Why you should care
It’s a big-ticket Christmas wish list item that might have you giving up going to the movies.
As we’ve become much more enamored of smartphones and tablets, TV has needed to up its game to keep us fixated on the big screen. This has included a parade of upgrades, including: high-definition, “full” high-def, LED-backlighting, local dimming, 3-D (both active and passive), Wi-Fi, voice recognition, gesture recognition, and Smart TV features. Yowza. What more could we possibly want?
Apparently, quite a bit more, which now brings us TVs with curved screens. Thanks to advancements in material and display technologies, what was once flat is now not, providing a more immersive, moviegoing experience at home. Like an IMAX screen for the living room, the rounded shape allows the viewer’s eyes to be at an equal distance from all parts of the screen, which, in theory, allows for a greater uniformity of sharpness and color and optimal viewing angles. Samsung claims that curved screens can even be less stressful on the eyes than flat ones. Some models are beautifully sleek, because they don’t need backlights.
3-D content tends to pop more vibrantly on a curved screen than it does on a flat unit.
Carmi Levy, technology analyst and writer at Voices.com
There are drawbacks. “Viewers who sit toward the edges of the room may experience strange geometries, odd reflections and, at extreme angles, they might lose sight of parts of the screen,” says Carmi Levy, a London, Ontario-based technology analyst and writer with Voices.com. Plus, not all TV sizes are well suited to the curved shape — on smaller screens, the benefits are limited. Some experts suggest avoiding curved screens smaller than 60 inches. As for the cost: Prices start at $3,000 and can work their way up to the $119,000 nosebleed level.
Still, Levy feels that the curved TV trend is more than just hype, saying that “3-D content tends to pop more vibrantly on a curved screen than it does on a flat unit.” And while the critics have good points, most technologies have their limitations in the first few years — remember when a 20th Century Fox exec claimed, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”? Which is not to say curved screens will change the world, but the possibilities for flexible screen technology are pretty cool: Think smart watches that wrap around your wrist, for instance, or touch screens on your car’s dashboard.
For now, design is a big reason curved TVs are a hit, at least in Korea, where both LG and Samsung are based. According to John Srebrnjak, a supply chain manager at Samsung, some 98 percent of pre-orders for UHD TVs there are for curved-screen models.