend over $1,600. Suggestions?
Not exactly. TVs behave differently at a vertical viewing angle than they do at a horizontal one. IPS panels are still better, but they have glow in the dark colors at a vertical angle. The best solution is to get a wall mount that tilts down, and get a TV like the Samsung UN60H6350, which will fit in your budget.
7
Do you know if the Sony XBR65X810C has a VA or IPS Panel?
IPS.
6
Do you have info about the vertical viewing angle? Preferably for the Panasonic vt60, LG LB7100, and Vizios?
Unfortunately, we don't measure the vertical viewing angle. The VT60 plasma is the worst of all of them, though, because it has an anti-glare filter applied to the screen. For the rest, it corresponds roughly to the horizontal viewing angle. IPS panels, though, have the 'IPS glow' issue while displaying dark scenes.
4
What equipment do you use to measure the contrast?
Minolta LS-100 luminance meter.
3
Using basic geometry calculations, it would appear that at 10' only one person can sit in front of a Samsung JS8500 with it's 16 degree angle without seeing a degraded picture. Assuming, of course, that one person is not sitting on another's lap or they are shoulder to shoulder on the sofa directly in front of the TV. A person viewing from just 2'-11" off of dead center @ 10' from the TV is at an angle greater than 16 degrees. There must be a better way to describe the "best" viewing zone than the angle you currently rely upon. I realize that this is not a question, but rather food for thought.
Yes, it is indeed a bit misleading. You can even see this problem in our review of the Sony R510C. On all of our pictures directly in front, you can see a discoloration on the left and right side of the picture. We measured a 9° angle on it, but even at 0° it is a problem if you sit close enough. We can't think of a better way of representing this though, because the viewing angle zone depends on 3 components: the off-axis limit angle (the one that we measure), the size of the screen and the viewing distance. For our viewing angle videos, we keep the size to distance ratio the same to eliminate the other 2 components. But if someone is just looking at the number, it won't give him the whole story. Let us know if you can think of a better way to represent this issue.
3
Hello - We are in the process of buying our first TV for what had been a semi-formal living room in our home. The only really functional seating arrangement for the room has no seats directly in front of the TV itself. Instead, we have a couch perpendicular to the TV's surface down one side of the center of the room and two arm chairs down the other side of the room facing the couch. The seats are each between 4.5 and 8.5 feet from the TV and at what I am estimating to be a 20-40 degree angle off of center. We are looking for a 4K TV, such as the Samsung 8500, but we are torn over whether we should go with the Samsung 6400 or another of the units you recommend for wide angle viewing. But of course we don't want the poor image quality for movies and poor blacks reported in those units. Can you make a recommendation that maybe splits the difference between image quality and wide angle viewing? Also, at the distances I mentioned above, what size 4K TV would you recommend? (4.5 to 8.5 feet). Thank you so much! P.S. This site is awesome!
55" would be a good size for your viewing distance. 65" an even better option. Except for OLED TVs, there is no TV that has wide viewing angle and great contrast/blacks. In your case, a wide viewing angle TV would be appropriate since TVs that have great contrast/blacks will have washed out colors from the side. The 55" JU6400 would be a good pick. Depending on your budget, the Sony x810c 65" would also give you a nice picture quality and wide viewing angle. Even if you mentioned 4k, a 1080p OLED TV such as the LG 55" EG9100 would outperform both TVs mentioned above as far as picture quality even considering its smaller resolution. It would give you a perfect picture from virtually any angle with the best contrast/blacks there is on the market. It is worth considering.
2
Your text indicates that "Our viewing angle measurement is from the axis perpendicular to the TV. This means 90° is a perfect viewing angle."
Yet all your videos show the angle of 0° as straight-on to the TV and 90° when the TV is edge-on? My question is, which scale are you using when you are quoting the viewing angle?
We've updated our article for better clarity. 0°, meaning you and the TV screen are directly facing each other, is the perfect viewing angle.
Thank you for pointing out this inconsistency.
2
Will you be reviewing the LG 49UH6100/US. I recently went to to look at it at Best Buy. I think it is an IPS TV and I wanted to see how well it worked at different angles for my wide living room. While it was playing skiing footage I noticed the white snow significantly and suddenly lost contrast and looked gray at around maybe 25 degrees. The salesman pointed out that the colors stayed truer. Is it typical for the contrast to have such a sudden noticeable difference on IPS panels? I thought it would be more gradual. Based on your review of the LG UH8500 and Sony X850D, it seems like IPS has made some contrast improvements for 2016 but I don't know if it carries through to LG's entry level UHD model.
We will come to that model but we are currently focusing on a few higher end models right now. It's true that we have seen improvements in contrast for IPS TVs and that will have to be seen if that carries to lower end models. It sure would be great. The shift in contrast is quick as you have noted but the color still stays better at a wider angle than on TVs with VA panels. Stay tuned for our UH6100 review, it should appear in a few weeks/months.
1
What angle measuring tool do you use to determine the angle between the luminance meter and the screen?
We have a round, spinning table that we sit our TVs on. It has markings all around it, which is what we use to determine the angle.
1
I've had great service from our Vizio. However, after 5 years it has dimmed suddenly and can only be enjoyed in a well darkened room. What happened and is it fixable?
Make sure you don't have any eco settings or 'auto brightness' settings On. Increase 'Backlight' and try the TV with a different device like a DVD player. If it is still the same, try a factory reset. If nothing works, you will have to call a repair shop.
1
I have a Samsung JS9500 sitting straight on and the picture is great. I was very disappointing by the off axis viewing. Any tips to improve this when needed, big party or sporting event at the house?
Unfortunately, this can't be improved with the TV settings. Just make sure seating are not positioned at extreme angles and that there isn't too much light in the room to avoid harsh reflections.
1
In the market for 65" and only place that works in living room is a corner. Viewing angles are in-between VA and IPS angles based on your recommendations. Looking to spend $1800 or less and future proof with a 4k TV. Will be watching mostly HD cable and streaming services. Any advice?
Go with the LG 65UH8500. It has a wide viewing angle and picture quality is very good. Cable TV look great on it and all the extra features it has make it a really future proof TV.
0
I keep searching for the widest viewing angle on a 70"-75" tv but I really don't see anything good. Even the LG doesn't use a IPS screen in their 70. The worst seats are at a 45 degree angle and my 50" Panasonic plasma handles that fine. What do you recommend?
Unfortunately, there is no TV in this size range that has a wide viewing angle. You will either have to downsize to a 65" TV, or live with the saturation loss at an angle.
0
Curved TVs are supposed to enhance viewing angle, however, your test results disagree with the need to pay a premium for a curved screen. What good is a curved screen besides styling and status?
It does improve the viewing angles but not by much and nothing to justify the premium price. Look, is mainly what it is about. You will find more information and some picture comparisons in our Curved vs Flat article.
0
I'm looking for the best 75-85" 4K UltraHD HDR TV for a room that has many windows facing west. Is the Samsung JS8600 one to consider? How is the viewing angle on that one? What else should I consider? Should I wait for the big screen OLEDs to come down in price?
Yes, the JS8600 is a great TV overall, similar to the JS8500. The viewing angle won't be very wide, but there are no LED TVs with wide viewing angles that are available in that size range. If you'll be sitting directly in front of the TV most of the time, that shouldn't be a big issue.
Very large OLEDS are going to be very expensive for a while, so you'll be in for a long wait if that's what you decide on.
0
I'm looking into upgrading our living room TV to a larger, 4k display. I was looking at the LG 70UF7700, and would like to know what type of LCD display the 70" model has (all other sizes in the UF7700 series are IPS). Can I assume that it is a TN or VA display, and has a corresponding lower viewing angle, probably around 20%?
Yes, exactly. The blacks will also be deeper.
0
I have a 42” Plasma TV made by LG. The picture is gorgeous! Sound is also excellent. Sadly Plasma TVs are no longer made. Why? Plasma TVs were shown displayed against the LCD/LED TVs and as they were brighter the consumer went with the LCD/LED. Plasma TVs were the best TVs ever made! I hope my Plasma lasts and lasts, I’ve never had one problem and I’ve had it for many years. Technology doesn’t make things better, just look at the sound quality of cell/smart phones… bells and whistles but lousy sound! All about money and clever marketing! Please bring back Plasma!... They never will!
Thank you for your comment, you make some good points. Plasma TVs do have a number of picture quality advantages over LCDs, such as wider viewing angles, deeper blacks and perfect uniformity. However their low brightness makes them unsuitable for bright rooms, which is a common viewing environment.

Because Plasmas are discontinued, those who are unsatisfied with LCDs can instead try an OLED TV, they have a lot of the advantages of Plasma TVs without their worst weaknesses.
0
I'm still trying to wrap my head around why viewing angles matter the most when using a TV as a PC monitor. I mean, I am always directly in front of it. I'm a heavy PC gamer and very competitive; however, despite the even lower input lag on smaller PC gaming monitors, I've been on a 50" TV as a PC monitor since I was a kid and would rather sacrifice a little input lag for at the very minimum 40" and above. However, why do viewing angles take precedence over motion blur, refresh rate, input resolution, and input lag for a PC monitor? The KS8000 is the best console video game TV while the Sony X830C is some how way better as a PC monitor just because of viewing angles. Help. I don't understand.
When a TV is used as a PC monitor people usually sit much closer to the screen because smaller things are shown like text. When you sit close your viewing angle of the edges of the screen gets steeper, so if the TV does not have good viewing angles the edges of the screen will look worse than the center. Also the PC monitor score is intended to show performance for mixed PC usage, so if gaming is more your priority then you could look at both the PC monitor score and (HDR) gaming score. And when you're gaming you may sit further back than someone who only uses the TV for web browsing, which makes viewing angle less important for you.
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