Curved UHD Televisions
After spending a couple of years ignominiously tucked away in the ‘concept corners’ of various technology shows, curved TVs suddenly exploded onto the mainstream scene in January when Samsung and LG revealed that their new TV ranges would contain a number of curved-screen ranges.
Sony has now also unveiled new curved 4K/UHD TVs as previously reported, and Samsung has reported that its flagship curved UHD TVs are outselling its flagship flat UHD TVs by a factor of 3:1. In other words, curved TV screens look like they’re here to stay. But should you buy one?
Here I draw on my experience with a number of this year’s curved TV big hitters to outline the key pros of the new TV shape.
Curved TV Pros
1. You feel more immersed in what you’re watching
When you look at the real world you don’t perceive it as just a flat ‘screen’. The rounded nature of your eyeballs gives you peripheral vision too, so that you’re aware of the world extending around you to your sides. By curving the edges of their pictures toward you, curved TVs try to replicate this sense of a world to the side of as well as in front of you, making you feel more immersed in what you’re watching.
2. You feel like you’re experiencing a wider field of view
By curving the edges of their pictures gently forward, curved TVs appear to fill more of your field of view than flat ones – so long as you’re sat in roughly the right position, at any rate.
3. You see more sharpness at the edges of the image
Because curved screens track the natural shape of your eyes better than flat ones, their images look slightly sharper at their edges. It’s this phenomenon that leads to many commercial cinemas using curved screens, since the bigger the screen the more likely your eyes are to perceive a reduction in clarity at the edges if that screen is flat. With this in mind, though, I’d say this sharpness point only applies to very large TVs of 70 inches and more.
4. You feel like pictures have more depth
The first thing many people say when they first try out a curved TV is that the picture feels 3D. This is because the curved screen makes the image exist on multiple depth planes – with a physical foreground and background - like a 3D image (or the world around us, come to that). So important is this depth attribute that Samsung uses processing on its curved TVs to make images marry up more effectively with the curved nature of the screen.
5. You can enjoy a richer contrast performance
Although I haven’t yet seen a wide enough variety of curved TVs to feel confident about confirming this point, the argument goes that since curved screens focus their light towards your seating position rather than scattering it around a wider area like flat TVs do, they can deliver almost twice as much perceived contrast.
6. You can watch pictures from a wider viewing angle
You probably think I’ve lost the plot with this one. Especially as viewing angle issues also appear in the Cons section of this article! But here’s the thing. As anyone who’s had to watch a normal LCD TV from the down the sides will know, colours lose saturation and contrast reduces massively when you’re not sat directly opposite the screen. Since curved TVs turn the edges of their images towards off-axis viewing positions, though, the usual colour and contrast reductions associated with such viewing positions are greatly reduced.