Everywhere you go, you’re seeing designers and manufacturers implementing curves into their products, particularly on displays. Samsung has released the Galaxy Round, LG responded with the G Flex, and then TV manufacturers started presenting their own curved displays at 2014′s consumer electronics show (CES). This may sound like another unified attempt to press a new sales pitch for a gimmick, but there seems to be more to it. Is there any science behind the curve? What advantages could we get from having such displays? It’s time to answer these questions, as we always do when there’s a new advent in technology.
1: Why The Curve?
For years, high-end home theater systems and some upscale cinemas have been showing images on curved surfaces. It’s based, believe it or not, on the shape of the human eye. Because it is round, your pupils move back a little when they reach the sides of the eyes and forward a little when they reach the centers. Also, your pupil is a bit like an oval with two vertices on either end, making its surface ever-so-slightly curved. This effect makes it necessary to curve surfaces so that they have an equal distance (“equidistance”) from the pupil to the surface it’s gazing upon. Curved TVs are made with this intention in mind.
Now, the next question to ask is: “Why is it so importance to maintain an equal distance from the pupil?”
Well, when you look at a large screen, your field of view blurs away just a bit at its edges. Colors aren’t as rich, and all the focus is on the center of the image. With a curved screen, you theoretically correct all of these problems.
2: Flexible Displays
Perhaps one of the most awesome introductions of curved screen technology comes in the form of LG’s flexible OLED TVs. You can set the curve as you wish, or even flatten it out completely. This kind of versatility, coupled with the enormous size of the screens (77 inches), makes for a powerful combination that brings both brilliance and elegance to the fray. Foresight brings fierce competition into the market, and we’ll probably be seeing more of these flexible displays come from other companies, with new features like larger angular ranges and an automated calibration system that will detect how curved you need the screen depending on where you’re sitting.
3: The Problem With Curved Displays
Curved displays suffer from the same symptoms that passive 3D does. Both of them have a “sweet spot” you can enjoy them from the most. Also, you probably won’t notice the difference in picture quality with a curved screen at all unless:
- you have a really large screen, or
- you really love sitting so close to your TV that your skin sizzles.
The real magic comes with projectors made for curved surfaces. They can project an image big enough to impress you with its brilliance. If you’re getting a curved 55-inch screen, any “extra” pleasure you get out of it would be either because you’re experiencing post-purchase rationalization or you’re really into curvy things. In the latter case, I’d get a car.
Is the curved screen a gimmick? Yes, for the most part, but not if you’re buying a big screen (anything above 70 inches) or a projector.
Is it worth throwing away your old TV for? That would depend on:
- how old your TV is, and
- how deep your pockets are vs. how much more expensive these curvy TVs are compared to their flatter counterparts.
Got your own thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!