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Video Conferencing Display System Sizing and Location

June 27, 2012 | William Zimmerman

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As video conferencing systems become more widely installed, there are often questions about what size monitors and how many are required. While fixed Telepresence systems make this choice easy, most video conferencing systems come as a base unit (generally a small box the size of a mini-PC), and a camera and a table-top speaker. The selection the video displays and mounting/positioning is generally left to the customer or an integrator. The challenge is that often the resulting placement and room set-up leave much to be desired. To best understand the placement, distance and positioning of video monitors in a meeting space, a basic understanding of how humans see and use video is required. Using simple trigonometry it is possible to define the variables to assure optimal positioning and impact of a videoconferencing system. This white paper will review those factors and then cover basic room set-up. It will also discuss how the new 4K displays may enhance the room video experience.

Relative Monitor Sizes

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Figure 1 - Relative Ratios of Screens

Video Display Monitors come in a variety of sizes. Generally these are described by their diagonal dimension. The diagonal relationship to the vertical and horizontal sizes is based on the aspect ratio. The aspect ratio is the ratio of the width to the height. Generally monitors come in two aspect ratios: 4x5 and 16x9. The 4x6 ratio is the older NTSC video ratio and is generally not deployed for video as it does not align well with room views. The 16x9 display is better for the width versus height of the usual participants in a room based video conference. Figure 1 shows a comparison of a similar meeting with 16x9 and 4x5 views. As can be seen, the 5x4 display with the same vertical as the 16x9 is much smaller, while the 5x4 with a similar vertical of 60" is actually larger in area by 14%, though the actual displayed images are slightly smaller, even with cropping the edges of the room. For these reasons, 16x9 is the accepted standard for video room systems. It is also the standard for home use and therefore dominates the manufacture of displays.

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Figure 2 - Relative Screen Sizes - Single Display

Screen sizes vary greatly with size. The actual range of video screen sizes is shown in complete form for both single, dual, and triple screens in the associated Video Room Help Sheet on the PKE Consulting web site, but for example, a 50-inch diagonal screen is 43.6 inches wide and 24.5 inches tall. For comparison, a 60-inch diagonal screen is 52.3 inches wide and 24.5 inches tall. While the ratios of the width and height reflect the 60/50 or 1.2 times larger of the 60-inch screen, the actual viewing area of the 60 inch is 44% larger than the 50 inch. Figure 2 shows relative sizes for single screens.

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Figure 3 - Relative Screen Sizes - Dual Display

Figure 3 shows a similar comparison for dual screens as this is a common implementation in many video conference rooms.


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